Daily Kickoff: Bibi’s version of Air Force One | Sheldon sets sights on Japan | Bradley Tusk, SV’s Trump Whisperer | Spielberg’s mother dies at 97

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “After delay and amid pressure, Trump denounces racism and anti-Semitism” by Abby Phillip and John Wagner: “For a president who prides himself on a freewheeling approach to leadership, Trump’s demeanor on Monday was notably somber and disciplined. The appearance stood in stark contrast to the flashes of irritation he showed at a news conference last week at the White House, when he dismissed questions from reporters about… his lack of response to a sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents across the country.” [WashPost] • Netanyahu praises Trump for ‘strong stand’ on anti-Semitism [ToI

“The statement came after weeks of private complaints from leaders of major Jewish organizations to members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle, including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, about the president’s seeming unwillingness to speak out forcefully against anti-Semitic acts.” [NYTimes]

In a memo sent to Jewish Insider, the White House insisted that “anti-Semitic threats, attacks, and vandalism will not be tolerated by the Trump administration” and that the recent bomb threats and acts of vandalism will continue to be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice. The White House said that despite the perception that Trump has turned a blind eye on an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, “this issue is near and dear to the President’s heart, as a religious man himself and as the father of a Jewish daughter and grandfather of Jewish grandchildren.” JCCs “serve a critical role in their communities, opening their doors for people of all backgrounds to share in their resources and participate in their activities,” the memo read. [JewishInsider

– At the daily press briefing, WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer lamented the Anne Frank Center for criticism of Trump’s slow response to the rise in anti-Semitism: “I wish that they had praised the President for his leadership in this area. The President has made clear since the day he was elected and frankly through the campaign that he seeks to unite the country… It’s ironic that no matter how many times he talks about this, it’s never good enough. Today, I think, was an unbelievably forceful comment by the President as far as his denunciation of the actions that are currently targeted towards Jewish community centers. But I think that he’s been very clear previous to this… I wish that they had praised the President for his leadership in this area.” [YouTube

HEARD YESTERDAY ON TV — Anne Frank Center’s Steven Goldstein on MSNBC’s The Last Word: “Trump quacks, walks, and talks like an anti-Semite. That makes him an anti-Semite.” [Twitter

Alan Dershowitz on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon: “I am critical of what he (Trump) said, but I am not as critical as this tiny, little fringe organization that is getting so much publicity – the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect – that nobody ever heard of until today, and that is not representative of the Jewish community. He went way, way overboard. This is not the most anti-Semitic Administration in modern history.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier on CNN’s “AC360” program: “Every time Donald Trump kisses his Jewish grandchild, he’s repudiating anti-Semitism.”

Abe Foxman, former National Director of the ADL and current Director of the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, tells us: “I welcome the clear condemnation of anti -Semitism by POTUS. I just wish it had not taken so long to come… The Anne Frank Center’s response to the President is inappropriate and politicized. It does not speak for me as a survivor and as an American Jew.”

Michael Oren‏: “As one who experienced anti-Semitism growing up in the US, I reaffirm Israel’s commitment to stand with American Jews against hate crimes.” [Twitter

DNC WATCH — Keith Ellison tweets: “These attacks are part of a larger pattern. A pattern Donald Trump’s done little to condemn and nothing to stop. Why has it taken Donald Trump so long to even say the word “anti-Semitism?” Perhaps it has something to do with placating his base?” [Twitter]

“Trump condemns anti-Semitism but can’t stop questions about his motives” by Stephen Collinson: “Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a CNN senior political commentator, said he was “befuddled” over why Trump had not spoken out before. “This is a President who to me is very much a mensch,” Santorum told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, using the Yiddish term for a person of decency and integrity.” [CNN

“Why was it so darned hard to get Trump to condemn anti-Semitism?” by Paul Waldman: “The real answer to that journalist’s question is that there isn’t much the federal government can do about anti-Semitism…. But the only real power the president has is the bully pulpit, which he can use to help define what is and isn’t acceptable in American society. Trump finally got around to doing that — but it was obviously against his will.” [WashPost• Trump too late in denouncing anti-Semitic acts, critics say [USAToday

“‘Quiet! Quiet! Quiet!’ was not necessarily the wrong response to a question about Trump and anti-Semitism” by Shmuel Rosner: “It shows that Trump cares, that he does not accept lightly the implied allegation that he is, in some way, friendly towards anti-Semitism. The fact that Trump cares about such allegations means that Trump sees anti-Semitism as evil. It means that Trump refuses to be portrayed as someone aiding and abetting evil.” [JewishJournal]

“Trump And The Jews Echoes A Timely Tale” by Gary Rosenblatt: “Surely the Purim story will inspire intriguing parallels to current events when read this year. There is the malleable monarch (Ahasuerus/Trump) whose beautiful queen (Vashti/Melania) has distanced herself from the seat of power; the wicked adviser (Bannon, which doesn’t rhyme with Haman), rivaled by the elegant empress (Esther/Ivanka) who seeks to calm the king through the advice of the man she trusts (Mordechai/Jared). Will the young couple prevail, convincing the persuadable president to ignore the menacing manipulator and assure security for the Jewish citizens of the land?” [NYJewishWeek

“What’s on the Minds of America’s Jewish Leaders?” by Judy Maltz: “Unfortunately so many of the president’s supporters seem to feel they have a license now to speak in ways that are not just disrespectful, but truly a terrorism of another kind,” said Margo Gold, international president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. “For the Israelis to reach the president with that message would be very important.” Steve Seiden, chair of the JCC Association of North America, concurred. “Anything Israel can do to convince our new president to address the issue head-on that anti-Semitism is a problem and to acknowledge it, I think will go a long way toward eliminating threats we have to deal with,” he said.” [Haaretz

HAPPENING IN VEGAS: “Dick Cheney will intro Pence at Republican Jewish Coalition event” by Alex Isenstadt: “Cheney is slated introduce the current vice president, Mike Pence, at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s meeting in Las Vegas this week. The two are scheduled to speak on Friday evening… The event will be held at [Sheldon] Adelson’s posh Venetian hotel… On Thursday evening, Adelson will host a private dinner at his home that will be attended by many of the organization’s board members and top donors. The dinner will also be attended by fellow Las Vegas billionaire Steve Wynn, a Trump ally who recently was tapped to be the Republican National Committee’s finance director. Others expected to attend the meeting include South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner, and Cheney’s daughter, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney.” [Politico

“Australian PM criticizes UN as Israeli PM arrives for state visit” by Colin Packham: “Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull… welcomed Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia and reiterated Australia’s support for a two-state solution… However, he also made clear Australia would not support any resolutions such as the one approved by the United Nations Security Council in December… “My government will not support one-sided resolutions criticizing Israel of the kind recently adopted by the U.N Security Council and we deplore the boycott campaigns designed to delegitimize the Jewish state,” Turnbull wrote in an editorial in The Australian newspaper.” [ReutersNYTimes] • Billionaire Gina Rinehart joins Australia’s movers and shakers at a lunch for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [DailyMail]

“Netanyahu close to landing Kosher version of air force one” by Paul Cleary: “When it is rolled out in coming months, Israel’s Air Force One looks set to become the ultimate boy toy. But the expensive plane is being sold as a means of enabling Israel to engage more with the world, as the Prime Minister and President have been restricted in where they can travel on existing charter planes. Israel’s Channel 2 has reported that some of the fittings include the Flight Guard missile defence system, which is designed to protect the plane from shoulder-fired missiles during take-off and landing.” [TheAustralian]

ALTERNATIVE VIEWS — US torpedoed peace summit by trying to impose conclusions, Israeli official says: “The new comment by a senior official close to Netanyahu was reported late on Tuesday by Israel Radio. According to this source, the regional peace effort failed because the Obama administration sought to impose the terms of an agreement, and “Netanyahu could not agree to this,” the radio report said.” [ToI

TERRORISTS IN TEHRAN: “At Tehran Gala, Cakes, Fruit and Anti-Israeli Slogans” by Thomas Erdbrink: “Everything was in place on Tuesday for a gala celebration at Iran’s annual conference in support of Palestinians. Awaiting the hundreds of guests was a table piled high with cakes and fruit, with plenty of tea to wash it all down and a placard saying, “Netanyahu: Go to Hell.” Prominent seatings were reserved for the heads of Parliament for Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Syria, as well as the leaders of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah. All three have offices in the Iranian capital and all have received money, intelligence and even weapons from Iran…” [NYTimes]

NYC 2017 WATCH: “Jeffries rules out mayoral run, Garodnick explores bid” by Josh Dawsey: “Meanwhile, Councilman Dan Garodnick, a Manhattan Democrat who lost his bid to become the City Council Speaker in 2014, has talked with donors, consultants and others about running for mayor. Garodnick has told these people he would want a one-on-one race with de Blasio and would be interested if he saw a path, but isn’t sure if there is one… Comptroller Scott Stringer has told others that his own potential bid would hinge on the outcome of the investigation. Last week, Stringer said it was “safe to assume” he will stay in his current job, and a number of lobbyists, donors and consultants said they do not expect Stringer to run.” [Politico] • These millennials can’t wait to run for NYC mayor [NYPost]

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Investors Bet on Israel Tech Stock Windfall Under Trump [Reuters• Sands’ Adelson Sees Japan as Ultimate Business Opportunity [Bloomberg; Fortune• Jeff Sutton raises $233M on Tel Aviv bond market [TRD• Carl Icahn has reportedly taken a stake in Bristol-Myers and its shares are jumping [BusinessInsider] • Chinese Firms Rush to Cash In on Ivanka Trump: Dozens of companies in Beijing want to trademark the First Daughter’s name [VanityFair]

“Ivanka Trump and daughter go to the Supreme Court” by Betsy Klein: “Ivanka Trump is hearing oral arguments at the Supreme Court Wednesday, a court spokesperson confirmed. The first daughter is there as an invited guest as Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom she met at the inaugural lunch at the Capitol last month just after her father’s swearing-in ceremony. Trump is listening to a technical case examining the question: “Do Arbitration Agreements between Nursing Homes and Patients Violate Public Policy or are they enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act.” Her daughter, Arabella Kushner, accompanied her mother.” [CNN]

“Fraud case against Kushner Companies ends in undisclosed settlements” by Craig McCarthy: “The undisclosed settlement between the New York-based development company and Neil and Lauren Hunter was announced Tuesday morning in front of Middlesex Superior Court Judge Vincent LeBlon… “We are eager to move ahead with the redevelopment of our property in Perth Amboy,” Kushner Companies spokesman James Yolles said in an emailed statement.” [NJUSAToday] • Breaking Down Jared Kushner And His Family’s $1.8 Billion Fortune [Forbes]

PROFILE: “A Silicon Valley Political Fixer Is Reinventing Himself As A Trump Whisperer” by William Alden: “For Bradley Tusk, a political consultant who made a fortune helping Uber win important regulatory battles, finding new tech clients was a challenge, he told BuzzFeed News recently… “‘There was this mentality of, “Oh, I went to Stanford, I was in Y Combinator, John Doerr is on my board, and once this stupid regulator sees how smart I am, they’re going to do whatever I want,”‘ said Tusk, an ex-aide of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, as he sipped a latte at a Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco. Now, President Donald Trump is on everyone’s mind, and Tusk is highly in demand.” [BuzzFeed

STARTUP NATION: “Netanyahu visit ‘very exciting’ for Australian business” by Anne Hyland: “The largest ever delegation of Israeli companies will meet with business and government leaders this week in Sydney as both nations seek to forge closer ties. Prominent business leaders including tech venture capitalist Paul Bassat, the co-founder of SEEK and Square Peg Capital, businessman, investor and former Hoyts Cinemas chief executive Peter Ivany and non-executive director Jillian Segal will be among those attending a range of meetings during the visit. The group of 23 Israeli companies visiting Australia span energy, technology and medical innovations.” [AFR]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “At Jewish Cemetery, Seeking Answers Amid Heartbreak” by Monica Davey and Alan Blinder: “You hope it’s not a resurgence of something, of anti-Semitism, but I don’t know,” Herschel Price, 87, of Creve Coeur, Mo., said as he walked toward the graves of his mother and father. “This is holy ground,” his wife, Margie, said, “and all I feel now is heartbreak.” [NYTimes

“American Muslims raising money to repair vandalized Jewish cemetery” by Colby Itkowitz: “Tarek El-Messidi, who created the campaign with fellow activist, Linda Sarsour, said when he saw the news about the vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in the St. Louis suburb of University City, he was reminded of a story about the prophet Muhammad, who had stood up when a Jewish funeral procession passed. When asked why, he said, “Is it not a human soul?” … El-Messidi said he’s been communicating with the director of the cemetery who was going to send him an exact estimate of the damages, but he doesn’t have that figure yet. If they raise more than is needed, he said they will keep a leftover fund that will be used to counter anti-Semitic hate.” [WashPost] • BDS activist raises $56,000 for vandalized Jewish cemetery [ToI]

“Andy Cohen Discusses His Personal Connection to Vandalized Jewish Cemetery” by Jackson McHenry:On Monday night’s episode of Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen took a moment to address the recent spate of threats and other acts of hate against Jewish community centers across the country. Cohen noted that this news struck close to home, as his great-grandparents and many of his relatives are buried in a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis that was vandalized over the weekend. “I don’t have to have a personal connection, though, to know that this is not who we are as Americans,” he added. “We cannot allow acts of hate against anyone to become normal.”” [Vulture]

“Burned in the ovens, drowned at sea, rammed by vehicles, bombed to pieces or marched to death. Where does the world want Jews – or any of us – today?” by Erin Schrode: ““Fire up the ovens,” countless people have told me – in emails and across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. “You’re the oven-dodging kike who doesn’t belong in America but in Hell,” I heard, reinforcing the idea that I do not belong in the country in which I was born, in which I am a citizen, in which I have created a life… I have never been more acutely aware of the fact that I am Jewish than at this moment in history, with the newfound spike in anti-Semitism and hate crimes throughout the campaign season and since the election of the new President.” [JewishJournal

“Ari and Rahm Emanuel’s Doctor Brother Ezekiel Joins Fox News” by The Wrap’s Brian Flood: “Emanuel, the brother of Hollywood agent Ari and Chicago mayor Rahm, will offer healthcare and policy analysis across Fox News and Fox Business Network. From January 2009 until January 2011, Emanuel served as a Special Advisor on Health Policy to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council in former President Barack Obama’s administration, where he was notably one of the designers of the Affordable Care Act.” [Yahoo]

CONDOLENCES: “Steven Spielberg’s Mother, Leah Adler, Dies at 97” by Dave McNary: “Steven Spielberg’s mother, Leah Adler, known for operating The Milky Way restaurant in Los Angeles, died Tuesday at her Los Angeles home surrounded by her children. She was 97… She told “60 Minutes” that Steven Spielberg “ran the family” and remembered him fighting back against anti-Semitic neighbors: “We lived in an all non-Jewish neighborhood. These people used to chant, “The Spielberg’s are dirty Jews.” And one night, Steve climbed out of his bedroom window and peanut buttered their windows, which I thought was marvelous.” She is survived by her four children along with 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.” [Variety; JewishJournal]

DESSERT: “Food and Wine Festival to feature Israeli cuisine” by Sergio Carmona: “Israeli and kosher cuisines will be included during the 16th annual Food Network and Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival. This festival, taking place from Feb. 22-26 in Miami Beach, will include a few dinners during the festival hosted by Israeli chefs such as Uri Jeremias, Alon Shaya and Michael Solomonov…. The festival has paired up Shaya — whose namesake Shaya in New Orleans is the reigning Best New U.S. Restaurant according to the James Beard Foundation — with local bread man Zak the Baker (Zak Stern) and a handful of other chefs to host the festival’s second Kosher event in its history. Look forward to a cornucopia of grilled meats, crusty breads and creative takes on barbecue, with sides, all paired with wine, beer, cider and tequila cocktails.” [SunSentinel; MiamiHerald]

BIRTHDAYS: Chief strategist for both Obama presidential campaigns, now director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and a CNN commentator, David Axelrod turns 62… Winner of multiple awards and fellowships as a poet, essayist and educator (Temple U and Drew U among others), was the first ever poet laureate of New Jersey, Gerald Stern turns 92… Psychologist specializing in personality theory and social psychology, professor at Harvard (1958-1962), Stanford (1962-1983) and Columbia (1983-present), Walter Mischel turns 87… 1969 winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Dutch singer-songwriter especially popular in France, she converted to Judaism and her children live in Israel, Lenny Kuhr turns 67… President of the New York Yankees since January 2000, executive producer for the YES Network, Randy Levine turns 62… Winner of five major golf championships and 24 other LPGA Tour championships, member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, now a golf course architect, Amy Alcott turns 61… Program coordinator at Cincinnati’s Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, Lisa Shusterman turns 58… Actress, comedian and cast member of Saturday Night Live (1999-2006), her 2012 autobiography is titled “Girl Walks Into a Bar: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters and a Midlife Miracle,” Rachel Dratch turns 51… Israeli soccer player (1990-2004) on domestic teams, on the Israeli national team and on European teams in both Spain and Turkey, now a successful Israeli businessman, Haim Michael Revivo turns 45… Miranda May turns 24 (h/t Nate Rosen)… Jacob Herber… Chloe Staton

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 finally denounces anti-Semitism after Hillary, others call him out | Kahlon reaches out to Mnuchin | Charlie Munger on Maimonides

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KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: On the sidelines of the Conference of Presidents meeting in Jerusalem, Malcolm Hoenlein told Kafe Knesset he plans to initiate a high level world leader summit to combat the recent rise in anti-Semitism. “Anti-Semitism is a virus that you have to counter before it metastasizes and impacts everyone. Fighting anti-Semitism is key to fighting all forms of racism and bigotry. It is not exclusive. That’s why I’m calling for convening a world conference to be lead by leaders in Europe and around the world including Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister May, President Trump — like we did on Soviet Jewry in the 70s – and make it a declaration of war against anti-Semitism and bigotry that will make it clear that its unacceptable and that we will mobilize resources collectively to fight the spread of hate on the Internet.”

Kafe Knesset: There are calls for President Trump to speak out much more clearly about anti-Semitism…

Hoenlein: “I have said that clearly the President is not an anti-Semite and these kinds of charges are irresponsible and certainly counterproductive to the purpose that we all share, which is to fight anti-Semitism. Every society has haters and the way to judge it is how do those in authority stand up and speak out against it — law enforcement, opinion holders, religious leaders, academics. Do they stand up and speak out against it? And do they show that they have a policy of zero tolerance?”

Kafe Knesset: Wouldn’t step one be naming anti-Semitism — the White House appears to be dodging that term and referring to general hate crimes?

Hoenlein: “Hate crimes is a general category but the specific issue is anti-Semitism and you have to name and shame. You can’t just say that crimes took place when there are robberies, shootings and other categories. The fact is, that the increase in the number of attacks against Jews is larger than against other groups. It is a unique category and should be addressed as such. I hope that everyone will join in being clear about it.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Ivanka Trump Calls for Tolerance After Threats on Jewish Centers” by Maggie Haberman and Niraj Chokshi: “President Trump’s oldest daughter and a convert to Judaism issued a statement over Twitter on Monday calling for “religious tolerance” after a new wave of threats against Jewish community centers. The tweet was Ms. Trump’s most vocal foray into a public discussion and was made over an issue her allies say she feels personally… putting her in a position to be a prominent voice at a moment when a number of anti-Semitic episodes have taken place around the country… In addition to Ms. Trump’s statement, the Trump administration addressed the issue more directly on Monday. “Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom,” Lindsay Walters, the White House deputy press secretary, said in a statement. “The president has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.”” [NYTimes; NBCNews]

Vandals wreck headstones at historic Jewish cemetery in St. Louis: “Karen Aroesty, the regional director for the St. Louis-area Anti-Defamation League, was alerted to the damage at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery and did a walk-through Monday afternoon. Aroesty said she was appalled at what she saw. Police, who are reviewing security footage, would not say whether they are considering the incident a hate crime… The vandalism occurred the same day as 11 Jewish community centers received bomb threats, the fourth wave of threats this year… The Chesed Shel Emeth Society has been serving the St. Louis Jewish community for more than 125 years.” [USAToday]

NYT’s reporter Niraj Chokshi tweets: “Just got off the phone with Anita Feigenbaum, executive director of the vandalized Jewish orthodox cemetery outside St. Louis. She estimates 170-200 headstones toppled, mostly late-1800’s to mid-1900’s. In the oldest section, so some damage may not be new. Kids being kids? Those stones are heavy and a LOT were toppled. She’s not inclined to buy that.” [Twitter]

“Trump’s Silence on Jewish Centers Bomb Scare Encourages anti-Semites, Experts Say” by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “Even Mort Klein… a leading Trump defender, said the president should issue a statement. “President Trump should come out as soon as possible against these phone threats and make it clear that we in America will not tolerate this kind of disgraceful hatred toward Jews,” said Klein… Klein said that anti-Semites are active precisely because Trump so appreciates Jews and Israel. “It is possibly a response by Jew haters to a president who has been extremely supportive of Israel, who has Orthodox Jewish children and grandchildren, and this is making people with hatred toward Jews miserable. And they’re acting out of frustration and misery,” he said.” [Haaretz]

Chelsea Clinton: “2 months into 2017: JCC bomb threats, synagogue defamed, subway swastikas, Jewish cemetery desecrated. NOW will Trump condemn antisemitism?” [Twitter

Hillary Clinton: “JCC threats, cemetery desecration & online attacks are so troubling & they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out, starting w/ @POTUS.” [Twitter]

NYT’s Maggie Haberman on CNN’s “New Day” program this morning: Trump’s silence “stands in stark contrast to the number of any wide range of things that he chooses to weigh in on… He has been incredibly quiet on this. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, did tweet about this. But again, missing from her tweet and missing from the WH statement is the word ‘Jew.’ It could be about anything.” [SnappyTV]

FINALLY — Heard Just Now — Trump on MSNBC: “Anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s going to stop, it has to stop.” Q: So you’re denouncing it now, once and for all? Trump: “Oh of course, I do it wherever I get a chance, I do it.” [Video]

WH aide Boris Epshteyn on Trump’s Holocaust statement in interview with Israel’s Channel 10: “I am very proud to be part of a diverse and inclusive team with a lot of folks of Jewish background — a lot of Jews here at the White House… That statement beautifully honored and commemorated the great sacrifice of the Jewish people and the unfathomable atrocities suffered by the Jewish people including my ancestors who were killed in the Holocaust.”

Epshteyn on Trump’s settlement policy: “I don’t think there is much to elaborate on. The President was very clear in his words. We are not going to negotiate this publicly, but the President was clear what he said during the press conference, and then he had a very productive meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. The goal is peace… The President is open to whatever the best solution is for peace and that may be a two-state solution, maybe it’s not. But the President is absolutely focused on [achieving] peace in the Middle East.” [JewishInsider

TRANSITION: “Trump Chooses H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser” by Peter Baker: “This was the second time [John] Bolton… has been considered and rejected for a high-level post in Mr. Trump’s administration. Mr. Trump made a point on Monday of praising Mr. Bolton and saying that he would find a position for him in his administration eventually. “We had some really good meetings with him. Knows a lot. He had a good number of ideas that I must tell you I agree very much with,” the president said. “So we’ll be talking with John Bolton in a different capacity.”” [NYTimes

“Trump Taps General Who Doesn’t Back Down” by Kimberly Dozier: “H.R. McMaster is one of the most impressive army officers of his generation—a rare combination of soldier and scholar,” said Max Boot, a military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations… “But not even the most talented individual will succeed in that job as long as Bannon and Kushner continue to run their own foreign policies and as long as Trump continues to make outlandish statements questioning basic American commitments and valued allies.” [DailyBeast] • Andrew Exum: Trump Gets an Upgrade at National Security Advisor [TheAtlantic]

Bill Kristol: “I say this honestly and non-snarkily: I can’t imagine anyone better prepared for the challenges of being Trump’s NSA than H.R. McMaster.” [Twitter

ISRAEL ANGLE — from April 14, 2016: “The Secret U.S. Army Study That Targets Moscow” by Bryan Bender: “Oddly enough, the model for the new effort is the Army’s detailed study of a war fought 43 years ago, one that most people have forgotten about. As a guide to this new major review, Politico has learned, McMaster is dusting off the Army’s landmark after-action review of the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Moscow’s then-proxies, Egypt and Syria.” [Politico] • In a 2008 publication, McMaster wrote that the Israeli army “was not prepared for the mission” and “had unrealistic expectations” in ’06 Lebanon war with Hezbollah [Twitter; Survival]

— In 2012 Speech, Incoming National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster Emphasized Importance of Remembering the Holocaust [Algemeiner

“In Policy Dissent, Jim Mattis Wields Influence” by  Gordon Lubold and Julian E. Barnes: “Republicans say there is a degree of consternation with Mr. Mattis in the White House, partly because of his desire to install in key Pentagon posts Democrats or Republicans who were critical of Mr. Trump during the campaign… Mr. Trump subsequently has altered his stance on the value of NATO, but maintained that European allies should pay more for collective defense… On other issues, there appears to be more daylight between Mr. Mattis and the president… Mr. Mattis has also taken a different stance on Russia than Mr. Trump, although there are signs the administration is moving his way.” [WSJ]

“I didn’t think I’d ever leave the CIA. But because of Trump, I quit” by Ned Price: “To be clear, my decision had nothing to do with politics, and I would have been proud to again work under a Republican administration open to intelligence analysis. I served with conviction under President George W. Bush, some of whose policies I also found troubling… But this administration has flipped that dynamic on its head: The politicians are the ones tuning out the intelligence professionals.” [WashPost]

INTERESTS: “Seeking to secure Sinai, Egypt builds closer ties with Hamas” by Lin Noueihed: “After years of strained relations, Egypt is moving closer to Hamas in Gaza, offering concessions on trade and free movement in return for moves to secure the border against Islamic State fighters who have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in northern Sinai. “We want cooperation in controlling the borders and tunnels, the handover of perpetrators of armed attacks and a boycott of the Muslim Brotherhood. They want the crossing to be opened and more trade,” one senior Egyptian security source said.” [Reuters]

Kahlon reaches out to Mnuchin — by Tal Shalev: After the Netanyahu-Trump meeting last week, other senior cabinet ministers have started reaching out to their new US counterparts. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met with Secretary Mattis last weekend at the Munich Security Conference, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has also contacted his new American partner, Steve Mnuchin, in recent days. Kafe Knesset has obtained a copy of the letter Kahlon sent out to the new Treasury Secretary after his confirmation earlier this month, in which he expresses his hope and will to developing strong economic cooperation and strategic partnerships and wished him good luck on the job.

“On behalf of the Government of Israel and myself personally it gives me great pleasure to congratulate you on your confirmation,” Kahlon, who had a very friendly relationship with former Secretary Lew, wrote to Mnuchin. “Your consummate experience in the financial services industry provides you with a unique perspective for the challenging position. Furthermore it is my firm belief that advancing our strong economic ties will not only foster continued economic success but will also contribute to a strengthening of the unshakeable and crucial bond between the United States and Israel.” [JewishInsider]

TWO STATES: “Singaporean PM, hosting Netanyahu, endorses ‘two-state’ plan” by Annabelle Liang: “Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, hosting a visit by his Israeli counterpart, acknowledging the “very complex situation” between Palestinians and Israel, Lee [Lee Hsien Loong] called for direct negotiations that will ensure “progress toward a just and durable solution to this long-standing and often, unfortunately violent conflict… Afterward, at a state dinner, [Netanyahu] said he believes there is an opportunity to seek peace now “because I sense a great change in the Arab world… and I hope … to be able to use that newfound attitude toward Israel to help us solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well.”” [AP]

“Netanyahu’s Planned Visit to Australia Is Met With Opposition” by Jacqueline Williams: “Sixty notable Australians, including political, religious, cultural and business figures, have signed a letter opposing Mr. Netanyahu’s visit because of his government’s policies toward the Palestinians… Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, an advocacy group, called the statements in the letter “misplaced, illogical and counterproductive,” but he said he did not think they would affect Mr. Netanyahu’s visit.” [NYTimes] • Shorten in his own two-state dilemma ahead of Netanyahu meeting [TheAustralian]

TOP TALKER: “Elor Azaria, Israeli Soldier Who Killed Wounded Assailant, Gets 18 Months in Prison” by Ian Fisher: “An Israeli soldier who shot an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the head was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Tuesday, in a case that has divided Israelis and prompted calls for his pardon… Politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have called for Sergeant Azaria to be pardoned. His lawyers have said they would appeal any sentence.” [NYT]

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **
OVERHEARD — Berkshire Hathaway Vice-Chairman Charlie Munger discussing his hero at the 2017 Daily Journal Corporation Annual Meeting — by Phil DeMuth: “My hero is Maimonides. All that philosophy, all that writing he did after working all those hours a day as a practicing physician all his life. He believed in the engaged life. I recommend that you engage life. If you spend all your time on how some politician wants it this way or that way and you’re sure you know what’s right – you’re on the wrong track. You want to do something every day where you’re coping with reality. You want to be more like Maimonides and less like Bernie Sanders.” [Forbes] h/t Mike Granoff

“These are the watches worn by some of the most powerful men in finance” by Frank Chaparro: Cliff Asness is one of the co-founders of AQR Capital Management, a global investment firm based in Connecticut, US… Asness is pictured… wearing what the Swiss watch experts at Crown & Caliber believe to be a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar. It costs a whopping $41,500 pre-owned… Despite his fortune of over $10 billion, Stephen Schwarzman isn’t flashy. The CEO of Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, uses a flip phone and prefers Swatches over luxury watches. He’s pictured in the previous slide wearing a sporty Swatch Sistem51, which retails for a modest sum of just $150.00… David Solomon is the president and co-chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs… Solomon has been photographed wearing a Shinola Runwell Chronograph. The watch retails for $750 at Shinola.” [BI

PROFILE: “New York attorney general bids to become Trump’s No. 1 enemy” by Steve Peoples: “He was once depicted as a deranged Clockwork Orange character on the cover of a newspaper owned by Trump’s son-in-law. And he faced intense anti-Semitic attacks from Trump loyalists on social media that continue even today. “It’s really vile stuff. It’s a picture of your face going into a gas chamber, your face on a lampshade,” Schneiderman told The Associated Press, acknowledging a new rash of anti-Semitism in recent weeks as he fought the new president’s travel ban.” [AP

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Why we should teach cursive writing to all kids” by Bethany Mandel: “When Jack Lew was nominated to be Treasury secretary in 2013, President Barack Obama joked that as a condition of the appointment, Lew would have to learn to sign his name more legibly. The secretary’s signature, after all, was going to appear on US currency. Lew, a New Yorker, was a city public-school student. And now the school system that produced him is hoping to iron out that particular wrinkle for any future potential Treasury secretary: New York is bringing back cursive instruction.” [NYPost

“Vatican and Rome’s Jewish Museum Team Up for Menorah Exhibit” by Elisabetta Povoledo: “”This is a historic event,” Ruth Dureghello, the president of Rome’s Jewish community, said at a news conference on Monday… The exhibit, “Menorah: Worship, History, Legend,” which includes about 130 artifacts, will open in May and will be presented at the Vatican Museums and at Rome’s Jewish Museum. The collaboration between the two institutions will finally transform longstanding dialogue into something “concrete,” Ms. Dureghello said… “As soon as news of the exhibit will be printed in newspapers, everyone will say, ‘Finally, the Vatican has dug out the original menorah,’” Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, joked on Monday.” [NYTimes]

“Meet the volunteers who are risking their lives to save Jewish history in the Middle East” by Emily Feldman: “One of the higher-profile Jewish heritage sites lost to the fighting in Syria was the centuries-old Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in a suburb of Damascus… Eddie Ashkenazie, a Diarna researcher from Brooklyn with roots in Syria, has been closely following the destruction. He felt a new determination in his work after watching aerial footage shot in the ancient Syrian city of Homs… Ashkenazie has been scouting out Brooklyn synagogues with Syrian congregants whose memories of Jewish sites might still be fresh. “I tell them what I do, and they’re like, ‘Oh, bring us your pictures tomorrow, bring us your maps,’” he says. “Just yesterday, after prayer services a group of men helped me [locate] synagogues in Damascus.” After the meeting, he returned to his office and added the synagogues to Diarna’s expanding database of sites.” [Newsweek

LIFE LESSONS: “Psychologists explain why name-dropping basically always backfires” by Leah Fessler: “If you truly belong to an in-group, after all, you don’t need to go around boasting about your membership in it. So by associating with someone who is an “insider,” you inadvertently confirm the outside status you seek to obscure.” [Quartz

BIRTHDAYS: President of Yale University Peter Salovey (Soloveitchik) turns 59… Award winning science fiction and mystery author of more than 20 novels and 40 short stories, Richard A. Lupoff turns 82… Developer of the L’Ermitage Beverly Hills in 1976, subsequently for some time the owner of the Bel Age and Mondrian hotels, Severyn Ashkenazy turns 81… Billionaire, philanthropist, film executive, co-founder of Dreamworks and noted collector of American artists’ work, David Geffen turns 74… Special Assistant to President Trump for Legislative Affairs, previously Chief of Staff for Senator Ted Cruz (2014-2017) after 12 years at the US House Republican Study Committee (2001-2013), Paul Teller turns 46… Reality televison star with frequent appearances on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” Jonathan Cheban turns 43… NYT bestselling novelist (two of which have been made into movies), writer-in-residence in the graduate creative writing program at NYU, Jonathan Safran Foer turns 40… Chicago Cubs player best known for being hit in the head on the first pitch of his MLB debut resulting in a a compound skull fracture, Adam Greenberg turns 36… Chicago White Sox pitcher who picked up two saves for the Israeli team at the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifier, Brad Goldberg turns 27… Israeli rhythmic gymnast who competed in the 2012 Olympics and other international gymnastic events as a member of the Israeli team, Polina Zakaluzny turns 25… Professional tennis player who in 2015 was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, Noah Rubin turns 21… Bob Sherman (h/t son Jake, Playbook)… Miriam Fischer

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Daily Kickoff: Why Trump Needs an Enemy | Bolton for National Security Advisor? | Pence visits Dachau | The Australian moguls planning to greet Bibi

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IF YOU ONLY READ ONE ITEM — Bret Stephens delivered the annual Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA last Thursday: “If a public figure tells a whopping lie once in his life, it’ll haunt him into his grave. If he lies morning, noon and night, it will become almost impossible to remember any one particular lie. Outrage will fall victim to its own ubiquity. It’s the same truth contained in Stalin’s famous remark that the death of one man is a tragedy but the death of a million is a statistic.” [FullText] • Watch the speech [YouTube]

“White House chief of staff says take Trump seriously when he calls press “the enemy”” — by Reena Flores: “When Dickerson asked again whether the press was necessarily “the enemy,” Priebus responded: “I think that the media should stop with this unnamed source stuff. Put names on a piece of paper and print it. If people aren’t willing to put their name next to a quote, then the quote shouldn’t be listed.” [FaceTheNation]Bill Kristol: “Amusing, from someone who’s often been an unnamed source” [Twitter]

“Fake News Or White House Manipulation?” by Ben Shapiro: “Why didn’t the White House just disown the proposal immediately upon request for comment? According to Nate Silver, “Because then they can decry the press for reporting “fake news.” The White House has used this tactic several times already.” There’s no excuse for going silent with the media simply in order to castigate their credibility for issuing factually true reports. No wonder nobody knows what to believe anymore.” [DailyWire]

“Why Trump Needs an Enemy” by Ryan Lizza: “Last week, a senior White House official shared a candid theory with me about why President Donald Trump and his team have been adrift since November: they’ve yet to adjust to the post-election reality, and they haven’t yet learned how to operate without a single, common enemy—Hillary Clinton—to focus on. It was a frank admission that a team built for winning a campaign has so far failed at governing… the big debate inside the White House has been who to define as Trump’s “enemy.” At his press conference on Thursday, Trump appeared to settle the issue by declaring—or reigniting—a war on the media. This was the target that Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, who calls the press “the opposition party,” favored.” [NewYorker]

TRUMP TUMULT: “Donald Trump fires senior national security staffer for criticizing him” by Tom McKay: “According to one source, [Craig] Deare confirmed reports that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has significant influence over foreign policy and has worked with Bannon to design strategy in isolation from NSC directorates.” [Mic] • Former Mossad chief: Maybe Flynn was thrown under the bus to protect Trump [JPost

“A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates” by Megan Twohey and Scott Shane: “The proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker… When Mr. Cohen met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office in early February, he said, he left the proposal in Mr. Flynn’s office. Mr. Cohen said he was waiting for a response when Mr. Flynn was forced from his post.” [NYTimes

John Bolton for National Security Adviser? — by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman: “[John] Bolton does have support from two important donors to Mr. Trump, according to people briefed on the White House process: the casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson and the philanthropist Rebekah Mercer. Mr. Bolton… would presumably continue the tough approach begun by Mr. Flynn of pressuring Tehran over its ballistic missile program and its sponsorship of terrorist groups.” [NYTimes

“Trump ignores ‘the grown-ups’ in his Cabinet” by Eli Stokols and Josh Dawsey: “President Donald Trump this week abruptly dropped the nation’s commitment to a two-state solution for Middle East peace — without reviewing the specifics of his new strategy with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. State Department officials and Tillerson’s top aides learned about the president’s comments in real time, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation. Tillerson himself was in the air when Trump announced the change in the longstanding U.S. position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the White House, there was little thought about notifying the nation’s top diplomat because, as one senior staffer put it, “everyone knows Jared [Kushner] is running point on the Israel stuff.” … He has been annoyed, two sources say, but has not yet gone “off the deep end at the White House,” according to one of these people. He has tried to strike a diplomatic tone. Much of that, another source said, is due to his solid personal relationship with Kushner.” [Politico

“Trump Has No Foreign Policy” by Jon Finer: “On Israel, Trump made a confounding, Dr. Seussian statement about the peace process… while standing next to a bemused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Did that mean, as many news accounts suggested, that he abandoned the longstanding U.S. commitment to Palestinian statehood? Was he simply saying, in true dealmaker fashion, that what’s good enough for the Israelis and the Palestinians is good enough for him? Was it a throwaway line to save Netanyahu some political heartburn back at home?” [Politico

Matt Nosanchuk, former WH Jewish Liaison and State Dept. official under President Obama, tells us: “When the President speaks, one’s typical reaction is to take it as a reflection of policy. But I also don’t believe that this president puts the kind of thought into and preparation into it when he makes statements like that… I don’t see the statement like one-state, that one comment as particularly well thought out, but it certainly on its face departed from official policy of the administration. Clearly, the subsequent statements by Ambassador Nikki Haley (on the two-state solution) doesn’t suggest that it’s being written into official policy. I think it remains to be seen what that means.”

Does AIPAC Prefer Pence Over Trump at Policy Conference? — by Jacob Kornbluh and Aaron Magid: “Every time Trump speaks there is a layer of unpredictability. There is no doubt of that,” Tevi Troy explained to Jewish Insider. Troy added, “Look, I think it makes sense for all involved. Pence has a long history of being very, very pro-Israel. I think if Pence speaks there still might be some people who want to protest, but I think if the AIPAC folks said we’ve got to treat the administration and the Vice President with respect, then that would probably be heeded. But, I don’t think AIPAC is as confident that the same would happen if Trump were to speak.” [JewishInsider]

“Trump, an Outsider Demanding Loyalty, Struggles to Fill Top Posts” by Peter Baker and Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “During President Trump’s transition to power, his team reached out to Elliott Abrams for help building a new administration. Mr. Abrams, a seasoned Republican foreign policy official, sent lists of possible candidates for national security jobs. One by one, the answer from the Trump team came back no. The reason was consistent: This one had said disparaging things about Mr. Trump during the campaign; that one had signed a letter opposing him. Finally, the White House asked Mr. Abrams himself to meet with the president about becoming deputy secretary of state, only to have the same thing happen — vetoed because of past criticism. Richard N. Haass, a former Republican official and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said Mr. Trump had “ruled out much of an entire generation of Republican public policy types” and alarmed others with his empowerment of Stephen K. Bannon… to shape national security.” [NYTimes]

TOP TALKER: “Kerry Offered Netanyahu Regional Peace Plan in Secret 2016 Summit With al-Sissi, King Abdullah” by Barak Ravid: “When Kerry came to Israel on November 24(2014), Netanyahu informed him that the proposals he had presented just two weeks before were no longer on the table. Kerry, who was shocked at Netanyahu’s backtrack, met with [Isaac] Herzog the same day to explore whether the possibility of Zionist Union joining the government was a realistic one. Herzog’s reply did nothing to improve Kerry’s mood… Kerry left the region frustrated and angry.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: Recuperating from a slight stroke just two weeks ago and struggling with negative opinion polls, the vibrant discussion of the summit brought Herzog back to the spotlight and to his element. In July, Herzog’s seat as Labor Party leader is up for grabs, and news of the summit gives Herzog the perfect explanation for… his ongoing contacts with Netanyahu: that there was a historic opportunity which justified forming a unity government. “What happened was amazing,” Herzog said today, speaking to the Conference of Presidents annual gathering in Jerusalem. “I worked with Netanyahu on a draft appendix to our agreement, which had included certain steps that were quite dramatic. Had these steps been agreed upon, namely, had he agreed at the end to go for it, it would have changed the region. Netanyahu simply reneged on basic understandings which we had. These understandings, had they been fulfilled, would have prevented the catastrophe of UN Security Council vote. History will judge Netanyahu on that failure, unfortunately,” he said. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

“Netanyahu: Trump and I agreed to form team on settlements” by Liran Levy and Elisha Ben-Kimon: “We also agreed to create a team in an area that we have not previously agreed on: I mean, of course, on settlement in Judea and Samaria,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting… “The alliance between Israel and the US has always been steadfast but, I told them there and also here in Jerusalem: This alliance has become even stronger,” Prime Minister Netanyahu, who returned from Washington on Friday, added. “There is a personal connection of many years between President Trump and myself, and it is important.” [Ynet

— “Netanyahu told the cabinet… that a joint team led by Israel’s ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer and Trump’s adviser Jason Greenblatt will seek to reach understandings on the subject.” [Haaretz]

“Minister: Israel expects Trump to keep vow to move embassy to Jerusalem” by Yonah Jeremy Bob: “The government expects President Trump will meet his obligations to his voters and move the [US] embassy to Jerusalem,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Monday… She added, “I definitely think the embassy should move to Jerusalem and hope he will keep his promise.” Shaked also addressed… the drop in support for Israel among US Democrats… “I am concerned about…decreasing support for Israel in the Democratic party. I almost didn’t sleep at night after I saw a poll two weeks ago” of dropping support – calling the drop “a strategic issue for Israel.” [JPost]

“Top Jewish American Leader Gives Thumbs Up to David Friedman as Israel Envoy” by Judy Maltz: “Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem, Stephen Greenberg, the chairman of the the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, said he was impressed by the performance of U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick for Israel ambassador during last Thursday’s confirmation hearing… “He is very well thought of as a creditor-debtor lawyer,” said Greenberg. “He has the confidence of the president. Certainly he is knowledgeable, and he is articulate. “I think he has made some statements that he has come back and modified, and I think that given his background, his family lineage, his love for this country, and his general intellect – he has all the makings.”” [Haaretz

HEARD YESTERDAY – President Reuven Rivlin at the opening dinner of the Conference of Presidents’ annual leadership mission: “We cannot allow Israel to be a political football between different sides, between different ideologies. Support for Israel must and will always remain a bipartisan issue. I also want to send from here, my warm wishes to President Trump, and I hope he is able to visit us soon.” [Pic

— Lapid stresses need for bipartisan U.S. support: “It’s clear that anti-Trump sentiment is a big issue in the Jewish community, we’re at the risk of losing a generation. The majority, around 70%, are Democrats and that increases with young people. We’re not doing a good enough job and some of it is because internal political issues – foreign affairs are split between six ministers and public diplomacy between five. It is mishandled in too many ways. It is OK to celebrate that we have what seems to be a friendlier administration but we have to remember that one of the sources of Israel’s strength in the United States is that we were always bipartisan. It will be a huge mistake to affiliate ourselves with one party. The Prime Minister is considered, not entirely through any fault of his own, to be an Israeli Republican and if this is the case we have to work harder on approaching Democrats not only in the House and the Senate but on campuses, in cities and across states. It should be a joint venture between Israel and American Jewish leaders to make sure we remain a bipartisan issue.” [KafeKnesset]

“A top Jewish leader urges Trump act against anti-Semitism” by The Associated Press: “Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, says: “I think that the president helps set the tone for a country. … I’m hopeful that what he said about … addressing hate and racism of all kinds in American society will be translated into clear action.” Hoenlein spoke in Jerusalem on Sunday.” [AP

“Vice President Pence visits former Nazi concentration camp” by Kevin Liptak: “It also came the same week that President Donald Trump himself faced two public questions about a rise in anti-Semitic attacks, which he downplayed, refused to condemn, and challenged as an effort to undermine his presidency… Pence’s visit was meant as a public show of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust, many of whom passed through Dachau on their way to death at Auschwitz… Pence didn’t offer a specific message during his visit… Instead he quietly toured the cell blocks and other buildings with a guide and a survivor, Abba Naor.” [CNN

Pence ‏tweeted after the visit: “Moving and emotional tour of Dachau today. We can never forget atrocities against Jews and others in the Holocaust.” [Twitter

HEARD OVER THE WEEKEND — Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, defended Trump’s refusal to acknowledge and address the rise of anti-Semitic incidents since his election. “Of course, the President should speak out against Anti- Semitism. But we shouldn’t select the venue for him,” Rabbi Hier said in an interview with CNN’s John Berman. “Maybe we should say to the President at a time that he’s comfortable in the very near future,” Hier suggested in his interview with CNN. “He should address Anti-Semitism and bigotry. But let’s be very clear, Anti-Semitism and bigotry preceded President Trump.” [JewishInsider

“Why Trump Can’t Answer Questions About Anti-Semitism” by Peter Beinart: “Presidents are supposed to show empathy for their anxious constituents. But when it comes to anti-Semitism, the only person Trump shows empathy for is himself.” [TheAtlantic]

“Is anti-Semitism truly on the rise in the U.S.? It’s not so clear” by Mark Oppenheimer: “While there is real anti-Semitism, we have no reliable statistics available to show there’s been a rise in anti-Semitism since Trump’s election. And while it’s easy for some to blame Trump for all acts of bigotry, we should discern what’s new from what we’re simply noticing for the first time… In any case, there is no good statistical evidence (yet, anyway) that Americans have grown more anti-Semitic in recent months.” [WashPost

ON THE HILL: ”U.S. senators consider sanctions against Iran for missile development” by Andrea Shalal and John Irish: “I think it is now time for the Congress to take Iran on directly in terms of what they’ve done outside the nuclear programme,” Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Munich Security Conference… Senator Christopher Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee… said had backed the nuclear deal in the explicit understanding that it would not prevent Congress from taking actions against Iran outside the nuclear issue… “I don’t necessarily think there’s going to be partisan division over whether or not we have the ability as a Congress to speak on issues outside of the nuclear agreement.” [Reuters] • Saudi Arabia, Israel present de facto united front against Iran [Reuters

DNC WATCH: “Will Keith Ellison Move the Democrats Left?” by Vinson Cunningham: “In 2006, when opponents of Ellison’s congressional campaign called attention to his writings, he distanced himself from the Nation and renounced Farrakhan as an anti-Semite and a bigot. He told me that he’d thought it was a settled matter, and seemed perhaps naïvely surprised that it had become an issue for him again. Hours after the CNN story ran, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement saying that the old writings were “disqualifying” in the D.N.C. race, and the Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban called Ellison “an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual.”” [NewYorker]

“Barack Obama’s presidential library may need $1.5 billion” by Richard Johnson: “The Obama Center is due to be so expensive because it will require the construction of both a presidential library and a museum about the lives of Barack and Michelle Obama. And federal requirements now stipulate that former presidents must have larger endowments to pay for annual operating costs at the libraries. Husband-and-wife architectural team Tod Williams and Billie Tsien noted that it will be difficult to raise such a huge sum because Obama scrupulously declined to do much fundraising while he was still in office.” [NYPost]

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Tycoon Patrick Drahi Takes on the Cable Cowboy [Bloomberg] • Monzo, a UK digital-only bank, is closing in on new funding led by U.S.-based Thrive Capital [TechCrunch] • Israel’s Pivot To Asia Unfolds With OurCrowd Move To Taiwan [Forbes]

STATE VISIT: “James Packer’s no show as pal ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu visits” by Will Glasgow: “Sources say Packer is in America on business. His will be a notable non-attendance during Bibi’s three-night Australian stay. Remember, the billionaire made sure he was there early in 2015 when his prime ministerial buddy addressed the US congress in Washington… Private jets are due to fly en masse to Sydney airport as prominent members of the Melbourne Jewish community mark the occasion. Expected Melburnians along for the Sydney events — which include a business lunch where Netanyahu will be joined by PM Malcolm Turnbull — include Chadstone shopping king John Gandel (worth $5.4bn), retail mogul Solomon Lew (worth $2.31bn) and Jeanne Pratt (matriarch of the $10.53bn Pratt family empire).” [TheAustralian]

SPOTLIGHT: “The Rise and Decline of the Hedge Fund Billionaire” by Gretchen Morgenson: “[Nathan] Vardi pointed to the history of hedge fund managers who have appeared on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. In 2006, there were 13 billionaires on the roster whose wealth was generated by their oversight of hedge funds… By 2015 the number of hedge fund billionaires on the list had more than doubled, to 32… But last year, the winds changed. Four managers fell off the list of the 400 richest Americans: William A. Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management; David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital; Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital Group and owner of the Milwaukee Bucks; and Nelson Peltz, of Trian Fund Management. All are still billionaires, according to the Forbes estimates, but they are no longer among the 400 wealthiest Americans.” [NYTimes]

“Trump’s In-Laws May Put Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac in Tough Spot” by Joe Light: “Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, said Kushner would comply with applicable ethics rules and would recuse himself from any discussions about overhauling Fannie and Freddie, which lawmakers have sought to do in recent years… Kushner Cos. says Jared’s White House position won’t have any effect on the family business. “The election has not changed Kushner Companies’ relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” said Kushner Cos. spokesman James Yolles.” [Bloomberg] • Kushner Took a Stricter Approach on Ethics Than Trump, Emails Show [NBCNews]

“Why Joshua Kushner nixed bid to buy Miami Marlins” by Josh Kosman:“Loria was asking $1.8 billion for the Marlins, and Kushner’s offer of around $1.3 billion was looking to the outside world like a bargain. But, according to baseball insiders, it was not. A rival suitor said the most he would offer would be less than $1 billion, since the Marlins lose roughly $30 million a year, already have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and have a new stadium — meaning there are no cuts to be made and no expansion possibilities to attract more revenue.” [NYPost]

PROFILE: “Jake Tapper: From Jewish Day School Troublemaker To Trump’s Worst Nightmare” by Nathan Guttman: “Those who knew the 47-year-old anchor of CNN’s “The Lead” back at Jewish day school just outside Philadelphia are not surprised to see where Tapper ended up. He has always been this way: outspoken, irreverent and very, very confident… His upbringing was fiercely Jewish: He attended high school at Akiba Hebrew Academy… and Camp Ramah… Back in his Akiba Hebrew Academy days, Tapper was more about the mischief than about studying. Years later, fellow students and teachers still remember him clearly: some because he was class president, others for his cartooning talent (in the school paper and on the gym wall), but most for the pranks… All joking aside, [Hazan Harold] Messinger thinks Akiba might have helped Tapper develop his famous chutzpah.” [Forward

BIRTHDAYS: Born in Tehran, Iran, emigrated to the US in 1950, co-owner of NYC-based TF Cornerstone, owner of 8 million square feet and 7,000 apartments in NYC and DC, Kamran Thomas Elghanayan turns 72… University Professor of Social Science, Anthropology and Italian Studies at Brown University, winner of a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, David Kertzer turns 69… Founder of 18 Media, Inc. whose titles include the Gentry lifestyle magazines directed at affluent readers in the San Francisco Bay Area, M. Sloane Citron turns 61… Cantor at University Synagogue in West LA’s Brentwood area, Kerith Carolyn Spencer-Shapiro turns 47… Comedienne, actress, and writer, best known for portraying Gina Linetti on Fox’s series “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” Chelsea Peretti turns 39… Former Major League Baseball starting pitcher (2006-2008) for the Houston Astros and the Colorado Rockies, Jason Hirsh turns 35… Ethiopian-born Israeli fashion model and television personality, winnner of the Israeli version of “Big Brother,” Tahounia Rubel turns 29… Levi Shemtov (but not the DC Rabbi) turns 24… SVP of News at CBS-owned local television stations, David Friend… Senior Program Officer at Maimonides Fund, Aimee Weiss… Andrea Kachuck… David Storobin

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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’

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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…