Daily Kickoff: Dov Zakheim, Elliott Abrams talk Trump team’s grudges | Kushner embraces his inner Bannon | Will Friedman vote come down to Rand Paul?

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HEARD LAST NIGHT: Appearing on CNN, Elliott Abrams addressed the President’s decision to nix his expected appointment as Deputy Secretary of State. “I think it’s really destructive for the President to go back to the primary season and say, ‘People who’ve said tough things about me can’t come into the administration.’ He is hurting himself,” Abrams said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. Abrams said he had a productive meeting with Trump and that his past criticism of the President during the Republican presidential primary never came up during the hourlong conversation. “I was ready to address it.” The former diplomat said his guess is that WH Chief Strategist Steve Bannon “riled up” the President against his appointment. “The only person on the White House staff I know was opposed to me being hired was Steve Bannon.” [JewishInsider

JI INTERVIEW — Dov Zakheim, former undersecretary of defense in President George W. Bush’s administration and one of the over 50 top Republican national security officials who signed the anti-Trump letter in the presidential election, shared his thoughts about the first three weeks of the Trump Administration and the President’s conduct on foreign policy issues in a phone interview with Jewish Insider on Monday.

“They’re clearly disorganized. They’re running very, very far behind,” Zakheim said with regards to the tumult surrounding Trump’s first weeks of his presidency. “They don’t have undersecretaries, they don’t have assistant secretaries, so they don’t have the people that are meant to really execute whatever the cabinet, the National Security Council, and the President want to have happen. They’re relying on civil servants and holdovers so you already have a problem there and you have a second kind of problem because a lot of these people are not necessarily loyal to Trump, which is why you’re getting the leaks.”

–Zakheim on Trump denying Elliott Abrams as Deputy Secretary of State: “It’s very clear that either the President or his top three advisors, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, and Stephen Miller, are holding hard and fast to the idea that anybody who said anything negative about the President during the campaign is ‘treyf’ (non-kosher). I mean, you know, I signed these letters, but from the minute he became President, my feeling has been he’s the only President we’ve got, we have to support him and I’ve gone on the record to say that. For the point of view, those people who are being considered for jobs, evidently that’s not sufficient and it’s not just happened to Elliott Abrams, it seems to have happened to others. These are the people that really have a lot of expertise and if you’re going to eliminate those who wrote articles, you’ve probably eliminated 150 of the most experienced, talented, knowledgeable national security people.”

–On Trump’s emerging traditional stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “I’m not surprised. If the President gets briefed, he finds out the realities of things. He’s got three very, very sophisticated senior advisors. James Mattis, Rex Tillerson, and Mike Pompeo are clearly much more nuanced and understanding of the situation in the region. Then, of course, he’s met with King Abdullah of Jordan. Abdullah is no enemy of Israel. He’s just telling the President the reality and the reality is that moving the embassy or supporting the settlements is going to make it much more difficult for the Arabs who are already dealing with Israel, whether openly like Jordan or maybe less openly like some of the others in the Gulf, it’s going to make it more difficult for them to continue.”

–Zakheim discussed Jared Kushner’s role as ME envoy: “Arab leaders are used to dealing directly with the President. They don’t even deal with Secretaries of State. And so you send Jared Kushner to, say King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who’s old enough to be practically his grandfather, where he’ll be polite to him, he’ll entertain him, he’ll escort him to his airplane, but he’s not going to make the deal with him. These people make deals with the President and to the extent that they deal with anyone else, they’ll deal with a Tillerson because they know him from Exxon. They’ll deal with a Mattis because they know him from Central Command. As long as these people are not in the lead on dealing with the Middle East, I don’t think anything much is going to happen.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

“Mideast Rules For Jared Kushner” by Bret Stephens: “The U.S. cannot solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; only Palestinians can. The U.S. does have an interest in strengthening ties between its allies, both for their own sake and to counter their common enemies. If the Palestinians want to be a part of the solution, so much the better. If they want to continue to be a part of the problem, they can live with the consequences. The principles are straightforward. The courage to stick to them will be the test of Mr. Kushner’s diplomatic mettle.” [WSJ

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Netanyahu, Trump meeting to set tone for U.S.-Israeli ties” by Noga Tarnopolsky: “By far the main item on the agenda is Iran,” said Dennis Ross… “The settlements came up only because Netanyahu’s right-wing has been pushing the issue. They put settlements on Israel’s public agenda, I don’t think otherwise it would have been there at all.” [USAToday] • Buoyed by Trump-Netanyahu summit, ministers openly scratch annexation itch [ToI]

“Israeli PM seeks ‘no gaps’ with Trump ahead of White House talks” by Luke Baker: “Staff have cleared most of Tuesday for discussions with Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, and other senior advisers ahead of Wednesday’s Oval Office meeting. The only event of the day is an evening meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “There isn’t going to be any daylight, no gaps,” one adviser said as the prime minister left for Washington… Aside from Trump and Tillerson, Netanyahu will meet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Vice President Mike Pence during the Feb. 13-16 visit.” [Reuters]  

JI’s Aaron Magid asked several Democratic House Members whether they were interested in meeting Netanyahu on his visit to the Capitol this week.

Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA): “I didn’t know he was coming.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD): “I didn’t know it (meeting with Netanyahu) was an option. I would gladly like to hear what he has to say about moving forward on a two-state solution. I assume he is coming to Congress, so I will definitely go and hear what he has to say.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA): “I don’t know that there is going to be an opportunity to meet with him. Yeah, if he wants to meet with some Members of Congress, I would be happy to meet with him. I have met with him a number of times.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD): “Sure, why not? Never met him before.”

“Americans Tepid on Palestinian Statehood” by Lydia Saad: “Currently, 45% of Americans support establishing an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip while 42% oppose it… 61% of Democrats, 50% of independents and 25% of Republicans are in favor… Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… is viewed more favorably than unfavorably by Americans, 49% vs. 30%… Currently, 32% of Democrats view Netanyahu favorably and 41% unfavorably. That compares with 31% favorably and 31% unfavorably in February 2015, before Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.” [Gallup

Jennifer Rubin: “Without need to defend President Obama’s rhetoric or positions, the Democratic Party may see an uptick in support for the Jewish state.” [WashPost]

“Can This ‘Special Relationship’ Be Saved?” by Steven Simon and Aaron David Miller: “What will things look like in four to eight years? American support for an increasingly right-wing Israeli policy will mean that Israel will have built more settlements; diplomacy aimed at a two-state solution will be stillborn or abandoned; and violence in the West Bank will require Israel to use force to restore order. Politics in Israel will continue to drift right amid a deepening conviction that it has no Palestinian partner and against the backdrop of an increasingly dangerous region. If these things come to pass, the erosion of shared values will quicken. The American-Israeli partnership will not collapse… But the relationship would become a pale version of what it once was and what it could be.”

“Jewish fears of Trump White House mount on eve of Netanyahu visit” by Katie Glueck: “When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with President Donald Trump in Washington this week, he will do so against the backdrop of an American Jewish diaspora more fearful and skeptical of the U.S. government than it has been in decades. Interviews with more than a dozen top Jewish political operatives and leaders across the country reveal deep discomfort with a refugee ban than hits close to home, alarm about some of Trump’s top advisers and, most of all, overwhelming concerns about the administration’s rhetoric on the Holocaust and its approach to dealing with anti-Semitism.” [McClatchyDC; MiamiHerald]

INTERVIEW — Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh caught up with Congressman Eliot Engel, ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in New York City on Sunday.

“We don’t have a king in this country. We have three co-equal branches of government,” Engel told Jewish Insider with respect to the executive branch’s growing power on foreign policy issues. “I think that there are things that are important to members, and we will pass laws and hope the President will sign them… I think it’s a shared responsibility and no matter who’s been the president, who’s been in Congress, there is always that antagonistic kind of pulling and tugging, but I think there is a very important role of Congress to play and as the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I intend to fulfill that role.”

Q: Will a cozy relationship between Trump and Netanyahu hurt Israel’s bipartisan support?

Engel: “I think that Bibi is doing what any prime minister and leader of a country would do and that’s to have good relations with the U.S… I want to make it so that the U.S. and Israel are so close together that it doesn’t matter who’s prime minister and who is president at any given time… The U.S. doesn’t elect Israel’s leaders, and Bibi Netanyahu has been the leader of Israel a long time and we have to respect it and work with him. I have no trouble working with him. I respect what he has done. Does that mean that I have agreed with everything he’s done? No. I didn’t agree with everything Obama did and he was from my party. Obama did some really good things for Israel, but he did some – as my grandmother would say – ‘narish’ (foolish) things. So, everything is a balance.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

TRUMP TUMULT: “Michael Flynn resigns as national security adviser” by Josh Dawsey, Alex Isenstadt, Tara Palmeri and Eli Stokols: “The list of possible replacements includes retired Gen. David Petraeus, who’s scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the plans. Vice Admiral Robert Harward and Kellogg are also under consideration… Sources close to the White House said Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner was involved with the search, though a senior White House official disputed that.” [Politico]

DEPT OF NOTABLE TIMING — Michael Ledeen, who is the coauthor with Michael Flynn of “Field of Flight,” published an op-ed in the WSJ this morning titled “To Break the Moscow-Tehran Alliance, Target Iran’s Regime” [WSJ

Aaron David Miller: “Mike Flynn was literally the personification of putting Iran on notice. A blow to those pushing for tough response on Iran — Bibi included.” [Twitter

Dan Shapiro: “Netanyahu arrives tomorrow at a White House in utter turmoil. NSA Flynn gone. Vicious staff infighting. More heads likely to roll. Precious planning hours spent with Flynn now out the window. Major unanswered questions on Russia… Still important business to be done on Iran, Palestinians, Syria, security coop. But who in WH can focus on it with fires burning? Suspect Netanyahu will seek greater clarity from VP Pence, Sec State Tillerson — outside Trump inner circle.” [Twitter]

President-in-law: “Far from being a moderating influence on his father-in-law, Kushner has embraced his inner Bannon” by Emily Jane Fox: “As he prepares to take a central role in the meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kushner seems renewed, his power intact. To those who know him and interact with him, he is no longer perceived as the quiet, moderating force in his father-in-law’s ear, but rather a true believer who remains in lock step with Bannon and Miller and intent on pushing through their White House agenda… Weeks after he took the gig, according to a longtime friend, Kushner’s office remains empty, save for a phone and some desk supplies… He is considering turning his office into a conference room, or maybe even knocking down the wall between his office and Bannon’s and getting a standing desk for himself, the source said.”

“Several sources told me that Kushner was defensive about the executive order that temporarily barred Muslim immigrants and refugees. The longtime friend said that when he pointed out that refugees had not, in fact, been responsible for any of the terror attacks on U.S. soil, Kushner, he said, answered by saying that that was not true. Kushner has encountered dissent in his own ranks. According to the longtime friend, Kushner’s brother Josh… has reportedly expressed his disapproval of the measures. Several sources say that Ivanka Trump is also concerned about the executive order, particularly as it relates to Dreamers—the children of undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children who may normally be subject to deportation, but through President Obama’s executive action can stay temporarily and apply for work permits.” [VanityFair]

“Emanuel trying to build ‘relationships’ with Trump team” by Fran Spielman and Lynn Sweet: “The mayor also met with Kushner… The “goal is to find a way to work together,” a City Hall spokesman said about the meeting… If relationships are based on each side getting something, an area where Emanuel could be helpful to Kushner is on Israel… Obama and Netanyahu had a chilly relationship. Still, Emanuel has considerable expertise when it comes to Israel: The son of an Israeli, Emanuel knows the players and the issues, and even if he does not agree on the Trump approach, he brings his experience of dealing with the issue in the Obama and Clinton White House.” [ChicagoSunTimes

“Christie gets called to D.C. for lunch Tuesday with Trump, sources reveal” by Brent Johnson: “One source told NJ Advance Media that Kushner reached out to Christie ahead of Tuesday’s meeting and that senior White House officials speak with the governor regularly.” [NJAdvance

“Senate confirms former banker Mnuchin as Treasury secretary” by Stephen Ohlemacher: “A bitterly divided Senate on Monday confirmed Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary… He was confirmed by a mostly party-line vote of 53-47. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined the Republicans.” [AP]

COMING SOON: “Trump’s Senate Battle for Israel Ambassador Could Come Down to One Wildcard Vote” by Amir Tibon: “The only Republican senator who has thus far threatened to vote against some of Trump’s potential nominees… has been Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky… So far, Paul has not released any statement regarding Friedman… The more interesting votes to watch on the Democratic side will be those of senators considered to be close to AIPAC. It’s not clear what the lobby group will be doing behind the scenes, if anything, with regards to the nomination, if it becomes clear that it has been secured by the Republican members of the committee… The Democrats on the senate panel who are seen as close to AIPAC are ranking member Ben Cardin (Md.), Bob Menendez (N.J.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Chris Coons (Del.) – all of whom have yet to comment publicly on Friedman.” [Haaretz]

** 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: Glencore Buys Out Israeli Billionaire Dan Gertler With $1 Billion Congo Mining Deal [Bloomberg; WSJ• Bruce Lane’s Meridian Group Raises $232M For Second DC Real Estate Fund [Bisnow• Apollo’s Leon Black made $142.5 million last year [MarketWatch• Startup Backed by Spielberg and Studios Seeks to Create VR Experiences for Malls [WSJ] • American Dream Meadowlands for the birds? [NorthJersey]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Attorney looks to question Charles Kushner about his conviction” by Suzanne Russell: “Attorney Patrick Whalen has filed a motion asking the court to allow evidence of Charles Kushner incarceration in 2005 and 2006 to be admitted during testimony by plaintiff witnesses. Whalen also is asking the court to allow for Kushner, the former chairman of Kushner Companies, to be questioned about his conviction when he testifies… Jared Kushner is not scheduled to testify in the case.” [MyCentralJersey

“Steve Schwarzman Hosted an Epic 70th Birthday Party in Palm Beach” by Sam Dangremond: “The Blackstone co-founder and his wife, Christine, hosted about 600 guests at their 15,000-plus square-foot estate in Palm Beach, which is only about a mile-and-a-half from Mar-a-Lago… Saturday night’s party reportedly included a private dinner with a “acrobats, Mongolian soldiers and two camels,” billionaire attendee David Koch told Bloomberg… Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were photographed leaving Mar-a-Lago in black tie, reportedly en route to Schwarzman’s party. Presumptive incoming Trump cabinet members Steve Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, and Elaine Chao also attended.” [T&C; Bloomberg]  

“How Kosher Are Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner?” by Jessica Sidman: “Based on their dining destinations, it’s safe to say that the couple isn’t strictly observant. “If you are very strict kosher, you’re not going to eat in any restaurant that’s not certified kosher,” says Lise Stern, author of How to Keep Kosher… Kushner and Trump aren’t the only high-profile politicos to have to navigate Washington’s barren kosher scene. Previously, former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman was perhaps the most notable government official to keep kosher. Before the Dirksen Senate Office Building cafe added kosher meals in 2012, Lieberman told the Hill he maintained a very limited diet.” [Washingtonian]  

“How The 29-Year-Old Owner Of Katz’s Deli Is Bringing The NYC Landmark Into The 21st Century” by Natalie Sportelli: “While keeping the regulars happy, to [Jake] Dell, making Katz’s more accessible means putting it in front of more customers, which also means educating and attracting the next generation of regulars. “To me this place is perfect,” he says. “You have to honor that tradition and you pay homage to that tradition, and you teach a new generation about that food tradition, that it was so prevalent 130 years ago or 150 years ago and has largely disappeared over the years.”” [Forbes]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “The revival of Yiddish in music and literature” by Prospero: “Despite its radical socialist past, some of the most innovative work in Yiddish now comes from the ultra-Orthodox community. In these close-knit groups, families have preserved the Yiddish of their forefathers. Lipa Schmeltzer, an ultra-Orthodox Jew from New York State, combines club beats with lyrics about Jewish rabbis. This unusual mix has proved immensely popular: Mr Schmeltzer has released over ten albums and is known as the “Hasidic Lady Gaga”. Last year, Mr Schmeltzer was chosen to sing “God Bless America” at the inauguration of a Jewish judge in New York. Naturally, the words were in Yiddish.” [Economist]

“Disney Severs Ties With YouTube Star PewDiePie After Anti-Semitic Posts” by Rolfe Winkler, Jack Nicas and Ben Fritz: “Millions of people have watched a Jan. 11 video by YouTube’s biggest star that included two men laughing as they held a banner that read, “Death to all Jews.” The man behind the video is Felix Kjellberg, a 27-year-old Swede known as “PewDiePie,” who has amassed 53 million subscribers. His success has brought him multimillion-dollar deals from YouTube and Walt Disney Co., which owns a firm that runs Mr. Kjellberg’s business. Since August, PewDiePie has posted nine videos that include anti-Semitic jokes or Nazi imagery… On Monday after the Journal contacted Disney about the videos, the entertainment giant said it was severing ties with Mr. Kjellberg.” [WSJ]

SPORTS BLINK: “Robert Kraft Talks Patriots Players Skipping White House Visit on ‘Today’” by Superfan TV: “As of Monday morning, the number of players not attending stands at six, including Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty, who have voiced opposition to President Trump. Kraft thinks the attention is overblown… Kraft doesn’t have a problem with some of his players opting out of the visit, despite his longtime close friendship with Donald Trump. “This is America. We’re all free to do whatever is best for us. And we’re just privileged to be in a position to be going,” Kraft said. ” [Yahoo]

BIRTHDAYS: Recently ranked as the 6th richest person in the US ($43.3 billion), former Mayor of NYC Michael Bloomberg turns 75… Award-winning investigative journalist for The Washington Post and author, who together with Bob Woodward did much of the original news reporting on the Watergate scandal, Carl Bernstein turns 73… Former Borough President of Brooklyn (2002-2013) and New York State senator (1979-2001), Marty Markowitz turns 72… Billionaire investor, private equity manager, philanthropist, chairman and CEO of the Blackstone Group, Stephen A. Schwarzman turns 70… Born in Lakewood, NJ, film producer and chairman and EVP of the NFL’s New York Giants, winner of a Golden Globe award, an Academy Award and two Super Bowl rings, Steve Tisch turns 68… Host and co-executive producer of “Fresh Air” on WHYY-FM in Philadelphia, an interview program distributed throughout the United States by NPR, Terry Gross turns 66… Chairman and CEO of Townsquare Media, previously Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (2001-2003), Steven Price turns 55… Jewish hockey player selected in the first round of the 2002 NHL draft, then played on four NHL teams, also a player on the United States national team, Eric Nystrom turns 34… Paulette Nessim

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Daily Kickoff: When Kushner met Haim Saban | Corker: Trump was ready to move Embassy on Jan 20 | Kristol on Trump-Murdoch Axis | Bourkoff’s Ski Week

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DRIVING THE WEEK: “Deal-makers looking to network with Kushner-Trumps head to ski weekend” by Claire Atkinson: “Media banker Aryeh Bourkoff is scheduled to kick off his annual “Media Winter Ski Weekend” Sunday… The Deer Valley, Park City, shindig will see IAC/InterActiveCorp boss Barry Diller mingling with John Malone’s Liberty Media mafia: Greg Maffei and Mike Fries. It’s unclear at press time if Jared Kushner will be with his wife Ivanka on the slopes this year — On the Money hears she will stay in the nation’s capital with the kids. But sources believe Jared’s bro Josh Kushner is expected.” [NYPost] • Also expected: MediaLink’s Michael Kassan, Thrillist’s Ben Lerer and Yahoo’s Adam Cahan.

–Bourkoff’s LionTree, a fast-growing New York boutique investment bank, is advising the Kushner family on their bid for the Miami Marlins, according to one person involved in the negotiations. [FinancialTimes]

Danny Ayalon tweets: “Glad to meet Charles & Josh Kushner, dad & brother of Jared Kushner, POTUS’s son-in law and senior advisor. They are true friends of Israel.” [Pic

President-in-law: “Jared Kushner’s Mission Impossible” by Annie Karni: “In the heat of the presidential election last summer, Jared Kushner took a timeout from his father-in-law’s campaign for a secret meeting with one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors. For about 90 minutes at a New York hotel, Kushner sat down with Haim Saban… to talk about Israel. Kushner had been interested in meeting the Israeli-American entertainment mogul for years but had never before gotten on his radar. In 2010, Kushner cold-wrote Saban a letter expressing his admiration and congratulating him on a magazine feature. The letter had gone unnoticed and unanswered until now. At their under-the-radar confab, Kushner assured Saban that a President Donald Trump would be “very good for the U.S.-Israel relationship,” a phrase he repeated multiple times during the meeting…”

Saban confessed to Kushner that he thought Trump was offering a free ride to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on policies like expanding West Bank settlements. Clinton, he said, would take a more balanced approach. “Who knows?” Kushner responded… Kushner seems aware of the limits of his power. At his meeting with Saban, where they steered clear of talking about the election, the Clinton megadonor tried to glean a little bit of competitive information from Trump’s top campaign adviser. “What can we expect at the debates?” Saban asked. Kushner gave his enigmatic smile. “Who knows?” [Politico

“For Kushner, Israel Policy May Be Shaped by the Personal” by Jodi Kantor: “When Jared Kushner was 17 years old, he stood where a million Jews had been murdered and listened to Israel’s prime minister stress the country’s importance… But unlike other students on the trip, he knew the prime minister, who was friendly with his father, a real estate developer and donor to Israeli causes. Mr. Netanyahu had even stayed at the Kushners’ home in New Jersey, sleeping in Jared’s bedroom. (The teenager moved to the basement that night.)… Many years after his teenage encounters with Mr. Netanyahu, he may also be in a position to help the Israeli leader, who is facing multiple corruption investigations and ever-stronger challenges from the right… “The Prime Minister is coming into the meeting with the hope to forge a common policy with the president, and Jared’s role is critical in that,” said Ron Dermer, the ambassador of Israel, with whom Mr. Kushner has been in close contact. “He’s someone who, in my interactions with him, has really been able to deliver.”” [NYTimes

TOP TALKER: “Can a ‘Wrecking Ball’ of a President Evolve?” by Susan B. Glasser: “[Bob] Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reveals in an interview that Trump in fact planned to order the U.S. Embassy in Israel moved to Jerusalem immediately after his inauguration… “They were ready to move the embassy at 12:01 on Jan. 20, maybe 12 and 30 seconds,” Corker says… “That was going to be their first move.” … He may still order the U.S. Embassy to the disputed capital, Corker says, but only after hearing objections from Arab allies as well as his face-to-face meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington this week. “My sense is, they’re probably still moving there.”” [Politico

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Donald Trump’s Diplomatic Moderation” by Peter Nicholas and Carol Lee: “Mr. Trump also has retreated from his campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, opting not to do that within days of taking office. What’s more, Mr. Trump issued a statement warning Israel that expanding the construction of settlements to new areas could be an impediment to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. That stance tracks with longstanding U.S. policy toward the Middle East… With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled to visit Mr. Trump at the White House on Wednesday, the settlement and embassy issues could prove a source of contention.” [WSJ

“With Netanyahu visit, Trump faces difficult test on Israel this week” by Olivier Knox: “Donald Trump this week could become… the first president to make good on that pledge (to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem)… A decision could come by Wednesday, when the unpredictable president hosts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.” [YahooNews

KAFE KNESSET — On The Prime Minister’s Plane — by Tal Shalev: A delegation of over 32 journalists gathered this afternoon at Ben Gurion International Airport to accompany Prime Minister Netanyahu on his trip to the United States. It’s an unusually high number compared to recent years, as many Israeli media outlets, large and small, sent representatives (a leased El Al 767; an Israeli Air Force 1 is still on the way), and they were joined by foreign press representatives as well. Escorting Netanyahu on this historic trip are his National Security Advisor Yaakov Nagal, Chief of Staff Yoav Horwitz, Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman, and Hebrew and Foreign press spokespeople Boaz Stembler and David Keyes.

Netanyahu has been preparing for this visit for weeks. Yesterday, he convened a special cabinet meeting to discuss the agenda for his first encounter with the new administration, which lasted four hours. Netanyahu already stated in advance that he intends to “listen” to the cabinet ministers, and then essentially do what he wants. In sharp contrast to the high volume with which some of his ministers have attacked him in recent days, the meeting was apparently calm and cordial. “Netanyahu is in his highest element when dealing with the US,” a senior cabinet minister told Kafe Knesset. “As he considers himself ‘Mr. America’ it’s quite difficult to challenge him on these issues and even Bennet was well behaved.” After raising demands in recent weeks, calling on Netanyahu to denounce the two-state solution, Bennet changed his tone, wishing the PM bon voyage. “We trust you and back you 100% in the mission of keeping Israel the Jewish homeland,” Bennet said at a Jerusalem conference. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

“Benjamin Netanyahu: Trump won’t give Israel carte blanche to do what it wants “ by Tovah Lazaroff: “Even after eight years of complex navigation in the tenure of [former US President Barack] Obama, we still need to continue to act wisely with the Trump administration. While it is a more comfortable administration [to work with], there will still be restrictions,” Netanyahu told the ministers in his party… In his opening remarks to the government… Netanyahu spoke of his meeting with Trump… “I understand that there is a lot of excitement ahead of this meeting and there are many motivations behind this. I have only one motivation — first and foremost to take care of Israel’s security, to strengthen its alliance with the US and to shore up our national interests, which are intimately linked with the strong bond with the US. This requires a responsible policy, this requires discrete judgment and that is how I am going to operate.” [JPost] • Netanyahu: “I Told Trump Palestinians Won’t Budge, He Said They’ll Make Concessions” [Haaretz

Former U.S. Amb. Dan Shapiro: “For Netanyahu, one of the hardest parts of getting ready to meet Trump has to be the unpredictability and instability of this administration. Think about it: who thought that within a month, and before meeting Bibi, Trump would walk back on moving the embassy and warn on settlements? Israeli legalization bill and settlement announcements contributed, but Trump still went much farther than expected, esp to Israel Hayom. Tillerson is a new face, and the most familiar & friendly of faces, Elliott Abrams, was poised to be named Dep Sec, until Trump tanked him. That doesn’t even touch what Trump plans for warming ties with Putin, and the implications it could have for Israel‘s interests in Syria & Iran… if you’re Netanyahu, how do you work with this?” [Twitter]

“Why Trump’s Love Affair With Netanyahu Won’t Last” by Aaron David Miller: “To the surprise of many, myself included, his administration has issued a statement on Israeli settlements that would have been recognizable and acceptable to its predecessors. It’s hardly a James Baker-like blast on the settlements enterprise, and I’d bet that it was cleared with the Israelis. But it did caution Israel not to build new settlements or expand existing ones beyond their current borders… What matters is this: In the past, when you put Netanyahu, the peace process and the U.S. in the same sentence, things usually got messy, awkward, and unpleasant and they rarely worked out… I’m betting that within a year or so—and it might not take that long—Trump and Netanyahu will be annoying the hell out of one another.” [PoliticoMag

“Bibi and Donald” by Elliott Abrams: “White House officials knew what they were doing here (with statement on settlements), but did not seem (in my conversations with them) to have had Israeli domestic politics in mind. Yet these statements constructed a sort of shelter for Netanyahu, who had been pulled right since the Trump victory…. Expect a terrific visit. Warm remarks. Hugs. Firm commitments. And then, back to work “studying” and “thinking” about the same intractable problems that have faced American and Israeli officials for decades.” [TWS]

OVER THE WEEKEND: “Trump Overrules Tillerson, Rejecting Elliott Abrams for Deputy Secretary of State” by Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Weisman and Eric Lichtblau: “The deputy’s job was denied for Elliott Abrams… deals a blow to Mr. Tillerson in his first week on the job. The rejection of Mr. Abrams leaves Mr. Tillerson without a sherpa to help guide the first-time government official around the State Department headquarters. Mr. Trumphad a productive meeting with Mr. Abrams on Tuesday, according to a White House official and a person close to Mr. Abrams. But after it took place, Mr. Trump learned of Mr. Abrams’s pointed criticisms of the president when he was running for president, the administration official said… Mr. Tillerson had argued strongly for Mr. Abrams. So had Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and a senior adviser. Senator Tom Cotton… and some members of the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, had been reaching out to Democratic senators to impress upon them the importance of Mr. Abrams receiving Senate confirmation.” [NYTimes; CNN

“US blocks Palestinian from leading UN mission in Libya” by Edith Lederer: “U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Trump administration “was disappointed” to see that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had sent a letter to the Security Council indicating his intention to appoint Salam Fayyad, who served as the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister from 2007-2013, as the next U.N. special representative to Libya. “For too long the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley said.” [AP

“UN Erupts in an Uproar After Trump Vetoes High Post For Ex-Premier of ‘Palestine’” by Benny Avni: “Naming “Palestine” as Mr. Fayyad’s state of origin is crucial. Never before had a person from a country that is not a full United Nations member been named to such high post… American officials, as well as their Israeli counterparts, sensed that Mr. Guterres’ move was yet another step in the Palestinian Authority’s strategy of gaining world recognition through creeping UN acceptance.” [NYSun] • Netanyahu Confirms He Objected to Salam Fayyad’s UN Appointment [Haaretz

Martin Indyk‏: “Blocking Salam Fayyad & Elliott Abrams in one day are two of the most ANTI-Israel decisions Trump could take. Crazy.” [Twitter

“UN Chief Offered Israeli Lawmaker Tzipi Livni a Senior Role” by Yossi Verter: “Over the weekend, Livni (Hatnua-Zionist Union) received a phone call from UN Chief Antonio Guterres, who offered her the position of under-secretary-general… Officials in the UN see the offer as a deal: The U.S. will take back its opposition to the pick of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of the UN mission to Libya, and in return Livni’s appointment will be greenlit.” [Haaretz

ON THE HILL: “Senate to move on Friedman nomination for Israel ambassador” by Burgess Everett: “The Senate will move forward [this] week on the nomination of David Friedman to be ambassador to Israel, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced on Saturday afternoon. Friedman, a conservative orthodox attorney, will be one of the first non-Cabinet level nominees to move through the Senate. After his confirmation hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Feb. 16, Friedman could be confirmed shortly thereafter if there’s bipartisan cooperation.” [Politico

HEARD YESTERDAY IN NYC – Democratic House Members, Reps. Yvette Clarke, Eliot Engel, Adriano Espaillat, Hakeem Jeffries, Carolyn Maloney and Tom Suozzi addressed JCRC-NY’s Congressional Breakfast at the offices of the UJA-Federation of New York in Manhattan.

Highlights — Engel on the Iran deal: “I don’t believe that canceling the deal now is the right thing to do because Iran has stolen money and laughed all the way to the bank and yet the restrictions that we have imposed on Iran have not yet been carried out. I want to make sure that Iran lives up to every obligation it’s supposed to live up to under this deal.”

Engel on Jerusalem embassy: “I believe in moving the embassy to Jerusalem because Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. I don’t accept the fact that people say, ‘Well, you know if you move the embassy, it’s going to cause problems.’ Too bad. No one is suggesting that the embassy be moved to East Jerusalem. The part of Jerusalem that it would be moved to wouldn’t be far from the Knesset and is a part that has always been Israel since its founding in 1948, and will be Israel if and when there will be a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The fact of the matter is, every other country in the world declares where its capital is, except for Israel, and I am tired of it.”

Jeffries on strengthening Democratic support for Israel: “All of us can spend more time talking about how progressive a society – on the domestic front – Israel is today because I think that quite naturally is something that would appeal to a lot of progressives within the DemocraticParty, and it has the benefit of happening to be true. It is not what we would call alternative facts (laughter)… Israel is a very progressive society, and progressives should embrace and acknowledge that fact.” … “I think we’re going to have to be supportive when the relationship between Israel and the U.S. is advanced by the Trump Administration, but also be critical when necessary.”

Suozzi: “We Democrats from New York need to a better job of communicating with our fellow Democrats throughout the country about the importance of this relationship.” [JewishInsider

TRUMP TUMULT: “Confrontation vs conformists in the White House” by Mike Allen: “The conformists — Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, economic adviser Gary Cohn, General Mattis, Secretary Tillerson — would simply call themselves the realists. They think needless confrontation is killing the president’s standing overseas and on Capitol Hill… But Jared and Ivanka will outlast everyone. Many Republicans think the two will recognize the damage to Trump‘s brand and their own — and help engineer a return to a more conventional West Wing.” [Axios]

“Mike Flynn’s Position as National Security Adviser Grows Tenuous in White House” by Carol Lee, Shane Harris and Peter Nicholas: “Mr. Trump’s views toward the matter aren’t clear. In recent days, he has privately told people the controversy surrounding Mr. Flynn is unwelcome… But Mr. Trump also has said he has confidence in Mr. Flynn and wants to “keep moving forward,” a person familiar with his thinking said. Close Trump adviser Steve Bannon had dinner with Mr. Flynn over the weekend, according to another senior administration official, and Mr. Bannon’s view is to keep him in the position but “be ready” to let him go… Jared Kushner, as of Sunday evening hadn’t yet weighed in, the official said.” [WSJ]

Bret Stephens: “The smart move for the WH: Sack Flynn; replace him with Bolton.” [Twitter]

“Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down” by David Sanger, Eric Schmitt and Peter Baker: “Last week, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was exploring whether the Navy could intercept and board an Iranian ship to look for contraband weapons possibly headed to Houthi fighters in Yemen. The potential interdiction seemed in keeping with recent instructions from Mr. Trump, reinforced in meetings with Mr. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, to crack down on Iran’s support of terrorism. But the ship was in international waters in the Arabian Sea, according to two officials. Mr. Mattis ultimately decided to set the operation aside, at least for now. White House officials said that was because news of the impending operation leaked, a threat to security that has helped fuel the move for the insider threat program. But others doubt whether there was enough basis in international law, and wondered what would happen if, in the early days of an administration that has already seen one botched military action in Yemen, American forces were suddenly in a firefight with the Iranian Navy.” [NYTimes

“Gary Cohn Has Emerged as an Economic-Policy Powerhouse in TrumpAdministration” by Nick Timiraos, Michael Bender and Damian Paletta: “Washington and Wall Street are waiting to see how Mr. Cohn carves up the policy portfolio with the 54-year-old [Steve] Mnuchin at Treasury… White House officials dismiss talk of any budding rivalry, and the two men were seen lunching together last week in the White House’s mess hall. “I’m talking to Steve two, three times a day,” Mr. Cohn said. “I’m working as well with him as I can in what he’s allowed to do under the statutes and not being sworn in yet. I’m convinced we’ll work even better when he’s sworn in.”” [WSJ

— “Cohn collaborates frequently with Mr. Kushner … Along with Mr. Kushner and … Ivanka Trump, Mr. Cohn recently helped persuade the president not to pursue an executive order that would have rolled back rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “When a Pillar of the Fourth Estate Rests on a Trump-Murdoch Axis” by Jim Rutenberg: “His coziness with the president is not a given. “I’m a little surprised that Rupert seems as well disposed to Trump as he is,” said William Kristol, a conservative Trump critic who co-founded The Weekly Standard under the auspices of News Corp., which sold it in 2009. “Especially on trade and immigration, he was what Trump’s people call ‘a globalist.’ He may be one of the four most prominent globalists in the world.” Stephen K. Bannon, a Trumpadviser, made a similar observation in an interview with the media writer Michael Wolff shortly after the election, saying, “Rupert is a globalist and never understood Trump.” True, Mr. Murdoch — a longtime free-trade and immigration advocate — did not initially rally behind Mr. Trump and practically begged Michael Bloomberg to enter the race, on Twitter.” [NYTimes

SPOTLIGHT: “Trump Sons Forge Ahead Without Father, Expanding and Navigating Conflicts” by Eric Lipton and Susanne Craig: ““I was the first person to raise my hand and say you should not do certain deals, as I understood the optics, as you can’t build the tallest building in Tel Aviv and try to negotiate peace in the Middle East,” Eric [Trump] said. He estimated that the company had canceled a billion dollars’ worth of deals — although this estimate could not be confirmed independently.” [NYTimes

DNC WATCH: “Bill de Blasio: Keith Ellison Supports the Jewish Community, Israel” by Jacob Kornbluh: “He has fought anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia all as one continuous struggle,” de Blasio said as he introduced the Minnesota Congressman at a Jewish Rally for Refugees, organized by HIAS, a global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees. “He understands and supports the Jewish community, and he supports the Jewish homeland, the state of Israel.” In his remarks, Ellison blasted the Trump Administration for omitting any mention of Jews in the President’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement. “They don’t even want to put Jews in the statement,” he said. “How are we going to exclude Jewish people from Holocaust Memorial Day and then defend it by saying, ‘Well, you know, other people suffered too’? That was their answer. The reality is, we know who the primary target and victim of the Holocaust was and we will never forget it. We will stand with you every single day to remind them of it, and we will understand that an attack on one is an attack on all.” [JewishInsider] • D.N.C. Contenders Agree on One Thing: Resistance to Trump [NYT]

** 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: Bistricer’s Clipper Realty debuts on NYSE [RealDeal] • Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz dishes out $40M for Greenwich Lane penthouse [NYPost] • Media tycoon Richard Desmond starts £1bn Docklands regeneration [EveningStandard] • James Tisch’s epic explanation for why he’s reluctant to buy back stock or acquire companies [Yahoo

“Adelson spokesman on withdrawal from stadium project: Raiders were ‘picking his pocket’” by Richard N. Velotta: “(Adelson) was willing to share revenues and make it financially mutually beneficial, but they were picking his pocket,” [Andy] Abboud said. “I think that they felt they were asking to be entitled to revenue streams and things that simply made the deal unworkable. It was never about the financial return for the Adelsons, but the Adelson family wasn’t going to have their pocket picked, by the Raiders or by the NFL or anybody.” [LVReviewJournal]

TALK OF THE TOWN:“Orthodox soup kitchen loses donors after director helps Yemeni neighbors” by Josefin Dolsten: “Alexander Rapaport… who runs a network of kosher soup kitchens, helped organize a communal show of support last week for a local Yemeni-owned bodega in reaction to President Donald Trump’s executive order… Not everyone was happy about the gesture. “I received your solicitation letter in the mail along with this phone number,” read a text message he received Wednesday. “After seeing, though, that you protested President Trump’s executive order, and thus shamefully sided with those who are putting American lives in danger, I am no longer able to donate to your organization.” [ToI]

“Preparing My Kids for the New America” by Sayed Kashua: ““Listen up, kids,” I told them, as though conducting an army drill. “When I give the signal, you start doing an American Midwestern accent.” They sounded like locals to me. In other words, they sounded pure white to a Middle Eastern ear. “Very good,” I said. “And if someone should, even so, detect an accent and ask where you’re from?” “We’ll tell him we’re from Jerusalem,” my elder son replied. My daughter, who is the firstborn child, made a face. “Really, dad, we’ve been through this a million times.” Still, I forged ahead according to protocol. “And if it’s a sharp American who knows that there’s East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem, and asks which part of the city you’re from?” “We’ll try to check out his politics as best we can, and then decide whether we’re from the eastern or western part of the city,” my daughter said. “Excellent. And if you discover he doesn’t like either Jews or Arabs?” “We’ll say we’re from Jerusalem in Yates County, New York State,” the two children replied, correctly. My younger son didn’t have to take part in the drill. He’s in preschool, speaks only English, and thinks he’s as American as the next kid. He’ll be fine, because we haven’t yet told him that he’s a Muslim.” [NewYorker

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Dormant for five centuries, Jewish life in Italy’s far south is stirring” by S. D’I. and Eresmus: “Last month, the Roman Catholic authorities in Palermo decided to cede part of a church, built on what once was a medieval synagogue, to Jewish believers. The move was perceived as a significant, if long-overdue, gesture of reconciliation, coming some 500 years after the Spanish edict of expulsion. Mr Palazzolo says the community is gradually gaining not only in numbers but in confidence that it can withstand social pressure. “We are slowly coming back home,” he says.” [Economist]

SPORTS BLINK: “11-strong NFL stars’ trip to Israel now down to seven” by Jessica Steinberg: “Bennett’s brother Martellus, of the New England Patriots, has also reportedly pulled out of the trip. On Saturday, Denver Broncos’s Forsett retweeted Bennett’s letter with a post saying: “For those who are wondering I will not be on this trip to Israel.”… The trip was planned by the Ministry for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy in cooperation with the Tourism Ministry and America’s Voices in Israel, an initiative of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations… But Bennett pulled out after reading comments about the trip made by Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin…” [ToI

BIRTHDAYS: Senior US Senator from Connecticut, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2016, previously Attorney General of Connecticut (1991 to 2011), Richard Blumenthal turns 71… Internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of Zynga, maker of online social games, Mark Pincus turns 51… Rabbi and Talmudic scholar, also emeritus professor of economics at New York University, closely identified with the Austrian school of economic thought, Yisroel Mayer Kirzner turns 87… Television, film and stage actor, popular in the 1960s and 1970s for playing both dramatic and comedic roles such as Ship of Fools (1965), and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), George Segal turns 83… Professor at American Jewish University in Los Angeles and scholar of biblical literature and Semitic languages, Ziony Zevit turns 75… Host of the tabloid talk show “The Jerry Springer Show” since its debut in 1991, former Democratic mayor of Cincinnati, Jerry Springer turns 73… Newsweek columnist specializing in US intelligence, military and foreign policy issues, previously national security editor for Congressional Quarterly, Jeff Stein turns 73 (h/t Playbook)… Professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto, author of “‘I Did Not Know You Were Jewish’ and Other Things Not to Say,” Ivan Kalmar turns 69… Executive vice chairman emeritus of United Israel Appeal, formerly CEO of American Friends of Magen David Adom, Rabbi Daniel R. Allen turns 68…

Ukrainian billionaire, previously president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, Ihor Kolomoyskyi turns 54… Amy Sobo turns 54… President and CEO of the congressionally chartered National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, professor at GWU Law School, nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Jeffrey Rosen turns 53 (h/t Playbook)… Retired Israeli soccer player, he made 89 international appearances for Israel and won eight league championships, more than any other Israeli player, Alon Harazi turns 46… Wall Street Journal reporter covering the auto industry, focusing on safety, regulation, litigation and government investigations, Mike Spector turns 36 (h/t Playbook)… Executive director of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (chaired by Congressman Steve Israel), formerly communications director for Steve Israel, Samantha Ariel Slater turns 34 (h/t Playbook)… Former senior speechwriter for Treasury Secretaries Geithner and Lew (2010-2017) and speechwriter for Senator Frank Lautenberg (2008-2010), Mark Cohen… Dallas native and graduate from SMU, Government and Public Affairs Associate at ECA Strategies, Alejandra Aguirre… Norman Gardner… Jonathan Neuman… Pamela Brown… Arlene Milrad… Grandmother of Aryeh, Gabby, Noam, Alex and Daniella, among others, Esther Dickman (yesterday)…

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: Jared Kushner, shadow diplomat; Josh Kushner, MLB owner? | Adelson arranges Oval Office interview | ZOA critical of Trump admin, again

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President-in-law: “Jared Kushner, a shadow diplomat, pulls the strings on U.S.-Mexico talks” by Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Joshua Partlow: “Kushner’s back-channel communications with Mexico — the full extent of which has not been previously reported — reveal him to be almost a shadow secretary of state, operating outside the boundaries of the State Department or National Security Council… One of his top ambitions is to help broker peace in the Middle East — something with which the president has publicly tasked him — and Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, quietly has taken an active role in helping select ambassadors to that region.”

“Some of the leaders who have dealt with Kushner said they were initially skeptical but found him to be a good listener and courteous intermediary who quickly intuits the core of their issues and can facilitate meetings throughout the administration… “Everyone is trying to get to know Jared Kushner,” said the ambassador from one U.S. ally… In Trump’s inner circle, Kushner draws plaudits for smoothing feathers ruffled by his father-in-law’s more erratic moves — with some aides bemoaning that on Saturdays, when Kushner observes Shabbat and does not work or use electronic devices, the workings of the White House sometimes devolve.” [WashPostCBSNews

“Trump vexed by challenges, scale of government” by Alex Isenstadt, Ken Vogel and Josh Dawsey: “Some staffers worry about running afoul of Kushner, and say they’re unclear about his role, describing his portfolio as amorphous. “No one quite knows what it is,” said one. “It’s confusing.”” [Politico]

Trump hosted Sheldon and Miriam Adelson for dinner at the White House last night: According to Alex Isenstadt, Rex Tillerson and Nikki Haley joined Trump and Adelson at dinner. [Twitter

–According to Axios’ Jonathan Swan, Adelson was expected to raise with Trump the subject of the two-state solution and specifically why it will not work and “Trump’s promise to move the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem (a move Adelson supports).” [Axios

Trump tells Adelson’s paper Israel Hayom pre-dinner: “Israel has had a long history of condemnation and difficulty. And I don’t want to be condemning Israel. I understand Israel very well, and I respect Israel a lot, and they have been through a lot.”

On Israeli-Palestinian peace: “I want Israel to be reasonable with respect to peace. I want to see peace happen… Maybe there is even a chance for a bigger peace than just Israel and the Palestinians. I would like to see a level of reasonableness of both parties, and I think we have a good chance of doing that…”They [settlements] don’t help the process. I can say that. There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left… I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”

On Jerusalem Embassy: “The embassy is not an easy decision… I’m thinking about it very seriously, and we will see what happens.” [IsraelHayom

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump May Turn to Arab Allies for Help With Israeli-Palestinian Relations” by Peter Baker and Mark Landler: “The notion of recruiting Arab countries to help forge an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians — known as the “outside-in” approach — is not a new one. As secretary of state under President George Bush, James A. Baker III organized the first regional conference in 1991 at which Arab leaders sat down with Israel’s prime minister… “The logic of outside-in is that because the Palestinians are so weak and divided — and because there’s a new, tacit relationship between the Sunni Arabs and Israel — there’s the hope the Arabs would be prepared to do more,” said Dennis B. Ross, a Middle East peace negotiator under several presidents, including Mr. Obama.”

“Jared Kushner… has been intrigued by this logic, according to people who have spoken with him. Mr. Kushner has grown close to Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador and a close confidant of Mr. Netanyahu’s. A series of telephone conversations and personal meetings with Arab leaders in recent weeks have also shaped Mr. Kushner’s thinking and that of the president… Mr. Kushner has also met with Arab officials, including Yousef Al Otaiba, the ambassador from the United Arab Emirates.” [NYTimes

“Trump adds nuance to pro-Israel approach ahead of Netanyahu visit” by Matt Spetalnick and Luke Baker: “There is growing consensus in the White House that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require extensive deliberations and consultations with key lawmakers and U.S. allies before a decision on how to proceed… “This is a case where campaign promises run head-on into geopolitical reality and they have to be adjusted accordingly,” said a U.S. official.” [Reuters

“In Trump Meeting, Israel Sees Chance to Target Iran Proxies” by David Wainer and Michael Arnold: “Israel Katz, intelligence and atomic energy minister, said Netanyahu will urge U.S. officials to drive a wedge between Iran and Hezbollah through harsh sanctions that will make Tehran think twice about supporting the Lebanese group… “We see a new and very close alliance on the question of Iran, something that has changed from the past U.S. administration,” Katz said in an interview in Tel Aviv… Netanyahu may also discuss with Trump how to cope with the possibility that Iran could one day pursue a nuclear bomb. Israel will request to tighten intelligence-sharing and forge a joint plan on what steps to take when the deal ends and most limits on Iran’s nuclear capabilities expire, said Michael Oren, a deputy minister in the prime minister’s office.” [Bloomberg

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: Preparations for the first meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump continue. According to an Israeli official involved in the preparations, the White House is going out of its way to provide a warm welcome to the Netanyahus. Netanyahu’s first encounter with the new administration is turning into a family affair. Kafe Knesset has learned that the premier’s oldest son, Yair, will join his parents next week. He is currently on a private vacation in the US and will travel to meet his parents when they arrive in Washington on Monday.

Ahead of the trip, Netanyahu met today with President Reuven Rivlin and will convene the security cabinet on Sunday afternoon to discuss the agenda and the goals of the Trump meeting. While most of Netanyahu’s coalition partners are willing to back his stance on any matter, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett will push him for more. He is demanding Netanyahu disavow his 2009 Bar Ilan speech, in which he endorsed the two-state solution. “I expect the PM to tell Trump that there is no chance for a Palestinian state and that we should start applying Israeli law in West Bank Area C. Trump will follow our suit. So the story is Netanyahu and what we want. After 50 years, I expect Netanyahu to state clearly that he opposes a Palestinian state because it’s stupid,” Bennett said today. He added that he is concerned about Israelis encouraging Trump to stand by the two-state solution. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

HEARD YESTERDAY ON THE HILL — United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) co-hosted a panel discussion with JINSA to discuss US policy towards Iran during the Trump administration. The session featured Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, former Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), and former Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Stephen Rademaker.

Highlights — Senator Gardner: “We should pursue new initiatives at the United Nations to condemn Iranian behavior and impose additional sanctions for their behavior… If we are worried about them launching another missile, they are already doing that. If we are worried about their ability to continue to try and develop a nuclear program, they already have permission [as part] of the nuclear deal to do that in just a few years from now. I think retaliation is something that they are doing each and every day to mock the deal that they got and to mock all of us for entering into a deal that they got.”

Kirk: “The best thing that the Trump Administration can do is to declassify the entire agreement, publish it so the Congress and the American people can look at it and see the negotiating record and understand all of the terms as they were put forward with the parties.”

Bolton: “I think ‘on notice’ means the JCPOA is one heartbeat away from disappearing… The Iran deal is a one-day agreement that we are renewing day-by-day. And it’s that close to disappearing entirely… I would have ripped it up in the early days of the Administration. The deal was a strategic mistake for the US. It’s not getting any better with age. A clear and unambiguous political statement that the deal is unacceptable would have been the strongest way to go. But we are getting very close to that as it is.”

“Diplomatically, it is very difficult to envision multilateral sanctions being effective again in the short term… The path to make it impossible for Iran to get nuclear weapons economically is now nearly out of the question. I think you have to got to look at other alternatives… My view is that is should be declared American policy to overturn the regime in Tehran because that is the only way ultimately that you will get Iran to back off from the pursuit of nuclear weapons.” [JewishInsider

Sen Bob Corker: Defunding UN is ‘Taking a Hammer’ When ‘Scalpel’ More Useful — by Aaron Magid: The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Jewish Insider on Thursday that the Cruz and Graham bill is “taking a hammer that something a scalpel might well be more useful.” The legislation was referred to the SFRC on January 12 but the Tennessee lawmaker appeared skeptical that it would pass the committee. “I don’t know our committee is going to take it up,” Corker noted. He also explained that he supports addressing “anti-Semitic behaviors” at the international body, but using more targeted measures. “That’s using a blunt instrument when there may be a better way of getting a better outcome,” Corker concluded. [JewishInsider

Menendez: Senate Resolution condemning UNSC “should still proceed” — by Aaron Magid: Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) clarified on Thursday that the stalled S. Resolution 6 assailing the December UN Security Council vote critical of Israel is still alive. The New Jersey legislator told Jewish Insider outside of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, “As far as I am concerned, it should still proceed.” “It is still valuable to have the Senate on record in opposition to what the rest of the world says that the actions taken by the former Administration is not in the views of the majority of the members of the US Senate,” Menendez added. When asked when he expected the bill to proceed to a Senate floor vote, he noted, “That’s up to the Republican leadership.” 78 Senators have co-sponsored the bill. [JewishInsider]

TRUMP TUMULT: “Pro-Trump Jewish group reprimands White House for omitting Israel from ‘underreported’ attacks list” Annie Karni: “I am deeply perplexed as to how the administration put out a statement on terror attacks that haven’t been reported without Israel being on that list,” Mort Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, said in an interview on Thursday. “It’s painful and perplexing — especially on top of the Holocaust gaffe… I would like someone to explain it to me because I don’t get it. No country has had more terror attacks than Israel.” [Politico

DNC WATCH: “Ellison or Perez? Jewish Dems name their candidate” by Daniel Schere: “Perez has the advantage of having served both at the federal and local levels of government. This gave him the opportunity to meet prominent national political figures, such as former AIPAC President Howard Friedman and Ann Lewis… Rabbi Steve Gutow, former head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs… said he thinks Ellison’s experience as a community organizer is a valuable asset to a party in need of more grassroots-level advocacy. He saw this when he first met Ellison in 2007, when the two men took the “food stamp challenge,” trying live in Washington on the federal food stamp allotment for a week to raise awareness of poverty and hunger… Gutow said he has found Ellison to be a “very real” person who has the ability to “speak to people of the party.” [TheJC]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Idan Ofer proposes Teddy Sagi buy Oil Refineries [Globes] • A land swap between the Bureau of Land Management and billionaire retail magnate Leslie Wexner in western Colorado is on hold for now [WRAL] • Sam Nazarian Refinances Hudson and Delano South Beach Hotels [Yahoo] • Stan Kasten and the Dodgers might be selling piece of its franchise [PasadenaStarNews]

SPOTLIGHT: “Kushner Family Is in Talks to Buy Miami Marlins” by Andrew Ross Sorkin and Michael J. De La Merced: “The Kushners — led by Joshua Kushner, a venture capitalist, and Joseph Meyer, his brother-in-law and key lieutenant for the family’s investments — have pursued the Marlins for several months, devising a complicated financial arrangement that would include bringing in partners later, these people said. Neither Jared Kushner, who married Ivanka Trump in 2009 and is a top White House adviser, nor Charles Kushner, the family patriarch who spent over a year in prison for illegal campaign donations, tax evasion and witness tampering, is participating in the effort, these people said.”

“Yet it was unclear whether a deal would be reached, or whether the family would prevail in any bidding contest. Forbes reported on Thursday that the team had a “handshake agreement” to sell the team for about $1.6 billion, a figure that the people involved in the process said the Kushner family has contended was too high and refused to pay. Any deal would have to win the approval of Major League Baseball, which would closely scrutinize the buyer’s financing and would probably seek to ensure that Charles Kushner had no role in operations. As part of the financing for the Kushners’ bid, which was being shepherded by the boutique investment bank LionTree, the family would plan to bring in additional partners to help defray the costs.” [DealBook; Forbes]

“Jared Kushner’s Father Charlie Attempted To Buy NBA Team Within Past Eight Years: Charles Kushner, the father of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, is part of a potential purchase group of the Miami Marlins of the MLB. Charles Kushner also attempted to purchase an NBA team within the past eight years, according to a source… Jared Kushner submitted a bid to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.” [RealGM; ESPN]

“Why Melania Trump’s Lawsuit Is the Trumpiest It Gets” by William D. Cohan: “During the deposition, Trump cited two specific examples of how O’Brien’s article (in the NY Times)—and the diminished perception of his net worth that it fostered—cost him future earnings. Both opportunities, he said, came to him through Howard Lorber, then the chairman of Douglas Elliman, a real-estate brokerage that was part of Prudential Finance. A month or so before O’Brien’s story appeared, Trump testified that Lorber had called Trump to see whether he wanted to work with the Italian owners of a building at 400 Fifth Avenue to develop it into a major hotel and condominium tower… But then the Italians read O’Brien’s reporting. Lorber called him back and told him the Italians had decided not to proceed with a deal… As Lorber put it to me recently, the Italians got spooked about Trump after reading O’Brien’s article…”

“The second lost business opportunity involved Lorber directly, Trump testified. The idea was to create something to be called Trump Realty, essentially a branded unit within Douglas Elliman’s best real-estate team. Trump, who stood to get as much as 25 percent for lending his name, said in his deposition that he had more than 20 conversations with Lorber about the project. “He loved this idea,” Trump said. “He liked it more than I did.” The day after O’Brien’s story ran in the Times, Lorber told Trump he was having second thoughts.” [VanityFair

TRANSITION: Eric Pelofsky, a former special assistant to the President and senior director for North Africa and Yemen at the National Security Council, has joined The Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a visiting fellow. “As we have seen in the first weeks of the Trump presidency, issues across the Middle East remain at the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda,” said Robert Satloff, the Institute’s Executive Director.

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Jewish Motorist Helped by Stranger … Who Turns Out to Be Gov. Cuomo” by Isser Berg: “After half an hour of largely unsuccessful work, three SUVs driving on the highway suddenly pulled over. A passenger in one of them rolled down the window and asked [Noach] Fisher, “Do you need help?” Pointing the trooper and the HELP truck, Fisher said, “I already have help.” But the stranger in the SUV insisted, “Let me help you.” He exited the car and tied the chain from his SUV to Fisher’s. “The man was under my car and working for 15 minutes, tying the chain, pressing the buttons, instructing me ‘turn right,’ ‘turn left,’” says Fisher… Fisher, who says he never uses internet or social media, did not believe that the man who had been under his car in the snow for 15 minutes was none other than New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.” [Hamodia

WINE OF THE WEEK — Kitron Lika 2009 — by Yitz Applbaum: It is rare to find an Israeli winery that I have not heard of. It is even rarer for me to be so quickly impressed as I was by the Kitron Winery. Nestled in the hilltop of Hosea in the Galilee, I visited Kitron with a wine expert from Italy and my pilot-friend Hershko. This was destined to be a fun trip. But “fun” turns out not to be the right word. “Blown away,” “massively impressed” and “taken” would be more accurate.

The winery is built using the gravity approach — there are no pumps and no forced de-capping. The wine is punched very gently and goes from tank to barrel with only gravity to guide it. I tasted many of the wines there and they were all wonderful. In future columns I will describe more of them. Today, I will start with the Kitron Lika 2009. It is a Cabernet Shiraz blend. Meir, the proprietor, believes in seriously oaking his wines. This wine is no exception. The ruby red Cabernet coats the front of your palate and the peppery Shiraz stays on the back of your tongue for a long time. I drank this wine with cheese and vegetables and home-cured olives. It was a perfect combination.

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Robert Allen “Bob” Iger turns 66… Founding figure of Postminimalism’s conceptual art, long-time resident of Manhattan’s West Village, Lawrence Weiner turns 75… Rabbi in Vienna, Austria (1983-1989), in Munich (1989-1997) and Berlin (1997-2015), Yitshak Ehrenberg turns 67… Swimmer, who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Mark Spitz turns 67… Philanthropist and environmentalist whose family dedicated the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, previously an executive at City National Bank of Florida, Jayne Abess turns 62… Host of CNBC’s “Mad Money” and a co-founder of TheStreet, Inc., former hedge fund manager, and best-selling author, James J. “Jim” Cramer turns 62… Journalist and syndicated newspaper columnist whose work has been published on the op-ed page of the Boston Globe since 1994, Jeff Jacoby turns 58… Former NASA astronaut, famous for his mezuzah in the International Space Station, awarded a Ph.D. from Cal Tech in 1997, Garrett Reisman turns 49… Columbus-based executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities Howie Beigelman turns 43… Israeli pop star (having sold over 200,000 albums), songwriter, musician, record producer and part of the duo “TYP” also known as The Young Professionals, Ivri Lider turns 43… Managing partner at Roberti Global, previously an aide for Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and then-Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Israel “Izzy” Klein turns 40… Candidate for Vice President of the United States in the 2016 election as the running mate of Evan McMullin, entrepreneur and digital media strategist, Mindy Finn turns 36 (h/ts Playbook)… Executive Producer of the “Architects of Change” series and “Shriver Report Snapshots” at Maria Shriver’s Shriver Media, previously at ABC News, CBS News and Politico, Michelle Levi Noe… Founder and principal of The Tool Shed Group Jason Katz… Avital Mannis

Second son of former President George H. W. Bush, 43rd Governor of Florida (1999-2007), candidate for US President in 2016, John Ellis “Jeb” Bush turns 64… Ilana Ozernoy, VP and deputy head of comms at News Corp (h/t Playbook)… National medical director of Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, former EVP and chief medical officer for Erickson Retirement Communities (1989-2005), Gary E. Applebaum, MD turns 58… Tight end on the NFL’s Carolina Panthers for four seasons (2003-2006), having played college football at UCLA, Mike Seidman turns 36… Chief of Staff for Congressman Bob Dold (R-IL-10), David B. Stern… Chaya Yehudis Neuberger… Shirley Munch

Best selling author, known for children’s and young adult fiction, Judy Sussman Blume, turns 79… Author, former member of the Knesset (1992-2003) and then chair of the Tel Aviv City Council (2008-2013), Yael Dayan turns 78… Prime Minister of Israel (1999-2001), Deputy Prime Minister (2009-2013), Defense Minister (2007-2013), highly decorated IDF soldier and general, Ehud Barak turns 75… Economist David D. Friedman, whose father was Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, turns 72… Jeremy Iloulian, a J.D. candidate at Duke Law and a Hogan Lovells alum (h/t Playbook)… Google’s computer genius, author, inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil, turns 69… Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks and the President of Disney-ABC Television Group Ben Sherwood turns 53… Film director Darren Aronofsky turns 48… Comic book author and illustrator Judd Winick turns 47… WSJ management reporter Rachel Feintzeig (h/t Playbook)… MLB player Adam Stern turns 37… Periodontist in Newark DE, Barry S. Kayne, DDS… Gary Arminoff

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