Daily Kickoff: Schumer in Senate gym presses Paul | Natalie Portman calls Israeli bill ‘racist’ | Illinois hits back at Airbnb

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ON THE HILL — Schumer in Senate gym presses Paul on Israel aid: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been pressing Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to remove a hold on the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018.

During a speech at a forum hosted by the American Zionist Movement (AZM) on Capitol Hill yesterday, Schumer said that during a routine workout at the Senate gym in the morning, he “lobbied Rand Paul to let this go, and I think we will be able to work something out.” [JewishInsider]

Schumer added: “I don’t get up and say the Republicans are anti-Israel because Rand Paul is against this pact and holding it up. But I do hear people on the other side often say, ‘So-and-so said something anti-Israel, all the Democrats are bad.’ That is detrimental to the U.S.-Israel relationship — no matter which party you’re part of — if you’re pointing to the other side when there’s such overwhelming support.”

Schumer on bipartisanship: “There are people on both sides of the aisle who try make this a partisan relationship, and that is very bad for Israel. The day Israel is only supported by one party, or one part of the political spectrum, is the beginning of the end. Throughout my career, most of the time with Democrats in the majority, I always had a Republican carry any bill that I would carry for Israel. And that’s a tradition that’s continued. The winds of political change blow fiercely, but the special relationship between the United States and Israel can’t be subject to the whims of bipartisanship.”

Kampeas tweets“Rep. Eliot Engel at AZM: begins sentence, “As chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee – halavai…”

House to hold hearings on Saudi Arabia next year: “Representative Eliot Engel said on Wednesday the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold hearings after the first of the year on all aspects of Saudi behavior, including the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “We’ll let the chips fall where they may,” Engel, the presumptive chairman of the committee when Democrats take over Congress in January, said. “I think that we need to have an assessment of our relationship with Saudi Arabia.” [Reuters]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the GPO annual New Year toast with foreign correspondents: “What happened in Istanbul is horrific, nothing short of that. And I think that will be dealt with in its own way, each country will have to figure out what to do with that. It’s balanced by the importance of Saudi Arabia and the role it plays in the Middle East because if Saudi Arabia were to be destabilized the world would be destabilized, and I think that has to be taken into account.” [Video]

TERROR — Two Israelis shot dead in West Bank attack as Hamas claims earlier attacks – by Ruth Eglash and Loveday Morris: “Two Israelis were shot dead near the Palestinian city of Ramallah on Thursday just hours after the Hamas militant group claimed responsibility for a separate attack that injured seven Israelis, including a pregnant mother whose baby later died… The violence will ramp up pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has already been criticized by members of his right-wing coalition for being too soft on Hamas.” [WashPost• 2 soldiers killed in West Bank terror shooting; civilian, serviceman hurt [ToI]

— “A three-day old baby, possibly the youngest victim of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was laid to rest Wednesday night in Jerusalem.” [WashPostCNN]

Ambassador David Friedman tweets“In the past week Palestinian terrorists have killed or wounded 14 Israelis in multiple attacks. The Palestinian Authority maintains laws that will compensate these terrorists and their families for their heinous acts. The PA can be a political body OR a sponsor of terror, not both.”

DEALMAKING — U.S. lays out terms for $500 million Israel-Croatia arms deal — by Barak Ravid: “Israel and the U.S. are in talks to resolve their differences over the arms deal between Israel and Croatia involving $500 million worth of F-16 fighter jets… The Croatians are not thrilled with the U.S.’s demands — mainly because Israel won the tender in the first place because it proposed an upgraded version of the original jet it bought from the U.S. decades ago. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković threatened today to cancel the deal.” [Axios]

Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesperson resigns: “David Keyes, Netanyahu’s spokesman with the foreign press, stepped down nearly three months after taking a leave of absence after he was accused of sexual misconduct by at least a dozen women. Keyes issued a statement saying he had “decided to pursue new opportunities in the private sector.” … Netanyahu thanked Keyes in a statement “for his great contribution to Israel’s information effort.” [AP]

Natalie Portman tells Arabic newspaper Israel’s nation-state law is ‘racist’ and a ‘mistake’: “Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman said that Israel’s nation-state law is “racist” and a “mistake” that she does not agree with in an interview she gave to London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi… In the interview, which marked the release of her new film, “Vox Lux,” Portman explained that the law is a political decision that impacts the lives of many people, adding that she hopes to be part of the change that can improve Israel’s relationship with its neighbors.” [Haaretz

AT THE UN —  Mike Pompeo Calls Iran ‘Reckless’ and Argues for Tougher U.N. Stance — by Michael Schwirtz“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a rare appearance at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday… Iran, he said, had embarked on a “proliferation spree” and now possessed the largest ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East… He faulted the Iran nuclear deal… for giving Iran access to funding streams that Mr. Pompeo said had been directed to its military… European ambassadors at the Security Council echoed Mr. Pompeo’s concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile activities, but one after another reaffirmed their support for the Iran nuclear deal, which they say is working as designed.” [NYTimes]

Haley says Trump’s unpredictability was an asset in U.N. diplomacy — by Caitlin Oprysko: “To outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley the president’s mercurial nature has often been an asset. “If I need to pick up the phone and say this is what I’m gonna to do, are you good with this? We kind of partnered in that,” she said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show. “And so he would like ratchet up the rhetoric and then I would go back to the ambassadors and say, ‘You know he is pretty upset. I can’t promise you what he is going to do. I’ll tell you, if we do these sanctions, it will keep him from going too far.’” [Politico

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Trump’s former lawyer and confidante Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in jail yesterday. Cohen told the judgethat his “blind loyalty to Donald Trump” had led him astray from his values. “Time and time again, I felt it was my duty to cover up his dirty deeds, rather than listen to my own inner voice,” he said. “He’s a liar,” the President told associates after the Cohen sentencing, as he remained out of the public eye most of the day. Trump tweeted this morning that he “never directed Michael Cohen to break the law.”

Michael Cohen is set to spend 3 years in a ‘cushy’ prison that’s been called a ‘castle behind bars’ — by Mariana Alfaro: “New York Magazine reported that Otisville is one of the best prisons for practicing Jewish inmates. They have access to full-time rabbis. New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver hoped to spend his sentence there.” [BusinessInsider

MUELLER WATCH — Get Ready for Mueller’s Phase Two: The Middle East Connection — by Erin Banco: “While one part of the Mueller team has indicted Russian spies and troll-masters, another cadre has been spending its time focusing on how Middle Eastern countries pushed cash to Washington politicos in an attempt to sway policy under President Trump’s  administration. Various witnesses affiliated with the Trump campaign have been questioned about their conversations with deeply connected individuals from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.” [DailyBeast]

TOP TALKER — While Working for Trump, Giuliani Courts Business Abroad — by Ken Vogel: “The government-run Bahrain News Agency featured a photo of Mr. Giuliani meeting in a royal palace with King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa… But Mr. Giuliani was not in Bahrain… on official business. He was there to seek a lucrative security consulting contract with the government… Mr. Giuliani said that the Bahrain pitch was arranged by Robert Stryk, a lobbyist who had worked with Trump campaign officials and has emerged [as] an influential behind-the-scenes deal-maker in Mr. Trump’s Washington… Mr. Stryk also appears to have played a role in Mr. Giuliani’s effort to win a contract for security consulting work in the Democratic Republic of Congo through an Israeli firm called Mer Security and Communication Systems.” [NYTimes]

DEEP DIVE — Disgraced Trump Fundraiser Tried to Use GOP Contacts to Score Billions in Africa — by David Corn: “After helping the GOP regain the White House, [Elliott] Broidy… has generated headlines about multiple controversies—personal, political, and business. And there could be more Broidy stories to come. But the Angola episode illustrates how Broidy, having used the Trump campaign and victory to establish himself as a force within the Republican Party, did business—and indicates there is a public interest in learning the full story of how Broidy put his Trump and Republican connections to personal use.” [MotherJones]

2020 WATCH — George Soros may not back a candidate during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary — by Brian Schwartz: “Billionaire and liberal philanthropist George Soros has been telling his aides that he may not back a candidate during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary as the potentially large field sorts itself out. “He doesn’t plan to pick a horse in this race,” Michael Vachon, Soros’ chief spokesman, told CNBC in an email.” [CNBC]

Probe of U.S.-funded news network that called George Soros a ‘Jew of flexible morals’ finds additional offensive content — by Aaron Davis: “A U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcaster this fall published a ­Spanish-language opinion piece warning that the “Islamization” of Europe by migrants is… posing a danger to the United States “greater than that from the Nazis in the 1940s.” The online piece followed stories by… Radio and Television Martí that described… George Soros as a “nonpracticing Jew of flexible morals” and as a “left-wing billionaire of Hungarian-Jewish origin.” The federal agency that oversees Martí launched an internal investigation this fall after a May report about Soros was publicized… The probe has now expanded to include examining how Martí came to publish an earlier story that included anti-Semitic language about Soros… Four Martí employees have been placed on leave and two contract staffers have been fired.” [WashPost

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Jeffrey Katzenberg adds another executive at Quibi [HollywoodReporter] • Alibaba helps fund Israeli start-up developing public transport software [FinancialTimes] • Elliott Takes Big Stake in Pernod, Maker of Absolut, Chivas Regal [WSJ]

TALK OF THE NATION — Investment board says Airbnb West Bank action is illegal: “Illinois officials say that Airbnb’s ban on lodging listings in the disputed West Bank violates state law. The Investment Policy Board’s… decision means Illinois could ban investment in Airbnb if it offers public stock. Airbnb senior vice president Christopher Lehane said in a letter to the board Wednesday that Airbnb is following company policy for disputed territory worldwide… He said Airbnb is not anti-Israel.” [AP]

After Airbnb settlement snub, an all-Israel rental site goes live — by Shoshanna Solomon: “OlehStay, set up by Noam Beltran, a current student of Yeshiva University in New York, and Joseph Sokol, an immigrant to Israel, is an Israel-based home-renting site that went live Monday, having been created just 10 days after Airbnb announced its decision… The site already has a dozen properties on its list “with new ones added every few hours,” Sokol said.” [ToI]

CAMPUS BEAT — NYU Jewish Student Center Reopens After Student’s Anti-Semitic Posts Prompted Temporary Closure — by Shira Hanau: “Early Wednesday morning, the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University announced that it would temporarily close after staff discovered “several public online postings by an NYU student which were anti-Semitic in nature and potentially threatening.” … The closure of the Jewish student center comes less than a week after a BDS resolution was passed by the university’s undergraduate student government. The resolution inflamed tensions between pro-Israel groups and student clubs advocating for the resolution.” The Bronfman Center reopened after consultations with NYU Public Safety, NYPD, and other security experts.” [JewishWeek]

Bret Stephens writes… “When Anti-Zionism Tunnels Under Your House: The good news is that the conversation about anti-Zionism remains mostly academic because Israelis haven’t succumbed to the fatal illusion that, if only they behaved better, their enemies would hate them less. To the extent that Israeli parents ever sleep soundly, it’s because they know what they are up against… The same can’t be said for that class of scolds who excel in making excuses for the wicked and finding fault with the good. When you find yourself on the same side as Hassan Nasrallah, Louis Farrakhan and David Duke on the question of a country’s right to exist, it’s time to re-examine every opinion you hold.” [NYTimes

MEDIA WATCH — Tribune, Tronc And Beyond: A Slur, A Secret Payout And A Looming Sale — by David Folkenflik: “Several months after taking control of the troubled Tribune Publishing Co. in 2016, Chicago investor Michael Ferro convened a session of corporate leaders… At the dinner, Ferro railed against those who he felt were impeding him — including perceived rivals and competitors. Among them: the Southern California billionaire and civic leader Eli Broad, whom Ferro called part of a “Jewish cabal” that ran Los Angeles… Early this year, Tribune Publishing made the first in a series of secret payments to total more than $2.5 million to avert a threatened lawsuit filed by a fired newspaper executive [Davan Maharaj]… That had the effect of keeping Ferro’s anti-Semitic slur out of the public spotlight.” [NPR

TRANSITION — Bloomberg News reporter Ivan Levingston is moving to Israel next month to cover economics and government stories for the news service.

ACROSS THE OCEAN — France tax protests often feature anti-Semitic rhetoric: “The head of the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Antisemitism, or BNVCA, Sammy Ghozlan, said Wednesday that “the ‘Yellow Jackets’ movement has an anti-Semitic base that repeats conspiracy theories about Jews and power.” … Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said these developments will likely result in an increase in immigration by French Jews to Israel.” [JTA

IN THE ARTS — Theater J, still roaming across D.C., revives ‘Talley’s Folly’ — by Nelson Pressley: “The moon is big and its light glows blue in Theater J’s revival of “Talley’s Folly,” the 1979 Lanford Wilson play that its narrator hopes is a waltz… The Pulitzer-winning script deals with a Jewish immigrant named Matt Friedman trying to sweep rural Missouri woman Sally Talley off her feet in 1944, despite her anti-Semitic family’s objections.” [WashPost]

DESSERT — The Rise of Lamb Bacon in Israel’s Dining Scene — by Sara Toth Stub: “Now at a branch of Beer Bazaar in an alleyway of Jerusalem’s sprawling central market, lamb bacon is a key component of the turkey club sandwich… But Beer Bazaar is just one of a growing number of Israeli restaurants serving lamb bacon. In a country where regular bacon is relatively rare due to the Jewish and Muslim religious bans on eating pork, lamb now provides a way for diners to experience the forbidden richness of bacon.” [ExtraCrispy]

An Israeli startup with ties to America’s most popular hummus brand says it made the world’s first lab-grown steak — by Erin Brodwin: “Aleph Farms, which got its start with help from an Israeli research institute and an incubator that’s part of the food giant that owns Sabra — the most popular hummus in America — said on Wednesday that it had produced the world’s first lab-grown steak… “The smell was great when we cooked it, exactly the same characteristic flavor as a conventional meat cut,” Aleph’s CEO and founder, Didier Toubia, told Business Insider.”[BusinessInsider]

Three friends elevate kosher food with a monthly pop-up like you’ve never seen — by Danielle Ziri: “The Musket Club, which made its debut in July in New York City, is a monthly pop-up supper club aimed at providing participants with a unique kosher dining experience.” [ToI]

REMEMBERING — 92-year-old Holocaust survivor dies when car hits him as he crosses the road, cops say — by John Magness“Decades after his family was murdered in the Holocaust, Alter Wiener fought to educate the next generation about the genocide. Now, the man’s family is mourning after police say he was fatally hit by a car while crossing the street in Hillsboro, Oregon… In the months before his death, Wiener made it his goal to advocate for increased awareness about the Holocaust and other genocides… Ron Wyden, a U.S. senator from Oregon, lamented Wiener’s death in a tweet: “Devastated to learn about the passing of my friend Alter Wiener — a true Oregonian and total mensch who transformed his Holocaust survival into a lesson that taught all of us about the need to fight prejudice always and everywhere.” [MiamiHerald]

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman of the Federal Reserve (2006-2014), now a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at the Brookings Institution, Ben Shalom Bernanke turns 65… Former New York State Senator (1985-2012), Suzanne “Suzi” Oppenheimer turns 84… California-based real estate developer active in the revitalization of downtown San Jose, he is a former co-owner of the Oakland Athletics, Lewis Wolff turns 83… Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood since 1988, chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, and a member of the Executive Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street, John Rosove turns 69… Executive chairwoman and chief media officer of Eko (a start-up focused on interactive music videos), she was previously a high ranking executive at Microsoft and CBS, Nancy Tellem turns 66… Academic, hedge fund manager, investor, writer and adjunct professor at Columbia University, Joel Greenblatt turns 61…

Assistant Secretary for Management at the US Department of the Treasury, David F. Eisner turns 61… Member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2017 following ten years as a Maryland state senator from Montgomery County, Jamie Raskin turns 56… Billionaire real estate developer, he serves as co-chairman and CEO at Turnberry Associates whose holdings include the landmark Fontainebleau Miami Beach, Jeffrey M. Soffer turns 51… Co-founder and principal of The Lead PR, LLC, a NYC based public relations firm, following 14 years as SVP for communications at ABC News, Jeffrey W. Schneider turns 50… Mayor of New Rochelle, New York since 2006, Noam Bramson turns 49… Manager of Global Communications and Public Affairs for Google, Riva Litman Sciuto turns 33… President Emerita at UCLA Faculty Women’s Club, Bette Billet




Daily Kickoff: Incoming House members visit Israel | Sheldon wants an NYC casino | How Bob Bakish met Sumner Redstone

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HEARD YESTERDAY — President Trump in remarks at the beginning of a feisty Oval Office meeting with Democratic Senate and House leaders: “If you really want to find out how effective a wall is, just ask Israel — 99.9 percent effective. And our wall will be every bit as good as that, if not better.” [Pic]

Trump tweets this morning: “The Democrats and President Obama gave Iran 150 Billion Dollars and got nothing, but they can’t give 5 Billion Dollars for National Security and a Wall?”

AP fact check“There was no $150 billion payout from the U.S. Treasury. The money he refers to represents Iranian assets held abroad that were frozen until the deal was reached and Tehran was allowed to access its funds.”

MINORITY LEADER — A Brawl With the President on Live TV — by Russell Berman: “It was Chuck Schumer’s smirk that said it all. The Senate minority leader had just lobbed an honest-to-goodness zinger at President Donald Trump. Inside the Oval Office… “When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble,” Schumer cracked to the press in the middle of a White House meeting… that had quickly devolved into a verbal brawl in full view of reporters. His quip pulled off, the New York Democrat then peered around the room with a look of supreme self-satisfaction and a smile that would stay on his face until the end of the extraordinary, if wholly unproductive, summit.”

“Schumer… is a man about whom it is famously said, “The most dangerous place in Washington is between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera.” And the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with a Republican president at the White House is one he seized with gusto.” [TheAtlantic

Trump says standing by Saudi crown prince despite pleas from Senate — by Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton: “He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia. They’ve been a very good ally,” Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office. Asked by Reuters if standing by the kingdom meant standing by the prince, known as MBS, Trump responded: “Well, at this moment, it certainly does.” [Reuters]

ON THE HILL — The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill yesterday that would impose new sanctions on against Hamas, Hezbollah and foreign state agencies who use human shields in war. The Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act (H.R. 3342) — introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Tom Suozzi (D-NY) — unanimously passed by the Senate in October – also condemns Hezbollah’s use of human shields “as a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights.” The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

REPORT — U.S. Rejects Israel’s Request for Sanctions on Lebanon Over Hezbollah Tunnels — by Yaniv Kubovich: “The United States has rebuffed Israel’s request to impose sanctions on Lebanon and the Lebanese army so they would take responsibility for Hezbollah digging tunnels into Israel and violating UN Resolution 1701… Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested sanctions when he met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels last week.” [Haaretz]

JI INTERVIEW — Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christian United for Israel, discussed his group’s efforts to pressure Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to remove a hold on the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh. Pointing out that this is the final approval of the bill after it was first passed by the Senate in August, Hagee said, “Paul put a hold on the legislation the second time around. He, in essence, supported its passage before he opposed its passage, and for reasons that no one really fully understands.”

“I can’t help but believe that Rand Paul is fully aware of the political consequences of standing against this support of Israel when Israel so desperately needs the help,” Hagee added. “We have 110,000 members in the state of Kentucky that are contacting him continuously and I’m sure that he has been made fully aware of that at this point in time.”

Asked how CUFI — which passed the 5 million-member mark this week — would work with a divided Congress in the next two years, Hagee noted, “CUFI is a non-partisan organization. We work with elected officials from both parties as long as the issue is Israel. We are a one-issue organization. Israel, Israel, and Israel. And if it helps Israel, we support it. If it’s opposed to Israel, we oppose it.”

Hagee on Trump’s peace plan: “No one really knows what’s in that peace deal. I can make you this absolute pledge and promise that the peace plan is up to Israel to decide. It is not for Americans who live 6,000 miles away to dictate or even try to advise the people of Israel on what they should be willing to do. If the people of Israel support it, we will support what the people of Israel say that they want.” [JewishInsider]

SPOTTED IN JERUSALEM — A delegation of newly elected House members are on a 5-day visit to Israel. The trip was sponsored by the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation. The group — Tim Burchett (R-TN), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Susie Lee (D-NV), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA) and David Trone (D-MD) — met yesterday with opposition leaders Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid. [PicPic• The delegation toured the Israel-Gaza border today [Pic

DEEP DIVE — Palestinians offer new details of Israel’s botched Gaza raid — by Fares Akram and Mohammed Daraghme: “Based on interviews with Hamas officials, a picture is emerging of a carefully planned Israeli intelligence operation in which agents posing as Palestinian aid workers may have gone undetected for up to two weeks before it went awry… According to some of the accounts, the scheme began to unravel when the team made its way to Abassan. Suspicious residents alerted Hamas security, which stopped their van… Several things did not appear right. He said a woman was sitting between two men, even though their IDs showed them to be members of different families. Under local customs, it is frowned upon for a woman to sit alongside men who are not her relatives.” [AP]

POLL — New polling shows that the U.S. public’s views on Israel’s policies are shifting — by Shibley Telhami: “A one-state solution (with equal citizenship if the two-state solution were no longer possible)… has considerable support among the American public, as revealed in a University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll, fielded by Nielsen Scarborough, which was conducted in September and October… When asked what outcome they want U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to seek in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… 35 percent say they want a one-state solution outright, while 36 percent advocate a two-state solution… Among those between 18 and 34 years old, support for one state climbs to 42 percent.” [ForeignPolicyHaaretz]

MEDIA WATCH — Temple University condemns, but does not punish, Marc Lamont Hill over Israel remarks — by Isaac Stanley-Becker: “In an address last month at the United Nations, Marc Lamont Hill called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” … CNN, where Hill had been a contributor, cut ties with the 39-year-old almost immediately… But on Tuesday, Temple University, where Hill is a professor of media studies, reached a different determination, finding that his speech was protected by the First Amendment. The board of trustees of the Philadelphia university condemned the professor’s remarks but said it would not dismiss or even discipline him.”[WashPostFoxNews]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — What does it take to become Trump’s chief of staff? Jared and Ivanka’s approval — by Gabby Orr: “Trump’s son-in-law and daughter… want a political ally in the chief of staff job, and they are using their unrivaled influence to ensure they get one, according to seven former and current White House officials… Their influence could dim the chances of some candidates for the post… Among Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s top choices is Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whom they view as extremely loyal… Other candidates include White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Republican fundraiser Wayne Berman.”[Politico] • Ivanka, Kushner could profit from tax break they pushed [AP]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Moment of reckoning looms for ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen — by Jim Mustian: “A federal judge in New York is set to decide whether Cohen gets leniency or years in prison for crimes including tax evasion, making illegal hush-money payments to protect Trump during the campaign and lying to Congress… U.S. District Judge William Pauley III… may allow Cohen to begin serving any prison term he receives at a later date. But legal experts said Cohen could also be taken into custody immediately.” [AP]

2020 WATCH — 2020 Democrats Face a Vexing Issue: Big Money From the Rich — by Shane Goldmacher: “Perhaps no potential Democratic candidate counts more billionaire potential financiers as friends or allies than [Cory] Booker, who attended Stanford and wooed investments from Silicon Valley when he was Newark mayor, including a $100 million donation for schools from Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook… [Booker] also has close ties to the family of Donald Sussman, one of the party’s most generous givers. Mr. Booker officiated the wedding of one of Mr. Sussman’s daughters; another hosted a fund-raiser for him at her Hamptons home last summer.” [NYTimes

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: When Bob Bakish Met Sumner Redstone: How a Crisis at Blockbuster Brought Viacom’s CEO Together With Redstone[Variety] • David Lichtenstein’s Lightstone scores $73M loan for Moxy South Beach hotel [TheRealDeal] • Clark Valberg’s InVision, valued at $1.9 billion, picks up $115 million Series F [TechCrunch] • Hedge fund Elliott builds stake in Pernod Ricard [FinancialTimes]

Sheldon Adelson makes a play for a New York City casino — by Dana Rubinstein: “Sheldon Adelson wants to build a casino in New York City, and the corporation he runs is enlisting some of New York’s most prominent players in a campaign to win the close ally of President Trump his prize. Howard Glaser, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former operations chief, is working as a consultant for Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation and has brokered meetings between officials from the company and New York business leaders.”[Politico]

TRANSITIONS — Endeavor has promoted Mark Shapiro to the newly created position of president, four years after he joined the Hollywood talent agency and media company from Dick Clark Productions. Shapiro will continue to be based in New York and will report to Endeavor Chief Executive Ari Emanuel. [LATimesHollywoodReporter]

Kathie Lee Gifford announces she’s leaving ‘Today’ show — by Leora Arnowitz: “Kathie Lee Gifford is leaving the “Today” show in April, she announced Tuesday morning… Gifford said she was leaving to focus on other projects, such as an 11-minute film, “The God Who Sees,” filming in Israel.”[USAToday]

Popular YouTube Streamer Promotes Channel That Publishes Anti-Semitic Content — by Chris Morris: “PewDiePie, the most popular streamer on YouTube, has never shied away from controversy, but Sunday was a doozie, even for him. The Swedish YouTube star, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, is under fire after singing the praises of another streamer whose online presentations often include homophobic and anti-Semitic language.” [Fortune]

COMING SOON — Nick Cave: cultural boycott of Israel is ‘cowardly and shameful’ — by Ben Beaumont-Thomas: “[Australian musician] Nick Cave has elaborated on his stance regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, calling the cultural boycott of Israel “cowardly and shameful.”  … Writing on his website in an answer to a question from a fan, Cave posted an email he had sent to Brian Eno, one of the artists promoting the boycott. “I do not support the current government in Israel, yet do not accept that my decision to play in the country is any kind of tacit support for that government’s policies,” Cave wrote… He also said the boycott “is partly the reason I am playing Israel… as a principled stand against those who wish to bully, shame and silence musicians.”[TheGuardian

TALK OF THE TOWN — Kirk Douglas honored in NY birthplace with historic marker: “Public officials and relatives of Kirk Douglas have unveiled a new historic marker in his upstate New York birthplace to honor the Hollywood legend on his birthday. The blue and yellow New York state historic marker was presented in Amsterdam on Sunday, the actor’s 102nd birthday. The sign will be erected near the home where he was born as Issur Danielovitch to Russian Jewish parents on Dec. 9, 1916. The marker says Douglas “Rose From Poverty To Appear In Over 90 Films In Hollywood.” [AP]

REMEMBERING — William Blum, U.S. Policy Critic Cited by bin Laden, Dies at 85 — by Sam Roberts: “William Blum, who raged against United States foreign policy in relative obscurity for decades until one of his published anti-imperialist broadsides received a surge in sales thanks to a surprise public tribute from Osama bin Laden, died on Sunday in Arlington, Va… In an interview with The Washington Post in 2006, Mr. Blum encapsulated his life’s mission as “ending, at least slowing down, the American Empire,” or “at least injuring the beast.” … William Henry Blum was born on March 6, 1933, in Brooklyn to Jewish immigrants from Poland, Isidore Blum, a machine operator, and Ruth (Katz) Blum.” [NYTimes]

DESSERT — A lot of the bread in the US will no longer be kosher — by Ben Sales: “The largest baking company in the United States will be removing kosher certification from nearly all of its bread and rolls… The company produces brands including Arnold, Sara Lee, Stroehmann, Freihofer’s and others. Two of its major brands, Entenmann’s and Thomas, will remain certified kosher… The decision will make it much harder for those outside major Jewish population centers to buy kosher bread, say executives at the Orthodox Union and Kof-K… Rabbi Menachem Genack, the rabbinic administrator of the O.U.’s kosher division… explained that the decision stems from a mix of corporate efficiency and obscure kosher laws: Bimbo wants the flexibility to produce its breads on the same factory lines as breads that contain dairy products.” [JTA]

Benji’s Deli in Milwaukee has been a kosher-style cuisine staple for more than 50 years — by Geoff Bruce: “The business owes its name to its original owner, Werner Benjamin. “Back in the day, it was actually called Benjamin’s, but then when he sold it in, I believe ’95, he had the guys that bought it from him shorten the name to just Benji’s. Everybody called him Benji,” explained current owner Mike Price. Price came on board at Benji’s while in college in 1991… The deli’s menu hasn’t changed much over the years, and the Prices remain proud to serve their kosher-style menu, which includes potato pancakes, brisket, Reubens and matzo ball soup.” [JournalSentinel]

BIRTHDAYS: Actress and neuroscientist who plays the role of neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” Mayim Chaya Bialik turns 43… Attorney, political operative and television commentator, his clients have included President Bill Clinton and more recently, Michael Cohen, Lanny Davis turns 73… Two-term Congressman (2007-2011) (D-Wisconsin-8), he is a physician who founded the Kagen Allergy Clinics in Appleton, Green Bay, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac, Steven Leslie “Steve” Kagen, M.D. turns 69… Associated Press science writer and adjunct professor at NYU’s academic center in Washington, Seth Borenstein turns 57…

Israeli-born real estate developer active in Los Angeles, partner in Linear City Development, Yuval Bar-Zemer turns 56… Account director at Lewis Global Communications, Sarah R. Horowitz turns 32… Reporter-producer for ABC News, Becky Perlow turns 31… VP at Targeted Victory’s public affairs practice, where he specializes in healthcare policy communications, he previously worked for HHS and for Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL-6), David Pasch turns 30… Dual Master’s degree candidate at Harvard and Dartmouth, he was previously a deputy chief of staff and special assistant to the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (2014-2017), Jeffrey Goldstein...




Daily Kickoff: Jewish groups fight tax hike on nonprofits | Turmoil threatens Women’s March | WeWork’s Neumann on disconnecting for Shabbat

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ON THE HILL — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Treasury Department issued interim guidance yesterday aimed at easing a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Jewish and other religious groups are now working to repeal the provision imposing a 21 percent tax on nonprofits, synagogues, religious institutions, and universities providing benefits for their employees, such as parking, transportation and meals. The imposition of this tax could cost the charitable sector $1.7 billion over the next decade.

“This is an issue that could have a serious impact on almost every charitable institution in the Jewish community — our shuls, our schools and every kind of institution that we have — and cost them thousands of dollars a year,” Nathan Diament, Executive Director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, told Jewish Insider.

According to Rabbi Abba Cohen, Washington Director and Counsel for Agudath Israel of America, the added tax is not only a dollars and cents burden, but it’s also an administrative one. “It is especially painful because we’re living in a time where, as the government pulls back from providing services to certain communities, they are expecting nonprofits, including religious institutions, to step up to fill that gap,” he explained. “Now’s the time where the government should be supporting these institutions and making it easier for them and giving them the resources to do it, rather than cutting back on their resources.”

“The other issue is that that this is an unprecedented tax on religious institutions,” Cohen asserted. “One of the basic fundamentals of tax law has been to maintain the independence of religious institutions and not have them be entangled with government intrusion. There have been over the years many people that have sought to increase the tax burden on religious institutions. The concern is here, that if this sustains as law, then it will gain some traction and we might be facing the slippery slope of other kinds of past burdens that will be placed on nonprofits in general.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brady (R-TX) reintroduced legislation yesterday that would repeal the provision in a revised year-end tax package. “We want those nonprofit organizations to focus on their core missions,” Brady told reporters on Capitol Hill. “Repealing this allows them the certainty to do that.” The House is expected to consider the bill later this week.

The IRS guidance, which would retroactively reduce the amount of nonprofits’ nondeductible parking expenses, did not satisfy these Jewish organizations.

“We appreciate the responsiveness of the Treasury Department leadership to our concerns,” Diament stated. “But Congress must still act and repeal the tax since there are still other charities that this guidance is not going to help. Not to mention that a future administration could decide to issue a different guidance and put them back on the hook.”

“While this provides guidance and clarifications that will assist institutions and taxpayers in knowing how to better comply with the law, it ultimately only serves to further enshrine this new tax burden on nonprofits,” added Cohen.

William Daroff, Director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America, emails: “While JFNA welcomes the Treasury/IRS notice clarifications, we remained opposed to the tax on other qualified transportation benefits. This tax will be yet another burden, especially for large or urban charities who have traditionally offered such tax-free benefits to their employees. We urge Congress to repeal the tax before they adjourn at the end of this year.”

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Jared Kushner discussed the Middle East peace process with Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel. In the interview, Kushner seemed to indicate that the administration has shifted from its initial “outside-in” approach back to the traditional “inside-out” approach.

Hannity: It seems like there’s a moment where there is a new alliance or coalition emerging against Iranian hegemony and a potentially nuclear-armed Iran —has that process been hurt as a result of the Khashoggi killing? 

Kushner: “I think our intelligence agencies are making their assessments and we’re hoping to make sure that there’s justice brought where that should be. We’re focused now on the broader region, which is figuring out how to hopefully bring a deal together between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That conflict has gone on for way too long. The President has been very focused on trying to bring all the different parties together and we’re hopeful. In the next couple of months, we’ll put out our plan, which again, not every side is going to love, but there’s enough in it and enough reasons why people should take it and move forward. And this plan will keep the Israeli people safe, give them a good future, but also give a real opportunity and hope for the Palestinian people so that they can live much better lives.”

“And it’s not just the Israelis that want it, it’s not just the Palestinian people who want it, it’s all the people I speak to throughout the entire Middle East, who’d like to see this issue resolved so that they can start focusing on a brighter future.”

Elliott Abrams emails: “I would say they are trying to take a middle position, having concluded that neither outside-in nor the more traditional approach will work alone. That is, any plan needs to appeal both to Arab states, and to at least some Palestinians. When Kushner refers to ‘all the people I speak to throughout the entire Middle East, who’d like to see this issue resolved so that they can start focusing on a brighter future’ it’s clear that outside-in remains part of their calculus.”

Aaron David Miller: “I think that Kushner et al are still very much wedded to MBS and the Arabs in whatever plan they produce. There’s been some recognition that the Saudis aren’t free agents when it comes to endorsing a pro-Israeli peace plan and obvious sensitivity over MBS’s role in killing Khashoggi. But when you add it all up, what’s really new in the Kushner plan or attractive to Netanyahu are the Arab states. For Bibi, the entire peace plan is somewhere between a migraine headache and a root canal operation. The Arabs give him cover.”

TOP TALKER — Is the Women’s March Melting Down? — by Leah McSweeney and Jacob Siegel: “The Women’s March leaders have often dismissed their critics as right wing or driven by racism, but over the past two months their fiercest challengers have come from within their own shop—with women of color and their own local organizers often leading the pack. As of this article’s publication, numerous state chapters have broken off from the national organization—notably Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, D.C., Alabama, Rhode Island, Georgia, and Illinois.”

“Mercy Morganfield, a longtime activist and daughter of blues legend Muddy Waters, has been one of the leading voices in calling for accountability from the co-chairs… “I talked to everyone, and I said it to every last one of them: Tamika [Mallory] needs to resign—not just because of her [Louis] Farrakhan connection, but because of how she handled it afterwards. I said Linda [Sarsour] also needs to step down. Her controversy and the things she keeps saying and doing are detrimental to the movement.” When Tablet asked Morganfield whether she believes the co-chairs are anti-Semitic, she offered a terse answer: “There are no Jewish women on the board. They refused to put any on. Most of the Jewish people resigned and left. They refused to even put anti-Semitism in the unity principles.” [Tablet

Nick Confessore tweets
“A devastating Tablet Magazine article about self-dealing and bigotry within the Women’s March national organization, doubling as a close study of movements — and how people don’t just accidentally end up in charge of them.”

The Zioness movement in a statement: “[Yesterday] we learned that a deep-seated, conspiratorial hatred of the Jewish people was an often unspoken, yet ever-present, fundamental and unifying principle driving the co-chairs’ organizing. This knowledge makes it impossible for any sincere progressive to march alongside these women. Zioness will not participate in any events associated with Women’s March, Inc. until Sarsour, Mallory, [Carmen] Perez and [Bob] Bland are removed from leadership… Zioness has been clear since our founding that we cannot and will not cede the American feminist movement to bigots and anti-Semites.”

JI SCOOP: Incoming Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) will not join her freshmen colleagues on an AIPAC-affiliated trip to Israel later this year, according to an associate of Ocasio-Cortez. A spokesperson for the New York Democrat did not immediately return a request for comment asking if Ocasio-Cortez is planning to join a J Street-sponsored trip or an alternative delegation organized by incoming Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for fellow House members to the West Bank sometime next year.

Jessica Rosenblum, Senior Vice President of Public Engagement for J Street, tells us: “We have not been in touch with Representative Ocasio-Cortez about joining one of our upcoming congressional delegations. We would welcome the opportunity to take Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on one of our trips to Israel and the Palestinian territory.”

Former Congressman Robert Wexler writes… “Keeping Democrats united on Israel: Democrats should now unite behind what’s best for both peoples, policies that preserve and advance a negotiated two-state solution… For the few who have considered them, boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel are as misguided and counterproductive as the Trump administration’s efforts to strong-arm the Palestinians.” [TheHill]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Israeli President Reuven “Ruvi” Rivlin in a speech to Israeli Ambassadors at his residence in Jerusalem: “Israel must maintain within the bipartisan consensus. We must devote more effort and thought to this. And I say this because I think not enough has been done to maintain and develop our relations with the Democratic Party and with liberal voices in America. I also think that it is crucially important to rebuild and improve the relations between Israeli leadership and the global Jewish community, first and foremost all streams of Jewish life in the United States.”[Pic

Friedman disappointed with reactions of some U.S. Jews to Trump — by Greer Fay Cashman: “U.S. Ambassador David Friedman is disappointed with the reactions of some American Jews to what President Donald Trump is doing vis-à-vis Israel. Friedman has found such reactions “frustrating, disappointing and hurtful,” but at the same time is unwilling to give up on American Jews. “Some are misguided but they mean well,” he said on Monday at the annual fall luncheon of the Na’avah Tehilla Emunah chapter in Jerusalem.” [JPost]

Trump’s Israel Ambassador Praises Nauert as Tough Senate Hearing Looms — by Jennifer Jacobs and David Wainer: “She’ll be a very good UN ambassador,” Ambassador David Friedman said in a phone interview… Assuming she wins confirmation, Nauert would be called on to rally support at the UN for the administration’s yet-to-be-unveiled Middle East peace plan… Friedman said that when it comes to Israel, he believes Nauert would continue Haley’s efforts to focus much of her agenda on defending the Jewish state.” [Bloomberg]

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro writes… “Heather Nauert, Trump’s pick for U.N. ambassador, is unlikely to enjoy Nikki Haley’s global respect: Haley demanded the respect of her global peers because of her relationship with the president… That made it possible for Haley’s counterparts to view her not only as the president’s personal representative, but as someone with his ear, capable of looking him in the eye and telling him when she disagreed… Nauert will need a significant investment from Trump to achieve the same status.” [NBCNews]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Ombudsman said checking purchase of table by Netanyahu’s office for Trump visit  — by Stuart Winer: “State Comptroller Yosef Shapira has conducted a review of furniture that was purchased by the Prime Minister’s Office in preparation for last year’s visit of US President Donald Trump on suspicion of irregularities in the spending spree… The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement the new table was bought to replace decades-old furniture, but due to concerns that it would not be delivered in time for Trump’s arrival, the existing table and chairs were also repaired. “The President of the United States should not be greeted with plastic furniture,” the statement said.” [ToI

DEEP DIVE — Targets of U.S. Sanctions Hire Lobbyists With Trump Ties to Seek Relief — by Ken Vogel: “Then there is the lawyer Alan Dershowitz. His criticism of the special counsel’s investigation of Mr. Trump has endeared him to the president. But Mr. Dershowitz also has a long history of representing clients in transnational legal matters, including sanctions. Mr. Dershowitz is advising Dan Gertler, an Israeli billionaire who was the target of sanctions by Washington last year for using his connections to [Joseph] Kabila, the Congolese president, to facilitate what the Treasury Department called “opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals.” Mr. Dershowitz called Mr. Gertler “a very good person” who is “being targeted primarily because of the actions of other people.” [NYTimes• Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila defends Glencore and its former partner Dan Gertler [FinancialTimes]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: It’s official: Brookfield owns Forest City[TheRealDeal] • Inside Jeffrey Katzenberg’s plan to spend up to $1b by 2025 on programming for Quibi [Digiday] • Glencore begins the changing of the old guard [FinancialTimes] • Activist investor Elliott to buy Travelport in $4.4 billion deal [Reuters] •  Starwood’s Israeli Bond Price Plummets as Mall Values Erode [WSJ]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — More than 2,000 people filled up the grand ballroom at the Hilton New York Midtown for the annual dinner hosted by the UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street and Financial Services Division. This year’s honorees included Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon and Anton Levy, managing director and global head of technology at General Atlantic. The fundraising dinner, emceed by former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, raised a record $31 million, exceeding last year’s $29 million.

HIGHLIGHTS — WeWork co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann delivered the evening’s keynote address. In his remarks, Neumann recalled observing the Sabbath for the first time while in Crown Heights not too long ago: “The most amazing thing that happened to me is the next day, I went to work and suddenly the thoughts [regarding ego and others] weren’t coming up. I was looking at everyone around me and I can tell that we’re all people and we’re all in this together, and God gave some of us more blessings than the other, and you can never judge or measure where other people are at. And for the whole week, I was feeling really good. Until about Thursday, when those thoughts started coming back again, and I was judging again. And I said, ‘Wow, this Shabbat thing is amazing, but it only lasts for about five days. You gotta do it again.'”

“It’s never been more relevant than today as technology takes over our lives,” Neumann continued. “The average human being will look at his phone 160 times a day. And I know it’s good for business, but we’re addicted to the phone. And then comes Shabbat and we disconnect from technology, you connect to your children, you connect to your loved ones and friends, and you connect to something greater than yourself. You suddenly remember why you are here and what it is all about… When you’re disconnected from your soul, when you’re disconnected from the people around you, you cannot be happy. You cannot be fulfilled.” [Pic

David Solomon in his remarks after receiving the Gustave L. Levy Award: “While the history of our people is one of overcoming hardship, this has not been an easy time, to say the very least. I know that every person in this room was truly shaken when they learned about the shooting in Pittsburgh. But even before that, the events in Charlottesville last summer, and recent acts right here in New York City, make it clear that those with hatred in their hearts are somehow feeling emboldened. Well, I feel emboldened to be with all of you tonight and simply say that anti-Semitism or hatred of any kind for that matter has no place in our city, has no place in our country, and has no place in the world.” [Pic

SPOTTED: Gary Cohn, Andrew Ross Sorkin, John Paulson, Adam Braun, Eric Goldstein, Robert Kapito, Ben Golub, Daniel Och, Paul Taubman, Morris Offit, John Shapiro, Joseph Shenker, James Tisch, Ari Ackerman, Suzy Appelbaum, Carly Maisel, Tamar Remz, Ben Stein, Daniel Fine, Alex Swieca, Corey Dicker, Fred Bloch, Hannah Rosenwein, and Jeffrey Goldenberg.

Bernie Madoff’s Victims Are Close to Getting Their $19 Billion Back — by Erik Larson and Christopher Cannon: “While no one will ever collect the phantom profits Madoff pretended he was earning, the cash deposits by his clients have been the primary objective for Irving Picard, a New York lawyer overseeing liquidation of Madoff’s firm in bankruptcy court. So far he’s recovered $13.3 billion—about 70 percent of approved claims—by suing those who profited from the scheme, knowingly or not. And Picard has billions more in his sights.” [Bloomberg• Bernie Madoff’s Legacy: Whistleblower Inc. [WSJ

INTERVIEW — Love Is Not a Permanent State of Enthusiasm: An Interview with Esther Perel — by Alexandra Schwartz: “The psychotherapist Esther Perel knows how to work a room. Since the publication of her first book, “Mating in Captivity,” in 2006, she has travelled the world, speaking to audiences about… the nuts and bolts of romantic life. Perel, who grew up in Antwerp as the daughter of Holocaust survivors, got her start as a family therapist, focusing on issues of trauma and cultural conflict.” [NewYorker]

HOLLYWOOD — Julia Louis-Dreyfus Acts Out — by Ariel Levy: “Louis-Dreyfus has nine Screen Actors Guild Awards and a Golden Globe, and she shares with Cloris Leachman the record for the most Emmys accumulated by an actor: one for playing Elaine Benes, on “Seinfeld,” the role that made her a star; one for her performance in “The New Adventures of Old Christine”; and six for playing Selina Meyer, on “Veep.” … “Seinfeld” was not an instant hit. Brandon Tartikoff, the network’s president, worried that it was “too New York, too Jewish,” and scheduled it in a time slot that one executive described as “garbage-dump theatre.”  … “I didn’t think of myself as Jewish growing up,” she [Julia Louis-Dreyfus]  said, “except people always thought that I was because of my last name, so I kind of identified. But I did think of myself as the ugly duckling in the group.” [NewYorker]

Tony Shalhoub on Filming Mrs. Maisel in Paris and His Inspiration for Abe Weissman — by Jackson McHenry: “Abe Weissman, the ultimate stern Jewish father from the Upper West Side, cuts loose in the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel… He travels to Paris to chase after his wife Rose (Marin Hinkle), who suddenly deserts him, and then picks up a new Parisian lifestyle that involves arguing in cafés and wearing berets. Then, he journeys back to the Catskills, where his family always vacations for the summer, where he terrorizes the staff, drinks his tomato juice, and does his morning calisthenics on the dock… For Shalhoub, the lesson of the season was, “You can’t go home again. You can’t go to the Catskills.” [Vulture]

CAMPUS BEAT — Nazi-themed posters found at SUNY Purchase College; governor ‘disgusted’ —by Matt Spillane and Michael McKinney: “Police are investigating “Nazi-themed posters” that were found on the campus of SUNY Purchase College on Sunday, the school said… The posters apparently had images of Hitler, as well as a swastika… Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement today that he is “disgusted” by the posters, and that the state police Hate Crimes Unit is also investigating.” [Lohud]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Ohio man arrested for plotting synagogue attack: “An Ohio man who said he admired the gunman who killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October has been arrested and charged with planning an attack on another Jewish house of worship… The suspect, Damon Joseph… discussed trying to pick between two Toledo-area synagogues to target…. [and] said he wanted to kill a rabbi and looked at photographs of the inside of a synagogue.” [Reuters]

REMEMBERING — Evelyn Berezin, 93, Dies; Built the First True Word Processor — by Robert McFadden: “Evelyn Berezin, a computer pioneer who emancipated many a frazzled secretary from the shackles of the typewriter nearly a half-century ago by building and marketing the first computerized word processor, died on Saturday in Manhattan… Evelyn Berezin was born in the Bronx on April 12, 1925, to Sam and Rose (Berman) Berezin, Jewish immigrants from Russia.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Businessman and philanthropist who kept 3,000 employees on his payroll in 1995 when his company’s factory burned down, Aaron Feuerstein turns 93… Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, professor at Rockefeller University, Paul Greengard turns 93… US Secretary of State in the Obama administration (2013-2017), following 28 years (1985-2013) as a US Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry turns 75… Stuart Paley turns 73… Professor of International Economics at Princeton University, Gene Grossman turns 63… Joanne Ring turns 60… Best-selling author, she has published eleven novels including seven books in the series The Mommy-Track Mysteries, a graduate of Harvard Law and former federal public defender, Ayelet Waldman turns 54… Policy researcher at Rand Corporation and a special advisor on Israel with Rand’s Center for Middle East Public Policy, Shira Efron Ph.D. turns 40… Manager of public affairs and marketing at Englewood (NJ) Hospital and Medical Center, Michael Chananie turns 29… Criminal justice reporter for the Washington Examiner, Kelly Cohen turns 28… Reporter at Politico who covers Congress and lobbying and co-authors Politico Influence, Marianne LeVine turns 27… VP of alternative investments at CAIS, Judah Schulman turns 27… Political journalist at The Daily Beast, Gideon Resnick turns 26… President at DP Strategies Group, Josh Brown… Marshall Wolf… Perry Rosen

Kafe Knesset for September 8

Friday, September 8, 2017

Boom! After months of investigations, deliberations, leaks and discussions over Sara Netanyahu’s alleged criminal affairs – Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has officially announced that the PM’s wife will…

Kafe Knesset for September 7

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Mum’s the word: Israeli officials, as always, kept mum this morning as the country woke up to news of an air strike on a military factory in Syria….

Amendment cutting US aid to UNRWA & UNHRC advances

Thursday, September 7, 2017

WASHINGTON – An amendment from Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) that would sever U.S. aid to the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) — an agency that exclusively assists…

Rep. Pocan blasts Palestinian Authority for arresting Amro

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

WASHINGTON – As one of the more outspoken Congressmen regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) spearheaded a June letter advocating on behalf of Palestinian activist Issa…

Kafe Knesset for September 6

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

From Hollywood to the interrogation room: The first rule of Fight Club is that there is no Fight Club. So maybe the fact that “Fight Club” producer Arnon…

Kafe Knesset for September 5

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Chief of Staff Curse: The criminal rope involving Netanyahu’s present advisors, past advisors and associates is increasingly tightening in recent days. The Police have shifted into high…