Daily Kickoff: Trump considers cutting anti-Semitism envoy from budget | Dershowitz interview | Jack Abramoff’s new adventure | Wired on Shimon Peres

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FOR THE ‘IN JARED WE TRUST’ CROWD: “Prince Jared Is Trying to Consolidate His White House Power” by Emily Jane Fox: “Kushner and Netanyahu recently shared dinner with Tillerson, before Tillerson’s overseas trip, a source familiar with the situation told me. And Kushner, who enjoys something of a sprawling, amorphous West Wing portfolio (he is nominally in charge of job creation, cutting governmental I.T. costs and brokering peace in the Middle East, among other issues), appears to have grown more comfortable in meetings with foreign officials, despite his lack of political or diplomatic experience…”

“One person close to the Trumps told me that when Kushner and his wife, Ivanka, sat down for a casual lunch in the White House soon after the inauguration, the president looked his son-in-law in the eye and mused that he had a lot on his plate, pointing to his commitments on jobs, I.T., and the Middle East. Still, Kushner has yet to lose his faith, even as other members of the president’s inner circle fall in and out of favor… he, too, isn’t immune to the brush-off from his father-in-law, this source said. “Trump yells at him in front of people all the time,” the source close to the family told me. “He’s in line, too.” [VanityFair

–Additional sources close to Kushner likely wanted to shift the narrative a bit after Vanity Fair’s previous story two weeks ago was headlined — “Far from being a moderating influence on his father-in-law, Kushner has embraced his inner Bannon”

FIRST LOOK: “Does Stephen Miller Speak for Trump? Or Vice Versa?” by Joshua Green: “Miller drafts the president’s major speeches, including the one Trump will deliver to Congress on Tuesday night. When Miller goes on television to defend Trump’s words, he’s often defending his own writing. In a sense, Trump is giving voice to Miller as much as the other way around… In his Tuesday speech to Congress, Trump will finally make a direct appeal for support. The imperative will then shift from talk to action. Trump is, in large measure, counting on Miller to navigate the treacherous legislative terrain and find ways to coax and reassure skeptical lawmakers. “I understand his vision, his ideas,” Miller says. “I can be an implementer.” It won’t be a natural role. Miller’s experience on the Hill as an angry tribune of populist conservatism rarely involved the messy give-and-take of legislating. Under Sessions, his energies were directed at halting a president’s agenda. Enacting one of his own is so far proving to be much harder.” [Businessweek]

HE’S BACK: “From K Street to Congo: Abramoff’s new adventure,” by Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan: “When Jack Abramoff was released from prison in 2010, he was pitching himself as a self-styled political reformer looking to tell the truth about a system he illegally exploited for personal gain. Now the disgraced D.C. lobbyist is back and immersed in a stranger-than-fiction project with an African strongman, controversial Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and ‘friends in Europe’ to — in his telling — defeat Islamic terrorists… Abramoff agreed to act as a liaison between his European friends… the president of the Republic of Congo, and Rohrabacher to try to establish a coalition of African states to defeat the terrorist group Boko Haram. Abramoff’s friends… were in talks with the country’s controversial president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, to try to enlist the United States to support the coalition…” [Politico]

HAPPENING TODAY: Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is holding a press conference today to introduce legislation, which would cut off US assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA). “The Taylor Force Act” is named after an American Army officer who was killed in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist last year while on an MBA entrepreneurship study abroad program. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Congressmen Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY) are expected to attend the presser as well.

— Representatives Ted Budd (R-NC) and Mark Sanford (R-SC) introduced a similar piece of legislation in the House on February 1. The House bill has received 8 co-sponsors, all Republicans. During the last Congressional session, Graham, Dan Coats (R-IN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) co-authored the Taylor Force Act. However, the bill never passed the Senate and received no Democratic support.

–ICYMI: Sander Gerber spoke about the legislation last week at CPAC [YouTube]

“Keith Ellison’s rise to second-in-command at DNC worries some Jewish Democrats” by Rafael Medoff: “I’m just happy that Perez defeated Ellison, but concerned that it was close,” Rabbi Menachem Genack, a prominent Jewish supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, told JNS. “The future of the pro-Israel Jewish community does not rest well with Democrats,” longtime Democratic Party consultant Dr. Hank Sheinkopf said after the vote.” [JNS

Alan Dershowitz tells us: “I am okay with the fact that Keith Ellison was defeated. I am not okay with the fact that people say he was defeated because of a ‘smear’ campaign. It is not a smear to expose somebody’s anti-Semitism and his long history of bigotry. That’s the right thing to do. I am not happy that he was picked to be Deputy Chairman. But at least we beat him to be Chairman.”

Responding to Mort Klein, Dershowitz explained why he decided not to quit the Democratic Party despite Ellison being appointed in a senior position: “We won this fight, and I am going to continue to fight to win victories. Keith Ellison got a consolation prize. I will make up my own mind as to whether and when to remain in the Democratic Party just the way Klein has to make up his mind whether to remain in the Republican Party in light of the fact that there are obviously some people within that party that are inconsistent with his views and my own views. I think we both have to fight within our own parties to make sure that the Israel issue remains bipartisan and that the Democratic Party must have a zero tolerance policy toward anti-Semitism. It’s a fight worth fighting for. We won the Ellison fight, we won the fight over the platform, and I think we can still win if we stand together.”

“Keith Ellison’s Loss Leaves A Sour Taste For Progressives” by Ruby Cramer: “Liberal support for Ellison, a Minnesota congressman beloved by Bernie Sanders voters, “was a very clear message, given to the party by its progressive base, by young people,” Ries said. “The DNC instead decided that they knew better.” [BuzzFeed]

TOP TALKER: “Trump to Propose 10% Defense Increase in Budget Plan, Aides Say” by Shannon Pettypiece and Jennifer A Dlouhy: “Trump and his aides also are reviewing whether to eliminate many special envoy positions, the people said — diplomatic staff assigned to key regions and issues, including climate change, anti-Semitism and Muslim communities. State also handles a substantial chunk of U.S. foreign aid, which the administration officials said is being targeted for major cuts.” [Bloomberg] • Retired generals tell White House: Don’t cut State Department [CNN

Ira Forman, former U.S. Special Envoy of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, tells us (on his birthday): “I can’t believe someone at the White House won’t have better sense than to realize that this is a disaster. I just can’t believe that they would even think of this given the relatively small budget needed to run this office. The office exists by legislation. It’s just a matter of someone signing up to fund it. This is as bipartisan as an issue as you can get, and I just hope folks at the WH come to their senses.”

Abe Foxman emails… “I think that would be a sad message to send. America was proud of the fact that it was the only country that understood the history of anti-Semitism to the point that it made it a responsibility of the American government to monitor and combat. The U.S. government instructed and mandated its ambassadors around the world to report and combat it. And what it did was, it caused other countries to set up special ambassadors to the Jewish communities on Jewish issues. The special Ambassador to combat anti-Semitism at the State Department is one of those things that ‘make America great.’”

“Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman in Talks to Be State Department’s No. 2” by Felicia Schwartz and Peter Nicholas: “The decision isn’t yet final and other candidates may be under consideration, officials said… Mr. Huntsman, who had at one point been considered as a candidate for secretary of state, has also been critical of Mr. Trump… He endorsed Mr. Trump for president in September, but in October called for Mr. Trump to drop out of the race after a recording leaked of Mr. Trump making sexually aggressive comments about women.” [WSJ

TRUMP TUMULT — Major Garrett‏: “News: 3 sources tell me Todd Ricketts hitting heavy financial separation issues; withdrawal as Dep. Commerce Sec nominee a real possibility.” [Twitter

HEARD YESTERDAY – At J Street’s National Conference in DC, Senator Bernie Sanders lauded the organization as a ‘powerful’ pro-Israel group while rebuking Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Welcomed by a thunderous applause, the Vermont lawmaker asserted, “the hard truth is the continued ‘occupation’ and the growth of Israeli settlements that the ‘occupation’ sustains undermine possibility of peace and it contributes to suffering and contributes to violence.” [JewishInsider

— J Street conceded yesterday that the campaign against David Friedman will not lead to their desired outcome. However, they stressed that the ultimate goal is to isolate Friedman from the White House decision-making process. “I do expect a roughly party-line vote in the committee. I also acknowledge that there’s very little precedent for a nominee being struck down in an actual floor vote,” Dylan Williams, Vice President of Government Affairs for J Street, told Jewish Insider. “With that in mind, it’s important to realize that a large part of this fight is about where this administration should take U.S. policy with respect to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” According to Williams, Friedman’s long-held views on the issues are looming over the battle going on between the national security establishment and President Trump’s close advisors over what the administration’s policy should be on the two-state solution. If the outcome of the campaign against Friedman would result in diminishing his influence on policy, Williams declared “we would see that as a victory.” [JewishInsider

Martin Indyk: Friedman “is going to be in Jerusalem, he’s not going to be in Washington. He is not going to be in the White House. His ability to actually influence policy when his job is to implement policy shouldn’t be exaggerated.”

KFILE — Andrew Kaczynski’s latest: “Trump Israel ambassador pick said State Department has been anti-Semitic for ‘past 70 years'” [CNN]

“Palestinian envoy warns against moving US embassy in Israel” by Richard Lardner: “Maen Areikat (chief of the PLO delegation in Washington) says an “emotional decision” to shift the embassy’s location “is going to have very, very negative repercussions” and could seriously complicate and undermine any future efforts to resolve the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis… Areikat says the Palestinians have made their position clear, directly and indirectly, to the Trump administration.” [AP

TALK OF THE NATION: “Bomb Threats Were Directed At Jewish Centers In 18 States In Just One Day” by Mike Hayes and Claudia Koerner: “Local media and police confirmed reports of threats on Monday in Alaska, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, Alabama, Maryland, Indiana, Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, Arizona, Washington, and Nevada… The San Francisco office of the Anti-Defamation League also received a bomb threat Monday afternoon… The FBI and Department of Justice, meanwhile, have launched investigations into the rash of bomb threats.” [BuzzFeed]

“Spicer condemns JCC bomb threats and cemetery vandalizations” by Aidan Quigley: “The president continues to be deeply disappointed and concerned into the reports of further vandalism at Jewish cemeteries,” Spicer said. “The president continues to condemn these and other forms of anti-Semitic and hateful acts.” [Politico]

“Opposition Leader Herzog: Israel Must Prepare to Take in U.S. Jews Fleeing anti-Semitism” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “I call on the government to urgently prepare and draw up a national emergency plan for the possibility of waves of immigration of our Jewish brothers to Israel,” Herzog said at a meeting of his Zionist Union Knesset faction, where he expressed shock and strongly condemned the outbreak of anti-Semitism in the United States, France and other places in the world. Herzog, however said at the same time that he was “convinced that the American government would do everything it can to harshly and aggressively eradicate this phenomenon.” [Haaretz; Newsweek]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: One of the politicians who received a harsh blow from the State Comptroller report on Operation Protective Edge — which was finally published this morning — is former defense minister Moshe Yaalon. Yaalon is condemned in the report for failing to inform the cabinet of the tunnel threat and failing to prepare the IDF for it. Yaalon dismissed the findings as political for months, and has stepped up his defense efforts in recent days. Yaalon has been focused on Naftali Bennet and accused him of leaking from the holy shrine of the security cabinet… Yaalon, who resigned from his post last May and is currently planning to establish a new party and to run for the leadership of the country, is having a tough month. Last week, the judges who convicted Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier who shot the Palestinian terrorist in Hebron last March, condemned Yaalon for making early public statements about the case before it was properly investigated.

Another interesting fight unraveling is between Netanyahu and Yosef Shapira, the State Comptroller. After the PM brushed off the critique yesterday and implied that the Comptroller is undermining the IDF and security echelon, Shapira released a statement today attacking the what he called “deligitimization attempts, especially from the political system, which are probably aimed at deterring the Comptroller and damage his standing,” he said in a special statement today. “It is important to focus on reading the report and learning the lessons from it and not badmouthing.” President Rivlin, playing responsible adult, backed Shapira today and emphasized the watchdog’s responsibility to the Parliament and the public. “It is not the time for exchanging blows, but for learning lessons and implementing what needs to be repaired.”

Earlier today, Rivlin met all of the North American senior Israeli diplomats who are in Israel for the annual gathering of consultations and meetings, including Ambassador Ron Dermer and NYC consul general Danny Dayan. Rivlin, addressed the rise in anti-Semitic incidents. “When we say ‘never again’ it means the whole world. Israel and its diplomatic representatives should stand strongly against these events and I commend President Trump for saying it clearly last week. It should be said again and again without any hesitation.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

** 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 **

SPOTLIGHT: “Ex-UBS Bankers Target Israeli Millionaires With Wealth Broker” by Yaacov Benmeleh: “Two former UBS Group AG bankers are exporting their Swiss private-banking advisory business to Israel as a boom in the country’s technology industry prompts a rise in the number of millionaires and money managers. Zurich-based Zwei Wealth Experts AG, founded by Patrick Müller and Klaus Wellershoff, opened their first overseas office in Tel Aviv this month. “In many ways, Israel is a very representative market to test our approach,” he said in an interview from Tel Aviv. “There is wealth and a curiosity for new solutions.” Israel’s high-tech boom is creating a new generation of millionaires after the value of assets sold in 2016 rose to their highest level for four years…” [Bloomberg]

“Strategic Cyber Ventures aims to build ‘supermax prison’ to halt hackers” by Aaron Gregg: “Strategic Cyber Ventures, a D.C.-based investment firm backed by New York hedge fund Hudson Bay Capital, recently added a second local cybersecurity start-up to its portfolio. The $3.5 million investment announced Monday went to a four-person start-up called Polarity. “Ron [Gula] and I were both tired of incredible talent leaving the NSA going to Silicon Valley to raise money,” said Strategic Cyber Ventures partner Tom Kellerman… The investment firm started when Hudson Bay chief executive Sander Gerber, a long-time friend of Kellerman, persuaded him to leave his position and get into the investment game.” [WashPost]

STARTUP NATION — Wired Magazine’s latest episode in their Future Cities series: “We examine Shimon Peres’s extraordinary legacy in shaping Israeli innovation, tracing the evolution of the country’s world-leading eductation and R&D. We visit miLAB at IDC Herzliya, a prototyping centre that focuses on physical-digital interaction, an IDF intelligence unit to learn about the military’s unique hierarchical structure and autonomous drone startup Airobotics. Finally we travel to Jerusalem, a city ‘complicated beyond description’, where we hear from Andy Dwonch of Gaza Sky Geeks, and Hani Alami of JEST to learn about how the political landscape in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem affects innovation.” [YouTube]

“30 Photos That Will Make You Want to Book A Flight To Israel ASAP” by Carrie Goldberg: “Israel is a country diverse and vibrant in culture, color and flavor–so much so that we dubbed it one of the top places to visit in 2017. We tapped travel photographer Sharon Zobali for her tour of the country’s biggest hubs–in photos… key sites that will make you want to book a trip sooner rather than later.” [Bazaar

DESSERT: “The Southeast Asian Snack I Drove Across Israel For” by Katherine Martinelli: “At home in New York, I was accustomed to ordering Thai food on any given night when I was too tired to cook, rainy evenings, lazy Saturday afternoons, you name it… When we moved to Israel, Thai food was hard to come by. In the small city where we called home, there wasn’t a single Thai restaurant, and I did lug home Thai take-out from a reputable restaurant in Tel Aviv… While it can be frustrating, it also forced me to be creative and figure out how to make it on my own. Burritos, Chicken Tikka Masala, and even meatloaf all made it into my repertoire when living in Israel.” [Food52]

SPORTS BLINK: “World Baseball Classic 2017: Can Israel surprise in its debut?” by Chris Cwik: “The team will be led by former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jason Marquis, but will also feature Ike Davis, Craig Breslow and Sam Fuld. Every one of those players has experienced success in the majors. ” [YahooSports]

BIRTHDAYS: Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1972, Professor of Science at Brown University since 1958, Leon Cooper turns 87… Professor emeritus of Mathematics at the University of California, San Diego, Linda Preiss Rothschild turns 72… Screen, stage and televison actress and singer, Ilene Susan Graff turns 68… Former State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, Ira Niles Forman turns 65… NYTimes op-ed columnist and 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, author of more than 20 books, Paul Krugman turns 64… Stand-up comedian, actor and voice actor, Gilbert Gottfried turns 62… Self-described as “America’s most notorious lobbyist,” Jack Abramoff turns 58… Editor-in-chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Andrew Silow-Carroll turns 56… Jerusalem-born businessman and philanthropist, worked as a NYC taxi driver after completing his IDF service, started and sold several companies in the automotive field, Mordechai (Moti) Kahana turns 49… Executive Director of the Montreal chapter of ORT, Emmanuel KallesJessie Singleton, MBA candidate at Harvard and former chief digital officer for NYC (h/t Playbook)… Samantha Friedman

Folks who won’t have a true birthday (2/29) for three more years: President of the Global Markets Institute at Goldman Sachs where she was the long-time Chief Investment Strategist, Board Chair at Jewish Theological Seminary (2009-2015), Abby Joseph Cohen turns 65… Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Paul D. Rosenthal turns 57… Former US Supreme Court law clerk and now UCLA law professor, Eugene Volokh, turns 49…

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: Is RJC united behind or torn over Trump? | Norm Coleman interview | Jeff Goldberg’s Manischewitz Radio Hour | WeWork’s new valuation

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BIG DEAL: “SoftBank set to invest more than $3 billion in Adam Neumann’s WeWork” by Brian Sullivan: “The investment being discussed is a $2 billion primary tranche of funding, followed by a secondary round worth more than $1 billion. SoftBank may increase the size of the secondary investment to nearly $2 billion, the source said, for a total investment of nearly $4 billion in the shared space real estate startup. For WeWork insiders, there is a tender offer on the table at around $44.10 per internal share. If the deal closes, WeWork would be valued at more than $20 billion. The most recent investment into WeWork valued the New York-based company at about $17 billion. In December, Masayoshi Son, the Japanese billionaire who control SoftBank, promised Donald Trump he would invest $50 billion in the United States.” [CNBC; TechCrunch]

NEW THIS MORNING — ‘Manischewitz Radio Hour’ — how Jeffrey Goldberg describes his appearance on David Axelrod’s podcast The Axe Files. Describing his upbringing, Goldberg tells Axelrod: “My whole upbringing was shaped by the fact that the Italian-Irish contingent where I grew up didn’t have much feelings for Jews. But it was black kids – actually a couple of black friends back in middle school – who taught me how to fight and that was an interesting experience. But what it did was — this notion of Jews being created by anti-Semitism in a kind of way, and I think it’s partially true. It’s not very pleasant, but it’s partially true in my case where when people outside are telling you you’re different and you’re bad – in many cases as a young person, I think you flee Judaism, you flee Jewishness, or you sort of embrace it and say what is this thing. And so, when I went to Israel for the first time as a 13-year-old for my Bar Mitzvah, something clicked and I said this is interesting – a Jewish-majority state, a powerful place, Star of David on tanks. You know, if you are a powerless kid, you cotton to this.” [CNN]

FROM THE WEEKEND: “In new era, Jewish Republican group is loyal to Trump above all else” by Theodore Schleifer: “Perhaps most tellingly, top Jewish Republican donors showed little eagerness to blame Trump for occasionally crossing them, such as when he slow-walked acknowledging the anti-Semitism behind the Holocaust this month or the recent threats at Jewish community sites this week. “You get that with the package,” said top GOP fundraiser Mel Sembler, who chalked up those controversies to mere political naïveté. “We’ve got a new president. We want him to win. We’re here to support him.” … And besides, on their signature issue, Israel — donor after donor said — Trump couldn’t align with them better. That trumps all. “The idea that he didn’t happen to say the right word, or the word that somebody was looking for,” said Marc Goldman, an influential RJC donor from Florida, “it doesn’t to me change anything about where he’s coming from.” [CNN]

ALTERNATIVE VIEW: “Jewish Republicans torn over Trump” by Alex Isenstadt: “At a closed-door session on Friday, Beverly Hills homemaker Elissa Czuker, who contributed $50,000 to elect Trump during the closing days of the campaign, questioned whether it was appropriate that some board members of the Republican Jewish Coalition had publicly called out the new GOP president. Others, including Florida dental insurance executive Jeffrey Feingold, pushed back on the idea of silencing Trump’s critics… Others fretted that Trump’s unpredictable temperament will thwart his efforts to reach a peace accord. “People are worried that he’s a loose cannon,” said one attendee. “There’s a real concern that he could slide off the edge.”

— “Behind the scenes, the White House is taking steps to win over Republican Jews, a small but influential group. It has enlisted the 83-year-old Adelson… as an unofficial adviser. Two senior Trump aides, Jared Kushner and Stephen Bannon, have been holding regular and detailed conversations with Adelson about Israel… Kushner… has been in touch with RJC executive director Matt Brooks about a variety of issues… Also visiting the White House recently was Sara Bloomfield, the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She met for breakfast with Trump spokesman Boris Epshteyn, who has been identified as the Trump aide who wrote the much-criticized Holocaust statement.” [Politico

“Pence Says U.S. ‘Assessing’ Move of American Embassy in Israel” by John McCormick: “The president I know will be an unabashed advocate for a stronger Israel-American relationship,” Pence said Friday evening at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “We are also reviewing additional steps to demonstrate America’s support, including assessing whether the American embassy in Israel should be relocated.” [BloombergReuters] • Pence, addressing Jewish Republicans, condemns rash of anti-Semitic vandalism [PoliticoJewishJournal]  

INTERVIEW – Former Senator Norman Coleman, who was appointed as RJC Chair, spoke with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh about his new role as Chairman and the RJC’s relationship with the Trump Administration. “The sad reality is that support for Israel which has always been a strongly bipartisan issue, that dynamic is changing,” Coleman explained. “A recent poll showed that a very significant portion of the Democratic Party’s base no longer supports Israel, and that is disheartening. But it’s a time of opportunity for Jews who care about the U.S.-Israel relationship to vote Republican. One of my goals is to expand the reach and the scope of the RJC. I would hope that there are disenfranchised Democrats who look at what Obama did on his way out of office, his last slap in the face of Israel by not vetoing the UNSC resolution, I would think that these folks would find a home in the Republican Jewish Coalition. There’s also a great opportunity in 2018 with 10 Democratic Senators running in states that Trump won to actually increase the Republican majority in the Senate and maintain a majority in the House. I just think that this is an exciting time for the RJC and a moment of opportunity.”

Coleman on Trump’s response to the rise of anti-Semitism: “The fact is that anti-Semitism has been rising in this country a long time — the BDS movement, anti-Semitism on college campuses, equating Zionism with racism. That has been a plague that has impacted us for a long time. All of a sudden, the media is discovering it now with the Trump presidency. I find that rather ironic… I do think that the media is continuously looking for ways to try to put the Administration at odds with the Jewish community. They are looking to create a conflict there.”

Q: Is the RJC prepared to call out Trump again in the future like it did with the Holocaust statement?

Coleman: “I think it’s very reasonable for the RJC to note that from a Jewish perspective it was an oversight not to mention Jews in the Holocaust statement. We do that as a friend of the Administration. There’s nothing unusual about that. That fact is that the Jewish presence in the White House is more than a minyan. We have no doubt that that on the key issues, on the issue of Israel, that this is a president who is deeply and firmly committed to supporting the Jewish state.” Read the full interview [JewishInsider]

“How Trump Split Conservatives Three Ways” by Tevi Troy: “Conservatives who backed Trump before the election are like people who bought a penny stock before it went big… Others are quieter not out of any concerns about Trump, but because they’ve either landed administration jobs or are hoping to… Since the inauguration, though, there have been several tough attacks on Trump from the right… Looking ahead, this group, especially the Cohen wing, is making a bet that Trumpism will recede… If Trumpism were not to recede, Cohen and others like him – including Wehner, Max Boot, and Bret Stephens – are effectively saying that they would not be part of a Trump-infused conservative movement in the future… The Safe Spacers are not comfortable with everything Trump does, but are choosing to direct their fire at the media and the left… Whichever group wins over conservatism will likely dominate the Republican party for the foreseeable future.” [Politico

“New DNC chair wants to make Ellison ‘the face of the Democratic Party’” by Allison Sherry: “In an interview Sunday, Perez said he had big plans for Ellison as his deputy, including letting him run point on the party’s grass roots organizing efforts… Perez also noted he wanted to make Ellison the “face of the Democratic Party.” “He’s such an eloquent spokesperson,” Perez said. “We need many faces of the Democratic Party and so I think we’re incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to create the synergies that together allows us to do what we need to do.” [StarTribune

“Keith Ellison’s supporters say Israel attacks helped sink his DNC bid” by Jeff Stein: “In the final 36 hours, the Ellison campaign spent significant resources combating an 11th-hour smear campaign that was sending targeted emails to Jewish DNC members,” texted an official on the Ellison campaign… “Oh, absolutely it hurt him: It’s what they used against him,” said Jean Ross, of National Nurses United… Eric Bauman is the vice chair of the California Democratic Party, and was a pro-Ellison advocate. A self-described “observant, pro-Israel Jew,” Bauman said he spent much of his time in the last six weeks responding to questions from constituents worried about Ellison’s history on Israel.” [Vox

Reaction from Perez supporters — Norman Eisen tells us: “Tom will make a great DNC chair. He is an old friend and colleague, and I was honored to help introduce him to leading members of our community from coast to coast. Like me, they were impressed with his vision for the party and with his strong support for Israel, where he has visited, gaining a firsthand appreciation of the security challenges.”

Ann Lewis: “The Democratic Party has now elected a Chair who talks about being in the Golan, and seeing Israel’s security needs for himself – while continuing to oppose Donald Trump’s anti-immigration, anti-women, anti-LGBT policies. That’s why most American Jews will continue to be at home in the Democratic Party — the party that honors our values and welcomes our children. All our children.”

ZOA’s Morton Klein‏: “Dershowitz promised quitting Democratic Party if anti-Semite Keith Ellison became DNC Chair – will he quit now that Ellison is Deputy Chair?” [Twitter

HEARD YESTERDAY — at the J Street National Conference in Washington DC, Alan Solow, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a national co-chair of the 2012 Obama reelection campaign, urged liberal Jewish organizations to choose a diplomatic response to the new administration’s policies on the Middle East. “In this current status of five or six weeks into this presidency, it’s important to try to give the Administration some room to find its way to try and to work with the administration and encourage them to work with Israelis and the Israeli government,” he explained. “Therefore, I would say, outward criticism on those issues, if I were in leadership would be premature at this point.”

“At J Street, a Debate Over David Friedman’s Role” — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Alon Pinkas, former Israeli Consul General to New York, asserted that despite the outspoken rhetoric, Friedman serving as Ambassador “means nothing.” Pinkas added, “He (Friedman) is not going to drive policy. He is going to do what he is being told. It is along the lines of the changing role of the Ambassador.” However, Ilan Goldenberg emphasized that Friedman’s role could likely change in a Trump presidency. “Trump seems to operate more based on terms of personal relationships and he has a personal relationship with Friedman. It is much tighter than the personal relationship he seems to have with Rex Tillerson so who is going to be driving policy is a little unclear.” [JewishInsider• Jewish Federation Head Voices Support for David Friedman as U.S. Envoy to Israel [Haaretz]

SCENE SATURDAY NIGHT — “Press pool left in darkness as Trump dines at his hotel” by Rebecca Morin: “Trump was pictured sitting with his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, a senior adviser, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Brexit movement, among others, according to a tweet by Benny Johnson, reporter for Independent Journal Review, who happened to be at the Trump International Hotel.” [Politico] • Also spotted at dinner: Reed Cordish

“Inside Trump’s Secret Dinner: A Side of the President You Don’t Ever See” by Benny Johnson: “The President gets up and walks across the restaurant to his Secretary of State’s table. The President kisses Tillerson’s wife Renda, and he and Tillerson make small talk. They laugh and speak jovially for a few minutes as dinner guests who had been sitting next to Tillerson look on in stunned amazement.” [IJR

Paparazzo — Jared pictured with his brother Josh Kushner enjoying a Saturday stroll [DailyMail

At the Oscars: “Karlie Kloss is also wearing an ACLU ribbon” by Emily Yahr: “This is notable if only because Kloss is dating investor Josh Kushner, brother of Jared Kushner, also known as President Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser.” [WashPost]

TRUMP ERA: “Sources: U.S. considers quitting U.N. Human Rights Council” by Nahal Toosi And Eliana Johnson: “A final decision on membership in the council would likely involve Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and of course the president himself. A former State Department official briefed on the discussions said while the council’s targeting of Israel is likely part of the debate, there also are questions about its roster of members and doubts about its usefulness overall.” [Politico

“Trump proposal for terrorist listing of Iran Revolutionary Guard in limbo: sources” by John Walcott and Matt Spetalnick: “The proposal has been in the works for weeks, and was originally expected to be rolled out this month. But while the idea remains under consideration, it is unclear when – or even if – an announcement might be forthcoming… “That move could potentially backfire” in Iran’s domestic politics, too, said one of the officials. “The Iranians are a major source of trouble … but those kind of moves would only help the hardliners” in Iran… In addition, said another of the officials, adding the IRGC to the terrorist list would cause friction with U.S. European allies, who in the wake of the 2015 nuclear agreement are trying to rebuild business ties to Iran.” [Reuters

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Israeli intelligence minister says Trump created a new path to peace” by Ruth Eglash: “Israeli Minister of Intelligence Israel Katz[‘s] plan, which he says has been adopted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is regional and multilayered. The creation of a Palestinian state or at least an autonomous, demilitarized entity will come by default at the tail end… Katz said this point and others made recently by the new U.S. administration has made clear that Trump will allow Israel to find its own solution, in its own time. Trump, he said, has opened up the playing field for peace.” [WashPost

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: The contentious State Comptroller’s report about the 2014 Gaza operation is due to be published tomorrow. The report is slated to harshly criticize Netanyahu, his former defense minister Yaalon and the IDF top brass for their inadequate preparations for the 51 day operation in Gaza. The report will also shed light on the flawed decision-making process in the security cabinet. All of this has been at the top of the headlines for days, and was the talk of the Knesset today, leading all of the faction meetings. The only one who kept silent was the Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennet, who is likely to be dubbed as the great winner of the report, as the Comptroller adopts Bennet’s case against Netanyahu and Yaalon.

Netanyahu, back from a week-long tour of Australia and Singapore, opened the Likud meeting brushing off the criticism. “when one enters the cabinet he must leave the cell phones outside, as well as petty politics and personal interests. No cabinet in history was as informed as this cabinet during Protective Edge. The most important lessons are not in the report, and I – unlike the Comptroller – back and support the IDF Command.” Earlier today, Yair Lapid called on Netanyahu to publicly acknowledge that he was wrong and made mistakes. “The report is professional and profound, but also difficult and severe. Even after the Shin Bet and IDF intelligence emphasized to the PM that the tunnel threat has become a strategic threat, Netanyahu did not bring the issue to the cabinet or give the IDF the right directives to deal with it. The army did the right thing and started to amend the mistakes the day after the war started but the political echelon, and especially the PM did exactly the opposite.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

“H.R. McMaster Breaks With Administration on Views of Islam” by Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt: “The adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first “all hands” staff meeting, that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic,” according to people who were in the meeting.” [NYTimes• Jake Tapper: “McMaster vs. Bannon is going to be an interesting dynamic to watch.” [Twitter]

“U.S. detains and nearly deports French Jewish historian” by James McAuley:On Wednesday, [Henry] Rousso landed from Paris at Houston’s George Bush International Airport after an 11-hour flight, en route to Texas A&M University in College Station… Rousso — an Egyptian-born French citizen — was “mistakenly detained” by U.S. immigration authorities, according to Richard Golsan, director of the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M. The university then sprang into action, the Eagle reported, with President Michael Young reaching out to law professor Fatma Marouf… [who] quickly and successfully intervened with immigration authorities, and Rousso was released and allowed to deliver his lecture.” [WashPost; TheEagle• French Historian Says He Was Threatened With Deportation at Houston Airport [NYTimes

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Trump’s presidency: ‘We are not experiencing the best of times’” by Kristine Guerra: ““We’re not experiencing the best of times,” Ginsburg said Thursdayon BBC’s “Newsnight,” though she did not comment directly about the president… “Some terrible things have happened in the United States, but one can only hope that we learn from those bad things,” she added, citing the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II as an example.” [WashPost

“I’m a Silicon Valley liberal, and I traveled across the country to interview 100 Trump supporters — here’s what I learned” by Sam Altman: “What don’t you like about him? “He continually plays into a character that he has created to rile his fan base. Accepting anti-Semitism, white nationalism, or hate emanating unnecessarily creates a vacuum of fear on social media, on television, and around the dinner table. Even though the policies may be similar to that of any recent Republican president, the behavior to act so immaturely sets a bad example for children and undercuts many cultural norms, which more than anything causes disruption to our sociological foundations.”” [BI

** 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: White House Power Player Jared Kushner Is Keeping Parts of His Real Estate Empire [ProPublica• Noble Energy, partners move ahead with $3.75B project [BizJournals] • Air Force buys mysterious $15m Israeli ‘drone killer’ kits to fight DIY ISIS UAVs [DailyMail] • Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media [TheGuardian] • In Trump-CNN Battle, 2 Presidents Who Love a Spectacle [NYT]

“Some of the biggest names in the hedge fund industry are planning to invest in a hot new fund” by Rachael Levy: “Philippe Laffont, the founder of Coatue Management; Louis Bacon, the founder of Moore Capital; and Dan Loeb, the founder of Third Point, are planning to invest in Ben Melkman’s Light Sky Macro, a New York hedge fund that is set to launch March 1. Billionaire Steve Cohen, the founder of Point72 Asset Management, is also investing in the fund… The fund is expected to launch with at least $400 million.” [BI]

SCENE YESTERDAY — JFNA’s William Daroff received a national award recognizing his Jewish civic leadership at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) annual conference held at the Capital Hilton in DC. Prior to the awards dinner, Daroff moderated a panel with “the two Noahs” – RJC’a Noah Silverman and Noah Pollak on how the Jewish community should engage with the Trump Administration.

TALK OF THE NATION: “Another Jewish cemetery vandalized and again Muslims reach out to help” by Colby Itkowitz: On Sunday night, El-Messidi read the news of yet another vandalized Jewish cemetery. This time it hit closer to home, just miles from where he lives in Philadelphia. He called fellow Muslim activist, Linda Sarsour, and they agreed to use the fund to help with repairs and restoration. Then El-Messidi immediately drove to the cemetery to see how he could help. There he found a team of diverse people, including many local Muslims, at work doing their best to erect what he said were several hundred toppled headstones at Mount Carmel Cemetery in a neighborhood in the northeast part of the city. Police have said they counted about 100 overturned.” [WashPost]

HOLLYWOOD: “The minute-by-minute breakdown of the shocking ‘Moonlight’/‘La La Land’ best picture mix-up” by Emily Yahr: “In what was surely the most shocking moment in Oscars history, Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner for best picture at the end of the ceremony, awarding the trophy to “La La Land” when it actually was supposed to go to “Moonlight.” The “La La Land” team arrived on stage, and producers Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt delivered their speeches. All of a sudden, there was a flurry of activity behind them… “This is not a joke,” Platt interjected. “I’m afraid they read the wrong thing.” Confused gasps and stunned silence from the crowd quickly turned into a standing ovation.” [WashPost] • From Pikesville to ‘La La Land,’ producer Marc Platt sees a bright future for movie musicals [BaltimoreSun]

“Chris Martin Says Coldplay Will Not Perform Israeli-Palestinian Peace Concerts, Despite Rumors” by Colin Stutz: “Frontman Chris Martin squashed speculation with a Twitter post on Friday (Feb. 24), following unsubstantiated reports the band would be performing two concerts during this trip. In Martin’s post, he explained he and his bandmates are in region to “listen and learn and that’s all.” “We are just having an interesting and enlightening trip to learn about the area,” he continued.” [Billboard

MEDIA WATCH: “Fox News’ Israel Bureau Chief [Eli Fastman]: It’s ‘Insulting’ Trump Didn’t Tag Us as Enemy of the People” by Nir Gontarz: “I personally would not be opposed to Trump including us in that category of enemies of the people, but he didn’t do it… It’s very insulting. Because it says that we are a type of collaborator… No media body wants to be a collaborator of the government. But he made us the exception.” [Haaretz

DESSERT: “A Rabbi Strives to Make His Corner of Siberia Kosher Again” by Amie Ferris-Rotman: “The majority of Birobidzhan’s Jews grew to not observe most kosher rules… Rabbi [Eli] Riss, who peppers his speech with humor (“Even the local drunkards greet me with ‘Shalom’ ”), aims to encourage local Jews to embrace kosher practices as he does. His suitcases of food are for himself and his family. He wants his flock, too, to be able to eat kosher easily. “Once we get kosher food, it will be a Jewish heaven,” he said on an early December day… His synagogue is waiting to hear if its application to local authorities for a kosher food shop is successful. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, to which Rabbi Riss belongs, is financing the shop’s construction. Under the rabbi’s plan, frozen kosher goods such as beefsteaks and sour cream will travel in bulk to Birobidzhan from Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway.” [WSJ

BIRTHDAYS: Performance artist and film-maker, Eleanor Antin turns 82… Writer and illustrator of children’s books, Uri Shulevitz turns 82… Billionaire, investor, trader and philanthropist, Chair of Julliard, Vice Chair of Lincoln Center and on the Board of the Metropolitan Opera, Bruce Kovner turns 72… Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Alan Harvey Guth turns 70… Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue, a member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Julia Neuberger turns 67… Film and television actor, now starring as FBI Agent Stan Beeman on the FX series “The Americans,” Noah Emmerich turns 52… VP of Education and Regional Operations at the Anti-Defamation League, David S. Waren turns 54… Singer-songwriter, composer and prayer leader, co-founder of NYC’s Kol Zimrah minyan, Sam Benjamin “Shir Yaakov” Feinstein-Feit turns 39… Massachusetts State Senator since 2015 and former Obama White House aide where he was one of the originators of the White House Seder, Eric Lesser turns 32 (h/t Playbook)… Grand”Pa” of Dov and Joe et al., Michael Gervis… Alana Berkowitz… Rebecca Sinderbrand (h/ts Playbook)… William Drykos… Judith Meyer… Lenore Wax

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Daily Kickoff: Republican Jews, Jewish Republicans differ on DNC race | Spotted at Sheldon’s home | After speaking out on Trump, Magerman suspended

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HEARD LAST NIGHT: “Adelson: Trump likely to be ‘best president for Israel ever'” by Theodore Schleifer: “Adelson declared Thursday evening that Donald Trump was likely to be “the best president for Israel ever” … Adelson made the remarks at his home on the eve of the Republican Jewish Coalition leadership conference… as Dick Cheney, the powerful Vice President in George W. Bush’s administration, sat among the audience munching on salmon and brisket. Adelson did not say that Trump was guaranteed to be better than the 43rd president.” [CNN]

SPOTTED at Sheldon’s: Sam Fox, Steve Wynn, Sen. Dean Heller, Rep. Ed Royce, Rep. Mia Love, Rep. Lee Zeldin, Rep. Devin Nunes, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, Lew Eisenberg, Yitz Applbaum, Phil Rosen, Fred Zeidman, Jay Zeidman, Ed Czuker, David Flaum, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, Elliott Broidy, and Boris Epshteyn from the White House.

“Billionaire Adelson Reaps Benefits From Big Republican Donations” by John McCormick: “[VP Mike] Pence, who is scheduled to address the gathering Friday evening, is expected to assure RJC members that there’s no distance between the administration and the group’s goals… “Pence is probably the best person in the administration in terms of a combination of seniority and the way that Republican Jews see him,” said Tevi Troy, a policy adviser and Jewish liaison for President George W. Bush’s White House. “There is still discomfort within the Republican Jewish ranks about Trump.” … The Vice President’s activities ahead of his RJC speech, which included a meeting with Netanyahu, a tour of the Dachau concentration camp in Germany and a visit to a suburban St. Louis Jewish cemetery damaged by vandals, have boosted his standing with the group.” [Bloomberg

“Zuckerberg group that fought Trump gave to transition” by Tony Romm and Theodoric Meyer: “At the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, the immigration reform group FWD[dot]us took aim at then-GOP candidate Donald Trump and blasted him for pursuing policies that might lead to “mass deportations.” But months later the nonprofit, founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote a $5,000 check to Trump’s presidential transition… Paul Singer, another top GOP donor who declined to back Trump, gave $5,000 to the transition. Singer also gave a significant contribution to the inaugural committee, though the disclosure is not public yet, according to a source familiar with the donation.” [Politico

“The contributor list also included well-known Republican political benefactors, such as Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. He and his relatives donated a total of $15,000.” [USAToday

DNC WATCH — “Tom Perez Gains Ground in Race for DNC Chair” by Eric Levitz: “Jaime Harrison began Thursday with a grip on third place in the race for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee — and ended it by throwing his support to front-runner Tom Perez. Before Harrison bowed out, it was widely assumed that the DNC contest wouldn’t be settled on the first ballot… NBC News reports that Harrison could swing as many as 20 votes into Perez’s column — possibly enough for the former Labor secretary to secure the chairmanship on first ballot.” [NYMag

“‘Rebuilding’ efforts overshadow Jewish issues in DNC election” by Ron Kampeas: “The leading candidates are sensitive to the disproportionate importance of the Jewish community to the party. They have not forgotten Jewish outreach, even while campaigning on the nuts and bolts that are preoccupying the state officials, state-level party officials and special interest representatives who make up the 447 electors. No one is more acutely aware of the need to reassure the party’s Jewish base than Ellison… Fundraiser Barbara Goldberg Goldman and Susan Turnbull, a longtime Jewish community activist who backs Buttigieg, in interviews said they rejected insinuations that Ellison is anti-Semitic, but worried that his baggage could weigh down the party.” [JTA

Gabriel Debenedetti: “It’s telling that Chuck Schumer reiterated his support for Keith Ellison in a new letter to DNC members: he hadn’t weighed in since December.” [Twitter

REPUBLICAN JEWS VS JEWISH REPUBLICANS: Views On The DNC Race From CPAC — by Jacob Kornbluh: CPAC attendee Yitchok (Ian) Cummings, 24, from Linwood, NJ says that as a Republican Jew his partisanship doesn’t seep through when it comes to hoping Ellison wins the DNC Chairmanship. “I do think Keith Ellison’s anti-Israel views are dangerous. I think the fact that he’s such a powerful frontrunner for the DNC, is just indicative of the fact that the Democratic Party has moved to the far left and shifted on Israel,” Cummings told Jewish Insider. “So even as a partisan, while there’s some advantage to see Ellison leading the Democrats, it makes me sad as a Jew that we may not have a loyal opposition that we respect and can work with. Having someone like that leading the opposition is a shot across the bow, and it’s very difficult to have a relationship with an opposition that is headed by someone that has views that are so antithetical to Israel and American Jewry.”

Eric Golub from LA, a Trump supporter, had an opposite view. “Obviously as a Jew, I don’t want to see a Jew-hater get anywhere near the levers of power. As a Republican, I want the Democrats to have a complete whack job running their party,” said Golub, while waiting for Mike Pence to take the stage at the annual gathering. “Now, my Judaism always comes first but here is why I am going to make an exception in this case: the heads of the Party are not significant. It’s not like he’s the presidential or vice presidential candidate. The DNC and RNC chairs are symbolic figureheads. So if the Democrats want to have the worst of all worlds for them, that’s a win-win situation for Republicans.”

RJC’s Matt Brooks: “To my friends at DNC please please elect this man [Ellison] Chair!” [Twittter

Jeff Ballabon: “Politically, Republicans love the idea of Ellison at DNC; Jews, however, should be frightened over the further mainstreaming of a hater.” [Twitter]

Tevi Troy tells us: “I do not prefer to see Ellison elected. I think that both Israel and America are better off if we operate under the bipartisan consensus in favor of strong ties between the U.S. and Israel. It was unfortunate that Barack Obama moved away from that direction with his tough on Israel policy, and I would like to see both parties supportive of Israel in the future. That said, regardless of who wins the DNC race, I do worry about the direction of the Democratic party on the Israel issue.”

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Defending Trump, ex-envoy to US says nobody blamed Obama for leftist anti-Semitism” by Raphael Ahren: “Obviously there is problem with anti-Semitism and we have to take it seriously,” said Michael Oren… “But there is anti-Semitism on the left, and nobody blamed Obama for that. During my time in Washington [as Israeli ambassador], I never encountered right-wing anti-Semitism, but I experienced a lot of anti-Semitism, mainly on campuses.” Just as Obama should not be blamed for these incidents, Trump cannot be blamed for the current wave of attacks apparently inspired by right-wing ideologies, he argued.

“While he himself does not agree with the White House explanation (on Holocaust statement)… Oren said he would not “go out and criticize” the new administration…. Obama, early in his first term, indicated that Israel was created because of the Holocaust, Oren recalled. “This was a problematic narrative, because it basically denies Jewish history. But we didn’t make a big deal about it. It was a new administration and we had important things to discuss.” It took Obama several years before publicly setting the record straight, when in a speech to the UN he talked about the millennia-old Jewish roots in the Land of Israel, Oren said. “Let’s give Trump that same opportunity [to correct mistakes] and not jump at every little thing he says.” [ToI

Alan Solow emails us: “The reason nobody blamed Obama for anti-Semitism, which admittedly exists across the board politically, is that President Obama consistently condemned anti-Semitism throughout his career including during his June, 2009 Cairo speech. That distinguishes him from the approach President Trump took until earlier this week.”

“Have We Gone Overboard With Anti-Semitism?” by David Suissa: “So, here’s the question: If we’re the most liked group in America, why are we not acting like it? The truth is, hating Jews in America will marginalize you with the mainstream, not make you popular. But in this crazy media landscape we’re in, any moron with a spray can can slap a swastika on the side of a synagogue and take over the national conversation — if we let him. As much as I hate that swastika, I also don’t want to give that moron iconic status or the power to frighten our community.” [JewishJournal

HEARD YESTERDAY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new actions to combat hate crimes and anti-Semitism across New York State after meeting with some 50 Jewish community and interfaith leaders at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. The measures include a $25 million grant program for additional security training needs, cameras, and other related needs to boost safety and security at religious schools and daycare centers. The state will also expand its toll-free hotline to include text message capability to report incidents of bias and discrimination. “New York is blessed to have more Jewish people in New York than any other place outside of Israel. Yes, I am a New Yorker. But I am Jewish… When you attack a Jewish Community Center, you attack me, and you attack each and every one of us,” Cuomo said. [YouTube

–SPOTTED: Bob Cohen, Abe Foxman, George Klein, ADL’s Evan Bernstein, JCRC’s Charlie Temmel, Agudath Israel’s Chaim David Zweibel, Sol Werdiger, Chaskel Bennett, OU’s Allen Fagin and Maury Litwack, UJA’s Hindy Poupko and Linda Mirels, Albany JCC’s Adam Chassin, Canarsie JCC’s David Sorkin, Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Rabbi Marc Schneier.

“I Was a Muslim in Trump’s White House” by Rumana Ahmed: “Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this––or because of it––I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens. I lasted eight days… On Monday, January 23, I walked into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, with the new staffers there. Rather than the excitement I encountered when I first came to the White House under Obama, the new staff looked at me with a cold surprise… The days I spent in the Trump White House were strange, appalling and disturbing.“ [TheAtlantic

BACK TO TWO STATES? Trump in an interview with Reuters: “I like the concept of the two-state solution. People have been talking about it for so many years now, it so far hasn’t worked. But I am satisfied with whatever makes both parties happy.” [Reuters

KFILE — “Trump Israel ambassador pick bragged of removing two-state solution from GOP platform at November event” by Andrew Kaczynski: “In the speech delivered in his hometown of Woodmere, NY… [David] Friedman boasted of removing references of the two-state solution and occupation of the West Bank from the Republican Party platform… He also attacked two Jewish organizations, J-Street and the ADL. “What the ADL has become is not the Anti-Defamation League, it’s the league to combat anti-liberalism,” Friedman said. “The ADL has a wonderful long legacy, primarly under Abe Foxman, who I disagreed with but who certainly knew anti-Semitism when he saw it. The ADL is now run by a guy named Jonathan Greenblatt who is strong supporter of J-Street and they’ve lost all credibility.” At another point in the speech, Friedman falsely asserted that the J-Street board was “more than half Arab… they are a dangerous, dangerous organization.” … Friedman said… “The liberal Jewish community has not been a friend, not been a pro-Israel force in this country.” [CNN

President-in-law: “Kushner, Ivanka Trump Pushed to Remove Words Critical of Climate Deal From Executive Order” by Amy Harder and Peter Nicholas: “[Jared] Kushner, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, and Ms. Trump, the president’s eldest daughter, intervened to strike language about the climate deal from an earlier draft of the executive order…  One official said that both Mr. Kushner and [Ivanka] Trump have been considered a moderating influence with respect to the White House’s position on climate change and environmental issues. The move is the latest sign of influence Mr. Trump’s daughter and Mr. Kushner have in a White House that has seen internal divisions on a variety of issues, including foreign policy.” [WSJ

“How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ivanka?” by Margin Cogan: “Most women’s magazines agree that one thing has changed: They cannot continue to cover Ivanka as if she is solely a fashion mogul, or even a glamorous nonpolitical member of the first family. “We’ve covered Ivanka Trump, the entrepreneur,” explains Riza Cruz, executive editor of Marie Claire. “Since she’s stepped away from the day-to-day of her company, we would consider how her new role affects women across the country and around the world.”” [PoliticoMag]

“Eric Trump’s brother-in-law gets job at the Department of Energy” by Daniel Halper: “Eric Trump’s brother-in-law — who once competed for the title of “hottest bachelor” in Washington D.C. — has landed a job at the Department of Energy. Kyle Yunaska is working on the “beachhead” team at the Energy Department, as its incoming head — former Texas governor Rick Perry — awaits Senate confirmation. Yunaska, an East Carolina University alumnus and brother of Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, has no apparent background in energy or policy, but is reportedly working with the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.” [NYPost; Axios]
“Pence takes victory lap at CPAC: ‘This is our time’” by Max Greenwood: “Pence also voiced support for Israel, vowing that Trump would “stand with” the Jewish state. “Israel’s fight is our fight. Her cause is our cause. Her values are our values,” Pence said to rising applause. “And under President Trump, America will stand with Israel.”” [TheHill

“Steve Bannon: Trump is ‘maniacally focused’ on executing promises” by David Smith: “Dan Cassino, a political scientist at Fairleigh Dickinson University, said… “I think we are seeing Bannon’s influence in Israel policy: the idea we have to support a militarily strong Israel and the coexistence in the Oslo process for two decades needs to be thrown out. That tells us he has a lot of influence and he wasn’t kidding about this.”” [Guardian

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Netanyahu Graft Affair: Israel Police Wanted to Question Kerry and ex-U.S. Envoy but Were Blocked by AG” by Gidi Weitz: “Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit objected to having police question former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro in the investigation known as Case 1000, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of methodically accepting gifts from tycoon Arnon Milchan… Mendelblit told Justice Ministry officials that taking testimony from senior people in the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, who had tense relations with Netanyahu, was very sensitive and might not even be necessary for building a case.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: For years, politicians have been complaining about the Netanyahu-Israel Hayom connection, and several probes have been launched into the claim that the pro-Netanyahu daily is an illegal political contribution. Before the last election, the Likud submitted a written affidavit in which it declared Netanyahu had no connection to Israel Hayom whatsoever. But the Noni tapes reveal that Netanyahu was negotiating the commercial aspects of the newspaper with its biggest rival. Moreover, Mozes has supposedly passed on even more evidence proving Netanyahu was involved in the newspaper. According to Abramovich, the State Comptroller now believes there are grounds to prove that Israel Hayom is an illegal political contribution and is requesting the investigation materials, but the Attorney General is refusing to do so until the police probe is concluded. The Netanyahu-Noni tapes hardly interest the wider public, but for politicians and journalists this is the hottest potato around, so the saga continues.

The State Comptroller Yosef Shapira was personally vetted by the PM and his wife and was originally expected to be a Netanyahu “yes man” but Shapira has turned out to be quite independent and is giving the PM quite a hard time. Next week, Shapira will be publishing the loaded report about Operation Protective Edge, which is expected to criticize Netanyahu’s decision-making process ahead of the war and also re-spark the intensive political fight inside the security cabinet. On one side of the arena are Netanyahu and his former Defense Minister Yaalon, and on the other side, Naftali Bennet, who has accused them of not informing the cabinet about the terror tunnel threat. Shapira is expected to accept Bennet’s version of the events. The report is likely to be attacked by the PM who once appointed Shapira so gladly. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

“Netanyahu, Former Aide Maneuver for Position in Israel” by Rory Jones: “The political tug of war between Mr. Netanyahu, who has won election to three consecutive terms but has been weakened by corruption probes, and Mr. Bennett, a former aide who now leads a different political party, has become a central feature of the Middle East peace process.” [WSJ]

** 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: Israel’s Wix buys DeviantArt for $36 million, raises revenue outlook [Reuters• Why Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield is staffing up the $3.8 billion company with Intel and Salesforce veterans to fight Microsoft [Yahoo• Alan Howard Said to Create New Brevan Fund Managed Only by Him [Bloomberg] • Why Westfield’s Steven Lowy bought from Apple in a shopping centre [AFR] • How Mark Cuban Hangs Onto His Money [NYTimes

TOP TALKER — Cover of today’s WSJ B1: “Orthodox Jewish Hedge Fund Exec Suspended Without Pay for Publicly Criticizing His Trump Mega-Donor Boss” by Yair Rosenberg: “David Magerman, an Orthodox Jewish computer scientist who helped write the trading systems that made the legendary Renaissance Technologies a billion-dollar investment success, was at loggerheads with its CEO Robert Mercer… The story of his dispute with Mercer was quickly picked up by other business publications… But by this afternoon, the Journal had appended an update to its original piece: ‘On Thursday morning, after an online version of this story appeared, Mr. Magerman received a new phone call from Renaissance. A representative told Mr. Magerman that he was being suspended without pay and no longer could have contact with the company.’” [Tablet; WSJ

–We’re told this wouldn’t be the first time Magerman has left Renaissance… but he’s apparently so essential to their business model that last time they begged him to return and he agreed albeit mostly working remotely from Philadelphia. No word yet on how this episode will play out.

SPOTLIGHT: “Waymo sues Uber and [Israeli founded] Otto for theft of trade secrets” by Darrell Etherington: “In its complaint, Waymo says that it developed a “combination of unique laser systems to provide critical information for the operation of fully self-driving vehicles,” which were taken by Otto founder Anthony Levandowski specifically, who was previously a manager working for Waymo. Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 “highly confidential and proprietary files” from Waymo prior to leaving the company… The Waymo suit cites Biz Carson reporting for Business Insider that Otto’s in-house development of its own LiDAR tech was key to its acquisition by Uber, and the suit also says that Levandowski and Otto gained more than half-a-billion dollars directly via the theft.” [TC] • An email fail made Google suspect Uber was copying its self-driving car technology [BI

“Credit Suisse Probe Opens Old Wounds” by John Letzing and Aruna Viswanatha: “The U.S. Justice Department in July 2014 discovered that American professor Dan Horsky was potentially hiding money overseas in his Credit Suisse accounts managed by the bank’s Israel desk… Investigators are determining if other clients with dual Israeli citizenship also got help in concealing American tax obligations by using their Israeli or other personal documents, people familiar with the matter said…. Employees of the Israel desk believe Mr. Horsky surreptitiously recorded their colleagues on several occasions during his cooperation, on the phone and in person… Around the time [Romeo] Cerutti became roughly aware of what was going on, a senior manager at Credit Suisse’s Israel desk traveled to Israel to meet with Mr. Horsky… The senior manager and four other Credit Suisse employees from the Israel desk were later suspended by the bank, after it was fully briefed by the Justice Department on its probe last year.” [WSJ]

“How the elite network now: in remote locations out of the social media spotlight” by Tiffanie Darke: “I’ve been invited to Stream, a secret tech and media gathering, laid on by ad guru Martin Sorrell and his co-conspirator Yossi Vardi, the Israeli tech investor. Vardi calls it an ‘un-conference’, and if you wanted to pay to come, you couldn’t. This one, like a growing number of influential gatherings, is under the radar, offline and invite-only.” [Standard

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Israeli models hit the catwalk for Modest Fashion Day” by Eli Berlzon: “Forgoing the provocative and risque, a group of designers in Jerusalem on Thursdayheld Israel’s first major fashion show for Orthodox Jewish women, whose tradition requires they dress in conservative outfits. Hundreds of Orthodox women and fashionistas were in the audience for “Modest Fashion Day” as Israeli models hit the catwalk wearing long sleeves and dresses down to their ankles. “People are looking in our direction now to find that modest kind of look, which is very interesting to see,” said ultra-Orthodox stylist Miri Beillin.” [Reuters]

“Does Melania Trump Have A Twin? Meet Mira Tzur, First Lady’s Israeli Model Lookalike” by Janice Williams: “Mira Tzur is a former model who has now launched a new career as a Trump impersonator alongside her President Donald Trump lookalike husband, New York actor John Di Domenico, according to a Miami Herald report Feb. 16. After gaining attention for features that strikingly resemble Melania Trump, Tzur said she’s managed to reach new heights in her career. The 45-year-old model, who has graced international runways and appeared in Advil, Neutrogena and various other commercial advertisements, said she charges $3,000 plus expenses to appear at private events dressed and acting like 46-year-old first lady.” [IBTimes]

TRANSITION: Yeruchim Silber, Executive Director of the Boro Park JCC, emails… “After much thoughtful deliberations, I decided to accept a new position as New York Director of Government Relations for Agudath Israel of America… In my new role, I will be joining a group of devoted advocates both professional and lay, working in Albany, City Hall and at other localities throughout the State advocating for the community.

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Attorney General of Connecticut (1983-1989), US Senator (1989-2013), Democratic nominee for Vice President (on the Al Gore ticket) in the 2000 US presidential election, Senator Joe Lieberman turns 75… Founder of WhatsApp in 2009, sold the company to Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion, Jan Koum turns 41… At age 42 he became the first-ever Jewish winner of an Olympic medal in sailing at the 1972 Munich Olympics, 30 years later at age 72 he won a US sailing championship, Don Cohan turns 87… Former chairman and CEO of Warner Bros (until 2001), then chairman and CEO of Yahoo (2001-2007), co-chair (emeritus) of the board of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Terry Semel turns 74… Moscow-born professor of mathematics at Yale University since 1991, Grigory Margulis turns 71… Rabbi and author of a book about chocolate and Judaism, has held a number of leadership positions in the national and regional Reform movement, Deborah R. Prinz turns 66… Public relations executive, television pundit, author and lecturer, Howard Bragman turns 61… Explorer, author, survival expert, anthropologist and TV host, Josh Bernstein turns 46… Professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, one of his books has been translated into 30 languages and his on-line course has had over 100,000 students, Yuval Noah Harari turns 41… Director of Investments at Strategic Cyber Ventures, Aaron Applbaum turns 26… Faye Waldman… Mitchell Brown… Program Associate in the Washington, D.C. office of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, Mary Ann Weiss (yesterday)…

SATURDAY: Former talk show host, Sally Jessy Raphael (born Sally Lowenthal) turns 82… President of the Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore (1979-1986), then EVP of the UJA-Federation of New York (1986-1999), then first-ever CEO of United Jewish Communities, Stephen Solender turns 79… Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (2007-2011), Gabi Ashkenazi turns 63… Comedienne, actress and writer, Chelsea Joy Handler turns 42… Actress, comic book author, producer, singer and screenwriter, best known for her roles in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” and Fox’s “Boston Public,” Rashida Jones turns 41… Lyla Rose Holdstein turns 35… Actor, writer and producer, best known for his portrayal of Malcolm’s second-oldest brother, Reese, in Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle, Justin Berfield turns 31… American figure skating champion, Max Aaron, turns 25… Graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, formerly CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (2005-2015), Steve Gutow… CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo since 2015 after a 20-year career at Hillel, Rob Goldberg… General manager of Covenant Wines in Berkeley, California, previously at at Larkmead Vineyard in Napa Valley, Sagie Kleinlerer… Michael Smith

SUNDAY: American sociologist now living in Israel, received a Ph.D. in sociology from The New School for Social Research, Professor Emeritus of sociology and Jewish studies at Rutgers University, Chaim Waxman turns 76… Billionaire, art collector, philanthropist and political activist, President of the World Jewish Congress since 2007, active in rebuilding Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe, Ronald Lauder turns 73… Singer and songwriter in multiple musical genres, who has sold over 75 million records, Michael Bolton turns 64… Baltimore community activist, previous Chair of CHANA (Counseling, Helpline and Aid Network for Abused Women), Julie Applebaum turns 60… Founder of Tablet Magazine in 2009 after being a a religion reporter and then arts and culture editor at The Forward, Alana Newhouse turns 41… Chief Planning Officer of the Paramus-based Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Lisa Harris Glass… Brett Kaufman turns 23… Chantal Reuss

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