Daily Kickoff: Bezos visits Israel quietly | Trump team: Moving Embassy to Jerusalem “very big priority” | Orin Wilf profile | Peter Baker back to DC

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TOP TALKER: “Trump Picks Rex Tillerson, Exxon C.E.O., as Secretary of State” by Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Tillerson emerged as a contender on the strong recommendations of James A. Baker III, the secretary of state under President George Bush, and Robert M. Gates, the former defense secretary, according to a person briefed on the process. Mr. Kushner and Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, advocated strongly for Mr. Tillerson, and the president-elect became intrigued.” [NYTimes

“Exxon CEO could face struggle getting confirmed as Trump secretary of state” by Doina Chiacu and Gina Cherelus: “Lawmakers from both major parties have raised questions about Tillerson and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who has been mentioned as a possible No. 2 State Department official and has voiced hawkish views on Iraq and Iran.” [Reuters]

Morning Joe Panel on Tillerson and Israel: “They (team Trump) are obsessing over a possible Mideast peace deal. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit the grand slams. Tillerson is lined up very well to do that – with Arab countries. But there is this issue of Israel that, obviously, they are going to have to work and finesse, and that could be a challenge as well that they have to overcome.” [JewishInsider]

— Politico’s John Bresnahan: “Strong support for Israel and opposition to the Iran nuclear accord will win Tillerson some favor inside the panel. Two of the four Democrats to vote to oppose the agreement — Sens. Ben Cardin (Md.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.) — sit on Foreign Relations.” [Playbook

Jewish Journal’s Shmuel Rosner on Tillerson: “Former Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister and Defense Minister Moshe Arens – at the time the ambassador in Washington – likes to tell the story of him and his colleagues in the Begin government being worried as hell over the appointment of George Schultz as Secretary of State in the Reagan administration. Prior to being nominated for State, Schultz was a Bechtel executive and president. He had ties to Arab governments. He was an oil man. He was also one of the secretaries with which official Israel got along very well.”

— “What is future secretary Tillerson going to hear from his Arab friends on these issues? On Iran he will get from them an even more alarmed version of Israel’s concerns. On chaos and terrorism – these states will have sentiments similar to those of Israel’s: keep stability, forget about great ideologies and the desire for a better world. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – he will get the usual complaints, but with less urgency. The Arabs have more pressing issues worrying them. In other words: the fact that Tillerson comes with recommendation from Jim Baker does not mean that he will follow the Baker doctrine from 25 years ago. The Middle East has changed, circumstances have changed, the priorities of all countries have changed.” [JewishJournal]

INBOX — NJDC statement: “With his latest pick, President-elect Trump continues to double down on his mixed record when it comes to issues the pro-Israel community cares most about. At best, Tillerson is an unknown quantity when it comes to Israel, at worse his affinity for Putin and business dealings with some of Israel’s worst enemies adds to the growing list of fears for supporters of the US-Israel relationship.”

A President Trump Excites, and Worries, Persian Gulf Leaders” by Eric Schmitt: “Will it be, they ask, the President Trump who has vowed to cut off American aid to the Syrian rebel groups that many Gulf states support in the fight against the Syrian government? Or the President Trump who is promising to get tougher with Iran, the great Shia scourge of the Sunni Arab monarchies here? … Whatever concerns Gulf leaders have about Mr. Trump, the departure of President Obama — whom regional leaders say abandoned Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring and negotiated the secret nuclear deal with archenemy Iran — cannot come soon enough, they say.”

— “General Mattis drew fulsome praise from diplomats, military commanders and intelligence officials in the region. “If I ever went into a fight, I would want General Mattis next to me,” Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, said in an email. “He will be a great partner for his allies.” Although he was so hawkish on Iran that the White House cut short his Central Command tour in 2013, General Mattis is no warmonger — he led some of the bloodiest battles in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and knows the human costs of conflict. He has since said that tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement, as Mr. Trump has vowed to do, would hurt the United States.” [NYTimes

“Why Trump’s Republican Party Is Embracing Russia” by Peter Beinart: “When he ran for president, Trump realized that on Islam, as on trade, Republican elites were out of step with the Republican base. Trump distinguished himself from his rivals not by proposing a different strategy against ISIS. He distinguished himself by suggesting that the problem was not merely ISIS, or even “radical Islam,” but Muslims in general. Republican leaders reacted to Trump’s call for banning Muslim immigration to the U.S. with revulsion. But, according to surveys, more than seven in 10 GOP voters supported it.”

“Trump also broke with his establishment rivals by taking a softer line on Russia. Maybe financial interests motivated him. Maybe he just likes authoritarian tough-guys. Whatever the reason, the deviation seemed politically dangerous given the overwhelming hostility to Putin among GOP foreign-policy elites. But Trump’s pro-Putin line hasn’t hurt him… Ideological conservatives loathe Putin because he represents an authoritarian challenge to the American-backed order in Europe and the Middle East. But many civilizational conservatives, who once opposed the Soviet Union because of its atheism, now view Putin’s Russia as Christianity’s front line against the new civilizational enemy: Islam.” [TheAtlantic]

“Trump: Moving U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem ‘Very Big Priority’” by  Felicia Schwartz: “He made that very clear during the campaign. And as president-elect I’ve heard him repeat it several times, privately if not publicly,” Ms. Conway said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “It’s something that our friend in Israel, a great friend in the Middle East, Israel, would appreciate and something that a lot of Jewish Americans also have expressed their preference for.” Maen Rashid Areikat, the chief representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the U.S., said the Palestinians hope Mr. Trump’s administration will adhere to the longstanding U.S. position of keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv.” [WSJ; Guardian] • Read the full transcript [HughHewitt

“Trump’s team already exploring logistics of moving embassy to Jerusalem — report” by Tamar Pileggi: “Israel’s Foreign Ministry has already gotten involved in the matter, with officials in Jerusalem checking into when a possible site for the embassy, in an area that includes the Diplomat Hotel in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood, would be available, Channel 2 reported. The Trump team’s advance work on moving the embassy is being conducted without coordination with the US State Department, and officials there “deeply dislike the idea,” the report said.” [ToI; Twitter

“Israel’s Right Wing Expects Boost From A Trump Presidency” by Daniel Estrin: “A group of activists who lobbied Israeli-Americans to vote for Donald Trump gathered around a boardroom table to celebrate his victory. “Mazel tov!” they said, popping open a bottle of bubbly cava. “L’chaim!” they said, toasting life. “I hope [Trump] is better than his vodka,” one activist joked… Netanyahu might miss having a U.S. president like Obama as a counterweight to his right-wing backers, according to Israeli columnist Shmuel Rosner. “The Obama administration was a useful tool for Netanyahu,” Rosner said. “When he did not want to do something, he could always say, ‘Well, the White House wouldn’t let me.’ If the Trump administration signals that whatever Israel wants, Trump is willing to support, it will be much more difficult for Netanyahu to use the American administration as an excuse to block the right wing from running with its agenda,” Rosner said.” [NPR

“How Trump emboldens Netanyahu” by Ben Caspit: “Netanyahu and his associates have closer, more extensive ties to Trump than have been reported by the media. Netanyahu has held open channels to Trump for a long time. Ambassador Ron Dermer has close ties with the president-elect and his people. Mossad head Yossi Cohen has held a number of meetings on sensitive issues in the United States with high-ranking officials of the next administration… As of today, Netanyahu still believes that Trump meant what he said when he talked about revoking the nuclear agreement and moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.” [Al-Monitor

— Mr. Trump hasn’t specifically said whether he will roll back the deal the U.S. and other world powers reached with Iran to restrain its nuclear program, though he has been a fierce critic of the agreement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already begun to put pressure on Mr. Trump to back out of the deal, while Mr. Obama has tried to convince his successor that doing so would be a bad idea.” [WSJ

TRANSITION TOWER — “Trump close to building out senior White House team” by Shane Goldmacher: “Stephen Miller, Trump’s chief speechwriter and policy adviser on the campaign, is expected to be named a senior policy adviser.” [Politico

“Trump expected to pick Rick Perry as energy secretary” by Joe Tacopino: “Former Texas governor Rick Perry — who famously forgot the name of the Department of Energy while pledging to abolish it during a 2012 presidential debate — is reportedly expected to take over the same agency he vowed to destroy… In addition to promoting new energy technologies, the department is tasked with the safety and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons.” [NYPost; CBSNews]

“Netanyahu says Israel ‘mightier’ as first F-35 fighter jets arrive” by Ori Lewis: “Israel on Monday became the first country after the United States to receive the U.S.-built F-35 stealth jet which will increase its ability to attack distant targets, including Iran… “Our long arm has now become longer and mightier,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Nevatim air base in the southern Negev desert. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, also attending the ceremony which was delayed until after dark, said the planes were critical to maintaining Israel’s military edge in the region.” [Reuters

Carter: “Israel is our first and only friend in the region that’s flying F-35s. And it’s my honor to be here marking the delivery of these planes to America’s closest friend and ally in the region… As we gather here today, the U.S.-Israel defense relationship is stronger than it’s ever been, and America’s pledge to defend Israel’s security remains unwavering… Together, we will dominate the skies.” [

Netanyahu: “I wish to thank, on behalf of all the people of Israel, President Obama, the American Congress and the American people. Israel is your best and your most reliable ally in the Middle East and beyond the Middle East. We will always remain so… It is no coincidence that Israel is the first to receive these planes – after the US itself. I think that this symbolizes the very significant character of the strength of the alliance between us and the US. We appreciate this steadfast alliance, the American commitment to Israel’s security, and the continuity from administration to administration, from decade to decade.”[YouTube

Lockheed Martin official in Israel to CNN’s Ian Lee: “If you compare the F-35 to the F-16, which Israel has right now, is like comparing the iPhone 7 to a flip phone.” [Twitter]

KAFE KNESSET — Netanyahu Looks for Friends in the Muslim World — by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: This morning, Prime Minister Netanyahu departed for a state visit to two Muslim-majority countries in Asia — Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. “These are two large and important countries in the Muslim world, and our aim is to strengthen our ties with them,” Netanyahu explained while boarding his plane in Ben Gurion Airport. Azerbaijan, the first stop on this two-day visit, shares a border with Iran, and some reports have pointed to extensive intelligence cooperation between Israel and this country with regards to Iran’s nuclear program. Kazakhstan, which Netanyahu will visit tomorrow, has never hosted an Israeli PM on an official visit before.

Netanyahu used the visit to push back against criticism by his political rivals that Israel is suffering from international isolation, highlighting that after his visit to Africa earlier this year and prior visits to important countries in East Asia, he is now investing in “important countries in the Muslim world.” When he returns from the visit, Netanyahu will meet the same problems that have been haunting him for the last few weeks – from the crisis over the illegal outpost of Amona, to the police investigations surrounding him and his office – but for the next 48 hours, his visit is likely going to be celebrated in the local media as a diplomatic achievement.

DNC WATCH: “Labor Secretary Thomas Perez Is Said to Plan Run to Lead D.N.C.” by Jonathan Martin:“Perez has told three senior Democrats that he intends to run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, challenging the front-running candidate, Representative Keith Ellison, and inserting an ally of President Obama into the contest to rebuild a bruised party… With many senior Democrats casting about for an alternative to Mr. Ellison — whose views on Israel have drawn scorn from Jewish groups and Haim Saban, one of the party’s most significant donors — Mr. Perez could prove a contender.” [NYTimes]

A top Jewish Democrat emails us: “For the many of us who have been uncomfortable with Keith, Tom gives us a great place to land in the race for DNC chair. We’ve been pushing for Tom to jump in weeks ago, but we’re glad he’s doing it now. Keith has an important role in the party and he has been working overtime reaching out to members of our community, but now is a time when we need someone who can unify Democrats in the fight against Trump — and Tom will do just that.”

“Minneapolis Jewish Community Defends Rep. Keith Ellison Against Anti-Semitism Allegations” by Jessica Schulberg: “The idea that Ellison is anti-Semitic is “unkosher hogwash ― it’s ‘narishkeit,’” said Michael Latz, using the Yiddish word for nonsense. Latz first met Ellison seven years ago, when he became the senior rabbi at the Minneapolis synagogue Shir Tikvah. Rabbi Sim Glaser of Minneapolis’ Temple Israel is critical of Ellison’s views toward Israel, but said he is willing to move past Ellison’s past ties to the Nation of Islam. Farrakhan “is a nasty bedfellow to have, but people change,” Glaser said. “I can’t deny him the right to.”” [HuffPost]

LongRead: “Al Franken Faces Donald Trump and the Next Four Years” by Mark Leibovich:“Franken is fully aware that even the most thrown-off or nominally irreverent quip can become toxic after being put through what Franken calls the “de-humorizer” of partisan America. I witnessed this firsthand, and even participated, when I joined Franken in late August at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul. As Franken made his rounds — pouring glasses of milk at a dairy stand, eating a pork chop on a stick — he paused for a minute to receive a distraught call from his son, Joe. Joe relayed the news that Teddy Bridgewater, the young quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, had just suffered a gruesome injury to his knee at practice that afternoon. “No!” said Franken, a lifelong Vikings fan. “This is so depressing,” he muttered after hanging up. “It’s like finding out Hillary’s having an affair with Anthony Weiner.”” [NYTimesMag]

**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: Redstone Firm Pulls Support for Viacom-CBS Merger [WSJ] • Goldman President Gary Cohn Named Trump Adviser, Opening Door for Younger Executives [NYTimes] • Con Ed Threatens to Nix Service at Jared Kushner-Owned Properties [DNAInfo] • Want to Research Medical Marijuana? Israel Is Open for Business [Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION: “Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Quietly Visited Israel Ahead of Major Hiring Drive” by Eliran Rubin: “Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of the internet giant Amazon, secretly visited Israel recently as his company moves forward with plans to greatly expand its presence in Israel, TheMarker has learned. Bezos’ visit included meetings with the managers and staff of Annapurna Labs, the Israeli startup Amazon bought in 2015 for $360 million that will serve as the basis for the company’s major upgrade and expansion of its Israeli operations.” [Haaretz]

PROFILE: “At the desk of: Orin Wilf” by Katherine Clarke: “After leaving Poland as Holocaust survivors in the 1950s, Orin Wilf’s grandfather and great uncle got their first jobs as car salesmen in Queens. They eventually began building single-family homes in New Jersey and established a company called Garden Homes. Fast-forward 60 years: Wilf, 42, is today the founder and president of Skyline Developers, a New York affiliate of Garden Homes that specializes in residential development and which owns and manages more than 50,000 apartments across the country and more than 25 million square feet of retail, offices and hotels… It’s safe to say that sports are in the Wilf blood. Wilf is a minority owner of the New York Yankees, while his father and cousins own the Minnesota Vikings.” [TRD

“Trump Supporter Sam Hyde on Why Political Correctness Canceled His Adult Swim Show – ‘Million Dollar Extreme’ star accuses Brett Gelman of Jewishness” by Michael Malice: “I don’t know how much influence a character actor has, but to be honest, what’s the difference between [what] he says and what I say? I have a hint. I wonder, what would be the one difference? [At this point Sam draws a Star of David and holds it up. He later DMed me, “Can you please mention that I did the Jewish star joke? I think that’s classic.”] I’m sorry, but it’s true. It’s not like I hate Jewish people but it is what it is. I don’t know if he was instrumental but he gave it a little bit of extra steam publicly.” [Observer

TRANSITION: “NYT’s Peter Baker Leaving Jerusalem Bureau to Cover Trump: “The Trump Effect has spread. The NYT has asked Peter to come back to Washington to cover the Trump White House and Susan is going to work from DC as Politico’s chief international affairs columnist while also consulting with them about editorial innovation initiatives,” Baker wrote in a message on his Facebook page… Baker was named as the publication’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief in January 2016 after covering the Obama White House since 2008… His first dispatch from Jerusalem was published on August 28.” [JI; Facebook

— “New York Times announces new White House team” by Hadas Gold: “Thrush and Baker will be joined by Julie Davis, Mark Landler, Mike Shear and Maggie Haberman. Haberman will be based out of New York, covering what has become known as “White House North,” with President-elect Donald Trump spending so much time at Trump Tower.” [Politico

“Bill Kristol to step down at Weekly Standard” by Dylan Byers: “Kristol, the founding editor of The Weekly Standard, a leading neoconservative voice for more than two decades, is stepping down and will become editor-at-large. Stephen Hayes, the magazine’s senior writer, will replace Kristol as editor-in-chief… “It’s good,” Kristol told CNNMoney in an email. “Here at The Weekly Standard, we’ve always been for regime change.”” [CNNMoney; TWS

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Ivanka Trump Donates $1K to Project for 7 Children Killed in Brooklyn Fire” by Eddie Small: “The GoFundMe page for what has been dubbed “The Sassoon 7 Project” aims to raise $1 million to build a community facility at 3371 Bedford Ave., where a devastating fire in March 2015 caused by a hot plate killed seven children of the Orthodox Jewish Sassoon family between the ages of 5 and 16… Although contributors to GoFundMe campaigns have the option to make their donations anonymously, Trump made hers under her full name, and GoFundMe confirmed that the donation did indeed come from the president-elect’s daughter.” [DNAInfo

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC: Former mayor Michael Bloomberg presented the Magen David Adom’s 2016 Visionary Award to Mark Lebow, chairman of the board of directors of American Friends of Magen David Adom, and Patti Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies, at the annual Magen David Adom New York Gala held at Pier Sixty in Manhattan.

SPOTTED: Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, URJ’s Rabbi Rick Jacobs, MDA’s Eli Bin, David Frankel, Howard Wolfson, Kevin Sheekey, Bloomberg LP co-founder Tom Secunda, Bloomberg Counsel Dick DeScherer, Stu and Jessica Loeser, Sam and Eliana Tisch, Mark Botnick, Shea Fink, Actress Charlotte Kirk and Joshua Newton, Dr. Jason Nehmad, Andrew Levander, Allison Jaffin and Seth Unger, Jonathan Greenspun, Jim Anderson and Dror Katzir, Bill Knapp, and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

ACROSS THE POND — “Theresa May slams Labour for fostering anti-Semitic views and for ‘turning a blind eye’ to problems” by Natasha Clark: “She mocked Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, for giving a rendition of Am Yisrael Chai at the Labour friends of Israel event at their party conference. “No amount of karaoke can make up for turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism,” she insisted. She said that the Labour Party and “their hard-left allies” had displayed unacceptable anti-Semitic views, and that they were ignoring what was happening within their own ranks. The PM said that her Government was taking a firm stance to crack down on anti-Semitic abuse, and condemned the rise of such incidents. “It is disgusting that these twisted views are being found in British politics,” Mrs May said today.” [TheSun; Telegraph• Theresa May urges closer UK ties with Israel post-Brexit [TheJC

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman of the Federal Reserve (2006-2014), now a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at the Brookings Institution, Ben Shalom Bernanke turns 63… After 10 years as a  Maryland state senator from Montgomery County, to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1-2017, Jamie Raskin turns 54… Manager of Global Communications and Public Affairs at Google’s DC office since 7-2015, after almost three years at the House Republican Conference, Riva Litman turns 31… 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… President Emerita at UCLA Faculty Women’s Club, Bette Billet… 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

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: Tillerson for State has some concerned | Ash Carter delivers F-35s in Israel as Trump criticizes cost | Jeffrey Goldberg’s hiring spree

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Will Pro-Israel Community Support Tillerson for Secretary of State?” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The potential appointment has some in the foreign policy and pro-Israel communities concerned… One of Tillerson’s closest friends is former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, whom he befriended through the latter’s work with the Scowcroft Group and other organizations… According to Bill Kristol, chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle in the Bush 41 administration, Scowcroft and James Baker had a “lack of closeness and warmth for Israel.” Some Republicans, he added, were certainly very concerned about relations with Arab states that were not friendly with Israel and skeptical about the case for Israel.” [JewishInsider]

ZOA’s Mort Klein tells us: “As an oil man, he was obviously very close to many Arab countries, had close relations with them. I am worried that this  may indicate bias against Israel. His closeness with Russia concerns me as well because Russia has been enormously hostile to Israel. So, in his work life, the Arabs and the Russians were key players in his day to day work. That makes me very concerned about whether he will be extremely biased against Israel. The fact that Trump is president, who I think will be very fair to Israel, that is what makes me most comfortable.”

Aaron David Miller tells us: “The nomination of a career corporate executive as Secretary of State is a first in the  Post WWII period. (George Shultz was a Bechtel exec for eight years but had also served as Secretary of Labor; Treasury; Head of OMB). The appointment reflects the President-elect’s deal-making transactional approach to diplomacy and how to advance US interests. Tillerson reflects the kind of tough, successful, take charge, bottom line business exec. that Trump admires and trusts. The Putin connection may create some issues for confirmation but will likely be seen — given Mr. Trump’s desire to engage Russia — as an advantage down the road.”

Chemi Shalev: “Jerusalem is bound to be somewhat disappointed with Tillerson’s appointment: All the other potential candidates that had been mentioned, including Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and others, have extensive ties to Israel and to right wing American Jews and a rich history of contacts with Israeli politicians, most notably Benjamin Netanyahu. Tillerson, it seems, is a blank slate as far as Israel is concerned, with less than favorable credentials: the oil industry traditionally keeps its distance from Israel and from Jews and is far more attentive to the oil-rich Arab world. Tillerson could also prove to be a moderating force on the nuclear deal with Iran, compared to Flynn and Mattis, who are thought to be hostile.” [Haaretz]

HEARD THIS MORNING – Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe: “As close as [Tillerson] is to those Sunni Arab nations, that also is a blind spot regarding Israel because, of course, he hasn’t done business with Israel.”

“What It Really Means to Be a ‘Friend of Putin’” by Julia Ioffe: “To do business in Russia—both for Exxon Mobil and for Tillerson’s own massive retirement fund whose fortunes would rise significantly if a Trump White House lifted sanctions—you have to dance to Putin’s tune, and take whatever favors and humiliations he sends your way.” [Politico

NUMBER 2 — “He will also be paired with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his deputy secretary of state, one of the sources added, with Bolton handling day-to-day management of the department.” [NBCNews

Bolton refused to talk about his expected appointment when asked about it by Jewish Insider at a press conference outside the UN: “I’ve tried as hard as I know how for the past several weeks not to get into that speculation.”

Bolton on the U.S. opposing UNSC resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even after Israel passed a law legalizing outposts in the West Bank: “It should not be an issue for the United States, whether it necessarily agrees with all or part of draft resolutions like this. It’s a question of maintaining the fundamental principle that peace and security can only arise on a permanent basis when the parties themselves agree. It shouldn’t be taken as expressing an American view on any particular practice by any of the parties, it’s in opposition to the idea that there’s a role for the United Nations at all in finding international peace and security on a permanent basis.”

On the two-state solution: “I think that we can conclude objectively that the pursuit of a two-state solution has failed. Whether you believe that initially it was a viable proposition or not, after 20 plus years or more, in some cases, we just don’t have the circumstances in the region that will permit it. I propose what I call a three-state solution, that’s wildly unpopular as well, giving Gaza to Egypt, dividing the West Bank and returning sovereignty of part of it to Jordan. I’m told that it’s not workable because the Egyptians don’t want Gaza and the Jordanians don’t want part of the West Bank. I’m certainly open to other alternatives as well, but I think you have to look at the objective reality that the two-state solution doesn’t work and therefore some other alternative has to arise and creative minds ought to work on it instead of pursuing the two-state possibility, which is a dead end in my view.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — Sen. Rand Paul on ABC’s This Week: “John Bolton doesn’t get it. He still believes in regime change. He’s still a big cheerleader for the Iraq war. He’s promoted a nuclear attack by Israel on Iran. He wants to do regime change in Iran. So, I think John Bolton is so far out of it and has such a naive understanding of the world. If he were to be the assistant or the undersecretary for Tillerson, I’m an out automatic no on Bolton. He should get nowhere close to the State Department if anybody with the same world view is in charge… I’ll do anything to try to prevent John Bolton from getting any position, because I think his world view is naive.” [ThisWeek

TOP TALKER: “Boeing Seeks to Sell Planes to Iran, and the Deal to Trump” by Christopher Drew: “The intended recipient of Boeing’s message clearly seemed to be President-elect Donald J. Trump. Its carefully worded statement is emblematic of the tightrope that America’s biggest exporters are walking amid his threats to shake up trade policy and undo the Obama administration’s nuclear accord with Iran… Boeing officials, already dismayed by Mr. Trump’s attack last week over the costs of a new Air Force One, acknowledged that the Iran jet deal still faced contingencies — a polite way of saying they were deeply worried about whether Mr. Trump and the Republican-led Congress would support it.” [NYTimes] • Iran says Gulf worried about war risks with Trump [Reuters]  

AFP: “Petraeus sees ‘downsides’ to Iran nuclear pact: “There are some significant downsides that should cause us great concern,” Petraeus told the Manama Dialogue security forum in Bahrain of the accord… Despite Petraeus’s reservations, the former general said “there are actually some positive elements”, as it helped curb Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon. “There’s a pretty intrusive set of verification measures,” he said.” [Yahoo]

“Trump “feels very warmly” about Israel and Jews, says Netanyahu” by Jacqueline Alemany and Natalie Jimenez Peel: “He optimistically told Stahl he expects U.S.-Israel relations to grow stronger under a Trump administration. “I know Donald Trump. I know him very well. And I think his attitude, his support for Israel// is very clear. He feels very warmly about the Jewish state, about the Jewish people and about Jewish people. There’s no question about that.” Netanyahu and Stahl also discussed the prime minister’s rocky relationship with President Obama, which hit bottom when Netanyahu lobbied against the Iran nuclear deal in a speech before Congress.” [CBSNews] • Why Netanyahu doesn’t worry about Steve Bannon [CBSNews

“Netanyahu to Lobby Trump to ‘Undo’ Iran Deal, Help on Two-State Solution” by Jacob Kornbluh: “In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” program, Netanyahu said he will present President-elect Donald Trump “quite a few” options to deal with Iran’s nuclear threat. “There are ways, various ways of undoing it.” According to Netanyahu, ripping up the international accord will not result in Iran rushing towards developing a nuclear bomb. “I think Iran didn’t rush to the bomb before there was a deal,” he said, reversing a previous stance, “because they were afraid of retribution.” “I have about five things in my mind,” Netanyahu said about the options he will put forth in his meeting with Trump, without revealing them… On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu said he is looking forward to U.S. mediation on moving forward on the basis of a two-state solution. “Yeah, I’d like to have President Trump, when he gets into the White House, help me work on that,” he told 60 Minutes.”

KUSHNER WATCH — “In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Trump suggested he’s serious in getting his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, involved in the Middle East process. “I’d love to have Jared helping us on deals with other nations and see if we can do peace in the Middle East and other things,” the President-elect said. “He’s very talented. He’s a very talented guy. We’re looking at that from a legal standpoint right now.”” [JewishInsider; AP

Trump Tweets This Morning: “The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.” [Twitter]

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv tweeted last night: “Sec Def Ash Carter arrived in Israel. He will meet top Israeli officials & take part in the delivery ceremony of Israel’s first two F-35.” [Twitter]

CNBC: “Trump’s tweet about the F-35 program causes Lockheed Martin to lose $4 billion in market value” [Twitter]

“Buoyed by Donald Trump Win, Jerusalem Mayor Hopes to Get U.S. Embassy” by Rick Gladstone: “In the interview, on Thursday, Mr. Barkat said he had commended Mr. Trump for “his very clear statements” on moving the embassy. “It should have been done years ago,” he said. “My impression is, because I know some of the people and friends around Donald Trump, I believe that it will happen, sooner rather than later,” he said… Mr. Barkat said he was friends with one of Mr. Trump’s daughters, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner… The mayor said he first met the couple a few years ago in Jerusalem. “Naturally, I believe we are aligned in our thinking on what the right thing to do in Israel and for the Jewish people is,” Mr. Barkat said in the interview, “and I do believe that both Jared and Ivanka will probably impact and give the right advice to President-elect Trump.”” [NYTimes

“Report: With Iran as Top Priority, Israeli Delegation Meets With Trump Team to Share Views, Set Expectations for Coming Years” by Barney Breen-Portnoy: “A delegation of Israeli officials traveled to the US this week and met with members of US President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, the Hebrew news outlets nrg and Makor Rishon reported on Friday. According to the report, the purpose of the meeting was to start the process of sharing views and setting expectations for the years ahead… The visiting Israeli delegation was led by acting National Security Adviser Jacob Nagel and joined by Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.” [Algemeiner; NRG]

PA delegation heading to US for talks on stalled peace process: “The delegation will be led by top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and include Majed Faraj, director of the PA’s General Intelligence Service, the Ynet news website reported Saturday. The Palestinians will meet with senior administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry. They are also expected to hold talks with officials close to President-elect Donald Trump, the report said. Quoting senior Palestinian officials and Western diplomats, Haaretz newspaper reported Saturday that the delegation aims to reach an understanding with the outgoing administration of Barack Obama that would prevent a US veto on a resolution condemning Israel’s settlements.” [ToI

“Netanyahu: Israel Needs to Govern Like Trump, Make More Political Appointments” by Barak Ravid: “Donald Trump can make 4,000 political appointments, said Netanyahu, according to a minister who was present. “We need a few hundred appointments here that do not require a tender. What is certain is that with Trump, the officials will carry out his policy. Here, too we need to be able to govern,” said Netanyahu. Netanyahu made his comments during a discussion on the appointment of deputy attorney generals, in which an argument ensued over whether their designations should be limited to six years or eight years.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — Labor Party Gears up for Primaries — by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: The Labor Party’s convention gathered last night in Tel Aviv to vote on a series of procedural matters, and the gloomy mood was impossible to hide. The latest polls in Israel show the party collapsing as it loses voters to Yair Lapid‘s Yesh Atid party. The collective depression at last night’s convention was magnified as the event kicked off with a moment of silence remembering former party leaders Shimon Peres and Benjamin Ben Eliezer, who passed away earlier this year. “It feels like this is Labor’s funeral,” one activist mumbled.

The party’s leader, Isaac Herzog, spent most of the night fighting bitterly over proposals that will allow him to consolidate his grip on the party’s internal institutions. Herzog will face a tough primary in half a year, and a number of challengers are going after his chair, claiming that the party’s decline in the polls can be turned around.

One of the emerging contenders, MK Erel Margalit, unveiled yesterday an aggressive campaign against Prime Minister Netanyahu, under the headline “the people go to the Supreme Court – Bibi goes to an investigation.” The campaign is centered on a claim that Israel’s Attorney General and Chief of Police are deliberately stalling and hindering the investigations of Netanyahu’s various scandals. Margalit and his partner in the campaign, attorney Eldad Yaniv, are asking the public to join them in a special petition to the Supreme Court, asking the court to direct a full investigation into those scandals. Since yesterday more than 5,000 people have signed their petition.

2018 WATCH — Peter Roff: “Source tells me former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor hiring staff for a 2018 U.S. Senate bid. #Virginia.” [Twitter

**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 

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Paul Singer has some economic advice for Trump [WSJ] • Stronger U.S. spending under Trump could help Israel – Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug said [Reuters] • The Complicated Life of Russian Techno Oligarch Dmitry Grishin [Bloomberg] • Why Israeli entrepreneurs keep choosing Massachusetts [BostonGlobe]

Who’s going to Trump’s tech summit in NY: “Those who will be attending along with Page, Cook and Sandberg, include: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins; IBM CEO Ginni Rometty; Intel CEO Brian Krzanich; and Oracle CEO Safra Catz… Not going is entrepreneur Mark Cuban.” [Recode

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli startups deliver much-needed tech for self-driving cars” by Yoav Leitersdorf, Ofer Schreiber and Iren Reznikov: “The transition from semi-autonomous to fully autonomous vehicles is near, but we are not there yet. Israel’s autonomous vehicles startups, fueled by military expertise and a vibrant tech ecosystem, have built businesses out of the remaining technical hurdles. Via this side road, Israeli startups can help to satisfy the U.S. government’s safety concerns and meet the functional requirements of mass automated transportation. Tesla, Google, Uber, and the traditional automakers will tap into Israeli expertise to reach the finish line as fast as possible.” [VB]

SPOTLIGHT: “How the Twinkie Made the Superrich Even Richer” by Michael Corkery and Ben Protess: “Leon Black grew up in a family that had a home in Westport, Conn., and an apartment on Park Avenue in Manhattan. He attended Dartmouth and Harvard Business School. But when Mr. Black traveled to Lubbock, Tex., to speak to a group of retired teachers, he emphasized a humbler side of his pedigree. “You should know,” Mr. Black said, according to a video recording of the February 2012 meeting, “my mother was a teacher, my sister was a teacher, my brother-in-law is a teacher. We have a lot of teachers in our family.” Mr. Black had good reason to flatter the retirees: Pension funds for teachers and other public workers are some of the biggest investors in Apollo’s funds and have helped make Mr. Black a very rich man.” [NYTimes]

NORM EISEN PROFILE: ‘It’s Like a Powder Keg That’s Going to Explode’ by Darren Samuelsohn: “Eisen has emerged as one of the two most prominent government ethicists calling for Trump to take drastic action to avoid scandal or worse. Eisen, the former top Obama White House ethics lawyer, has been cited more than 1,000 times in news stories, explaining the intricacies of the “emoluments clause” to journalists, many of whom hadn’t heard the words a month ago… “It’s unreal. It’s like a full-employment plan for government ethicists, for White House ethicists,” Eisen told me Monday as he dashed between interviews with U.S. and international journalists lining up to ask him about Trump’s complicated financial arrangements… When he served President Barack Obama, a classmate of his at Harvard Law School, Eisen pushed for greater transparency and was responsible for the White House posting its visitor logs online.” [Politico]

“Glenn Beck’s Regrets” by Peter Beinart: “Later in the show, a questioner suggested that Americans were turning away from God. Beck said he’d been thinking a lot about the prophet Jeremiah, who vainly warned the Israelite kings that catastrophe was near. Finally, when the Babylonians were about to sack Jerusalem, Jeremiah urged the Israelites to accept national enslavement, because it was God’s will. Beck saw a contemporary lesson: “Sometimes you have to pay the price for what you’ve done.” Then he started talking about Donald Trump’s assault on the Bill of Rights.” [TheAtlantic]

GOOD WATCH — Michael Lewis on Charlie Rose: “Bestselling author Michael Lewis discusses his new book, “The Undoing Project,” which tells the story of two Israeli psychologists — Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman — and their groundbreaking work uncovering the hidden biases of the human mind.” [Video]

MEDIA WATCH: “Jeffrey Goldberg Thinks The Atlantic Was Made For Moments Like Donald Trump’s Presidency” by Michael Calderone: “The Atlantic was created for moments for like this ― quite literally,” Goldberg said. “The Atlantic was created at a moment of intense fracturing… Politics is a core mission,” Goldberg said. “Explaining what just happened, and what is happening, is a core mission for The Atlantic.” Goldberg said the post-election period has signaled a “renewed appreciation for a free press and an understanding on the part of a lot of people they should pay for a free press.” [HuffPost]

TRANSITION — “The Atlantic hires BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray” by Kelsey Sutton: “Gray, one of BuzzFeed News’ most prominent political reporters, will join The Atlantic to cover global affairs and U.S. politics, the magazine announced Friday. “Rosie Gray is one of the most tenacious and indefatigable young reporters I’ve ever met, and her skills make her a perfect addition to an already outstanding web team,” Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic’s editor in chief, said in a statement announcing the hire.” [Politico]

“Politico’s Glenn Thrush To Join The New York Times” by Michael Calderone: “Thrush is joining the New York Times to cover the White House, according to sources familiar with the move… At the Times, Thrush will be reunited with former Politico stars Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, who he recently interviewed for his podcast. His hiring suggests that the paper is turning to reporters with tabloid roots to cover an incoming president reared in New York’s media culture.” [HuffPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN: Radio pirates hijack classical station to preach the Torah” by Melkorka Licea: “About a month ago, “I was reading and trying to unwind listening to WQXR when suddenly I started to hear this crackling and a weird voice,” [Kensington resident Patrick] Russell recalled. “I was like what the hell is this? Then I turned the dial and boom!” The illegal airwave — located very close to the classical station’s frequency, at 105.7 FM — features religious tunes, but is mostly a man “yelling and lecturing about the Torah” in English and Hebrew, Russell said.” [NYPost]

ACROSS THE POND: “UK adopts antisemitism definition to combat hate crime against Jews” by Peter Walker: “Britain will become one of the first countries to use this definition of antisemitism, as agreed last May at a conference of the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the prime minister will say in London. A Downing Street statement said the intention of such a definition was to “ensure that culprits will not be able to get away with being antisemitic because the term is ill-defined, or because different organisations or bodies have different interpretations of it”. The IHRA’s definition reads: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”” [Guardian

BIRTHDAYS: Acclaimed Russian composer of classical music, he has also composed film scores, Yiddish and Klezmer music, Vladimir Shainsky turns 91… Actress and neuroscientist who plays the role of neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” Mayim Bialik turns 41… Baltimore-born world traveler and reporter-producer for ABC News, Becky Perlow turns 29… Associated Press science writer and adjunct professor at NYU’s academic center in Washington, Seth Borenstein… Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Jeffrey Goldstein… Communications Director in the office of Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL6), David Pasch… Israeli-born real estate developer active in Los Angeles, partner in Linear City Development, Yuval Bar-Zemer… Senior media strategist at Raffetto Herman Strategic Communications, formerly deputy press secretary for the US Commerce Department, Sarah Horowitz

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Daily Kickoff: Obama pressed to wade into Middle East again | Congress defers ‘anti-Semitism’ bill | How money eclipsed power as DC’s social currency

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ON THE HILL: “Congress Defers ‘anti-Semitism’ Bill to 2017” by our new DC correspondent Aaron Magid: A Congressional staff official, who insisted on anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, told Jewish Insider that Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, was responsible for deferring the measure. Since this is the House’s final week in session, Goodlatte opposed  “rushing” the bill through without adequate study, noted the Hill staffer. Goodlatte “thought the wording was a little vague and there were definitely first amendment issues as well,” the Congressional official added… Despite the delay, the Congressional official emphasized, “I am quite certain that based on the overwhelming support this bill receives from outside groups and members that there will be an interest and a drive to consider this and review it next year.”

— Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Jewish Insider that the bill was especially important since he believes that most American universities have “either closed their eyes to the problem (of anti-Semitism) or given a wink and a nod” to the issue. When asked about the charges that the measure would limit free speech, Cooper dismissed these critiques. “When there is a pushback against bullies, very often they (those attacking Israel) will present themselves as victims,” he added.

Given that both the House and Senate will need to reintroduce the bill in the next session, Norm Brownstein, a superlobbyist who led the effort in supporting this legislation, quoted his friend the late Senator Edward Kennedy as best describing the current environment and the way forward in 2017. “The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.” [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “Obama Pressed to Wade Into Israel-Palestinian Fight a Last Time” by Kambiz Foroohar, Margaret Talev and Jonathan Ferziger: “An abstention “wouldn’t shock me,” said Dennis Ross, Obama’s former Middle East policy coordinator, even though the administration has been signaling for some time that Obama isn’t inclined to re-engage in the Israel-Palestinian question. The U.S. would veto any formulation supporting Palestinian statehood, Ross said, but “a narrow resolution on settlements? That’s less far-fetched.” Determined to avert a confrontation with Obama during his final weeks in office, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will do everything he can to delay the final vote on the Israeli settlements legislation until after Trump takes office, said Danny Ayalon, who was Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2002 to 2006. “He doesn’t want this bill, that’s for certain, but the political pressure he’s facing is huge,” Ayalon said in a telephone interview. “There’s a very good chance that his government could fall apart over this.”” [Bloomberg] • Gilead Sher: “Obama’s last chance to bring lasting peace to Israel” [Newsweek]

“Obama Gets Defense Bill Prohibiting Guantanamo Closure” by Roxana Tiron: “The negotiated measure would also boost Israeli missile defense programs by more than $400 million, including the Iron Dome missile defense system.” [Bloomberg

INBOX — AIPAC statement: “These funds will help Israel defend its citizens against rocket and missile threats, and will further America’s own missile defense programs… Beyond missile defense funding, provisions in the measure provide for a broad range of U.S.-Israel cooperation and demonstrate Congress’ strong interest in addressing Iran’s malign behavior.”

“U.S. wants to send Guantánamo detainee to Israel for trial — but there’s a snag” by Carol Rosenberg: “U.S. intelligence authorities have linked Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu, 43, to a 2002 terror attack on an Israeli hotel in Mombasa, Kenya… According to three government officials who were aware of the trip, the State Department’s Special Envoy for the closure of Guantánamo, Ambassador Lee Wolosky, traveled to Israel in April and met with senior officials who “expressed interest” in the case. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was not among those he met. But the deal has hit a snag, according to three sources, because the FBI has failed to furnish the Israelis with information from its interrogations.” [MiamiHerald

“Iran Races to Clinch Oil Deals Before Donald Trump Takes Office” by Thomas Erdbrink and Clifford Krauss: “Our officials are in a rush to sign contracts with big oil companies in order to have leverage when Trump enters the White House,” said Saeed Laylaz, an economist with close ties to the government of Mr. Rouhani… “It seems the big oil and gas companies in Europe are determined to show Mr. Trump that they are going to make deals with Iran anyway,” said Reza Zandi, an Iranian journalist and analyst who specializes in the oil and gas industries. “These are important signals to America.” [NYTimes]

— Rasmussen poll: “Forty-one percent (41%) believe the Trump administration should repudiate the Iran deal and renegotiate a new one, but slightly more (43%) say it should allow the deal to continue as negotiated by the Obama administration. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided.” [RasReports]

NOW ON YOUTUBE: Our GA panel with Republican Jewish ‘Insiders’ discussing Donald Trump’s victory [YouTube]

TRANSITION TOWER — Trump’s Transition Team ‘Is Like Game of Thrones’ by Gabriel Sherman: “According to a senior transition official, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is supportive of Priebus’s staff choices because they bring a level of professionalism to the chaotic Trump team. But some at Trump Tower are alarmed that Priebus has so far not offered jobs to a number of Trump loyalists who may have been expecting them, including Michael Cohen, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, and Dave Bossie… Sources said Trump himself may not be aware that members of his original team haven’t been offered jobs.” [NYMag

“Trump ‘originals’ say they’re getting frozen out” by Alex Isenstadt and Ken Vogel: “As it stands, a number of Trump originals, as they call themselves, have yet to be promised positions in the administration. That includes people like… Michael Glassner, the former deputy campaign manager.”[Politico]

“Romney spotted near Trump Tower amid cabinet talks” by Emily Smith: “A sharp-suited, carefully coiffed Romney was seen with a briefcase briskly walking on 56th Street, near Fifth Avenue, on Thursday. A witness said, ‘Romney was walking away from Trump Tower and seemed in a hurry, like he didn’t want to be seen.'” [NYPost]

“Israel’s top rabbi: Ivanka Trump is Jewish enough for me” by Yousef Saba: “Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism needs no further clarification or investigation, according to Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef. In July, Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court — an entity distinct from the Chief Rabbinate — ruled that it would not recognize conversions by prominent New York rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who certified Ivanka Trump’s embrace of Judaism in 2009 after she married Jared Kushner.”[Politico]

“A Guided to Donald Trump’s (Complicated) Foreign Relationships” by Ian Bremmer:“Trump’s hard line on Iran and all things Islam reassures Netanyahu that America remains a reliable and powerful friend. But this relationship has always been on solid footing, because even when the partners were glaring at each other, the families still got along fine. At every level of government, communication and cooperation between the U.S, and Israel have been strong for decades, and influential interest groups continue to protect the relationship in both countries. (AIPAC, the most powerful Israel lobby in the U.S., were among the first to force Trump onto a teleprompter!) Netanyahu won’t get everything he wants from Trump. Assad will remain in power in Syria, and Trump may balk at shredding the Iran nuclear deal, for example. But the foundation of this relationship remains as strong and resilient as ever.” [TIME] • “Trump Victory Spurs Israeli Talk of West Bank Annexation” [WSJ]

“Will Trump and Netanyahu Make the America-Israel Relationship Great Again?” by Lee Smith: “Some Israeli officials believe the Trump administration may be able to broker the kind of comprehensive regional understanding that has eluded Western diplomats for the half-century since the Six Day War eliminated the fantasy of pushing the Jews into the sea. The sticking point, say a number of Saudis analysts I’ve spoken with, is that Israel has to show some movement on peace with the Palestinians for Riyadh and Jerusalem to move closer… It’s hard to know exactly what Trump’s Middle East policy will look like—what the new White House’s level of engagement will be in the region, or, most vitally for Israel, whether it will walk away from the JCPOA, enforce it, or try to renegotiate it. Israelis are certain about a few things, however—Donald Trump and the figures he’s appointed to top national security positions are all friends of Israel.” [Tablet

“Right to the end, Trump campaign spent less than Clinton’s” by Julie Bykowicz and Chad Day: “Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, together gave $10 million to Future 45 in the final weeks of the campaign, the new reports show.” [AP

“Business giants piled cash into GOP Senate super PAC in election’s final days” by Jacob Pramuk: “Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam donated $7.5 million on Oct. 24, while billionaire Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman contributed $2.2 million a day later. Hedge fund manager Paul Singer of Elliott Management chipped in $2 million on Oct. 26… Adelson and Singer, huge Republican donors in the past, shied from Trump in this cycle but still contributed to other Republican causes. Schwarzman, who has been less active as a donor than Adelson or Singer, will head a forum that will advise Trump on business policy.” [CNBC

TALK OF THE TOWN: “How money eclipsed power as Washington’s chief social currency” by Roxanne Roberts: “The black-tie dinner at the National Gallery of Art was a dazzling affair. David Rubenstein, one of the gallery’s five trustees, was sitting at his table when a guest came over to greet him. “David! How are you?” the man exclaimed, then turned to the person seated to Rubenstein’s right. “Hi! Who are you? What’s your name?” “John Roberts.” “And what do you do?” the man continued, clueless. Rubenstein hastily explained that his dinner partner was the chief justice of the United States. Roberts was unflappable, the man embarrassed. But when another guest approached Rubenstein for a selfie, the billionaire gently suggested that one with Roberts would be more impressive.”

“The idea that the chief justice was not instantly recognizable, even in a room full of VIPs, would have been shocking just 10 years ago. But Washington’s social landscape has changed dramatically in the past decade, driven by bitterly partisan politics and a booming private sector. The handful of federal officials at the East Wing dinner was eclipsed by philanthropists like Rubenstein, Roger and Vicki Sant, Calvin and Jane Cafritz, Adrienne Arsht, Mitch and Emily Rales, and Connie Milstein, all billionaires or millionaires.” [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 

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Goldman Sachs C.E.O. Lloyd Blankfein Changes His Tune on Donald Trump [VanityFair] • Time Inc. Hires Banks to Help Field Takeover, Partnership Interest: Move follows bid from group including Edgar Bronfman Jr. [WSJ] • The Thiel Fellowship was created to prove that a college degree doesn’t matter. It became one of the most elite credentials for young entrepreneurs [BackChannel] • Joe Lonsdale pours $4.55M for alcohol IoT startup Nectar [TechCrunch]

“Oscar Health, Joshua Kushner’s startup, opens brick and mortar space in Brooklyn” by Sara Ashley O’Brien: On Thursday, Oscar announced the opening of its first offline effort, a 6,000 square foot brick and mortar doctor’s office in downtown Brooklyn.This news comes at a precarious time for Oscar, which has a potentially complicated relationship with the incoming presidential administration… Spokespeople for Thrive and Oscar would not comment on whether Jared Kushner is an investor in Oscar.” [CNNMoney

“Facebook court filings hint at possible political future for Mark Zuckerberg” by Alan Yuhas: “The class-action lawsuit was first filed in late April, after Zuckerberg proposed a corporate shake-up that would dilute the voting power of shareholders – giving him “eternal control” of the company, in the words of the shareholders’ lawyers. Text messages excerpted in the court documents reveal that Zuckerberg and two board members discussed the CEO’s possible government service, and argued about how to present it to shareholders… According to the proposal as it was described in a regulatory filing, Zuckerberg would be able to take a two-year leave from Facebook to serve “in a government position or office” without losing control of the company.” [Guardian]

LongRead: “Why Witnesses to Venezuela’s Catastrophic Corruption Keep Turning Up in the U.S.” by Ethan Bronner and Michael Smith: “Since he was 8, [Martin] Rodil has worn a Star of David pendant, a gift from his grandfather. He wasn’t raised as a Jew, but as he worked with an Israeli on an investigation involving Iran, he began to think about that part of his identity… Rodil’s links to Israel have grown. When he and his wife were unable to conceive, they traveled to Israel in 2007 to try in vitro fertilization. Their twins are “made in Israel,” in Rodil’s words. With funding from a Venezuelan Jew, he’s also brought dozens of Venezuelan doctors and other specialists to Israel to confer on a detailed plan for rebuilding the country after the fall of Chavismo. In the past year, Rodil helped found the Venezuelan American Leadership Council, a lobbying group modeled on the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” [BloombergBW

“What the U.S. Government Really Thought of Israel’s Apparent 1979 Nuclear Test” by Avner Cohen and WIlliam Burr: “On February 21, 1980, CBS Evening News aired an exclusive report by Tel Aviv based CBS correspondent, Dan Raviv, saying that CBS learned that the Vela event was indeed an Israeli test… According to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Raviv had reported his story to CBS from Rome to evade Israeli press censorship; he subsequently lost his press credentials and was thrown out of the country for his censorship offense, on direct order from Minister of Defense Ezer Weizman… The late Eliyahu Speiser, a high level and reliable Israeli politician who served as a member of the Knesset from 1977 to 1988, confirmed to Raviv that an Israeli nuclear test had occurred.” [PoliticoMag]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — in DC: Atlantic Media’s The Atlantic After Hours gathering, hosted by master moderator and Atlantic Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons, upgraded from Peet’s Coffee shop to the British Ambassador’s Residence. Ambassador Kim Darroch participated in the conversation along with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), and Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson. Barrasso predicted President-elect Trump would soon visit “our greatest allies Britain and Israel.”

Spotted: Heather Podesta, Newseum President Jeffrey Herbst, Sharon Polansky, Alana Herbst, James & Deborah Fallows, Mark Penn, Nancy Jacobson, Ron Kampeas, Kerry Senior Advisor Marie Harf, and Washington columnist at The Boston Globe Indira Lakshmanan.

Yitz Applbaum on the Wine of the Week: I recently dined at the first Kosher restaurant housed in a Ritz-Carlton: the Herbert Samuel Restaurant in Herzliyah. The atmosphere was intense and robust sitting there eating a 16 ounce, forty-day aged steak while listening to a retired IDF general relate some stories of the Entebbe operation. The moment demanded a wine which would hold up to both the steak and the stories.

I found the wine. The Tzora 2014 from Shoresh Vineyard. It is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Syrah and 4% Petit Verdot – juicy enough to hold its own in that room, with that steak and those people. It was almost as if one could taste the juice of the grapes as they are being crushed on the conveyer belt — both tart and flavorful.  The front of one’s palate is quickly inundated with the Syrah’s punchiness. Luckily, one’s mid-palate gets a rest as the intensity declines. The finish rebounds up to the former height of the open. This wine is young. Give it three years to fully open up, and let the Syrah properly integrate with the other grapes for a more balanced wine. Drink with steak or any other meat where you can enjoy the juice of the meat with the juice of the grapes. [TzoraVineyards]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Leading box office star of the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in over 90 movies during his 60 year acting career, Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch) turns 100… Former Deputy Secretary and Acting Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, now President of the P&C Division of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Neal S. Wolin turns 55… Member of the Knesset for Likud (2003-2014) with stints as Minister of the Interior and Education Minister, Gideon Sa’ar (born Gideon Zarechansky) turns 50… Junior United States Senator from New York since 2009, Kirsten Gillibrand turns 50… Senior Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg turns 42… Los Angeles investor and businesswoman Lisa Greer… Manager of social media and writer for The Weekly Standard, co-founder of Network Red and Executive Director for CityGOP, Shoshana Weissmann

Progressive political activist, headed the  AmeriCorps VISTA program during the Carter administartion, Margery Tabankin turns 68… Israeli filmmaker and political activist, son of Israeli politician Shulamit Aloni, supporter of BDS and Palestinian rights, Udi Aloni turns 57… Actress, born in Montreal to a Sephardic Jewish family, known for her roles in HBO’s “Entourage” and CBS’s “The Mentalist,” Emmanuelle Chriqui turns 39… Owner of Judaica House in Teaneck, New Jersey, Reuben Nayowitz… Kaylene Hartford… Dan Goldstern

Businessman and philanthropist who kept 3,000 employees on his payroll in 1995 when his company’s factory burnt down, Aaron Feuerstein turns 91… Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, professor at Rockefeller University, Paul Greengard turns 91… U.S. Secretary of State since 2013, following 28 years (1985-2013) as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry turns 73… Professor of International Economics at Princeton University, Gene Grossman turns 61… Policy researcher at Rand Corporation and a special advisor on Israel with Rand’s Center for Middle East Public Policy, Shira EfronPh.D…. Manager of marketing and public relations at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey,  Michael Chananie… Criminal Justice Reporter for the Washington Examiner, Kelly Cohen… Joanne Ring… Judah Schulman… Marshall Wolf

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]

In NY, Cruz Decries WH Boycott of Netanyahu’s ‘Positive’ Speech to Congress

Friday, April 15, 2016

NEW YORK – Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz blasted the Obama administration’s treatment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he pitched his candidacy in a front of…

Observer Editor: ‘Don’t Know’ Where Trump Stands on Relocation of U.S Embassy in Israel

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ken Kurson, the editor of the New York Observer, owned by Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, doesn’t know where the Republican presidential front-runner really stands on relocating the…

NY Poll: Hillary Leads Sanders 60-38 Among Jewish Voters

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bernie Sanders has narrowed the lead against Hillary Clinton in the April 19 New York presidential primary, a new poll showed on Wednesday. According to the Siena Research poll,…

Jewish Members of the NYC Council Endorse Hillary for President

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, twelve members of the New York City Council’s 14-member Jewish Caucus announced their endorsement of Hillary Clinton ahead of the April…

Sanders Confronted About ‘Zionist Jews’ at Harlem Forum

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate defended his support of Israel and peace in the Middle East as he was confronted by a “Black Lives Matter” supporter about his relationship with…

ADL Calls on Sanders to Retract Gaza Casualty Claims

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Wednesday called on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to retract his statements regarding Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza in the summer of…