Daily Kickoff: Inside the JLOTUS Club — who ‘read Jewish Insider every day’ | Trump’s friends Roth & Silverstein compete to develop new FBI HQ

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — “Jewish Groups and Unions Grow Uneasy With Keith Ellison” by Jonathan Martin: “After initially mixing praise and criticism for Mr. Ellison, the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday effectively came out in opposition to his candidacy, citing remarks he made about Israel in a 2010 speech that the anti-discrimination group termed “disqualifying.” In an audiotape released Thursday of a fund-raiser for his re-election to Congress that year, Mr. Ellison asserted that “United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of seven million people,” an allusion to Israel… Mr. Ellison had already drawn criticism from some Jewish officials for his policy stances toward Israel — he falls to the left of most in the Democratic caucus on the issue — and for his past defense of Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader.”

— “In an open letter to Mr. Greenblatt, Mr. Ellison wrote that he recalled his remarks differently. “My memory is that I was responding to a question about how Americans with roots in the Middle East could engage in the political process in a more effective way,” he said. “My advice was simply to get involved. I believe that Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship are, and should be, key considerations in shaping U.S. policy in the Middle East.”” [NYTimes; JewishInsider

“Rep. Keith Ellison faces renewed scrutiny over past ties to Nation of Islam, defense of anti-Semitic figures” by Andrew Kaczynski: “A CNN KFile review of Ellison’s past writings and public statements during the late 1980s through the 1990s reveal his decade-long involvement in the Nation of Islam and his repeated defense of Farrakhan and other radical black leaders against accusations of anti-Semitism in columns and statements to the press. None of the records reviewed found examples of Ellison making any anti-Semitic comments himself.” [CNN

INBOX — RJC’s Matt Brooks: “None of these revelations about Ellison are new, and it’s deeply troubling how many prominent national Democrats rushed to endorse his candidacy for chairman of the Democrat National Committee. It is the responsibility of every single Democrat to declare that these beliefs long held by Ellison are not what this country stands for, and demand that he withdraw his candidacy for DNC Chair.”

TOP TALKER: “Shouting match erupts between Clinton and Trump aides” by Karen Tumulty and Philip Rucker: “Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri condemned Bannon… “If providing a platform for white supremacists makes me a brilliant tactician, I am proud to have lost,” she said. “I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, fumed: “Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform?” “You did, Kellyanne. You did,” interjected Palmieri, who choked up at various points of the session… Joel Benenson, Clinton’s chief strategist, piled on: “There were dog whistles sent out to people. . . . Look at your rallies. He delivered it.” At which point, Conway accused Clinton’s team of being sore losers. “Guys, I can tell you are angry, but wow,” she said.” [WashPost; Politico

HEARD LAST NIGHT IN  NYC — One current and two former White House Jewish liaisons – members of the now-called JLOTUS (Jewish Liaisons of the U.S.) club – offered a behind-the-scenes look at life as the administration’s representative to the American Jewish community in a panel moderated by Jordan Hirsch, Visiting Fellow at the Columbia Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, at Columbia University.

Noam Neusner, former liaison for the George W. Bush administration, explained how being a liaison for a Republican president differs from working for a Democratic president:“We definitely had fewer pressures on us politically because support in the community was less and there weren’t a lot of people calling in for favors. The flip side is that you have fewer political allies. You have to build a coalition within the community using smaller pieces, and that’s harder to do. The way I approached it was: President Bush had a large agenda. There were many Jewish organizations that didn’t want to have anything to do with a good portion of it. But even the most progressive organizations were interested in pieces of it. And so when I found that 10% diagram where these interests overlap, I would say we are going to work together on this, and that generally worked pretty well. It worked well because I knew that was the president’s perspective on things and he – love him or hate him – was looking for allies where he could get them, and I knew that’s where his heart would be. He also inspired us that we were serving the entire country. In the end, the reputation you earn as a Jewish liaison is how you work with people day to day.”

Jarrod Bernstein, the liaison for the Obama administration during his reelection, on his experience working with the president during a time of tension with the Jewish community: “The Jewish liaison position is actually very apolitical. Some of the first calls I got when I got the job were from people like Noam who served in the opposite political party and they were offering advice. I think that story doesn’t get told enough. The guys who served Bush were really, really good to me, and to all those who worked there… I didn’t look at a poll the entire time, but I can’t say I was ignorant of what was going on. It was a stressful time all around. The fights I had with the organized Jewish community were with people who would very much surprise you from the Democratic administration because they weren’t always with conservative-religiously, but with people who I would consider our political allies.”

Where do they get their daily news from? Chanan Weissman, current liaison for the Obama administration: “Definitely Twitter, plus picking up a copy of NYTimes, WSJ, Washington Post. Every single day I read Jewish Insider (entire panel: YES!) because they do a fantastic job of consolidating a lot of the issues. I read the Forward, JTA, and Tablet – that sort of serves as a baseline.”

Bernstein: “I would say similar with the one addition, because I worked in New York politics a long time and I dealt a lot in the Hasidic world, I read Vos Iz Neias.”

Neusner: “Beyond what they have mentioned, I read Drudge.”

“Extension of Iran Sanctions Act passes U.S. Congress” by Patricia Zengerle: “The measure passed by 99-0. It passed the House of Representatives nearly unanimously in November, and congressional aides said they expected Obama would sign it when it reached his desk… “While we do not think that an extension of ISA is necessary, we do not believe that a clean extension would be a violation of the JCPOA (Iran deal),” a senior administration official said.” [Reuters

“Russia urges Donald Trump to honour 2015 Iran nuclear deal” by Graham Lanktree: “The practice has always in the United States of adjusting pre-election promises and intentions along the way of practical implementation of what is planned,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Russia’s largest news wire service TASS Thursday. Russia, he said… is watching “the position of [the] future US Administration on this document.” Rybakov believes the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will, in the end, be recognized by everyone as [sic] Washington, including those who have so far been countering the achievement of the deal with Iran and implementation of the joint plan for political motives.” [IBTimes

“Obama Renews Waiver Delaying Jerusalem Embassy Relocation” by Jacob Kornbluh:“Obama gave President-elect Donald Trump some breathing room before deciding whether to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, renewing on Thursday a presidential waiver suspending the relocation of the embassy for another six months… June 1st, 2017 is the next time the president will have to take action. Jewish American supporters of Trump, as well as right-wing parties in Israel, are hoping that this is the last waiver issued on the matter.” [JewishInsider] • Did Obama just sign the last waiver before Trump moves the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? [WashPost

Noah Pollak: June 1st is just a few days before the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War.” [Twitter

David Martosko: “Reading closely, Obama Jerusalem embassy thing is toothless, only prohibits Congress from denying State Dept. $ if it DOESN’T move embassy.” [Twitter]

Martin Indyk: “In parallel with moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the president could also announce that he has decided to establish a U.S. embassy to the state of Palestine in east Jerusalem, while opposing any division of the city… Wedding it to a preplanned diplomatic effort to resolve the conflict is more advisable than just battening down the hatches and hoping that the storm of adverse reaction will pass.” [Brookings

LISTEN — Daniel Levy, who served as a peace negotiator under Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Yitzhak Rabin, discusses the likely implications of Trump’s presidency in the region [WNYC]

TRANSITION TOWER: “Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James Mattis for secretary of defense” by Dan Lamothe: “To take the job, Mattis will need Congress to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has granted a similar exception just once, when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950… Like Trump, Mattis favors a tougher stance against U.S. adversaries abroad, especially Iran… Mattis said the next president “is going to inherit a mess,” and argued that the nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration last year may slow Iran’s ambitions to get a nuclear weapon, but won’t stop them.”

— Even though Central Command didn’t encompass Israel, Gen. Mattis made a concerted effort to reach out to his Israeli military counterparts, according to Steven Simon, who worked with Gen. Mattis when he served on Obama’s National Security Council. Simon, who now teaches at Amherst College, said Mattis made frequent stops in Israel during trips to the region, part of an effort to encourage the Jewish State and its Arab neighbors to work together to counter Iranian influence. “They respected Mattis because they saw him as a straight shooter and a good listener,” said Simon of the Israelis and Arabs.” [WashPost

Trita Parsi: “Gave a presentation to Mattis a few years ago. He told me he thinks of 3 things before he goes to bed each night: Iran, Iran and Iran.” [Twitter

“Inside Trump’s personal universe on Fifth Avenue, a presidential transition unfolds” by Joanna Slater: “On this day, there are no protesters outside the building. But at lunchtime, Jeff Bergman, 38, stands on one side of the lobby, opens a book and begins to read aloud. “A little light reading,” he says wryly. The book is Night by Elie Wiesel, a landmark memoir of the Holocaust. “The idea is a teach-in,” he says, explaining that he strikes up conversations with passersby. Mr. Bergman works nearby and hopes to come each day to engage in a form of peaceful protest.” [GlobeandMail

Peter Beinart: “Trump Era Heralds Final Collapse of American Jewish Center: The losers in all this will be organizations like AIPAC that can neither support Trump nor actively oppose him and which can neither celebrate permanent Israeli control over the West Bank nor try to stop it… Trump, who has done so much to weaken the American political establishment, will weaken the American Jewish establishment too.” [Haaretz

Kelsey Osgood: “Can Donald Trump be anti-Semitic if his daughter is Jewish? In short, Yes… Because we can’t see into Trump’s heart, we can only judge his words and actions. He has a history of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes, such as when he said he preferred “short guys who wear yarmulkes every day” to count his money. He used an obvious Jewish symbol to attack his opponent during his presidential campaign. And he appointed Stephen K. Bannon as his chief strategist, a hero of the “alt-right,” a small, far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state and is known for spreading anti-Semitic views.” [WashPost

“Mississippi Gov. to ‘JPost’: Trump will be great for Israel” by Herb Keinon: “Bryant, speaking to the Post just prior to a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said there is no longer an organized Ku Klux Klan, and that the media made far too big an issue of Louisiana’s David Duke, a former klansman, supporting Trump… He was a bit surprised that some people he had met in Israel had reservations about Trump because of allegations of anti-Semitic statements made by his chief strategist Steve Bannon… “He has Jewish grandchildren. A Jewish daughter, and a Jewish son-in law. I can’t remember the last president that had children who were Jewish,” he said.” [JPost]

Minister Tzachi Hanegbi to Australian publication: “I personally think Donald Trump will be less challenging to Israel than Hillary Clinton would have been. In a sense the Israel-US relationship has nothing to do with the personality of the individual leaders. We have had decades of steadily enhancing co-operation. But in the last eight years, especially in the last two or three, we have had more concrete disputes with the President (Barack Obama), which still didn’t interfere with an unprecedented military agreement. But on Iran, and on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, maybe we will have less tensions with the new president-elect. His instincts on these two issues are more similar to ours.” [TheAustralian]

**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
“Howard Schultz Stepping Down as Starbucks CEO to Focus on Higher-End Shops” by Julie Jargon: “Mr. Schultz, 63 years old, is handing over the CEO role to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson, who served as a director of the company for seven years before joining its executive team two years ago. Mr. Schultz, who is credited with taking the company from small beginnings to an international behemoth, began handing over daily oversight of the company to Mr. Johnson a few months ago… Mr. Schultz will remain chairman of Starbucks after he steps down as CEO in April and said he has no plans to step away from the company. “This gives me the entrepreneurial freedom to do what I think I do best,” he said in an interview.” [WSJ; NYTimes]

SPOTLIGHT: “The next FBI headquarters, a $2 billion project, could be built by a Trump associate” by Jonathan O’Connell: “Two billionaire New York City developers bidding to build a new headquarters for the FBI have deep ties with President-elect Donald Trump. One, Steven Roth, served as an economic adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign and co-owns a building with him in Manhattan. Another, Larry Silverstein, has been referred to by Trump as a “friend of mine.””

“Roth is founder and chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, which acquired a mutual stake with Trump in a 2 million-square-foot Manhattan building in 2007 and has partnered in multiple commercial properties with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Silverstein supported Clinton for president, but the day after the election, speaking at a New York real estate conference, he complimented Trump’s leadership qualities. For the FBI project, Silverstein is bidding in partnership with Lerner Enterprises, headed by Washington Nationals owner Theodore N. Lerner.” [WashPost]

“AIPAC Proposes to Expand Headquarters in Mount Vernon Triangle” by Andrew Giambrone: “AIPAC, proposes to enlarge its seven-story headquarters at 251 H St. NW in Mount Vernon Triangle by converting an existing penthouse into an eighth story, and also building a new 11-story commercial office “intended to serve the organization’s projected future growth.” While the penthouse conversion will modestly increase the footprint of AIPAC’s current 89,000-square-foot headquarters, the planned 162,000-square-foot office building development nearly triples the organization’s space… The application notes that employment at AIPAC’s headquarters has grown from 125 when it opened in 2008 to 220 as of today, and that the organization expects similar growth in the next three to five years.”[DCCityPaper

STARTUP NATION: “Genesis Partners spins out $50 million fund, F2 Capital, to back early-stage startups in Israel” by Lora Kolodny: “While Genesis Partners was a $600 million fund for growth-stage deals, F2 Capital, founded by Eddy Shalev, Jonathan “Jonny” Saacks and Barak Rabinowitz, is in the midst of closing a $50 million debut fund to back seed stage companies. Limited partners in F2 are mostly family funds based in Israel, the U.S. and Australia, Rabinowitz told TechCrunch.” [TC] • Tax Breaks Are Israel’s Bait to Lure Multinational Companies [Bloomberg]

Bloomberg Beta’s Roy Bahat: “As an investor in startups, I often see the very qualities that made me and others standout successes in school turn out to be straitjackets. The setup of school might even be conforming us to something less than our best selves. As I meet founder after founder, some of the reasons are becoming clear to me. I summarized the things that school asks that are wildly different from the things that life, and founder life in particular, ask. The same attributes that in school are features, in life are bugs.” [Medium]

PROFILE: “Raviv Drucker: the Israeli journalist incurring the wrath of Netanyahu” by Peter Beaumont: “Drucker seemed to shrug off the attacks. “I’m used to it,” he told the Guardian in a cafe below his Tel Aviv studio a few hours before the latest Facebook rant from Netanyahu. “I believe he’s now published five or six posts against me, as far as I know. You know, I don’t go looking for them, but sometimes I bump up against them.” He mentions, the calls – sometimes to multiple people, one after the other. “He’s called everyone. Shareholders [in the television company], managers editors, even correspondents. I can’t believe how much time he spends on this. He texts people as well.” Drucker says the change came after the 2015 election, when Netanyahu won a far larger share of seats than expected… Netanyahu’s latest attack suggests that his interventions are calculated as much as angry, and he seeks, like Donald Trump in the US, to bypass traditional outlets to speak to his supporters via social media.” [Guardian

LongRead: “‘We Are Orphans Here’ Life and death in East Jerusalem’s
Palestinian refugee camp” by Rachel Kushner:
“Effectively, there are no laws in the Shuafat Refugee Camp, despite its geographical location inside Jerusalem. The Shuafat camp’s original citizens were moved from the Old City, where they sought asylum in 1948 during the Arab-Israeli War, to the camp’s boundaries starting in 1965, when the camp was under the control of the Jordanian government, with more arriving, in need of asylum, during and after the war in 1967. Now, 50 years after Israel’s 1967 boundaries were drawn, even Israeli security experts don’t quite know why the Shuafat Refugee Camp was placed inside the Jerusalem municipal boundaries.” [NYTimesMag]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Foundation fund nixes progressive donation” by Eitan Arom: “The Foundation was being asked to act as the vehicle to provide support for an organization that is hostile to established Jewish institutions, indirectly including The Foundation itself,” the statement read. “We concluded that such a course of action would directly conflict with our core values, requiring us to deny this recommendation.” IfNotNow admits to openly challenging the Jewish establishment. The group gained national attention during Israel’s last incursion in Gaza in 2014 by reading the Mourner’s Kaddish for Palestinian victims in front of major Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York City.” [JewishJournal

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: UC Berkeley Emeritus History Professor, Pulitzer Prize winner, Leon Litwack turns 87… Senate Minority Leader in the last month of his term, Harry Reid turns 77… Moroccan-born drummer for a secular rock band in France who then switched to a career in contemporary Jewish music, Isaac Bitton turns 69… French historian, professor at University of Paris 13 and author of 30 books on the history of North Africa, Benjamin Stora turns 66… Madison, Wisconsin-based class action and labor law attorney, Sarah Siskind turns 64 (h/t Playbook)… Emmy Award-winning actress Rena Sofer turns 58… Sephardi / Portugese actress best known for playing Special Agent Kensi Blye in CBS’s “NCIS Los Angeles,” Daniela Ruah turns 33… Account Executive at Jewish Journal, Lanna Solnit… EVP and Media Director at Rubenstein Communications, Nancy Haberman… Ph.D. candidate at Penn State University, formerly a White House staffer (2001-2005), Eleanor L. Schiff… Joseph Schlaiser

Bush 41 alum Mark A. Shiffrin is 6-0, celebrating with sushi and scotch as family and friends gather at Congregation Beth Israel, the historic New Haven Orchard Street Shul; Shiffrin also has served as CT commissioner of consumer protection, where he regulated boxing in the state (h/t Bryan Anderson/Playbook)

Howard Krizer turns 84… Sandra Wharton turns 74… Professional tennis player who won the gold medal in women’s singles at the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel, Sharon Fichman turns 26… Sandy Stackler… Malinda Marcus… SVP of Communications at NBC News since 9-2013, previously SVP of Communications for Time, Fortune and Money, Ali Weisberg Zelenko

Biographer and winner of the 1980 National Book Award, Scott Berg turns 67… Politics editor at Breitbart California and publisher and founder of FlashReport, Jon Fleischman turns 49… Campaign manager for Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress, Sarah Baron turns 26… Founder, senior Rabbi and lead guide of the Adventure Rabbi program based in Boulder Colorado, Jamie Korngold… Tony Sarif

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: Obama unlikely to act on Israel in remaining weeks | Saban Forum to feature Kerry, Trump advisors | Lightspeed hires 22-year-old VC

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — AP sources: “Obama leans against last-minute action on Israel” by Josh Lederman: “Frustrated by the lack of progress, Obama for more than a year had considered giving a major speech describing his vision for a future peace deal or, in a more aggressive step, supporting a United Nations resolution laying out parameters for such a deal… Discussions about those potential maneuvers, under way before the U.S. election, have fallen off since Donald Trump’s surprise victory, officials said. Obama is now highly unlikely to approve either of those options presented to him by U.S. diplomats, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss internal deliberations and requested anonymity.” [AP]

Aaron David Miller: “Why Carter is wrong on State of Palestine: As hard as it may be to accept right now, a unilateral move might make matters worse. And the reality is that any initiative the United States proposes — especially recognition of Palestinian statehood — would anyway have a very real chance of being overturned or undermined by the next administration, which would leave the Obama legacy in tatters, while diminishing US credibility in the process.” [CNN]

ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt: “President Obama Shouldn’t Go It Alone on Middle East Peace:Regardless of how President Obama and his staff may feel about their successors, this is a task for a new administration, not the last great act of an outgoing president.” [Forward]

DRIVING THE WEEKEND — “Kerry, Trump Advisors to Attend Saban Forum This Weekend” by Jacob Kornbluh: The annual Saban Forum taking place in Washington, D.C. this weekend will focus on the challenges awaiting the incoming Trump administration in the Middle East. According to Brookings Executive Vice President Martin Indyk, the presidential transition is a “perfect opportunity to review the lessons of the past and forge ideas for future policy.” Speakers include Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry… Senator Lindsey Graham. President-elect Trump’s special advisor on Israel, David Friedman and foreign policy advisor Walid Phares will also be among the participants. [JewishInsider]

FIRST DAUGHTER: “Ivanka Trump, climate czar? The first daughter aims to use the first lady’s lectern to champion liberal causes” by Annie Karni: “In September, as Donald Trump railed against the media and sold himself as the candidate of the forgotten man, Ivanka Trump ventured into the lair of the liberal media and power elite that was laughing at her father. She jetted off to Aspen with her husband, Jared Kushner, to attend “Weekend with Charlie Rose,” an off-the-record gathering at which 90 percent of invitees were Trump haters. If there were any question whether Ivanka’s deep involvement in her father’s divisive campaign would ruin her social standing among liberals, here was her answer: Less than two months before Election Day, she was still a member of the club — albeit with a full security detail keeping her at a slight remove.”

“Ivanka is not currently expected to leave Manhattan for Washington. But she is searching for a chief of staff and other hires to help shape her new role. “Certainly this is unprecedented in the modern era,” said Katherine Jellison, an expert in first lady studies at Ohio University. “There’s been nothing like this since World War I.” Ivanka is already trying out her ceremonial role, at least. She served pre-Thanksgiving meals at UJA-Federation of New York with her 2-year-old son in tow and visited Success Academy in Harlem, where she spent about 90 minutes touring seven classrooms.” [Politico]

“Top Israeli diplomat: We would ‘welcome’ Jared Kushner” by Nolan McCaskill: “We would be so happy if someone could bring peace to the Middle East,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said, according to an interview with This Week in Asia published Tuesday. “We welcome him.” … Hotovely – who is Israel’s de-facto top full-time diplomat as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also foreign minister – said his ethnicity was not an issue. “What matters is that he is American…we will be happy if someone can promote peace,” she said… “People want easy solutions but the Middle East is not an easy place. We need complex solutions.” [Politico; SCMP]

“Mahmoud Abbas Proposes Palestinian Unity Government With Hamas” by Peter Baker:“Mr. Abbas also used the occasion to defend himself against critics who have accused him of working too closely with Israel. “I am not sorry that I went to President Peres’s funeral,” Mr. Abbas said. “Representatives of 70 nations participated, and why not us? I’m also not sorry, and don’t need to apologize to anyone, for sending our firefighters to help our neighbors to put out the fire. I feel very strongly as neighbors this is a human obligation.”” [NYTimes]

“Abbas: Palestinians Hope Trump Will Support Quest for Independence” by Jack Khoury:“We know nothing about him,” Abbas said. “His people elected him. We didn’t, and if he wants to talk with us, we are pursuing that… We hope that he will be able to offer something to the Palestinian cause, to offer a solution, a sane, balanced and fair (solution),” Abbas said, adding that “we expect to develop good relations with [Trump] and continue to be in touch with the French about convening an international peace summit.” [Haaretz; AP

Dennis Ross: “How Trump could surprise the world on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking” [WashPost

“US general sees ‘uptick’ in bad behavior by Iran since nuke deal” by Kristina Wong: “Army Gen. Joseph Votel said the agreement… was being “implemented appropriately,” but that it has not changed Iranian behavior.  “I am concerned about continued malign activities of Iran across the region,” Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said at a forum hosted by the Foreign Policy Initiative.” [TheHill

“Former Israeli Official: Iran in Rush to Arm Terror Proxies Before Trump Takes Office” by Ruthie Blum: “Iran is stepping up the speed at which it is arming its proxies in the region due to its fear that after Donald Trump assumes the US presidency in January, its room to maneuver in Syria will be greatly hampered, a former director-general of Israel’s Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy told The Algemeiner.” [Algemeiner

“Pressure Mounts On Trump To Keep The Iran Nuclear Deal by Sam Stein and Jessica Schulberg: “I think it would be a major mistake for U.S. security, for the United States, to rip up the agreement,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the few Senate Democrats who voted against the deal…  Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) another Democrat who initially voted against the deal is opposed to efforts to weaken it, a Senate Democratic aide confirmed to The Huffington Post. “Since the deal went into effect, he has never sought to undermine it, and has no plans to start now,” the aide said. The influential pro-Israel organization American Israel Public Affairs Committee has not pressed the matter strongly ― at least in public ― since the agreement’s approval. There is nothing on the group’s legislative agenda about killing the deal.” [HuffPost

TRANSITION TOWER — Ari Fleischer on CNN Tonight: “There are legitimate questions about why Mitt Romney would want to [join the Trump administration]… When you criticize somebody to the length and direct manner in which Mitt Romney criticized Donald Trump, it is a legitimate question to say, ‘If you don’t like him that much, why would you want to work for him?’ And I think that’s something that Donald Trump is feeling his way through; it’s why it’s appropriate to talk, to air it, to see if it works out. But I am surprised that Mitt Romney is going through this, and because it’s a public process, it’s going to be a much more difficult process.”

Bret Baier: “Fox News: John Bolton met with Mike Pence in DC today to discuss the Sec. of State position & will meet with Donald Trump in NY Friday afternoon.” [Twitter

“Rand Paul not sold on Romney as secretary of state” by Burgess Everett: “We need to know more about what Romney’s viewpoint is,” Paul said. “I haven’t heard a lot from him that parallels [Trump], so I want to hear from him that he understands the historical significance of the Iraq war, making us less safe, making the region less safe and emboldening Iran.” The senator, however, has indicated Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) would be an acceptable pick.” [Politico]

“The Hollywood Connection Between Trump’s Treasury Pick and Billionaire at Center of Netanyahu Scandal” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “This first Jewish member of the president-elect’s cabinet is also the business partner of a close friend and confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Australian billionaire James Packer. In 2013, Mnuchin merged his company Dune Entertainment with RatPac Entertainment, co-owned by Packer… The Hollywood Reporter, which has detailed Mnuchin’s show-business connections, said he met Packer through Israeli-American mega-producer Arnon Milchan, another close Netanyahu friend whose Herzliya home the prime minister used for secret meetings last year.”

— “Mnuchin’s unusual last name is considered a Slavic version of the biblical name “Menachem,”meaning “one who comforts” and a common Hebrew first and last name. The violinist Yehudi Menuhin’s original family name was Mnuchin but was changed by his Belorussian immigrant parents when they became American citizens. Despite his background, Mnuchin appears to have no public connection to Jewish life or Jewish institutions.” [Haaretz]

“Goldman Sachs poised for return to power in Trump White House” by Ben White: “Goldman’s president, Gary Cohn , spent an hour schmoozing with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday and could be up for an administration job, possibly as director of the Office of Management and Budget, people close to Cohn and the transition said. Cohn, a long-time commodities trader, is friendly with Trump’s powerful son-in-law, Jared Kushner.” [Politico

2020 BUZZ — Look where Jason Kander is going” by Steve Kraske: “Kander, who ran a highly regarded race for the U.S. Senate in Missouri this year, is traveling to Iowa in December to give a big speech… The announcement from the group got tongues wagging on social media Wednesday. No less a Democratic than Dan Pfeiffer, an adviser to President Obama, tweeted that “a lot of Democratic operatives are interested in what office Kander wants to run for next. Doesn’t have to be in Missouri.”” [KCStar]

**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

SPOTLIGHT: “Why Did Lightspeed Hire a 22-year-old?” by Barry Eggers: “I’m pleased to welcome Adam Goldberg as our newest Associate Partner at Lightspeed. Adam skipped middle school and high school and went straight to Cal, where he studied pure mathematics. He then went to Stanford for a BS in Computer Science and work towards his Masters. (He’s clearly conflicted at the Big Game). Entrepreneurs like to work with investors they can relate to. Investors like to work with entrepreneurs that can relate to them. Consumer entrepreneurs are a diverse set… And we have all seen consumer entrepreneurs getting younger — we invested in Evan Spiegel when he was a senior at Stanford, and it’s only a matter of time before we fund the next college (or high school?) entrepreneur.” [LinkedIn]

“Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Donates $100 Million to Charities” by Deepa Seetharaman: “Ms. Sandberg, a billionaire who has been at Facebook since before its initial public offering, transferred 880,000 of her Class A shares in Facebook to her donor-advised fund, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday… Ms. Sandberg’s latest donation will be used to fund LeanIn.Org, her nonprofit focused on women’s empowerment, as well as, an initiative focused on helping people build resilience after experiencing loss, according to a person familiar with the matter.” [WSJ; ReCode]

ACROSS THE POND: “Labour anti-Semitism used to distract from ‘racist’ Tory campaign: Speaking at Jewish News’ UK-Israel policy conference in Westminster on Wednesday, Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner defended Labour’s record on combating racism. Mr Gardiner insisted that the Tory campaign to get Zac Goldsmith elected to City Hall in May was the most racist he had ever witnessed. He said: “I found it extraordinary that the Labour Party, that has always prided itself on opposing racism – it opposed apartheid, it opposed all forms of anti-Semitism – was being taken to task in the media in quite the way it was at a time when the Conservative Party had just run a mayoral election campaign in London which was the most racist campaign that I can ever remember as a major political campaign in this country.” Mr Gardiner said that Labour would not tolerate anti-Semitism in its ranks.” [JewishNews]

Michael Oren writes… “France Should Be Ashamed of Labeling Products Made By Jews” [Newsweek]

ON THE HILL — Bipartisan Senate Legislation to Combat Anti-Semitism on Campus:“Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation to grant the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) the necessary statutory tools at their disposal to investigate anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act would codify the definition as one adopted by the U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.” [JewishInsider]

KAFE KNESSET — A Storm in Jerusalem — by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: “The headlines this morning in Israel were all about the weather, as a tough period of droughts and fires finally ended with some blessed rain. But it soon became clear that the real storm today has nothing to do with weather conditions. In the early afternoon, the police approved to publish the name of Gil Shefer, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, as the main suspect in a sexual harassment investigation that has been in the news since last night. A woman claims he tried to force himself on her after offering her a ride at the end of a social event they both attended. Shefer’s associates deny the allegation and say it is a ploy against him. Shefer was Netanyahu’s chief of staff during the years 2012-2014, and has been close to the Netanyahu family for many years.”

“If that’s not enough, today Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, was also summoned by the police for questioning, as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged spending irregularities at the Prime Minister’s official residence. Shefer, it turns out, was also questioned about this affair a few months ago, as were other former aides to the Prime Minister. This development joins the decision by Israel’s General Attorney from last week to open an inquiry into the “submarine affair” involving Netanyahu’s lawyer and close confidante, David Shimron. The combination of all these different inquiries and investigations is creating a sense of drama in the political system, although no one knows for sure what, if anything, will come out of it all.”

“In separate news, last night the Prime Minister published a lengthy attack on the Israeli media on his Facebook page, accusing leading journalists of trying to take down his rule and having a hard time to accept his election victory. It seems that with the rain and the police activity, comes the familiar scent of a build-up towards new elections.”

PROFILE: “Aby Rosen Restores a Modernist Landmark in Old Westbury” by Sarah Medford: “Rosen—a German-born, New York–based real-estate developer and a colorful figure himself—is coming off the successful launch of 11 Howard, his new downtown hotel, whose restaurant, Le Coucou, is one of the city’s most coveted reservations. In January he welcomes a new restaurant to the former home of the Four Seasons in the Seagram Building. The Mies van der Rohe–designed skyscraper on Park Avenue is one of several modernist landmarks—Lever House across the street is another—owned by RFR Holding, the real-estate investment, development and management company Rosen founded with partner Michael Fuchs in 1991. Despite the public profile of his ventures, Rosen professes to live out of the spotlight these days.” [WSJMag]

Dessert — “Ivanka Trump Makes Kugel in her Kosher Kitchen” by By Liza Schoenfein: “Ivanka Trump is known to keep a kosher home, and while I gather she’s not the one whipping up most of the family’s meals, her website does tell us that “In her free time, Ivanka enjoys traveling, cooking and tending her garden with her children.” The recipes on what turns out to be a Gwyneth Paltrow-worthy lifestyle site are often simple, family friendly and surprisingly haimish… There’s also her mother-in-law’s veal marsala, along with a roasted tomato soup from “New Kosher Cuisine: Healthy, Simple & Stylish” and dishes from other notable kosher cookbooks including “Kosher By Design” and “The Silver Platter.”” [Forward

INBOX — Tevi Troy in Jerusalem — “At Kohelet Forum’s Jerusalem office, Tevi Troy gave a talk on his latest book “Shall We Wake the President?: Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office” . . .  Spotted: Columnist David Weinberg, Shalom Lipner — fresh off of his 51st birthday mention in Jewish Insider — Center For Medicine in the Public Interest’s Bob Goldberg, Pundicity webmaster Grayson Levy, constitutional law expert Eugene Kontorovich, and Kohelet Deputy Director Meir Buchnick.”

BIRTHDAYS: Actor, comedian, filmmaker, playwright, and musician, whose career spans more than six decades, Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg) turns 81… Executive producer on The CW’s ’”MADtv.” who has produced over 200 shows with more than 15,000 hours of television over a long career, David E. Salzman turns 73… Singer, songwriter, actress, comedian, and film producer, Bette Midlerturns 71… Comedian, actor and voice actor best known for his starring role in the animated sitcom “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist,” Jonathan Katz turns 70… British playwright, director and scriptwriter who has won many awards for his work on the stage, film and and television, Stephen Poliakoff turns 64… Israeli-born co-CEO and and Board member at Oracle Corporation, Safra A. Catz turns 55… Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Cambridge Raymond E. Goldstein turns 55…

Emmy Award-winning stand-up comedienne, actress, producer and writer, Sarah Silverman turns 46… Managing editor for news at “Foreign Policy” and regular guest on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, Yochi Dreazen turns 40… Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director, comedian, producer, writer and actor whose work includes SNL Digital Shorts, Akiva Schaffer turns 39… Director of Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and New York City (1995-2016), Rabbi Daniel Landes… SVP of Communications for the National Football League, after stints working for Rupert Murdoch, Mike Bloomberg and Senators Barbara Boxer and Paul Wellstone, Natalie Ravitz… Political editor and author of the weekly “Against the Grain” column in the National Journal, Josh Kraushaar… Brett Lieberman… David Seldin… Becky Weissman… David Milstein of Sen. Cruz’s office (h/t Legistorm)… Joan Craig-Bailey… Shira Sacks

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: Congress continues to complain about MOU provision | Lake on ‘Trump’s Coming Witch Hunt Against Political Islam’ | William Daroff BDay

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KAFE KNESSET — Coalition Feuds Escalate — by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: The cracks inside Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition are growing wider by the day, as the government discusses the fate of the illegal West Bank outpost Amona, which is supposed to be evacuated in weeks. Today, the coalition was supposed to advance a bill that would effectively cancel the court order to evacuate the outpost, but Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s party decided not to support it. Netanyahu himself is also worried that if the bill passes, it could lead to international probes against Israeli officers at the International Court in the Hague. For now, the legislation is stuck – at least until next week.

The Jewish Home party, led by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, isn’t happy about that. “If there won’t be an outpost legalization bill, there won’t be a government,” a senior source in the party declared today – and since Jewish Home has enough Knesset members to bring down the government, this is no empty threat. Bennett, in his own voice, said that until other coalition partners support the bill, his party will break with the coalition in other key votes.

Meanwhile, Isaac Herzog, the leader of the opposition, seems to be enjoying the feud. He said today that if the bill passes, Bennett would become the de-facto leader of the Israeli right, gaining a major victory over Netanyahu. The Prime Minister obviously can’t allow that to happen, but it would also be politically dangerous for him to block the controversial bill and allow Bennett an opening to attack him from the right. Politically, there are no good choices for Netanyahu on this issue.

FIRST LOOK: “Muslim government officials huddle on ways to survive Trump” by Nahal Toosi: “Since the Nov. 8 election, Muslims and members of other minority groups at the State Department have held informal meetings to talk about the implications of a Trump administration. Some of the gatherings have brought together Muslims and Jews, the latter of whom are deeply concerned about the anti-Semitism expressed by many Trump supporters. (“Muslims and Jews who disagree on Palestine and Israel are agreeing on this stuff,” a State Department official of Arab descent told POLITICO.)”[Politico

“Trump’s Coming Witch Hunt Against Political Islam” by Eli Lake: “On the day after Donald Trump won the election, one of his campaign’s advisers and endorsers made a prediction. “You are going to see a purging,” retired Lt. General Jerry Boykin told Frank Gaffney on his “Secure Freedom Radio” podcast. Boykin predicted that Trump as president would purge “people inside the government that are known to have connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and its front groups and its entities here in America.” Until now, this movement was largely ignored by elites in the Republican and Democratic parties.”

“If indeed this is what a Trump administration does, it will be entering dangerous territory. While it’s true that CAIR’s founders were Islamists and linked to Hamas, the organization and its chapters today spend a lot of time documenting anti-Muslim hate crimes. A federal prosecution of CAIR and organizations like it would be perceived in many quarters as an abuse of power and a return to the witch hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy. The thing to remember about the McCarthy era was how much harm the senator ended up doing to his own cause of anti-communism. It’s a lesson Trump would do well to learn as he decides how to prosecute his ideological war against radical Islam.” [BloombergView] • “How One Policy Change Could Wipe Out Muslim Civil Liberties” [BuzzFeed]

SCENE YESTERDAY IN NYC — A bipartisan panel of Republican and Democratic lawmakers discussed national security matters awaiting President-elect Donald Trump in the first 100 days of his administration at an annual legislative luncheon hosted by Agudath Israel of America at Alliance Bernstein Global Wealth Management in Midtown, and organized by Ezra Friedlander of The Friedlander Group. Participants included Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Randy Weber (R-TX), moderated by Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s vice president for federal affairs and Washington office director.

— The panel unanimously asserted that the provision in the new MOU agreement preventing Israel from approaching Congress for additional funds was likely unconstitutional. “It’s unconstitutional, and as far as I am concerned, I reject it and I will fight it,” said Rep. Engel, adding he will resist efforts to undermine the power of the legislative branch.” I think we’ve already given up too much, and we shouldn’t give up anymore.”

Rep, Jeffries: “One, it is likely unconstitutional. The constitution was delivered and constructed to give the House of Representatives, in particular through the Ways and Means Committee, the power to initiate decisions on taxation and spending. So it is not clear to me how you could prohibit our capacity to weigh in in a way that is locked in by an executive branch agreement that we inhaled. The other reason why I don’t think it’s good policy, besides from perhaps it being unconstitutional – certainly inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution – is that we as members of Congress should have the capacity to respond to an emergency circumstance, domestic or foreign, which we did the last time there was a serious conflict and we needed to provide additional military aid to Israel. I don’t think we should give that authority up.”

On the U.S.-Israel relationship under Trump — Engel: “The relationship between the U.S. and Israel has always been strong, in all administrations. You know, there’s been a lot of talk about President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu not liking each other, they didn’t get along personally. And I’d always say, I don’t really care if the President of the U.S. and the Prime Minister of Israel don’t like each other. What I care about is that strengthening the relationship is the most important thing that matters because the policy of supporting Israel transcends partisan politics in the U.S. Now, there have been some rumblings about President-elect Trump that he has considered or will, and then he retracted, moving the embassy to Jerusalem. The bottom line for me is that embassy should be in Jerusalem.”

“I think we have to give each administration a chance. There are some things that Trump has said vis-à-vis Israel that are just terrific, and then there are other things that you worry. One of his big appointees (Steve Bannon)  is somebody who’s alleged to be an anti-Semite. I don’t know if it’s a smear or if it’s true. I think we will find out. But I think it is something of grave concern. But I do believe that we have to hold elections in this country, and regardless of who each of us may have voted for, Donald Trump will be our president. We should hope that he succeeds, and one of the places that I want him to have bipartisan support for is our support for Israel.”

Rep. Gosar: “This President-elect, if anybody is guessing what he is thinking, I guess I’d be, ‘You are wrong.’ But here is what I do look at. His son-in-law and his daughter are very proactive in regards to Israel, and I think that’s a good sign. I think that’s really a good sign that he’s looking to that applications. And so, it’s an opportunity. The proof is in the pudding, I’ve always said that. When you start seeing actions and they rhyme with what you promised, that’s an affirmation that we need to see. But I think everyone in Congress would go along that to get back to Jerusalem is the proper thing to do.

Rep. Weber: “No land for peace! The last time we gave up land, we got missiles.” [JewishInsiderYouTube

“Bipartisan House Resolution Calls on Obama to Oppose Anti-Israel Efforts at UN” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed bipartisan legislation urging President Barack Obama to oppose or veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations before he leaves office. The resolution, approved by voice vote, also calls on Obama to reject any resolution that sets ‘parameters’ for a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. “Republicans and Democrats agree that a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations,”  House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement.” [JewishInsider

“House votes to strengthen cyber ties with Israel” by Joel Gehrke: “The United States-Israel Cybersecurity Cooperation Enhancement Act focuses on the private side by expanding a pilot program that funds research projects by private Israeli and American companies. With the second bill, lawmakers proposed creating a grant program to fund research conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Israeli Ministry of Public Security.” [DCExaminer]

“CIA’s Brennan says tearing up Iran deal would be ‘folly'” by Estelle Shirbon and Kate Holton:“It could lead to a weapons program inside of Iran that could lead other states in the region to embark on their own programs,” Brennan said in an interview with the BBC aired on Wednesday. “So I think it would be the height of folly if the next administration were to tear up that agreement.” [Reuters

HEARD YESTERDAY – Sec. of State John Kerry: “Remember that before the negotiations began on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Iran had already developed the ability to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear device in just two months, and they had enough highly enriched uranium to build 10 to 12 bombs… Now, I know that some people have said that Iran is such a huge threat that we shouldn’t have attempted to do that, that we should have passed up the best chance we had for the international community to come together and block each and every one of Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon. But I’ve got to tell you something, folks: That argument just doesn’t compute under any reasonable standard of common sense. The Iran agreement has made the world safer, including our allies and our friends in the Middle East.” [StateDept] • Kerry urges Senate Democrats to back off Iran sanctions renewal [AlMonitor]

TRANSITION TOWER: “Steven Mnuchin Is Donald Trump’s Expected Choice for Treasury Secretary” by Binyamin Appelbaum and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Mnuchin, 53, was the national finance chairman for Mr. Trump’s campaign. As Treasury secretary, Mr. Mnuchin… could also help lead any effort to roll back President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and opening to Cuba by reimposing sanctions on Tehran and Havana.” [NYTimes; CNNMoney]

— “Mnuchin grew close to Trump’s children and son-in-law, Jared Kushner— a top adviser to Trump — and worked with them on fundraising events.” [AP

Harry Enten: “I wonder how some anti-Semites are taking the news of Mnuchin… I want them to know I’m there for them.” [Twitter]

David Martosko: “Has anyone seen Steven Mnunchin’s signature? It’s going to be on all our money soon. (Can’t be worse than Jacob Lew’s loopy mess, right?)” [Twitter]

“Trump Meets With Goldman’s Cohn” by Dakin Campbell and Jennifer Jacobs: “A representative from Trump’s team called Cohn to come in for a meeting and the Goldman Sachs banker agreed to sit down with the president-elect, according to another person who had knowledge of the invitation. Cohn has known Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for a while and the two men speak from time to time, the person said, asking for anonymity to discuss private talks.” [Bloomberg]

“What would David Petraeus bring as secretary?” by Tara McKelvey: “As the transition started, Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka called Petraeus, according to someone who knows the former general well, asking him to consider taking a position in the administration. Jason Miller, Mr Trump’s spokesman, said on Tuesday it’s too early to say who’ll become the nation’s top diplomat – or if Petraeus is a top contender.”[BBC]

“Romney dinner may signal Trump is close to a decision” by Daniel Halper and Danika Fears: “Trump met with Mitt Romney for a second time on Tuesday as the president-elect went over his final list for the top State Department job. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, head of the Foreign Relations Committee, also huddled with Trump, saying afterward that his “instincts on foreign policy are obviously very, very good.” Multiple sources told Politico that Trump favors Romney.” [NYPost] • Romney gushes over Trump after posh dinner [Politico]

INBOX — Michael Glassner is now a special advisor for operations on Presidential Transition Team.

“Trump and Bloomberg seek to bury the hatchet in lengthy phone call” by Annie Karni and Alex Isenstadt: “It was a “very good talk, and long,” said a source familiar with the discussion, who would not elaborate on the details.” [Politico

“Trump’s pick for national security adviser praised alt-right figure as one of the bravest people he’s met” by Andrew Kaczynski: “I was also with Milo Yiannopoulos,” Flynn said at the Young America’s Foundation conference. “See, a lot of people in here won’t know who he is. I tag him on Twitter, you know, because he’s phenomenal individual… He’s definitely, he’s one of the most different, one of the most brave people that I’ve ever met. We have different views on different things, but he is deeply, deeply conservative in his views about this country.” [CNN]

SCENE LAST NIGHT —Over 500 attendees packed the Marriott Marquis M4 ballroom for the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s (JINSA) Annual Awards Dinner honoring Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX12), and Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA51) with the Henry M. ‘Scoop’ Jackson Distinguished Service Award. Fox News Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies and Rabbi Levi Shemtov delivered the invocation. Guests enjoyed ‘glatt-kosher’ dinner with an entree of boneless beef short ribs, served atop whipped potatoes.

JINSA CEO Dr. Michael Makovsky noted that although the JINSA acronym remains, the group did recently change its name from the ‘Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs’ to the ‘Jewish Institute for National Security of America.’

SPOTTED: Vice Admiral Herm Shelanski, Inspector General of the US Navy and his wife Patty, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ed Royce, Rep-Elect Brad Schneider, Wynnefield Capital’s Joshua Landes, Israeli Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, Gen. Chuck Wald (Ret.), Michael David Epstein, Deputy Head of Mission at the Israeli Embassy Reuven Azar, Defense Attaché for the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt Maj. Gen. Khaled Mogawer, Israeli BG. (Res.) Assaf Orion, B’nai B’rith’s Dan Mariaschin, Ken Abramowitz, Noah Pollak, Joel Mowbray, David Milstein, California Assemblyman Travis Allen & Arielle Bailey, Harris Vederman, Ariana Kaufman, and Jennifer Zis.

**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

SPOTLIGHT: “Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei Reveal Their Plan for Media Domination” by Sarah Ellison: “For starters, their new company will be called Axios, which means worthy in Greek. And Allen will return with a newsletter that “cuts across our topic areas.” For VandeHei, too many media companies have fallen into the traffic trap, or as he has eloquently put it, the ‘crap trap.’ What Axios is trying to do is occupy the space that VandeHei feels The New York Times and The Economist could have commanded if they weren’t tethered to their old print roots. He has joked with potential investors that Axios is best described as what you get if the ‘Economist mated with Twitter,’ and ‘smartly narrated all the good stuff its own reporters missed,’ according to someone familiar with the conversation.” [VanityFair]

STARTUP NATION: “How Otto Defied Nevada and Scored a $680 Million Payout from Uber” by Mark Harris: “It could be the plot of an Ocean’s Eleven movie: A team of daring engineers heads to the wilds of Nevada to create a dazzling spectacle, defy officials, and walk off with a $680 million jackpot. In May of this year, Otto unveiled a video of an 18-wheeler thundering down a freeway with no one at the wheel. The San Francisco-based startup had retrofitted a freight truck with lidar, video cameras, radar, and other sensors, enabling it to operate “completely driverless without a driver in the backseat,” according to co-founder Lior Ron at the time… The story of why Otto flouted Nevada’s directive, how it got away with it, and what this means for the future of self-driving regulation stretches back to the dawn of driverless cars.” [BackChannel]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Selig’s latest plan for historic building: high-rise to mid-rise” by Marc Stiles: “Initially, Martin Selig’s plan was to merely rehab the former Federal Reserve Bank branch in downtown Seattle. Later, a 660-foot-tall office and apartment tower was going to go on top of the historic building. Now the goal is to add just five floors of office space.” [PugetSoundBiz]

“Sotheby’s and IfOnly to Auction Rare Experiences” by Jordi Lippe-McGraw: “The “IfOnly Presents: Experiences Auction” will run from Cyber Monday (November 28) through December 9 and feature items like lunch with celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe ($10,000), an opportunity to attend the London Star Wars premiere and after party with Forest Whitaker ($50,000), and tickets to the NBA All-Stars Weekend in New Orleans with Milwaukee Bucks Owner Marc Lasry ($50,000).” [CNTraveler]

“Israeli Health Minister Rabbi Litzman Meets Sheldon Adelson” by Yochonon Donn:“Litzman met Tuesday with mega-GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, to pitch him on sponsoring a revolutionary treatment of pediatric cancer patients for Israeli hospitals. The 220-ton cyclotron is used for proton therapy, which zaps cancerous tumors while avoiding healthy tissue. It comes at a cost of $60 million.” [Hamodia]

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY — William Daroff, SVP for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America, turns 48. We asked William how he’s celebrating, to which he replied: “Thanks for asking! I am being sworn in as a member of the US Supreme Court bar tomorrow morning!!  I can’t think of a more fun way to celebrate my birthday than to do so with the eight Justices of the US Supreme Court!”

BIRTHDAYS: Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, screenwriter and film director, David Mamet turns 69… Actor, tenor and comedian, now appearing in the Showtime series “Homeland,” Mandy Patinkinturns 64… Former US Treasury Secretary (1999-2001) and then President of Harvard University (2001-2006), Larry Summers turns 62… Historian and author of nine books, mostly focused on the US presidency, Michael Beschloss turns 61… Wall Street Journal reporter who covers New York State politics and government, Erica Orden… Deputy international editor of The New York Times after four years as the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren… Award-winning author, journalist, and co-founder of Berkeleyside, a news site about Berkeley, California, Frances Dinkelspiel… Steve Albert

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