Daily Kickoff: With Molcho out, will Dore Gold rejoin Bibi? | Mnuchin in Israel, Pence to visit in December | How David Rubenstein became a TV star

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KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Dozens of Likud ministers and MKs gathered in the cabinet room to celebrate Bibi’s 68th birthday. Perhaps because of the police investigations underway, no one brought any gifts, but Netanyahu’s eldest, Yair, gave a rare statement, which could be interpreted as his birthday gesture to his father. After months of rumors about his future political plans, Yair Netanyahu said he has no intention to follow his father’s steps. “I admire the price you pay for the nation and the land, but I will never enter politics,” Netanyahu Junior said, while both his parents nodded and applauded.

Earlier this month, Bibi had already distanced himself from Yair’s rumored path, and in a Fox News interview said that he does not want his children to follow his political steps. Does this mean no more “Yair Hun,” controversial right wing Facebook posts? Not necessarily and a Netanyahu confidant told Kafe Knesset that Yair is very much interested in right wing media, though “he wanted to push off the attacks and the ambush he has been going through in recent weeks, and the whole family thought it was a good idea to put those rumors of a future in politics to rest.” [KafeKnesset]

TRANSITIONS — Netanyahu’s special envoy Isaac Molcho announced that he will be leaving his post by the end of February. It might be the end of an era. Molcho is probably one of Bibi’s closest advisors, and has been an essential confidant, envoy, and loyalist since he first assumed the post in 1996. Molcho’s unique advocacy and negotiating style even has a professional name: “Molchoism”, as several sources pointed out: “it’s common to hear people in DC say ‘don’t Molcho me.'”

PMO sources briefed Kafe Knesset that Molcho had asked to be relieved of his duties a year ago but that Netanyahu convinced him to stay. But now Molcho wishes to spend more time with his family… All of this comes against the backdrop of growing public scrutiny of Molcho’s volunteer activities and mixture of private business and public activity. This scrutiny, pundits believe is the real reason for Molcho’s request to be relieved from his duties. The State is supposed to reply today to looming petitions at the Supreme Court in which the State is supposed to explain why Molcho is still serving as Bibi’s advisor in light of the investigation of the Submarine affair, a/k/a File 3000, in which Molcho’s partner, Netanyahu’s lawyer, David Shimron, is a suspect.

Kafe Knesset learned that one of the leading candidates to replace Molcho is another old-time close associate and advisor of the PM, Dore Gold. Gold was the director general of the Foreign Ministry, between June 2015 and October 2016, and is currently the director of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Gold has been participating in meetings with Molcho and has been in contact with US administration officials for a few weeks now, as part of preparations for an American peace plan that could be formulated in the coming weeks.

The Prime Minister’s office confirmed that “Dori Gold is certainly one of the candidates to replace Molcho. The Prime Minister will announce the identity of the replacement soon.” Gold told Kafe Knesset that “I did not sign any contract and will continue to be president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. I am happy to assist the Prime Minister in everything and give him my input.” Gold expressed regret over Molcho’s resignation and said that Molcho was “a tremendous asset to the state.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]

“According to Intelligence Minister, Israel willing to resort to military action to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons” by Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo: “If international efforts led these days by U.S. President Trump don’t help stop Iran attaining nuclear capabilities, Israel will act militarily by itself,” Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said in an interview in Tokyo. “There are changes that can be made (to the agreement) to ensure that they will never have the ability to have a nuclear weapon.” [Reuters]

ON THE HILL — “Iran Sanctions Over Support for Hezbollah Pass U.S. House” by Anna Edgerton: “The U.S. House passed new sanctions in response to Iran’s support for Hezbollah… Two bills received bipartisan support Wednesday and represent the first action from Congress against Iran… A third measure addressing ballistic missiles is set for a vote Thursday.” [Bloomberg]

“Corker in talks with Cardin on Iran nuclear deal” by Elana Schor: “[Bob] Corker said Wednesday that his conversations with [Ben] Cardin… are in good faith and ongoing. “There’s no rush,” Corker told reporters. “We’d like to see if it’s possible to have a bipartisan bill. This bill, we’d hope would pass with 80 to 85 votes by the time we’re through with it.” … “We won’t do anything that violates the” terms of the 2015 deal, Cardin said of his fellow Democrats, adding that “we have to have the understanding and support of Europe.”

“Democrats remain deeply skeptical that Corker can craft a bill that meets Trump’s demand for stronger terms for the Iran pact without blowing up the entire agreement. “I think Sen. Corker is trying to be constructive, to bring together Democrats who support the deal and Republicans who oppose it,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said…  Corker said on Wednesday that he is “of course” open to changes to his and Cotton’s initial framework that would get Cardin on board, suggesting that an official roll-out of the bill initially expected as soon as this week could slip.” [Politico]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Panel clashes over next steps in Iran debate at the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Mark Wallace, CEO of United Against Nuclear Iran, testified that Congress should pass additional legislation that would reimpose nuclear sanctions on Tehran if the sunset clauses were not eliminated while also intensifying restrictions against the country’s ballistic missile program… However, Philip Gordon, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former senior official in the Obama administration, pushed back against Wallace’s proposal. “The problem is that it impossible for the United States to unilaterally alter fundamental terms of the deal or to imagine that our allies and other parties will agree to try to do so,” he explained.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) blasted the JCPOA for not addressing Tehran’s ballistic missile program and Iranian support for terrorist organizations including Hezbollah and Hamas… Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), a supporter of the JCPOA, said such expectations of the 2015 nuclear agreement were unrealistic. “When Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon negotiated the Salt I (arms control)  agreement, did they insist that all negative behavior on the part of the Soviet Union be incorporated into that agreement?” Connolly asked rhetorically. “They did not.” Gordon replied. [JewishInsider]

JARED INSIDER: “Kushner will take a diminished role on Trump’s China trip” by Annie Karni and Andrew Restuccia: “Kushner’s shrinking role on the international stage is seen by some White House officials as another sign of Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, standardizing a previously unorthodox power structure. Other White House aides say it’s evidence of a lean administration finally filling out and now running at full power… Kushner, for his part, still participates in China policy meetings at the White House… But now, instead of serving as the point man, he’s one voice at a table that includes more than a dozen Cabinet secretaries and senior White House officials.” [Politico]

ADMIN TRAVEL — Vice President Pence to visit Israel and Egypt in December” by Ken Thomas and Jill Colvin: “Vice President Mike Pence announced Wednesday that he will travel to Israel and Egypt in late December… The vice president’s trip is expected to take him to Israel during Hanukkah, where he’ll discuss the prospects for a Middle East peace agreement in separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Pence is also expected to address U.S. policy toward Iran and highlight Israel’s space program — a favorite issue. Pence is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and highlight U.S.-Egypt cooperation on security issues.” [AP]

“US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to visit Israel Thursday” by Tal Schneider: “US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin is visiting Israel [today] in his first visit since taking office. Mnuchin landed [yesterday] in Saudi Arabia for a round of meetings with Middle Eastern ministers of finance. Following meetings in Jerusalem on Thursday and Friday, Mnuchin will fly to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. In Israel, he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon, and will tour Yad Vashem.” [Globes] • Video of Mnuchin meeting with Netanyahu[Twitter]

“Jewish Agency snubs Netanyahu ahead of upcoming board meeting” by Raphael Ahren: “The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors… is opening its third and last meeting of 2017 on Sunday in the capital’s David Citadel Hotel… Netanyahu, who usually addresses Jewish Agency Board of Governor meetings at least once a year, has not been invited to speak or to meet with the organization’s leadership… The last time Netanyahu publicly addressed the Jewish Agency was in November 2016 at the Knesset.” [ToI]

“New conservative-leaning think tank launched in Jerusalem” by Herb Keinon: “The Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS) bills itself as Israel’s “new conservative security think tank” that “seeks to counter debilitating currents in Israeli defense and diplomatic discourse and recapture the mainstream in Zionist security thinking.” Efraim Inbar, who headed the BESA Center for 24 years… is the president of the new institute… Eran Lerman, a former deputy head at the National Security Council, said the institute will deal with the basic issues of national security, with an emphasis “on the struggle for the future of Jerusalem.”” [JPost]

STATE-SIDE: “As G.O.P. Bends Toward Trump, Critics Either Give In or Give Up” by Jonathan Martin and Jeremy Peters: On Wednesday, Joe Straus, the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, announced that he would not run again, an indication that the Washington fever was spreading. Mr. Straus, a pragmatist with deep ties to the Bush family who had tangled with his state’s hard-liners, delivered a plea that Republicans “appeal to our diverse population with an optimistic vision,” but he still chose flight over fight.” [NYTimes

2020 WATCH: “What L.A.’s Mayor Would Do If He Were President” by Laura Bliss: “Steve Clemons, the editor-at-large of Atlantic Live and the panel moderator… asked how Garcetti would translate his progressive transportation policies on a national stage, given the opportunity. The mayor did not miss a step. First, he described an infrastructure bill that would fund transportation projects that “prize innovation.” … Second, he’d want to fund the full lifetime of transportation projects—not just their construction.” [CityLab]

** 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: Trump Decides Against Gary Cohn for Fed Chair[Bloomberg] • David Horovitz: Why binary options ban is only a small victory in the war on Israeli corruption [ToI] • Michael Dell’s EMC Bet Looking Shaky[TheInformation] • Jeffrey Katzenberg, Evan Spiegel Join Paley Board, Sumner Redstone Shifts to Emeritus [Variety

PROFILE: “How Did David Rubenstein—Yes, That David Rubenstein—Become a TV Star?” by Ben Woffard: “At 68, David Rubenstein is now host of his own show on Bloomberg Television. The half-hour program—The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations—plops him beside fellow CEOs of the billionaire class, with the occasional sports star and military general thrown in… The show, at first, raised eyebrows. Given his reputation—Rubenstein is known for an unprepossessing manner and an almost enforced personal awkwardness—the prospect of loosing him onscreen seemed about as plausible as asking Clarence Thomas to host Fear Factor.”

“Indeed, Rubenstein’s not-made-for-TV persona turns up in every episode as he engages his subjects with a sorrowful deportment that appears vaguely related to sitting shiva. He scowls. He slouches. (He’s been advised, he says joshingly, to “sit up more straight.”) With a jaw that unlatches errantly and a gaze that wanders, he has the aspect of a man continually in deep recall for a geometry exam. But this is a setup, of sorts, for the show’s atonement: his oddball humor, which earns audience laughs during every shoot.” [Washingtonian]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “‘Diller Island’ Is Back From the Dead” by Charles Bagli: “The site of Pier 55, a planned arts center on the Hudson River backed by the entertainment mogul Barry Diller. The plan was revived Wednesday, more than a month after it had been canceled… The revival of the project was like “Lazarus,” [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo said in an interview… “Sometimes you just have to believe.” … Mr. Diller, who had seemed distressed when he canceled the project, said Mr. Cuomo had called him shortly before announcing that a deal had been made. When the governor asked him how he felt, Mr. Diller said he replied, “I feel great, I’m excited again.”” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Five women accuse journalist and ‘Game Change’ co-author Mark Halperin of sexual harassment” by Oliver Darcy:“During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me,” Halperin said in a statement to CNN Wednesdaynight. “I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I’m going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.” MSNBC, where Halperin makes frequent appearances on “Morning Joe,” said early Thursday that Halperin would leave his roles at that network and as an analyst at NBC News.”[CNN]

FLASHBACK to episode 11 of The Circus, originally aired March 27, 2016: Quote from host Mark Halperin on Donald Trump’s speech at AIPAC: “Trump walks into a huge, tough crowd, gives a well-crafted speech, he shifts on his positions on Israel, ticking the boxes on all the erogenous zones of the American Israel lobby, and walks out triumphant, where the expectations and scrutiny were sky high.” [Showtime]

“Scaramucci Holocaust Poll Donation Will Fund Nazi Hunter’s Work” by Stav Ziv and Celeste Katz: “Anthony Scaramucci’s $25,000 apology-donation to the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) will go toward funding the efforts of its Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, the organization announced… Scaramucci spokesman Howard Bragman told Newsweek that the former White House communications director also is planning to travel to Israel in November. “Looking back,” Bragman said of the controversial poll, “it would have been nice if it didn’t happen—but since it did happen, we are trying to make the best of it.”” [Newsweek]

“Design for London’s New Holocaust Memorial Is Unveiled” by Anna Codrea-Rado: “A team led by David Adjaye, the Ghanaian-British architect behind the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, has won a competition to design a new Holocaust memorial in London. The winning proposal envisages an elevated memorial site in Victoria Tower Gardens, a park near the Houses of Parliament, and an underground learning center.” [NYTimes]

Theresa May sends message to mark Great Shabbat Switch Off: “Prime Minister Theresa May has sent a short message of good wishes via social media to all those taking part in this weekend’s Great Shabbat Switch Off for Shabbat UK. The Chief Rabbi said of the initiative: “Separation from mundane work and empty distraction is necessary to reinvigorate one’s soul; to find space for meaningful engagement with our friends and families in a noisy world of media and communications which constantly demand our attention.””[TheJC]

SPORTS BLINK: “Judo Federation chastises Abu Dhabi over Israeli treatment” by Ian Deitch: “The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam is reportedly banning Israeli athletes from wearing their country’s symbols on uniforms, and is singling Israel out with a ban on displaying its flag or playing its anthem. A letter from the IJF to the president of the UAE Judo Federation… says “all delegations, including the Israeli delegation, shall be treated absolutely equally in all aspects, without any exception.” … The letter was sent to the World Jewish Congress, which represents over 100 Jewish communities, and had asked the IJF to intervene and “protect the rights of the Israeli national judo team and keep the spirit of sport free of political discrimination.”” [AP]

BIRTHDAYS: Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton turns 70… Actress who has appeared in 25 films plus 68 episodes of Will & Grace, Shelley Morrison (born into a Sephardic family as Rachel Mitrani) turns 81… South African judge who led an infamous 2009 UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, Richard Goldstone turns 79… Actress best known as one of Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981 TV series), Jaclyn Smith (family name was Kupferschmidt) turns 72… Evie Sullivan turns 71… Rabbi of Congregation K.I.N.S. and Dean of Ida Crown Jewish Academy, both in Chicago, he is a past president of the Rabbinical Council of America, Leonard Matanky, Ph.D., turns 59… Director of Communications at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy since 2011, he was formerly at Hillel, Jeffrey Rubin turns 58… Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff turns 56… Founding Partner and President of of Global Strategy Group, who served for 15 years as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs,Jefrey Pollock turns 46… Figure skater who won a 2006 Olympic silver medal, plus three World Championship medals and the 2006 U.S. Championship, Sasha Cohen turns 33… Alberto Calo… Evan May

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Daily Kickoff: ‘Davos in the Desert’ | Saudi bridge a sign of backchannel with Israel? | Drake’s bar mitzvah-themed party | Guy Oseary’s Rio wedding

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SPOTLIGHT: “In the Saudi Desert, World’s Business Leaders Follow the Money” by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Private jets ferrying business titans from all over the globe began landing Monday in this sand-swept Saudi capital. For the next several days, the world’s power center will shift from places like New York and London to this desert city for an event that many invitees are privately calling “Davos in the Desert.” Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has summoned a Who’s Who from industry and politics to take part in a series of meetings, conversations and panels.”

“Among those making the pilgrimage are Stephen A. Schwarzman, co-founder of the private equity giant Blackstone Group; Masayoshi Son, founder of Japan’s SoftBank; the United States Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin; the venture capitalist Peter Thiel; Laurence D. Fink, founder of BlackRock; Leon Black of Apollo Group; Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the head of Colony NorthStar; and the entrepreneur Richard Branson. And that’s an abbreviated list. All told, the group of 3,500 invitees is estimated to control $22 trillion in assets.”[DealBook]

“Bridge Linking Saudi Arabia to Africa Might Need Israeli Signoff” by Jonathan Ferziger: “Connecting Egypt to a new $500 billion Saudi city via a bridge across the Red Sea will require cooperation from Israel, analysts say… Israel’s 1979 peace treaty with Egypt guarantees it access to the Red Sea’s Straits of Tiran, which the planned bridge and causeway would cross. That makes Israel’s involvement in the project crucial, says Yoram Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies… “There couldn’t be anything close to this unless Israel and the Saudis had the opportunity to discuss in detail their relations and this bridge,” Meital said. “There have to have been back channels.”” [Bloomberg]

“White House official says reports on imminent peace plan misleading” by Erez Linn: “A senior White House official dismissed on Tuesday ongoing reports in the Israeli media about an ambitious Middle East peace plan that could potentially destabilize the Israeli government…  “While we are having productive conversations with all relevant parties, we have not set a time frame nor created any deadlines…” he said. “The notion that this would cause a ‘political earthquake’ is nonsense and was in response to a false report created by people who want to play the role of spoiler. We are going to ignore the noise and focus on our work.”” [IsraelHayom]

Former U.S. Amb. Daniel Shapiro writes… “Move the Embassy to Jerusalem and Promote Peace: Packaging the unveiling of a U.S. peace plan with an announcement of the embassy move could ensure that the latter reinforces the former. But Mr. Trump must be clear on two points: The embassy will relocate to West Jerusalem… He also must explain that… the U.S. expects the outcome to include a Palestinian capital in the city’s Arab neighborhoods…This approach has two advantages. First, it reorients U.S. policy toward a two-state solution. Second, it punctures myths that both sides use to deceive themselves and delay progress.” [WSJ]

NOTEWORTHY — Kafe Knesset’s Tal Shalev tweets: “Netanyahu’s special envoy and close friend, Isaac Molcho, has asked to be relieved from his duties” [Twitter]

IRAN DEAL — Tillerson says US sanctions targeting Iran’s ‘malign behaviors’ aimed at helping Iranian people: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that US sanctions against Iran are targeting the country’s “malign behaviors” and are aimed at helping the Iranian people take control of their government… “Our fight is not with the Iranian people. Our disagreements are with the revolutionary regime,” Tillerson says. “We are taking actions to impose sanctions on the regime and in particular the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”[ToI]

“Why Israeli Nuclear Experts Disagree with Netanyahu on the Iran Deal” by By Bernard Avishai: “[Former Israeli National Security Advisor Uzi Arad] remains skeptical of Netanyahu’s campaign against it, recalling the conversation he had had with one very senior official, a veteran of the science and defense-policy community, who was in despair about Netanyahu’s call to abrogate the J.C.P.O.A. “I asked him what he thought of the Prime Minister’s policy. ‘Shigaon!’ he told me.” (“Shigaon” is normally translated as “lunacy.”)… “In order not to play into Iranian hands, and keep the other J.C.P.O.A. powers supportive, American leaders must make a conscientious effort to divorce from the nuclear deal any sanctions entertained in the context of missiles or terrorism,” he said.” [NewYorker]

ON THE HILL — by Aaron Magid: The House is expected vote today on four bills pressuring Iran and the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced H.R. 1698 that expands sanctions against Tehran for its ballistic missile program. Another bill restricting Hezbollah’s ability to fundraise by cracking down on foreign states that do business with them is authored by Royce and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY). Legislation introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) that urges the European Union to designate Hezbollah’s political wing as a terror group will likely receive a floor vote.

TOP TALKER: “Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia dossier” by Adam Entous and Devlin Barrett: “Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research. After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community… Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the company in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by an unknown Republican client during the GOP primary. The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.” [WashPost

KAFE KNESSET — Everyone loves Rivlin again — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: After a couple of days of politicians fighting about President Rivlin because of his fiery speech in the Knesset, all that it took was someone calling him a Nazi to bring everyone back to the fold. Graffiti on a school in Bnei Brak calling Rivlin a Nazi made the headlines. Politicians on the Left pounced, calling it a result of “incitement” by the Right. Then the Right felt it had to condemn the graffiti, with even Netanyahu – who is not exactly Rivlin’s biggest fan – chiming in. The Haredi press, however, told a different story. It turns out that the graffiti was sprayed around a month ago when Rivlin visited the school, and it was never cleaned up. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset — including the latest on legislation regarding investigating sitting prime ministers — here [JewishInsider]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Private-equity giant Carlyle Group’s co-CEOs David Rubenstein and William Conway are stepping down in biggest shakeup since it was founded [CNBC] • The future of retail is ‘micro malls,’ says T5 Capital General Partner Mark Ghermezian [EdmontonJournal] • Meet Wibbitz, one of the [Israeli] software startups that helps publishers make lots of videos very, very quickly [Recode] • Bids due this week for Rolling Stone sale[NYPost]

NEW MISSION: “Billionaire Michael Bloomberg wants to live to 125 years old: ‘Nobody’s done that before'” by Sam Shead: “Bloomberg’s billionaire founder and CEO Michael Bloomberg has said that he’s aiming to live until he’s 125-years-old — something no human has ever done before… “I look forward to another, I dunno, 50 years may be optimistic, but that’s my objective, to live another 50 years. Nobody’s done that I might point out so far,” he said at his new desk in London. Bloomberg… made his comments after being asked whether he intends to run US president in the future. “Who knows what the future holds but I don’t plan to,” said Bloomberg… “I’ll do everything I can to help our government and work on my foundation. It’s a good chance to work in the commercial world and the philanthropic world and to spend time with my new grandchildren and daughter.” [BI

“Mark Zuckerberg has bigger plans than the White House” by Alex Thompson: “The world’s fifth-richest man has publicly committed $45 million — most of it in the first 10 months of 2017 — into groups aligned with two political causes: ending the era of mass incarceration and fixing the affordable housing crisis in American cities. The sum…  represents the first series of investments by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (with wife Priscilla Chan), or CZI, which is setting goals to extend far beyond the next election cycle…With a $60 billion-plus funding commitment, CZI would be the biggest foundation in the world, almost 30 percent larger than the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at $43 billion.” [Vice]

TALK OF THIS TOWN: “DC Judge Agrees to Ask Israel for Help in Case of Jewish Historical Texts Held by Russia” by Cogan Schneier: “A federal judge in D.C. agreed on Tuesday to officially ask Israeli authorities to get involved in a yearslong dispute over Jewish religious texts held by Russia. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement… has been fighting for years to secure the return of historical religious texts seized by the Russians in the early 20th century… Attorneys for Chabad told Lamberth in a conference Tuesday that an auction house in Israel obtained one of the books and intends to sell it… Nathan Lewin, a lawyer for Chabad, also indicated Tuesday that the group will file a motion this week for a temporary restraining order to block Kedem Auction House from selling the book. Lewin phoned into Tuesday’s conference from Jerusalem.” [Law]

“‘Hateful’ town illegally targeted Orthodox Jews, [NJ] state says” by Sara Jerde and Allison Pries: “Fearing an influx of Orthodox Jews from New York State, the Township of Mahwah introduced two hateful and discriminatory ordinances that illegally targeted that community, the state Attorney General’s office alleged in a stunning complaint filed against the town… “This is an extensive complaint … but the bottom line is very simple — the township council in Mahwah heard the angry, fear-driven voices of bigotry and acted to appease those voices,” Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in a statement.” [NorthJersey]

MEDIA WATCH: “Leon Wieseltier Admits ‘Offenses’ Against Female Colleagues as New Magazine Is Killed” by Jennifer Schuessler: “Leon Wieseltier, a prominent editor at The New Republic for three decades who was preparing to unveil a new magazine next week, apologized on Tuesday… “For my offenses against some of my colleagues in the past I offer a shaken apology and ask for their forgiveness,” he wrote. “The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them I will not waste this reckoning.” In his statement, Mr. Wieseltier also offered an apology to his current collaborators, including a staff of a half dozen. “I am profoundly sorry to my extraordinary collaborators at the journal we began together that the misdeeds of my past have made it impossible to go forward,” he said. “My gratitude to them is boundless.” [NYTimes

HOLLYWOOD: “The most A-list wedding of the year?” by Carly Stern: “It takes a VIP to be able to drum up an A-list roster of celebrity guests at your wedding. But it takes a very, very important person to get them to come to your vow renewal a decade later. [Jerusalem-born] talent manager Guy Oseary, 45, tied the knot with wife Michelle Alves back in 2006, but the lovebirds reaffirmed their commitment with a second wedding on Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — that is speculated to have cost a whopping $250,000. And they got some of the biggest names in the business to fly in for the lavish affair, including Madonna, Bono, Ashton Kutcher, Matthew McConaughey, Dakota Johnson, and Noel Gallagher.” [DailyMail]

“Drake throws bar mitzvah-themed 31st birthday party” by Alexis Benveniste: “The rapper rang in his birthday with a bar mitzvah-themed celebration in Los Angeles on Monday night. He kicked off the evening at the Catch LA rooftop… The half-Jewish, Toronto-born rapper then moved the party on to the nightclub Poppy, where his “31 going on 13”-themed soiree was equipped with “Aubrey’s re-bar mitzvah” cups, pizza boxes with his picture on them, a basketball photobooth and an ice hockey dance floor… Guests noshed on Dippin’ Dots and pizza — because what’s a good bar mitzvah without good food?” [PageSix]

“J.J. Redick’s Ideal Podcast Guest Is Barack Obama” by Alex Wong: “Harry Styles was amazing, So, Ben Winston [executive producer of The Late, Late Show with James Corden] is one of my best friends. He’s a great mate of mine and I’ve had many Shabbat dinners with him. I actually had a Shabbat dinner with Ben and Harry last season.” [GQ]

BIRTHDAYS: US District Court Judge (now on senior status) serving in the Eastern District of New York, based in Brooklyn, appointed by President Reagan, Judge Edward R. Korman turns 75… Chief Policy and Strategy Officer of Oscar Insurance since 2016, following stints as a Supreme Court clerk, White House counsel, Chancellor of the NYC schools and EVP at News Corporation, Joel Klein turns 71… President of Dallas-based SPR Ventures and SPR Packaging LLC, a manufacturer of flexible packaging, he serves on the boards of Texas Capital Bancshares and Cinemark, Steven Rosenberg turns 59… Community engagement professional at Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco, Rachel Elana Schonwetter turns 28…

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Daily Kickoff: Sen. Corker tells us no timetable on new Iran sanctions | Pickles and Israeli politics | Israel bans binary options | Scene at FIDF

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DRIVING THE CONVO — Corker says there’s no timetable on new Iran sanctions bill despite Trump’s threat — by JI’s Aaron Magid: “I don’t have any timetable,” Corker told Jewish Insider yesterday regarding tougher sanctions legislation on Iran. “We’ll get it passed when it’s ready.” Corker put much of the responsibility for passing the bill back on the President’s shoulders. “The White House and the State Department have a lot of work to do to bring our European allies along. There is going to be a period of venting, which they are going through right now. Democrats aren’t going to be really interested in coming on if our European allies are in a different place,” he explained.

The effort from Corker and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-TN), co-sponsor of Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), will likely require the backing of 60 Senators to overcome a Democratic filibuster. However, Corker clarified that they are interested in being “flexible” with Democrats to attract greater support. “Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) knows we aren’t trying to stuff him. This isn’t where we are trying to find 60 people. This is something we hope to pass with 80-85 votes, so this is something that we want to ease along with and be an overwhelming vote,” Corker noted. [JewishInsider]

HOT THIS AM: President Donald Trump and Republican Sen. Bob Corker went to war on Tuesday, trading personal insults and name-calling on a number of topics. “When you send out tweets into the region to raise tensions, when you kneecap, which is what he’s done publicly, when you kneecap your secretary of state, whose diplomacy you have to depend upon…you really move our country into a binary choice which could lead to a world war,” Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told NBC’s “TODAY.” [NBC]

–Trump tweets: “Bob Corker, who helped President O give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts….” [Twitter]

–Corker fires back at Trump: ‘Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president’ [TheHill]

Richard Haass: “Potus tirade vs. Sen Corker not just undignified but bad for US nat’l security as works against US speaking/acting consistently in the world”[Twitter

Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) in an interview with Haaretz re Iran sanctions: “I met Republicans who told me: ‘The president might try and put this between us and his base and I am not going to let him do that and I will vote to re-impose sanctions.’  I think with the politics of this and the midterm elections Republicans in Congress might think, ‘Am I better off sticking with Trump never mind what the worldwide dangers might be?’ We will try and change that calculation the same way we tried to do it on the Iran deal.” said.” [Haaretz]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at the Hudson Institute forum in DC re Iran deal: “Congress is having a hard time sometimes finding its way to the bathroom… I think it is far better for the administration, for the president to deal with these issues. I think now Congress should hopefully a develop a way to increase the enforcement of that agreement and tie sanctions to the enforcement of it.”

Panetta likened Trump’s move on the Iran deal with Obama’s Syria red line: “When those chemical attacks did take place… the failure to actually take action at that point sent a message that we would not stand by our word on the red line. I think that had an impact in terms of credibility of the United States and the world. I think the same thing’s happening now with the failure to abide by our word on the nuclear agreement.” [Video]

“Bannon Backs Isolation of Qatar, Comparing Threat to North Korea” by Jennifer Jacobs: “I think the single most important thing that’s happening in the world is the situation in Qatar,” Bannon said (at the Hudson Institute conference). “What’s happening in Qatar is every bit as important as what’s happening in North Korea.” .. Bannon called Trump’s speech (in Saudi Arabia) a milestone in U.S. policy toward the Mideast. “I don’t think it was just by happenstance that two weeks after the summit that we saw the blockade by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain and Egypt and the king of Saudi Arabia on Qatar.” [Bloomberg]

“Stephen Bannon Haunts Tillerson From Beyond The White House” by John Hudson: “The Saudis and their allies believe that they have the inside track to the White House through Kushner and Bannon and they can ignore the State Department on issues like Qatar and Yemen,” said Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution scholar and former CIA officer. “So far they are right.” [BuzzFeedMcClatchy]

ON THE HILL — Rep. Royce: Taylor Force Act to advance House committee in “few weeks” — by Aaron Magid: Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA) announced yesterday at the Hudson Institute conference that legislation to cut off U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) will advance through the committee in the upcoming weeks. Royce stressed the rationale for his support of the Taylor Force Act. Palestinians “are being lured there by the concept of pay to slay, by this inducement, by this financial reward that says the longer the sentence, the more people that are murdered, the greater the stipend.” [JewishInsider]

“Can Netanyahu say ‘no’ to Trump?” by Ben Caspit: “All indications are that the United States has no intention of giving up. There are an increasing number of leaks from Washington about the upcoming peace initiative. They seem to be saying that they will not force anything on either party, but at the same time, they certainly intend to present the parties with the “ultimate deal.” Will this be the first time that President Donald Trump forces Netanyahu’s hand and drags him to the negotiating table?” [Al-Monitor]

KAFE KNESSET — Pickles & Politics — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Both PM Netanyahu’s speech and President Rivlin’s speech at the Knesset winter session’s opening meeting yesterday made big waves. Netanyahu’s speech was based around a Hebrew pun on the word for “pickles,” which could also mean “sour.” Throughout his speech, he called his opponents in the Knesset and the media, sour pickles and sourpusses. What can we do, the pun only works in Hebrew! “Who won’t admit that Israel is flourishing economically, technologically and diplomatically, and that Israel ranks high on international happiness rankings. It is hard for you sour ones to accept it,” he said. “When sour ones talk, you hear conversations like, ‘Isn’t the situation here horrible and terrible? Isn’t everything falling apart? By the way, did you order tickets to London or Berlin?’ They are sour, and they fly away,” Netanyahu quipped. Of course, he thanked Trump in his speech, as well.

Then, playing on the whole sour pickles theme, Netanyahu tweeted a photo of himself with an enormous can of pickles (in brine, the superior choice, not vinegar) and a huge grin, with the caption “We have a wonderful nation that loves pickles, but is not sour,” and a cucumber emoji. Likud MKs tweeted pictures of themselves enjoying pickles with the Prime Minister.

President Rivlin took the opportunity to address what he said was the politicization of everything: “A reality is growing in which everything is political. The media is political, democratic institutions are political – all of them, from the civil service to the state comptroller – the Supreme Court is political, security forces are political, even our IDF is political.” Rivlin warned that this attitude towards democratic institutions is weakening them. The opposition cheered for Rivlin, while the coalition was stony-faced. After the speeches ended, Likud MKs put out statements slamming Rivlin. This morning, Culture Minister Miri Regev said on Army Radio that Rivlin is the least statesmanlike president in Israel’s history. Asked about former president Moshe Katsav, who was convicted of rape, Regev said the question was unfair and that Katsav paid his debt to society. It appears that in Regev’s estimation, criticizing the Likud is worse than rape. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here[JewishInsider]

Despite all the talk about defunding the United Nations, Trump proclaims October 24 as United Nations Day: “We remain hopeful that the United Nations can achieve its goals of maintaining international peace and security and developing friendly relations among nations,” Trump’s statement reads. “Although a great deal of work remains to be done for the United Nations to realize its full potential, we reaffirm our commitment to its goals in order to build a better tomorrow for future generations.”

AT 12PM TODAY: Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner of Temple Emanu-El in Closter, NJ will deliver the opening prayer at the start of the House of Representatives’ legislative business. [CSPAN

–Fun fact courtesy of Howard Mortman: This will the 9th time in 2017 that a rabbi has opened Congress in prayer (will be eight times in House, once in Senate). It’s the highest number of guest chaplain rabbis in one calendar year so far since 2003, when there were 14 in Congress (10 in Senate, 4 in House).

JARED INSIDER: “’It’s our secret talent’: Giggling Ivanka Trump reveals she and Jared love playing matchmaker for friends” by Emily Crane: “During an interview with Sean Hannity on Monday night, the First Daughter opened up about their hidden skill, saying the couple had successfully set up seven marriages. ‘This is Jared and my secret talent – people don’t realize it’s our hidden skill, we’re matchmakers,’ Ivanka said. ‘Seven marriages, zero divorces. Hopefully, God-willing that continues.’” [DailyMail]

STATE-SIDE: Maryland governor signs anti-BDs Executive Order — by Erin Cox: “[Gov. Larry] Hogan, surrounded by local and national Jewish leaders, said… all future state contracts would require companies to certify they will not economically discriminate against Israel, and that if any current state contractors refuse to agree, “they would be terminated. There is no place in our state for boycotts and threats,” Hogan said.” [BaltimoreSunNBC]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel bans binary options industry, finally closing vast, 10-year fraud [ToI] • Mike Bloomberg to open £1bn City of London headquarters [FT] • Lord & Taylor Building, Icon of New York Retail, to Become WeWork Headquarters [NYTimes] • Hedge fund Baupost snaps up claims against Toshiba [Reuters] • Berkeley DeepDrive Releases 36,000 Nexar Videos to Research Community [NewsWire]

STARTUP NATION: “Automated video creation startup Wibbitz raises $20M” by Anthony Ha: “Wibbitz, which uses artificial intelligence to create short videos based on text news stories, has raised $20 million in Series C funding. The money comes from some of big names in the media world, with Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (a subsidiary of German media conglomerate Bertelsmann) leading the round and participation from The Weather Channel, The Associated Press and TF1. Co-founder and CEO Zohar Dayan described the round as “a huge testament to what we’re doing and the value our technology brings to these companies.” [TechCrunch]

MEDIA WATCH: “Journalism’s Broken Business Model Won’t Be Solved by Billionaires” by William D. Cohan: “The story of Alice Rogoff and the Alaska Dispatch News is a cautionary tale that shows the limits of what a wealthy owner is willing, or able, to do for a struggling newspaper in the digital era… According to the bankruptcy filing, the paper was losing an average of a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars per week and owed its venders some $2.5 million. She still owes Northrim Bank around $10.2 million, the security for which is the regular payments that she receives as part of a “marital settlement agreement” with her husband (David Rubenstein), as well as her Wells Fargo investment accounts and the remaining assets of the paper.”[NewYorker]

“The Jared bubble: What my 18 months as Jared Kushner’s first editor taught me about the Trump family and the press” by Kyle Pope: ““You can’t say ‘hit job’ in here.” I was six months into my tenure as the editor of the New York Observer, and I was schooling my publisher, Jared Kushner, on why ordering up a slam of someone who had crossed his family in business didn’t pass the journalistic smell test. Kushner, in an earlier meeting, had asked for a hit piece on an official at Bank of America, and was now in my office to check on how the story was coming together. I had spent the previous weeks trying to avoid the subject with him, knowing full well that the Observer was never going to pursue a story about an anonymous banker whose only sin was running afoul of the Kushner family.” [CJR]

“Turning Tables in Magnitsky Case, Russia Accuses a Nemesis of Murder” by Andrew Kramer: “The prosecutors say that [WIlliam] Browder was assigned the code name Agent Solomon by Western intelligence, while Mr. Navalny was called Agent Freedom. Referring to Agent Solomon, one filing recounts how he “was offered by proxies in the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service to arrange the termination of any medical services for [Sergei] Magnitsky.”” [NYTimes]

–Browder tweets: “GREAT NEWS! My ESTA (US visa waiver) was restored. I successfully checked into a US flight. Now we need to fix bogus Interpol arrest warrant” [Twitter]

“A Trump administration official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss an individual visa case, said it appeared that the initial action blocking Mr. Browder had been taken automatically in response to an Interpol notice filed against him by Russia and was not an affirmative action by the American government.” [NYT]

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC — by Jacob Kornbluh: The Friends of IDF (FIDF) annual gala, at the Hilton Midtown, highlighted a special “Night of Heroes” saluting the brave soldiers and veterans from Israel’s military operations and historic wars. The gala raised at least $35 million, which included a $7 million pledge from Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. Speakers included outgoing Israeli Air Force (IAF) chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, legendary IAF test pilot Danny Shapira, and Amir Ofer. from Operation Entebbe.

SPOTTED: Amb. Danny Danon, Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson [Pic], FIDF’s Arthur Stark, Rabbi Peter Weintraub, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, and Galit Brichta; Marc Perlman, Or Lachayal, Malcolm Hoenlein, Ken Abramowitz, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Thane Rosenbaum, Oren Alexander, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor Bronia Brandman, and PuderPR’s Joe Berkofsky.

HAPPENING TONIGHT IN SF: At 7PM, the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco welcomes back Walter Isaacson for a fresh look at Leonardo da Vinci. Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his unconventional life, Isaacson tells the story of how Leonardo’s wide-ranging passions – from anatomy and birds to flying machines and weaponry – combined with his ability to stand at the crossroads of art and science, makes him history’s most creative genius. [JCCSF]

BIRTHDAYS: Russian-born businessman and owner of the Premier League’s Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich turns 51… Writer and adjunct instructor at Queensborough Community College, Ira Greenfest turns 74… Stock market analyst who has published books and appears regularly on CNBC and Bloomberg TV, Charles Biderman turns 71… Retired Department of Defense chief of staff, Judy Kopff turns 71 (h/t Playbook)… Financial planner and president of Laredo, Texas-based International Asset Management, Inc., Joseph Rothstein turns 65… Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Southern California since 1997, Brad Sherman turns 63… Executive editor of The Washington Post since 2013, he was previously the executive editor of The Boston Globe (2001-2012), Martin “Marty” Baron turns 63… Chattanooga-based billionaire and CEO of Mohawk Industries, the world’s largest flooring company, Jeffrey S. Lorberbaum turns 63… Program director at the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, Alan Divack turns 61… Co-founder and CEO (1990-2001) of Sirius Satellite Radio (now Sirius XM Radio), he made aliyah in 2002, David Margolese turns 60… Producer of CBS’s 60 Minutes since 2007 after 25 years at CNN, Henry Schuster turns 60…

Born in Kiev, he is a supporter of Jewish initiatives in Russia and elsewhere in Europe, an active member of the Russian Jewish Congress and a co-founder of the Genesis Prize, German Khan turns 56… Political communications consultant, she was formerly communications director and deputy chief of staff for Senator Patty Murray, Tovah Ravitz Meehan turns 48 (h/t Playbook)… Rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor, born to a Jewish mother in Toronto, Aubrey Drake Graham now known as Drake turns 31… Assistant executive director at the Jewish Community Council of Marine Park, Yitzy Weinberg turns 31… The Orthodox Union’s associate director of synagogue services and regional director for synagogues (Long Island and Queens), Yehuda Friedman… Former White House spokesman and communications director at the US Department of Education, Matt Lehrich (h/t Playbook)..

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