Daily Kickoff: Joe Lieberman vs. AOC heats up | Why Stephen Wise Synagogue is now avoiding Women’s March Inc. | Jersey City follows Hatzalah’s lead

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SPOTLIGHT — Adam Neumann, the salesman-guru out to prove that We works —  by Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson: “One property executive who knows Mr. Neumann describes him as the best salesman he has met, but argues that WeWork has too little proprietary technology to be valued as a tech company… “You can say all that stuff but he did it and other people didn’t,” answers Lloyd Blankfein, senior chairman of Goldman Sachs, another WeWork investor. “He’s getting huge financing from people who don’t give ice in the winter.” Noah Wintroub, vice-chairman of investment banking at JPMorgan, has seen Mr. Neumann split opinion since WeWork had just one building. “People were skeptical… but once you get in a room with him [and] listen to his vision, you get attracted,” he says.”

“Mr. Blankfein invited Mr. Neumann to speak at a Jewish charity dinner last year and recalls him explaining that he began observing the Sabbath after asking his rabbi for help in controlling his ego as he became a billionaire. Mr. Neumann is sincere about his spirituality, Mr. Blankfein says, but “there was a practical side… It wasn’t simple piety; it was kind of almost a lifestyle. A holistic thing, not a bifurcated life.” Mr. Neumann is selling that vision to the likes of Mr. Son: of a future in which work is so uplifting that it is a lifestyle; where all the lonely people form a community, moving seamlessly between the shared workplaces and homes. He calls WeWork “a capitalist kibbutz,” like the collective in the Negev desert to which he moved after his parents divorced.” [FinancialTimes]

DRIVING THE DAY — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York today ahead of a ceremony to assume the chairmanship of the largest bloc of developing countries at the United Nations on Tuesday. The bloc, known as the Group of 77, chose “Palestine,” which the UN General Assembly granted permanent observer status in 2012, to replace Egypt as its next leader last July.

— MK Tzipi Livni, former Opposition Leader and head of HaTnua Pary told AIPAC leaders in Tel Aviv yesterday that “an immediate dialogue with the Palestinian Authority can be opened even if it is primarily economic.” [JPost]

Elliott Abrams writes… “Abbas Celebrates 14th Anniversary of His Four-Year Term: As Abbas marks his anniversary in power, those who had hoped for positive political evolution in the Palestinian territories can only mourn the way he has governed, especially in the last decade.” [CFR]

TALK OF THE REGION — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announcedover the weekend that the U.S. will host a summit next month in Poland to counter Iran’s regional influence and “focus on Middle East stability and peace.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who also serves as Foreign Minister — was reportedly invited to attend the February 13-14 meeting, known as the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East, along with diplomats from Gulf Arab states.

Iran called on Poland to withdraw its sponsorship of the conference, saying it “can’t wash the shame: while Iran [under the Shah] saved Poles in WWII, it now hosts desperate anti-Iran circus.” The Iranian Foreign Ministry also summoned Poland’s Charge d’Affaires Wojciech Unolt on Sunday.

During a visit to Doha on Sunday, Pompeo pledged to renew attempts to resolve the standoff between Qatar and Saudi Arabia that has complicated the Trump administration’s efforts to isolate Iran. Sec. Pompeo met with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh today.

FDD’s Mark Dubowitz emails us: “The Warsaw summit is an important step in further cementing Arab-Israeli ties against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The mullahs face a Middle East that is increasingly united against their malign and destructive activities.”

REPORT — White House Sought Options to Strike Iran — by Dion Nissenbaum: “President Trump’s National Security Council asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran… after militants fired three mortars into Baghdad’s sprawling diplomatic quarter, home to the U.S. Embassy, on a warm night in early September… But they triggered unusual alarm in Washington, where John Bolton conducted a series of meetings to discuss a forceful American response, including what many saw as the unusual request for options to strike Iran… The Pentagon complied with the National Security Council’s request to develop options for striking Iran… But it isn’t clear if the proposals were provided to the White House.”

“During a trip to Israel earlier this month, Mr. Bolton suggested that Mr. Trump was willing to strike Iran if he thought Tehran was close to developing a nuclear weapon. “The president looks at all his options constantly,” Mr. Bolton said in an interview with talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt that aired on Friday. “On a subject of this seriousness, this is something we coordinate very closely with Israel on, but for reasons I’m sure you can understand, we have to keep our cards close to the vest.” [WSJ] • Mattis had “deep concerns” about White House request for Iran strike options [Axios]

WHY IT MATTERS — “The news of Mr. Bolton’s effort to find a way to strike back at Iran comes as evidence is rising that Tehran is considering — or at least threatening — to leave the nuclear agreement. The chief of Iran’s nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, an M.I.T.-educated physicist who helped negotiate the deal, said on Sunday that Tehran had begun “preliminary activities for designing” a process for enrichment of uranium.” [NYTimesAP

— Jonathan Swan reports“Of all the disagreements that drove President Trump and then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis apart, one of the most perilous had to do with blowing up Iranian boats. “Why don’t we sink them?” the president would ask… Trump repeatedly asked his national security team for plans to blow up Iranian “fast boats” in the Persian Gulf during the first year of his presidency.”

BEHIND THE SCENES — Inside the attempt to derail Trump’s erratic Syria withdrawal — by Anne Gearan, Josh Dawsey and John Hudson: “Since Trump’s abrupt Syria announcement last month, a tug of war with allies and his advisers has roiled the national security apparatus over how, and whether, to execute a pullout. Netanyahu spoke to Trump two days before the president’s announcement and again a day afterward… Even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who liked the policy, was concerned it could not be safely executed so quickly… Some U.S. national security aides hoped that Netanyahu could help persuade Trump to slow the withdrawal, even if he went ahead with a planned announcement that week.” [WashPost]

Trump Threatens Turkey With Economic Devastation If It Attacks Kurdish Fighters — by Dominique Mosbergen: “President Donald Trump has threatened Turkey, a NATO ally, with economic devastation if it attacks U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria after American troops withdraw from the country. His warning was met with sharp rebuke from Ankara… Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin suggested in a tweet that the U.S. was making a “fatal mistake.” [HuffPost]

ON THE GROUND — Netanyahu: Israel struck Iranian weapons depot at Damascus airport — by Jack Guy, Michael Schwartz andOren Liebermann: “In a rare acknowledgment of Israeli operations in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country’s air force struck Syria over the weekend. Speaking at Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said: “In the last 36 hours, the air force has attacked Iranian warehouses with Iranian weapons in the Damascus International Airport. The total sum of the last attacks prove that we are more determined than ever to act against Iran in Syria exactly as we promised.” [CNNWSJ] • Israel says all Hezbollah cross-border tunnels found [AFP]

Bret Stephens interviewed IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who is stepping down after four years at the helm of the Israel Defense Forces: “We operated under a certain threshold until two-and-a-half years ago,” Eisenkot explains, referring to Israel’s initial policy of mainly striking weapons shipments destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon… In January 2017 Eisenkot obtained the government’s unanimous consent for a change in the rules of the game. Israeli attacks became near-daily events. In 2018 alone, the air force dropped a staggering 2,000 bombs… “We have complete intelligence superiority in this area. We enjoy complete aerial superiority. We have strong deterrence and we have the justification to act.” [NYTimes]

— Pummel the bases, miss the men — Israel’s invisible war in Syria — by Anshel Pfeffer: “Eisenkot acknowledged for the first time… that Israel had supplied rebel groups in the border area with light weapons “for self-defense.” [TheTimes

TOP TALKER — Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration [WashPost]

ON THE HILL — The International Crisis of Donald Trump — by Susan Glasser: “On Wednesday morning, Eliot Engel, the Democratic congressman from New York who has just taken over the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sank into an oversized leather chair in his office and told me that his first act as chairman will be to create a new subcommittee devoted to investigating President Trump…  “We’re the only check left,” Tom Malinowski, a newly sworn-in Democratic congressman from New Jersey, told me the other day. Malinowski, a former Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama Administration, hopes to land a seat on Engel’s Foreign Affairs Committee.” [NewYorker]

The House of Representatives approved the bipartisan Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act in a floor vote of 411-1 on Friday. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) voted against. The legislation, re-introduced by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Brad Schneider (D-IL), would upgrade the status of the envoy on anti-Semitism to an ambassadorship requiring Senate confirmation. It would also impose a legal limit — within 90 days of enactment — on the time in which the administration can continue to leave the position without a designated appointee. The Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has ceased operations since April 28, 2017, and the position has been vacant since Trump took office on January 20.

HEARD YESTERDAY — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), during an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation yesterday promised to take action against Rep. Steve King (R-IA) over his recent “white supremacist” remarks: “I’ve watched on the other side that they do not take action when their member says something like this. Action will be taken. I’m having a serious conversation with Congressman Steve King on his future and role in this Republican Party.” [Video] • Republicans say Steve King’s ‘stupid,’ ‘racist’ remarks may result in action against him [NBCNews]

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Pushes Democrats to the Left, Whether They Like It or Not — by Shane Goldmacher: “In the two months since her election, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has had the uncanny ability for a first-term member of Congress to push the debate inside the Democratic Party sharply to the left, forcing party leaders and 2020 presidential candidates to grapple with issues that some might otherwise prefer to avoid.” [NYTimes]

— Rep. Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Committee on Appropriations, on why she’s publicly embracing Ocasio-Cortez — by Michael Mcauliff: “AOC, I guess we call her,” Lowey said. “I spent an hour with her. She was very thoughtful,” she said… She also regarded Ocasio-Cortez’s social media prowess with a certain amount of wry, grandmotherly humor. “She told me just this morning she has over a million Twitter followers, and she does her own twittering, or tweeting, what do you call it? Twitting, tweeting?” Lowey said.” [NYDailyNews]

Ocasio-Cortez reacted on Twitter to Joe Lieberman saying she’s not the future of the Democratic Party: “New party, who dis?”

— Lieberman ramps up feud with Ocasio-Cortez — by Nikki Schwab: “She just takes us back to the big-spending, big-taxing Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party is not going to succeed that way,” Lieberman told Fox News Channel’s Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.” … Lieberman called Ocasio-Cortez’s reaction on Twitter “kind of silly.” [NYPost]

HEARD THE OTHER DAY — President Trump during a roundtable discussion with state, local, and community leaders on border security in the Cabinet Room on Friday: “With Israel, for many years, everybody campaigning for President said they were going to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. This went on, as you know, for many, many years… And I said the same thing —  same words, same campaign. But I did it and got it done, and people are very happy. Jewish population and evangelicals — unbelievably happy. I did it… And I compare [building the border wall] to the embassy because they talked about it for 45, 50 years, and we got it done. We’re going to get this done, too.” [CSPAN]

2020 WATCH — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is expected to formally announce her bid for the White House this week… Gabbard said that “war and peace” will be a central issue in her campaign… She has already come under scrutiny for working for an anti-gay group that backed conversion therapy… Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro officially announced a presidential run on Saturday… Bernie Sanders is staffing up ahead of a potential 2020 campaign… Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is planning a trip to Iowa in the coming weeks, signaling a possible White House run… Mike Bloomberg told reporters in Texas on Friday that he’d self-fund his campaign if he runs for president… NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio won’t rule out a presidential bid…

Wall Street’s Democratic Money Guys Are Already Thinking About Their 2020 Bets — by William Cohan: “I have chatted with many Obama supporters who tell me Beto [O’Rourke] is a rock star, and if he decides to enter the race, I would be excited to meet him,” said Robert Wolf, the former chairman and C.E.O. of the U.S. arm of UBS, the big Swiss bank, and the founder of 32 Advisors, his own investment boutique. Wolf, who rose to national prominence a decade ago for his financial and intellectual support of a then-obscure candidate named Barack Obama, has since become perhaps the most sought-after Democratic executive on Wall Street… “I have been friends with many of the potential candidates,” Wolf said. “I’ve already met with a bunch of them or talked to them about their plans to enter.” In Wolf’s estimation, there could be as many as 25 different hopefuls on the Democratic side.” [VanityFair]

** 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: Disney CEO Bob Iger Misses Out on $60 Million Bonus, But Still Collects Record Payday [Bloomberg] • Blackstone hires General Atlantic’s Jon Korngold to launch new growth-investing business[WSJ] • Shari Redstone is pressing on with her plan to merge CBS and Viacom[VarietyWSJ] • Mobileye CEO Outlines Israel’s Robotaxi Future[Calcalist] • Israel drone maker Aeronautics gets $232 million buyout offer[Reuters]

Ilan Berman writes… “Israel’s Dangerous Dalliance With China: The larger risks associated with China’s growing investments in the Jewish state, and their implications for Israel’s security as well as its relations with key international partners, haven’t been sufficiently addressed by policy makers in Jerusalem.” [WSJ]

STARTUP NATION —How silicon makes Israel’s desert bloom: “As a child living on Kibbutz Ginosar, in Israel’s north, Ofir Schlam would wake up at dawn to inspect leaves for [pink bollworms]. “They were really hard to find,” he recalls. Spotting the enemy has become much easier. Four years ago, Mr. Schlam co-founded Taranis, a company that uses high-resolution imagery from drones, planes and satellites to diagnose problems in the field—among them bollworms, diseases, dryness and nutrient deficiencies. Investors are joining the effort: in November, Taranis raised $20m.” [Economist]

ON FRIDAY EVENING — Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue announced from the pulpit, “We are disassociating from Women’s March Inc.” The Rabbi noted his congregation will join the 2019 Women’s March On NYC under the auspices of Women’s March Alliance. “As a synagogue, we will not participate in, or endorse, the 2019 D.C. march. Already in 2017, we heard rumblings of troubling accusations of anti-Semitism within and amongst the leadership of the Washington march.”

“We also knew of the intense anti-Israel, anti- Zionist views of at least one of the original organizers, who is also a fierce advocate of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, BDS. But at the time we pushed our discomfort aside. It seemed to us that the greater good was to unite with as many like-minded Americans as possible.” [Video]

SO WHY NOW? “That Tablet piece was very influential,” Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch told JI in a phone interview on Sunday morning. “We heard these rumblings. We heard them early on, but we suppressed them in deference to what we considered the bigger issues threatening our country… But now there are alternatives… And I think it’s important for the Jewish community to realize that the BDS aspect of the leadership of the Women’s March too was very troubling to us. Had there been alternatives just on the BDS issue itself, that would have inclined us to want to participate with the alternatives, leaving aside all of the accusations of associations with figures who are anti-Semitic.”

— On BDS backers now in Congress, Rabbi Hirsch cautioned: “I think the election of Congressional representatives who have expressed sympathy to BDS is a warning sign to the Jewish community that this perspective is encroaching in the liberal camp. I would urge the Jewish community to reach out to them as quick as possible and engage in a dialogue with them. I wouldn’t write off members of Congress from the outset because they hold these views.”

The National Women’s March was rocked by claims of anti-Semitism. Now local marches are grappling with the fallout — by Daniella Silva: “Some local marches have taken pains to differentiate themselves from Women’s March Inc. For example, Women’s March Alliance, a group affiliated with March On that has organized marches in New York, announces on its website that it is not affiliated with Women’s March Inc.”[NBCNews]

Southern Poverty Law Center Quietly Joins the Roster of Big Groups Walking Away from the Women’s March — by Jackie Kucinich: “The Southern Poverty Law Center will not partner with the Women’s March this year… Asked whether the [Louis] Farrakhan connection played a part in the decision not to partner with them, [SPLC spokeswoman Jen] Fuson reiterated that the group had other priorities.” [DailyBeast]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop writes… How Jersey City’s United Rescue, inspired by Israel’s United Hatzalah: Our citizen first-responders may be eating lunch, working or sleeping, but they always keep the United Rescue app handy… Our system is based on United Hatzalah, pioneered in Israel, which deploys a force of volunteers who answer 1,100 calls a day — rescuing about 100 people daily — in a country with a population about the same size as New York City’s. In New York, Hatzalah volunteer ambulances provide a similar rapid response in a few Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods around the city, but on a smaller scale.”[NYPost

LONG READ — The French Burglar Who Pulled Off His Generation’s Biggest Art Heist: “The skilled climber and thief Vjeran Tomic, whom the French press referred to as Spider-Man, has described robbery as an act of imagination — by Jake Halpern: “One of the countries that still adhere to the principle of market overt is Israel. “I would be very shocked if an Israeli court upheld the purchase of art clearly stolen from a museum,”[Derek] Fincham said. “Still, the possibility might have been enough to tempt a buyer to test the court on this matter.” In late December, 2010, as the French police were closing in on Tomic, [Yoni] Birn flew to Tel Aviv. He called [Jean Michel] Corvez. Police officers monitoring Corvez’s phone line recorded an exchange suggesting that he and Birn were arranging a sale… Corvez shared little information with [Vjeran] Tomic. At one point, he told him that he’d lined up a Saudi buyer, but later said that the Saudi had backed out, and that the solution to their problem lay in Israel. Tomic recalled Corvez saying, cryptically, “There’s a Russian Jew who is capable of taking the paintings.” [NewYorker

USEFUL DEPT — The Art of Decision-Making: Your life choices aren’t just about what you want to do; they’re about who you want to be [NewYorker]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Jon Bon Jovi, Robert Kraft Rock Out To ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ During Patriots-Chargers: “Jon Bon Jovi enjoyed Sunday’s Patriots-Chargers divisional round game in Foxboro with New England owner Robert Kraft, and the duo enjoyed a little sing-along during the fourth quarter. After the Patriots jumped out to a 41-14 lead early in the final frame, Bon Jovi and Kraft were shown on the CBS broadcast singing along to the rocker’s classic Livin’ On A Prayer.” [CBSBoston]

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman emeritus of the publicly traded Empire State Realty Trust, he is the father-in-law of US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Peter L. Malkin turns 85… Entertainment executive, he served as President and COO of MCA and Universal Studios for over 40 years, Sidney Jay “Sid” Sheinberg turns 84… Washington Nationals baseball fan known as Rubber Chicken Man, he waves a rubber chicken over the Nationals dugout and is one of the few fans for whom Topps has issued a baseball card, Hugh Kaufmanturns 76… Award-winning legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio since 1975, focusing primarily on the US Supreme Court, Nina Totenbergturns 75… Screenwriter, director and producer, best known as co-writer of the films “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Return of the Jedi,” Lawrence Kasdan turns 70… Board certified orthopedic spinal surgeon, inventor and philanthropist, he sold his medical patents to Medtronic in 2005 for $1.35 billion, Gary K. Michelson, M.D. turns 70… Painter, editor, writer and book artist, she taught art reviewing and criticism at the University of Pennsylvania (2012-2018), Susan Bee turns 67… Shaul Saulisbury turns 61…

Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Likud party, she holds a Ph.D. in criminology, Anat Berko turns 59… Historian, journalist, author, media critic, blogger and educator, he is currently a professor at Brooklyn College and the media columnist for The Nation, Eric Alterman turns 59… AIPAC Board Member, founding member and co-managing partner of LA-based law firm, Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP, Michael L. Tuchin turns 54… Actress best known for her movie roles in the late 1980s in “The Goonies” and “Lucas,” she later became a film producer, Kerri Lee Green turns 52… Staff writer at The New Yorker and a CNN global affairs analyst, she previously served as editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine and editor at The Washington Post and Roll Call, Susan B. Glasser turns 50… Venture capitalist and brother of Michael Dell, one of his start-ups was acquired by Goldman Sachs in 2018 where he is now a partner, Adam R. Dell turns 49… Sales associate in the Montclair, NJ office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, David Freyturns 40… Associate attorney in the Toronto law firm of Zarek Taylor Grossman Hanrahan, Aryeh Samuel… Stephen Panikoff… Alba Farquharson… Barbara Singer-Meis




Daily Kickoff: Rep. Max Rose invites Steve King to Staten Island… sort of | Haim Saban on 2020 | Israeli bid to resell U.S. F-16s to Croatia fails

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DRIVING THE CONVO — Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is under fire from fellow members of Congress and Jewish groups for his comments in an interviewwith the New York Times that appeared to defend white supremacy. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” asked King.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in a statement that King’s “language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society.” His comments “are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse,” House GOP Conference leader Liz Cheney (R-WY) added on Twitter.

Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) told Jewish Insider“Steve King is a disgrace to Congress and this country. I’d like to see him come to Staten Island and South Brooklyn and say this.”

RJC’s Matt Brooks: “We have been highly critical of Cong. Steve King in the past and have refused to support him. Once again we are appalled and disgusted by his views and comments. He doesn’t represent the values of the RJC or the Republican Party. I’m thrilled so many leaders in Congress have spoken up and spoken out against him.” [JewishInsider]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Reps. Tlaib, Omar, and Carson headline CAIR reception — by Laura Kelly: The first two Muslim women elected to Congress — Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) — headlined a meet and greet hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim advocacy organization in the U.S., at the Grand Hyatt in Arlington, Virginia. During their speeches Reps. Tlaib and Omar both focused on their backgrounds in progressive politics, as disruptive change-makers who upend the narrative of what a Muslim woman is expected to look and act like.

Jinan Shbat, the national outreach manager for CAIR, expressed hope that when Congress gets back to work, issues like the immigration, healthcare, and the ‘Muslim ban,’ will be on the agenda of the Muslim representatives. On legislation related to Israel, Ms. Shbat deferred, saying that she can’t speak for Reps. Omar and Tlaib — who have both expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS)— but said that CAIR has been open about opposing any law that would infringe on freedom of speech. “When it comes to the BDS movement, we [CAIR] have a stance that we believe that [anti-BDS legislation] is an infringement on our First Amendment right and that it shouldn’t be…passed regardless of what it’s supporting, she said. [JewishInsider]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Sen. Joe Lieberman tells Neil Cavuto on Fox Business that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) isn’t the future of the Democratic Party: “With all respect, I certainly hope she’s not the future and I don’t believe she is. She’s gotten a lot of attention because she’s different. She’s controversial. But if you look at the majority of new Democrats in the House, they tend to be, I say, center-left, if they are not left-left. And that is because they had to be center-left to win some of those competitive swing districts that they took from Republicans.” [FoxBusiness]

Watch: Ocasio-Cortez and Rev. Al Sharpton showed off their dance moves after a meeting on Capitol Hill yesterday. [Video]

ON THE HILL — On Thursday, the Senate failed once again to advance legislation that would reauthorize the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel and an anti-BDS measure after Senate Democrats — excluding Bob Menendez (NJ), Joe Manchin (WV), Doug Jones (AL) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) — managed to block it from reaching the 60 vote threshold. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) immediately filed cloture again, setting up a third procedural vote for next week.

Freshman Senator Josh Hawley‏ (R-MO) tweeted yesterday: “Voted AGAIN this afternoon to secure our ally Israel. Dems AGAIN blocked it as they continue their shutdown. Anti-Israel and anti-Semite groups celebrating. Dems: are you proud of this?”

HEARD ON THE SENATE FLOOR — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): “It’s important for us to make it clear that our commitment to Israel is unwavering. It is especially important in light of the decision to withdraw from Syria because what a lot of the countries, including Iran, are reading into this is: the U.S. commitment to the Middle East is no longer strong. And not only are they not committed to being involved in the region, but they are also actually withdrawing any of the assets they could be using to be supportive of their allies in the region. So these statements of policy are important.” [CSPAN]

— Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is reportedly working on compromise legislation that he hopes can bring more Democrats on board to support the anti-BDS bill. “I’m working on drafting a new version of Rubio’s language that could get a lot of Democratic votes,” Murphy told al-Monitor. “There’s a way to make these bills truly bipartisan and bicameral. Unfortunately, Republicans seem more interested in using Israel as a wedge issue than actually getting as many votes as possible.”

SHUTDOWN WATCH — White House Aides Explore Alternative Ways to Pay for Border Wall — by Michael Bender, Kristina Peterson and Peter Nicholas: “White House officials are divided over whether President Trump should declare a national emergency to obtain funding to build a border wall and end a partial government shutdown… Inside the West Wing, Jared Kushner… has been lobbying for restraint.” [WSJ]

Bret Stephens, who toured the Israel-Lebanon border this week, writes… “What Real Border Security Looks Like: The Israeli experience suggests that the best way to protect a border is to rely on the tools of the 21st century, not the 12th… There are vastly more effective means than concrete to defend even the most dangerous borders. Why can’t Democrats and Republicans simply agree to build additional smart fencing in places where it’s missing and call it, for political effect, an “Israeli-style barrier”?” [NYTimes]

TOUR OF THE REGION — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out the administration’s vision for America’s role in the Middle East in a speech at the American University in Cairo on Thursday. Without mentioning him by name, Pompeo rebuked President Barack Obama’s landmark 2009 speech in Cairo, vowing that now was really “a new beginning” for ties between the U.S. and the Middle East, despite President Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria.[CSPAN]

HOW IT PLAYED — Two Speeches, a Decade Apart: How Pompeo Departed From Obama — by Megan Specia and Alan Yuhas: “Mr. Obama adamantly supported a two-state solution, asserting America’s “unbreakable” bond with Israel while condemning Israeli policies… Mr. Pompeo said little about the peace process and made no mention of a two-state solution… Messages of support for Israel were woven prominently throughout the address… Mr. Obama quoted the Quran, the Bible and the Talmud… Mr. Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, began his address with a nod to his faith.”[NYTimes• Pompeo vows to quell Obama’s Mideast ‘mistakes’ [Politico]

— In the Middle East, Is Trump the Anti-Obama or Obama 2.0? — by Uri Friedman: “The irony is that while the conduct of Obama and Trump in the Middle East couldn’t be more different, they’ve in fact ended up engaged in the same struggle: to extract the United States from the Mideast morass.” [TheAtlantic

Amb. Dan Shapiro tweets“Prediction: no one in the Middle East will remember anything about Pompeo’s speech by next week.”

Washington Institute’s Robert Satloff“Surprised at no mention of U.S. role in Egypt-Israel and Jordan-Israel peace.”

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — NPR’s Daniella Cheslow reports: “Israelis saw the speech as favorable. Pompeo mentioned Israel more than a dozen times, and in each instance asserted the U.S. priority on maintaining its ally’s security. Dore Gold, former director general of Israel’s foreign ministry, said Pompeo’s “critique of Iranian expansionism was very important for Israel.” [NPR]

Most Israelis See Trump’s Planned Syria Withdrawal as Harmful — by Alisa Odenheimer: “Almost 58 percent of Israelis polled considered that a pullout… would damage Israeli security interests.” [Bloomberg]

DEALMAKING — Israel fighter jet sale to Croatia fails after US objections — by Darko Bandic: “Israel has failed to overcome U.S. objections to its plan to sell 12 used fighter jets to Croatia and the $500 million deal will likely be canceled… Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic said after meeting with Israeli defense officials in Zagreb on Thursday that “despite accepted obligations,” Israel failed to obtain the needed consent and his ministry “will propose to the government to make appropriate decisions.” [AP]

The Saudi engine of repression continues to run at full speed — by David Ignatius: “One hundred days after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pressing ahead with anti-dissident campaigns and remains in regular contact with Saud al-Qahtani, the media adviser whom the CIA believes helped organize Khashoggi’s killing, according to U.S. and Saudi sources… “Domestically, he feels very confident and in control. As long as his base is secure, he feels that nothing can harm him,” says one American who met recently with MBS.” [WashPost

ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — Shmuel Rosner writes… “The Inevitable, Necessary Death of Israel’s Labor Party: Sometimes, you have to recognize that it’s time to say goodbye. With Israel’s April 9 general election fast approaching, Israelis can finally say farewell to the Labor Party and the Jewish Home Party… When a political party outlives its usefulness, it becomes a distraction… A new reality, including a new culture, demands a new platform… And so it should be no surprise that the parties established to represent other portions of the electorate — outdated portions — are losing steam. Moving forward without them would not be a great loss.” [NYTimes]

2020 WATCH — A spokesperson for Haim Saban emails us regarding outreach to him from 2020 hopefuls: “While there are certainly a number of qualified Democrats running — or thinking about it — Haim strongly believes it’s simply too early in the process to support anyone. He has said that he will, however, continue his commitment to working with elected officials in both the House and Senate to reinforce the U.S.-Israel alliance. Haim will continue playing a role to make sure that bipartisan support and understanding for U.S.-Israel relations continues.”

Kirsten Gillibrand reps lease 5,000 square foot Troy building — by Kenneth Crowe II and Diego Mendoza-Moyers: “Campaign representatives for Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand signed a lease for a 5,000 square foot space in downtown Troy, according to a local Democratic operative — a sign the recently re-elected Albany native could be basing a presidential campaign in the Capital Region.” [TimesUnion] • Gillibrand plans first Iowa visit [Politico]

Mike Bloomberg on 2020 decision: “I have got until February to think. So we’ll see, I don’t know.” [Video]

** 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: Ben Melkman, who won backing from billionaire Steven Cohen and Dan Loeb for his fledgling hedge fund, suffers a second year of losses [Bloomberg] • Goldman Sachs gives Michael Milken ‘hero’s welcome’ as firm lecturer [FoxBusiness] • BlackRock to lay off 500 employees in coming weeks [NYPost] • Fed is not likely to increase rates, says David Rubenstein [CNBC] • IKEA to open smallest-yet Israeli store at Tel Aviv Port[ToI]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — The Exclusive That Wasn’t? Publication Retracts Moonves Interview — by Edmund Lee: “A media mystery popped up a week before Christmas: Leslie Moonves, who had just been fired as the chief executive of CBS after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, appeared to give an exclusive, on-the-record interview to a little-known publication in which he bluntly addressed his dismissal… On Thursday, Agenda removed Mr. Moonves’s comments from the article and attached an editor’s note that read, in part, “A spokesperson for Mr. Moonves issued a statement denying that Mr. Moonves spoke with reporters from Agenda.”

“So what happened? The reporters, Stephanie Forshee and Jennifer Williams-Alvarez, did what most writers do when trying to track down a high-profile subject: They trawled the Nexis database. After they entered his name, the database spit back several phone numbers. The reporters tried each one, until someone on the other end of the call identified himself as “Les Moonves.” … The person who answered the call from the Agenda reporters remains a mystery. When a reporter for The Times tried the same number, a man answered by saying, “Guten Tag” — German for “good day.” Asked if he was Les Moonves, he ended the call.” [NYTimes

The Mystery of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s Movie Date — by Julie Miller: “While in Palm Beach, Florida, [Jared and Ivanka] decompressed from their political power positions… by venturing out to the local multiplex to see a movie… The couple went in an interesting direction, according to People — by seeing Vice, Adam McKay’s biopic about Dick Cheney… A source close to the administration confirms to Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox that the couple did see the movie during their vacation, and did exit early—though close to the end of the film. So they could not have been upset by Bale and Amy Adams’s bedroom Macbeth monologue, which takes place about halfway through the film, or the split-second cutaway to a young Donald Trump.” [VanityFair]

HOLLYWOOD — ‘Yiddish Policemen’s Union’ Alt-History Drama Set From Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman —by Nellie Andreeva: “What if Alaska is home of a big Jewish settlement and the fledgling state of Israel was destroyed? That is the setup of a TV series project based on Michael Chabon’s acclaimed 2007 alternative history book Yiddish Policemen’s Union. CBS TV Studios, Nina Tassler and Denise DiNovi’s PatMa Productions and Keshet Studios have acquired a spec drama script by husband-and-wife writing duo Chabon and Ayelet Waldman. The project will be taken out shortly to premium cable and streaming networks.” [Deadline]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Spirit Airlines turned our flight into an anti-Semitic nightmare: couple — by Yaron Steinbuch: “A Borough Park couple is accusing Spirit Airlines of turning a trip to Florida into an anti-Semitic “nightmare” from start to finish — calling them “retarded” as the plane took off, harassing them throughout the flight, and having cops escort them off the plane after landing. “It was clearly anti-Semitism, a personal thing,” said [a] 24-year-old passenger, who identified himself only as Binyamin, of Rockland County. He said he was so shocked by the repugnant comment that he came forward to tell the couple he was prepared to vouch for them.” [NYPost]

ACROSS THE POND — Six unidentified Holocaust victims to be given unprecedented Jewish funeral in UK — by Matthew Robinson: “The remains of six unidentified Holocaust victims are to be given a formal Jewish burial after being stored at London’s Imperial War Museum (IWM) for decades. The victims will be laid to rest in a Jewish cemetery in Hertfordshire on January 20, just one week before Holocaust Memorial Day… The remains of the victims were collected at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by a Holocaust survivor. The museum, which has a license to hold human tissue, will soon hand over the remains to the Office of the Chief Rabbi and the United Synagogue — a union of British Orthodox Jewish synagogues — having consulted the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis and the Auschwitz museum in Poland.” [CNN]

LAST NIGHT AT THE DIRECTORS GUILD — Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh spoke of the lessons learned from the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre — which he described as his own ‘Kristallmorgen’ — at the start of a special screening of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List at the Directors Guild of America Theatre in Manhattan. The screening was hosted by Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan and Joel Citron of the USC Shoah Foundation. [PicPic]

“I could wallow in my grief or stand above it. I chose life,” Rabbi Meyers said. “I made a pledge that hate will not win, not now, not ever. And I chose a simple act to demonstrate my commitment so that 11 beautiful souls will not have died in vain. I pledged to never again use the ‘h’ word. It is a four letter word, an obscenity, and I have excised it from my vocabulary. If you ‘h’ something, don’t use the ‘h’ word. Just say that you don’t like it. If you are a New York Giants fan, like me, just say ‘I don’t like the Dallas Cowboys.’ If you prefer the summer over the winter, just say, ‘I don’t like the winter.’ … Imagine as we eliminate the ‘h’ word, we might even begin to eliminate acts of ‘h’.” [Video]

T’ruah’s Jill Jacobs targets ‘Supreme Commander’ in the Washington Post: “U.S.-based nonprofits still send millions of dollars a year in tax-deductible contributions to organizations that espouse Meir Kahane’s ideology. The Jerusalem Heritage House is supported heavily by Jewish Heritage Movement, a Staten Island-based tax-exempt organization… Contacted by The Washington Post, each of these organizations said that the IRS complaints were without merit and that they don’t violate laws in the United States or Israel. “I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly ridiculous and disingenuous these absurd accusations are,” said Ben Packer, director and “supreme commander” of the Jerusalem Heritage House.” [WashPost]

TRANSITION — Haim Engelman, most recently of Rep. Peter Roskam’s office, has joined the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship as a policy advisor and is working for Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL).

WINE OF THE WEEK — Yarden 2014 Cabernet Bar’on Vineyard — by Yitz Applbaum: “Last week I dined on the rooftop of the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem with some new friends where we had a front row seat to one of the greatest views in the world, overlooking the Old City. Enveloped by history and great conversation, I needed a wine to capture the moment. One wine did not do the trick. It took, rather, three bottles to help make the evening special. All three were great, but the standout of the evening was the Yarden 2014 Cabernet Bar’on Vineyard.”

“The Yarden 2014 Cabernet Bar’on Vineyard combined with the setting was mystical. This wine is made from one hundred percent Cabernet grapes. It is aged in French oak for 18 months. On the front of my palate I sensed a soft billow of cigar smoke from a Montecristo No. 2 cigar. The mid-palate evoked a taste of roses and the finish was a deep dark chocolate. This is a wine to eat with steak tartare and beef carpaccio. The wine will last long into the next decade.”[GolanWine]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Retired judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago (he served from 1981 to 2017), author of 40 books on jurisprudence and economics, Richard Posnerturns 80… Film, television and theater director. best known for his TV series “Full House” and “Family Matters” and his films “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Fat Albert,” Joel Zwick turns 77… Las Vegas resident, Stephen Needleman turns 77… Economist and professor of banking at Columbia University, he was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2006-2008), Frederic Stanley “Rick” Mishkin turns 68… Noted gardener and florist, she has been married to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer since 1973, Lynn Greenfield Blitzer… Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and author of five books, Dr. Jerome E. Groopman turns 67…

CEO of Sense Education, an AI company, he was the founder of VisibleWorld, a developer of viewer customized television advertising now known as FreeWheel, Seth Haberman turns 59… Film, stage and television actress, star of the 2000 comedy film “The Whole Nine Yards,” she wrote a book about a Jewish girl during the Christmas season, Amanda Peet turns 47… Born in Montreal to a Moroccan Jewish family, former goaltender with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes who also played in six other leagues, Josh Tordjman turns 34… French-American actress, Flora Cross turns 26… Founder of Nannies by Noa, a full-service childcare agency, serving families in NYC and the Hamptons, teen entrepreneur Noa Mintz turns 18…

SATURDAY: US-born biochemist, winner of the Israel Prize (1999), professor (now emeritus) at Hebrew U, Howard (“Chaim”) Cedar turns 76… Israeli-born, raised in London from age 13, jewelry designer, editor, and businesswoman, she was the First Lady of Iceland (2003-2016), Dorrit Moussaieff turns 69… Author of over 40 books, most widely recognized for his crime fiction, Walter Mosley turns 67… NYC-based psychiatrist and the medical director of the Child Mind Institute, Harold S. Koplewicz, MD turns 66… Radio personality since 1976, on terrestrial bandwidth until 2005 and on Sirius (now Sirius XM) since 2006, producer, author, actor, and photographer, Howard Stern turns 65… Director of the West Coast office of Jewish Funders Network, previously Western States Counsel for the ADL and a consultant for DreamWorks on the film “The Prince of Egypt,” Tzivia Schwartz Getzugturns 57…

Midday news anchor at Washington’s WTOP Radio, Debra Feinstein turns 57… Chair of Hillel International, she is also on the boards of Israel on Campus Coalition and UJA Federation of New York, Tina Price… Elected in 2018 after a four-year hiatus, following three earlier terms as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates (2003-2014), he is the nephew of US Senator Ben Cardin, Jon S. Cardin turns 49… Identical twin comedians and actors, Randy Sklar and Jason Sklar, turn 47… National Director of AIPAC’s Synagogue Initiative, Jonathan Schulman turns 37… Director of finance and operations at NYC-based Hornig Capital Partners, Daniel Silvermintz turns 26…

SUNDAY: South African biologist and a 2002 Nobel Prize laureate, Sydney Brenner turns 92… Kathleen Chambers turns 73… Cathy Nierenbergturns 72… NYC pediatrician at Carnegie Hill Pediatrics, graduate of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Barry B. Stein, MD turns 62… Lifelong resident of Greenwich Village, a two-time Emmy Award winner as a television producer, she worked for NBC Nightly News, Susanna Beth Aaron… Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships during the Obama administration, Cindy Moelis turns 58… Founder of Working Today and Freelancers Union, leading organizations of independent workers, a MacArthur Fellow in 1999, Sara Horowitz turns 56…

Bruce Maclver turns 53… North America Director at The Israel Forever Foundation, Heidi Krizer Daroff… Editor-in-chief of ABC News’s FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver turns 41… Senior development director for strategic philanthropy at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Shira Berenson Feinstein turns 33… DC-based Deputy Director of Communications for the Israel on Campus Coalition, Carly Freedman turns 28… Lucia Meyerson… Rebecca Seider… Sandra Shapiro… German Shepherd and Jack Russell Terrier mix, Jersey Brown turns 13 (and will be celebrating a “bark” mitzvah we’re told)…




Daily Kickoff: Polis on being Colorado’s first Jewish Gov | Ted Cruz’s Yeshiva friend | Durham City Council debates Israeli police training

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DRIVING THE DAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is outlining U.S. policy in the Middle East in a speech this hour at the American University in Cairo. The speech, “A Force for Good: America Reinvigorated in the Middle East,” was previewed by Politico as a repudiation of President Obama’s views of the region. Earlier this morning, Pompeo met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the Ittihadeya Palace to “discuss security and economic cooperation.” [CSPAN]

During a press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Pompeo maintained that “there’s no contradiction whatsoever” in the shifting Syria strategy since President Trump’s initial announcement of U.S. withdrawal. “This is a story made up by the media.”

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor for President Barack Obama, discussed Pompeo’s Cairo speech and the Democratic opposition to advance the anti-BDS bill in the Senate on the Pod Save the World podcast with Tommy Vietor.

“I don’t know why Mike Pompeo is giving this speech in the first place,” Rhodes said. “I mean, the Cairo speech was 10 years ago, and he’s pretty juvenile that all he can do 10 years later is try to take some shot at Barack Obama… Pompeo is fixated, obsessed with framing everything that they are doing as somehow different from us because they are ‘getting tough on Iran and we were weak on Iran.’ … If Obama’s audience was all the people around the world, Pompeo’s is really a domestic political audience back home that he thinks likes a hard-line message on Iran, including his boss.”

Rhodes on the Senate Dems blocking the anti-BDS bill: “There’s a real political crisis in this country, and the idea that the number one thing that the U.S. Senate is doing is addressing BDS is a huge part of what’s wrong with our politics… Even if you oppose BDS, the idea that that would come before reopening the government is insane… The second point is… I personally don’t support BDS, but I also think this bill goes way too far… And frankly, that’s going to do far more to make people look at BDS than it is going to prevent it… If you polarize support for Israel instead of having it be something that there’s a bipartisan consensus about, in the long run, that’s not good for the U.S.-Israel relations.” [PodSaveTheWorld]

HEARD YESTERDAY — IPF’s Michael Koplow discussed waning support for Israel in the Democratic Party during a roundtable discussion held at the Pryor Cashman law firm on Times Square in New York: “I think there is no question Democratic attitudes on Israel are changing, but I don’t think it’s accurate in any sense to portray the Democrats as an anti-Israel party in any way. I think that there are definitely extremes within the base who are anti-Israel and would proudly describe themselves as such, but that has not filtered up in terms of elected officials, except on the very margins. In two or three election cycles from now, is it possible that there will be one or two Democratic senators who support BDS? Of course, it’s possible. If Rashida Tlaib becomes a senator one day, she’ll support BDS. But it’s still a lot harder to get through a Democratic primary if you support BDS, particularly on the Senate side where you’ve got to win over an entire state and you’re not just focused on smaller districts. It still remains even harder to win a general election across a state if you do.”

“And even the ones who have been getting the most press, there’s a big difference Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib on one hand, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other hand. Even within kind of that group that gets lumped together, I think there are real serious differences. As opposed to Tlaib and Omar, that have said or tweeted things that certainly are anti-Zionist and in some of their cases can very fairly be characterized as anti-Semitic, Ocasio Cortez has not done that. She has voiced her opposition to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and she’s voiced her opposition to Israeli government policies. I think that folks on the left who are looking for her to set a foreign policy tone that perhaps is more critical of Israeli actions, I think they’re likely to be disappointed. I don’t think she’s going to be sort of a traditional AIPAC Democrat by any means, but I also don’t think that she is interested or seeking to be at the vanguard of some vast anti-Israel movement.” [Pic]

STATE-SIDE — Maryland man sues Hogan, Frosh for executive order forbidding contracts with those who boycott Israel — by Lillian Reed: “A former Maryland state representative has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Gov. Larry Hogan and Attorney General Brian Frosh, taking aim at an executive order denying government contracts to businesses that boycott Israel. The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court by Syed Saqib Ali, alleges that the Maryland leaders violated his First and 14th Amendment rights… The Council on American-Islamic Relations… is providing legal counsel for the Montgomery County resident in his suit.” [BaltimoreSun]

Why this Durham panel won’t ask the city to take Israel out of its policing statement — by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: “Rabbis, politicians, activists and others gathered Tuesday night to find common ground in the aftermath of a Durham City Council statement on policing that some saw as anti-Semitic… The council approved a policy statement in April 2018 that put the city on record opposing military-style police training with foreign countries… But after months of discussions and a final three-hour meeting and vote on their report, commission members stopped short of asking the council to remove the reference to Israel.” [NewsObserver]

REPORT — Massive internet address hijacking spree has ties to Iran ― by Joe Uchill: “FireEye reports that a multi-year, global campaign of hacking government, telecommunications and internet infrastructure systems has ties to Iran… These attacks targeted dozens of victims in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and North America, and were clustered between 2017 and the present.” [Axios]

SHUTDOWN WATCH — Jewish employees affected by the government shutdown are getting some help from this organization — by Josefin Dolsten: “The Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington approved an emergency program last week to provide loans of up to $2,000 per household to affected Jews living in the Washington, D.C., area. Several people have applied and two have been approved, the organization’s president, David Farber, told JTA… The association has allocated some $30,000 to the program, and it’s reaching out to local synagogues and Jewish organizations to help in case the demand extends beyond that threshold.”[JTAReligionNews]

White House Weighs Canceling Trump’s Trip to Davos This Month — by Michael Bender: “President Trump’s team is weighing canceling his trip to Davos, Switzerland, later this month if the partial government shutdown hasn’t been solved by the Jan. 22 start of the annual World Economic Forum… It is likely that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will still attend the event, but the size of the U.S. delegation probably will be significantly restricted, officials said.” [WSJ]

Trump in the Oval Office: “Israel put up a wall — 99.9 percent successful, according to Bibi Netanyahu. He came into my office a couple of months ago. He said, ‘What’s with the wall? We put up a wall. It was 99.9 percent successful.’  99.9. I said, ‘Do you mind if I use that number? Because, you know, they’ll fact-check it and they’ll go and say, ‘Oh, it’s actually only 99 percent. The President told a fib.’ ‘No,’ he told me, ‘99.9 [percent].’ Maybe he’ll change it and make it 99.” [Video]

ON THE HILL — Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) is the first woman to chair the powerful House Appropriations committee since it was created in 1865. [Politico]

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) was selected to serve as Chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

SCENE LAST NIGHT — The Council for a Livable World, Foreign Policy for America, J Street and Truman Center hosted a reception for incoming members of Congress at the Sonoma Restaurant in Washington, DC. Members in attendance included Greg Stanton (AZ), Andy Levin (MI), Angie Craig (MN), Colin Allred (TX), Kim Schrier (WA), Josh Harder (CA), Katie Porter (CA), Jared Golden (ME), Elissa Slotkin (MI), Andy Kim (NJ), Abigail Spanberger (VA), Jason Crow (CO), Jennifer Wexton (VA), Donna Shalala (FL), Abby Finkenauer (IA), Cindy Axne (IA), Sharice Davids (KS), Joe Morelle (NY), TJ Cox (CA), Gil Cisneros (CA). Incumbent Reps. Joaquin Castro (TX), David Cicilline (RI), Anthony Brown (MD) and Rosa DeLauro (CT) also attended the event. [PicPic]

Matt Lewis writes… “Rashida Tlaib Is Becoming the Michele Bachmann of the Left: For years, I wrote about the destruction of the conservative movement, labeling ita tragedy of the commons-type situation where “individual actors have perverse incentives to tarnish the collective brand” of the GOP. Whether it was Michele Bachmann or Ted Cruz, Republican rabble-rousers said and did things that tarnished the GOP brand and drove leadership insane, even as they seemed to prosper politically. Ultimately, this fostered a chaotic and fractured environment that led to the nomination of Donald Trump… Democrats like Tlaib, it seems, were taking notes.”[DailyBeast]

‘GROWING’ MOMENTUM FOR PEACE? — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted on Wednesday: “Pretty cool: A good friend is studying in Yeshiva in Israel. His rabbi told him he liked my beard, elaborating “It gives Cruz a Talmudic & Rabbinic look & presence that will put the fear of the Lord into Israel’s enemies & promote Middle East peace.” Wow. Perhaps a bit much.” [Pic]

— Flashback to Jan. 2nd’s JI Daily Kickoff: David Milstein has departed Senator Ted Cruz’s office after five and a half years, and will be studying at Aish HaTorah in the Old City of Jerusalem. He served on Cruz’s national security team with a specific focus on Israel.

PROFILE — Colorado Governor Jared Polis and his partner Marlon Reis talk about their political journey before with New York Times reporter Matthew Schneier: “When Mr. Polis was elected to the House, he and Mr. Reis… road-tripped to Washington through the American South, stopping in Amarillo, Texas… They recalled stopping at a steakhouse in Amarillo for dinner one night. “We might be the only Jewish people in town but they probably understand that,” Mr. Polis told Mr. Reis at the time. “There’s not a lot of gay people but they probably understand that. But no matter what you do in this town, don’t say you’re a vegan.”

“Mr. Polis has been subjected to slurs and threats; in his first campaign, he received so many pieces of hate mail that he began to tack them up. “It filled up a whole wall,” he said. More of the attacks were anti-Semitic rather than homophobic, Mr. Polis said — he is also Colorado’s first Jewish governor — and the vitriol diminished over time. But it is not gone.” [NYTimes

ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — Netanyahu says Israel “is ready to foil any cyber intervention” as a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin denied trying to sway elections… Minister Yoav Galant formally joined the Likud Party yesterday. Netanyahu welcomed the former IDF general during a rare joint press conference at the Knesset… Yair Lapid has reportedly offered former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi the number 2 spot on his party list… Michal Zernowitski, hoping to become the first ultra-Orthodox MK, is running in the Labor Party primaries…

2020 WATCH — Tom Steyer, Billionaire Impeachment Activist, Won’t Run Against Trump — by Alexander Burns: “Tom Steyer, the California billionaire who has crusaded for President Trump’s impeachment, said on Wednesday that he would not join the pack of Democrats running for president in 2020 and would instead redouble his efforts to topple Mr. Trump before the election. Mr. Steyer’s decision came as a surprise even to some of his political confidants… Mr. Steyer intends to spend at least $40 million on impeachment efforts in the coming year… Mr. Steyer, 61, left himself some wiggle room to change his mind on 2020, saying in prepared remarks that he had decided against running “at this time.” [NYTimes]

— “The former hedge fund manager said he will be hosting town halls across the country to discuss what he terms the dangers of Trump’s presidency. He is planning trips to Nevada, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia in the next month.” [WashPost]

Jeff Weaver won’t reprise role as Sanders campaign manager — by Holly Otterbein: “Jeff Weaver, a longtime member of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ inner circle who served as campaign manager of his 2016 presidential bid, will not return to that role if the Vermont senator mounts another campaign in 2020.” [Politico]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Larry Fink reshuffles BlackRock’s senior management, promoting Mark Wiedman to a new international role [FinancialTimesWSJ] • Norman and David Sturner’s MHP Real Estate Services in contract to buy Bronx Post Place [NYPost• CBS CEO Search On Hold As Viacom Merger Talks Resurface [Deadline] • At Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, allegations of misconduct were met with little change—and a big payout for the man in charge [CJR] •  Irving Langer’s E&M just sold off another big Harlem portfolio [TheRealDeal] • Hudson Yards arts center to be named the Bloomberg Building, after former Mayor Michael Bloomberg[CrainsNewYork] • Israel health fund aMoon II gets $600 mln in investor commitments [Reuters] • Amazon acquires Israeli start-up CloudEndure [JPost] • YieldStreet’s Alternative Investment Marketplace Booms In Times Of Volatility [Forbes]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Steve Bannon Angled for a Job Lobbying on Behalf of E-Cigarette Giant Juul — by Betsy Woodruff and Asawin Suebsaeng: “Juul Labs, which hawks flavored e-cigarettes that teens love, recently drew a controversial suitor: ex-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. The offer came during a meeting on Oct. 10 of last year, where Nick Muzin, a former staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), met with Tevi Troy, vice president of public policy at Juul. At the meeting, Muzin pitched Troy on the lobbying services of his firm, Stonington Global. Muzin also brought up Bannon, saying the former White House strategist would help with his company’s lobbying work for the vape company.” [DailyBeast]

HOLLYWOOD — John Lasseter comes out of #MeToo hiding to run animation at Skydance — by Nicole Laporte: “John Lasseter, the director of Toy Story and Cars and the creative executive who ran Pixar and Walt Disney Animation until #MeToo revelations led to his suspension and then departure, will be the new head of Skydance Animation, a division of David Ellison’s Skydance Media company. Lasseter… resurfaced in recent months, reportedly having a two-hour meeting with Ari Emanuel, the co-head of Endeavor, and making appearances around his Northern California home. The connection with Skydance isn’t entirely surprising. Ellison is the son of Oracle cofounder and billionaire Larry Ellison.” [FastCompany]

Harvey Weinstein Looking for New Lawyers as Trial Nears — by Pervaiz Shallwani and Noah Shachtman: “Harvey Weinstein is reaching out to new lawyers to shore up his criminal defense team, currently headed up by superstar attorney Ben Brafman… But Weinstein, in a rare statement, said, “The rumor is untrue. We are looking to augment the team, not replace anyone.” [DailyBeast]

SPORTS BLINK — Turner President David Levy Enthusiastic About Prospects Of Legalized Sports Betting — by Dawn Chmielewski: “Turner president David Levy picked perhaps the perfect venue, Las Vegas, to offer his bullish predictions about the future of sports betting. A pivotal U.S. Supreme Court decision last May opened the door to legalized sports betting in most states, so sports fans no longer have to travel to Las Vegas to wager on March Madness or the Super Bowl… In the near future, Levy said media companies will be able to develop content that gaming companies like MGM or Caesars will need to create attractive sports wagering services.” [Deadline]

Special Julian Edelman cleats sold to benefit Jewish federations: “The special cleats worn by Julian Edelman as part of the NFL My Cause, My Cleats campaign have been sold for $10,000. A California company, Golden West Food Group, bought the cleats and is donating the money to Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston and Pittsburgh’s Jewish Federation… The cleats are dedicated to the 11 people who were killed during the October mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.” [WCVB]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Selfless rabbi saves 2 lives a decade apart with organ donations — by Doree Lewak: “It wasn’t enough that he donated his kidney to a stranger 10 years ago: Last month, a 50-year-old Teaneck, NJ, father of nine gave part of his liver to save yet another stranger. Little wonder why some people think Rabbi Ephraim Simon is a saint. “Living liver donation is a risky surgery in general, but especially when a person only has one kidney,” says Donna Ferchill, a liver-transplant coordinator at Cleveland Clinic, where one-third of Simon’s liver was transplanted into a 44-year-old Long Island father of three… But Simon, who flew home last week after the seven-hour surgery, a day in ICU and several weeks in the hospital, believes the risk was worth it.” [NYPost]

AJC Hosts Meeting Between L.A. Women’s March Leaders, Jewish Groups — by Erin Ben-Moche: “Emiliana Guereca, executive director of Women’s March Los Angeles (WMLA) met with several large Los Angeles Jewish organizations Jan. 9th at a meeting hosted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to discuss the Anti-Semitism taking place surrounding the National Women’s March.” [JewishJournal]

ACROSS THE SEA — Jihadists Behind Bars Pose New Threats for Europe — by Valentina Pop: “A terrorism trial starting in Brussels on Thursday highlights the difficulties Europe’s courts and prisons face containing the spread of jihadist ideology behind bars. Mehdi Nemmouche, a 33-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, faces life in prison for allegedly shooting and killing four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum in May 2014. But once in prison, law-enforcement officials warn, terror suspects and convicts breed even more plots and spread their ideology to other inmates.” [WSJ]

Eilat high on NY Times’ list of top destinations for 2019: “The “newly accessible” resort town of Eilat was rated one of 2019’s top travel destinations by The New York Times, which featured Israel for the first time ever in its annual list of recommended places to visit. The annual list published Wednesday placed Eilat in sixth place, highlighting Eilat’s coral reef diving opportunities and luxury hotels… It was the first time an Israeli location was featured on the Times’ annual “52 places to go” list since it began in 2008.”[ToINYTimes]

DESSERT — These D.C. breakfast sandwiches are anything but boring — by Megan McDonough: “Ring your mom and tell her the hype for Call Your Mother’s breakfast sandwiches is real and, more important, warranted. Carb cravers line up before 8 a.m. and usually wait 45 minutes for the self-described “Jew-ish” deli’s tasty and creative wood-fired bagel creations. (To pass the time, try to identify all the Jewish celebrities who inspired the dishes’ names.) … On your way out, peep the deli’s “Drake wall,” adorned with mugs of the half-Jewish rapper.” [WashPost]

Portland’s First Kosher Brewery is Opening a Taproom — by Andi Prewitt: “Leikam Brewing co-founder Sonia-Marie Leikam confirms that she and her husband, head brewer Theo Leikam, have purchased a building in the Mount Tabor neighborhood that formerly housed a Thai restaurant on East Burnside Street… The new location sits just about two miles from the original backyard brewhouse, one of the nation’s only kosher-certified, which began operating in 2014.” [WillamatteWeek]

TRANSITIONS — Jenna Lifhits, previously a Staff Writer at The Weekly Standard has joined the House GOP Conference as its Deputy Policy Director.

Andrew Rehfeld, a leading political scientist and advocate for progressive Jewish and social-justice causes, was chosen as the 13th president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

BIRTHDAYS: SiLOTUS Jared Kushner turns 38… Founder of the Center for Research on Institutions and Social Policy, he was a former speechwriter for Robert F. Kennedy, Adam Walinsky turns 82… Conservative columnist and author, think tank president, critic of political correctness on college campuses, David Horowitz turns 80… Executive editor of Denver’s Intermountain Jewish News, historian and teacher of the Mussar movement, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, Ph.D. turns 73… Professor at Brandeis University since 2018, he was president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston for 30 years before that, Barry Shrage turns 72… Former President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (2012-2017), Baron David Edmond Neuberger turns 71… Passaic, NJ-born musician, singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band “Steely Dan,” Donald Fagenturns 71… Riga, Latvia-born, world renowned cellist, emigrated to Israel in 1971, has over 50 recordings on the Deutsche Grammophon label with many top orchestras, Mischa Maisky turns 71… Long-time editor at Bantam Books, Simon & Schuster and Crown Publishers, Sydny Weinberg Miner turns 68… Retired executive director at Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor society for accounting students, (2003-2013), Hadassah (Dassie) Baum turns 68…

Born in Paraguay, she has lived and worked in Russia, Israel, Europe and China, and is the founder and CEO at Los Angeles-based Quantifiable Media, Rose Kemps turns 68… Senior Scholar for Religious Freedom at the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute, Richard Thomas Foltinturns 67… University Professor and Professor of American Jewish History in the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, Jonathan D. Sarna turns 64… Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the majority owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, Joe Lacob turns 63… Member of the Knesset since 2008 for the United Torah Judaism party, Uri Maklev turns 62… Actor with a recurring role in “Sex and the City” and author of two books on his recovery from acute myeloid leukemia, Evan Handler turns 58… Naples, Florida resident, Beth E. Wolff turns 57… Boston area Director for Birthright Israel Foundation and fitness instructor at the Worcester JCC, Caryn Lazaroff turns 41… Speechwriter for Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD-5), Adam David Weissmann turns 36… Associate director for media relations at the Moscow Project for the Center for American Progress, Morgan Aubrey Finkelstein turns 28… Digital operations manager at JTA, Andrew Tobin… Senior project manager for Jewish Futures Conference at the Jewish Education Project, Debbie Seiden

Kafe Knesset for September 1

Friday, September 1, 2017

The BB-Sheldon Hotline: So just how close are Bibi and Sheldon and what is the extent of the PM’s involvement in Adelson’s freebie, Israel Hayom? That was the…

Kafe Knesset for August 31

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Bibi against Meni Naftali: PM Netanyahu’s Rosh Hashana toast was, as promised, quite a show. Two thousand Likud activists gathered at the Avenue Conference Center near the Ben…

Kafe Knesset for August 30

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Bibi launches Rosh Hashana toast season: It is that time of the year again, as the Jewish New Year approaches. Politicians are starting to make the rounds with…

Kafe Knesset for August 29

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Greenblatt’s tour: The President’s special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, stayed on after the senior White House delegation visited the region last week. According to senior Israeli sources, Greenblatt is…

Kafe Knesset for August 28

Monday, August 28, 2017

Guterres in Jerusalem: The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrived in Israel yesterday for his first visit to the region. His first meeting was last night, as he…

Kafe Knesset for August 25

Friday, August 25, 2017

Trump-Netanyahu Instagram diplomacy: The Kushner-Greenblatt-Powell short visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah hardly made headlines this morning. The niceties of the Kushner-Netanyahu meeting, and the smiles in the Ramallah…