Daily Kickoff: ‘They’re Morons’ — Trump’s Ambassador to Israel describing the ADL | Erekat goes after Friedman | Tensions in FL over Dem Party Chairs

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TOP TALKER: “Trump’s Ambassador to Israel on ADL: ‘They’re Morons’” by Jacob Kornbluh: “In an interview with Jewish Insider on the eve of the election, Friedman referred to leaders of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as “morons” for condemning Trump’s campaign rhetoric and commercials that were perceived as dog-whistles to his anti-Semitic supporters… “Again, this is what happens when people take these insane arguments to their logical extension. They lose all credibility, and frankly, they sound like morons. That’s what these people are. They’re morons.” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, in Friedman’s eyes, is “somebody who I believe is far left, who was a well-known supporter of J Street.”

— “Friedman indicated that while Trump would seek to develop a working relationship with AIPAC and mainstream Jewish American organizations, ADL would not be welcome at a Trump White House. “[Trump] has great respect for AIPAC, and I think he will maintain a very good relationship with AIPAC… I don’t think the ADL is one of them, but there are plenty of middle of the road, centrist Jewish organizations that he will be on very good terms with,” Friedman added.” [JewishInsider

ADL responds in an email to Jewish Insider: “ADL is not in the left-wing or right-wing of the Jewish community but proud to stand in the center where we have been for more than 100 years. We have always been and continue to be a centrist organization. ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt is not “far left” nor a “well-known supporter of J Street.” He has never worked for J Street nor donated money to the organization… ADL hopes to engage optimistically with the incoming president we have done with previous presidents from both political parties since Woodrow Wilson. At the same time, ADL will not relent on our issues – fighting anti-Semitism, battling bigotry and securing justice and fair treatment to all.”

Andrew Weinstein tells us: “I can’t speak for the ADL, but his comments are beyond outrageous. The United States Ambassador to Israel must be a serious diplomat, not someone who viciously attacks those he disagrees with. In a time where anti-Semitism is on the rise, the American Jewish community must stand together. Friedman’s careless rhetoric only emboldens those whose goal is to delegitimize organizations like the ADL. Donald Trump should withdraw his nomination and if he fails to do that, the senate should reject him.”

Elliott Abrams: “I am delighted that the United States will soon have an envoy who can do what the Israeli ambassador in Washington can do: call home and speak to the top guy. I’m very pleased that we’ll have an ambassador who has known the country to which he is accredited for decades and won’t need briefing books to learn its geography.” [CFR]

J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami writes in the Washington Post: “On behalf of my father-in-law, who drove trucks through gunfire in 1948 to break the siege of Jerusalem, and my parents, who are buried on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, I will do everything I can to expunge rhetoric such as Friedman’s from my community’s debate over Israel. And as an American, I will do everything I can to ensure that my country is never represented in my family’s homeland by someone who treats people in a way that is anathema to the Jewish and democratic values on which I was raised.” [WashPost

Jason Greenblatt, co-chair of Trump’s Israel advisory committee: “I have known David for years and I am consistently impressed by his intelligence and excellent judgment. President-elect Trump chose David and me to serve as Co-Chairmen of the Israel Advisory Committee during the campaign because he wanted advice from people who know and love Israel. Having worked on this committee with David for months, I know that President-elect Trump got exactly what he wanted: David has tremendous passion for and devotion to Israel. David’s appointment is proof positive that President-elect Trump will be a true friend to Israel.”

Vivian Bercovici, former Canadian ambassador to Israel: “Mr. Friedman is not anointed to go rogue and indulge in personal fantasies. When I was appointed as Canada’s ambassador to Israel in 2014 by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I was attacked by the press much as Mr. Friedman is today. Why? Because I am Jewish and was therefore supposedly biased toward Israel. This was seen as vitiating any competence or skill I might have brought to the job.” [WSJ

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: Erekat Launches Personal Attack Against Friedman” by JI’s Aaron Magid: “By Monday, Erekat appeared to change his tone. “With such a move by Mr. Trump, he says that there is no longer a two-state solution when he sends an ambassador like David Friedman to the region… For God’s sake, what is going on?” … Last week, Erekat and a senior Palestinian delegation came to Washington… Jewish Insider asked Erekat about the outcome of these meetings, but the chief Palestinian negotiator clarified, “We did not meet with any of the Trump people. I don’t know any of them as a matter of fact. We tried, but we did not get the chance to meet with any of them.” It appears from Erekat’s answer that Trump officials turned down the Palestinian delegation’s request for a meeting… “I am still the chief negotiator for the Palestinians. If the (US) Embassy moved to Jerusalem, I will not be the negotiator anymore,” he added.” [JewishInsider]

Jordan Hirsch: “Can someone count how many times Saeb Erekat has threatened to or actually quit? Wait: Matthew Kalman did! Amazing” [Twitter]

Wary Saudis silent as Trump’s Israel position takes shape” by Bruce Riedel: “The Saudi reaction to Friedman’s appointment has thus far been quiet. The news was reported there with little comment, suggesting Salman is waiting to see what comes next and will give the incoming team time to carefully consider its decision on Jerusalem… The Saudis probably expect that the president-elect’s nominees for secretary of state and secretary of defense may have a different view. Rex Tillerson and James Mattis, respectively, are likely to understand the regional implications of changing American policy toward Jerusalem.” [Al-Monitor]

“Netanyahu Sees Opportunity for ‘Historic Change’ With Trump Administration” by Barak Ravid: “Netanyahu’s great expectations of Trump stemmed from what Mossad chief Yossi Cohen and acting National Security Adviser Jacob Nagel heard from Michael Flynn… Both men met with Flynn in the United States earlier this month. Since then, Netanyahu has said repeatedly that their meeting with Flynn was excellent, and that what they heard from him constituted a “turning point” in American foreign policy in general, and toward Israel and the broader Middle East in particular… “There’s an opportunity here,” the minister quoted Netanyahu as saying. “We can effect historic change.” … The Flynn meeting convinced Netanyahu and several other ministers that Israeli policy needs to be adjusted in light of Trump’s election win.” [Haaretz] • Netanyahu planning unprecedented new construction during Trump reign [Jpost]

“Divergence Grows in the America-Israel Relationship” by Shalom Lipner: “Concomitantly, in a twist of historic proportions, America’s First Family will now include Jews of its own. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband Jared, and their children affiliate with Modern Orthodoxy—a minority among American Jewry… While this may shift the White House toward greater appreciation of Israeli thinking on issues of religion and state, it will ironically widen the void between the dominant forces of contemporary Judaism: progressives in America and traditionalists in Israel.” [TheAtlantic• WATCH: Panelists debate Trump and the Jews [JewishJournal]

TRANSITION TOWER — “Trump’s Treasury Pick Moves in Secretive Hedge Fund Circles” by Matthew Goldstein and Alexander Stevenson: “Days after being tapped by Mr. Trump to be his finance chairman in May, Mr. Mnuchin flew out to a hedge fund conference at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. There, in a swirl of rock concerts, pool parties and casino nights, he schmoozed with billionaires. Mr. Mnuchin dined with Kenneth C. Griffin, the Chicago hedge fund titan, and government veterans like David H. Petraeus, the former C.I.A. director and retired general, and John A. Boehner, the former House speaker. He shook hands with Leon Cooperman, a 73-year-old pioneer in the industry and another Goldman Sachs alumnus. The courting paid off: Not long after the hedge fund conference, Mr. Mnuchin helped bring the billionaire investor John A. Paulson on as a donor, as well as Wilbur L. Ross Jr., now Mr. Trump’s commerce secretary nominee.” [NYTimes

“Trump team plans for infrastructure ‘task force’ to advance top spending priority” by Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson: “Key members of Trump’s team — including his son-in-law Jared Kushner, senior counselor Stephen K. Bannon, senior policy adviser Stephen Miller and Gary Cohn, whom Trump has tapped to head the National Economic Council — are all involved in the discussions.” [WashPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN — “Where will Ivanka Trump attend synagogue? Georgetown’s Kesher Israel close to White House is one option” by Julie Zauzmer and Colby Itkowitz: “At Chabad, Rabbi Levi Shemtov would not discuss with a reporter whether or not Kushner and Trump had spoken with him about attending his synagogue. The consensus among many in the District’s Modern Orthodox community is that Kesher Israel seems the best option for the couple… “I can tell you unequivocally that Ivanka and Jared and their family will be welcomed at Kesher Israel. We’re there to daven [pray] and live a Jewish life together, not to re-litigate the election,” said [Aaron] Keyak… “It might be that the gabbai was during the week working against you on a campaign but now is calling you up for an aliyah,” he said.” [WashPost]

DNC WATCH – “Keith Ellison’s one-man march” by Glenn Thrush: “Soon after, reporters unearthed 2010 comments about how Israel, “a country of seven million,” dominates U.S. policy in the Mideast — prompting a denunciation from the head of the Anti-Defamation League and Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban, casting his coronation into sudden and serious doubt. “Everything is fair game and it’s interesting … [But] I’m 53 years old,” Ellison said during this week’s episode of POLITICO’s “Off Message” podcast – adding that his fondness for the Nation of Islam movement began as a student and lapsed soon after. “I have four kids. My youngest child is 20. Some of the things they want to hit me for, I was younger than her when I wrote them. And so, come on. At some point, we all are human beings who have evolved over the course of 25 years, and yet we want to freeze each other in time.”” [Politico]

“Israel-Palestine tensions ripple through Democratic Party chair races” by Marc Caputo and Daniel Strauss: “Top Jewish fundraisers and activists in Florida have a message for the politicians who want to lead the Democratic Party: Support for the Palestinian cause at the expense of Israel is politically toxic. Few issues have torn at the fabric of party unity recently like the past stances on Israel taken by Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and former Miami state Sen. Dwight Bullard…. And in a surprise move, Ellison last week endorsed Bullard’s Miami rival, Stephen Bittel, a DNC finance chair who is Jewish.”

“If we elect the Dwight Bullards and we elect the Keith Ellisons to leadership rolls in our party, the Republicans are going to make significant inroads in the Jewish community,” said Michael Moskowitz, a staunch South Florida supporter of Israel who estimates he raises about $1 million every election cycle for Democrats. “The Democratic Party will just be going in the wrong direction on this issue if we do this. And so will our nation,” Moskowitz said. “With all the turmoil in the Middle East, Israel is our only true democratic ally.” Moskowitz and other donors say they’ll withhold support for the local, state and national parties if either man wins a leadership spot.” [PoliticoFL]

STATESIDE: “Ohio 14th state to pass anti-BDS bill” by Amanda Koehn: “Gov. John Kasich signed a bill on Dec. 19 that will prohibit a state agency from contracting with companies that boycott or disinvest from Israel… The bill also included language that will increase from 1 to 2 percent the amount of funds the state treasurer or country treasurers are allowed to invest in foreign bonds meeting specified criteria, including Israel Bonds.” [ClevelandJN] • Early poll shows Josh Mandel with big lead in 2018 Republican Ohio primary for U.S. Senate [Cleveland]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Mark Zuckerberg Spent 100 Hours Building His Own Robot Butler [VanityFair]  Brothers Menachem and Sholomke Nagar Unveil Axanya, The Jewish Answer to Airbnb [CHInfo] • New Jersey Aims to Punish Billionaire Carl Icahn for Closing Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City [NBC10• What Jonah Peretti thinks is next for BuzzFeed [Recode]

STARTUP NATION: “Exploring The Growing Asia-Israel Links For Venture Capital and Fund-Raising” by Rebecca Fannin: “In the latest example of cross-regional Israel-Asia venture capital deals, Hong Kong-based Arbor Ventures has led a $9.5 million, Series A investment in EverCompliant, a cyber intelligence company in Tel Aviv that’s a leader in detecting and preventing transaction laundering. This is Arbor Venture’s third investment in Israel – a $10 million, Series A round in January 2016 in TravelersBox, and an investment in a fraud prevention startup Forter.” [Forbes]

SPOTLIGHT: “How Jennifer Rubin went from Romney ‘shill’ to Trump scourge” by by Tom Kludt: “I think Donald Trump lacks the moral core and appreciation for American values that we have come to expect from every president,” Rubin told CNNMoney in a phone interview last week. “He has normalized racism, misogyny, xenophobia and nativism. This is not someone who should be president of the United States,” she added with more than a little resignation. “But he will be.” Rubin seems unfazed by the idea of alienating fellow conservatives who support Trump, saying she is “not a team player.” “My role is not to champion or encourage anyone with an ‘R’ after their name,” she said. “My views and analysis remain the same.” [CNNMoney]

BROADWAY: “‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Is Shaping Up to Be a Hit” by Michael Paulson: “Dear Evan Hansen,” with songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, a book by Steven Levenson and direction by Michael Greif, had multiple obstacles to overcome. It is an original musical with an unfamiliar title in a market dominated by adaptations and revivals; it has no major celebrities in its cast; and the subject matter is dark. But the show built a fan base through pre-Broadway productions at Arena Stage in Washington and Second Stage off Broadway, and a powerhouse performance by 23-year-old Ben Platt (best known for the “Pitch Perfect” movies) in the title role has helped make the show a must-see. The show grossed $1,051,248 during the week that ended Sunday.” [NYTimes]

“Watch a Broadway-Worthy Hanukkah Parody of the Hamilton Musical” by Olivia B. Waxman: “The Maccabeats debuts its 2016 Hanukkah song on, a music video parodying the soundtrack of the Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton called “Hasmonean,” which was the ancient Judean dynasty established by the Maccabees in the first and second centuries B.C.” [TIME]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: As many in Israel are counting the days until January 20th, two members of the Trump transition team arrived in the Holy Land this week. Becky Norton Dunlop, the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and a member of the Trump Transition Team, was one of the keynote speakers yesterday at the second Jerusalem leaders’ summit, an annual gathering of conservative politicians and businessmen from Europe, India and the United States, focusing on foreign policy issues and the rule of law.

Meanwhile John Horne, an Arkansas financier and Bush family confidante, who is also a member of the Trump transition team, made the rounds in the corridors of the Knesset. He appeared in front of the 8th Leadership Dialogue between Australia, Israel and the UK, and was then accompanied by Co-Chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel Mark Zell and the campaign managers Zvika Brot and Ariel Sander to meetings with MKs and cabinet ministers.

Kafe Knesset to Becky Norton Dunlop: Is this basically the end of policy differences between Israel and the US on the Middle East? Dunlop: “I would say that Donald Trump has a different vision of what he hopes to achieve in the Middle East than Barack Obama had, I’m not sure that I know it all or anybody really knows all the pieces that would come together. But I do think he views Israel as an anchor point in the Middle East for US relations and I think he views his ability to establish working relationships with some of the other leaders in the Middle East as being something that could move us beyond in the current conflicts. In other words, he will seek to reach out to the President of Egypt and the leadership of Saudi Arabia and the King of Jordan and the Kurds. I think he is going to have a very aggressive agenda for examining where he wants to go in the Middle East and how to get there and I think Israel is in the middle of it.”

SCENE LAST NIGHT in LA: The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles welcomed elected officials and community leaders for an early Hanukkah party with Mayor Eric Garcetti.  Federation Board Chair Julie Platt, CEO Jay Sanderson, Board Member Jesse Gabriel, and Rabbi David Wolpe spoke about the themes of holiday and the Federation’s community work. Guests included District Attorney Jackie Lacey, State Senator Ben Allen, Congressmember-elect Nannette Barragan, Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, Assemblymember Richard Bloom, City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and David Ryu, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, JPAC Chair Cece Feiler, Ada Horwich, Howard Welinsky, Frank Maas, Rochelle Cohen and many other community leaders.

BIRTHDAYS: Founder of an on-line childrens bookstore featuring titles in a variety of languages, Yona Eckstein turns 75… Illusionist, magician, television personality and self-proclaimed psychic, Uri Geller turns 70… Actor, producer, screenwriter and comedian, Jonah Hill (full name Jonah Hill Feldstein) turns 33… Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Jeremy Burton… Carol Berk… Bob Lindenbaum

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: Which DC Synagogue Will Jared & Ivanka Join? | Did Ari Emanuel Cover for Trump? | Davos Considers Putting Staff in Shipping Containers

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TALK OF THE TOWN: “Shul ties: Ivanka and Jared’s big move has D.C.’s Jews buzzing” by Annie Karni: “The possibility that influential members of the first family could attend services at Kesher [Israel] next year — the only Modern Orthodox synagogue servicing downtown D.C. — has become the premier topic of conversation at Shabbat dinners, and among members gossiping after services. Nobody is certain where Trump and Kushner… will ultimately end up. A source close to Ivanka Trump said the couple has yet to decide where they will attend synagogue… Kesher members can’t help but wonder: Will Kushner will really sit in the wooden pews next to Norman Eisen… Will the Trump-Kushner family spend the high holidays with Kesher member and writer Leon Wieseltier, who recently penned an op-ed in the Washington Post imploring Americans to “stay angry” about Trump’s election?” [Politico]

Amb. Norm Eisen tweets: “If Jared & Ivanka come to Kesher Israel to worship we will welcome them as we would anyone” [Twitter]

Aaron Keyak: “Popular question, but this AM as we were waiting for a minyan, I was wondering if Ivanka/Jared & Co would bring more people to weekday davening” [Twitter]

Page Six Report: “Ivanka looks to join DC temple with Trump-hating rabbi” by Aaron Short: “A rep from the Kushner family inquired about membership at Ohev Sholom, the district’s oldest modern Orthodox synagogue, said a source close to the congregation. Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld… once shouted down Donald Trump at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference.” [NYPost]

— Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld: “I never speak about congregants or potential congregants to the press under any circumstances. But I do want to say that this story as far as I know is false. Multiple times this paper called me and I said I am not interested in talking to you at all about this. Period. End of story.” [Facebook

MISSING OPTION: Reports on which DC synagogue Jared & Ivanka may join have left out the viable option of ‘The Shul’ of the Nation’s Capital, run by Rabbi Levi Shemtov of American Friends of Lubavitch. The Shul, at the Chabad-Lubavitch center in Kalorama near Embassy Row and Dupont Circle, is known to host many prominent visitors and residents of D.C. looking for more intimate services. Kushner is said to frequently attend Chabad when visiting Florida and, according to Esquire, he and financier Ronald Perelman first met at a Lubavitch Shabbat service in East Hampton. After which, Perelman invited Kushner to “pray with him at the synagogue in his home office in New York.”

“Ivanka Trump is Taking a Unique Approach to Moving To Georgetown” by Kate Bennett: “Last weekend, they were apparently spotted checking out options, most within walking distance of Kesher Israel, the Orthodox synagogue at the corner of 28th and N Streets, Northwest, where it is likely the family, who are practicing Orthodox Jews, will attend services.” [IJR]

Speaking of Kesher Israel… — “The Chief of Staff Behind Portman’s Come-From-Behind 2016 Victory” by JI’s Aaron Magid: “Against all odds, this child of two Holocaust survivors, Mark Isakowitz, rose to become the influential Chief of Staff for U.S. Senator Rob Portman. “The idea that a mere few decades after my parents stepped off the boat that I could do jobs like this, I was deeply honored,” noted Isakowitz to Jewish Insider in a wide ranging interview from his Capitol Hill office… When Portman asked him to return to Capitol Hill and run his Senate office, Isakowitz walked away from an almost $7 million salary, according to a Roll Call report… As if recalling details from yesterday’s legislation, Isakowitz enumerates various biblical examples of Jewish leaders from Abraham to heroes of the Purim story positively interacting with local political authorities.”

“Nathan Diament who has collaborated with Isakowitz on Israel and religious liberty issues, praised his Capitol Hill experience. “Mark has a mastery of the politics and policy around the issues. He’s a great partner. “ Off Capitol Hill, Matt Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, emphasized Isakowitz’s lighter side. He recalled the times their joint passion for the sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” watching the comedy show together when on work trips overseas. On a more serious note, “He is an uber-Mensch, the definition of a giving and caring person,” admired Brooks. “Mark represents the very best that Washington has to offer. He is a consummate professional…  and a great listener,” gushed Norm Brownstein, a prominent attorney and lobbyist active in national Democratic politics.” [JewishInsider

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — “Trump donated $10k to Bet El settlement” by Lahav Harkov: “A Trump Foundation tax form from 2003 shows Trump gave the sum to American Friends of Bet El… Former MK Ya’acov “Ketzale” Katz, one of Bet El’s founders… recounted that when “Friedman was our guest of honor years ago, then the president of the US, I’ll tell you a secret, sent us a donation [to the Bet El Yeshiva] of $10,000. But I didn’t know then that he would be president, otherwise I would have saved the check.”” [JPost; WashPost]  

“David Friedman, Choice for Envoy to Israel, Is Hostile to Two-State Efforts” by Isabel Kershner and Sheryl Gay Stolberg: “Mr. Friedman, whose middle name is Melech — Hebrew for king — grew up in North Woodmere, N.Y., one of four children of Rabbi Morris S. Friedman, who held the pulpit at Temple Hillel there for 46 years. In October 1984, President Ronald Reagan visited the synagogue and went to the Friedman family home for lunch… Mr. Friedman’s connections to Israel date back to his bar mitzvah at the Western Wall. Friends describe him as a strong Zionist who spends many Jewish holidays and most of his summers in his Jerusalem apartment. He and his wife are renowned for gathering people for dinners in their sukkah, a hut observant Jews build on their balconies during a fall harvest festival.“His whole life, he’s been focused and extremely thoughtful about Israel and about the political situation there,” said Philip Rosen, whose friendship with Mr. Friedman began in law school.” [NYTimes

“Trump’s Daily Bankruptcy and the Ambassador to Israel” by David Remnick: “Asked about this piece of wisdom recently at the Saban Conference, in Washington, Friedman doubled down. “They’re not Jewish,” Friedman said of J Street, “and they’re not pro-Israel.” They’re not Jewish. This is a calumny of the most disgusting order. But hardly a new one. Netanyahu, in the hope of solidifying his conservative and religious base, was once overheard whispering in the ear of the Sephardic leader and rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, “The left has forgotten what it is to be Jewish.” The question of Jewish identity has for centuries been a matter of debate and halakhah, Jewish law. It has never, to my knowledge, been a matter of bankruptcy law.” [NewYorker

Howard Wolfson: “Our next ambassador to Israel does not seem to believe I am Jewish.” [Twitter

“Congressional Dems Assail Trump’s Ambassador Pick” by JI’s Aaron Magid: “I am deeply concerned that David Friedman has focused on supporting settlements and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, rather than building bridges that could allow people to live harmoniously,” Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) told Jewish Insider. “These incredibly decisive issues make violence more likely, rather than achieving a lasting peace,” he noted… Representing the largest Jewish population in the nation, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) slammed the pick in a statement on Friday. “This is an appointment with dangerous consequences for both the United States and Israel,” he warned.” [JewishInsider

“Trump pick signals sharp shift on Israel” by Mike Lillis: “Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), a Jewish lawmaker who will lead the Senate Democrats next year, is withholding comment on Friedman “since they haven’t spoken,” his office said Friday. Dylan Williams, chief lobbyist at J Street, said that silence is understandable because Friedman has never played an official diplomatic role. “For the average member of Congress and their staff, he’s an unknown,” Williams said Friday.” [TheHill

— “An official with the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office told NPR Benjamin Netanyahu is pleased with David Friedman’s appointment and looks forward to working closely with him.” [NPR

Noah Pollak: “The NYT Is Having a Meltdown Over Trump’s Israel Nominee: What the Times is doing here is obvious: The paper is attempting to normalize the extremist agenda of J Street and then to rebrand mainstream critics of that agenda as the real extremists.” [FreeBeacon

Former Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer: “Mr. Friedman is unqualified for the position, but more important, he holds extreme views on the very issues that he will need to manage as a diplomat… His appointment suggests that Mr. Trump is comfortable with these positions, which is extremely perilous and unwise.” [NYTimes

Tevi Troy: “Troy told Haaretz he thinks the groups’ move “has no chance. It’s silly. It’s very rare to get an ambassador voted down, especially when the president’s party is the majority in the Senate.” Troy, who authored the new book “Shall We Wake the President? Two Centuries of Disaster Management in the Oval Office,” added: “I’m surprised that the Jewish community is not more supportive of Friedman. It’s nice to have a committed Jew as the ambassador. People should be praising his nomination, rather than making a futile effort to scuttle it.” [Haaretz]

DRIVING THE DAY — “Arizona presidential electors report flood of pleas to reject Donald Trump” by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez: “Bruce Ash, Arizona’s GOP national committeeman, said he received more than 300 emails Thursday… Ash declined to share any of the emails but described them: “They demonize me, they call me a homophobic, an isolationist, a bigot, a misogynist, and an anti-Semite, which is interesting because I’m Jewish.”” [AZCentral

“Jared Kushner says Trump agrees more with Schumer than McConnell on infrastructure” by Cameron Joseph: “Kushner… said at an event at which both he and Schumer appeared Fridaymorning that the president-elect is more in line with the leader of the other party. “Kushner said Trump agreed more with Schumer than McConnell on infrastructure,” a person with knowledge of the remarks told the Daily News.” [NYDN; NYTimes

“Kushner: We struck deal with Sinclair for better coverage” by Josh Dawsey and Hadas Gold: “Kushner said the agreement with Sinclair, which owns television stations across the country in many swing states and often packages news for their affiliates to run, gave them more access to Trump and the campaign, according to six people who heard his remarks. In exchange, Sinclair would broadcast their Trump interviews across the country without commentary, Kushner said. Kushner highlighted that Sinclair, in states like Ohio, reaches a much wider audience — around 250,000 listeners — than networks like CNN, which reach somewhere around 30,000… Two people present said that they were surprised how much Kushner talked about CNN. “He kept going on and on about it,” one business executive said.” [Politico]

“Did Ari Emanuel Cover for Donald Trump on the Miss Universe Tapes?” by Yashar Ali: “According to four sources, Donald Trump’s longtime friend and former agent, Ari Emanuel, declined appeals from powerful Democrats to release tapes filmed while Trump owned the Miss Universe Organization… At one point, sources tell The Daily Beast, the Miss Universe archives contained audio and video that could have damaged Trump’s prospects in the presidential race.” [DailyBeast

TRANSITION TOWER: “Mossad chief and security delegation meet with Trump team” by Itamar Eichner and Tzipi Shmilovitz: “Director of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, clandestinely visited the United States to meet with President-elect Donald Trump’s staff and brief them on pressing security matters including the Iranian nuclear deal, the Syrian civil war, terror threats and the Palestinian issue. The security delegation was organized by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was led by National Security Council head Yaakov Nagel. The Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer was also present during meetings… Additionally, Israeli officials have also reached out to the President-elect to ask him to come out against President Obama and veto a Palestinian bid submitted to the Security Council.” [Ynet]

“Q&A with Israeli politician Yair Lapid, Netanyahu’s main challenger” by Ruth Eglash:Could having Donald Trump in the White House change the situation for Israel vis-à-vis reaching a deal with the Palestinians? I think there is incredible window of opportunity. We know the basic strategy of the Palestinian Authority and of President Abbas has collapsed. They have been saying for a while that there is no need to negotiate with Israel, that they just need to make sure international pressure on Israel gets tougher and tougher. But the new U.S. administration has already announced that this strategy is not going to work with them, and I think that if Israel went back to the negotiation table now, it would do so from an interesting position of power that it did not possess in recent years.”

— “Of course, the kind of alliance we have with the U.S. is unbreakable. We have had a rough couple of years, but now, Israel has to return to its bipartisan stature. We are grateful for support we’ve had from the Republican Party, but the Democratic Party is just as important to us.” [WashPost

“His Excellency, Sheikh Donald of the House of Trump” by Elizabeth Dickinson: “After Obama, any change in the White House would have been welcomed here. But Trump’s brand of radical upheaval has the Sunni Arab Gulf enamored. Leaders here hope he will rewrite Washington’s Iran policy and punish Tehran for its activities throughout the Arab world… Most are willing to overlook Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric as a folly of the campaign trail… Gulf officials’ central hope for Trump and his administration is that they will lead a rollback of Iranian influence in the region… They hope the incoming administration will keep the Iran nuclear deal but link the continued lifting of sanctions to better Iranian behavior in the region.” [FP

“Kerry leaves a legacy of hope in role at State” by Matt Viser: “Kerry believes the Iran deal “will stand on its rationale.” He praised as thoughtful some of Trump’s nominees, including defense secretary nominee James Mattis and Rex Tillerson, who Trump has selected to be Kerry’s successor… “It’s in place and it’s working,” Kerry said.. He spent much of his first year in office attempting to get the Israelis and Palestinians to come to an agreement. Some of his critics said Kerry was wasting time, that his inveterate optimism was never going to change minds. Kerry doesn’t see it that way. “If the two leaders do not want to take a risk and they do not want to move in a direction, nothing you can do,” Kerry said. “No matter how sensible or palatable your proposal might be.”” [BostonGlobe

“Iran calls for meeting of nuclear deal powers over U.S. sanctions” by Robin Pomeroy: “Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif asked for the meeting in a letter to European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Iran’s official news agency IRNA said.” [Reuters]

ON THE HILL — “Congress wants to strengthen Trump’s hand to negotiate on Syria” by Josh Rogin: “The legislation, introduced this month by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) would sanction the Assad regime, Russia and Iran for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria while providing a framework for U.S. assistance to Syria going forward… The bill would require the administration to report on whether top officials in all three governments are complicit in the ongoing atrocities, including the blocking of humanitarian aid from those in need. If so, they would be sanctioned.” [WashPost] 

DNC WATCH: “Keith Ellison Abandons Sanders Supporters to Back Wealthy Donor” by Michael Sainato: “Ellison’s candidacy is marred by his ties to billionaire Democratic donor George Soros, whose son, Alex, is listed on Ellison’s initial list of endorsers in his announcement to run for DNC chair. Shortly after the presidential election, Ellison attended a closed-door conference hosted by the elder Soros, contrary to demands from progressives that Democrats stop allowing the wealthy to buy access and influence to party officials. Now Ellison is reportedly set to endorse a multi-millionaire real estate developer, Stephen Bittel, who is buying his way into the position of chair of the Florida Democratic Party.” [Observer

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

SPOTLIGHT: “Billionaires Forum Considers Putting Staff in Shipping Containers” by Bess Levin: “The World Economic Forum, which takes place in Davos, Switzerland, each year, brings together the über-elites of the business and political worlds. In addition to policy-makers and heads of state, regular attendees of the event include private-equity chief Stephen Schwarzman, bank C.E.O.s Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, Brian Moynihan, and Tidjane Thiam, and hedge-fund managers like George Soros, Ray Dalio, Dan Loeb, and Paul Singer. Which is to say, the collective net worth in town over the multi-day event makes Donald Trump’s zillionaire Cabinet look working-class.”

Unfortunately, Davos is also a relatively tiny place in the Alps whose population—approximately 13,000—nearly doubles when the W.E.F. comes to town. So, how to deal with the housing crisis? Since asking attendees to go buddy system on beds is apparently out, and the number of panelists going home with locals only puts a small dent in the problem, organizers have come up with the next best solution: stick the staff in large metal boxes.” [VanityFair]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “White Supremacists Threaten Jewish Community in Whitefish, Montana” by Hannah Gold: “Anglin’s post becomes potentially dangerous when he lists the personal information of members of Love Lives Here, including photos, email addresses, phone numbers, and social media accounts. Love Lives Here Chairman Will Randall told the Missoulian that the people targeted were singled out because they are Jewish or have Jewish-sounding last names (the six-pointed stars stamped onto each photo bearing the word “Jude” is also not subtle). The post calls Love Lives Here “a terrorist group,” and describes Jews as “vicious, evil race of hate-filled psychopaths” and “a people without shame.”” [JezebelMissoulian]

PROFILE: “The nation’s first deaf leader of a Hillel aims to make Judaism accessible to all” by Julie Zauzmer:“I can see they’re Jewish. I have Jewish radar,” he joked. The students whom he takes under his wing — about 45 active Hillel participants and growing — sometimes tell him that they grew up with a strong connection to their religion, but others felt left out or simply less informed than they’d like to be. [Jacob] Salem, who knows English, Hebrew, American Sign Language and Israeli Sign Language plus a healthy dose of Latin and Spanish, can fill in the gaps, especially for those who grew up at synagogue Hebrew schools that didn’t provide the resources to teach deaf kids… In his first semester as the director of Hillel at Gallaudet, Salem has worked on drumming up a budget for a weekly ASL Shabbat dinner, bringing in speakers who are deaf and involved in Jewish life, and teaching some Israeli Sign Language to curious students.” [WashPost

“The Humiliations of Life After Congress” by Steve Israel: “After the November election, all 53 of us were required to leave our offices so they could be redecorated for our replacements in the new Congress. Now we’re corralled into makeshift space in a cafeteria. Once, we projected an aura of power. Now, we project the odor of French fries and tuna fish… We learned we could still park near the Capitol (but not in the garages); give tours of the House Floor (but only if the speaker approved our request) and bypass Capitol metal detectors (so long as we had our congressional lapel pins and proper forms of identification). We even have two seats each to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s inauguration. Folding seats. On the lawn. Down below. (Anyone want mine?) The intoxicating prestige of Washington ultimately yields to the sobriety of private life. I’ll be writing, among other things, separated from my loyal staff and C-Span audience. For kicks, I may give Floor speeches to the bathroom mirror.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev & Amir Tibon: For months, Israeli political pundits have dreaded the looming evacuation of the Amona outpost as the only real threat hovering over Netanyahu’s coalition. Yesterday, that sword was removed, as the 40 families living in the outpost finally accepted one of the plans Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett had suggested for voluntary evacuation. The Amona arrangement is bound to cost the Israeli public more than 30 million dollars, and has attracted barrages of criticism from the opposition, but from Netanyahu’s point of view it is a clear victory. He successfully dismantled the threat posed by Naftali Bennett’s right wing Jewish Home Party by passing him on the right, and instead of fighting each other, the two worked closely to find a joint solution to the crisis and forcing the Amona residents to accept the solution.

Netanyahu and Bennett, well known enemies, spent hours together in recent weeks, and enjoyed a peculiar and unprecedented harmony. However, this love affair will soon be over. Bennett is already preparing for January 20th and intends to launch a new political campaign when the Trump era begins, and demand strategic moves to apply sovereignty in various areas of the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the Knesset is back to usual, and will be dedicating the rest of the week to the double-year budget, slated to pass by the end of December. With Amona off the table, the common assumption is that the budget will be an easy ride. Today, the lawmakers were much more engaged in the latest Jewish-Arab debacle, as Basel Ghattas, a Joint List MK, is suspected of allegedly smuggling mobile phones to Palestinian security prisons in Israel. Ghattas claims the police investigation is part of a political persecution against the Arab public leaders and political activities, but in the Knesset – no one is waiting for a final verdict.

Immediately after the suspicions were revealed, Netanyahu said that if they are true, Ghattas should be severely punished and banned from the parliament, and Defense Minister Lieberman went even further calling to strip his citizenship. Other MKs asked to change the entry regulations and make sure the MKs go through a security check when they enter, and coalition members started plotting how they will use the new bill, legislated just months ago, allowing lawmakers to impeach their colleagues. Zeev Elkin, one of the senior Likud members, already started gathering signatures, but the bill requires 10 supporters from the opposition. So far, they are not willing to cooperate and prefer to give the police time to do their thing.

“Abbas’s de facto ‘successor’ doesn’t want to talk about ‘the day after’” by Avi Issacharoff: “I learned Hebrew and English in prison,” [Jibril] Rajoub recalls. “I wrote two books. I translated Menachem Begin’s entire book, ‘The Revolt,’ into Arabic. I studied your history. I read about the Torah and also about the Oral Torah. About Rabbi Akiva, and also, of course, about everything that had to do with the Zionist movement.” [ToI]

SPOTTED last night at Ambassador Danny Danon’s Hanukkah reception at the Jewish Museum: Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, JCRC’s Michael Miller, professor Daniel Hershkowitz, Israel Bonds CEO Israel Maimon, ZOA’s Mort Klein, Eli Bennett, Andrew Gross, Dvir Assouline, Danielle Ziri, Dr. Marc Berger, Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, and Tali Krupkin.

Neil Diamond On Loving Christmas Music As A Jew: “I think it’s because we’re denied Christmas in our youth: It’s not part of our liturgy, it’s not part of our holiday list, but we want it. I think when most Jewish people grow up, they just bathe in Christmas music, and I’m no different,” he says. “I didn’t observe Christmas, I didn’t have a Christmas tree, I didn’t get Christmas gifts growing up. So here I am, an adult, with the chance to do a Christmas album. And it was a joyful experience for me.” [NPR]

SPORTS BLINK: “A Jewish Player’s 1914 Baseball Card Triggers a $125,000 Dispute” by Ben Berkon: “Jeff Aeder, a Chicago real estate developer, is one of the most prominent figures in that subculture, and a 1914 [Guy] Zinn card owned by a Maryland man has become, as other collectors describe it, Aeder’s holy grail. It is believed to be the only card of its type still in existence. Aeder offered $125,000 for the card in 2014 and nearly claimed it. But the deal went sour at the last minute. Aeder balked because, he said, he received a poor appraisal of the card’s condition. The owner, Dan McKee of Baltimore County, refused to renegotiate… “If Zinn was not a Jewish player, this card is probably worth $10,000,” Aeder said… So why was Aeder willing, at one point, to pay $125,000? “It really is something that if you have the means and the obsession, then someone pays a lot more than it’s worth,” he said.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: White House Communications Director in the Clinton administration (1999-2001) and thereafter in various senior roles for Hillary Clinton, older sister of Barney Frank, Ann Frank Lewis turns 79… President and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University (1976-2003), scholar, author and communal leader, Rabbi Norman Lamm turns 89… 1983 winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, mathematical physicist, scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Mitchell Feigenbaum turns 72… Israeli scientist, high-tech entrepreneur and leading businesswoman, Orna Berry turns 67… British cellist, distinguished for his diverse repertoire and distinctive sound, Steven Isserlis turns 58… SVP for Education and Research at The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, Eli Schaap… Publisher of Long Beach (California) Jewish Life, Jon Strum… Founder, President and Chief Creative Officer of Rachel G Events LLC since 2008, following an event-planning career in the private and non-profit sectors, Rachel L Glazer… Peter Keizer… David Ginsberg… Ruth Wolff… Jane Troy

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: Will Trump’s Ambassador to Israel Box In Bibi From The Right? | Israel’s MIT triples Arab enrollment | Meet new dating app ‘Bubby’

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump Chooses Hard-Liner as Ambassador to Israel” by Matthew Rosenberg: “[David] Friedman, whose outspoken views stand in stark contrast to decades of American policy toward Israel, did not wait long on Thursday to signal his intention to upend the American approach. In a statement from the Trump transition team announcing his nomination, he said he looked forward to doing the job “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.” Mr. Friedman’s appointment was quickly praised by the Republican Jewish Coalition, whose executive director, Matt Brooks, called it “a powerful signal to the Jewish community.”” [NYTimes; WashPost

“Will Trump’s Ambassador Box In Bibi From The Right?” by Jacob Kornbluh: The question observers of the U.S. – Israel relationship are now pondering is whether Friedman will be ‘more Catholic than the Pope’ in regard to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? The Ambassador appointment is a dream come true for Friedman, who lobbied for the job since it became clear that Trump will occupy the Oval Office. On Election Day, Friedman told Jewish Insider that he hopes Trump “makes that choice” of appointing him. Not everyone in the pro-Israel community is as enthusiastic. Allies of Netanyahu are concerned the new U.S. Ambassador might attempt to box in the Prime Minister from the right by teaming up with leaders such as Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Bayit Yehudi Party, and who recently called for the abandonment of the two-state solution after Trump’s win.

— “Friedman might make policies more than most Ambassadors would if Trump would delegate it to him and take a more hands-off approach, which he seems to indicate he wants to do,” said Professor Brent Sasley, calling the pick ‘dangerous.’ “People like Friedman, and some of the other people in Netanyahu’s government, might push him on some of these issues like Jerusalem, settlements, or annexation of the West Bank that would make things very uncomfortable for Netanyahu. He could feel pushed and boxed-in.”

According to former ADL National Director Abe Foxman, the pick is significant given that Friedman has a longstanding close relationship with Trump, also serving as Trump’s “public voice” and advocate on issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nonetheless, “the bad news may be that he has espoused publicly positions which may be to the right of the Israeli society and the current Israeli government position on a two-state solution,” said Foxman.” [JewishInsider; Playbook

Aaron David Miller tells Jewish Insider: “Unprecedented that an announcement of an Ambassador would be made this early. Clearly designed to send a signal that there will be a change in tone, style and perhaps substance in the US-Israeli relationship from the Obama Administration. Clearly the positions attributed to Mr. Friedman on a variety of issues, including settlements, a two-state solution break radically from Mr. Trump’s predecessors and on some issues such as annexation of the West Bank from Israeli policy too. Key question is how much influence will he actually exert on the president and in the circle of his national security advisers. Ambassadors usually don’t have much. In fact if the past several Administrations are any indication, the Ambassador is often bypassed as presidents and Israeli PMs create higher level channels of communication.”

Eli Lake: “I get the sense the Trump administration will have a different view on settlements than the current administration.” [Twitter]

Chemi Shalev: “David Friedman, Trump’s radical-right ambassador, makes Netanyahu look like a J Street lefty” [Haaretz]

Worth Noting: Former Sen. Joe Lieberman is Senior Counsel at David Friedman’s law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP

KAFE KNESSET — Jerusalem’s View of Friedman — by Tal Shalev & Amir Tibon: Jerusalem woke up this morning to the news of Trump’s decision to appoint David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel. As could be expected, the reactions were mixed. Jewish Home Leader Naftali Bennett was the first to tweet a joint photograph wishing Friedman good luck and touting him as a “great friend of Israel,” continuing the general celebration he and his supporters have had since Trump’s victory. Bennett’s well known buddy, Yair Lapid, expressed his anticipation to meet Friedman in “his rightful office in our capital Jerusalem.” On the other side of the political spectrum, Tamar Zandberg from Meretz demonstrated solidarity with the Jewish left in America, retweeting J Street’s adamant rebuttal of the appointment stressing Friedman’s reference to the group “worse than Kapo’s.”

Last month, Netanyahu told his ministers to keep a low profile and not deliver any statements regarding Trump, so most coalition members stayed mum on Friedman’s appointment. Besides Bennett, Tzipi Hotovely, Likud’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, said that his appointment is “great news for Israel… His positions reflect the will to strengthen the status of our capital right now and the understanding that the settlements were not the real problem in the area.” Friedman was actually first tapped for the post here the day after the elections according to a Channel 2 report, although senior Israeli officials at the time did not believe he would be the choice.

Michael Oren, currently serving as Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy and former Ambassador to the US, told Kafe Knesset this morning that he has never met Friedman but is “looking forward to working him.” Oren pointed out that “It’s unusual – maybe even unprecedented – for an ambassador to come into any position with a very specific policy, especially one that departs from long standing established policy. He says he wants to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which from my part is blessed, let’s go! The question is if he’s been instructed to say this or that it’s his own position. I am very much in favor of the Idea of moving the Embassy to our capital we welcome the change of policy.”

“Will Trump move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem?” by Andrew Hanna and Yousef Saba:“We’d never been at this point before, where the guy’s already won and he conveyed it was a high priority for him,” said David Makovsky, director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute of Near East policy. “The fact that Conway repeated it now is different,” agreed Daniel Kurtzer, who served as ambassador to Israel under George W. Bush… Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer was an original co-sponsor on the Jerusalem Embassy Act and has expressed support for relocating the embassy. “Senator Schumer has long supported moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and has called on both Democratic and Republican Presidents to make this happen,” Matt House, Schumer’s spokesman, told POLITICO in an email.” [Politico

Aaron David Miller: “The move would damage and undermine American interests and credibility. The only question is how much damage might be done — and that’s not the right metric for evaluating a policy move, especially if you’re getting very little in return… Second, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is comatose and clearly not going to advance anytime soon. But there’s a difference between being dead and dead and buried, as one Israeli pol once quipped to me. Moving the embassy would chill such prospects and even kill perhaps a promising regional approach to peacemaking now that Israel’s relations with several key Arab states have improved.” [WSJ]

Nathan Diament: “Mazal Tov to David Friedman for Donald Trump nomination to post @usembassyta -that Twitter handle to change soon.” [Twitter]

— One option Trump allies have discussed would involve Friedman, if confirmed by the Senate, working out of an existing U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. According to a person who has discussed the plan with Trump advisers, the administration would essentially deem the facility the American embassy by virtue of the ambassador working there.” [AP

Trump’s foreign policy advisor Walid Phares discussed Israeli-Palestinian conflict and embassy relocation in a briefing to Arab Ambassadors: “Phares did tell the group that Trump was personally interested in trying to make inroads on a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. He said that he expected Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to be intimately involved on the issue, while mentioning that his daughter Ivanka was expected to be involved on climate change policy. Phares hedged when asked about pledges by Trump and members of his transition to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to those in the room, saying that such a move was “complex” and, if undertaken, would be part of a “process” that would take a long time.” [CNN

TOP TALKER: “Available to the Highest Bidder: Coffee With Ivanka Trump” by Eric Lipton and Maggie Haberman: “Ozan M. Ozkural, a London-based investment manager, found a creative way to gain one-on-one access to the new first family: He bid nearly $60,000 to have a cup of coffee with Ivanka Trump for a charity event she was hosting. Mr. Ozkural wanted to meet with Ms. Trump — who is considering playing an informal role in her father’s administration — to gain insight into topics like President-elect Donald J. Trump’s possible future dealings with Turkey and other nations where Mr. Ozkural invests, he said… As of Thursday evening, the highest bid for the coffee auction — $67,888 — had come from Russell Ybarra, the Tex-Mex restaurant-chain owner, who said in an interview Thursday that he wanted to urge Ms. Trump to persuade her father not to go too far in restricting immigration laws.”

— “The Obama administration prohibited any member of the first family from directly soliciting charitable donations, said Norm Eisen, who served as an ethics lawyer early in President Obama’s tenure… The Obamas also allowed their daughters’ high school to auction off magazines they had signed, Mr. Eisen said, but they did not auction off access to themselves. “You never, ever want to have government officials using their public office for the private gain, even for a worthy charity,” Mr. Eisen said.” [NYTimes

TRANSITION TOWER — “Richard Haass under consideration for State Department deputy” by Eliana Johnson and Shane Goldmacher: “Haass, a veteran of both Bush administrations, has served as director of policy planning at the State Department and as a senior director on the National Security Council. He was in Trump Tower last Friday, the day before Trump met with Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson and finalized his plan to nominate him as secretary of state, and spent an hour last summer briefing Trump on foreign affairs. Trump has praised Haass, who is a regular presence on one of his favorite television programs, MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I respect Richard Haass, who’s on your show a lot,” Trump told the show’s hosts in May. “And I like him a lot. I have a few people that I really like and respect.” One Trump transition aide confirmed that Haass is under consideration for a senior-level position at the State Department, but said that Bolton remained the most likely choice for the deputy secretary position.” [Politico

“Democrats warn State Department of potential Trump ‘witch-hunts’” by Josh Rogin: “We believe your Department should work to ensure a smooth transition of power,” said the letter, led by ranking Democrat Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.). “However, individual civil servants, Foreign Service Officers, and other staff should not be singled out for their work in support of policy objectives that clash with the next Administration’s goals, leaving them vulnerable to retribution by the incoming Administration.” [WashPost] • Want a Job in Trump’s Administration? Get on Chris Collins’s Spreadsheet [WSJ

“Trump’s Team of Rivals, Riven by Distrust” by Thomas Wright: “The greatest clashes will be over how to tackle specific issues. The first may be Syria, where Trump told the New York Times that he disagrees with all of his advisors on how to act… The Iran nuclear deal is a second stumbling block — the religious warriors favor an extremely tough policy toward Tehran, but there are serious doubts about whether Trump would attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if the deal collapsed. There is also Trump’s proposal to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which could raise tensions in the region.” [FP

“Alt-right Ally and Christmas Campaigner Who Is Stephen Miller, Trump’s Jewish Policy Adviser?” by Judy Maltz: “Despite his Jewish background, Miller saw no reason to separate religion (that is, Christianity) and state. In a column he penned for the Duke student newspaper titled “The Case for Christmas,” Miller condemned the administration for banning Christmas trees and other religious symbols from the campus during the holiday season, noting that “Christianity is embedded in the very soul of our nation.” One of his key mentors during his college years was arch-conservative David Horowitz, author of “The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America.” Horowitz eventually started Miller out on his political career by introducing him to Sessions.” [Haaretz

“Trump’s triumph: Netanyahu is in a good mood” by Danielle Berrin: “In a stunning switch from his usual apocalyptic diatribes — including, most notably, to the U.S. Congress — Bibi was in a triumphant, optimistic mood. During a 30-minute, carefully planned press conference, with questions and questioners selected in advance, the Israeli prime minister decided to flout the rules and go off script.” [JewishJournal

Chemi Shalev: “Netanyahu and Dermer Prefer Muslim-baiting Trump to Jew-loving Obama: In a month, Obama will vacate the White House and make way for a totally different regime. His love of Jews will be replaced by hostility towards Muslims, which Netanyahu and Dermer apparently prefer. Netanyahu, Dermer and others of their ilk will rejoice at the changing of the guards, but many others, including most American Jews, as well as Israeli moderates and leftists, will feel dejected and abandoned. Tell me which group you belong to, Trump celebrants or Obama mourners, and I’ll tell you who you are.” [Haaretz

ON THE HILL: “Booker adding foreign relations to assignments” by Herb Jackson: “Booker, 47, announced on Thursday that he will take a seat on the Foreign Relations Committee, a post that involves regular security briefings, near-weekly meetings with foreign leaders, oversight of State Department programs, and access during overseas trips to the kind of high-level officials that the president and secretaries of state and defense meet… Booker will join fellow New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez on the committee. Menendez, a Democrat from Paramus who was chairman in 2013 and 2014, has been in sync with Booker on many international issues, but they split on President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.” [TheRecord

“Aleppo’s fall is Obama’s failure” by Leon Wieseltier: “Contemplating the extermination of Aleppo and its people, I was reminded of a sentence that I read this summer. It appeared in an encomium to Elie Wiesel shortly after his death. It was a sterling sentence. It declared: “We must never be bystanders to injustice or indifferent to suffering.” That was Wiesel’s teaching, exactly. The problem with the sentence is that it was issued by the White House and attributed to President Obama. And so the sentence was not at all sterling. It was outrageously hypocritical. How dare Obama, and members of his administration, speak this way?” [WashPost]

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

SPOTLIGHT: “America’s New Dealmakers-in-Chief” by William Cohan: “Mnuchin, soon to be 54 years old, started as a trainee at Salomon Brothers while still at Yale. During the hiring process, the Salomon guys wanted to know why they should take a chance on him since he was just going to end up at Goldman Sachs, where his father Robert was a legendary partner who ran the firm’s equity division and created the business of trading big blocks of stock. Mnuchin told the interviewers not to worry. He wanted to do his own thing, away from his father. After Yale, as expected, Mnuchin promptly turned his back on Salomon and headed to Goldman Sachs, the better long-term option for him. (Mnuchin’s older brother, Alan, is the one who broke the family mold, at least a little. After a stint at Goldman, he was a media banker at both Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers before starting his own advisory boutique.)”[Politico]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Downtown Des Moines Marriott sold for $34 million” by Joel Aschbrenner: “The 33-story hotel is Des Moines’ third-tallest building and features more than 400 rooms. City Center Corp., the hotel’s current owner, said the sale is scheduled to close Friday. Singerman President Seth Singerman (Co-Chair of the Jewish Federation of Chicago’s Young Real Estate Division) said the company intends to continue operating the property as a Marriott and will consider some upgrades and renovations… In addition to serving as a conference center and downtown’s largest hotel, the Marriott has also become a political hot spot, hosting swarms of politicians and journalists every four years during the Iowa caucuses.” [DMRegister

STARTUP NATION: “At Israel’s MIT, education, not affirmative action, triples Arab enrollment” by Dov Lieber: “Currently 20% of students are Arab… Twelve years ago, when just 7% of students in the Technion were Arab, the university began its NAM program. When the program began 12 years ago, the dropout rate among first year Arab students at the Technion was 75%. Currently, according to Lavie, that rate has plummeted to 15%, a figure very close to that of the Jewish student body. In a positive sign for the economic potential of the Arab community — where employment rates are low partly because a majority of women do not work — Lavie pointed out that 61% of the 527 Arab students in the incoming class is female.” [ToI]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “‘Meet ‘Bubby’, A Dating App For Nice Jewish Boys, Girls, And Goys, Too” by Caleb Pershan: “Most actual Bubbes, or Jewish grandmothers, prefer to do their well-meaning nagging and cajoling in person or over the phone. “Bubby,” is a chatbot and app, a spin on the slew of dating services and communities like Tinder, Bumble, J-Swipe, and so forth. But unlike some of those (cough cough Tinder), Bubby’s emphasis is on love — the old world, shared values kind. As Bubby co-founder Sarah Persitz tells SFist, her app is “a curated space inspired by Jewish values and tradition.” The app, created by Persitz, Stephanie Volftsun and Jordan Klein, was launched in February and is still in beta testing, but a well-heeled collection of friends of friends of friends in San Francisco and New York are already finding great dates through Bubby.” [SFist; SFChronicle]

PROFILE: “Orthopedic Surgery Resident Develops a Unique Photographic View of the World” by Jeff Meade: “A couple of years ago, Dr. Ayzenberg’s father gave him his camera to sell for him on eBay. While waiting for a sale, he held onto it, and after coming off night shift wandered about the city shooting photos. “They turned out better than I thought,” he says. “I put them up for sale on Craig’s List just to see what would happen.” What happened, much to his surprise, was that they sold… Given his busy schedule and demanding hours as a resident, the city of Philadelphia became Dr. Ayzenberg’s first subject. He would come off shift and head out into the streets, camera in hand—looking not so much for something that had never been photographed before, but for new ways of looking at old places.”[EisteinHN

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT IN VA – via Rabbi Jack Moline: “More than 100 guests from all over Virginia attended Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s 3rd annual Hanukkah party at the Governor’s Mansion. Guests included many rabbis, agency reps and Jewish supporters. Delegate Eileen Filler Corn and State Senator Adam Ebbin were among the guests, as was DGA Finance Director Noam Lee. Many guests left the White House party early to brave the traffic to Richmond. The Governor was introduced by his senior policy advisor Jennie Moline O’Holleran and spoke about the admiration he had for Jewish community and said a major announcement about a new trade deal with Israel will be announced in about 60 days. The refreshments included a new craft beer the Governor helped develop.”

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Israeli-American pianist and Distinguished Professor of Music at Indiana University, Menahem Pressler turns 93… British chemist and Research Professor at the University of Nottingham, Sir Martyn Poliakoff turns 69… First OMB Director in the Obama administration (2009-2010), former CBO director, now Vice Chairman of investment banking and Managing Director at Lazard, Peter R. Orszag turns 48… Astrophysicist and Professor at Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute, Adam Riess turns 47… Senior writer for Politico and co-author of Politico’s Playbook, Jake Sherman turns 31… Manager of Government Relations and Public Policy at Google, former White House intern (2004), Jesse Suskin… Partner in the downtown Denver law firm of Silverman & Olivas, formerly Chief Deputy District Attorney for Denver, Craig Silverman… Chairman of the St. Andrews Chapter of Republicans Overseas UK in Kirkcaldy, United Kingdom, Drew Liquerman… Senior Vice President at CRC Public Relations since 1998, previously Communications Director at U.S. Term Limits, Adam Bromberg… President and co-founder of The New Agenda, an organization helping women and girls succeed, following a career at Morgan Stanley and Wasserstein Perella trading bank debt, Amy SiskindRay WattsMelissa Wisner

Member and former Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Shirley Abrahamson turns 83… Founder and CEO of LionTree LLC, an independent investment bank located in NYC, Aryeh Bourkoffturns 44… Israeli soccer goalkeeper who played 386 matches for Maccabi Haifa (1994-2013) and 51 matches or the Israeli national team (1998-2010), now a coach for the national team, Nir Davidovichturns 40… Assistant Online Editor of “Commentary,” Noah Rothman turns 35… Chief executive of Upworthy, formerly the board president of MoveOn[dot]org and a co-founder of Avaaz, Eli Pariser turns 36… Deputy CFO/COO for Martin O’Malley’s presidential campaign, then a Regional Operations Director at Hillary for America, Daniel Ensign turns 26… Actor, singer-songwriter and musician, starred in the Nickelodeon television series, “The Naked Brothers Band” (2007-2009), Nat Wolff turns 22… Life-long advocate on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers for the International Rescue Committee and KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), Sheppie Glass Abramowitz turns 80… and Sheppie’s son, Director of the Committee on Conscience, which conducts the genocide prevention efforts of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Michael Abramowitz turns 53… VP of Strategic Planning and Marketing at Queens, NY based NewInteractions, Paulette Mandelbaum… Washington attorney and Vice Chair of The American Jewish International Relations Institute, Stuart Sloame… CNN political producer, Rachel Streitfeld

Co-founder of DreamWorks Studios, Academy Award-winning director of “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” plus many other box-office record setters like “E.T.” and “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg turns 70… Philanthropist who is the founder and chief executive of Third Point LLC, a NYC-based hedge fund focused on buying and repairing troubled companies, Dan Loeb turns 55… Office Manager at Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris, Ramona Cohen… Principal with the communications firm 30 Point Strategies, formerly a White House speechwriter and Jewish liaison for George W.  Bush (2002-2005), Noam Neusner… Chicago-based, Midwest Deputy Political Director for AIPAC, Marc AshedMiriam BrookerEmily Cooper

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