Daily Kickoff: Saudis to allow flights to Israel to pass through its airspace | Houzz acquires fellow Israeli startup | Burgerim to San Antonio

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MEDIA WATCH — “Las Vegas Review-Journal staffers reject claims that Wynn story was a hit piece” by Tom Kludt and Hadas Gold: “To the journalists of the Las Vegas Review-Journal… the mere suggestion that the story was a hit piece commissioned by [Sheldon] Adelson is “deeply offensive.” That’s how Review-Journal managing editor Glenn Cook described it when he was asked about the speculation regarding the paper’s incredible move on Monday — admitting that it spiked a story 20 years ago detailing sexual misconduct allegations against Wynn, but was now publishing some details of the allegations… “He knew this story was coming when it landed on his driveway this morning,” Cook said.

“There’s no communication with ownership on this story. One of the things that frustrates me about any assertion that we did this story because of some interest in our owner.” A representative for Adelson echoed this, telling CNNMoney on Monday that “Mr. Adelson had nothing to do with the story, was unaware it was being published and hasn’t read it.”

“Steve Friess… who worked at the Review-Journal for three years in the 1990s, told CNNMoney that he finds it hard to believe Adelson did not know the story was coming… “The king is dying, and Adelson knows it,” Friess said. “Once Steve Wynn is gone, Sheldon Adelson is the king. There’s nobody singular like that in Vegas after him… Sheldon and Steve have always had very different lifestyles,” Friess said. “Sheldon is very religious, very serious about his Judaism. Steve always has been a flashy playboy, very much like Donald Trump.” [CNNMoney]

“Steve Wynn resigns as chair and CEO of Wynn resorts” by Mark Arsenault: “Stephen A. Wynn… resigned Tuesday night as chief executive of the casino company he founded, in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct. The Wynn Resorts Board of Directors has chosen Matt Maddox, currently president, to be CEO, and Boone Wayson to be non-executive chairman of the Board of Directors, the board said.” [BostonGlobeWSJ]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “As Memo-gate Implodes, Trump Seeks a Reset” — by Gabriel Sherman: “The president is increasingly frustrated that members of his administration aren’t going to war for him, and he’s being encouraged by his daughter Ivanka to bring in new blood… “He’s saying he should have put Rudy [Giuliani] at State and Chris Christie at Justice.” Ivanka, who’s been frustrated with Chief of Staff John Kelly, has told her father that he needs people around him that will put his interests above their own. “She wants to clean house,” a Trump friend told me. “Her view is J.F.K. had Bobby there to have his back.”

“Another scenario being discussed is that Trump could fill the strategist role with [Corey] Lewandowski and former deputy campaign manager Dave Bossie. Both… face stiff opposition from Ivanka and Jared Kushner. “They have blocked Corey at every turn. They kept him from going into [the] family box at the inaugural,” one former campaign staffer told me. “If Corey gets back in, they’re not long for the place.” [VanityFair]

WEATHER REPORT: “The Trouble Before the Storm” by Andrew Miller: “For all of the tumult of the last year, the Middle East was relatively crisis free… Without minimizing the Gulf crisis or Jerusalem situation, Trump remains untested in a military emergency. How will the administration respond if Iranian proxies in Syria kill U.S. soldiers, a Houthi rocket hits a major target in Riyadh, or Israel launches a new war in Lebanon? Nothing in this analysis instills confidence in Trump’s capacity for managing such situations.”[ForeignPolicy]

BREWING? “Syrian Air Defenses Respond to ‘New Israeli Aggression’ Near Damascus, State TV Reports” by Jack Khoury: “Syrian state media said early on Wednesday that Syrian air defenses had responded to what it described as “a new Israeli aggression” in the countryside around the Syrian capital of Damascus. Sources close to the Syrian government said Israeli missiles had targeted a “research center” in the town of Jamraya… According to reports on social media, three explosions were heard in the Damascus area.” [Haaretz• Netanyahu visits Golan Heights, near Syrian border, and cautions Israel’s enemies [Reuters]

“Neither Israel nor Hamas wants another war in Gaza. That might not be enough to stop one” by Noga Tarnopolsky and Rushdi Abu Alouf: “Gen. Yom-Tov Samia, who retired from the Israeli army as head of its southern command, noted that before each of Israel’s three recent wars with Hamas, in 2009, 2012 and 2014, “all analysts agreed they were completely unwanted by all sides.” “Sometimes you have a confluence of circumstances that leads to war without anyone actively wanting war,” he said in an interview.”[LATimes]

“Cabinet mulls artificial island for aid transfer to Gaza” by Itamar Eichner: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has directed his cabinet to look into Transit Minister Yisrael Katz’s proposal to construct an artificial island across from the Gaza coast to allow aid to be delivered from the island to Gaza itself… Israel believes that Hamas is not interested in conflict at the moment. However, if hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents take to the streets to protest harsh living conditions, Hamas might be inclined to create a conflict with Israel… “If Hamas senses that it is in existential danger and that the protests are out of control, the only way for them to extricate themselves would be to direct the fire at us,” warned a cabinet minister.” [Ynet]

“Israel needs Abbas to solve Gaza crisis” by Shlomi Eldar: “Some in Israel think Abbas’ refusal to take a stand stems not only from unresolved issues with Hamas over the stalled reconciliation process with Fatah, but also from a desire to take revenge against Trump and Netanyahu for humiliating him… And for that, Abbas would rather see Gaza’s downfall blamed on Netanyahu.” [Al-Monitor]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert: “We are calling upon the international community to sit down and have conversations about this to come up with some sort of a resolution, because it’s clear that the people of Gaza continue to suffer and it’s largely of the hands of Hamas, because Hamas has the authoritarian rule over that area… We’re glad that the Palestinian Authority has decided to restore previous levels of electricity to Gaza, but the electricity is simply not enough.”

Abbas says US cannot impose peace deal: “Raising his pen at a rally on Tuesday, he said “this is our pen and we are the only ones to sign.”” [ABCNews]

“Trump shouldn’t take Jordan for granted” by David Ignatius: “What worries Amman is that Trump’s disruptive diplomacy — symbolized by his decision in December to reverse long-standing U.S. policy and move the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — will cause internal political problems for Jordan, with its large Palestinian population. When Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas denounces Trump’s peace process, Jordan fears it will have to pick up the pieces.” [WashPost]

OLIVE BRANCH — “In Historic First, Saudi Arabia Allows Flights to Israel Over Its Airspace” by Anshel Pfeffer and Rina Rozenberg Kandel: “Saudi Arabia has granted Air India approval to operate direct flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv… Air India’s New Delhi-Tel Aviv route is the first concrete and public piece of evidence to the warming of ties between Israel and the Saudi leadership… Air India will now be able to operate a flight which will be at least three hours shorter and most likely significantly cheaper, than El Al’s Mumbai service.” [HaaretzNDTV]

RAISE FOR NICK — by Theodoric Meyer and Marianne LeVine: “Nick Muzin, whose firm, Stonington Strategies, signed Qatar as a client last summer, has gotten a raise. The Qatari government is now paying Muzin $300,000 a month, six times the $50,000 rate Muzin commanded when he was hired in August, according to Justice Department filings. The catch: The contract requires at least $150,000 per month to “be reserved for compensation of Stonington Strategies’ subcontractors, selected after written approval by the Embassy, which shall assist in performing the services required by the Agreement.” The raise took effect in November, and the contract runs through August.” [PoliticoInfluence]

ON THE HILL — Some 200 activists from across the country gathered yesterday for an event marking the eighth annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day – as part of Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month – on Capitol Hill. The event, sponsored by The Jewish Federations of North America and URJ’s Religious Action Center, featured panels by disability experts and administration officials, and a luncheon attended by Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Gene Green (D-TX), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). [Pic]

PROFILE: “The Congressman Who Infuriates the President” by Natasha Bertrand: “A GOP aide… said he doesn’t think Trump “has ever faced an adversary quite like [Rep. Adam] Schiff, and it’s freaking him out. First off, he’s a skilled prosecutor with an acid tongue, and a command of all the facts including the most deeply held classified information,” the aide told me. “Second, he’s not in leadership and therefore doesn’t have to consider being at the negotiating table like [Chuck] Schumer or [Nancy] Pelosi do. Third, he’s got a squeaky clean record (wouldn’t have ascended to that position if he didn’t) and comes from a district where when Trump lashes out at him, it only makes him more powerful and popular.”” [TheAtlantic]

2018 WATCH — “Pritzker apologizes for remarks on African-American politicians, as rivals say he’s now unelectable” by Rick Pearson, John Byrne and Monique Garcia: “Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker issued a public apology Tuesday, saying he regretted remarks he made about African-American politicians with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich during a 2008 discussion about filling Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. “I regret some of the things that I didn’t say and some of the things that I did, but my heart is in the right place — that I’ve tried really hard through the course of my life to do the right things for the African-American community and for communities across Illinois,” Pritzker said at a West Side restaurant… The apology came as other Democratic governor candidates contended Pritzker’s comments tainted the billionaire’s candidacy and would jeopardize chances for a Democratic victory in the fall.”[ChicagoTribune]

“New candidate for Massachusetts Senate president emerges” by Frank Phillips and Joshua Miller: “As Senate Democrats prepare for a tense, closed-door meeting Wednesday amid a leadership crisis… State Senator Eric P. Lesser, 32, of Longmeadow, is pulling together a politically and geographically diverse faction of other relatively new faces to the Senate… “I would feel very confident backing Eric as Senate president,’’ said Senator Anne M. Gobi of Spencer. “He would be great as well as a fresh face for the Senate.” She… said he represented a “fresh set of eyes” and would be able to lead the Senate into a new era.” [BostonGlobe]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Police Recommendations on Charges Against Netanyahu Expected Next Week” by Josh Breiner: “In recent weeks, investigators wrapped up their work in the two cases dubbed Case 1000 and Case 2000; the recommendations are expected by Tuesday.” [Haaretz]

TOP TALKER: “Poland’s Controversial Holocaust Bill Becomes Law” by Drew Hinshaw: “Poland enacted a libel law to punish those who accuse Polish society of complicity in the Holocaust, despite objections from the U.S., Israel and some Auschwitz survivors, who said it threatened to stifle honest discussion of the Nazi genocide.” [WSJ]

“The Truth About Poland’s Role in the Holocaust” by Edna Friedberg: “In 2012, President Barack Obama made reference to a “Polish death camp” when posthumously awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the Polish resistance figure Jan Karski. While Obama quickly apologized, his statement touched a nerve in the debate about Poland and Poles’ place in the universe of Nazi victims. Make no mistake: Terms such as “Polish death camps” are historically inaccurate and distort our understanding of how and why Nazi Germany came to build killing centers in that country. A clear-eyed look at the facts demonstrates that the record of Christian Poles, amid the German occupation and the crimes of the Holocaust perpetrated in their country, is not uniformly one of complicity or innocence.”

“Poland was the victim of German aggression, suffering one of the most brutal occupation regimes among countries in the Nazi orbit. Despite severe penalties, more Christian Poles have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations—those who risked their lives to aid Jews—than citizens of any other country in Europe. But many others supported and enabled Germany in its campaign to exterminate the Jews… Individual Poles also often helped in the identification, denunciation, and exposure of Jews in hiding, sometimes motivated by greed and the opportunities presented by blackmail and the plunder of Jewish-owned property.” [TheAtlantic]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: George Soros, Steve Cohen Boost Stakes in Argentine Mobile Banking Venture [Bloomberg] • Here Are the World’s Virtual Currency Billionaires (or at Least They Were) [NYT] • How Salesforce is compelling Israeli retailers to go online [JPost• Alex Taub’s SocialRank is making it easier to suss out fake Twitter and Instagram followers[FastCompany] • Clark Valberg’s InVision launches Studio Platform, challenging Adobe with an open ecosystem [TechCrunch• Delhi-Israel Flights Soon, Air India To Get 7.5M Lakh Euros For Launch [NDTV• Talks for an Israel-India anti-tank missile deal are still ongoing [CNBC

STARTUP NATION: “Houzz acquires IvyMark to expand into services for designers” by Ingrid Lunden: “IvyMark’s designer customers primarily are based in the U.S., but the company was founded in Tel Aviv and as it happens its offices are right around the corner from Houzz’s R&D offices in the city, Houzz’s co-founder and president Alon Cohen said in an interview. The team based in Israel will continue to work there, and those in California will move over to Houzz’s offices in Palo Alto, Cohen said… Cofounded by Alex Schinasi and Lee Rotenberg in 2016, IvyMark has now signed up some 2,400 design firms and under Houzz will likely be scaling that quite significantly.”[TechCrunch]

SPOTLIGHT — “Penny Pritzker’s firm gets a name change and a new office. What’s next?” by Lynne Marek: “Billionaire Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker… this week moved her firm, formerly known as PSP Capital, to a 40,000-square-foot office… “I am very excited to share the news that we have decided to acknowledge in our name the great contribution of our team and change our name to PSP Partners,” she told investment clients and other contacts outside the firm in a short note today. “We are also pleased to announce that to accommodate our growth, we have moved to a new office.” PSP currently has about 70 employees, most of whom work in Chicago. It invests in real estate, mature private companies, startups and other investment funds.” [CrainsChicago]

INTERVIEW: “The Closing: David Rozenholc” by Will Parker: “David Rozenholc is one of NYC’s most feared tenant lawyers. Over three-plus decades, Rozenholc has won millions of dollars in settlements and gone up against some of the city’s biggest developers, including the Zeckendorf brothers, Tishman Speyer and Donald Trump… You represented tenants in the ’80s against Trump at 100 Central Park South. Was he different than other developers? Rozenholc: “He was much more aggressive. He brought a $105 million RICO lawsuit against my firm. People threaten me, whatever. Nobody brought a completely frivolous RICO suit to try to convince us not to represent the clients. It made no difference. Ultimately, he paid my legal fees, the case was dismissed, he withdrew his application to evict the tenants and demolish the building.” [TheReaDeal]

SPORTS BLINK: “Israeli players ‘honored’ to represent country in Davis Cup” by Dzevad Mesic: “Israel handed a 3-2 defeat to South-Africa in the Europe/Africa first round to set up a second-round clash against the Czech Republic… “The Israeli players regard it as a great honor representing their country – and reserve their best performances for the Davis Cup,” [Captain Harel] Levy said.” [TennisWorldUSA]

PROFILE: “The Israeli Taking Concrete Steps to Save Marine Life” by Merav Savir: “Shimrit Perkol-Finkel’s office sits in an industrial section of Tel Aviv, a few kilometers from the shorelines of the Mediterranean. Outside are warehouses, garages and a smattering of food joints. A concrete jungle, if you will. From the midst of this concrete jungle, Perkol-Finkel, a 42-year-old marine biologist and CEO of ECOncrete, is working to save urban marine life by using a new type of concrete, one she and her business partner, Ido Sella, patented in 2011.” [Ozy]

COMING SOON — “Gal Gadot to Voice Herself in Upcoming ‘The Simpsons’ Episode” by Beatrice Verhoeven: “Gal Gadot will voice herself in an upcoming episode of “The Simpsons,” the actress announced on Twitter Monday… Gadot will star in an episode titled “Bart’s Not Dead” airing in during season 30, which will debut next fall.” [TheWrap]

“Israeli actress to star in NBC drama” by Amy Spiro: “Moran Atias… has just been cast in an upcoming NBC drama called The Village. The Village, which NBC picked up for its 2018-2019 season, tells the story of a diverse group of residents living in a Manhattan apartment building… According to Deadline, Atias will be playing Edda, an Iranian immigrant who is detained by immigration officers over fraudulent citizenship papers.” [JPost]

“Can a Film Push Israelis Into Peace Talks?” by Justin Higginbottom: “The Oslo Diaries, directed by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan, tells the secret history of the 1993 peace talks between the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Israeli government… Daniel Sivan: “It makes me feel old, but this historic handshake [between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin] was over 20 years ago. That means that a 20-year-old Israeli soldier today, or a 20-year-old Palestinian who crosses a checkpoint and meets that soldier, has never lived in those years of hope. I really hope this film can give them this glance into a different reality.” [OZY]

“Thirsty for Wisdom of the Body, Finding It in Dance” by Brian Schaefer: “Facing each other, Rabbi [Hanania] Schwartz and Mr. [Yuval] Azoulay alternately adopted opposing postures meant to represent the extremes of modern Jewish and Israeli masculinity: One was bent over, as if studying in a yeshiva; the other upright, chest thrust out like a soldier or farmer. “These are the archetypes,” said Ronen Izhaki, who choreographed the piece. After laying them out, “we destroy them, we mix them together.” The excerpt is from a work called “Heroes,” which is to be performed on Wednesday at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan when the Ka’et Ensemble, a contemporary dance company of religious Jewish men from Israel, makes its American debut.” [NYTimes]

TRANSITION — Steven Hodas, an innovator and business entrepreneur, was appointed as ADL’s Vice President of Education. Hodas, who served in New York City Department of Education’s Office of Innovation in the years 2012-2014, will be responsible for creating and implementing a strategic vision for ADL’s educational programming.

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Buffalo area’s second-last kosher restaurant closes in Jewish Community Center” by Andrew Z. Galarneau: “Tel Aviv Café by Falafel Bar, the kosher restaurant inside the Jewish Community Center in Amherst, closed Feb. 5 after losing its kosher certification. Chef-owner Oded Rauvenpoor said that factional disputes in the Buffalo area’s Jewish community made it infeasible to continue the restaurant’s operations… The café’s closing leaves NY Deli and Diner, in Talbert Hall on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus, as the only BVK-approved restaurant in the area… Rauvenpoor said he was disappointed but thankful to all the staff and customers at JCC who made it possible.” [BuffaloNews]

DESSERT: “Israeli burger Burgerim franchise opening first San Antonio location” by Paul Stephen: “Burgerim is an Israeli chain launched in Tel Aviv in 2011. The name, in Hebrew, is the plural form of “burger,” and reinforces the brand’s focus on a mix-and-match mini-burger approach… Chris and Brenda Branchizio, the third generation of Branchizio restaurateurs behind the late Branchizio’s Naples Italian Restaurant in Alamo Heights, will open the city’s first Burgerim franchise.” [Chron]

“Abigael’s Takes Over Kosher Stand at MSG for Knicks & Rangers Games” by Dani Klein: “After recently bowing out of the Barclay Center, Abigael’s by Jeff Nathan has taken over the kosher stand inside Madison Square Garden, replacing Carlos & Gabby’s for Knicks & Rangers games.” [YeahThatsKosher]

BIRTHDAYS: Milwaukee-born businessman and philanthropist, former US Senator from Wisconsin (1989-2013), and former owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, Herb Kohl turns 83… and also born in Milwaukee on the same date 16 years later, Senior Rabbi of Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto, president of the Toronto Board of Rabbis (2012-2015), Baruch Frydman-Kohl turns 67… French native, now living in West Roxbury, MA, he is a financial advisor for the Bulfinch Group, Michel R. Scheinmann turns 70… Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives since 2010, previously the Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (1988-2010), Robyn Gabel turns 65… Rick Wice turns 62… American businessman and investor arrested in Bolivia in July 2011 and held for 18 months without charges, freed through public outcry and the efforts of Sean Penn, Jacob Ostreicher turns 59… Actor, humorist, comedian and writer known for his Saturday Night Live “TV Funhouse” cartoon shorts and as the puppeteer and voice behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Robert Smigel turns 58…

Rabbi, director of congregational learning at Har Shalom in Potomac, MD and author of Jewish children’s books and teen novels, Deborah Bodin Cohen turns 50… VP of marketing and communications at trade show manager Hargrove, Inc., previously a VP/MD at at Qorvis MSLGROUP and a producer at ABC, NBC, CBS and Discovery Channel, Jennifer Diamond Haber turns 49… MLB pitcher since 2005, has played for the Rangers, Cubs, Orioles, Astros and Blue Jays, signed to a one-year deal in 1-2017 by the Reds, now a free agent, Scott Feldman turns 35… Executive Director of the Aviv Foundation, Adam Simon turns 43… VP at Lieberman Research Worldwide, Jonathan Weissturns 42… Associate Director of Development at Chicago’s Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, previously Major Gift Officer at U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Rachael Fenton… Rabbi, spokesman and director of public relations for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Zalman Shmotkin… David Israel… Michael Harris… Carol Mulrooney

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Daily Kickoff: Howard Schultz, the dark roast 2020 candidate | When Barry Diller introduced Murdoch and Ailes | Homeland to be set in Israel again?

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TAKE IT FROM AN ELDER: “The Boss of Victoria’s Secret, Les Wexner, Bets on a Radical Idea: Smartphones Will Fade” by Khadeeja Safdar: “For a man who runs a company known for its eye-catching marketing, Wexner avoids the spotlight. A tastemaker for decades, he can be seen dressed in a simple dress shirt, tie and zippered vest. He may think smartphones have peaked, but he carries two and wears an Apple Watch with an Hermès wristband…Some investors are trying to profit by betting against Mr. Wexner, believing that his commitment to stores and malls is starting to hurt the business…”

“The internet won’t kill stores, the Columbus-based billionaire says.Moreover, the fascination with smartphones will fade. “We’re in the process of bouncing back from that,” he says in an interview. “I don’t think this is a new norm.” People crave social interaction and will seek it at places like malls. “There are times when that gets interrupted, but people want to be with other people,” he says. “I’ve got 5,000 years of history on my side,” pointing to the ancient shopping bazaars in Rome and Istanbul.” [WSJ]

LongRead: “A Kingdom from Dust: A story of power, drought, migrant labor, and an insatiable drive to expand” by Mark Arax: “Stewart Resnick is the biggest farmer in the United States, a fact he has tried to keep hidden while he has shaped what we eat, transformed California’s landscape, and ruled entire towns. But the one thing he can’t control is what he’s most dependent on — water…”

“Unlike many other billionaires, Stewart and Lynda Resnick could poke fun at themselves. During the holiday season, they sent out 4,000 gift boxes to their “nearest and dearest friends” filled with their fruits and nuts, along with a card of the two of them dressed in skin-colored body stockings, posing as Adam and Eve. “If only Eve had offered Adam a pomegranate instead of an apple,” Lynda wrote, “every day could have been a holiday.”

“Growing up in New Jersey, Resnick’s pals were all Jewish kids from upper-class families, so it wasn’t easy being the poorest one, the one whose father was a gambler and capable at any moment of losing the few comforts they had… Over the years, they had donated large sums of money to political campaigns, and some of it went to Republicans who had pledged to prop up California agriculture. This was how a billionaire who needed more water did politics. At the core, though, the Resnicks were still moved by the duty of social justice, not just as traditional liberals but as secular Jews. Stewart would deny that [John] Gibler’s reporting played a part in their philanthropy. “Look, I have no guilt. I’ve done no big wrong in my life that would cause me to have any. Well, maybe just a little guilt, but that’s Jewish.” [CaliforniaSundayMagh/t EMF

“Fraying Israel-Turkey Ties Threaten Planned Natural Gas Venture” by Yaacov Benmeleh and David Wainer: “Malcolm Hoenlein, a director at Leviathan stakeholder Delek Drilling LLP, said it’s too early to rule out a deal with Turkey, even though Erdogan has “complicated progress.” Trade continued to grow even after ties soured in 2010 over Israel’s deadly storming of a Turkish ship trying to break Israel’s Gaza blockade, noted Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations… Egypt, though, is a better option at this point “because there’s a lot to be done with the existing LNG plants there,” he said in a phone interview.” [Bloomberg]

“Hoenlein: Bridges need to be built to Democratic party” by Herb Keinon: “We can’t afford in the United States right now to lose the Democratic left,” [Conference of Presidents’s Malcolm Hoenlein] said. “We are working hard all the time, reaching out and trying to build connections.” … At the same time, Hoenlein made clear: “We welcome the support of [US] President [Donald] Trump. We are not going to sacrifice that, and say that because they don’t like it, we should dismiss him, or not express appreciation for the good that he is doing. It is a big change from where we were.”” [JPost]

DRIVING THE CONVO — “Poland’s President Supports Making Some Holocaust Statements a Crime” by Marc Santora: “President Andrzej Duda announced on Tuesday that he would sign into law a bill that makes it illegal to accuse “the Polish nation” of complicity in the Holocaust, but in a nod to critics, he asked the Constitutional Court to review the legislation. In a speech broadcast live on Polish television and radio, Mr. Duda said that he was seeking the high court’s involvement because this “very painful, delicate issue” needed to be dealt with carefully…” [NYTimes

“Polish PM says it’s too late to amend Holocaust bill” by Michael Bachner: “Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday said it was too late to amend his country’s contentious legislation… adding that “no Jews could have survived on this land without the help of a Polish family.” Morawiecki invited several Israeli journalists to his Warsaw residence in order to voice the Polish stance on the controversial law… “The response from our friends in Israel is serious and so I take that seriously,” he told Hadashot TV news… The Polish leader told the journalists that his aunt is Jewish and lives in the central Israeli city of Herzliya, and that he himself had sent his kids to a Jewish school…” [ToIVideo]

“Israeli minister ‘honored’ to be barred from Poland over Holocaust bill” by Lidia Kelly and Maayan Lubell: “Earlier on Monday, Naftali Bennett said he would travel to Poland to discuss the bill, which Israeli officials have said amounts to Holocaust denial. However Poland’s government spokeswoman said there would be no such visit. “The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it,” Bennett later said in a statement. “The government of Poland canceled my visit, because I mentioned the crimes of its people. I am honored.” [Reuters]

“On Holocaust distortion, Poland is the ‘tip of the iceberg,’ Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff says” by Raphael Ahren: “It was ironic that the Israeli government chose to speak out on Poland’s Holocaust complicity bill when it has never chastised such countries as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Croatia and Hungary, which played a more active role aiding the Nazis in their genocide of the Jews during World War II and have for decades tried to downplay their guilt.” [ToI]

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST: “Abbas sets conditions for fresh peace talks, with diminished US role” by Khaled Abu Toameh: “The Palestinians are prepared to return to the negotiating table with Israel, but only on the basis of an international multilateral mechanism, the Arab Peace Initiative and international resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday. Abbas’s comments… were made during a phone conversation with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.” [ToI

Boris Johnson: “Good to speak to President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority today. We discussed the importance of resuming peace negotiations towards a two-state solution.” [Twitter

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweets: “20 years ago I gave an ambulance to Har Bracha hoping it would be used to deliver healthy babies. Instead, a man from Har Bracha was just murdered by a terrorist, leaving behind a wife and four children. Palestinian “leaders” have praised the killer. Praying for the BenGal family.” [Twitter

“Modi to ‘Honor’ Arafat in ‘Historic Palestine Visit,’ Three Weeks After Netanyahu’s India Tour” by Noa Landau: “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the Yasser Arafat Museum in Ramallah during his official visit to the West Bank this weekend, according to the Indian Foreign Ministry. At the museum, Modi will be attending a ceremony “in the honor of the departed leader,” a senior ministry official told journalists… According to the official, the purpose of the “historic visit” is to demonstrate India’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its commitment to “deepening ties with Palestine.” … Modi is scheduled to arrive in Ramallah on February 10.”[Haaretz

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — “Trump administration is an opportunity for West Bank sovereignty, MKs say” by Lahav Harkov: “The time is right for the government to apply sovereignty to West Bank settlements in light of the Trump administration’s attitude toward Israel, said cabinet ministers, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and other MKs at a Land of Israel Caucus conference on Monday…” [JPost

“Abbas’ government sued over alleged CIA-backed wiretapping” by Mohammed Daraghmeh: “Allegations of continued intelligence-sharing with the United States could prove embarrassing for Abbas who has been on a political collision course with Washington since President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The claims are contained in a 37-page anonymous document that was been shared widely among Palestinians, mostly on WhatsApp. The document alleges that three of the Palestinian security services set up a joint electronic surveillance unit in mid-2014 and monitored the phone calls of thousands of Palestinians, from senior figures in militant groups to judges, lawyers, civic leaders and political allies of Abbas.” [AP]

COMING SOON — For the second year in a row, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley will speak at AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference at the Washington Convention Center in DC on March 4th – 6th. Haley is the first member of the Trump administration to be confirmed as a speaker. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to attend the conference after skipping it last year.

TOP TALKER: “Pro-Israel Groups Receive Letters From Al Jazeera Seeking Response for ‘Lobby’ Documentary” by Amir Tibon: “A number of pro-Israel organizations in the United States received letters from Al Jazeera on Friday, informing them their employees will appear on the Qatari-owned network’s upcoming documentary on the Israel lobby in Washington… Al Jazeera publicly admitted in October it had planted an undercover reporter inside leading pro-Israel organizations in the United States… Some said the letters indicate that the film will be broadcast within the next weeks, possibly around the time of the annual AIPAC conference in early March. Others believed the opposite was true, claiming that the Qatari government was pressuring Al Jazeera not to air the report, and that the letters are the result of an internal debate within the network about the documentary… One senior official in a pro-Israel organization called the Al Jazeera documentary a “wake-up call.”” [Haaretz

ON THE HILL — Menendez Will Retake Foreign Affairs Committee Role — by John Hudson: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has given his blessing for Sen. Bob Menendez… to return to his previous job as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee… this week, aides said… In recent years, Menendez took more money from pro-Israel donors than any other Democrat in the Senate, and members of the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC personally financed his legal defense fund as he fought corruption charges… Menendez is expected to retake the position from Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin who on Monday filed for re-election for what would be his third term.”[BuzzFeed

PROFILE: “Former Congressman Still Active At 99” by Sheri Arbital Jacoby: “Lester Wolff, a 50-year resident of the peninsula who turned 99 on Jan. 4, is the oldest former Congress member… In fact, he tweets every day at @repwolff and four or five years ago, began streaming Ask Congress, the show he hosted on PBS for many years… Wolff was born in New York City and raised by a Jewish family who immigrated to the United States in the early 1800s… He still attends services almost every Friday night at Temple Emanuel… Wolff was first elected to Congress in 1964… The amendment he put into the Foreign Assistance Act forced President Lyndon B. Johnson to sell F4 jets to Israel, which was a factor in helping Israel survive the attack by the Arabs during the Six-Day War in 1967.” [GreatneckRecord

2018 WATCH — UPDATE: “Illinois Republican Party exploring ‘options’ to dump GOP Holocaust denier” by Lynn Sweet: “The Illinois Republican Party on Monday announced it was exploring “all options” to dump Holocaust denier and white supremacist Arthur Jones… The Republican Jewish Coalition chair also floated on Monday the possibility of a write-in candidate surfacing to run against Jones to deny him the GOP nomination in March. Republican Jewish Coalition chairman Norm Coleman told Jewish Insider, a newsletter covering the U.S. Jewish community, “I would hope there is a write-in candidate so he doesn’t get the nomination…””[ChicagoSunTimes

“In turbulent year, a newcomer challenges a political veteran in Montgomery” by Rachel Siegel: “Montgomery County Council candidate Ben Shnider was born in 1989, about a decade after the incumbent he is challenging in the Democratic primary was first elected to public office. That incumbent, Sidney Katz (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) says his long experience in politics and government is invaluable… A graduate of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Shnider previously worked as the political director for J Street, a liberal, nonprofit advocacy group that focuses on policies related to Israel, and launched the political arm of Bend the Arc, a progressive, Jewish justice organization.” [WashPost

INBOX — Rabbi Robert Barr Ending OH-1 Congressional Campaign: “Rabbi Robert Barr announced today that he will end his campaign for Congress in Ohio’s First Congressional District. Rabbi Barr said, “My campaign was motivated by the same belief that drew me to become a rabbi – the belief that each of us needs to leave our world better than we found it, and I will continue to do my part. I decided to end my campaign for Congress after Aftab Pureval decided to enter the race. Aftab has a proven track record of unseating a long-standing Republican incumbent, and he is committed to representing the voters of Southwest Ohio in a manner focused on many of our shared concerns.”

PODCAST PLAYBACK — David Axelrod on a potential 2020 presidential bid by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz: “You see the outside candidates being talked about – the Howard Schultz’s… Someone told me that they thought he could be a dark horse candidate, I said, ‘He sounded more like a dark roast candidate.’” [AxeFiles

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Steven Schoenfeld’s ETF tracking Israel’s hot cyberstocks is breaking out [CNBC• Study finds lower ultra-Orthodox male employment in Israel [ABCNews] • Vladimir Putin inherits apartment in downtown Tel Aviv [JPost] • Daniel Freedman’s BurnAlong raises $1M to let more people work out online with familiar faces [Technical.ly]

“Germany agrees to compensate Holocaust survivors from Algeria” by James Master: “Approximately 25,000 people are eligible for a one-off payment of €2,556 ($3,184), according to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, an organization that negotiates with the German government on behalf of Holocaust survivors… Daniel Gal, who lived during the war with his family in Oran, a coastal city in northwest Algeria, told CNN he remembers being “kicked out” of his school and sent to learn with other Jewish children… Gal left Algeria after graduating from high school in 1950, eventually settling in Jerusalem… “I am very happy,” Gal told CNN on Monday. “Justice has been done and while it has taken a long time, the Claims Conference has done a very good job. My phone has been going all morning with friends calling me about it.” [CNN

HOLLYWOOD: “Netflix Nabs Ryan Murphy Series ‘The Politician’; Ben Platt Set, Barbra Streisand & Gwyneth Paltrow In Talks To Star” by Nellie Andreeva: “Netflix has landed The Politician, a new hourlong comedy series from longtime collaborators Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan and Ryan Murphy, I have learned. The project, starring Tony winner Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen), with Oscar winners Barbra Streisand and Gwyneth Paltrow in negotiations to co-star, has received a two-season straight-to-series order.” [Deadline]

HOMELAND BACK TO ISRAEL? — “Homeland Boss on Season 7’s Trump Inspiration, Alex Jones and RIP Peter Quinn” by Debra Birnbaum: Do you have a plan in mind for the final season? Alex Gansa: “More of a hope than an idea. This show began in Israel [as “Prisoners of War”], and there’s something poetic about going back to that part of the world in the show. So we’ve been thinking, just in a thematic way, that it might be nice to end the show set in Israel.”” [Variety]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Gossip From the Liz Smith Memorial, Just the Way She’d Want It” by Jacob Bernstein: “In the late 1980s, [Barry] Diller worked as an executive at Fox, where one of his responsibilities was starting what he described as an “‘Entertainment Tonight”-type show. “Liz introduced me to a producer she had known and who I had never met before,” Mr. Diller said. “He’d come from political campaigning, and I thought he’d be great. He was, but not for this show. We became friends, and later I introduced him to Rupert Murdoch. His name was Roger Ailes. So, Liz, it’s all your fault.”[NYTimes

“Paul Simon to give up touring ‘after all these years’” by Corky Siemaszko: “The beloved singer-songwriter announced Monday he was retiring from the road and this spring his aptly-named “Homeward Bound — The Farewell Tour” will be his last… Simon, 76, said he still expects to do the “occasional performance in a (hopefully) pristine hall” and donate the proceed to philanthropies “whose objective is to save the planet, ecologically.””[NBCNews

WINTER OLYMPICS — “The Hebrew Hammer’ set to make Israeli Olympic history” by Nick Zaccardi: “A.J. Edelman… will be easy to spot in his racing helmet in PyeongChang next week. It features the biblical figure Samson breaking pillars above the flag of Israel. “The breaking of the pillars represents accomplishing the impossible dream,” said Edelman, who was born in Boston but said he has several family connections to Israel. Edelman said the International Olympic Committee allowed his helmet, determining that it is not a political or religious statement.” [NBCOlympics]

“Ivanka Trump to attend Olympics closing ceremony” by Betsy Klein: “Ivanka Trump will lead the Presidential delegation to South Korea for the closing ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic winter games… The first daughter and senior adviser was asked to attend the closing ceremony by her father, President Donald Trump, and the United States Olympic Committee.” [CNN]

SPORTS BLINK: “Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie fulfills lifelong dream” by Michael Silver: “Jeffrey Lurie sat in the corner of a mint-green loveseat in the back of a jam-packed victory party early Monday morning, clutching his mother’s left arm with one hand and the Lombardi Trophy with the other. The 66-year-old owner of the Philadelphia Eagles had just realized his lifelong dream… Lurie had his reasons for wanting to prevail over the Pats: A native of Newton, Massachusetts, which is just outside of Boston, Lurie had lost out to Robert Kraft on a bid to buy the Patriots in 1994, instead purchasing the Eagles from Norman Braman a few months later.” [NFL]

PIC OF THE DAY — Philadelphia-born songwriter Benj Pasek with Kobe Bryant, who notes that Bryant’s dad was his JCC soccer coach. [Pic]

ACELA CORRIDOR — Colm O’Comartun tweets this morning: “Maybe in a nod to growing inequality, the first class car on the 5:00 Acela to NYC From DC has separated from the train while moving, causing the train to stop and become stranded between Baltimore and Wilmington.” [Twitter]

COMING SOON — Walter Russell Mead will become a columnist for the Wall Street Journal opinion pages, writing the weekly Global View column on foreign affairs. Mead is the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and previously taught American foreign policy at Yale University. [DowJones]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at Columbia University hosted Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan for a speech on Israel and the Middle East conflict. Outside, a group of protesters held up posters against Israel and attempted to encourage students and the faculty to boycott the event. Dayan joked that he often gets confused with Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon. “We sit in the same building, I often get his emails, and he gets my phone calls. The most ironic thing happened when I sent flowers to this lady, and he got the thank you note,” Dayan said to laughter. [Video

SCENE SUNDAY NIGHT — at Abby Cable’s 30th birthday party at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, MD: AIPAC’s Steve Beckerman, JBG’s Nicole Hollander and Lily Goldstein, former Bush operative Eric Gallagher, Ariana Kaufman, Ivanka Trump’s Rachael Baitel, Ariana Heideman and Joe Tipograph, Nick Muzin, CNN’s Ariel Bashi, Alex Shively, Jonathan Arogeti, and Isaac Snyder.

REMEMBERING: “Melvyn Weiss, Lawyer Who Fought Corporate Fraud, Dies at 82” by Sam Roberts: “Weiss was a pro bono lawyer for victims of terrorism and other causes, a prodigious fund-raiser for liberal Democratic candidates and a leader of the Israel Policy Forum, which favors a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict. He and his wife, the former Barbara Joan Kaplan, sponsored a program in public-interest law at his alma mater, New York University Law School.” [NYTimes

DESSERT: “Eat The World’s Largest Bagel & Lox This Week In Brooklyn” by Stephanie Maida: “In honor of National Bagel and Lox Day… [Acme Smoked Fish] is teaming up with Zucker’s Bagels to break the Guinness World Record for the heftiest smoked salmon sandwich ever, complete with gigantic globs of cream cheese, tomatoes, red onions, and capers… The fishy foodie event is free for all this Friday, February 9th, at noon.” [GuestofaGuest

BIRTHDAYS: Israeli pediatric endocrinologist, winner of the the 2009 Israel Prize, in 1966 he described the type of dwarfism later called Laron syndrome in his name, Dr. Zvi Laron turns 91… Bill Levine turns 86… Member of the New Jersey Senate since 2005, she currently serves as Senate Majority Leader, Loretta Weinberg turns 83… Rosalyn Kaplan turns 81… Cantor of Congregation Hugat Haverim in Glendale, California, Harvey Lee Blockturns 77… Syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, Richard Martin Cohen turns 77… Louisiana Commissioner of Administration, after serving as Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana (2010-2016), Jay Dardenne turns 64… Author and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Michael Pollan turns 63…

Los Angeles attorney specializing in criminal and civil appeals, author of an amicus brief for members of Congress in the Jerusalem passport case of Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State, Paul Kujawsky turns 61… Long-time foreign correspondent for NPR in many capitals including Jerusalem, author of the NYT-bestseller “The Geography of Bliss,” Eric Weiner turns 55… Special events producer at Ballas Bloom Consulting, Jacquelyn Ballas Bloom turns 49… Television and film actress, writer and producer, best known for her role as Pepper in the FX series “American Horror Story,” Naomi Grossman turns 43… Israeli-French singer-songwriter whose hit single “New Soul” was used by Apple in a 2008 advertising campaign for its MacBook Air, Yael Naim turns 40… AIPAC’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Political Director, Stephen Knable turns 37… Steven I. Weiss… IBM consultant and Bnai Akiva Toronto boger Yadin Koschitzky

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Daily Kickoff: Birthright Israel emulated for Africa | Bipartisan condemnation for Illinois GOP congressional candidate | Walmart coming to Israel?

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2018 WATCH — “Holocaust denier poised to claim GOP nomination in Illinois race for Congress” by Lynn Sweet and Frank Main: “Arthur Jones — an outspoken Holocaust denier, activist anti-Semite and white supremacist — is poised to become the Republican nominee for an Illinois congressional seat representing parts of Chicago and nearby suburbs… Jones’ website for his latest congressional run includes a section titled “The ‘Holocaust Racket’” where he calls the genocide carried out by the German Nazi regime and collaborators in other nations “the biggest blackest lie in history.” … In November, Jones will face either Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill… or Lipinski’s Democratic primary challenger, Marie Newman from LaGrange. Jones will almost certainly be defeated in November. That’s because the 3rd Congressional District is one of the most heavily Democratic in the state.”

“Tim Schneider, chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, said in a statement to the Sun-Times, “The Illinois Republican Party and our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the 3rd Congressional District.”” [ChicagoSunTimes

— “The prospective candidate… is not a steadfast supporter of the Republican president. Ten months ago, in remarks filmed at a neo-Nazi retreat in Kentucky, he ranted about how Donald Trump had “surrounded himself with hordes of Jews including a Jew in his own family, that punk named Jared Kushner.”” [TheGuardian]

RJC National Chairman and former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman tells us… “I would hope there is a write-in candidate so he doesn’t get the nomination. If he does, his candidacy will be rejected by the Republican Party at every level-local, state and federal. His depraved values are not Republican values.”

Abe Foxman, Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and former ADL National Director, emails us… “There’s nothing new about Arthur Jones’s racism, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. He has publicly advocated them for more than 40 years. And there’s nothing new about his efforts to infect our political institutions as he has been running for public office for the last 40 years. What is new is that this time he is closer to political legitimacy then ever before. What is new is that the Illinois political-Republican-institution did not do enough to make sure that he is not the only candidate in the primary. Now they need to publicly expose his racism and anti-Semitism and make sure that his racism does not stain the Illinois Republican Party.”

TOP TALKER — “Secret Alliance: Israel Carries Out Airstrikes in Egypt, With Cairo’s O.K.” by David D. Kirkpatrick: “American officials say Israel’s air campaign has played a decisive role in enabling the Egyptian armed forces to gain an upper hand against the militants. But the Israeli role is having some unexpected consequences for the region, including on Middle East peace negotiations, in part by convincing senior Israeli officials that Egypt is now dependent on them even to control its own territory…”

“Senator Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland… said Israel was not acting “out of goodness to a neighbor.” “Israel does not want the bad stuff that is happening in the Egyptian Sinai to get into Israel,” he said… Some American supporters of Israel complain that, given Egypt’s reliance on the Israeli military, Egyptian officials, diplomats and state-controlled news media should stop publicly denouncing the Jewish state… “You speak with Sisi and he talks about security cooperation with Israel, and you speak with Israelis and they talk about security cooperation with Egypt, but then this duplicitous game continues,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel… “It is confusing to me.”

“Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has also pointedly reminded American diplomats of the Israeli military role in Sinai. In February 2016, for example, Secretary of State John Kerry convened a secret summit in Aqaba, Jordan, with Mr. Sisi, King Abdullah of Jordan and Mr. Netanyahu… Mr. Kerry proposed a regional agreement in which Egypt and Jordan would guarantee Israel’s security as part of a deal for a Palestinian state. Mr. Netanyahu scoffed at the idea. Israeli’s military was already propping up Egypt’s military, he said… If Egypt was unable to control the ground within its own borders, Mr. Netanyahu argued, it was hardly in a position to guarantee security for Israel.”[NYTimes]

TALK OF THE NATION — Israel begins distributing deportation notices to Africans: “In letters delivered Sunday, Israel says the migrants have 60 days to accept the offer to leave the country for an unnamed African destination in exchange for $3,500 and a plane ticket. Those who don’t by Apr. 1 will be incarcerated indefinitely… The deportation plan has sparked outrage in Israel, where groups of pilots, doctors, writers, rabbis and Holocaust survivors have appealed to have it halted.” [AP

“Netanyahu Says George Soros Funding Campaign Against Israeli Plan to Deport Asylum Seekers” by Chaim Levinson: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud ministers on Sunday that Jewish billionaire George Soros is funding a campaign of protest against Israel’s plan to deport thousands of African asylum seekers… Netanyahu said “George Soros is also funding the protests. Obama deported two million infiltrators and they didn’t say anything.”” [Haaretz] • Soros Rejects Netanyahu’s ‘False Claim’ That He Is Funding Campaign Against Israel’s Plan to Deport Asylum Seekers [Haaretz]

FIRST LOOK — “The Creation of Birthright AFRICA: Taglit-Birthright offers trips to Israel for young American Jews. Now there is a program for people of the African diaspora” by Amos Barshad: “When Ashley Johnson, an artist from Chicago, heard about Taglit-Birthright—the program offering trips to Israel for young Americans of Jewish descent—she wondered why a similar program didn’t exist for people of the African diaspora. She Googled “birthright” and “Africa,” and was pleased to learn that one did—at least in theory. In 2005, Walla Elsheikh, a former Goldman Sachs associate whose father had been a Sudanese diplomat, heard a friend rave about a Taglit trip. She registered a Web site with the name Birthright Africa. She let the idea marinate, and nothing much happened, until she got a Facebook message from Johnson. The two began a correspondence and eventually decided to launch the program together…” [NewYorker

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — “Erekat slams US for pushing Palestinian ‘coup,’ tells Nikki Haley to ‘shut up’” by Khaled Abu Toameh: “Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat… insisted that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, together with Haley’s remarks, amounted to an attempt to stage a “coup” against the “Palestinian political system.” “Nikki Haley needs to shut up and realize that the Palestinian leadership is not the problem,” the top PLO official added… Nevertheless, Erekat insisted that the Palestinians were not looking for a fight with the US. “We don’t seek a confrontation or a fight with the US administration. On the contrary — they are the ones taking several steps…”” [ToI

FOGGY BOTTOM — “Amid chaos in Washington, Tillerson strikes tone different from Trump” by Kylie Atwood: “In some cases, the focus on events in D.C. enables [Rex] Tillerson to push forward with diplomatic efforts without getting a great deal of attention… In January Mr. Trump tweeted: “We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel.” That tweet set off alarms… As those questions were being asked, Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury” came out… This distraction gave Tillerson time to come up with a plan. A few days later, because the president had been so distracted, they went to the White House with a plan to withhold a large chunk of U.S. funding to UNRWA, the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency. The all-consuming focus on the book had given Tillerson time to deliberate and press forward on a thoughtful foreign policy approach.” [CBSNews

Jason Greenblatt tweets: “Iran spends almost a billion dollars a year sponsoring terrorism in Lebanon, Israel and West Bank/Gaza. This blood money only increases violence and does nothing to help the Palestinian people. The corrupt regime in Tehran squanders the resources of the Iranian people on military adventures throughout the region instead of investing at home and promoting peace abroad.” [Twitter

IRAN DEAL — Iran says Trump’s hostility to nuclear deal scares investors: “Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters on Sunday that the uncertainty over the future of the agreement, which Trump has repeatedly threatened to scrap, is scaring off potential investors.” [AP

COMING SOON: “Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Estate to Host Event Celebrating Israel’s 70th Anniversary” by Amir Tibon: “A Florida resort owned by President Trump, Mar-a-Lago, will host an event marking 70 years to the foundation of Israel… Speakers at the event will include U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The event, which will take place in late March, is organized by the International Fellowship of Christian and Jews.” [Haaretz

** 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: e-Builder, founded by Ron and Jon Antevy, sold for a cool half-billion [MiamiHerald• Is Walmart Coming to Israel? Netanyahu Says the Door Is Open [Bloomberg] • Clinic’s co-branded product with Josh Kushner’s Oscar Health has exceeded hopes [CrainsCleveland

SPOTLIGHT: “Haim Saban’s Company Pledges $1,000 Bonuses to Staff Due to Tax Cuts” by Paul Bond: “According to a letter to staffers at Saban Capital Group… Haim and his wife, Cheryl, were inspired by Disney’s decision to award bonuses to its employees… because of tax reform championed by President Donald Trump that reduces the rate paid by corporations to a maximum of 21 percent… The Sabans stipulate that the bonuses will amount to $1,000 after taxes… “We have been inspired by what Bob Iger has done for Disney employees. As the Hebrew saying goes “I shall learn from all my teachers” so we decided to follow suit.”” [HollywoodReporter]

“Sundheim Taps Ex-White House Economic Adviser for New Hedge Fund” by Katya Kazakina: “Daniel Sundheim, whose new hedge fund will invest in stock and private equity deals, hired a former deputy White House economic adviser to help run it. Jeremy Katz, who was a lieutenant to National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, joins Sundheim’s firm as president and chief operating officer.” [Bloomberg]

“Americans abroad hit by Trump’s new repatriation tax rules” by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson: “The problem is, the way the law is worded treats every American citizen and green card holder in the world [operating through a foreign corporation] the same as Google,” said Monte Silver, a US tax attorney living in Israel. “There’s going to be some sort of uproar” as more expats and their advisers learn about their exposure, he predicted, but “the problem is expats have no political clout.”” [FinancialTimes

TRANSITION — “Outgoing Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen to Join Brookings’s Hutchins Center” by Nick Timiraos: Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who [completed] her four-year term as leader of the central bank Saturday, will join the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution as a distinguished fellow in residence in economic studies.” [WSJ

— “Yellen Admits Disappointment Over Her Exit in Rare Interview” by Christopher Condon and Rich Miller: “I would have liked to serve an additional term and I did make that clear, so I will say I was disappointed not to be reappointed,” she said Friday on PBS NewsHour in a rare television interview.” [Bloomberg

PROFILE: “Bill Kristol Wanders the Wilderness of Trump World” by Benjamin Wallace-Wells: “When Trump offered only equivocations after the white-supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, last August, Kristol had assumed that the same Republican leaders who had spent months telling him in private that they could not stand Trump would finally break with the President. When they did not, Kristol and his wife, Susan Scheinberg, a classics scholar, were so infuriated that they sent a two-hundred-dollar donation to the campaign of the Democrat Ralph Northam, who was running for governor of Virginia against the Republican Ed Gillespie…  “What happened with Charlottesville?” he wondered, at lunch. “Wasn’t that supposed to be a big moment when all the businessmen were like, ‘You know, I can’t be on the board.’ And three months later, ‘Hey, great work on the tax bill!’ What happened there?” Kristol paused. “So, yeah, I’m a little freaked out.”” [NewYorker

HOLLYWOOD: “What’s Liev Schreiber doing in Israel?” by Amy Spiro: “Schreiber, best known for his films The Sum of All Fears, The Omen, Defiance, Spotlight, and the TV series Ray Donovan, posted an image of the Tel Aviv beach on Instagram last week. “Looking forward to warmer weather, good humus [sic], and lots of fizzy bobolah!” he wrote… According to Israel Hayom’s Eran Swissa, Schreiber, 50, has arrived in Israel in order to deliver a masterclass on acting at Tel Aviv University on Monday.” [JPost

SUPER BOWL LII — “99-Year-Old Eagles Fan With Rags-To-Riches History Celebrates Super Bowl Win” by Mischa Pearlman: “Ninety-nine-year-old Phil Basser, a Philadelphia native now better known as ‘Philadelphia Phil,’ turns 100 in March and saw his team win their first ever Super Bowl last night. He became known to Philadelphia fans after his 18-year-old grandson tweeted about him in response to the news that 99-year-old Vikings fan Millie was looking forward to the match-up between her team and the Eagles two Sundays ago… According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, he was born to a poor Jewish family in 1918.” [LadBible]

PIC OF THE DAY — Tale of two #MOT owners: Jeffrey Lurie and Robert Kraft react to the Philadelphia Eagles victory over the New England Patriots during last night’s Super Bowl. [Pic

TOP COMMERCIAL — Toyota Unites Religions: “One of the several commercials aired by Toyota during the 2018 Super Bowl showed that people who come from different religions can get along and be friends! The ad starts with a rabbi leaving a temple and picking up his friend, a priest, in his Toyota vehicle. They then pick up an imam and a Buddhist monk on their way to a football game. At the game, they all cheer on the same team with the help of a group of nuns, showing that we are all on the same team.” [JustJaredVideo]

SCENE YESTERDAY — NORPAC Long Island, led by Trudy and Stanley Stern, hosted a fundraiser for Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) at the home of Alex and Ilyse Sternberg, and co-hosted by Iris and Shalom Maidenbaum. The event kicked off with a champagne toast marking the decision made late last week by the Department of Justice to drop all remaining charges against Senator Menendez, after his first trial on corruption charges resulted in a mistrial. “We made Shehecheyanu for a new post DOJ episode career,” Dr. Ben Chouake, president of NORPAC, told Jewish Insider. “Our group has been supporting Senator Menendez all along and this vindicates our efforts for his campaign and Legal Defense Fund.” We’re told Menendez “reaffirmed the importance of bipartisan support for Israel and expressed concerns over the international BDS movement.” [PicPic]

REMEMBERING — Fox News anchor Eric Shawn paid tribute to Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld, a prominent cardiologist from New York, who died at age 91. Rosenfeld hosted the Sunday Housecall program on Fox News for many years. “Dr. Rosenfeld was called America’s doctors because for years millions across the country relied on his medical advice, his insight, his experience,” Shawn noted on Sunday. [Video

BIRTHDAYS: Chair of the Board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, recently national campaign chair for Jewish Federations of North America, Linda A. Hurwitz… Director, screenwriter and producer of movies and television, Michael Mann turns 75… Actor, best known as the voice of Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin franchise, Jonathan Freeman turns 68… Movie, television and stage actress, Jennifer Jason Leigh (family name was Morozoff) turns 56… General in the IDF, he served as the Commander of the Israeli Navy (2011-2016), Ram Rothberg turns 54… Founding rabbi of The New Shul in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village (1999-2010), author or editor of ten books, now the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shalom of Napa Valley, Niles Elliot Goldstein turns 52… Director of the community development project at NYC’s Urban Justice Center and a Democratic candidate for the NYS Assembly, Harvey David Epstein turns 51… Associate Director of the Jerusalem-based Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, columnist for The Times of Israel, Pesach Wolicki turns 48…

President and COO of American Signature, the parent company of Value City Furniture, Jonathan Schottenstein turns 36… VP of Public Affairs at Teach For All in DC, after living in China for seven years (2006-2013), Sarabeth Berman turns 34… Olympic sprinter, born in Los Angeles and now an Israeli citizen, specializing in the 400 meter dash, declared by the Israeli Olympic Committee as 2014’s Sportsman of the Year, Donald Sanford turns 31… Features manager for amNY covering NYC’s eating and drinking scene, Nicole Levy turns 28 (h/t Playbook)… Israeli golfer on the LPGA Tour, resident of Caesarea, competed for Israel in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Laetitia Beck turns 26… Former senior advisor to Ambassador Ron Dermer (2013-2015) and spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Defense (2011-2013), now a political and communications consultant, Joshua Hantman… Ellen Braun

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