Daily Kickoff: Sen. Durbin blocks pro-Israel bill condemning UNSC | Elliott Abrams in running for Dep Sec State | Can Jared & Ivanka survive the WH?

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EXCLUSIVE: “Durbin Obstructs Pro-Israel Bill Condemning UNSC” by Aaron Magid: “Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has delayed a Senate bill assailing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for a resolution criticizing Israel, according to fellow Democrat Tom Udall (D-NM). The New Mexico legislator told Jewish Insider outside of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) hearing that Durbin has placed a “hold” on the measure, but if the Democratic Whip were to remove his objection, Udall would offer his own independent opposition… After Senate Resolution 6 passed out of committee, the measure was placed on a “hotline” to determine if the bill would receive unanimous backing with the goal of getting the legislation to the Senate floor. Once Senator Durbin anonymously objected, the legislation was delayed for an indefinite period of time.”

“While holding up a copy of Tuesday’s New York Times article describing Israel’s decision to expand settlement building, Udall blasted the current Senate legislation. “The issue is Senate Resolution 6 completely ignores the settlement issue… I think the settlements have to be part of the issue if you are passing a resolution,” he said… “I presented an amendment during the committee. The amendment was supported by a majority of Democrats (on the SFRC). I want the opportunity to offer that amendment on the floor,” Udall added.” Senator Durbin’s office declined to respond to Jewish Insider’s repeated request for comment.” [JewishInsider

COMING SOON: “Israeli politicians heading to Washington to forge ties with new administration” by the Jerusalem Post: “Other ministers said to be exploring the possibility of traveling to Washington in the coming weeks include Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan… Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer was planning to return to Israel had Hillary Clinton won the presidential election, but his term has now been extended indefinitely by Netanyahu. Dermer is said to have a close relationship with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a top adviser to the president.” [JPost] • Amb. Dermer spotted at the Trump Inauguration using CNN’s gigapixel [Pic]

Spotted: “Jared Kushner eating with another man at Founding Farmers Tuesday evening. Secret Service stood by the door…” [Politico]

“Can Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Survive the White House?” by Emily Jane Fox: “Normally, the family would decamp to New Jersey for the weekend, where they would bake pies and relax by the fire and observe the rules of Shabbat—no driving, no phone calls, typically. This weekend, instead, they had free rein in all 132 rooms and 28 fireplaces in the White House. Trump, who announced that his first workday would be Monday, turned the weekend into a family celebration. The entire extended Trump clan stayed in the residence at the White House, one source close to the family told me… The tide of bad press seemed to swell on Saturday, another person with ties to the First Family told me, when Kushner was absent observing Shabbat. “He wasn’t rolling calls on Saturday when this happened,” this person told me. “To me, that’s not a coincidence.”” [VanityFair]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Israel announces first new settlement construction since Trump’s inauguration” by Oren Liebermann, Amir Tal and Abeer Salman: “We are building – and we will continue to build,” said Netanyahu in a tweet. The planned new homes mark one of the largest settlement expansions since 2013, according to the settlement watchdog Peace Now… Most of the housing units are in the main settlement blocs, Liberman said, but approximately 100 units are in Beit El, a settlement outside of Ramallah, which received a $10,000 donation in 2003 from the Trump Foundation… Trump made the donation in honor of David Friedman, his bankruptcy attorney and pick for US Ambassador to Israel. Friedman had served as President of the American Friends of Bet El Institutions.” [CNN] • “Netanyahu’s office would not say whether he had consulted with the White House before Tuesday’s announcement.” [AP

“Spicer Evasive on Settlement Construction, Aid to Palestinians” by Jacob Kornbluh: “[Trump] is very concerned about how taxpayer money is spent, whether it is sent overseas, and what we get for it in terms of the relationship or our support for a democracy or aid for another country for their defenses,” Spicer said. “But he’s going to be examining all aspects of the budget and how we look at all money because I think there is a newfound respect for how the American people’s tax dollars are spent in this administration.” … Spicer refused to condemn or support Israel’s recent approval of 2,500 new units in West Bank settlements. “He has asked his team to get together,” he said. “We are going to have a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and we will continue to discuss that.” Asked if Trump supports the expansion of settlements, Spicer repeated, “We’ll have a conversation with the Prime Minister.” [JewishInsider; AFP]

“Trump reviewing Obama’s payment to Palestinians” by Dave Boyer:“Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the agency is “currently reviewing last-minute spending approved by the previous administration and will make adjustments if needed to ensure that it aligns with the priorities of the Trump-Pence administration.”” [WashTimes

“Israel plans West Bank settlement expansion amid policy shifts in Washington” by William Booth: “Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of the liberal Washington-based group J Street, called the lack of swift American condemnation “unprecedented” in 50 years of U.S. foreign policy on the issue. “It may really feel good for Israel’s government not to feel the sting of an American rebuke in the wake of this latest announcement,” said Ben-Ami… “But it doesn’t change the fact that the world has made it very clear that these actions have no legal validity.”” [WashPost]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “IDF preparing for Trump’s embassy decision” by Alex Fishman: “In the past two weeks… the defense establishment has created a series of possible scenarios – starting with a situation in which the Americans announced the construction of an embassy building and immediately place bulldozers on the ground, to a continuation of the current bluff in which declarations are made but nothing is done. In between, the other alternatives deal with the possibility of a gradual, long-term implementation, which will include festive cornerstone laying ceremonies followed by years of engagement in construction and logistics. Each alternative will have a different effect on the magnitude of the response in the Muslim world, and the army is also preparing for different levels of violent outbursts.” [Ynet] • Palestinian Authority President Abbas holds meeting with US consul general [Wafa

“Giuliani: Trump backs Jerusalem embassy move, but reality is complex” by Herb Keinon: “Asked in an interview with the Post whether he feels that Trump — who was a strong advocate of moving the embassy during the campaign — has changed his mind, Giuliani responded, “I think that now that he is in office, there are a lot more facts and arguments and people you have to consult with before you make a final decision, and it is a more deliberative process. I don’t think his position has changed in any way.”” [JPost]

HEARD YESTERDAY at the INSS 10th Annual International Conference in Tel Aviv – former Ambassador Martin Indyk, Gen, David Petraeus and Prof. Walter Russell Mead, Distinguished Fellow at The Hudson Institute, discussed the Israel-U.S. relationship under the Trump Administration in a panel titled “Making the Relationship Great Again?” moderated by Israeli journalist and TV host Dana Weiss.

Highlights — Indyk on delay in an announcement on the Jerusalem embassy: “The delay means, I would predict, it’s not going to happen because if you do not do straight away, the reasons you got it delayed are going to be there all the time of your administration.”

Indyk on Ambassador-designate David Friedman’s plan to live in Jerusalem: “I had an apartment in Jerusalem. The U.S. Ambassador has had an apartment in Jerusalem since 1995. So the notion that somehow having an apartment in Jerusalem is moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a fiction that I don’t think anybody is going to accept.”

Petraeus: “I was actually reassured by the caution on the embassy issue after last week we heard it’s going to happen. By the way, I am not sure they can hold this off forever the way previous administrations have just basically forgotten about it when nobody was pushing them to do it. This is a campaign promise. This is an individual who has said he’s going to be different, that what he has said he will actually do, unlike all these others… He was a disrupter as a candidate, and now he is the disrupter-in-chief the Oval Office, and so I think it’s possible something may be done. I was reassured to see a degree of caution on this emerge, and that, I think, is positive, although I don’t think it’s something that he can just forget.”

Walter Russell Mead: “It’s very important from an Israeli perspective that Israel not let itself get identified with President Trump in the minds of American political people of both parties. Remember that he did not win the popular vote, he took office with the lowest poll ratings of any president in modern history. It would be a tremendous mistake to make it look like this is Israel’s man, this is our hope. On the other hand, he might be tremendously successful. We just don’t know.”

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: The Knesset was packed today for PM Netanyahu’s parliamentary Q&A session. The session began with Netanyahu, aided by debate rule bending from Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, dodging all questions about the various investigations he faces. The Bibi show at the Knesset Plenum is planned for almost two hours, and is likely to produce even more highlights as the day goes on…

Wrapping up the INSS policy conference last night, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked discussed the possible move of the US embassy to Jerusalem. Shaked pledged government assistance to any country that moves their embassy, revealing that Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has proposed an exemption from local council property taxes for those that make the move. “Changing the embassy’s location would be the best evidence of a change in the American approach,” Shaked said, appealing to the rest of the world to follow suit. “I allow myself to leak something that the Israeli Cabinet approved. Minister Deri stated that every country that moves their embassy will receive an exemption in property taxes.”

ON THE HILL: “Nikki Haley confirmed as new U.S. envoy to the United Nations” by Anne Gearan: “[Nikki] Haley, who has no formal diplomatic experience, won significant Democratic support. The vote of 96-4 reflected some Democrats’ view that Haley would be a sensible diplomat and speak her mind in the new administration… She said she… would reassert the traditional role of the United States in recent decades of protecting Israel from United Nations action it considers biased. She also declared her support for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” [WashPost]

“Trump team narrowing search for State Department’s No. 2 official” by Josh Rogin:“Two leading contenders for the job now are former White House and State Department official Elliott Abrams and former State Department official Paula Dobriansky. The Trump administration has decided not to appoint a deputy secretary of state for management, a post created by the Obama administration in 2009. This means the sole remaining deputy secretary will have enormous influence over both policy and management issues in Foggy Bottom. Both Abrams and Dobriansky have diplomatic backgrounds and experience working in the often thorny State Department bureaucracy.” [WashPost]

Trump Team Aims to Test Russia’s Alliance With Iran” by Eli Lake: “Trump administration officials tell me that they will explore the extent to which Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to end this relationship and cooperate with U.S. policy to counter Iranian aggression in Syria and the Middle East. “It’s important to find out what are the limits of Russia’s willingness to cooperate with us with regard to Iran,” said Michael Ledeen, who during the transition served as an adviser to Michael Flynn, now Trump’s national security adviser… Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia who was an architect of Obama’s first-term outreach to Russia, told me he didn’t know what Trump could offer Putin in exchange for abandoning Iran, a key ally and trading partner.” [Bloomberg]
** 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 **

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Decision day: County to vote on American Dream mega mall” by Brian Bandell: “The developer, which also owns the Mall of America in Minnesota, is prepared to invest $4 billion in the Miami project through equity and a loan, said Bob Gorlow, who heads American Dream Miami for the company. Triple Five Group’s application said the project would attract 40 million visitors a year.” [BizJournals]

“Mark Zuckerberg Says He’s Not Running For President” by Alex Kantrowitz and Nitasha Tiku: “No,” Zuckerberg wrote in response to a question asking if he had any plans to run for president. “I’m focused on building our community at Facebook and working on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative,” referring to the limited-liability corporation he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, founded in 2015 to advance human potential and promote equality through major bets in education and science research. Zuckerberg did not immediately respond to follow-up questions about whether he’d explicitly ruled out a run. [BuzzFeed]

“Here’s why the UN is getting interested in video games” by Colin Campbell: “Darvasi’s report also focuses on a number of games that illustrate his point. These include Peacemaker, in which the player takes on the role of either the Israeli prime minister or the Palestinian president to achieve a two-state solution. He says the game is successful because “players must think about the needs of their own stakeholders and constituents as well as their opponent’s mindset and circumstances.”” [Polygon]

“Edgy humor is a mitzvah in the age of Trump” by David Talbot: “Where would we be without “Saturday Night Live” during the nightmarish reality show that is now America? We need to thank the Jews for this essential comic relief, said Michael Krasny. “Who do you think is writing Baldwin’s material?” And who is the “SNL” creator, he added? “Lorne Michaels, a Canadian Jew, born Lorne Lipowitz.” “Comedians like Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, Amy Schumer — who’s half Jewish. They cut big shots down to size,” Krasny told me. “They speak truth to power. And it definitely provides a lot of solace in the age of Trump. As I’ve been doing my book appearances, I can’t tell you how many people come up to me afterwards and tell me how depressed they are, and how badly they need to laugh.”” [SFChronicle

“Why Ezra Klein Tries to Avoid Meetings Before Noon” by Thrive Global: “Cal Newport’s Deep Work led me to make concrete changes to my daily schedule. He’s very persuasive that we’re slowly training ourselves into distractibility, and that you don’t want the brain that results from a mix of thoughtless scheduling and constant digital interruptions. So since I read it, I’ve been trying to avoid scheduling meetings before noon, and I’m working to spend at least 45 minutes a day reading one book without interruptions.” [ThriveGlobal

“CNAS Announces 2017 Next Generation National Security Fellows” by Rebecca Edelston: “The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) announced today the selection of the 2017 Next Generation National Security Leaders. CNAS selected a bipartisan group of 23 emerging leaders from a host of fields. This year’s fellows include [Jordan Hirsch, special advisor at the Paul E. Singer Family Office, and Peter Rough, a fellow at Hudson Institute, among other] members of the military; professionals with the Departments of Defense and State, USAID, NSC, and the White House; congressional staffers; industry practitioners; journalists; think tank experts; and specialists from the NGO community.” [CNAS]

DESSERT: “No Avocado Toast Here: A Glatt Kosher Deli Opens in Miami” by Florence Fabricant: “I was tired of trendy food like avocado toast,” said [Zak] Stern, a 31-year-old native of Miami. “This community needs a good kosher deli, and there’s not enough people doing Ashkenazi, Eastern European food. Sephardic food gets all the attention. Most delis are not kosher, and most kosher food is not deli food… Nonreligious Jews communicate through food, not services.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Israeli peace activist and author, whose fiction and non-fiction books have been translated into more than 30 languages, David Grossman turns 63… Dean of the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion since July 2009, Naamah Kelman-Ezrachi turns 62… Toronto-born movie and television actress, writer and social activist, a regular on Showtime’s “The L Word” (2004-2009), and had a recurring guest role on the Fox TV series “24,” Mia Kirshner turns 42… Benjamin Newton Michael Glantz… Ari Cicurel… AIPAC’s David Newman… Helene Ross… Robert Newman

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]




Daily Kickoff: Trump taking time on Jerusalem Embassy | Jewish country club invites Obama | After lieutenant’s exit, Izzy Englander left alone again

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KAFE KNESSET IS BACK — INSS Edition — by Tal Shalev: In a message that appears to be designed for the ears of the Trump administration, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, addressing the INSS [Institute for National Security Studies] annual policy conference in Tel Aviv, called for abandoning the two-state solution and coined it a “failed idea of yesterday, not the future.”… referring to one of Trump’s well-known catchphrases, Bennett noted “In my previous life, I was a high-tech CEO. If one of the managers in my company came to me and said: ‘Listen, I tried a program. It failed. But you know what? I tried the exact same program again. And it failed again. And I even tried it again a third time. Yup, it failed again. I’d say to him: ‘You’re fired.’”

The hot topic at INSS wasn’t the peace process or moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but the explosive state comptroller’s report on Operation Protective Edge, slated to be published in the coming weeks. The events of the July 2014 Gaza war are the subject of an ongoing political quarrel between Netanyahu, Bennett, and Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid. Bennett and Lapid, both of whom served in the government at the time, blame Netanyahu, his former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and the leadership of the IDF for failing to prepare the country for the threat of Hamas tunnels under Gaza and into Israel. A source told Kafe Knesset that the report will likely adopt Bennett and Lapid’s version of events. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset[JewishInsider]

Spotted at the INSS conference: David Petraeus, Martin Indyk, Philip Gordon, Michelle Flournoy, Jane Harman, Abe Foxman, Robert Danin, Yossi Vardi, David Ignatius, Itamar Rabinovich, Tzipi Livni, Barak Ravid, Shimon Shiffer, Amos Harel, AIPAC’s Cameron Brown, and TIP’s Lior Weintraub.

INBOX from a JI reader, responding to our report yesterday on the Trump team promoting the ZOA: “So we’ve gone in a decade from the AIPAC big tent… to a J Street White House… to a ZOA White House… insane”

GOP official with close ties to the Jewish community tells us: “Mort [Klein] is a good guy and does a great job sending out press releases but everyone knows that the real player for money and also votes without question is the Republican Jewish Coalition. It has not gone unnoticed inside Trump world that at critical times ZOA has said comments critical of Mattis and Nikki Haley as everyone knows this Administration takes note of who is loyal.”

TOP TALKER: “US sent $221 million to Palestinians in Obama’s last hours” by Matthew Lee and Richard Lardner: “Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding after funds have been allocated. A State Department official and several congressional aides said the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning. The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department for the last time Thursday. The aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office. The Palestinian funding is likely to draw anger from some in Congress as well as the Trump White House.” [AP

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Maryland country club gives itself a mulligan, reaches out to Obama” by Bill Turque: “In an email to members Monday, Woodmont president Barry Forman said that after “many hours in recent weeks considering this matter and the views of our members,” the club’s executive committee decided to invite Obama to join. “Political views have never been part of our membership criteria, and our members have always reflected a range of opinions on issues of the day,” Forman wrote… “We are proud of our Jewish heritage.. Given our legacy, it is regrettable that we have now been widely portrayed as unwelcoming and intolerant, because that is not who we are.” Democratic activist and Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin, who resigned his membership over the issue and threatened a boycott of the club if Obama was not invited, said he was “really delighted” by the club’s decision. He declined to say whether he would rescind his resignation.” [WashPost]

“Thomas R. Nides, a former deputy secretary of state who is friendly with Mr. Obama, first introduced the president to Woodmont, where he is a member, when he played a round in 2015, along with John Shulman, the head of a private equity firm, and one of Mr. Obama’s personal aides. “This whole issue is ridiculous,” Mr. Nides said. “The only thing the guy wants to do is to play golf.” [NYTimes

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “President Trump Hasn’t Decided on Israeli Embassy Move, Despite Campaign Pledge” by Zeke Miller: “After reports suggesting the move of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could come as soon as this week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the administration is only beginning to consider the relocation… “We are at the early stages of this decision-making process,” Spicer told reporters. When pressed if he could commit that at the end of Trump’s first term that the embassy would be moved, Spicer replied, “If it was already a decision, we wouldn’t be going through a process.”” [TIME

“Trump White House lowers expectations for quick embassy move in Israel” by Luke Baker and Matt Spetalnick: “Another consideration for Israel is the stronger relations it has quietly been building with the Sunni Muslim world. Netanyahu speaks frequently about the “new horizon” Israel has with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf states. If the United States were to shift its embassy, it could rock those ties. Israeli officials say they don’t want any move to be rushed.” [Reuters

“Jerusalem mayor in talks with US officials over possible embassy move” by Daniel K. Eisenbud: “Although White House spokesman Sean Spicer has said that such a deal is still in its nascent stages, Barkat told Army Radio that he believes it is just a matter of time until the relocation takes place. “I am holding talks with government officials in the US and I know that they are serious about their intention,” said Barkat, who is friendly with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.” [JPost

“How Trump can move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem” by Ilan Goldenberg: “On a more practical level, the American Embassy in Tel Aviv is in poor physical condition, making it harder for our diplomats to do their jobs and for embassy security to keep U.S. officials safe. The foreign ministry, prime minister’s office and Knesset are all in Jerusalem, where key Israeli interlocutors spend most of their time at work. American diplomats waste hours going back and forth.” [Politico

Shmuel Rosner: “The Jerusalem embassy deserves its own moment in the sun. Trump could be saving it for later – for the Netanyahu visit in February, for the AIPAC Policy Conference in March, for Israel’s 50th Jerusalem Day in May. From a PR standpoint, saving Jerusalem for later is wise. And the more the administration seems hesitant about it today – the better the impact tomorrow.” [JewishJournal]

“Giuliani: Media doesn’t like Trump and is against him” by Louis Nelson: “Giuliani also said he that he will travel Monday evening to Israel on business for his law firm, Greenberg Traurig. While there, the former New York mayor said he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, something he said he does every time he visits Israel… Asked if he would be bringing to Netanyahu a message from Trump, Giuliani played coy. “If I do, it’ll be from him. But I can give the general message, which is ‘I like you very much and we’re very good friends,’” Giuliani said.” [Politico

“Netanyahu Warns Lawmakers: ‘Surprises’ for Trump Could Harm Israel” by Barak Ravid and Chaim Levinson: “At a closed meeting with members of his Likud party Knesset faction, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… [said] that he has a personal relationship of trust with Trump. “That’s an important asset,” the prime minister said. “It’s important that I be given the chance to steer this. I have been steering it for eight years now, and I don’t think anyone else would have done it better under very difficult circumstances.” In a dig at Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi party, Netanyahu said now is not the time to “shoot from the hip” when it comes to the new U.S. administration.” [Haaretz] • Israel okays 2,500 new settlement homes, 2 days after PM talks to Trump [ToI]

“Jared Kushner Needs a Wingman” by Jonathan Schanzer: “The U.S. needs someone to first broker a peace deal between the Palestinians themselves. The Palestinian internecine conflict is a bipartisan blind spot. The last two presidential administrations labored to achieve a two-state solution without giving serious thought to solving the current three-state scenario. Indeed, Israel is currently sandwiched between two separate Palestinian statelets: a Palestinian Authority-run West Bank and a Hamas-run Gaza Strip.” [PoliticoMag]

“What Trump can do for Mideast peace on day one” by Jonathan A. Greenblatt: “Whatever he decides on the embassy, there are measures that Mr. Trump can support on day one that may not solve the whole crisis but can demonstrate strong support for the Jewish state and foster trust between Israel and the Palestinian Authority… This could be achieved by invoking the existing Bush letter rather than contriving a new formula.” [JTA

According to Playbook, “Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s business attorney turned guru for international deals (whatever that means), just bought an apartment in Foggy Bottom for $425,000.” [Politico]

TRUMP TUMULT: “The first days inside Trump’s White House: Fury, tumult and a reboot” by Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Matea Gold: “Two people close to the transition also said a number of Trump’s most loyal campaign aides have been alarmed by Kushner’s efforts to elbow aside anyone he perceives as a possible threat to his role as Trump’s chief consigliere. At one point during the transition, Kushner had argued internally against giving Conway a White House role, these two people said.” [WashPost

“Trump aide Kushner scraps plan for Canada visit: Canada official” by David Ljunggren: “The source said the planned visit by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner had hit logistical problems. A separate source had earlier said Kushner intended to meet Trudeau aides on the margins of a cabinet retreat in Calgary.” [Reuters

“Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers” by Michael Shear and Emmarie Huetteman: “Representative Steny H. Hoyer who attended the meeting, said that Mr. Trump also talked about the size of the crowd for his Inaugural Address. “It was a huge crowd, a magnificent crowd. I haven’t seen such a crowd as big as this,” Mr. Hoyer told CNN, quoting Mr. Trump… The reception included, among others, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan… and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.” [NYTimes

Ed O’Keefe: “McConnell on WH meeting with Trump: “I enjoyed the President and Sen. Schumer talking about all the people they knew in New York.”” [Twitter]

“Trump’s biggest donors consider abandoning new political arm” by Eliana Johnson and Kenneth Vogel: “It is unclear precisely why Rebekah Mercer became unhappy with the plans for the organization, though tensions surfaced between her and Brad Parscale, who served as the Trump campaign’s digital director, during a December meeting in Trump Tower. What is clear is that she may be nearing a breaking point both with Parscale and Nick Ayers, the Trump aides slated to run the group, as well as with Home Depot CEO Bernie Marcus and his political guru Steve Hantler, who are expected to provide key financial backing for the effort.” [Politico

HEARD YESTERDAY: Bill Kristol on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper: “For a sitting president of the United States, not a candidate, not a spokesman, to go to the CIA, stand in front of that wall, and make the rambling and inappropriate comments the president made, people were seriously worried. I talked to serious people who are not unfriendly to the Trump administration who thought, ‘Oh, my God.’” [Newsinc

ON THE HILL: “Tillerson approved by Senate panel as secretary of state” by Karoun Demirjian and Sean Sullivan: “Republicans unanimously backed Tillerson in the 11-to-10 vote, after key Republicans who had voiced criticism of Tillerson opted to support his nomination. Chief among them was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a committee member who announced Mondaymorning that he would support Tillerson… “My concern was that Mr. Tillerson would be an advocate for, and would pursue a foreign policy of dealmaking, at the expense of traditional alliances and at the expense of the defense of human rights and democracy,” Rubio explained to the committee Monday.” [WashPost]

“Why Marco Rubio Will Vote To Confirm Trump’s Secretary Of State” by Tarini Parti: “Rubio also got calls from Oracle CEO Safra Catz, urging him to support Tillerson. Catz was part of the Trump transition committee, while Oracle founder Larry Ellison was one Rubio’s major supporters during his White House bid. “In the end, I think Marco decided that it was better to be inside the tent than outside,” a source close to Rubio said. “A vote against Tillerson would have reduced his influence on foreign policy matters with the Trump Administration to zero.”” [BuzzFeed

PROFILE: “Meet the ‘New Ted Cruz’” by Tim Alberta: “Restitution can be found in doing the little things. Cruz called Trump two weeks ago, for instance, to give a heads-up on legislation he was introducing with Lindsey Graham that would defund the United Nations in retaliation for its resolution on Israeli settlements. It was a deferential show of etiquette that hasn’t exactly been a hallmark of his Senate career. Cruz had previously run the idea through Senate leadership, and then reached out to the unlikeliest of partners in Graham, who has been one of his harshest critics and who joked last year that Cruz could be murdered by colleagues on the Senate floor—and that members of the chamber would vote to acquit. “I want to apologize to Ted for saying he should be killed on the Senate floor,” Graham said during their eyebrow-raising joint appearance on Morning Joe. “I’m sorry, Ted.”” [Politico

ON THE HILL: “Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that the House Democratic Caucus has approved Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida to be the next Ranking Member of the House Ethics Committee. “Congressman Ted Deutch’s integrity commands the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” said Leader Pelosi. [DemLeader]

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

SPOTLIGHT: “After Bond Chief’s Exit, Millennium’s Englander Left Alone Again” by Saijel Kishan: “Israel Englander isn’t used to getting blindsided. But on the morning of Jan. 3, Englander, the billionaire founder of Millennium Management, was caught off guard in his eighth floor offices on Fifth Avenue when his top lieutenant and potential successor abruptly resigned. The reason was as old as they come in the hedge fund game. After eight years, Michael Gelband, a hot shot in fixed income, wanted to be more than an employee at Englander’s wildly successful hedge fund. He wanted a stake. Englander, 68, known as Izzy, now finds himself where he’s spent much of his career: alone at the top. His $34.4 billion empire, built out of scores of separate trading teams, remains solely in his control and without an anointed successor.”

The question for Englander’s 2,100 employees and his deep-pocketed investors is whether Millennium can move out of its founder’s shadow. Gelband’s looming departure has set the industry abuzz. Outsiders, and many insiders, are asking what exactly is going on at Millennium. The answer, according to people close to the firm, is that Englander didn’t share ownership. A Brooklyn native with a no-nonsense demeanor, Englander is famous for his eat-what-you-kill ethos. Make money, and you get rich. Lose money, and you’re out — fast. He’s placed his traders in about 175 silos, each with a different market strategy. Few of them get to see the big picture, a setup that makes managing Millennium a challenge but also keeps the teams focused.” [Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION: Mike Granoff emails us… “The digitization of information and communication has transformed our lives — now we are digitizing transportation and that will be no less a transformation. Israel is already well known as a hub for new mobility technology innovation. With companies like General Motors and Mobileye, among many others, developing autonomous vehicle technology in Israel, it is only natural to test self-driving cars here. And with these first steps the Netanyahu government is sending a signal that Israel also intends to stamp itself an early adopter in deployment of self-driving cars, bringing an age of safer, cleaner, more efficient, less expensive and more widely accessible transportation to the public.” [JPost

“Trends in Israel’s cybersecurity investments” by Yoav Leitersdorf: “Even as the global cybersecurity market experiences a slowdown in investment, the Israeli sector continues to grow. Companies are raising significant capital, even in tough times. Innovation from Israeli companies is a real bright spot as new security fields keep emerging. More and more companies are able to raise follow-on financing and continue to grow their business before exiting—a great sign of maturity of the cybersecurity entrepreneurs.” [TechCrunch]

“Zuckerberg’s latest philanthropy move: acquiring a tech startup” by Kia Kokalitcheva: “Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic organization has made its first acquisition: Meta, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to help scientists parse through scientific papers… Science and medicine are some of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s main areas of focus, so Meta’s technology will help it with its goals to improve research and curing diseases. Meta’s tools will become free to scientists, the company said in an announcement.” [Axios

“A star tech and media banker shares his thoughts on dealmaking in 2017” by Portia Crowe: “For Aryeh Bourkoff, the star tech, media, and telecom (TMT) banker and founder of the boutique bank LionTree, 2017 will be a year of uncertainty. But it will also be ripe with opportunity, especially in the TMT and consumer spaces. That’s the message Bourkoff gave his team in a year-end letter sent out in December. He referred specifically to the election of Donald Trump as US president and said that political shift could lead to a repatriation of cash, among other things. That could free up cash for mergers and acquisitions — especially for companies like Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Cisco, and Oracle, which combined hold some $500 billion in cash overseas.” [BI

AT&T announces new unlimited $10 a day pass in over 100 countries including Israel: “You can talk and text all you want, and use your data plan in over 100 countries, only paying for the days you use abroad. Instead of being charged per minute, message, or megabyte while traveling, you‘ll pay just $10 a day per device for any 24-hour period you use your device in an International Day Pass country.” [ATT

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Ivanka and Jared’s Ride to Church on Shabbat Sparks Controversy” by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “When America’s most famous observant and newly influential Jews, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kusher, travelled to her father’s inaugural balls by car last Friday and then attended a church service with the new president on Saturdaymorning, it sparked a debate that continues to ping-pong around the world on social media. At issue: What are the ramifications of Trump, who converted to Judaism under the tutelage of an Orthodox rabbi, and Kushner, who is from an Orthodox family, doing things publicly which violate the Sabbath and are contrary to Jewish norms?” [Haaretz]

“Ivanka Trump grabs lunch in Woodley Park with her son and some pals” by Emily Heil: “Hey, isn’t that … first daughter Ivanka Trump dining in Woodley Park at the Open City coffee shop Monday afternoon? President Trump’s elder daughter was with her son, Joseph, and several female friends, according to the restaurant’s manager. They ordered from the breakfast menu (little Joseph had oatmeal, spoon-fed by mom) and were greeted by only a few well-wishers.” [WashPost]

“Philip Roth E-Mails on Trump” by Judith Thurman: “Asked if this warning has come to pass, Roth e-mailed, “My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.”” [NewYorker

“Messaging App Has Bipartisan Support Amid Hacking Concerns” by Mara Gay: “Signal, a smartphone app that allows users to send encrypted messages, is gaining popularity in the political world amid rising fears about hacking and surveillance in the wake of a tumultuous election year. Council members Daniel Garodnick, David Greenfield and Corey Johnson are on the app. So are Howard Wolfson and Marc La Vorgna, close aides to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.” [WSJ]

“Mark Halperin leaves Bloomberg” by Dylan Byers: “I am no longer with Bloomberg Politics,” Halperin wrote in an email to friends and associates on Monday. “I will have more updates soon on 2017 and beyond, but you might want to follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Just in case.” [CNNMoney

“Fox News signs ex-Kerry adviser Marie Harf as contributor” by Joe Concha: “Harf most recently served as senior adviser for strategic communications to former Secretary of State John Kerry. Prior to that, she held the position of deputy spokesperson for the State Department from July 2013 until May 2015.” [TheHill

“From Harvard to ‘La La Land’” by Colleen Walsh: “On the phone recently from Los Angeles, the composer (Justin Hurwitz) recalled being told a key Harvard takeaway would be “the people you meet.” It was a spot-on prediction. As a freshman he met Damien Chazelle, a skilled jazz drummer whose budding passion for film foreshadowed the screenplay and director Golden Globes he took home for “La La Land.” A shared love of music brought the pair together.” [Harvard

SPORTS BLINK: “Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is paying for every team employee to go to the Super Bowl in Houston” by Emmett Knowlton: “According to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, franchise owner Arthur Blank is paying to send every Falcons employee — every single one! — to Houston for the big game. As SB Nation revealed, there are approximately 270 employees in the Falcons directory, and the cheapest Super Bowl tickets are currently listed at over $3,000.” [BI

“Jeff Bagwell came to my bar mitzvah” by Darren Rovell: “I had to have a baseball player at my bar mitzvah. That was my wish to my dad as that day, June 15, 1991, was fast approaching. Knowing that I was an avid reader of Baseball America and Minor League Baseball Card Monthly, my dad was looking to find some prospects for the celebration. Interpretation: We weren’t going to break the bank on having some Hall of Famer, though one of my brother’s friends did, in fact, have Mickey Mantle at his party. The irony is that today, some 25½ years later, it turns out we had a Hall of Famer there. We just didn’t know it at the time.” [ESPN]

DESSERT: “Biderman’s Jewish Deli Opens in Far West With Sandwiches and Soups” by Elizabeth Leader Smith: “The deli is located around the corner from the Jewish Community Center of Austin. “Austin lacks a good Jewish deli,” stated Biderman. “The Northwest Hills area, and specifically Far West, are a hub for Jewish activity in Austin with the Jewish Community Center and multiple congregations. We think our food will appeal to the masses, but thought it best to locate close to our core target market.” [Eater]  

BIRTHDAYS: 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 76… Born in Tel Aviv, 2011 Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry, Professor at Technion and Iowa State University, Dan Shechtman turns 76… 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 69… 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 66… Conductor, violinist, and violist, who has performed with leading symphony orchestras worldwide, Yuri Bashmet turns 64… Editor-in-chief of the Baltimore Jewish Times and news editor at Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent, Joshua Runyan turns 36… TACKMA’s Jeffrey Schottenstein turns 31… Danny Flamberg… Judith Alban

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]




Daily Kickoff: Trump team promotes ZOA over other pro-Israel groups | ‘Achashverosh incarnate’ | Josh Kushner is everywhere | Kraft’s payback in sight

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DRIVING THE DAY: According to Mike Allen, “Anthony Scaramucci, the charismatic investment pioneer who now is a top White House official, is showing rising West Wing clout. In New York this afternoon, he’ll hold two high-stakes meetings that reflect his internal juice: Mort Klein, close friend of Sheldon Adelson and national president of the Zionist Organization of America, will exchange views on Israel with Scaramucci, who has been a loyal friend to the pro-Israel community. Adelson wants to convey his views on Israel, including the movement of the embassy. “Mooch,” as Scaramucci is affectionately known, is director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs, and will report today’s findings to Jared Kushner.” [Axios]

Our Take: This news struck us as odd considering Mort Klein was in DC all weekend. He could have easily met with Scaramucci or others and likely did. Why make a big public deal of this particular NYC meeting?

We asked Mort Klein… who told us: “Scaramucci has the same job as Valerie Jarrett had in the Obama White House. I am meeting with him to talk about Israel, about the dangers of a Palestinian state, about the extraordinary importance of moving the embassy, especially as a sign that Islamic terrorist threats will not control policy, and to talk about the Palestinian Authority’s war against Israel. I am speaking to as many Trump officials about these issues as I can. They have told me that they realize that ZOA is the Jewish organization that most promotes and reflects their views about the Arab-Islamic war against Israel. They know that almost all the other organizations support a Palestinian state, do not come out and say Jews have a right to live in Judea and Samaria. They have told me — one after another — that we are the only major Jewish group they understand reflects Trump’s views on these issues. So, they have reached out to me, they call me about Israel issues all the time, and my meeting with Scaramucci is just a continuation of a strong and enduring relationship between the Trump Administration and the ZOA and myself.”

As for why they didn’t meet in DC over the weekend: “Everybody was running around during the weekend, going from one party to another.”

Klein on Spicer’s statement about the embassy relocation: “They began to discuss this during the campaign. So that statement was really not quite accurate. Trump has been talking about this for many many months. They are very serious. I’ve been told by all the top officials that they are going to move the embassy. I have urged them to move as soon as possible.”

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “U.S. in ‘beginning stages’ of talks on Jerusalem embassy move: spokesman” by Warren Strobel and Matt Spetalnick: “”We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement. Aides said no announcement of an embassy move was imminent.” [Reuters• Chinese President Calls for East Jerusalem as Capital of Palestinian State [Haaretz

“Among Jerusalem Embassy Backers, Varying Views On When And How” by JI’s Aaron Magid: “The U.S. Embassy should be relocated “as soon as possible,” Mike Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute told Jewish Insider. “There will be some gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes and then it will be forgotten, but the longer we drag it out the more it becomes an issue,” he added… Professor Eugene Kontorovich… told Jewish Insider. “The law has said that the Embassy should be relocated to Jerusalem since 1995. So, 22 years too late is the latest it should be. I see absolutely no reason for delay.” However, Daniel Gordis, Senior Vice President at Shalem College, advocates for a more “gradual” approach. “If it happens in a month, or six months or a year, I don’t think makes much substantive difference,” he explained.

“Some argue that the Trump Administration should adopt a more minimalist approach to the transfer. “If the U.S. has a huge ribbon cutting ceremony with Bibi and Trump getting on the podium and making all sorts of pronouncements, I think it puts Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. in a very uncomfortable position because they can’t not respond to something like that,” Gordis explained.” [JewishInsider

MK Sharren Haskel (Likud) tells us: “The fact that the United States will move its Embassy to what Israel has always considered and will forever consider as its capital will send a message to the rest of the world that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, Jerusalem will always stay the capital of Israel. It would be greatly appreciated once they do it and, obviously, I hope they do it as soon as they can.”

Ayman Mohyeldin: “Sources to Joe Scarborough Trump admin won’t move US embassy to Jerusalem quickly. The big priority is a peace deal by gauging regional positions 1st.” [Twitter]  

Ben Jacobs: “Worth noting that the Obama Administration spent eight years in the “beginning stages” of discussing closing Guantanamo.” [Twitter

FLASHBACK 02-04-2001 — Bush aides cautious on moving U.S. Embassy in Israel: “Powell said there are no immediate plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, but the administration was “studying it.” … In an interview with CNN, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice… said there was no timetable for the embassy move… “Part of the process will be to talk to friends in the region to assess the possibilities of doing this,” Rice said. “But the commitment remains. The question of exactly when and how, I think, has to be judged within the context in which we find ourselves.”” [CNN

“US Ambassador Friedman to reside in Jerusalem” by Itamar Eichner: “In private talks, Friedman expressed his intention to live in Jerusalem regardless of the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Friedman owns a spacious apartment in the Talbiyeh neighborhood of Jerusalem, which he visits several times per year.” [Ynet

“In Israel, marchers criticize talk of moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem” by Joshua Mitnick: “[Larry] Derfner also slammed Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel, real estate lawyer David Friedman, for referring to the liberal American Jewish political advocacy group J-Street as “kapos.” “We have to organize a boycott of him,’’ said Derfner, an Israeli American.” [LATimes]

HEARD ON FRIDAY — Trump to Chuck Schumer: “Here is one that is not at all controversial: David Friedman from New York you must know, right?” Schumer: “I’ve never met him.” Trump: “You sort of said that about me too… David is going to do a great job.” [YouTube]

“Trump speaks with Netanyahu” by Karen DeYoung: “Trump invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit him at the White House in early February, during a brief telephone call Sunday that Trump described as “very nice.” A White House statement said the two agreed to consult closely on regional issues, “including the threats posed by Iran.” It said Trump emphasized the close relationship between the two countries, promised to work toward Israeli-Palestinian peace… Netanyahu, in a statement released by his office, called the conversation “very warm.” He said he had “expressed his desire to work closely” with the administration, “with no daylight between” the two countries.” [WashPost; WSJ• Trump Speaks With Netanyahu, Seeking to Thaw U.S. Relations [NYTimes]

Gil Hoffman: “Breaking: POTUS invites Netanyahu to DC next month. But will BB still be PM then? And will he still come 2 March AIPAC policy conference?” [Twitter]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Ministers Push Back Vote on Israeli Settlement Annexation Until Netanyahu-Trump Meet” by Barak Ravid: “Israeli ministers postponed a vote on a bill to annex the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim on Sunday, agreeing to hold the vote after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington… Netanyahu told [Education Minister Naftali] Bennett that Trump’s advisers said no unilateral steps should be taken by Israel before the Netanyahu-Trump meeting, scheduled to take place in the first week of February, but rather to coordinate and cooperate. “I’m getting messages from Trump not to jump in head first,” Netanyahu told Bennett… On Saturday night, Netanyahu posted a video to his Facebook page stating that one of the main issue he would be bringing up with Trump in their first meeting was the Iranian threat.” [Haaretz; WashPost• Netanyahu says he’ll lift restrictions on East Jerusalem construction [ToI]

“Trump Presidency Is Already Altering Israeli-Palestinian Politics” by Ian Fisher: “Amid the lack of clarity on Mr. Trump’s embassy intentions, Mr. Netanyahu engaged in a day of furious political positioning. On one hand, he is happy to have someone in the White House seemingly more like-minded on the Palestinian question than Mr. Obama was. But on the other, Mr. Trump’s advisers and his designated ambassador, David M. Friedman, a supporter of Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, are in some ways in closer political step with Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing rivals. As such, Mr. Netanyahu tried to tamp down his rivals by positioning himself both as Mr. Trump’s main interlocutor as well as the champion of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.” [NYTimes]

Josh Block: “Nice. Currently on State Dept web site: “The U.S.-Israel Bilateral Relations Fact Sheet is currently being updated.”” [Twitter; State]

INAUGURATION SIGHTS & SOUNDS: “Trump takes office, vows an end to ‘American carnage’” by Philip Rucker, John Wagner and David A. Fahrenthold: “And as Trump promised to return power to “struggling families,” two of his wealthiest benefactors — casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and wife Miriam — were among the day’s guests of honor, scoring prime aisle seats behind Trump on the dais.” [WashPost• Top 5 Jewish inauguration moments: Rabbi Hier, ‘America First,’ Chuck Schumer and more [JewishJournal]

“How Senator Schumer and Rabbi Hier Snuck Jewish Dissent Into the Trump Inaugural” by J.J. Goldberg:“It was left to the sole non-Christian, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance, to quote the parts of the Bible that remind us of our duties to our fellow human beings, our obligations as a society to the poor, the weak and powerless. Hier, a conservative-leaning Orthodox rabbi, has been under pressure for weeks from Jewish leftists to make a bold statement at the inaugural and speak up for social justice. I don’t think they expected the rabbi to deliver, but he did — elegantly.” [Forward]

“The new Washington elite schmoozes over lunch” by Alexander Bolton: “His closest allies, Vice President Pence, daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner… GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and political adviser Kellyanne Conway, were seated around the room… Schumer said that the finality of the moment reminded him of his daughter’s recent wedding.” [TheHill

“Sheldon and Miriam Adelson and the Ricketts family hosted a private inaugural party [Friday] night in a room decked out like a Vegas lounge with TVs framed in gold. The party took place at the Morning Consult office close to the White House. SPOTTED: Sylvie and Todd Ricketts, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), John Paulson, Paul Singer, Andy Abboud, Robin and Brian Baker, Rob Collins, Laura and Joel Kaplan, Campbell Brown and Dan Senor.” [Playbook

“Despite Sabbath, Ivanka Trump and Husband Celebrate Inauguration” by Maggie Haberman: “For Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, celebrating the presidential inauguration by attending the gatherings on Friday night posed an obstacle to their Orthodox Jewish observance of the Sabbath… A Jewish person who was briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly about it said on Friday night that they were given an exemption under the principle in Jewish law of pikuach nefesh.” [NYTimes

Rabbi Jonathan Muskat: “For all I know, not attending this very momentous, festive event might be something that President Trump would take personally and remember for a long time and it is possible that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner not attending might have adverse affects on their relationship with their father and father-in-law which might have adverse effects on the State of Israel.” [Facebook

TOP TALKER: “Is Donald Trump’s Insecurity a National Security Threat?” by Nick Bilton: “The bigger challenge is that Trump is facing an unprecedented challenge in his career. For the first time in his adult life, Donald J. Trump is going to have to stop focusing relentlessly on Donald J. Trump. And I’m not sure that he can do it. Worse, I fear that his inability to look beyond his stifling narcissism has grave national security ramifications.” [VanityFair]

“Rocky First Weekend for Trump Troubles Even His Top Aides” by Peter Baker, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “To the extent that there was a plan to take advantage of the first days of his administration, when a president is usually at his maximum leverage, Mr. Trump threw it aside with a decision to lash out about crowd sizes at his swearing in and to rewrite the history of his dealings with intelligence agencies. The lack of discipline troubled even senior members of Mr. Trump’s circle, some of whom had urged him not to indulge his simmering resentment at what he saw as unfair news coverage.” [NYTimes]

–How It Happened: “Mr. Trump grew increasingly angry on Inauguration Day after reading a series of Twitter messages pointing out that the size of his inaugural crowd did not rival that of Mr. Obama’s in 2009. But he spent his Friday night in a whirlwind of celebration and affirmation. When he awoke on Saturday morning, after his first night in the Executive Mansion, the glow was gone, several people close to him said, and the new president was filled anew with a sense of injury.” [NYT] • A comparison we’ve been hearing often — Avital Chizhik on Trump: “Achashverosh incarnate” [Twitter]

“Justice Department blesses White House post for Kushner” by Josh Gerstein: “A 14-page opinion dated Friday from Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel asserts that a federal anti-nepotism law that applies to agencies across the executive branch does not cover the White House itself… “We believe that the President’s special hiring authority [in the 1978 law] permits him to make appointments to the White House Office that the anti-nepotism statute might otherwise forbid,” [Deputy Assistant Attorney General Daniel] Koffsky wrote in the opinion sent to White House Counsel Donald McGahn at his request.” [Politico; NYTimes

“Kushner’s Brother Goes From The Women’s March To The White House” by Nitasha Tiku: On Saturday, Kushner was photographed amid Women’s March protesters in Washington, DC, and on Sunday he made a rare, if enigmatic, nod to the Trump administration by posting to Instagram a picture of himself and his brother standing below a photograph of John F. Kennedy at the White House. A source close to Kushner told BuzzFeed News: “Josh was at the White House with his family today to watch his brother being sworn in. Yesterday, he took a quick walk near his hotel, and someone took a picture of him.” However, according to The Washingtonian, Kushner, a lifelong Democrat who has donated to Democratic candidates, told fellow attendees at the Women’s March that he was there “observing.”” [BuzzFeed]

Spotted: Charles Kushner in the East Room for son Jared’s swearing-in [Pic

ICYMI: How Jared Kushner’s White House Deputy, Avrahm Berkowitz, Landed in the West Wing [JewishInsider

INTERVIEW: Oded Revivi, Chief Foreign Envoy of the Yesha Council spoke to JI’s Aaron Magid following his attendance at Trump’s inauguration: “For the first time, the Yesha council, which is an umbrella organization for all of the towns in the regional council of Judea and Samaria received an official invitation to come and take part. For us, it was a great sign of approval of interests that we are representing half a million people who live in Judea and Samaria and that was a basic reason why we have accepted the invitation and decided to form a delegation to come. The people who actually invited us asked to keep their names confidential. At the end of the day, the fact that we were sitting extremely close to the stage I think is a clear indication of the nature of the people who invited us.”

On his expectations of the Trump Administration: “We have got many people in the administration that we can basically reach. By, let’s say, two phone calls we can get to the President. There are many people who are in a very close circle of the new President who are big and longtime friends of Judea and Samaria, people who have studied in Judea and Samaria, and the people who are surrounding the President today are definitely aware and know the reality and the facts. Up until today, it was a long campaign. It was a celebration. Now we need to start working to make sure that not only America is great again but also Judea, Samaria and Israel are great again.”

HEARD OVER THE WEEKEND: NYT’s Peter Baker on Trump’s standing in Israel: “Israel, though – he’s very popular, I have to say. I’ve just got back from Jerusalem. That’s certainly one place in the world that they see his arrival as a – as a good thing. He’s going to support them, finally, in their view, after eight years of Barack Obama, who they did not feel was supportive.” [PBS

“Senior Israeli Diplomat Dore Gold Says Obama’s Arrogance Hurt Relationship W/Israel” by Jeff Dunetz: “The interview (in Hebrew) started with Gold relating a story from the funeral of Shimon Peres four months ago. He spoke of Prime Minister Netanyahu greeting each world leader who came to the funeral individually. As each leader left, Netanyahu shook their hands and exchanged a few niceties. Suddenly there was a phone call from Air Force One which along with the crew carried President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State John Kerry. Yoav Horowitz, Netanyahu’s chief of staff, answered the phone… “Tell your boss that if he wants a funeral like Peres’, he should begin to move, to go forward.” the American voice on the other end said. Horowitz passed on the message immediately. “Tell him,” Netanyahu responded, “that I give up the honor because I have no intention of participating in the funeral of my country.”” [TheLid; MakorRishon]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “The Netanyahu Investigations” by Gregg Carlstrom: “This all feels very much like 2008, when a similar swirl of controversy forced Ehud Olmert to resign, after being accused of accepting cash-filled envelopes from Morris Talansky, an American businessman, and spending the money on expensive cigars, watches, and other luxuries… “This government has reached the end. … National responsibility requires we return to the people for new elections,” said the opposition leader at the time, a certain Benjamin Netanyahu. But there’s a key difference here. Netanyahu, unlike Olmert at the time of his resignation, still enjoys the support of his coalition, casting doubt on the predictions of the doomsayers.” [TheAtlantic]

“‘Fire behind the smoke’: Probe of Netanyahu has Israelis worried” by William Booth: “Even a die-hard Netanyahu critic told The Washington Post that the evening broadcasts felt like “Chinese water torture.” The drip, drip, drip of alternatively embarrassing and damaging material continues… Life is unfair, but the probes are hurting Netanyahu with the public, at least in the short run.” [WashPost]

DNC WATCH: “Ralph Nader Slams Keith Ellison For ‘Toning Down’ His Stance on Israel” by Madina Toure: “When he started running for the chair of the DNC, he began changing: toning down his opinions, not repeating progressive positions,” Nader told the Observer… “And then he said that, because he was losing ground to the establishment who wanted former Secretary of Labor Perez to be the chair, he said, well he would quit his seat, won’t be a part-time chair, starts backing off on Israel-Palestine issue,” Nader continued. “So I think, do we have the real Keith Ellison or do we have a transformed, conditioned Keith Ellison so desperate for the position that he’s forgotten a lot of his own former courageous stands.” [Observer]

2018 WATCH: “J.B. Pritzker leans on Sacks, Steans as he explores governor’s run” by Natasha Korecki:“Michael Sacks, GCM Grosvenor CEO and a top personal adviser to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, called Pritzker “extraordinary” and offered his backing should Pritzker ultimately file campaign papers.” [Politico]

2020 WATCH: Booker walks 2020 tightrope” by Burgess Everett and Gabriel Debenedetti: “In interviews with over a dozen lawmakers, donors and operatives, Democrats say that whether he likes it or not, the 47-year-old senator is in the mix for the Democratic nomination in 2020 simply because of who he is — and what he’s doing now… “He obviously is interested in running for president, and he’s decided to position himself as vocally anti-Trump. There’s certainly an appetite for that,” said Bob Shrum, a veteran lead strategist for Democratic presidential campaigns.” [Politico

TOP-OP: “Machlochet L’Shem Shamayim: A More Perfect Argument” by Chanan Weissman: “Disagreements. Arguments. Quarrels. Disputes. Jews are not new to discord. We have a long and, perhaps, cherished history of expressing our differences… Yes, we were once strangers in a strange land, but we have never been strangers to a good argument. At its core, an argument for the sake of heaven is one whose objective is not the defeat of the other but rather the humble embrace of an ultimate truth. It’s less about “winning” an argument and more about solving a problem. And for those who embrace this values-based form of argument — sofah l’hitkayem, the end endures. The truth emerges. The disputants’ dignity is preserved. The community is strengthened.” [Sh’maNow]

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SPOTLIGHT: “Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich” by Evan Osnos: “How many wealthy Americans are really making preparations for a catastrophe? It’s hard to know exactly; a lot of people don’t like to talk about it. (“Anonymity is priceless,” one hedge-fund manager told me, declining an interview.) Sometimes the topic emerges in unexpected ways. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and a prominent investor, recalls telling a friend that he was thinking of visiting New Zealand. “Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?” the friend asked. “I’m, like, Huh?” Hoffman told me. New Zealand, he discovered, is a favored refuge in the event of a cataclysm.” [NewYorker]

PROFILE: “President, with an asterisk: Laurent Morali is the new head of Kushner Cos. But how much power does he really wield?” by Konrad Putzier: ““Am I the leader of the company?” Laurent Morali, the new president of Kushner Companies, repeated the question, then answered without a moment’s hesitation. “I am.” … Morali, a France native and Wall Street veteran, has been with Kushner Cos. for almost nine years… “I think Laurent has played the role, in a lot of people’s eyes, as day-to-day president of that company for a long time,” said one source familiar with the firm… “Jared was running the Observer, he was helping Ivanka with her stuff, he was helping his brother with Thrive (Capital) –Laurent was was always the guy nose-to-grindstone running the business.” David Hochfelder, a former top acquisitions executive at RFR Realty who worked with Kushner Cos. on its first Dumbo acquisition, said he spent more time with Morali than with Jared over the deal.” [TRD]

“Behind Closed Doors At Davos: “Make Elites Great Again” by Miriam Elder: “The hostess, Lally Graham Weymouth, a senior associate editor at The Washington Post and daughter of the late Katharine Graham, was calling on people around the room to share their thoughts when she hit upon David Rubinstein, the jovial co-founder of the Carlyle Group. His remarks were different — and, people in attendance said, made as a joke. Rubinstein, three people in attendance told BuzzFeed News, pleaded to those gathered that elites were people too. With feelings! And they deserved to be listened to.” [BuzzFeed] • Larry Summers: Disillusioned in Davos [Blog]

“Plasco Building disaster rekindles painful memories for L.A.’s Iranian Jews” by Karmel Melamed: “At a time when Iran was beginning to modernize, the building was not only a symbol of the country’s positive transformation, but it was also a powerful symbol of immense achievement of Iranian Jews. It was likewise a symbol of great pride for Iranian Jews who just four decades prior had been forced by the Qajar kings of Iran to live in poverty and in run-down ghettos… The Jewish community leaders in Iran’s worry about the Plasco building’s backlash was real because according to Shahrzad Elghanayan (Habib’s granddaughter), Iranian Shiite cleric Mahmoud Taleghani objected to the idea that a Jew had built the tallest building of its time in Iran.” [JewishJournal]

“Attack on Alt-Right Leader Has Internet Asking: Is It O.K. to Punch a Nazi?” by Liam Stack: “[Richard] Spencer, who is credited with coining the term alt-right… was punched in the head on Inauguration Day by a person clad in black as he was being interviewed by a journalist. At the time of the attack, Mr. Spencer was explaining the meaning of Pepe the Frog… Opponents of the punch tended to say that violence had no place in political debate. Supporters tended to say the punch was funny, and more than a few compared Mr. Spencer’s attacker to famous Nazi punchers from pop culture, like Indiana Jones and Captain America.” [NYTimes]

HOLLYWOOD: “Alternate Endings: Will interactive films be this century’s defining art form?” by Raffi Khatchadourian: “Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, young directors who go by the joint film credit Daniels, are known for reality-warped miniatures—short films, music videos, commercials—that are eerie yet playful in mood… Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that when the Daniels were notified by their production company, several years ago, that an Israeli indie pop star living in New York wanted to hire them to experiment with technology that could alter fundamental assumptions of moviemaking, they took the call. The musician was Yoni Bloch, arguably the first Internet sensation on Israel’s music scene—a wispy, bespectacled songwriter from the Negev whose wry, angst-laden music went viral in the early aughts, leading to sold-out venues and a record deal.” [NewYorker]

SPORTS BLINK: “New England Patriots’ Owner, Still Sore at N.F.L., Has Payback in Sight” by Ken Belson and Ben Shpigel:“At the Super Bowl in Houston in two weeks, the N.F.L. may have no choice but to air a public and profound grudge on national television… Roger Goodell presenting the Lombardi Trophy to Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the Patriots. The moment would be delicious payback for Kraft, who is still simmering about the four-game suspension his quarterback, Tom Brady, served as a result of the cheating scandal known as Deflategate, after the underinflated footballs meant to give him a throwing advantage. Kraft largely kept quiet while the Brady case played out. But in a recent interview, he made clear that he remains annoyed by how his best player and team were pilloried.” [NYTimes]

“Tom Brady ad highlights Israeli-developed video tech” by Luke Tress: “Intel’s “Be the Player” technology will provide viewers with 360-degree replays of key moments in the game. Using the tagline “Intel 360 Replay makes anything look epic,” the commercial features triumphal music and dramatic views of Tom Brady getting out of bed, brushing his teeth and eating a dropped pancake off of the floor… For the Super Bowl, 38 cameras were installed throughout the stadium for the 360-degree reconstructions. Each clip will be around 15-30 seconds long and is around one terabyte of data. The technology was developed by Replay Technologies, founded in Israel in 2011.” [ToI]

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN LA: The Republican Jewish Coalition’s LA chapter held a book event for Tevi Troy’s “Shall We Wake the President?: Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office” at Bart Kogan’s Westwood condo. Attendees included “How Trump Won” author Joel Pollak (just back from inauguration), his wife Julia, political strategist Julianne Shinto, and RJC LA’s Doris Ohayon. Troy noted that many people ask him if his book is about presidents who are disasters. “Half of those people think that the outgoing president is a disaster, half think the incoming president is a disaster, and Bill Kristol thinks both are true,” he answered.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD: Julianna Goldman, correspondent at CBS News and a Bloomberg alum, and Michael Gottlieb, a partner at Boies Schiller and Flexner, post on Facebook: “Introducing Abner Sam Gottlieb. He made his debut at 2:46 [Saturday] morning, weighing in at 8 lbs 4 oz (roughly half of which appears to be his head of hair).” [Pic] h/t Playbook

BIRTHDAYS: Real estate developer and minority owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, Bruce Ratner turns 72… Educational consultant, trade association and non-profit executive, previously an aide to Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug (D-NY), Peter D. Rosenstein turns 70… Manager of Innovative Strategies LLLP and JHJ Investment LLLP, board member of the Baltimore-based Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, Howard K. Cohen turns 70… Israeli archaeologist, educator, on the faculty of Oxford Brookes University, Estee Dvorjetski turns 66… 41st Mayor of Los Angeles (2005-2013), now a candidate for Governor of California in 2018, Antonio Villaraigosa turns 64… Avner Solomon Yochonon Donn, politics and local news editor at Hamodia (yesterday)…

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