Daily Kickoff: Mark Cuban — “Me, Bob Iger, or Howard Schultz” could be next POTUS | Corker, Kaine on Hariri’s resignation | Brafman on Weinstein

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TOP TALKER: “Romney moves toward Senate bid” by Alex Isenstadt: “Mitt Romney… is huddling with Utah’s class of GOP power brokers, contacting the state’s major political donors, and hitting the trail for candidates running in local races amid mounting speculation that the state’s longtime senator, Orrin Hatch, will retire… He also had a private conversation with… Bill Kristol. Kristol declined to say what the two discussed. But, he said, “Assuming Sen. Hatch retires, I hope Mitt runs. He’d be a very good senator.”” [Politico]

Romney bundlers and supporters on whether they want him to run for Senate and if they plan to raise money for him… Lisa Spies, who served as Romney’s Jewish outreach director in 2012: “The answers would be yes and yes.” Fred Zeidman: “I think the world of Mitt and will do anything he asks me to do. We need him in public service.” Phil Rosen: “Yes and yes. It would be my honor and privilege.” Norm Coleman: “Mitt Romney is one of the most competent and decent public figures I have ever known. I’d welcome the opportunity to again be on Team Romney. ”

FIRST JEWISH POTUS? — At Andrew Ross Sorkin’s DealBook 2017 conference, Mark Cuban says he’s seriously ‘considering’ running for president in 2020: “Given the circumstances, there’s a unique opportunity for someone, like me, who’s independent and not affiliated with a party in any way… Whether it’s me, Bob Iger, Howard Schultz or anyone else, there’s a door wide open, anyone without a deep affiliation.”[Video]

— Former NBA Commissioner David Stern on Mark Cuban: “I helped raise him, I am going to vote for him.” [Video]

Howard Schultz on a possible run in 2020: “I’m not thinking about that, but I’m deeply concerned about the country and direction of the country. I’m deeply concerned about our standing in the world, and I’m deeply concerned about Americans who are not participating in the economy.” [Forbes] • Watch all 8 hours of the DealBook conference here [YouTube]

“Steve Bannon Advised Mark Cuban to Run in 2020 as a Democrat” by Lachlan Markay: “According to four sources familiar with their conversations, the two have been in touch for months about a possible 2020 bid. Bannon, these sources say, has encouraged Cuban to run and to consider doing so as a Democrat, seeing it as a realistic path to a viable presidential run.” [DailyBeast]

DEEP DIVE: “Cory Booker Loves Donald Trump” by Michael Kruse: “I hear Democrats often say this, that Republicans are so mean … we’ve got to stop being so nice,” he said. “I’m, like, ‘That’s 100-percent opposite to what we need to be.’ We don’t need to take on the tactics that we find unacceptable in the Republican Party… It’s not what we preach in churches on Sunday mornings, in synagogues on Friday nights, in mosques during the call of prayer.” He bemoaned the fact that he was “lambasted” for giving the cancer-stricken McCain a hug this past summer. “Do you think President Trump needs a hug,” I asked, “and are you the person to give it to him?” Booker laughed. “I think President Trump,” he said, “needs a lot more than a hug.” [Politico]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Trump adviser Stephen Miller interviewed in Mueller probe” by Joe Tacopino: “President Trump’s top foreign policy adviser, Stephen Miller, has reportedly been interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Miller, the highest-level administration officials to speak with investigators, talked about his role in the firing of FBI director James Comey among other matters, according to CNN.” [NYPost]

“Papadopoulos represented Trump campaign at meetings with British officials, Israeli settlers” by Maegan Vazquez: “A video obtained by The Jerusalem Post shows that [George Papadopoulos] met with Israeli settlers around Inauguration Day in Washington… At the time of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Papadopoulos spoke at a foreign policy panel hosted by the American Jewish Committee… Based on a review of event video, he was not introduced as a campaign adviser. But in remarks, Papadopoulos referenced at least once working for the campaign… The AJC, in a statement last week, described his participation as part of a broader effort by the group to maintain contacts “among advisers to both parties’ 2016 presidential candidates and in the two parties’ national committees.”” [CNN]

PARADISE PAPERS: “Trump ally Robert Kraft revealed as longtimeowner of offshore firm” by Jon Swaine: “Kraft is one of several owners of major US sports teams to appear in the leak through involvement in firms in tax havens… A spokesperson for Kraft said the Bermuda company had been established to do business with certain customers, which the spokesperson declined to identify. The spokesperson insisted the offshore vehicle dealt with relatively small sums. “These entities are not organized or maintained for any reason other than to facilitate doing business in any particular location and decisions are not income tax motivated,” said the spokesperson.” [Guardian]

“Russian Money in Silicon Valley” by Julia Ioffe: “[Yuri] Milner’s story illuminates the very beginnings of Moscow’s efforts to establish a foothold in Silicon Valley, back in the days when the American president was pushing a thaw with Russia. It was a moment that set the conditions of the current one, in which the Russians’ use of social media and other digital tools to undermine America’s election has driven U.S.–Russia relations to their lowest point in decades. And it’s revealing of the Kremlin’s evolving methods in learning to control and manipulate the internet to advance its own interests—first at home, and then abroad.” [TheAtlantic

“U.S. and Russia Are Nearing an Agreement on Resolving the Syrian Civil War” by Josh Lederman and Matthew Lee: “If clinched, the deal was expected to be announced by President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vietnam on Friday, four U.S. officials said. The United States has been reluctant to schedule a formal meeting for the leaders unless they have a substantive agreement to announce. But White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that they won’t hold a formal meeting due to scheduling conflicts on “both sides.” Still, Sanders said it was possible Trump and Putin could have a less formal encounter while in Vietnam.” [AP]

“France’s Macron broaches Lebanon in surprise Saudi visit” by Sylvia Westall and Stephen Kalin: “French President Emmanuel Macron held hastily scheduled talks in Riyadh on Thursday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amid rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, notably over Lebanon and Yemen.” [Reuters]

ON THE HILL — Senators offer differing views on Lebanese PM’s resignation — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) told Jewish Insider on Thursday that Tehran was to blame for the political turmoil in Lebanon. “Iran has been seeking and creating mischief and causing problems for all governments in the entire Middle East,” he explained. “It’s nothing new. Hezbollah relies on them (Iran) for the resources necessary to continue the battle. This is really about Iran continuing to extend their ability to influence other governments in that region.”

Yet, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who has met Hariri multiple times, urged caution. While noting that he is trying to further investigate the true causes of Hariri’s resignation, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee added, “maybe there was another reason that he stepped down.” The location for Hariri’s announcement was also troubling for Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA). “The resignation is extremely suspicious that he would resign on a trip to Saudi Arabia rather than in Lebanon. The press in the region is speculating that he may be in some sort of detention,” said the 2016 Democratic Vice Presidential candidate. “Iran and Saudi Arabia’s proxy war is crushing people in this region.” [JewishInsider]

“Trump’s Secret Weapon: The Hidden Ties That Bind Israel, Saudis” by Jonathan Ferziger: “A Netanyahu aide… said Iran now threatens so many countries that it’s natural for Israel’s alarm to be shared by others… “It’s very possible that Saudi Arabia and Israel are forming a joint strategy toward Hezbollah and Iran,” said Alireza Nader, a policy analyst at Rand Corp. “While Saudi Arabia may have some diplomatic and economic sway over Lebanon, it cannot fight Hezbollah militarily. But Israel has the capability to strike.” That doesn’t mean it wants to — at least for now. “We may have to confront Hezbollah sooner or later,” Ofer Shelach, a member of the foreign affairs and defense committee in Israel’s parliament, said in an interview. “But everyone wants to put off this confrontation.”” [Bloomberg]

“AP Interview: Israel planning UN action against Iran” by Josef Federman: “Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told The Associated Press that he believes conditions are ripe to take a stand against Iranian actions in the region, including its support for the Lebanese Shiite militant group… “Israel has made clear what its red lines are and we will stand by those red lines,” he said.” [AP]

RJC’S MATT BROOKS’ DISPATCH FROM ISRAEL: Brooks is accompanying Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, who is on a weeklong trade mission sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Hawthorn Foundation. “This is a really important trip,” Brooks told Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh in a phone interview. “Eric Greitens not only is the only Jewish governor in the country, but also given his background as a former Navy SEAL and the fact that he is somebody who is a real serious and real rising star, I think the relationships, and the meetings, and the briefings, and all of the aspects of this trip are going to be very, very helpful for him in terms of his ability to go back and to stand up and be a leader on the pushback against BDS and to be a vocal supporter for the Jewish community.”

Brooks on the newly-launched Jewish Democratic Council of America: “Any group that wants to be both a pro-Israel advocacy group and pro-Democratic Party group has got to work to hold the Democratic Party back to its original moorings and its original anchor within the mainstream of the pro-Israel movement. Unfortunately, there are forces that are trying to pull the Democratic Party away from its traditional alliances with Israel, and we see that time and time again with the rise of the progressive left, and the J Street folks… No group will be successful unless it works to address and to hold the Democratic Party back where it needs to be, and the party of Joe Lieberman, and Scoop Jackson, and the Democrats who were unapologetically pro-Israel.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — Gary Cohn on the similarities between President Trump and former boss Llyod Blankfein: “They’re both very driven. They’re both very passionate. They both strongly believe in what they’re doing. Their core messaging is very similar. I mean, they come into the office with passion every day. And they are both driven by the mission and feel like they need to get the mission accomplished, day in and day out… And I think they both understand who their client base is, and they manage their client base effectively.” [CNBC]

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PROFILE: “AT&T Deal Puts Trump’s Antitrust Cop at Center of a Political Storm” by Cecilia Kang: “In an interview late last month, Makan Delrahim strongly rejected the idea that the White House had tried to or could influence his thinking. Delrahim, 48, was born in Tehran, but his family moved to Los Angeles when he was almost 10, around the time of the Islamic Revolution. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles, as an undergraduate and then went to law school at George Washington University. In his recent interview, he said that the Justice Department did not need to intervene just because a company was big, even a monopoly. He also said the government should not startle business markets with an abrupt change in its approach to antitrust legal theory.” [NYTimesCNNMoney]

“Black Cube will donate Weinstein profits to charity, says board member” by Jordana Miller and Lesley Messer: “Black Cube, a private agency run by former Israeli intelligence officers that Harvey Weinstein enlisted to gather information on his alleged accusers, will donate profits from the case to organizations benefiting sexual assault victims, according to a statement from the company… “The company condemns any act of violence, especially sexual harassment, and therefore the company will donate all its profits from this case to organizations that support victims of sexual assault in Tel Aviv, London and New York,” the statement concluded.” [Yahoo• Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak put Harvey Weinstein in contact with the ex-spy agency Black Cube [DailyMail]

“For Harvey Weinstein, a New York Lawyer With a List of Celebrity Clients” by James McKinley: “[Ben] Brafman, a former Manhattan prosecutor, is regarded as one of the best trial lawyers in the city, known for a disarming sense of humor and wickedly skillful cross-examinations… “I never allowed the media circus, if you will, to impact my focus,” Mr. Brafman said in an interview on Thursday. “My determination is to extricate my client from this mess.” Mr. Brafman declined to comment on the allegations against Mr. Weinstein, except to say he would “vigorously defend” his client.” [NYTimes]

“World’s Greatest Living Violinist Itzhak Perlman on Anti-Semitism, Trump and New Documentary” by Ray Rogers: “I don’t think there’s a rise [in anti-Semitic attacks]. Usually the rise is with people talking more about it, but it’s always there. I say to everybody, “Don’t ever forget. Always remember.” When you see things happening, you see that nothing has changed really. I never deny who I am. I’m Jewish, I’m from Israel. That’s who I am. Sometimes people say, “We don’t want to talk about it,” but I don’t mind talking about it. And what I believe in.” [THR]

“Billionaire philanthropist honored with tribute from every living ex-president” by Judy Kurtz: “David Rubenstein was the rare recipient of a quintet of presidential shoutouts, with all five former living presidents honoring him for his “patriotic philanthropy” in a surprise video. Rubenstein, co-founder of private equity firm The Carlyle Group and a philanthropist who’s donated money to preserve a slew of historic structures, received the Liberty & Justice for All Award on Wednesday from the LBJ Foundation at a gala event at the National Archives in Washington.” [TheHill]

SPORTS BLINK: “Cavs GM Koby Altman Went To Israel To Scout One Of The Top Prospects In The 2018 NBA Draft” by Bill Defilippo:“While Cleveland was getting ready to take on Houston on Thursday night, Koby Altman was in Israel to watch 18-year-old Slovenian wunderkind Luka Doncic in action. Doncic suits up for Real Madrid, which took on Maccabi Tel Aviv in a massive Euroleague matchup. Madrid lost, 90-83, but Doncic had a monster game, going for 19 points, six rebounds, and six assists.” [Uproxx]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “David Dinkins Doesn’t Think He Failed. He Might Be Right” by John Leland: “At the heart of David Dinkins’s story as mayor are four days in August 1991, after a car in a rabbi’s motorcade in Crown Heights ran a red light and killed a 7-year-old Guyanese boy named Gavin Cato. The neighborhood exploded… In his office a quarter-century later, Mr. Dinkins dismissed a question about whether, had he changed tactics one night sooner, he might have won re-election. “You don’t know that until after the fact,” he said. “I said to the police brass, Whatever you guys are doing, it ain’t working. You need to get it together. But whether some police thought that I wanted them to be lenient on blacks attacking Jews — I can’t imagine how they would have thought that — but that was not the case. I got accused of that, and that’s painful.”” [NYTimes]

“Frederick County Public Schools plans to be open on Yom Kippur” by Allen Etzler: “Frederick County’s public schools will be open next year on Yom Kippur and teachers will work on Election Day, according to a school calendar proposal approved Wednesday… Joy Schaefer and student member Will Anderson both voted against a motion to open schools on Yom Kippur as a way to elicit feedback and then make a final decision. “This is not a popularity contest,” Schaefer said.” [FrederickNewsPost]

REMEMBERING: “Tzipora Jochsberger, Founder of a Jewish Arts School, Dies at 96” by Richard Sandomir: “The Hebrew Arts Center started in two borrowed classrooms at the Ramaz School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. About 15 children attended that first Sunday morning; she taught the recorder in one room, and Fred Berk taught dance in the other… When Ms. Jochsberger retired in 1985, enrollment at the school totaled about 400; today, the significantly more diverse student body (with much less of a Jewish presence) totals about 2,800 children and adults.” [NYTimes]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYLyricist and songwriter for TV, film and stage, who together with her husband, won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song, Marilyn Bergman turns 88… Manager of the Audibel Hearing Aid Center in Marietta, Georgia, Murray Kurtzberg turns 75… Former CNN news anchor whose first day on the job was September 11, 2001, longtime reporter for ABC, Aaron Brown turns 69… Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles, Raphael J. Sonenshein, Ph.D. turns 68… DC-based producer for CBS News and 60 Minutes since 2008, Howard L. Rosenberg turns 66… ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor, Linda Cohn turns 58… Bar-Ilan University Professor and social historian, Adam Ferziger turns 53… Senior Rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, Ken Chasen turns 52… Executive editor at Foreign Policy Magazine, Benjamin Pauker turns 42… Co-founder in 2004 of Yelp, where he remains the CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman turns 40… Chief communications officer for the New York City Housing Authority, Jean B. Weinberg turns 37… Senior investigative reporter at ABC News, Josh Margolin turns 47…

SATURDAYRussian born billionaire, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and physicist, Yuri Milner turns 56… US Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2011-2014), now a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution, he is the co-founder and chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Ambassador Norm Eisen turns 57… Attorney in Los Angeles, Gerald Neiter turns 84… Democratic US Senator from California (1993-2017), Barbara Boxer turns 77… Author and Senior Fellow at USC’s Annenberg School, Morley Winograd turns 75… Television personality (former host of Double Dare), comedian and talk show host, Marc Summers (born Marc Berkowitz) turns 66… Billionaire businessman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Ken Grossman turns 63… Founder and president of DC-based Plurus Strategies, he served as the principal deputy assistant secretary for energy eficiency at the Department of Energy during the Clinton administration, David Leiter turns 63… President at American Built-in Closets in South Florida, Perry Birman turns 60… Talk show host Zev Brenner turns 59… Founder and executive director of Los Angeles-based IKAR (a Jewish spiritual community led by Rabbi Sharon Brous), Melissa Balaban turns 53… Emmy Award and People’s Choice Award winning television producer, Max Mutchnick turns 52… Member of the Knesset since 2009, Orly Levy-Abekasis turns 44… Aish HaTorah teacher in Los Angeles, she holds a law degree and a masters in in clinical psychology, author and co-founder of a gourmet kosher cooking website, Emuna Braverman… Surprise, Arizona resident, Shula Kantor

SUNDAYProfessor of History at Columbia University and expert on Japan, Carol Gluck turns 76… Counsel at the Poughkeepsie, New York law firm of Gellert, Klein & MacLeod, he was a member of the New York State Senate (1990-2012), Stephen M. Saland turns 74… Sportscaster for NBC since 2006, after 29 years at ABC, Al Michaels turns 73… Attorney in NYC, Bernard Wachsman turns 64… Member of the New York State Assembly since 2006, her district includes Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Linda Rosenthal turns 60… Author of young-adult fiction and winner of the National Book Award for “Challenger Deep,” Neal Shusterman turns 55… Controversial author, journalist and former political advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton, Naomi Wolf turns 55… Mayor of Oakland, California since 2015, Elizabeth Beckman “Libby” Schaaf turns 52… President of The Cranemere Group (a private equity firm based in NYC, London and Frankfurt), he was previously director of President Obama’s National Economic Council (2014-2017), Jeffrey Zients turns 51… British journalist and political correspondent for BBC News, Joanne “Jo” Coburn turns 50… SVP and general manager of MLB’s Minnesota Twins, Thad Levine turns 46… Member of the Knesset since 2006 for the Yisrael Beiteinu party, Robert Ilatov turns 46… Israeli fashion model and actress, Nina Brosh turns 42… Film and television actress, Jordana Ariel Spiro turns 40… Matthew D. Berkman turns 33… Chairman of loop88, a creative advertising agency focused on Pinterest, Dave Weinberg

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Daily Kickoff: Spotlight on DOJ’s Makan Delrahim | JDCA launch | Colin Powell awarded Herzl Award | BDay: Israel’s Baseball Manager Jerry Weinstein

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TOP TALKER: “The New Washington Drama: Treasury Secretary Versus Treasury Secretary” by Alan Rappeport: “Raising eyebrows in economic circles, Lawrence H. Summers, the mercurial Treasury secretary for President Bill Clinton, has leveled a barrage of increasingly personal criticism at the current Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. In podcasts, blog posts, op-eds and on Twitter, Mr. Summers… has accused Mr. Mnuchin of damaging the credibility of Treasury by making ‘irresponsible’ economic assessments of the administration’s tax plan and acting as a ‘sycophant’ to President Trump. The attacks have alternately amused and angered those who run in economic circles, with some saying it is Mr. Summers who is damaging the credibility of the office by leveling public attacks on a sitting Treasury secretary.”” [NYTimes]

HEARD ON THE HILL — Congress intensifies pressure on Trump to move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem — by JI’s Aaron Magid: In overwhelming fashion, a clear majority of members on the House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on National Security called on President Trump to swiftly move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “Would you characterize this as a campaign promise that if the President failed to follow through on, it would be a major disappointment to the Jewish community?,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) asked former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. Later, in a jarring moment, Rep. Meadows referred to one of the invited witnesses, Michael Koplow, Policy Director of the Israel Policy Forum, as the “skunk in the room” for being the only panelist who opposed the immediate relocation of the embassy.

While crowded on the Republican side of the committee, only two Democrats attended the hearing. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) cited the Jordanian monarch’s visit to Washington shortly after the January inauguration when he personally requested that Trump keep the diplomatic facility in Jerusalem. “Was President Trump wrong in accommodating the request of King Abdullah?” Welsch asked. Koplow emphasized the possible risks of violence due to the embassy transfer. “This could affect not only stability and order in Jerusalem, but also the safety and security of American embassies and diplomatic personnel around the world.”

Clarifying the importance of the embassy’s transfer, Dore Gold, President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “You move the embassy, you create a box of realism for our neighbors. Israel is not going to give up Jerusalem. Somebody better digest that.” [JewishInsider]

A White official tells us… “The President has always made it very clear that it is a matter of when, not if. We have no news to share at this time.”

Over 50 Jewish nonprofits, including The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the JCPA, sent a letter to Congress urging members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is taking up comprehensive tax reform this week, to oppose the inclusion of any measures that would undermine the Johnson Amendment. The provision in the tax code bars churches from endorsing political candidates without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status. [Doc]

SCOOPLET — Key House committee will vote on Taylor Force Act next week: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote next Wednesdayon the Taylor Force Act, a critical step in advancing the legislation into law, a Congressional aide told Jewish Insider. The bill, introduced by Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) in February, would cut off U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until they cease payments to families of terrorists. The House bill currently has 149 co-sponsors, all Republicans. After next week’s committee markup, the next step for the Taylor Force Act would be a floor-wide vote. [JewishInsider]

“Rouhani Urges Saudi Arabia to Avoid Teaming Up With U.S. and Israel” by Ladane Nasseri: “A siege feeling is starting to emerge in Iran as relations with Saudi Arabia and the U.S. worsen… The sense of rising external threat came to the fore in the country’s media.” [Bloomberg]

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Lebanon’s plunge into political crisis raises specter of war with Israel” by Louisa Loveluck and Loveday Morris: ““MBS is an impatient man,” said Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel… referring to the [Saudi] crown prince by his initials. The removal of [Saad] Hariri “may be a Saudi play to initiate an Israeli response and bloody the nose of Hezbollah.” … Hariri’s resignation helps Israel drum up international sentiment against Lebanon, analysts say… “Hariri’s departure does strengthen the case that Hezbollah is in total domination in Lebanon,” Shapiro said. “By removing Hariri it does make it a bit easier to treat Lebanon as an Iranian outpost.”” [WashPost] • Political Upheaval Tests Lebanon’s Finances [WSJ]

“The Middle East Is Nearing an Explosion” by Robert Malley: “Lebanon and the region arguably have seen all this before; a leadership vacuum in the context of rising tensions is nothing new. What is new, however, is an unusually apprehensive Israel, an unusually assertive and rash Saudi leadership and, of course, an unusual U.S. president. As for Israel: For months now, it has been sounding alarm bells about Hezbollah’s and Iran’s growing footprint in Syria, and more particularly about the Lebanese movement’s soon-to-be-acquired capacity to indigenously produce precision-guided missiles—a development Israeli officials view as a potential game changer they must thwart.” [TheAtlantic]

Martin Indyk‏ tweets: “Some experts see latest ME developments as effort by Saudi Arabia and Israel to pull US back into the region. I see it as SA, Israel and Iran acting to fill vacuum left by continued US withdrawal from the region. Trump is happy for Bibi and MBS to take the lead while he tweetles his thumbs.” [Twitter]

“Trump’s mystery plan for Mideast peace” by Barak Ravid: “According to U.S. officials, Trump is the driving force on this issue and is personally involved. Israeli officials say they hear Trump is pushing his team to have a proposal soon… [Jason] Greenblatt’s last trip to the region lasted three weeks, and Kushner, who is officially leading the “peace team,” came to the region three times and spends hours every week in phone calls with Arab leaders in order to get their support.” [Axios

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: After more than six months of investigation, officers from Lahav 433 (the the National Crime Unit of the Israeli Police) are set to meet the Prime Minister again today. Officers will question him for the fifth time since the File 1000 and File 2000 investigations began last year. The investigation is expected to focus on the gifts affair, and Netanyahu’s relationship with his billionaire friends, most notably Arnon Milchan, and the “Noni Mozes tapes,” a/k/a Netanyahu’s contacts with the publisher of Yediot Aharanot before the last elections. However, according to some reports, Netanyahu will also be questioned on the Submarine Affair, File 3000, even though at the moment he is not a suspect.

Meanwhile, an interesting character testimony about the PM has emerged. “Netanyahu has a weakness for billionaires,” his lawyer, Yaakov Weinroth, said in an interview to veteran journalist Ilana Dayan, which is set to be broadcast this evening. “Netanyahu is an honest man – if you ask him for a resume of successes against his failures, your jaw will drop open, but he admires money as a world view,” he said. “If you ask him how much gum or bread costs, he is likely to miss the figure by a high range. He doesn’t live the world of prices. He spent huge amounts of money on cigars over the years – and that is why his family was angry about it – because of the smoking itself, and because of the prices.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here — including Weinstein-like accusations in Israel [JewishInsider]

ACROSS THE POND: “UK minister Priti Patel resigns over secret Israel trip” by Laura Smith-Spark: “The UK secretary of state for international development was summoned back from Kenya by Prime Minister Theresa May after it was revealed she met senior Israeli officials during a family holiday in the summer, a significant breach of diplomatic protocol. During the visit, Patel… met with… Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yuval Rotem, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official… She also met with Yair Lapid, the head of Yesh Atid… Even as Patel offered a “fulsome apology” on Wednesday in her resignation letter, May offered a firm rebuke… “As you know, the UK and Israel are close allies, and it is right that we should work closely together,” May said… “But it must be done formally, and through official channels.”” [CNNBBC]

“Priti Patel’s Resignation Adds to Pressure on Theresa May” by Stephen Castle: “Mrs. May’s office, meanwhile, denied reports in Britain’s Jewish Chronicle that her aides had instructed Ms. Patel not to include one of her meetings on a list of such contacts that she published on Monday… For Mrs. May, the episode has been a particular headache because Ms. Patel is a passionate supporter of Brexit within a cabinet that was constructed carefully to balance views on Europe.” [NYTimes]

Donald Trump shows off a video of his granddaughter Arabella singing in Mandarin — by Clemence Michallon: “President Trump, 71, proudly showed off a video of the six-year-old singing in Mandarin and reciting ancient Chinese poetry while meeting with Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan… In the video, released on YouTube, Arabella, the daughter of first daughter Ivanka Trump and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, can be seen wearing a traditional silk embroidered Chinese dress while addressing the country’s president and first lady as ‘Grandpa Xi’ and ‘Grandma Peng’, bowing in respect as she offers a greeting to the camera.” [DailyMail] • Chinese ‘love’ Trump’s Mandarin-speaking granddaughter [Yahoo]

2018 WATCH — Last night, the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) launched its opening event at the Capitol Liaison Hotel in Washington. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer joined dozens of members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The new group, chaired by former Congressman Ron Klein (D-FL), will work to promote Democratic candidates in federal and state elections in line with Jewish communal values and the US-Israel relationship. “American Jews are one of the Democratic Party’s most reliable constituencies, and more than ever require a new organization to represent their interests, as the Trump administration fans anti-Semitism, nativism, racism and other forms of bigotry,” said Klein.

— In his remarks, Dermer emphasized the importance of strong Israeli ties with the Democratic Party. “You cannot fly a plane with one wing, and you cannot have a strong alliance between the US and Israel without strong support in both parties and so we are very pleased that you have started this organization,” he said. The senior Israeli diplomat touted strong backing for Israel in the Democratic Party throughout the past 70 years listing the work of former Senators Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Robert Wagner. [PicPic]

SPOTTED: Senators Bob Casey, Maria Cantwell, Ben Cardin, Michael Bennett, Sherrod Brown, Tim Kaine, Chris Murphy, Debbie Stabenow, and Chris Van Hollen; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer, Reps. David Cicilline, Charlie Christ, Eliot Engel, Lois Frankel, Anthony Brown, Joe Kennedy III, Nita Lowry, Ted Lieu, Jerry Nadler, Jared Polis, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Sheila Jackson Lee, Jacky Rosen, Jamie Raskin, Ted Deutch,  Jan Schakowsky, Alan Lowenthal, Grace Meng, Brad Sherman, Darren Soto, and Mark Takano; and former Congressman Howard Berman.

2020 WATCH: “Why Trump has a lock on the 2020 GOP nomination” by Maeve Reston: “Someone like Mark Cuban… “who would force Trump into responding—could be a deadly candidate against him,” [Terry] Sullivan said… “To me the biggest underlying issue is that it needs to be someone who can stand up to Trump,” Cuban said in an email when asked about whether he would entertain a 2020 challenge to Trump. Someone who can “throw punches back harder than him, and spend 100% of their time with his base talking with them one on one.”” [CNN]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Steven A. Cohen, Andreessen-Backed DIY Quant Fund Struggles [WSJ] • Shocking arrest of Saudi prince complicates Plaza sale [NYPost] • Icahn Faces Questions From Federal Prosecutors Over Trump Advisory Role [WSJ] • Rideshare Startup Via Tapped to Launch First Ever On-Demand Public Transit System as Alternative to Bus Service in Two U.S. Cities [BusinessInsider• Cheddar is launching general news offshoot, expects $11 million in revenue this year [Digiday]

MEDIA WATCH: “In AT&T Deal, Government Action Catches Up With Trump Rhetoric” by Jim Rutenberg: “The head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, was interviewed about the proposed merger in October of 2016, when he was a law professor at Pepperdine University. “I don’t see it as a major antitrust problem,” he said then. Speaking at New York University last month in his Justice Department role, Mr. Delrahim offered a different view. He indicated that he preferred structural fixes to address potential anti-competitive issues — that is, he would prefer to see assets shed from a deal than to have government create conditions it would then have to police. Mr. Delrahim issued a statement Wednesdaysaying he had not come under White House pressure on this issue or any other… All the assertions and denials left a lot of questions about the administration’s motives, but they were ultimately of the president’s own making. There is copious evidence of Mr. Trump’s longstanding vendetta against CNN.” [NYTimes]

Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo: “Multiple sources I spoke with noted Delrahim’s apparent 180, and questioned whether he was being strong-armed, telling me it would be a bad look for him to go to court and lose. “If you’re the new head of the D.O.J. and the first thing you do is lose a major lawsuit, that’s a major embarrassment,” one of these people said. “If this is political and it really is about CNN, the media is just going to slaughter the Trump administration. It would be a bad political move, and it would be really bad for AT&T to agree to that.” [VanityFair]

FLASHBACK — to a 2009 report in the Jewish Journal: “Makan Delrahim is currently an attorney with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in Orange County and is among a growing number of local Iranian Jews who are becoming more politically active. “There are many folks who support Israel that may want more entrepreneurship or lower taxes,” Delrahim said. “So we as a community that have particular interests that may not be voiced by others should be more engaged with government officials, support them and help shape their policy.” [JewishJournal]

STARTUP NATION: “Meet SimilarWeb, One Of Wall Street’s Secret Weapons” by Omri Barzilay: “SimilarWeb’s was able to show that Amazon’s web traffic was 14% higher than the same period the year before, giving a critical indication to the upcoming earnings beat and corresponding surge. The result, they claim, is a huge advantage for customers. “The digital world is where business is taking place, and if you’re able to understand and track the patterns of digital behavior, you can gain tremendous insights that provide a critical advantage,” said Or Offer, SimilarWeb’s CEO and Founder.”[Forbes]

SPOTLIGHT: “Humvee maker sues Activision over ‘Call of Duty'” by Jonathan Stempel: “In a complaint filed on Tuesday night in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, AM General LLC accused Activision of taking advantage of its goodwill and reputation in the “Humvee” and “HMMWV” marks by featuring them prominently in “Call of Duty,” and licensing related content for use in toys and books… AM General is owned by MacAndrews & Forbes Inc and Renco Group Inc, which are holding companies for the billionaires Ronald Perelman and Ira Rennert, respectively.” [Reuters ‘Call of Duty: WWII’ takes one step forward, many steps back in its handling of the Holocaust[Mashable]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Q&A with Charles Bronfman on Birthright and the Best Prize of All” by Eitan Arom: How did the idea (of Birthright) come about in the first place? CB: “It came up when both Michael and I were in Israel in the summer of ’98 and both of us had met Yossi Beilin. He was one of Shimon Peres’ boys. And Yossi had this idea that all 17-year-olds should have a voucher from anywhere in the world for a trip to Israel. Michael was sort of taken with this idea. So later, I was at a party with Michael. We were at the Jewish Museum overlooking the — pardon the expression — the Valley of the Cross, sitting on a wall, because he’d asked to speak with me. And he said, “What do you think of this idea of Yossi’s?” And I said, “That’s a scheme to bankrupt the Jewish world.” I said, “Well, this is an audacious scheme.” And he said, “Well, if it’s audacious, why don’t we try to figure it out?”” [JewishJournal]

HOLLYWOOD NEXT GEN: “Hollywood’s Up-and-Coming Execs 35 and Under” by Lacey Rose and Rebecca Ford: “Ali Krug, 32… Though Krug’s childhood aspirations of working on Saturday Night Live never officially came to fruition, the University of Michigan film studies grad did end up pitching in on the comedy staple as an NBC page. But an opening on then-president Sue Naegle’s desk at HBO soon would take her back home to Los Angeles… Krug went from assistant to manager when Naegle departed HBO to create her own production company and then to vp when Naegle Inc. folded into Annapurna in 2016. In that time, Krug, who married her comedy writer husband in 2014, has been a key force in the in-demand producer’s TV efforts, which include a Carrie Brownstein autobiographical comedy and a Josh Safran ghost drama.” [THR]

TRANSITION — Paul Goldenberg is stepping down after more than a decade as head of the Secure Community Network, the security arm of the Jewish Federations of North America and Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations. Goldenberg will remain as a special adviser and join a think tank at Rutgers University that focuses on transnational security issues. [JTA]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was honored by the World Jewish Congress with the Theodor Herzl Award at its annual dinner at The Pierre Hotel in Manhattan. “Colin Powell may not be Jewish, but he has a Jewish heart,” WJC President Ronald Lauder said before be presented the award. In his remarks, Powell reflected on his upbringing in the Bronx, serving as a Shabbos Goy and learning Yiddish while working at local Jewish businesses. He also recalled his last meeting with Yasser Arafat and stressed the need for peace in the region. [Video]

BIRTHDAYS: British Conservative politician and businessman, David Wolfson, Baron Wolfson of Sunningdale, turns 82… British businessman and philanthropist, formerly Chairman of Lloyds TSB, Sir Maurice Victor Blankturns 75… Professional baseball manager in the minor leagues and college, he managed Team Israel at the WBC qualifier in 2016 and the World Baseball Classic in South Korea and Japan in 2017, Jerry Weinstein turns 74… Israeli war hero who transitioned to a long career in the Knesset (1999-2013) for the National Religious and Jewish Home parties, Zevulun Orlev turns 72… Chairman and CEO of Los Angeles-based PR and public affairs firm, Cerrell Associates, Hal Dash turns 69… Chula Vista, California resident, Daniel Ajzen turns 67… Senior producer at NBC Nightly News, Joel Seidman turns 63…

Political consultant and fundraiser, founded “No Labels” in 2010 to solve problems across the partisan divide, Nancy Jacobson turns 55… Director of Los Angeles-based Remember Us: The Holocaust Bnai Mitzvah Project, she was previously the executive director of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Samara Hutman turns 55… Professor of journalism and media studies at Fordham University, Amy Beth Aronson Ph.D. turns 55… Partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis, he represents private equity and venture capital sponsors, Douglas C. Gessner turns 52… Founding Executive Director of OneTable, Aliza Kline turns 46… Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court since 2015, Richard H. Bernstein turns 43… Singer, songwriter Ari Benjamin Lesser turns 31…

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Daily Kickoff: Forbes on Josh Harris — “it all started with wrestling” | Rep. Goodlatte skeptical of anti-Semitism bill | Pantanowitz’s Brainternet

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SPOTLIGHT: “The Case Of Wilbur Ross’ Phantom $2 Billion” by Dan Alexander: “Fresh off a tour through Thailand, Laos and China, United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. picked up the phone on a Sundayafternoon in October to discuss something deeply personal: how much money he has. A year earlier, Forbes had listed his net worth at $2.9 billion on The Forbes 400, a number Ross claimed was far too low: He maintained he was closer to $3.7 billion. Now, after examining the financial-disclosure forms he filed after his nomination to President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, which showed less than $700 million in assets, Forbes was intent on removing him entirely.”

“Ross protested, citing trusts for his family that he said he did not have to disclose in federal filings. “You’re apparently not counting those, which are more than $2 billion,” he said. When asked for documentation, the 79-year-old demurred, citing “privacy issues.” Told that Forbes nonetheless planned to remove him from the list for the first time in 13 years, he responded: “As long as you explain that the reason is that assets were put into trust, I’m fine with that.” And when did he make the transfer that allowed him to not disclose over $2 billion? “Between the election and the nomination.” So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross’ missing $2 billion. And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004.” [Forbes]

PARADISE PAPERS: “How Business Titans, Pop Stars and Royals Hide Their Wealth” by Scott Shane, Spencer Woodman and Michael Forsythen: “Appleby had 31,000 American clients, the most common nationality by far. The firm’s files include a who’s who of the nation’s wealthiest citizens: prominent Democrats like James Simons, George Soros, and Penny Pritzker, commerce secretary in the Obama administration; and high-profile Republican supporters of President Trump, including Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, and Carl Icahn, the private equity investor.” [NYTimes

ONE YEAR LATER: “Ivanka and Jared’s First Year in Washington Has Not Gone as Expected” by Emily Jane Fox: “It has now been a year since the Trump-Kushners walked out onto the stage of the Midtown Hilton, after midnight, to the astonishing reality that Donald Trump would become the next president of the United States. The historic election commenced an equally extraordinary opportunity for two scions who had built their own careers largely upon their parents’ success. After the election, the two proceeded apace. Despite anti-nepotism laws and looming conflicts of interests, the couple quickly determined that they would re-route their ambitions through the White House, impervious to any sort of significant public-relations setback.”

“President Trump himself has repeatedly reminded the couple of what a nice life they had in New York, before they were “getting killed” by the press in D.C., several sources have said… Nonetheless, the couple has been insisting to friends in recent weeks that their family has settled in well in Washington and that they’re focused on what the administration should prioritize in 2018, according to three people who have spoken with them.” [VanityFair]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Jared Kushner, Mohammed bin Salman, and Benjamin Netanyahu Are Up to Something” by Dov Zakheim: “Trump has given his son-in-law overall leadership on the peace process between Israel and the Arabs, and he is reportedly a welcome guest in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. Given [Jared] Kushner’s role, did Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signal his plans when Kushner last met with him — and did Kushner then inform his father-in-law? And if so, how far will Washington, or more precisely, the White House, go to back up the Saudis if their confrontation with Iran gets hot? Or will Israel serve as Trump’s proxy? With this president, this crown prince, and the current prime minister of Israel, anything is possible.” [FP] • Abbas speaks with Saudi king about US peace efforts, reconciliation [JPost]

“The Saudi Crown Prince Is Gambling Everything on Three Major Experiments” by Hussein Ibish: “The Hariri resignation is likely tied to significant gains made by Iran and its key ally, Lebanese Hezbollah, in securing, along with their Iraqi allies and clients, key areas in northern and western Iraq… and in eastern Syria… These developments are a potential strategic game-changer in the Middle East, and the Saudi response, apparently, is to go after Iran and Hezbollah in their central and original locus of power in the Arab world: Lebanon. With the removal of Hariri, who is perceived in Riyadh as having been too accommodating to Hezbollah, the prospect of an all-out political war to destabilize Hezbollah’s dominance of the Lebanese state seems set.” [TheAtlantic]

In newly revealed recording, Kerry blames Israel for stalled peace talks: “Israel’s Channel 10 on Tuesday published a recording, purportedly made at a conference in Dubai during this past year, in which [John] Kerry can be heard praising the Palestinian Authority for its commitment to nonviolence… “The Palestinians have done an extraordinary job of remaining committed to nonviolence. And in fact, when the [knife] intifada took place they delivered nonviolence in the West Bank,” Kerry says. “This is overlooked by the general [Israeli] population because it is not a topic of discussion. Why? Because the majority of the cabinet currently in the current Israeli government has publicly declared they are not ever for a Palestinian state,” he adds.” [JNS]

REPORT: “Israeli envoy to US questioned in Netanyahu graft probe” by Raoul Wootliff:“[Ambassador Ron] Dermer, considered a close associate of Netanyahu, confirmed to police that, on the direction of the prime minister, he asked then-secretary of state John Kerry to help organize a visa for Arnon Milchan, Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2) reported Tuesday… The television station also reported that the US State Department is preventing Israeli investigators from gathering testimony from former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro over the visa request.” [ToI]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Dermer is the last in a long list of Netanyahu’s advisors who have found themselves part of the several probes… The Dermer report prompted Netanyahu to issue a response attributed to “sources close to the PM,” in which he first admits that he acted to help Milchan with the US visa, but claims that he did it for the sake of the security of Israel. “The wave of lewd and illegal leaks continues – this time in an attempt to discredit the Prime Minister only because he fulfilled his obligation to safeguard the security of the State of Israel,” the sources said. “The reason that Milchan’s visa was denied was media reports about his contribution to Israeli security. It is inconceivable that a person who helped Israel’s security would be harmed by this contribution and that a Prime Minister in Israel would remain indifferent to it. The Prime Minister also addressed foreign governments in the matter of Meir Dagan and others who contributed to the security of Israel.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]

SIGHTING: Israeli PM was spotted leaving exclusive Mayfair nightclub LouLou’s — by Charlie Bayliss: “Benjamin Netanyahu was flanked by bodyguards as he made his way out the West London nightclub, which has been host to Princes William and Harry, Mick Jagger, Kate Moss and George Clooney… The exact nature of the 68-year-old’s visit to the nightclub is unknown, but he had been in London to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour declaration – which paved the way for a Jewish state.” [DailyMail]

ON THE HILL — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte signals skepticism about anti-Semitism bill — by Aaron Magid: In a contentious debate yesterday before the House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) appeared to demonstrate concern regarding the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act. In December of 2016, the Senate unanimously passed the bill introduced by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). However, the House legislation, sponsored by Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), has remained stalled in the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee, headed by Goodlatte, and never received a vote…

Goodlatte revealed his preference to delay the bill and noted that President Donald Trump nominated Kenneth Marcus, an advocate for the usage of the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, to the Department of Justice’s civil rights division. Goodlatte asked that if he is confirmed, “Might it be best to wait and see the results of using such a definition before Congress codifies the statute?” [JewishInsider]

–Jake Sherman tweets: “In Playbook — other Virginia news — House Judiciary chairman  BOB GOODLATTE thought to be retiring.” [Twitter]

In letter, Congress slams Tillerson for closing sanctions office — by Aaron Magid: In a bipartisan rebuke of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, 27 members of Congress are urging the State Department to preserve the office of the Coordinator for Sanctions Policy. According to the letter, first obtained by Jewish Insider, the lawmakers note that restoring the office “would also demonstrate this administration’s commitment to a comprehensive and coordinated interagency sanctions policy.” [JewishInsider]

HAPPENING TODAY — At 10:00 AM: The House Subcommittee on National Security will hold a hearing to discuss the benefits and challenges of relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel-Aviv to the capital of Jerusalem. John Bolton, Mort Klein, Dore Gold, Eugene Kontorovich, and Michael Koplow will testify. [CSPAN]

HEADLINE: “Despite Trump’s misgivings, nuclear negotiator and watchdog say Iran deal works” by Carol Morello: “As Congress contemplates what actions to take, [Federica] Mogherini said she is talking with lawmakers to ensure that any changes would not violate the existing agreement. “I got clear indications that the intention is to keep the United States compliant with the agreement,” she told reporters at a news conference. Mogherini also pushed back against widespread criticism of the deal’s “sunset provisions” of varying lengths… “Article 3 says Iran will never develop a nuclear weapon,” she said.” [WashPost]

ELECTION RECAP — by Jacob Kornbluh: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio became the first Democratic mayor to win reelection since Ed Koch. In the race to replace outgoing Councilman David Greenfield in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park/Flatbush, Kalman Yeger defeated his opponent Yoni Hikind, the son of Assemblyman Dov Hikind, by a 2-1 margin. In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy easily beat Republican Kim Guadagno by 14 points. Of note, Murphy was supported in the town of Lakewood, New Jersey, a community that previously  voted for Christie and Trump. In Virginia, the Democratic candidate for Governor, Ralph Northam scored a big win. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Larry Krasner was elected Philadelphia District Attorney.

** 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: Murray Koffler, Shoppers Drug Mart founder, dies at 93 [TheStarGlobe&Mail] • Heather Reisman’s Indigo Books & Music has announced plans to expand to the US [NewsaramaHuffPost] • For Black Cube, a network of for-hire ex-Israeli spies, information is big money [LATimes] • Carl Icahn, the Car Guy: Why He Bets on Hertz, Lyft and Pep Boys [Bloomberg• New York Observer’s 2017 Content Kings [Observer] • How Schwarzman, Leon Black and A-Rod Spent Their Monday Night [Bloomberg]

PROFILE: “It All Started With Wrestling, Says Billionaire Owner of Philadelphia 76ers” by Jennifer Wang: “Billionaire financier Josh Harris wears many hats. At his “day job,” he serves as the senior managing director of private equity giant Apollo Global Management, a $242 billion (assets) firm that he cofounded in 1990. When he’s off the clock, he checks in on his trio of professional sports teams: the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, NHL’s New Jersey Devils, and English Premier League’s Crystal Palace F.C. An avid athlete, he also invests in nutrition and fitness research and participates in marathons and triathlons.”

The Wall Street veteran credits his past as a wrestler for his legendary work ethics. A native of Chevy Chase, Maryland, Harris always played sports growing up — Little League, basketball, soccer — but a chance encounter with wrestling when he was 9-years-old got him hooked. “I had never done it, but I won this tournament at my [summer] camp,” says Harris. “So when you’re 9 and that happens, you get all excited.” [Forbes]

RISING STAR: “How This Bioengineer Linked a Human Brain to the Internet” by Tafline Laylin: “Before meeting Adam Pantanowitz in a ritzy alcove of Johannesburg, my brain is buzzing — and for good reason. At 33, the Wits University lecturer has designed an interface that connects the human brain to the internet. I’m thinking: Why would you do that, unless you’re an evil genius in a sci-fi movie? Only Pantanowitz’s intentions are sound and, dare I say, noble. By using his Brainternet — a device he first conceived of four years ago but just recently developed with two senior biomedical engineering students — he’s made it possible to convert brain waves into signals and stream them into cyberspace, a tech that offers practical, health-based applications.” [Ozy]

STARTUP NATION: “An Israeli startup claims Apple said it could copy the startup’s camera technology with few consequences” by Jan Wolfe: “An Israeli startup has sued Apple, accusing the iPhone maker of copying its patented smartphone camera technology. Tel Aviv-based Corephotonics… said its patented dual-camera technology for mobile devices was incorporated by Apple in the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus without its authorization. According to the lawsuit, Corephotonics Chief Executive David Mendlovic approached Apple about a partnership. Apple praised the startup’s technology but refused to license it.” [BusinessInsider]

“Real estate startup Compass nabs $100M at a $1.8B valuation” by Ingrid Lunden: “Ori Allon’s  real-estate startup Compass is announcing that it has raised another $100 million — money that it plans to use to expand its sales and rental listings service to every major city in the U.S., as well as build new CRM technology to integrate client, listings and transactions data. The Series E values the company at a whopping $1.8 billion.” [TechCrunch• Tel Aviv-based User-Based Marketing Startup Yotpo raises $51 Million [CTech]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Jerusalem protests look to preserve ultra-Orthodox lifestyle” by Associated Press’ Aron Heller: “Experts say tomorrow’s ultra-Orthodox will look much different from the community that mainstream Israel fears today. “If you are expecting everything to change tomorrow morning — that is not going to happen. But if this is done quietly and it is not forced upon us, it will happen on its own,” said Gidon Katz, an ultra-Orthodox Jew who runs and advertising and public relations agency in Jerusalem… Gilad Malach, an institute researcher who specializes in the community, said such fears are exaggerated. He believes the modernizing effect will make the Haredi community far more educated and employable, much the way ultra-Orthodox communities in the United States and Europe have adapted.” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Baltimore County votes to keep schools closed on Jewish holidays” by Talia Richman: “The Baltimore County school board voted Tuesday to approve an academic calendar that keeps schools closed next year on the Jewish High Holy Days… The 9-3 vote follows the order of Gov. Larry Hogan that public schools in Maryland begin after Labor Day and end by June 15. The requirement, aimed at extending the summer and boosting state tourism, has forced some districts to compress their academic calendars.”[BaltimoreSun]

“Kiryas Joel to become ‘Palm Tree,’ the first Haredi town in America” by Yair Ettinger: “In a referendum in the town of Monroe… a majority of residents voted to separate from the well-known village of Satmar Hassidic sect Jews, Kiryas Joel. The Yiddish-speaking village, founded in the 1970s, will become a separate town in 2020, which will be the first Haredi city in the United States. The city will be called Palm Tree, an English translation of the Rebbe’s surname – Teitelbaum.” [JPost]

BIRTHDAYS: United States Attorney for New Jersey (1971-1973), then US District Court Judge (1973-1987), now a criminal defense attorney, Herbert Jay Stern turns 81… Actress, comedian and writer, she played the recurring role of Doris Klompus on Seinfeld, Annie Korzen turns 79… Vice Chairman and CEO of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, he was a senior White House aide to President Bill Clinton (1993-1998), Ira Magaziner turns 70… Senior Advisor for Global Government Affairs to the Blackstone Group, Wayne Berman turns 61… Chartered Financial Analyst in the San Francisco Bay Area, Michael Sosebee turns 61… Michelle Silverstein turns 60… Major General in the IDF, his military career (1977-2012) included heading the Southern Command, now the Minister of Construction and member of Knesset for the Kulanu party, Yoav Galant turns 59…

Manhattan attorney, Charles “Chesky” Wertman turns 55… Senior Director of Bono’s The ONE Campaign, Laurie Moskowitz turns 53… Past President of University Women at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles,Allison Gingold turns 49… Popular Israeli female vocalist in the Mizrahi music genre, Zehava Ben turns 49… Teacher, writer, editor and diversity consultant, she is the CEO of Boston-based Dimensions Educational Consulting, she founded and led Ayecha (a nonprofit advocacy group for Jews of color), Yavilah McCoy turns 45… Allan Waxman

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]

House C’ttee Passes Measure Boosting U.S.-Israel Economic Cooperation

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed on Wednesday a bipartisan resolution – among four bipartisan measures on the agenda – which recognizes the importance of the United States-Israel…

Kerry: Israeli Settlement Construction ‘Unhelpful’

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The continued expansion of Israeli settlements is not helping to ease tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday. “I don’t think…

RJC, J Street Heads to Discuss Israel in Vegas Next Month

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Heads of the Republican Jewish Coalition and J Street are set to square off over the U.S.-Israel relationship next month in Las Vegas, according to a news release….

Jeb Pushes Back Against Rubio’s Foreign Policy Pitch

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Jeb Bush pushed back forcefully against Marco Rubio’s charge that he has zero foreign policy experience on Wednesday, as the two seek to boost their candidacies with a…

Jeb: Bad Feelings Cannot Jeopardize U.S.-Israel Alliance

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Something as personal as bad feelings between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have broken the special U.S.-Israel relationship, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush…

OU Calls on Nevada Dem Party to Allow Absentee Voting for Observant Jews

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pressure is mounting on the Nevada State Democratic Party to change its caucus plans next Saturday to accommodate voters who observe the Sabbath. The Nevada Democratic Party Caucus…