Daily Kickoff: Study Up — Elliott Abrams’ advice for Jared Kushner | Sen. Graham urges AIPAC to ‘get on board’ | Apple’s 1,000 AR engineers in Israel

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Bomb threats at Jewish centers originating overseas” by Eric Levenson and Anne Claire Stapleton: “Law enforcement officials believe many of the threatening calls to Jewish community centers have originated overseas… The FBI said the bureau and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division are “investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country.” But details on that investigation have been scarce, and it’s difficult to know the extent of these threats.” [CNN] • Bomb Threats To Jewish Centers Were Made Using “Spoofing” And Voice-Masking Technology [BuzzFeed]

“Trump begins his first speech to Congress by denouncing wave of anti-Semitism” by Maxwell Tani: “In the first sentences of his joint address to Congress… the president decried the defaced Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats made against Jewish community centers across the US… “Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”” [HuffPost

Abe Foxman emails us… “Trump said what needed to be said. It was clear and unequivocal. Now our community should move forward and work with local and national law enforcement to apprehend the culprits and design strategies to protect our community from anti-Semitic attacks and threats. And we should all stop politicizing U.S. anti-Semitism here and in Israel.”

Martin Indyk: “Good on Trump for his clear condemnation of anti-Semitism and racism at the top of his SOTU speech.” [Twitter]

Chemi Shalev: “Trump will soothe many Jews by condemning attacks right at the outset.” [Twitter

Earlier headlines… “Trump questioned who is really behind anti-Semitic threats and vandalism, official says” by Mark Berman: “When Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) asked [Trump] about the recent threats against Jewish facilities, the president responded by condemning the statements but then “suggested the ‘reverse’ may be true,” Shapiro said. “I don’t know what the president meant by that statement,” Shapiro said in a statement. Trump “made this reference that sometimes it’s the reverse” and then “used that word ‘reverse’ several times,” Joe Grace, a spokesman for Shapiro, said in a telephone interview Tuesdayafternoon.” [WashPost; BillyPenn

Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci tweets: “It’s not yet clear who the #JCC offenders are. Don’t forget the Democrats effort to incite violence at Trump rallies… I’m saying until we know for sure it’s highly irresponsible to jump to conclusions… I have stood with and will stand for the Jewish People for my entire life. Those that know me know.” [Twitter

“Top Trump ally: I didn’t mean to link Dems to Jewish center threats” by Max Greenwood: “What I was really suggesting in that tweet is that we actually don’t know who’s behind it,” Scaramucci told CNN’s “New Day.” “And so what you’re finding is there’s a lot of allegations being made and I think people are suggesting that it could potentially be Trump supporters or people who that are affiliated with the president or his administration,” he continued. “I think that is categorically very unfair.” But asked why he appeared to tie the threats to the Democrats, Scaramucci pointed out that some Democrats got caught inciting violence at Trump campaign rallies last year. “I tied it to what has happened in the past,” he said.” [TheHill]

CNN has seen better chyrons than yesterday’s — “Trump to address Jewish threats tonight[Pic]

ISRAEL MOMENT — “I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.”

“Ivanka’s role in Trump’s speech” by Mike Allen: “A senior administration official emails: “The speech was all [Stephen] Miller, but Ivanka worked hard on it with him on many of the parts, especially affirming that the president’s desire to have an uplifting and aspirational speech was right. … A week ago, Ivanka and Dina Powell [senior counselor for economic initiatives] met with the president on those parts of the speech with Steve Miller and Hope Hicks, and talked about those issues and how they would resonate in an important way.” [Axios]

“Dems stick with muted ways of exercising art of dissent” by Nancy Benac: “Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat who’s hugged the center aisle seat for 29 years of speechmaking by presidents of both parties, took a pass on an aisle seat this year – and made a point of announcing it.” [AP

Benny Johnson: “Sobbing widow of slain Navy Seal receives 2 minute standing ovation. Debbie Wasserman Schultz & Keith Ellison stay firmly seated, no claps.” [Twitter

“Winners and losers from President Trump’s big speech to Congress” by Chris Cillizza: “C-SPAN’s Howard Mortman: I loved Howard before this. And my love for C-SPAN is also well known. But, this image, captured by Howard, of Trump en route to the speech, made me love him even more.” [WashPost• See the viral picture here [Twitter

“Trump’s speech to Congress marks the real start of his presidency” by John Podhoretz: “He even seemed to criticize it himself in his closing words… It seemed, stunningly, an implicit acknowledgment that many of the fights he has been conducting over the past 39 days have been trivial ones, and it is time to rise to the moment… The formal presidency has begun.” [NYPost]

President-in-law: “Pelosi to Democrats: Treat Trump voters like a friend whose boyfriend is a jerk” by Dana Bash: “[Nancy Pelosi] also described the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, a top White House aide, as starry-eyed to the point that he missed the mark with Democrats. “We went to the meeting when Jared was there — and he said, ‘Is everyone so excited about the change?’ And we’re like ‘What?’ I said, ‘No, we’re so excited about the women’s march,'” recalled Pelosi.” [CNN

ON THE HILL — Yesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urged AIPAC to “get on board” and support the Taylor Force Act to cut off US assistance to the Palestinian Authority if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members. “We all appreciate AIPAC. I have briefed them about the bill. They supported the concept. They want some changes,” Graham said. “To my friends at AIPAC, this is a chance to get on board.” [JewishInsider; Haaretz] • Trump Admin, Congress Behind Effort to Cut U.S. Aid to Palestinians [FreeBeacon

— AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittmann: “We strongly support the legislation’s goal to end these abhorrent payments, and we are committed to work with Congress to build the bipartisan support necessary for a bill to pass.” [JPost

Sander Gerber, Fellow at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs and former Vice Chairman at Woodrow Wilson Center, tells us: “The Taylor Force Act is a chance for Republicans and Democrats to unite in an act of decency: stopping the Palestinian Authority from using American tax dollars as blood money, including the murder of an American hero, Taylor Force. There should be no party lines drawn in the fight against terrorism. Both Republicans and Democrats belong together -on the front line – saying, ‘Enough of the appeasement of the Palestinian Authority.’ I think anyone who actually reads the Palestinian Authority’s legislation to support an infrastructure of terror will be shocked and feel compelled to sign on to the Taylor Force Act.”

HEARD IN GENEVA: “U.S. seeks end to U.N. rights council’s ‘obsession’ with Israel” by Stephanie Nebehay: “Trump’s administration is reviewing its participation in the U.N. Human Rights Council, seeking reform of its agenda and an end to its “obsession with Israel,” a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday. The United States “remains deeply troubled by the Council’s consistent unfair and unbalanced focus on one democratic country, Israel,” Erin Barclay, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, told the U.N. Human Rights Council. Barclay questioned whether focusing on Israel was a sensible priority, adding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government was bombing hospitals while North Korea and Iran deny millions of their people of freedoms of religion, peaceful assembly and expression. “In order for this Council to have any credibility, let alone success, it must move away from its unbalanced and unproductive positions,” Barclay said.” [Reuters]

JI’s Aaron Magid asked several senators whether they support President Trump’s call for Israel to “hold back on settlements.” —  Senator Ron Johnson: (R-WI): “I have not particularly appreciated any administration pressuring Israel into unilateral concessions to a negotiating partner that is not negotiating in good faith that doesn’t acknowledge the right of the state of Israel to exist, including the Trump Administration.”

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ): “The question of settlements is one of several issues that have to be dealt with in the context of the pursuit of the path to peace. But at the end of the day that is the question for the government of Israel to deal with and if the administration is calling for them to ultimately have a pause as they try to figure out a plan — this is a new administration — to the extent that it intends to get engaged in trying to create a peace process, then it might be worthy of heeding the President’s call so that in fact they can have an opportunity to figure out whether there is a plan to put forward to succeed to acquiring peace.”

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN): “I think that having some front end caution where the parties are trying to figure out the best way to go forward is always a good way of going about a new relationship that has been fraught with difficulties in the past. The Trump administration is trying to figure out the best way to help the process of peace to go along. To always move slowly in a new relationship is a good thing to do.”

“DNC Chair Perez defends Rep. Keith Ellison’s past statements about Israel” by Yahoo News: “Keith Ellison is a friend of the Jewish community. I know that. I know him very well. He’s spent a lot of time with the Jewish community. We were just together earlier today and we accepted an invitation to address together a community (in Maryland) that has been torn apart by recent threats. And he is a civil rights leader… I am confident that we will be moving together.” [YahooNews

CATCH THE IRONY? — Ellison told Jewish Insider on Tuesday that he “does not support” David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Israel. The Minnesota lawmaker explained his opposition: “Because I believe in the two state solution. Because he said some horrible things about people here in our own country that I don’t agree with, and that’s my opinion.”

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: It is conference season in Jerusalem this month. After the Conference of Presidents annual gathering last week, this week the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) is holding its 2017 Conference on the Future of the Jewish People. Yesterday the conference, led by Dennis Ross, Stuart Eizenstat and Leonid Nevzlin, along with participants including Ellliott Abrams and Norm Coleman, met President Rivlin and Supreme Court President Miriam Naor. The Prime Minister — who was set to address the gathering this evening — canceled at the last minute.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s main rival these days in the polls, Yair Lapid, used the opportunity this morning to deliver a strong statement to JPPI on the rise of anti-Semitism across the Atlantic. “At times it seems like the only unifying force of the Jewish people in these times, is our shared fear and outrage from the revival of anti-Semitism. There we unite… The days in which the Jewish people hid from anti-Semitism are over. We will face it together. From here, from Jerusalem, we say “enough.” Jews won’t hide anymore, Jews won’t be scared anymore and we expect the governments of the world to fight anti-Semitism decisively and with all their might. Jewish blood will not be cheap anymore,” Lapid said.

Last month, when Elliott Abrams was tapped to be Deputy Secretary of State, expectations in Jerusalem were high — as was the disappointment when President Trump rejected him a few days later. Kafe Knesset spoke to Abrams on the sidelines of the JPPI conference. “Obviously I’m disappointed it didn’t work out, I do hear it from a lot of people here in Israel because obviously they would prefer to have someone they know in that position. The President had the absolute right to make that decision but obviously I think he made the wrong decision, and he ought to be looking forward to who can help this administration rather than backward to the primary campaign,” Abrams told Kafe Knesset.

Kafe Knesset: How high is the Israeli-Palestinian issue on the President’s agenda, how involved do you think he is going to be?

Elliott Abrams: “It is clear that he would like to achieve a breakthrough that Clinton, Bush and Obama tried and failed to achieve. That is one of the reasons that he involved Jared Kushner in this, that is a signal of commitment. I don’t think he will be personally involved, nor should he be on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis.

What would you advise Jared Kushner?

Abrams: “The one piece of advice would be to study the record, and that can be done by getting documents and histories from the State Department historians. It could be done by talking to previous American officials and negotiators. I think there is no substitute for knowing what approaches have been tried and why they failed.”

Is the embassy move going to be another unfulfilled campaign promise?

Abrams: “We will know the answer in June when the President needs to sign the waiver. That is the first time he needs to say something. It’s my hope that he would do something. One doesn’t have to go from doing nothing, which is what Clinton, Bush and Obama did, to announcing that you’re starting construction this morning on a new embassy complex. I would like to see him say something, perhaps, like the embassy will be in Tel Aviv and the Ambassador would be in Jerusalem, or that I have ordered the State Department to develop a plan to move the embassy. This will obviously take multiple years.” Read the entire interview with Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Main Line critic of Trump policy awaits hedge fund judgment [PhillyInquirer] • American Dream Miami mega-mall heads to final vote this summer, to open in 2022 [RealDeal; MiamiHerald] • Baltimore-area apartment portfolio sells for $247 million [BaltimoreSun] • Appeals Court Upholds Verdict in Favor of Lord & Taylor Against Lerner Enterprises in White Flint Mall Case [BethesdaMag; BizJournal] • Leviev wins $209M judgment in corporate split [RealDeal; NYPost] • Trump’s Son-In-Law Is Shaping Health Care Policy, And The Fate Of His Brother’s Obamacare App [HuffPost]

STARTUP NATION: “Apple already has 1,000 engineers working on AR in Israel” by Hannah Roberts: “Augmented reality (AR) will likely be Apple’s next major product innovation, according to analyst Steven Milunovich and his team at UBS. “According to some industry sources, the company may have over 1,000 engineers working on a project in Israel that could be related to AR,” the note also says.” [BusinessInsider]

RISING STAR: “General Mills’ Venture Fund Invests in 20-Year-Old’s Startup” by John Kell: “Daniel Katz is a 20-year-old Cincinnati native who created a protein-packed snack brand that’s generating nearly $10 million in annual revenue after just two years of business. And General Mills likes the brand so much it has become a financial backer. “This is the first investment I’ve taken outside of my family,” Katz told Fortune in an interview. “For the last two years, I’ve been essentially running this [alone] and it was getting to the point where I realized I couldn’t maintain it on my own.” [Fortune]

MEDIA WATCH: “Time Inc. Asks for Formal Bids From Potential Buyers” by Sydney Ember: “Five parties, including Meredith Corporation and a group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr., have indicated interest in buying Time Inc. in its entirety, according to one of the people, who requested anonymity because the plans are private.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Moishe Indig, latest focus in de Blasio probe, has long ties to mayor” by Laura Nahmias and Sally Goldenberg: “People close to Indig describe him as the unofficial, and unregistered, lobbyist for issues important to the Aroni Satmar community… “He’s the Bill Clinton of the Hasidic community.” ..  On Feb. 11, 2016, Indig and other Satmars attended an hour and a half long meeting with de Blasio at City Hall in the Blue Room, with several real estate developers, including Extell’s Gary Barnett and Park Tower Group’s George Klein… In a television interview Monday night, de Blasio said recent reporting on his relationship with Indig — including a report City Hall aides have strenuously denied suggesting de Blasio played a part in helping Indig with Department of Buildings-related problems at a yeshiva under his control — has been an unfair composite.”” [Politico]

“GOP lobbyist claims Russia is behind murder of Seth Rich” by Louise Boyle:“GOP lobbyist and DC lawyer Jack Burkman has formally appealed to Congress to investigate following new evidence he says he’s obtained that Russia may be behind [Seth] Rich’s murder… While Burkman is reluctant to elaborate, he revealed he was recently contacted about the investigation by a man claiming to be a former U.S. intelligence officer. The source is an older man, 65-70 years old, who claims to have been a contractor in Iraq in the 1970s, he revealed. ‘The source has claimed that it [the murder] was arranged by the Russian government at a very high level,’ Burkman said.” [DailyMail]

JEWISH AGENCY NEWS: “Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky has acceded to The Jewish Agency Board of Governors’ request that he remain as the organization’s leader for an additional year after his second four-year term concludes in June. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had also expressed his support for Sharansky’s continued service as the organization’s Chairman.”

DESSERT: “Looking for a Trump Doctrine in the White House Kitchen” by Kim Severson and Marian Burros: “Some people have speculated that Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who gardens with her children and whose favorite recipes include broccoli kugel and her mother-in-law’s veal Marsala, may take on some of the duties. But don’t expect to see her stamp on White House food, other than perhaps more kosher meals for her Orthodox Jewish family. Ivanka Trump will not be a shadow first lady, said Risa Heller, who handles personal communications for her. In a statement, Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, said, “Ivanka is not involved, but looks forward to seeing the traditions continue under the first lady, who will do an amazing job overseeing these important and historical institutions.”” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: Film and television actor, best known for his role as James T. West in the 1965-69 television series “The Wild Wild West,” Robert Conrad (born Conrad Robert Falk) turns 82… Painter, sculptor, filmmaker and author, his illustrations have appeared over 500 times on the covers of various national publications including Time and Newsweek, Robert Grossman turns 77… Real estate developer, was part owner of MLB’s Kansas City Royals (1983-1991) and three sports franchises in Memphis, Tulane’s basketball arena is named in his honor, Avron B. Fogelman turns 77… Professor emeritus of Jewish Studies at Los Angeles Valley College and the editor of “Shofar,” a peer-reviewed academic journal of Jewish Studies, Zev Garber turns 76… Hollywood executive, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, Chairman of Dick Clark Productions, and a co-owner of both the LA Dodgers and Golden State Warriors, Peter Guber turns 75… Israeli historian, author and journalist, Tom Segev turns 72… Cantor at the Jewish Community Center of Paramus, Congregation Beth Tikvah, Sam Weiss turns 67… Member of the US national soccer team since 2004, played in England for 14 years and in 2017 joined Major League Soccer’s Orlando City, Jonathan Spector turns 31… VP of Special Projects at ASAPP, a NYC-based software technology company, Joshua Lachter turns 30… Harvard Law School student who was on the Surrogates and Strategy team in the Hillary Clinton campaign, Hannah Klain turns 26 (h/t Playbook)… Librarian at the Anti-Defamation League’s NYC HQ, Marianne Benjamin… Chief Strategy Officer for Bend the Arc, a Jewish Partnership for Justice, Jonathan Lipman… Director of Major Gifts at Baltimore’s Kennedy Krieger Institute, Dara Schapiro Schnee… Kevin Golden

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




Daily Kickoff: Trump considers cutting anti-Semitism envoy from budget | Dershowitz interview | Jack Abramoff’s new adventure | Wired on Shimon Peres

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FOR THE ‘IN JARED WE TRUST’ CROWD: “Prince Jared Is Trying to Consolidate His White House Power” by Emily Jane Fox: “Kushner and Netanyahu recently shared dinner with Tillerson, before Tillerson’s overseas trip, a source familiar with the situation told me. And Kushner, who enjoys something of a sprawling, amorphous West Wing portfolio (he is nominally in charge of job creation, cutting governmental I.T. costs and brokering peace in the Middle East, among other issues), appears to have grown more comfortable in meetings with foreign officials, despite his lack of political or diplomatic experience…”

“One person close to the Trumps told me that when Kushner and his wife, Ivanka, sat down for a casual lunch in the White House soon after the inauguration, the president looked his son-in-law in the eye and mused that he had a lot on his plate, pointing to his commitments on jobs, I.T., and the Middle East. Still, Kushner has yet to lose his faith, even as other members of the president’s inner circle fall in and out of favor… he, too, isn’t immune to the brush-off from his father-in-law, this source said. “Trump yells at him in front of people all the time,” the source close to the family told me. “He’s in line, too.” [VanityFair

–Additional sources close to Kushner likely wanted to shift the narrative a bit after Vanity Fair’s previous story two weeks ago was headlined — “Far from being a moderating influence on his father-in-law, Kushner has embraced his inner Bannon”

FIRST LOOK: “Does Stephen Miller Speak for Trump? Or Vice Versa?” by Joshua Green: “Miller drafts the president’s major speeches, including the one Trump will deliver to Congress on Tuesday night. When Miller goes on television to defend Trump’s words, he’s often defending his own writing. In a sense, Trump is giving voice to Miller as much as the other way around… In his Tuesday speech to Congress, Trump will finally make a direct appeal for support. The imperative will then shift from talk to action. Trump is, in large measure, counting on Miller to navigate the treacherous legislative terrain and find ways to coax and reassure skeptical lawmakers. “I understand his vision, his ideas,” Miller says. “I can be an implementer.” It won’t be a natural role. Miller’s experience on the Hill as an angry tribune of populist conservatism rarely involved the messy give-and-take of legislating. Under Sessions, his energies were directed at halting a president’s agenda. Enacting one of his own is so far proving to be much harder.” [Businessweek]

HE’S BACK: “From K Street to Congo: Abramoff’s new adventure,” by Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan: “When Jack Abramoff was released from prison in 2010, he was pitching himself as a self-styled political reformer looking to tell the truth about a system he illegally exploited for personal gain. Now the disgraced D.C. lobbyist is back and immersed in a stranger-than-fiction project with an African strongman, controversial Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and ‘friends in Europe’ to — in his telling — defeat Islamic terrorists… Abramoff agreed to act as a liaison between his European friends… the president of the Republic of Congo, and Rohrabacher to try to establish a coalition of African states to defeat the terrorist group Boko Haram. Abramoff’s friends… were in talks with the country’s controversial president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, to try to enlist the United States to support the coalition…” [Politico]

HAPPENING TODAY: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is holding a press conference today to introduce legislation, which would cut off US assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA). “The Taylor Force Act” is named after an American Army officer who was killed in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist last year while on an MBA entrepreneurship study abroad program. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Congressmen Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) are expected to attend the presser as well.

— Representatives Ted Budd (R-NC) and Mark Sanford (R-SC) introduced a similar piece of legislation in the House on February 1. The House bill has received 8 co-sponsors, all Republicans. During the last Congressional session, Graham, Dan Coats (R-IN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) co-authored the Taylor Force Act. However, the bill never passed the Senate and received no Democratic support.

–ICYMI: Sander Gerber spoke about the legislation last week at CPAC [YouTube]

“Keith Ellison’s rise to second-in-command at DNC worries some Jewish Democrats” by Rafael Medoff: “I’m just happy that Perez defeated Ellison, but concerned that it was close,” Rabbi Menachem Genack, a prominent Jewish supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, told JNS. “The future of the pro-Israel Jewish community does not rest well with Democrats,” longtime Democratic Party consultant Dr. Hank Sheinkopf said after the vote.” [JNS

Alan Dershowitz tells us: “I am okay with the fact that Keith Ellison was defeated. I am not okay with the fact that people say he was defeated because of a ‘smear’ campaign. It is not a smear to expose somebody’s anti-Semitism and his long history of bigotry. That’s the right thing to do. I am not happy that he was picked to be Deputy Chairman. But at least we beat him to be Chairman.”

Responding to Mort Klein, Dershowitz explained why he decided not to quit the Democratic Party despite Ellison being appointed in a senior position: “We won this fight, and I am going to continue to fight to win victories. Keith Ellison got a consolation prize. I will make up my own mind as to whether and when to remain in the Democratic Party just the way Klein has to make up his mind whether to remain in the Republican Party in light of the fact that there are obviously some people within that party that are inconsistent with his views and my own views. I think we both have to fight within our own parties to make sure that the Israel issue remains bipartisan and that the Democratic Party must have a zero tolerance policy toward anti-Semitism. It’s a fight worth fighting for. We won the Ellison fight, we won the fight over the platform, and I think we can still win if we stand together.”

“Keith Ellison’s Loss Leaves A Sour Taste For Progressives” by Ruby Cramer: “Liberal support for Ellison, a Minnesota congressman beloved by Bernie Sanders voters, “was a very clear message, given to the party by its progressive base, by young people,” Ries said. “The DNC instead decided that they knew better.” [BuzzFeed]

TOP TALKER: “Trump to Propose 10% Defense Increase in Budget Plan, Aides Say” by Shannon Pettypiece and Jennifer A Dlouhy: “Trump and his aides also are reviewing whether to eliminate many special envoy positions, the people said — diplomatic staff assigned to key regions and issues, including climate change, anti-Semitism and Muslim communities. State also handles a substantial chunk of U.S. foreign aid, which the administration officials said is being targeted for major cuts.” [Bloomberg] • Retired generals tell White House: Don’t cut State Department [CNN

Ira Forman, former U.S. Special Envoy of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, tells us (on his birthday): “I can’t believe someone at the White House won’t have better sense than to realize that this is a disaster. I just can’t believe that they would even think of this given the relatively small budget needed to run this office. The office exists by legislation. It’s just a matter of someone signing up to fund it. This is as bipartisan as an issue as you can get, and I just hope folks at the WH come to their senses.”

Abe Foxman emails… “I think that would be a sad message to send. America was proud of the fact that it was the only country that understood the history of anti-Semitism to the point that it made it a responsibility of the American government to monitor and combat. The U.S. government instructed and mandated its ambassadors around the world to report and combat it. And what it did was, it caused other countries to set up special ambassadors to the Jewish communities on Jewish issues. The special Ambassador to combat anti-Semitism at the State Department is one of those things that ‘make America great.’”

“Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in Talks to Be State Department’s No. 2” by Felicia Schwartz and Peter Nicholas: “The decision isn’t yet final and other candidates may be under consideration, officials said… Mr. Huntsman, who had at one point been considered as a candidate for secretary of state, has also been critical of Mr. Trump… He endorsed Mr. Trump for president in September, but in October called for Mr. Trump to drop out of the race after a recording leaked of Mr. Trump making sexually aggressive comments about women.” [WSJ

TRUMP TUMULT — Major Garrett‏: “News: 3 sources tell me Todd Ricketts hitting heavy financial separation issues; withdrawal as Dep. Commerce Sec nominee a real possibility.” [Twitter

HEARD YESTERDAY – At J Street’s National Conference in DC, Senator Bernie Sanders lauded the organization as a ‘powerful’ pro-Israel group while rebuking Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Welcomed by a thunderous applause, the Vermont lawmaker asserted, “the hard truth is the continued ‘occupation’ and the growth of Israeli settlements that the ‘occupation’ sustains undermine possibility of peace and it contributes to suffering and contributes to violence.” [JewishInsider

— J Street conceded yesterday that the campaign against David Friedman will not lead to their desired outcome. However, they stressed that the ultimate goal is to isolate Friedman from the White House decision-making process. “I do expect a roughly party-line vote in the committee. I also acknowledge that there’s very little precedent for a nominee being struck down in an actual floor vote,” Dylan Williams, Vice President of Government Affairs for J Street, told Jewish Insider. “With that in mind, it’s important to realize that a large part of this fight is about where this administration should take U.S. policy with respect to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” According to Williams, Friedman’s long-held views on the issues are looming over the battle going on between the national security establishment and President Trump’s close advisors over what the administration’s policy should be on the two-state solution. If the outcome of the campaign against Friedman would result in diminishing his influence on policy, Williams declared “we would see that as a victory.” [JewishInsider

Martin Indyk: Friedman “is going to be in Jerusalem, he’s not going to be in Washington. He is not going to be in the White House. His ability to actually influence policy when his job is to implement policy shouldn’t be exaggerated.”

KFILE — Andrew Kaczynski’s latest: “Trump Israel ambassador pick said State Department has been anti-Semitic for ‘past 70 years'” [CNN]

“Palestinian envoy warns against moving US embassy in Israel” by Richard Lardner: “Maen Areikat (chief of the PLO delegation in Washington) says an “emotional decision” to shift the embassy’s location “is going to have very, very negative repercussions” and could seriously complicate and undermine any future efforts to resolve the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis… Areikat says the Palestinians have made their position clear, directly and indirectly, to the Trump administration.” [AP

TALK OF THE NATION: “Bomb Threats Were Directed At Jewish Centers In 18 States In Just One Day” by Mike Hayes and Claudia Koerner: “Local media and police confirmed reports of threats on Monday in Alaska, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, Alabama, Maryland, Indiana, Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, Arizona, Washington, and Nevada… The San Francisco office of the Anti-Defamation League also received a bomb threat Monday afternoon… The FBI and Department of Justice, meanwhile, have launched investigations into the rash of bomb threats.” [BuzzFeed]

“Spicer condemns JCC bomb threats and cemetery vandalizations” by Aidan Quigley: “The president continues to be deeply disappointed and concerned into the reports of further vandalism at Jewish cemeteries,” Spicer said. “The president continues to condemn these and other forms of anti-Semitic and hateful acts.” [Politico]

“Opposition Leader Herzog: Israel Must Prepare to Take in U.S. Jews Fleeing anti-Semitism” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “I call on the government to urgently prepare and draw up a national emergency plan for the possibility of waves of immigration of our Jewish brothers to Israel,” Herzog said at a meeting of his Zionist Union Knesset faction, where he expressed shock and strongly condemned the outbreak of anti-Semitism in the United States, France and other places in the world. Herzog, however said at the same time that he was “convinced that the American government would do everything it can to harshly and aggressively eradicate this phenomenon.” [Haaretz; Newsweek]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: One of the politicians who received a harsh blow from the State Comptroller report on Operation Protective Edge — which was finally published this morning — is former defense minister Moshe Yaalon. Yaalon is condemned in the report for failing to inform the cabinet of the tunnel threat and failing to prepare the IDF for it. Yaalon dismissed the findings as political for months, and has stepped up his defense efforts in recent days. Yaalon has been focused on Naftali Bennet and accused him of leaking from the holy shrine of the security cabinet… Yaalon, who resigned from his post last May and is currently planning to establish a new party and to run for the leadership of the country, is having a tough month. Last week, the judges who convicted Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier who shot the Palestinian terrorist in Hebron last March, condemned Yaalon for making early public statements about the case before it was properly investigated.

Another interesting fight unraveling is between Netanyahu and Yosef Shapira, the State Comptroller. After the PM brushed off the critique yesterday and implied that the Comptroller is undermining the IDF and security echelon, Shapira released a statement today attacking the what he called “deligitimization attempts, especially from the political system, which are probably aimed at deterring the Comptroller and damage his standing,” he said in a special statement today. “It is important to focus on reading the report and learning the lessons from it and not badmouthing.” President Rivlin, playing responsible adult, backed Shapira today and emphasized the watchdog’s responsibility to the Parliament and the public. “It is not the time for exchanging blows, but for learning lessons and implementing what needs to be repaired.”

Earlier today, Rivlin met all of the North American senior Israeli diplomats who are in Israel for the annual gathering of consultations and meetings, including Ambassador Ron Dermer and NYC consul general Danny Dayan. Rivlin, addressed the rise in anti-Semitic incidents. “When we say ‘never again’ it means the whole world. Israel and its diplomatic representatives should stand strongly against these events and I commend President Trump for saying it clearly last week. It should be said again and again without any hesitation.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

** 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 **

SPOTLIGHT: “Ex-UBS Bankers Target Israeli Millionaires With Wealth Broker” by Yaacov Benmeleh: “Two former UBS Group AG bankers are exporting their Swiss private-banking advisory business to Israel as a boom in the country’s technology industry prompts a rise in the number of millionaires and money managers. Zurich-based Zwei Wealth Experts AG, founded by Patrick Müller and Klaus Wellershoff, opened their first overseas office in Tel Aviv this month. “In many ways, Israel is a very representative market to test our approach,” he said in an interview from Tel Aviv. “There is wealth and a curiosity for new solutions.” Israel’s high-tech boom is creating a new generation of millionaires after the value of assets sold in 2016 rose to their highest level for four years…” [Bloomberg]

“Strategic Cyber Ventures aims to build ‘supermax prison’ to halt hackers” by Aaron Gregg: “Strategic Cyber Ventures, a D.C.-based investment firm backed by New York hedge fund Hudson Bay Capital, recently added a second local cybersecurity start-up to its portfolio. The $3.5 million investment announced Monday went to a four-person start-up called Polarity. “Ron [Gula] and I were both tired of incredible talent leaving the NSA going to Silicon Valley to raise money,” said Strategic Cyber Ventures partner Tom Kellerman… The investment firm started when Hudson Bay chief executive Sander Gerber, a long-time friend of Kellerman, persuaded him to leave his position and get into the investment game.” [WashPost]

STARTUP NATION — Wired Magazine’s latest episode in their Future Cities series: “We examine Shimon Peres’s extraordinary legacy in shaping Israeli innovation, tracing the evolution of the country’s world-leading eductation and R&D. We visit miLAB at IDC Herzliya, a prototyping centre that focuses on physical-digital interaction, an IDF intelligence unit to learn about the military’s unique hierarchical structure and autonomous drone startup Airobotics. Finally we travel to Jerusalem, a city ‘complicated beyond description’, where we hear from Andy Dwonch of Gaza Sky Geeks, and Hani Alami of JEST to learn about how the political landscape in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem affects innovation.” [YouTube]

“30 Photos That Will Make You Want to Book A Flight To Israel ASAP” by Carrie Goldberg: “Israel is a country diverse and vibrant in culture, color and flavor–so much so that we dubbed it one of the top places to visit in 2017. We tapped travel photographer Sharon Zobali for her tour of the country’s biggest hubs–in photos… key sites that will make you want to book a trip sooner rather than later.” [Bazaar

DESSERT: “The Southeast Asian Snack I Drove Across Israel For” by Katherine Martinelli: “At home in New York, I was accustomed to ordering Thai food on any given night when I was too tired to cook, rainy evenings, lazy Saturday afternoons, you name it… When we moved to Israel, Thai food was hard to come by. In the small city where we called home, there wasn’t a single Thai restaurant, and I did lug home Thai take-out from a reputable restaurant in Tel Aviv… While it can be frustrating, it also forced me to be creative and figure out how to make it on my own. Burritos, Chicken Tikka Masala, and even meatloaf all made it into my repertoire when living in Israel.” [Food52]

SPORTS BLINK: “World Baseball Classic 2017: Can Israel surprise in its debut?” by Chris Cwik: “The team will be led by former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jason Marquis, but will also feature Ike Davis, Craig Breslow and Sam Fuld. Every one of those players has experienced success in the majors. ” [YahooSports]

BIRTHDAYS: Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1972, Professor of Science at Brown University since 1958, Leon Cooper turns 87… Professor emeritus of Mathematics at the University of California, San Diego, Linda Preiss Rothschild turns 72… Screen, stage and televison actress and singer, Ilene Susan Graff turns 68… Former State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Ira Niles Forman turns 65… NYTimes op-ed columnist and 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, author of more than 20 books, Paul Krugman turns 64… Stand-up comedian, actor and voice actor, Gilbert Gottfried turns 62… Self-described as “America’s most notorious lobbyist,” Jack Abramoff turns 58… Editor-in-chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Andrew Silow-Carroll turns 56… Jerusalem-born businessman and philanthropist, worked as a NYC taxi driver after completing his IDF service, started and sold several companies in the automotive field, Mordechai (Moti) Kahana turns 49… Executive Director of the Montreal chapter of ORT, Emmanuel KallesJessie Singleton, MBA candidate at Harvard and former chief digital officer for NYC (h/t Playbook)… Samantha Friedman

Folks who won’t have a true birthday (2/29) for three more years: President of the Global Markets Institute at Goldman Sachs where she was the long-time Chief Investment Strategist, Board Chair at Jewish Theological Seminary (2009-2015), Abby Joseph Cohen turns 65… Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Paul D. Rosenthal turns 57… Former US Supreme Court law clerk and now UCLA law professor, Eugene Volokh, turns 49…

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: Is RJC united behind or torn over Trump? | Norm Coleman interview | Jeff Goldberg’s Manischewitz Radio Hour | WeWork’s new valuation

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BIG DEAL: “SoftBank set to invest more than $3 billion in Adam Neumann’s WeWork” by Brian Sullivan: “The investment being discussed is a $2 billion primary tranche of funding, followed by a secondary round worth more than $1 billion. SoftBank may increase the size of the secondary investment to nearly $2 billion, the source said, for a total investment of nearly $4 billion in the shared space real estate startup. For WeWork insiders, there is a tender offer on the table at around $44.10 per internal share. If the deal closes, WeWork would be valued at more than $20 billion. The most recent investment into WeWork valued the New York-based company at about $17 billion. In December, Masayoshi Son, the Japanese billionaire who control SoftBank, promised Donald Trump he would invest $50 billion in the United States.” [CNBC; TechCrunch]

NEW THIS MORNING — ‘Manischewitz Radio Hour’ — how Jeffrey Goldberg describes his appearance on David Axelrod’s podcast The Axe Files. Describing his upbringing, Goldberg tells Axelrod: “My whole upbringing was shaped by the fact that the Italian-Irish contingent where I grew up didn’t have much feelings for Jews. But it was black kids – actually a couple of black friends back in middle school – who taught me how to fight and that was an interesting experience. But what it did was — this notion of Jews being created by anti-Semitism in a kind of way, and I think it’s partially true. It’s not very pleasant, but it’s partially true in my case where when people outside are telling you you’re different and you’re bad – in many cases as a young person, I think you flee Judaism, you flee Jewishness, or you sort of embrace it and say what is this thing. And so, when I went to Israel for the first time as a 13-year-old for my Bar Mitzvah, something clicked and I said this is interesting – a Jewish-majority state, a powerful place, Star of David on tanks. You know, if you are a powerless kid, you cotton to this.” [CNN]

FROM THE WEEKEND: “In new era, Jewish Republican group is loyal to Trump above all else” by Theodore Schleifer: “Perhaps most tellingly, top Jewish Republican donors showed little eagerness to blame Trump for occasionally crossing them, such as when he slow-walked acknowledging the anti-Semitism behind the Holocaust this month or the recent threats at Jewish community sites this week. “You get that with the package,” said top GOP fundraiser Mel Sembler, who chalked up those controversies to mere political naïveté. “We’ve got a new president. We want him to win. We’re here to support him.” … And besides, on their signature issue, Israel — donor after donor said — Trump couldn’t align with them better. That trumps all. “The idea that he didn’t happen to say the right word, or the word that somebody was looking for,” said Marc Goldman, an influential RJC donor from Florida, “it doesn’t to me change anything about where he’s coming from.” [CNN]

ALTERNATIVE VIEW: “Jewish Republicans torn over Trump” by Alex Isenstadt: “At a closed-door session on Friday, Beverly Hills homemaker Elissa Czuker, who contributed $50,000 to elect Trump during the closing days of the campaign, questioned whether it was appropriate that some board members of the Republican Jewish Coalition had publicly called out the new GOP president. Others, including Florida dental insurance executive Jeffrey Feingold, pushed back on the idea of silencing Trump’s critics… Others fretted that Trump’s unpredictable temperament will thwart his efforts to reach a peace accord. “People are worried that he’s a loose cannon,” said one attendee. “There’s a real concern that he could slide off the edge.”

— “Behind the scenes, the White House is taking steps to win over Republican Jews, a small but influential group. It has enlisted the 83-year-old Adelson… as an unofficial adviser. Two senior Trump aides, Jared Kushner and Stephen Bannon, have been holding regular and detailed conversations with Adelson about Israel… Kushner… has been in touch with RJC executive director Matt Brooks about a variety of issues… Also visiting the White House recently was Sara Bloomfield, the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She met for breakfast with Trump spokesman Boris Epshteyn, who has been identified as the Trump aide who wrote the much-criticized Holocaust statement.” [Politico

“Pence Says U.S. ‘Assessing’ Move of American Embassy in Israel” by John McCormick: “The president I know will be an unabashed advocate for a stronger Israel-American relationship,” Pence said Friday evening at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “We are also reviewing additional steps to demonstrate America’s support, including assessing whether the American embassy in Israel should be relocated.” [BloombergReuters] • Pence, addressing Jewish Republicans, condemns rash of anti-Semitic vandalism [PoliticoJewishJournal]  

INTERVIEW – Former Senator Norman Coleman, who was appointed as RJC Chair, spoke with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh about his new role as Chairman and the RJC’s relationship with the Trump Administration. “The sad reality is that support for Israel which has always been a strongly bipartisan issue, that dynamic is changing,” Coleman explained. “A recent poll showed that a very significant portion of the Democratic Party’s base no longer supports Israel, and that is disheartening. But it’s a time of opportunity for Jews who care about the U.S.-Israel relationship to vote Republican. One of my goals is to expand the reach and the scope of the RJC. I would hope that there are disenfranchised Democrats who look at what Obama did on his way out of office, his last slap in the face of Israel by not vetoing the UNSC resolution, I would think that these folks would find a home in the Republican Jewish Coalition. There’s also a great opportunity in 2018 with 10 Democratic Senators running in states that Trump won to actually increase the Republican majority in the Senate and maintain a majority in the House. I just think that this is an exciting time for the RJC and a moment of opportunity.”

Coleman on Trump’s response to the rise of anti-Semitism: “The fact is that anti-Semitism has been rising in this country a long time — the BDS movement, anti-Semitism on college campuses, equating Zionism with racism. That has been a plague that has impacted us for a long time. All of a sudden, the media is discovering it now with the Trump presidency. I find that rather ironic… I do think that the media is continuously looking for ways to try to put the Administration at odds with the Jewish community. They are looking to create a conflict there.”

Q: Is the RJC prepared to call out Trump again in the future like it did with the Holocaust statement?

Coleman: “I think it’s very reasonable for the RJC to note that from a Jewish perspective it was an oversight not to mention Jews in the Holocaust statement. We do that as a friend of the Administration. There’s nothing unusual about that. That fact is that the Jewish presence in the White House is more than a minyan. We have no doubt that that on the key issues, on the issue of Israel, that this is a president who is deeply and firmly committed to supporting the Jewish state.” Read the full interview [JewishInsider]

“How Trump Split Conservatives Three Ways” by Tevi Troy: “Conservatives who backed Trump before the election are like people who bought a penny stock before it went big… Others are quieter not out of any concerns about Trump, but because they’ve either landed administration jobs or are hoping to… Since the inauguration, though, there have been several tough attacks on Trump from the right… Looking ahead, this group, especially the Cohen wing, is making a bet that Trumpism will recede… If Trumpism were not to recede, Cohen and others like him – including Wehner, Max Boot, and Bret Stephens – are effectively saying that they would not be part of a Trump-infused conservative movement in the future… The Safe Spacers are not comfortable with everything Trump does, but are choosing to direct their fire at the media and the left… Whichever group wins over conservatism will likely dominate the Republican party for the foreseeable future.” [Politico

“New DNC chair wants to make Ellison ‘the face of the Democratic Party’” by Allison Sherry: “In an interview Sunday, Perez said he had big plans for Ellison as his deputy, including letting him run point on the party’s grass roots organizing efforts… Perez also noted he wanted to make Ellison the “face of the Democratic Party.” “He’s such an eloquent spokesperson,” Perez said. “We need many faces of the Democratic Party and so I think we’re incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to create the synergies that together allows us to do what we need to do.” [StarTribune

“Keith Ellison’s supporters say Israel attacks helped sink his DNC bid” by Jeff Stein: “In the final 36 hours, the Ellison campaign spent significant resources combating an 11th-hour smear campaign that was sending targeted emails to Jewish DNC members,” texted an official on the Ellison campaign… “Oh, absolutely it hurt him: It’s what they used against him,” said Jean Ross, of National Nurses United… Eric Bauman is the vice chair of the California Democratic Party, and was a pro-Ellison advocate. A self-described “observant, pro-Israel Jew,” Bauman said he spent much of his time in the last six weeks responding to questions from constituents worried about Ellison’s history on Israel.” [Vox

Reaction from Perez supporters — Norman Eisen tells us: “Tom will make a great DNC chair. He is an old friend and colleague, and I was honored to help introduce him to leading members of our community from coast to coast. Like me, they were impressed with his vision for the party and with his strong support for Israel, where he has visited, gaining a firsthand appreciation of the security challenges.”

Ann Lewis: “The Democratic Party has now elected a Chair who talks about being in the Golan, and seeing Israel’s security needs for himself – while continuing to oppose Donald Trump’s anti-immigration, anti-women, anti-LGBT policies. That’s why most American Jews will continue to be at home in the Democratic Party — the party that honors our values and welcomes our children. All our children.”

ZOA’s Morton Klein‏: “Dershowitz promised quitting Democratic Party if anti-Semite Keith Ellison became DNC Chair – will he quit now that Ellison is Deputy Chair?” [Twitter

HEARD YESTERDAY — at the J Street National Conference in Washington DC, Alan Solow, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a national co-chair of the 2012 Obama reelection campaign, urged liberal Jewish organizations to choose a diplomatic response to the new administration’s policies on the Middle East. “In this current status of five or six weeks into this presidency, it’s important to try to give the Administration some room to find its way to try and to work with the administration and encourage them to work with Israelis and the Israeli government,” he explained. “Therefore, I would say, outward criticism on those issues, if I were in leadership would be premature at this point.”

“At J Street, a Debate Over David Friedman’s Role” — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Alon Pinkas, former Israeli Consul General to New York, asserted that despite the outspoken rhetoric, Friedman serving as Ambassador “means nothing.” Pinkas added, “He (Friedman) is not going to drive policy. He is going to do what he is being told. It is along the lines of the changing role of the Ambassador.” However, Ilan Goldenberg emphasized that Friedman’s role could likely change in a Trump presidency. “Trump seems to operate more based on terms of personal relationships and he has a personal relationship with Friedman. It is much tighter than the personal relationship he seems to have with Rex Tillerson so who is going to be driving policy is a little unclear.” [JewishInsider• Jewish Federation Head Voices Support for David Friedman as U.S. Envoy to Israel [Haaretz]

SCENE SATURDAY NIGHT — “Press pool left in darkness as Trump dines at his hotel” by Rebecca Morin: “Trump was pictured sitting with his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, a senior adviser, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Brexit movement, among others, according to a tweet by Benny Johnson, reporter for Independent Journal Review, who happened to be at the Trump International Hotel.” [Politico] • Also spotted at dinner: Reed Cordish

“Inside Trump’s Secret Dinner: A Side of the President You Don’t Ever See” by Benny Johnson: “The President gets up and walks across the restaurant to his Secretary of State’s table. The President kisses Tillerson’s wife Renda, and he and Tillerson make small talk. They laugh and speak jovially for a few minutes as dinner guests who had been sitting next to Tillerson look on in stunned amazement.” [IJR

Paparazzo — Jared pictured with his brother Josh Kushner enjoying a Saturday stroll [DailyMail

At the Oscars: “Karlie Kloss is also wearing an ACLU ribbon” by Emily Yahr: “This is notable if only because Kloss is dating investor Josh Kushner, brother of Jared Kushner, also known as President Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser.” [WashPost]

TRUMP ERA: “Sources: U.S. considers quitting U.N. Human Rights Council” by Nahal Toosi And Eliana Johnson: “A final decision on membership in the council would likely involve Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and of course the president himself. A former State Department official briefed on the discussions said while the council’s targeting of Israel is likely part of the debate, there also are questions about its roster of members and doubts about its usefulness overall.” [Politico

“Trump proposal for terrorist listing of Iran Revolutionary Guard in limbo: sources” by John Walcott and Matt Spetalnick: “The proposal has been in the works for weeks, and was originally expected to be rolled out this month. But while the idea remains under consideration, it is unclear when – or even if – an announcement might be forthcoming… “That move could potentially backfire” in Iran’s domestic politics, too, said one of the officials. “The Iranians are a major source of trouble … but those kind of moves would only help the hardliners” in Iran… In addition, said another of the officials, adding the IRGC to the terrorist list would cause friction with U.S. European allies, who in the wake of the 2015 nuclear agreement are trying to rebuild business ties to Iran.” [Reuters

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Israeli intelligence minister says Trump created a new path to peace” by Ruth Eglash: “Israeli Minister of Intelligence Israel Katz[‘s] plan, which he says has been adopted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is regional and multilayered. The creation of a Palestinian state or at least an autonomous, demilitarized entity will come by default at the tail end… Katz said this point and others made recently by the new U.S. administration has made clear that Trump will allow Israel to find its own solution, in its own time. Trump, he said, has opened up the playing field for peace.” [WashPost

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: The contentious State Comptroller’s report about the 2014 Gaza operation is due to be published tomorrow. The report is slated to harshly criticize Netanyahu, his former defense minister Yaalon and the IDF top brass for their inadequate preparations for the 51 day operation in Gaza. The report will also shed light on the flawed decision-making process in the security cabinet. All of this has been at the top of the headlines for days, and was the talk of the Knesset today, leading all of the faction meetings. The only one who kept silent was the Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennet, who is likely to be dubbed as the great winner of the report, as the Comptroller adopts Bennet’s case against Netanyahu and Yaalon.

Netanyahu, back from a week-long tour of Australia and Singapore, opened the Likud meeting brushing off the criticism. “when one enters the cabinet he must leave the cell phones outside, as well as petty politics and personal interests. No cabinet in history was as informed as this cabinet during Protective Edge. The most important lessons are not in the report, and I – unlike the Comptroller – back and support the IDF Command.” Earlier today, Yair Lapid called on Netanyahu to publicly acknowledge that he was wrong and made mistakes. “The report is professional and profound, but also difficult and severe. Even after the Shin Bet and IDF intelligence emphasized to the PM that the tunnel threat has become a strategic threat, Netanyahu did not bring the issue to the cabinet or give the IDF the right directives to deal with it. The army did the right thing and started to amend the mistakes the day after the war started but the political echelon, and especially the PM did exactly the opposite.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

“H.R. McMaster Breaks With Administration on Views of Islam” by Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt: “The adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first “all hands” staff meeting, that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic,” according to people who were in the meeting.” [NYTimes• Jake Tapper: “McMaster vs. Bannon is going to be an interesting dynamic to watch.” [Twitter]

“U.S. detains and nearly deports French Jewish historian” by James McAuley:On Wednesday, [Henry] Rousso landed from Paris at Houston’s George Bush International Airport after an 11-hour flight, en route to Texas A&M University in College Station… Rousso — an Egyptian-born French citizen — was “mistakenly detained” by U.S. immigration authorities, according to Richard Golsan, director of the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M. The university then sprang into action, the Eagle reported, with President Michael Young reaching out to law professor Fatma Marouf… [who] quickly and successfully intervened with immigration authorities, and Rousso was released and allowed to deliver his lecture.” [WashPost; TheEagle• French Historian Says He Was Threatened With Deportation at Houston Airport [NYTimes

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Trump’s presidency: ‘We are not experiencing the best of times’” by Kristine Guerra: ““We’re not experiencing the best of times,” Ginsburg said Thursdayon BBC’s “Newsnight,” though she did not comment directly about the president… “Some terrible things have happened in the United States, but one can only hope that we learn from those bad things,” she added, citing the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II as an example.” [WashPost

“I’m a Silicon Valley liberal, and I traveled across the country to interview 100 Trump supporters — here’s what I learned” by Sam Altman: “What don’t you like about him? “He continually plays into a character that he has created to rile his fan base. Accepting anti-Semitism, white nationalism, or hate emanating unnecessarily creates a vacuum of fear on social media, on television, and around the dinner table. Even though the policies may be similar to that of any recent Republican president, the behavior to act so immaturely sets a bad example for children and undercuts many cultural norms, which more than anything causes disruption to our sociological foundations.”” [BI

** 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: White House Power Player Jared Kushner Is Keeping Parts of His Real Estate Empire [ProPublica• Noble Energy, partners move ahead with $3.75B project [BizJournals] • Air Force buys mysterious $15m Israeli ‘drone killer’ kits to fight DIY ISIS UAVs [DailyMail] • Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media [TheGuardian] • In Trump-CNN Battle, 2 Presidents Who Love a Spectacle [NYT]

“Some of the biggest names in the hedge fund industry are planning to invest in a hot new fund” by Rachael Levy: “Philippe Laffont, the founder of Coatue Management; Louis Bacon, the founder of Moore Capital; and Dan Loeb, the founder of Third Point, are planning to invest in Ben Melkman’s Light Sky Macro, a New York hedge fund that is set to launch March 1. Billionaire Steve Cohen, the founder of Point72 Asset Management, is also investing in the fund… The fund is expected to launch with at least $400 million.” [BI]

SCENE YESTERDAY — JFNA’s William Daroff received a national award recognizing his Jewish civic leadership at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) annual conference held at the Capital Hilton in DC. Prior to the awards dinner, Daroff moderated a panel with “the two Noahs” – RJC’a Noah Silverman and Noah Pollak on how the Jewish community should engage with the Trump Administration.

TALK OF THE NATION: “Another Jewish cemetery vandalized and again Muslims reach out to help” by Colby Itkowitz: On Sunday night, El-Messidi read the news of yet another vandalized Jewish cemetery. This time it hit closer to home, just miles from where he lives in Philadelphia. He called fellow Muslim activist, Linda Sarsour, and they agreed to use the fund to help with repairs and restoration. Then El-Messidi immediately drove to the cemetery to see how he could help. There he found a team of diverse people, including many local Muslims, at work doing their best to erect what he said were several hundred toppled headstones at Mount Carmel Cemetery in a neighborhood in the northeast part of the city. Police have said they counted about 100 overturned.” [WashPost]

HOLLYWOOD: “The minute-by-minute breakdown of the shocking ‘Moonlight’/‘La La Land’ best picture mix-up” by Emily Yahr: “In what was surely the most shocking moment in Oscars history, Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner for best picture at the end of the ceremony, awarding the trophy to “La La Land” when it actually was supposed to go to “Moonlight.” The “La La Land” team arrived on stage, and producers Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt delivered their speeches. All of a sudden, there was a flurry of activity behind them… “This is not a joke,” Platt interjected. “I’m afraid they read the wrong thing.” Confused gasps and stunned silence from the crowd quickly turned into a standing ovation.” [WashPost] • From Pikesville to ‘La La Land,’ producer Marc Platt sees a bright future for movie musicals [BaltimoreSun]

“Chris Martin Says Coldplay Will Not Perform Israeli-Palestinian Peace Concerts, Despite Rumors” by Colin Stutz: “Frontman Chris Martin squashed speculation with a Twitter post on Friday (Feb. 24), following unsubstantiated reports the band would be performing two concerts during this trip. In Martin’s post, he explained he and his bandmates are in region to “listen and learn and that’s all.” “We are just having an interesting and enlightening trip to learn about the area,” he continued.” [Billboard

MEDIA WATCH: “Fox News’ Israel Bureau Chief [Eli Fastman]: It’s ‘Insulting’ Trump Didn’t Tag Us as Enemy of the People” by Nir Gontarz: “I personally would not be opposed to Trump including us in that category of enemies of the people, but he didn’t do it… It’s very insulting. Because it says that we are a type of collaborator… No media body wants to be a collaborator of the government. But he made us the exception.” [Haaretz

DESSERT: “A Rabbi Strives to Make His Corner of Siberia Kosher Again” by Amie Ferris-Rotman: “The majority of Birobidzhan’s Jews grew to not observe most kosher rules… Rabbi [Eli] Riss, who peppers his speech with humor (“Even the local drunkards greet me with ‘Shalom’ ”), aims to encourage local Jews to embrace kosher practices as he does. His suitcases of food are for himself and his family. He wants his flock, too, to be able to eat kosher easily. “Once we get kosher food, it will be a Jewish heaven,” he said on an early December day… His synagogue is waiting to hear if its application to local authorities for a kosher food shop is successful. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, to which Rabbi Riss belongs, is financing the shop’s construction. Under the rabbi’s plan, frozen kosher goods such as beefsteaks and sour cream will travel in bulk to Birobidzhan from Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway.” [WSJ

BIRTHDAYS: Performance artist and film-maker, Eleanor Antin turns 82… Writer and illustrator of children’s books, Uri Shulevitz turns 82… Billionaire, investor, trader and philanthropist, Chair of Julliard, Vice Chair of Lincoln Center and on the Board of the Metropolitan Opera, Bruce Kovner turns 72… Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Alan Harvey Guth turns 70… Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue, a member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Julia Neuberger turns 67… Film and television actor, now starring as FBI Agent Stan Beeman on the FX series “The Americans,” Noah Emmerich turns 52… VP of Education and Regional Operations at the Anti-Defamation League, David S. Waren turns 54… Singer-songwriter, composer and prayer leader, co-founder of NYC’s Kol Zimrah minyan, Sam Benjamin “Shir Yaakov” Feinstein-Feit turns 39… Massachusetts State Senator since 2015 and former Obama White House aide where he was one of the originators of the White House Seder, Eric Lesser turns 32 (h/t Playbook)… Grand”Pa” of Dov and Joe et al., Michael Gervis… Alana Berkowitz… Rebecca Sinderbrand (h/ts Playbook)… William Drykos… Judith Meyer… Lenore Wax

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]

From the Archives: Hillary Lauds Jewish Advocacy for Women, Addresses Peace Process

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