Jan
27

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Daily Kickoff: Will Trump attend Alfalfa tomorrow night? | Sen Cotton on why he says Judea & Samaria | Maurice Levy’s successor | Jewish Journal at 30

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TALK OF THIS TOWN: “Will President Trump attend this year’s Alfalfa Club dinner? It’s a toss-up” by Roxanne Roberts: “The Alfalfa Club is the most insidery bastion of inside Washington, an exclusive club of establishment elites who meet once a year to dine, drink and tell self-deprecating jokes. Its members include billionaires, business leaders, military, senior politicians — influential power brokers who can be useful to a new administration with an ambitious agenda. Will President Trump show up at Saturday’s black-tie dinner? Or will he skip the annual celebration, now in its 104th year? Presidential pundits are watching for this small but symbolic gesture: Making an appearance would be a nod to Washington’s culture of politesse; skipping the dinner would underscore the message that Trump is bypassing the traditional conventions of this town.” [WashPost] • Better question is whether Jared & Ivanka will attend? Check back here Monday morning for the answer.

ON THE HILL: “Durbin Flooded with Calls After Holding Up Pro-Israel Measure” by Jenna Lifhits: Jewish Insider reported Wednesday that Durbin was holding up the resolution, citing comment from Democratic New Mexico senator Tom Udall. Durbin is resisting the measure because it does not condemn Israeli settlements… Durbin’s offices in Washington and Illinois were slammed with over one thousand phone calls from supporters of the Republican Jewish Coalition this week, one of several groups lobbying for the resolution… “Senator Durbin has chosen to play politics with the security of our closest ally, Israel,” RJC spokesman Fred Brown told TWS.” [TWS] • We are told that Sen. Durbin’s staffers in his DC and Chicago offices shut down the phones for a while on Wednesday based on the number of calls they were receiving.

“Woodall, Hastings Introduce Bill Assailing Palestinian Incitement” by Aaron Magid: Rob Woodall (R-GA) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning Palestinian incitement on Wednesday. The bill calls on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to “publically condemn incitement and acts of violence against Israeli citizens and to discontinue incitement in Palestinian Authority-controlled media outlets.” The resolution includes a 27-page introduction that lists every Palestinian attack or attempted strike from September 2015 until the present day. [JewishInsider]

TRUMP TUMULT: “The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned” by Josh Rogin: “[Rex] Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land… Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, [the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick] Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly… All are career Foreign Service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.” [WashPost

“Trump administration asks top State Department officials to leave” by Elise Labott: “Any implication that that these four people quit is wrong,” one senior State Department official said. “These people are loyal to the secretary, the President and to the State Department. There is just not any attempt here to dis the President. People are not quitting and running away in disgust. This is the White House cleaning house.” Mark Toner, the State Department’s acting spokesman, said in a statement that “These positions are political appointments, and require the President to nominate and the Senate to confirm them in these roles. They are not career appointments but of limited term.” [CNN; Politico

Aaron David Miller tells us: “I am not sure the State Department matters much in the President’s foreign policy universe. It’s in a galaxy far, far away. Meanwhile back on planet earth, Rex Tillerson’s job just got a lot more complicated.”

“White House Hobbles Nikki Haley Before Her First Day at the U.N.” by Colum Lynch: “The White House itself gut-punched Haley and the international community, drawing up draft plans to cut funding for critical programs and withdraw from international treaties… Trump’s inner circle prepared a pair of draft executive orders that mull 40 percent cuts in voluntary U.S. funding for key U.N. agencies… The disclosure came just a day after Haley was confirmed as Trump’s new U.N. envoy with broad bipartisan support… She may have been blindsided by the executive orders.” [FP

“Trump lays groundwork to change U.S. role in the world” by Karen DeYoung and Philip Rucker: “His words and actions reflect “a view that the status quo that has essentially grown up over the last 70 years costs the U.S. more than it benefits it,” said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations… That view, extending from trade policy to traditional alliances, Haass said, “is fundamentally flawed in its assumption that American involvement and leadership in the world has cost us more than it’s gained us, but that nonetheless appears to be their vision.”” [WashPost

“Trump administration debates designating Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist group” by Mark Hosenball: “A faction led by Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, wants to add the Brotherhood to the State Department and U.S. Treasury lists of foreign terrorist organizations, the sources said. “I know it has been discussed. I’m in favor of it,” said a Trump transition advisor… They worry that a U.S. move to designate the entire Brotherhood a terrorist group would complicate relations with Turkey.” [Reuters

“Trump’s foreign policy revolution” by Charles Krauthammer: “Some claim that putting America first is a reassertion of American exceptionalism. On the contrary, it is the antithesis. It makes America no different from all the other countries that define themselves by a particularist blood-and-soil nationalism. What made America exceptional, unique in the world, was defining its own national interest beyond its narrow economic and security needs to encompass the safety and prosperity of a vast array of allies.” [WashPost]

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Trump says that he has already completely ‘repaired’ U.S.-Israeli relations” by Christopher Brennan: ““It’s repaired … got repaired as soon as I took the oath,” the president said… “Within five minutes?” [Sean] Hannity questioned before Trump repeated any problems had been repaired. “We have a good relationship. Israel has been treated very badly. We have a good relationship with them,” Trump said.” [NYDN]

— Trump would not answer Hannity’s question about how he may respond to former President Barack Obama’s sending $221 million to the Palestinian Authority on his final day in office… “We’re going to see what happens. Yes, I don’t want to talk about it,” Trump said… When Hannity asked how [the embassy] move [to Jerusalem] is coming, Trump responded with, yet again, no new information, nor confirmation that the administration was still pursuing it. “I don’t want to talk about it yet,” Trump said.” [WashExaminer; YouTube]  

HEARD YESTERDAY: Malcolm Hoenlein discussed moving the Embassy to Jerusalem on Councilman David Greenfield’s weekly radio show: “There are ways that we can help enhance the success of this to make sure that it happens, and that it happens with the minimal repercussions. We can’t be intimidated. We can’t succumb to a threat of violence. This is the right thing. It’s a decision the American President has the right to make, and I think he’s very serious about it. I think people went too far upfront, too public, and all of a sudden the Administration gets messages from regional allies to hold back. Or they are just saying, ‘We have to look at this to see how do we do this in the most effective and pragmatic way.’ I’m not at all surprised by that statement (of Press Sec. Sean Spicer), and I think it’s in part because our people have made, you know, irresponsible statements in ways, and certainly the threats that we have gotten from parties in the Middle East about it. America has to make up its mind that this is the decision it’s going to make and implement it smartly.”

“Trump Will Keep Vow to Put Embassy in Jerusalem, Giuliani Says” by Michael Arnold and Jonathan Ferziger: “Giuliani said the new U.S. president and his advisers will probably take “six months or so” to develop a new strategy for American peace efforts in the Middle East. How and when the U.S. moves the embassy will be discussed when Netanyahu visits the White House in early February, Giuliani said. “I think you’ve got to wait a little bit, but it will get done,” Giuliani said of the embassy move, speaking in an interview at the Tel Aviv offices of Greenberg Traurig LLP… Trump realizes the embassy decision “implicates four or five countries and how they’re going to react,” Giuliani said. “He needs to know how the Prime Minister of Israel is going to react and how he wants to see something like this done.” Giuliani predicted Netanyahu and Trump would have a “very, very good, collaborative relationship,” as opposed to what he described as the “hostile relationship” between President Barack Obama and the Israeli leader.” [Bloomberg

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: While the Prime Minister was questioned for the third time, about 1,500 Likud activists gathered in the southern city of Eilat for the second Likudiada weekend, an annual celebration of the ruling party including speeches by ministers and MKs, stand up performances, music and partying, and lots of food. The highlight of the event is a mock primary vote, in which old and new figures compete over prestige and popularity, including some interesting outsider candidates, such as the heir, Yair Netanyahu, whose name was supposedly added without his consent but still managed to top the conversation.

One of the scandals surrounding the Likudiada this year was the timing – which coincidentally fell on the International Holocaust Memorial Day – and sparked much criticism from Holocaust survivors and opposition leaders. Yair Lapid posted a picture of Likud founder Menachem Begin, asking: “Would Begin, who lost his parents and siblings in the Holocaust, agree to have the Likudiada in Eilat on International Holocaust Memorial Day?” The organizers said it was done unintentionally, but they made a point of opening the day with a special moment of silence and had memorial candles lit in the entrance to the main hall. However, the Likud activists were furious about the attack, claiming this is just another demonstration of how the media is out to get them. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

Spotted at Likudiada: Ministers Haim Katz, Yuval Steinitz, Gila Gamliel, Ayoob Kara, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Likud MKs: Yoav Kish, Anat Berko, Sharen Haskel, Amir Ohana and more. Also testing the waters was Gilad Sharon, son of former PM Ariel Sharon, who is hoping to be elected to the party in the next primary elections.

“Mattis Assuages NATO Fears, Reaffirms Commitment to Israel’s Security” by Amir Tibon: “Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called his Israeli counterpart Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday… Mattis called Lieberman “to emphasize his intent to advance the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship and to protect Israel’s qualitative military edge,” the statement said. According to the Pentagon, the two leaders discussed regional security challenges as well as the need “to create common approaches to challenges facing the region.”” [Haaretz

“Prime Minister May aligns the UK with GOP on Israel and Iran” by Michael Wilner: “Addressing a GOP retreat one day before meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House, May said… “A newly emboldened, confident America is good for the world… “And whether it is the security of Israel in the Middle East or Estonia in the Baltic states, we must always stand up for our friends and allies in democratic countries that find themselves in tough neighborhoods too,” she added… May also offered tough language on Iran and the nuclear deal it reached with world powers in 2015… “The nuclear deal with Iran was controversial,” she said… “The agreement must now be very carefully and rigorously policed– and any breaches should be dealt with firmly and immediately,” she said.” [JPost

‘Even a Shining City on a Hill Needs Walls’ — Jeffrey Goldberg interviews Senator Tom Cotton: Goldberg: Do you always refer to them as a Judea and Samaria? Cotton: I do. Goldberg: Why? Cotton: That’s why the Jews are called Jews, because they’re from Judea… These are the traditional names going back to biblical times. I think this is a reminder that it’s not just some kind of abstract administrative division there. It is a homeland to which the Jews have been attached for many millennia… If you were to compare the foreign policy record of the last eight years of President Obama, on the one hand, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the other, I think I would strongly favor Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has gone from one success to the next, not only in his own neighborhood but in Africa and South Asia, East Asia. It’s hard to think of a time in which Israel was in a stronger position relative to its neighbors in the world then it is after Netanyahu’s tenure. It’s hard to think of a place where the U.S. is in in a better position than we were eight years ago.” [TheAtlantic]

“Gabbard’s Assad Trip–Courtesy of an Anti-Semitic Middle East Organization” by Lee Smith: “Now [Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s] office says the trip was funded by the Ohio chapter of the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services… The executive director of AACESS is Bassam Khawam, who accompanied Gabbard on the trip. Khawam… is a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), a pro-Assad Lebanese political party that has sent members to fight on behalf of the Syrian regime during the almost 6-year-long conflict. The SSNP also sent fighters against Israel in support of Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon war.” [TWS; DailyBeast]

** 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 **

STARTUP NATION: “Kik snaps up video chat app maker Rounds for a reported $60-$80 million” by Jon Russell: “Kik CEO Ted Livingston declined to give us a price, but local media in Israeli reported it is in the region of $60-$80 million… What’s more certain is that the deal will immediately bolster Kik’s tech team. The Canadian company is acquiring all 35 staff from Rounds, and turning its Tel Aviv office into a Kik product and engineering center, and its first international base. Kik, which is headquartered in Waterloo, said that it has opened a similar base in Toronto, too. Those additions take Kik’s total headcount to 165 staff, but the firm said it is actively hiring for more staff.” [TC]

LongRead: “What Does the Billionaire Family Backing Donald Trump Really Want?” by Rosie Gray: “This disdain for an elite political class — of which they themselves are members — could be one reason why the Mercers have not constructed their own donor network to rival  that of the Koch brothers, or Paul Singer. Most elite Republican donors tend to favor establishment candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. The Mercers, tied as they are to the anti-establishment fervor sweeping the Republican Party in recent years, don’t fit in. But their distance from their peers has only made them more relevant.” [TheAtlantic]

SPOTLIGHT: “Kushner’s Felon Father Back at Helm of New York Empire With Two Fellow Inmates” by David Kocieniewski: “It’s hard to find work right out of prison. But Avram Lebor and Richard Goettlich walked from their Alabama penitentiary into top jobs at the real estate company then run by Jared Kushner, now President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. The two men, convicted in separate sprawling fraud schemes, were hired several years ago by his father, Charles Kushner, who had been locked up in the same federal prison with them… For years, Jared carried a wallet Charles had made for him in prison. Some describe Jared as like his father in ambition and drive, but softer—Charlie on decaf, in the words of a friend… “I talk to Charlie a lot. He’s working harder than he’s worked in a long time,” said Alan Hammer, a lawyer who has known Kushner for more than 35 years.” [Bloomberg]

Spotted in Playbook:“Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump eating last night at downtown hotspot Tosca with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and Lisa Jackson. Jackson, the former administrator of the EPA, is Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives. She is also on the board of the Clinton Foundation.” [Politico]

“Parents at Arabella Kushner’s D.C. Private School Voice Concerns About a Trump in Their Midst” by Sam Dangremond: “Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s eldest child, Arabella, reportedly began classes at the Jewish Primary Day School in Washington, D.C. this week. As you might imagine, the reaction among parents has been strong… The running joke at the school is that “parents are saying Kaddish for the election,” one parent said, referring to the traditional Jewish prayer of mourning. “The other night, I heard a parent who was very upset saying, ‘I can’t believe they’re invading my personal space! They’re against everything I stand for!'” The school’s spokesperson, Richard Mintz, told me that JPDS would not confirm the attendance of any student at the school.” [Town&Country]

“How Trump’s Election Inspired Me To Fully Observe Shabbat” by Gabby Deutch, a student at Yale University and daughter of Rep. Ted Deutch: “Last Friday, the Shabbat observant daughter and son-in-law of the recently inaugurated President Trump were shuttled by car back and forth from inauguration balls and parties to their new home in Georgetown. That same night, I chose to fully observe Shabbat for the first time since my days at Jewish summer camp. 4 days earlier, I had arrived in Israel to study at Hebrew University, and with the time difference, Shabbat arrived just as the world turned its eyes to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration ceremony… Last Shabbat, I felt the world continue apace without me. It felt great.” [Forward]

TRANSITION: “Publicis Groupe Names Creative Head Arthur Sadoun to Succeed Longtime CEO Maurice Lévy” by Nick Kostov and Suzanne Vranica: “The appointment aims to end years of uncertainty about who will take the reins from the 74-year-old Mr. Lévy, who built Publicis from a French-focused firm into the world’s third-largest ad company by revenue. Mr. Lévy is only the second executive to lead Publicis, which was founded in 1926. He is seen by some in the industry as irreplaceable, much like his rival Martin Sorrell at WPP PLC.” [WSJ] • Flashback: “Maurice Levy’s inspiration: his grandfather rabbi” [TheJC]

INBOX — Ambassador Michael Froman Joins CFR as Distinguished Fellow: Former United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman will join the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) this month as a distinguished fellow, where his work will focus on international economic policy and trends, trade and investment policy, and globalization and populism.

“Cruz’s Former Chief Of Staff To Serve As Trump’s Conservative Liaison” by Russ Read: “Paul Teller, who served as Cruz’s chief of staff from early 2014 to July 2016, is expected to head congressional conservative relations for the new administration. The new role will put Teller in charge of ensuring that conservative congressmen in the House Freedom Caucus, Republican Study Committee and Senate Steering Committee are on board with the administration’s most important new policies.” [DailyCaller

PROFILE: “Not Just Good at National Politics, but the Best” by Craig Shirley: “‘Good morning!” Each time we speak by phone, I hear this slightly amused and amusing lyrical greeting in Arthur’s distinctive, Jewish-Brooklyn accent… As I write this, I still can’t believe Arthur Finkelstein is ailing. Badly. It can’t be… He quite literally changed our world. Arthur made a difference. He’s struggling through chemotherapy now, and as with everything in life, there is more than a particle of risk… Early in our friendship, I asked him whether it was “Finkelsteen” or “Finkelstine” (with a long i), and Arthur characteristically replied, “If I was a poor Jew, it would be Finkelsteen, but since I am a rich Jew, it’s Finkelstine.” … Without Arthur Finkelstein, Ronald Reagan might never have become president of the United States… In 1996, Arthur handled the campaign of Bibi Netanyahu, the current prime minister of Israel. Again, history was made… Just to prove that it was no fluke, Arthur steered him to further victories.” [NRO]

MEDIA WATCH: “Jewish Journal at 30” by Rob Eshman: “Last year, TRIBE extended our reach by adding JewishInsider.com, with full-time reporters and editors in Washington, D.C., and New York, and a morning newsletter read by diplomats, activists, philanthropists and journalists globally. Also in 2016, we began to expand our real, non-virtual presence in the community through live events. At a time when it is so easy to retreat to our computer screens to talk only to those with whom we agree, TRIBE Media Corp. (the parent of the Journal) is embarking on a series of events that will bring our diverse community members to face challenging issues — together. And this week, we roll out our new JewishJournal.com website with even more features, including mobile-friendly compatibility, that will make it easier than ever to access news of the Los Angeles Jewish community and beyond.” [JewishJournal

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC: Rabbi Yosef and Devorah Wilhelm, directors of Chabad Young Professionals of the Upper East Side, hosted the 4th annual Jewish People’s Choice Awards at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan. Winners of the “Making a Difference,” “Making a Difference in the Workplace,” “Lover and Defender of Israel,” and “Open Heart, Open Home” awards included Ariel Sterman, co-founder of Good Street, Danielle Posner, Leibel Mangel, and Meir Shemtov. SPOTTED: Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, Amir Sagie, Councilman Ben Kalos, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Kim Kushner, Shahar Azani, Melissa Jane (MJ) Kronfeld, Sivan Aloni, Andrew Gross, Laura Adkins, nominees for the Lover and Defender of Israel award.

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Communications Director at C-SPAN, Howard Mortman… Senior counsel focused on mergers and acquisitions in the NYC office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, Arthur Fleischer turns 84… University of Massachusetts at Amherst Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern studies, author of books for children and adults, Julius Lester turns 78… Billionaire, builder and operator of luxury casinos and hotels, Steve Wynn (born Stephen Alan Weinberg) turns 75… Professor in Medieval Judaism and Islam at the Los Angeles campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Reuven Firestone turns 65… Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts turns 62… Billionaire, philanthropist and CEO of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, a global hedge fund, Daniel Och turns 56… Josh Weinstein… Joseph Helfer… Associate at Baron Public Affairs, LLC, Joshua Henderson… Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, turns 58… Priscilla Alexander… Charles Geffen… Joseph Hefter… Gene Bruton

Former chair of the Political Science Department of the Hebrew University, Avraham Diskin turns 70… Associate Provost for Academic Affairs at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, lecturer on conflicts, violence and religious beliefs, Shalom David Staub turns 61… Founder and CEO of the annual Wall Street Conference in Boca Raton, activist in the US-Israel Security Alliance, Jason Lyons turns 48… Founding Secretary at West Hollywood Preservation Alliance, previously Western Region Coordinator for B’nai B’rith (2005-2007), Lyndia Lowy… Associate at Park Hill Group LLC, a global alternative asset placement agent, also Chair of Tamid Group, connecting American college students with Israel’s economic landscape, Max Heller… Director of Financial Resource Development at The Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, previously executive director of USC’s Hillel, Michael Jeser… Mark Schwartz… Rabbi Rebe Carmel… Joel GoldbergCNN’s Ariel Bashi

For 25 years, until 12-2016, partner at Venable’s DC office in the Financial Services Group, previously President of the JCRC of Greater Washington, Ronald Glancz turns 74… Director of the Houston Chapter of the American Jewish Committee, Randy Czarlinsky turns 63… Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Paul Ryan turns 47… Israeli actress, model and television host, Yael Bar Zohar turns 37… Director of Global Relations at Hillel International in DC, previously the Director of Hillel in Ekaterinburg in Russia, Yasha Moz turns 32… Jane Herman… Martha Baumgarten… Laura Rosenberger, former Foreign Policy Advisor for Hillary for America… Jerry Keller

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Jan
26

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Daily Kickoff: Bibi vows to talk settlements with Trump | Maen Areikat interview | When Kushner went on March of the Living | Goodell, Bob Kraft meet

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TOP TALKER: “Trump Prepares Orders Aiming at Global Funding and Treaties” by Max Fisher: “The first of the two draft orders, titled “Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organizations” and obtained by The New York Times, calls for terminating funding for any United Nations agency or other international body that meets any one of several criteria. Those criteria include organizations that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization, or support programs that fund abortion or any activity that circumvents sanctions against Iran or North Korea… The order calls for then enacting “at least a 40 percent overall decrease” in remaining United States funding toward international organizations… The orders call for reviewing any funding that could go toward the International Criminal Court, though the United States currently provides no funding to that body.” [NYTimes

“Palestinians say Trump freezes Obama’s last-minute $221 million payout” by Avi Issacharoff: “US officials conveyed to PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday that the funds were not expected to be handed over in the immediate future, said the source.” [ToI

ICYMI: “Dick Durbin Blocks Senate Move To Condemn UN Resolution on Israeli Settlements” by Ron Kampeas:Jewish Insider reported Wednesday that Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., was behind the hold. It cited Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., who told the newsletter that the Senate resolution’s language is objectionable because it does not recognize that settlements are an obstruction to peace, and that should Durbin lift his hold, he would place his own hold.” [Forward]

FLASHBACK: “Real Insiders” by Jeffrey Goldberg on July 4, 2005: “AIPAC, Asher explained, is loyal to its friends and merciless to its enemies. In 1982, Asher led a campaign to defeat Paul Findley, a Republican congressman from Springfield, Illinois, who once referred to himself as “Yasir Arafat’s best friend in Congress,” and who later compared Arafat to Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. “There was a real desire to help Findley out of Congress,” Asher said. He identified an obscure Democratic lawyer in Springfield, Richard Durbin, as someone who could defeat Findley. “We met at my apartment in Chicago, and I recruited him to run for Congress,” he recalled. “I probed his views and I explained things that I had learned mostly from AIPAC. I wanted to make sure we were supporting someone who was not only against Paul Findley but also a friend of Israel.”

“Asher went on, “He beat Findley with a lot of help from Jews, in-state and out-of-state. Now, how did the Jewish money find him? I travelled around the country talking about how we had the opportunity to defeat someone unfriendly to Israel. And the gates opened.” Durbin, who went on to win a Senate seat, is now the Democratic whip. He is a fierce critic of Bush’s Iraq policy but, like AIPAC, generally supports the Administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Durbin says that he considers Asher to be his “most loyal friend in the Jewish community.” [NewYorker]

“After Pressure From Right, Netanyahu Vows to Talk Settlements With Trump” by Jonathan Lis: “We need to act responsibly but also decisively,” Netanyahu told the Knesset after being asked whether, after Trump’s election, he still stood behind his commitment to a two-state solution. “Diplomatic wisdom isn’t something you say … it’s getting what you want with wisdom and not inadvertently achieving the opposite,” Netanyahu said. “We built [in settlements] before and we build now, and I will raise the specific question of construction – alongside other issues – with President Trump.” [Haaretz] • Netanyahu: Israel “suffered” from Obama’s “not-one-brick policy.” [ToI] • Palestinian hopes of blocking Israeli settlements dim under Trump [CNN

INBOX — AJC CEO David Harris on Israeli Settlements Construction: “Optics are important in politics, and the optics of Israel’s announced settlement construction, so shortly after President Trump took office, are not helpful… Israel is taking a gamble that this step won’t further inflame an already difficult situation on the ground and internationally…”

INTERVIEW — Maen Areikat, Chief Representative of the General Delegation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization to the United States, adopts a moderate tone in his assessment of President Trump. “I don’t want to jump to conclusions by describing this current administration as being the most pro-Israel or the most pro-settler administration,” Ariekat told Jewish Insider’s Aaron Magid in an interview. “There is a big difference between making political statements and trying to implement these political statements. The real world is much different than the world of campaigning and elections. I don’t believe that the United States with this new Administration wants to find itself isolated by siding with Israel on issues that are opposed by the entire world.”

Q: What is your opinion of Jared Kushner? Does he have a strong enough understanding of the region in order to serve as a fair mediator?

Areikat: “I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Mr. Kushner or meet any of the Trump team yet. I’m sure if this Administration wants to pursue peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, they have to eventually talk to the Palestinians. You can’t make peace between two sides by only talking to one and not talking to another. Secondly, it’s his choice to pick whoever he thinks could represent him and could implement his policies. We will judge the Trump Administration by its actions and not by its statements.”

Q: If Trump relocates the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, what will be the Palestinian response?

Areikat: “Our fight is not with the United States. We Palestinians don’t see the United States as our adversary or foe. In the past, the United States took measures that were anti-Palestinian and then they changed course after that. This measure that you are talking about hasn’t happened. Everybody was thinking that it would happen on Saturday morning, on Sunday morning, and on Monday morning. It hasn’t happened. It tells me this administration knows the consequences of taking such a step and how it could escalate and make the situation worse. The last thing the US Administration wants to see is another area of instability in the Middle East. This is a president who is seeking a solution to conflicts around the world.” Read the full interview here[JewishInsider

“Jared Kushner’s Name Removed From Website of Group Raising Money for Israeli Army” by Judy Maltz: “Kushner, who is expected to play a major role in drafting Middle East policy in the new administration, no longer has his name listed as a member of the national board of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, presumably because of potential conflicts of interest… Kushner’s name appeared on the FIDF website as a member of the national board until just two days ago. A day after Haaretz submitted questions both to the organization and to a spokeswoman for the Kushner family about his continued involvement on the board, it was suddenly removed.” [Haaretz

“Giuliani: Kushner will be an effective Mideast negotiator” by Herb Keinon: “That Trump appointed Kushner to this position “is important because they are so alike, it is almost like giving [this portfolio] to himself,” Giuliani said. Kushner, according to Giuliani, is “in many ways an extension of the president,” who will surely brief Trump on everything happening in the process. “They have an extremely close relationship,” he said. “Jared has complete access to the president, so a lot of what he will be doing will be executing what the president thinks.”” [JPost

“Why Trump won’t move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem—at least for now” by Jonathan Broder: “Diplomatic sources tell Newsweek that some of Netanyahu’s top security aides have quietly cautioned their counterparts in the White House that moving the embassy is not in Israel’s interests—at least right now… Many veteran Middle East hands suggest Trump might reconsider his intention to appoint his trusted son-in-law, Jared Kushner… as his Middle East envoy.” [Newsweek

“What Trump would gain from moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem” by Robert Satloff: “While the absence of any U.S. representation in Jerusalem for Israel is common knowledge, it is less well known that the United States does maintain a diplomatic facility in Jerusalem to represent Washington to another claimant: the Palestinian Authority… It is incorrect, therefore, to say that U.S. policy has maintained steadfast neutrality on the question of Jerusalem so that it can protect is position as an “honest broker.” As odd as it sounds, actual U.S. policy does tilt toward one side — the Palestinians.” [WashPost

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump Blocks Syrian Refugees and Orders Mexican Border Wall to Be Built” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “An eight-page draft of that executive order, obtained by The New York Times, would indefinitely block Syrian refugees from entering the United States and bar all refugees from the rest of the world for at least 120 days… It would also suspend any immigration for at least 30 days from a number of predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.” [NYTimes

“Anti-Defamation League vows ‘relentless fight’ against Trump over refugee ban” by Michael Wilner: “In an angry statement, the organization… called the Trump administration’s policy action “a sad moment in American history.” … “More than most, our community knows what happens when the doors to freedom are shut,” the organization said. “That is why ADL relentlessly will fight this policy in the weeks and months to come. Our history and heritage compel us to take a stand.”” [JPost

“Protesters Flood NYC’s Washington Square Park To Oppose Muslim Ban” by Sebastian Murdock and Christopher Mathias: “Scott Stringer, New York City’s comptroller, said that as a “Jewish American, I stand with the Muslim community, because today and every day in New York City, we are one people. I stand together with you, because when they come for you, they come for me, and when they come for me, they have come for you! … As a Jewish American, I want to see a united world and the best way to do that is dump Trump and take to the streets.”” [HuffPost

“The United States also denied refuge to Jews fleeing Hitler, fearing they might be Nazis” by Radley Balko: “It is not that there were zero incidents in which Nazi spies successfully gained entry to the U.S. by posing as Jewish refugees. Clearly it happened. Similarly, there have been a handful of cases in which Islamic State fighters have made their way to the West through the process of admitting refugees. The lesson here, both then and now, is that our fear of such incidents is wholly disproportionate to the humanitarian crisis.” [WashPost]

What Trump Means When He Says, ‘America First’” by Jonah Goldberg: “After the war, with the full knowledge of Nazi crimes and years of domestic patriotic fervor, the term “America first” took on a more sinister reputation in retrospect than it deserved (influenced by FDR’s political vendettas against the isolationists during the war). Some Jewish groups to this day unfairly consider it vague code for “America should have let the Holocaust run its course.” [NRO

“Trump’s Voter Fraud Example? A Troubled Tale With Bernhard Langer” by Glenn Thrush: “Mr. Langer, a 59-year-old native of Bavaria, Germany… was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida on Election Day, the president explained, when an official informed Mr. Langer he would not be able to vote. Ahead of and behind Mr. Langer were voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote, Mr. Trump said, according to the staff members — but they were nonetheless permitted to cast provisional ballots… Mr. Langer, whom he described as a supporter, left feeling frustrated… Just one problem: Mr. Langer, who lives in Boca Raton, Fla., is a German citizen with permanent residence status in the United States who is, by law, barred from voting, according to Mr. Langer’s daughter Christina… But a senior White House staff member, who was not at the Monday reception but has heard Mr. Trump tell the story, said Mr. Langer saw Mr. Trump in Florida during the Thanksgiving break and told him the story of a friend of Mr. Langer’s who had been blocked from voting.” [NYTimes

–Background: “Bernhard Langer, Two-Time Masters Champion, Remains the Game’s Man of Mystery” by Michael Bamberger: “The Publix where the Langers do their grocery shopping is filled this time of year with Manischewitz kosher-for-Passover macaroons and other unleavened treats. Also many jelly beans, in all the colors Langer likes for his pants. In that morning interview Langer says, “It is interesting that I wound up in Boca, which is 80 percent Jewish.” Langer is three years older than I am. His parents and my parents are roughly contemporaries. When I lay out the broad similarities, Langer says, “Your parents were persecuted by Hitler and the Nazis. In a different way mine were too. And we were both drawn to golf. It is interesting.”” [Golf]

** 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 **

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli Cybersecurity Industry Grows as Global Threats Multiply” by Gwen Ackerman: “According to figures based on the non-profit’s data platform and tech industry database PitchBook, 365 Israeli cybersecurity companies raised a total of $581 million in 2016, about 15 percent of all capital raised by the industry globally. About a quarter of the 65 Israeli cyber start-ups founded last year have already succeeded in raising funds, the report said… Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., a pioneer of network firewalls, is a leader in its field, as is CyberArk Software Ltd., which focuses on privileged-account security within corporate networks. Both companies are Israeli.” [Bloomberg]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: With all due respect to the usual agenda, green leaves of marijuana took over this morning’s Knesset conversations. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced that he supports decriminalization of the drug, a victory for a vocal public campaign, endorsed by many lawmakers and celebrities from both sides of the political spectrum. Erdan had previously voiced strong opposition to the move, but eventually decided to adopt the conclusions of a panel which recommended fines instead of criminal procedures. The move inspired a wave of warm responses from a younger generation MKs leading the campaign.

Erdan’s announcement competed with Bibi’s Knesset show for headline attention. The headlines were focused on Bibi’s dramatic defense line in the wake of his investigation, but amongst other issues raised by the MKs was, of course, the upcoming meeting with President Trump. A Jewish Home MK asked Netanyahu if he intends to disavow the Bar Ilan speech in the meeting, and Netanyahu politely evaded the question, stating only that “We need to be responsible just like we have been in the past. Wise statesmanship is not to do whatever I want but to reach what I want in a clever manner. I will be discussing settlement construction and other issues with President Trump.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “American Dream mega mall secures initial approval from Miami-Dade commission” by Brian Bandell: “The commission voted 10-1 to submit the CDMP applications for state review with a positive recommendation. Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava was the lone opposing vote, as she wanted more time to forge agreements with the developer on traffic, water use, energy efficiency and other impacts… “We are not mall developers. I loath malls,” said Triple Five Principal Don Ghermezian. “The 3.5 million square feet of retail is a great majority of what you call retail-tainment.”” [BizJournals; MiamiHerald

“Doppler Labs taps former Microsoft corporate devices head for COO, says Here One will ship Feb. 21” by Lucas Matney: “The headphones, which allow you to alter the way you hear the world around you, were one of the coolest things I tried in 2016. Unfortunately, shipment of the Here Ones had to be pushed back from a holiday delivery date to February due to manufacturing issues, an ailment that has plagued other smart earbuds like Bragi’s The Headphone as well as Apple’s AirPods. Doppler Labs CEO Noah Kraft told TechCrunch in November that the small startup had already received over 10,000 pre-orders for the device.” [TC

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Why Jared and Ivanka’s anonymously granted Shabbat exemption is problematic” by Simon Yisrael Feuerman: “For those who skeptical of the administration, Ivanka and Jared were antacid to the collective acid reflux of Trump. Fairly or not, the couple, an embodiment of the absolute demands of Orthodoxy were seen as a counterweight to his unending self-dealing, especially as they now have senior advisory positions… Unless the rabbi who gave the dispensation identifies him or herself, the sanctity of the Sabbath has been diminished and the couple have not inspired confidence. It seems as if the truth has been subverted by Trump—and now the truth of the Sabbath, too.” [Tablet] • Is Ivanka Trump Jewish? In Israel, she has a trump card [AP]

“How Jared Kushner Became a Teenage Hero — and Learned To Be a Zionist” by Naomi Zeveloff: “The incident happened in 1998, when Kushner was a high school participant in the March of the Living, a Holocaust education trip to Poland and Israel that also may have helped solidify the teenager’s commitment to Zionism and a right-wing vision of support for Israel. One day, in Krakow, Kushner was walking with a few dozen teens when an unshaven man wobbled toward the tour group and grabbed 16-year-old Elisheva Ben Ze’ev, then Elisheva Weiss, pulling her into a sickening hug. Within a second, Kushner had yanked the man off Ben Ze’ev and thrown him to the ground. “Don’t you touch her! Get away from us!” Kushner screamed as the stunned group looked on, according to Ben Ze’ev. Marti Sichel, a fellow participant, said Kushner marched the attacker to a nearby security guard, who took him away… He didn’t really think of it as ‘Oh, everyone look at me, look at what I did.’ He was like: ‘Oh, of course I did that. I was right there.’” [Forward]

“It’s No Trump Tower, but White House Has ‘Beautiful’ Phones” by Maggie Haberman: “His oldest daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, the president’s senior adviser, stayed with him in the White House through Sunday. They left for their own new home at the end of the weekend to get their children ready for their new schools. Mr. Trump has not brought along any household staff from Trump Tower, an aide said.”

“His mornings, he said, are spent as they were in Trump Tower. He rises before 6 a.m., watches television tuned to a cable channel first in the residence, and later in a small dining room in the West Wing, and looks through the morning newspapers: The New York Times, The New York Post and now The Washington Post. But his meetings now begin at 9 a.m., earlier than they used to, which significantly curtails his television time. Still, Mr. Trump, who does not read books, is able to end his evenings with plenty of television.” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Is Donald Trump’s War With CNN Personal?” by Gabriel Sherman: “According to people close to both sides, Trump has told White House staffers that he feels personally betrayed by CNN chief Jeff Zucker. Trump complains that Zucker should be programming CNN more favorably toward him because of their long relationship… Trump has also said to White House staffers that Zucker owes him because Trump helped get him the job at CNN. White House press secretary Sean Spicer dismissed the idea that Trump has a personal beef with Zucker. “To think he’s sitting around worried about Jeff Zucker is a little ridiculous,” Spicer said.” [NYMag]  

INBOX — U.S. House of Representatives Chairman for National Security Subcommittee Ron DeSantis (FL-06), Names his Advisory Council for Israel and Middle East Issues: “The newly named council members include: Jason Lyons, Boca Raton, FL, Chairman; Dr. Scot Ackerman, Jacksonville, FL; Richard Brody, Jacksonville, FL; Phil Cohen, Miami, FL; Dr. David Diamond, Orlando, FL; Andy Fiske, Aventura, FL; Stephen Fiske, Aventura, FL; Mark Gerson, New York, NY; Eli Gindi, Brooklyn, FL; Marc Goldman, Boca Raton, FL; Gabriel Groisman, Bal Harbour, FL; Eytan Laor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Carlyn and Lothar Mayer, Boca Raton, FL; David Robbins, Jacksonville, FL; Phil Rosen, New York, NY; Joey Schottenstein, Columbus, OH; Rabbi Steven Weil, New York, NY; Farley Weiss, Boca Raton, FL.”

SPORTS BLINK: “Roger Goodell Hangin’ With Bob Kraft… Pats Owner All Smiles: Guess Roger Goodell was telling the truth about him and Bob Kraft having a “healthy respect” for one another … because they hung out in NYC Wednesday and TMZ Sports has the photo. The NFL and the Pats owner were spotted leaving Rockefeller Center around 2:30 PM ET. Bob had a smile on his face as the two chatted away. We’re told they were flanked by private security.” [TMZ]

BIRTHDAYS: Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist, playwright, screenwriter, adult and children’s book author, illustrator and art instructor Jules Feiffer turns 88… Actor, film director and playwright, Henry Jaglom turns 79… Argentina’s largest real-estate developer, President of Chabad Argentina, President of Hillel Argentina and President of Taglit Birthright Argentina, Eduardo Elsztain turns 57… Better half of Congressman Ted Deutch since 1992, Jill Weinstock Deutch turns 50… Retired tennis player who was the top ranked player in his age group at the ages of 12, 14, 16, and 18, then as an adult he won 15 doubles championships, Justin Gimelstob turns 40… Homeland Security official (2009-2011), then Obama White House Jewish Liaison (2011-2013), now SVP of marketing and communications for CarePoint Health in New Jersey, Jarrod Neal Bernstein turns 37… Director of Partnerships at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation Tamar Remz… Barbara Simons… Herbert Mendelsohn… Brent Cohen

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Daily Kickoff: Sen. Durbin blocks pro-Israel bill condemning UNSC | Elliott Abrams in running for Dep Sec State | Can Jared & Ivanka survive the WH?

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EXCLUSIVE: “Durbin Obstructs Pro-Israel Bill Condemning UNSC” by Aaron Magid: “Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has delayed a Senate bill assailing the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for a resolution criticizing Israel, according to fellow Democrat Tom Udall (D-NM). The New Mexico legislator told Jewish Insider outside of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) hearing that Durbin has placed a “hold” on the measure, but if the Democratic Whip were to remove his objection, Udall would offer his own independent opposition… After Senate Resolution 6 passed out of committee, the measure was placed on a “hotline” to determine if the bill would receive unanimous backing with the goal of getting the legislation to the Senate floor. Once Senator Durbin anonymously objected, the legislation was delayed for an indefinite period of time.”

“While holding up a copy of Tuesday’s New York Times article describing Israel’s decision to expand settlement building, Udall blasted the current Senate legislation. “The issue is Senate Resolution 6 completely ignores the settlement issue… I think the settlements have to be part of the issue if you are passing a resolution,” he said… “I presented an amendment during the committee. The amendment was supported by a majority of Democrats (on the SFRC). I want the opportunity to offer that amendment on the floor,” Udall added.” Senator Durbin’s office declined to respond to Jewish Insider’s repeated request for comment.” [JewishInsider

COMING SOON: “Israeli politicians heading to Washington to forge ties with new administration” by the Jerusalem Post: “Other ministers said to be exploring the possibility of traveling to Washington in the coming weeks include Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan… Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer was planning to return to Israel had Hillary Clinton won the presidential election, but his term has now been extended indefinitely by Netanyahu. Dermer is said to have a close relationship with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a top adviser to the president.” [JPost] • Amb. Dermer spotted at the Trump Inauguration using CNN’s gigapixel [Pic]

Spotted: “Jared Kushner eating with another man at Founding Farmers Tuesday evening. Secret Service stood by the door…” [Politico]

“Can Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump Survive the White House?” by Emily Jane Fox: “Normally, the family would decamp to New Jersey for the weekend, where they would bake pies and relax by the fire and observe the rules of Shabbat—no driving, no phone calls, typically. This weekend, instead, they had free rein in all 132 rooms and 28 fireplaces in the White House. Trump, who announced that his first workday would be Monday, turned the weekend into a family celebration. The entire extended Trump clan stayed in the residence at the White House, one source close to the family told me… The tide of bad press seemed to swell on Saturday, another person with ties to the First Family told me, when Kushner was absent observing Shabbat. “He wasn’t rolling calls on Saturday when this happened,” this person told me. “To me, that’s not a coincidence.”” [VanityFair]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Israel announces first new settlement construction since Trump’s inauguration” by Oren Liebermann, Amir Tal and Abeer Salman: “We are building – and we will continue to build,” said Netanyahu in a tweet. The planned new homes mark one of the largest settlement expansions since 2013, according to the settlement watchdog Peace Now… Most of the housing units are in the main settlement blocs, Liberman said, but approximately 100 units are in Beit El, a settlement outside of Ramallah, which received a $10,000 donation in 2003 from the Trump Foundation… Trump made the donation in honor of David Friedman, his bankruptcy attorney and pick for US Ambassador to Israel. Friedman had served as President of the American Friends of Bet El Institutions.” [CNN] • “Netanyahu’s office would not say whether he had consulted with the White House before Tuesday’s announcement.” [AP

“Spicer Evasive on Settlement Construction, Aid to Palestinians” by Jacob Kornbluh: “[Trump] is very concerned about how taxpayer money is spent, whether it is sent overseas, and what we get for it in terms of the relationship or our support for a democracy or aid for another country for their defenses,” Spicer said. “But he’s going to be examining all aspects of the budget and how we look at all money because I think there is a newfound respect for how the American people’s tax dollars are spent in this administration.” … Spicer refused to condemn or support Israel’s recent approval of 2,500 new units in West Bank settlements. “He has asked his team to get together,” he said. “We are going to have a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and we will continue to discuss that.” Asked if Trump supports the expansion of settlements, Spicer repeated, “We’ll have a conversation with the Prime Minister.” [JewishInsider; AFP]

“Trump reviewing Obama’s payment to Palestinians” by Dave Boyer:“Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the agency is “currently reviewing last-minute spending approved by the previous administration and will make adjustments if needed to ensure that it aligns with the priorities of the Trump-Pence administration.”” [WashTimes

“Israel plans West Bank settlement expansion amid policy shifts in Washington” by William Booth: “Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of the liberal Washington-based group J Street, called the lack of swift American condemnation “unprecedented” in 50 years of U.S. foreign policy on the issue. “It may really feel good for Israel’s government not to feel the sting of an American rebuke in the wake of this latest announcement,” said Ben-Ami… “But it doesn’t change the fact that the world has made it very clear that these actions have no legal validity.”” [WashPost]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “IDF preparing for Trump’s embassy decision” by Alex Fishman: “In the past two weeks… the defense establishment has created a series of possible scenarios – starting with a situation in which the Americans announced the construction of an embassy building and immediately place bulldozers on the ground, to a continuation of the current bluff in which declarations are made but nothing is done. In between, the other alternatives deal with the possibility of a gradual, long-term implementation, which will include festive cornerstone laying ceremonies followed by years of engagement in construction and logistics. Each alternative will have a different effect on the magnitude of the response in the Muslim world, and the army is also preparing for different levels of violent outbursts.” [Ynet] • Palestinian Authority President Abbas holds meeting with US consul general [Wafa

“Giuliani: Trump backs Jerusalem embassy move, but reality is complex” by Herb Keinon: “Asked in an interview with the Post whether he feels that Trump — who was a strong advocate of moving the embassy during the campaign — has changed his mind, Giuliani responded, “I think that now that he is in office, there are a lot more facts and arguments and people you have to consult with before you make a final decision, and it is a more deliberative process. I don’t think his position has changed in any way.”” [JPost]

HEARD YESTERDAY at the INSS 10th Annual International Conference in Tel Aviv – former Ambassador Martin Indyk, Gen, David Petraeus and Prof. Walter Russell Mead, Distinguished Fellow at The Hudson Institute, discussed the Israel-U.S. relationship under the Trump Administration in a panel titled “Making the Relationship Great Again?” moderated by Israeli journalist and TV host Dana Weiss.

Highlights — Indyk on delay in an announcement on the Jerusalem embassy: “The delay means, I would predict, it’s not going to happen because if you do not do straight away, the reasons you got it delayed are going to be there all the time of your administration.”

Indyk on Ambassador-designate David Friedman’s plan to live in Jerusalem: “I had an apartment in Jerusalem. The U.S. Ambassador has had an apartment in Jerusalem since 1995. So the notion that somehow having an apartment in Jerusalem is moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a fiction that I don’t think anybody is going to accept.”

Petraeus: “I was actually reassured by the caution on the embassy issue after last week we heard it’s going to happen. By the way, I am not sure they can hold this off forever the way previous administrations have just basically forgotten about it when nobody was pushing them to do it. This is a campaign promise. This is an individual who has said he’s going to be different, that what he has said he will actually do, unlike all these others… He was a disrupter as a candidate, and now he is the disrupter-in-chief the Oval Office, and so I think it’s possible something may be done. I was reassured to see a degree of caution on this emerge, and that, I think, is positive, although I don’t think it’s something that he can just forget.”

Walter Russell Mead: “It’s very important from an Israeli perspective that Israel not let itself get identified with President Trump in the minds of American political people of both parties. Remember that he did not win the popular vote, he took office with the lowest poll ratings of any president in modern history. It would be a tremendous mistake to make it look like this is Israel’s man, this is our hope. On the other hand, he might be tremendously successful. We just don’t know.”

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: The Knesset was packed today for PM Netanyahu’s parliamentary Q&A session. The session began with Netanyahu, aided by debate rule bending from Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, dodging all questions about the various investigations he faces. The Bibi show at the Knesset Plenum is planned for almost two hours, and is likely to produce even more highlights as the day goes on…

Wrapping up the INSS policy conference last night, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked discussed the possible move of the US embassy to Jerusalem. Shaked pledged government assistance to any country that moves their embassy, revealing that Interior Minister Aryeh Deri has proposed an exemption from local council property taxes for those that make the move. “Changing the embassy’s location would be the best evidence of a change in the American approach,” Shaked said, appealing to the rest of the world to follow suit. “I allow myself to leak something that the Israeli Cabinet approved. Minister Deri stated that every country that moves their embassy will receive an exemption in property taxes.”

ON THE HILL: “Nikki Haley confirmed as new U.S. envoy to the United Nations” by Anne Gearan: “[Nikki] Haley, who has no formal diplomatic experience, won significant Democratic support. The vote of 96-4 reflected some Democrats’ view that Haley would be a sensible diplomat and speak her mind in the new administration… She said she… would reassert the traditional role of the United States in recent decades of protecting Israel from United Nations action it considers biased. She also declared her support for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” [WashPost]

“Trump team narrowing search for State Department’s No. 2 official” by Josh Rogin:“Two leading contenders for the job now are former White House and State Department official Elliott Abrams and former State Department official Paula Dobriansky. The Trump administration has decided not to appoint a deputy secretary of state for management, a post created by the Obama administration in 2009. This means the sole remaining deputy secretary will have enormous influence over both policy and management issues in Foggy Bottom. Both Abrams and Dobriansky have diplomatic backgrounds and experience working in the often thorny State Department bureaucracy.” [WashPost]

Trump Team Aims to Test Russia’s Alliance With Iran” by Eli Lake: “Trump administration officials tell me that they will explore the extent to which Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to end this relationship and cooperate with U.S. policy to counter Iranian aggression in Syria and the Middle East. “It’s important to find out what are the limits of Russia’s willingness to cooperate with us with regard to Iran,” said Michael Ledeen, who during the transition served as an adviser to Michael Flynn, now Trump’s national security adviser… Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia who was an architect of Obama’s first-term outreach to Russia, told me he didn’t know what Trump could offer Putin in exchange for abandoning Iran, a key ally and trading partner.” [Bloomberg]
** 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 **

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Decision day: County to vote on American Dream mega mall” by Brian Bandell: “The developer, which also owns the Mall of America in Minnesota, is prepared to invest $4 billion in the Miami project through equity and a loan, said Bob Gorlow, who heads American Dream Miami for the company. Triple Five Group’s application said the project would attract 40 million visitors a year.” [BizJournals]

“Mark Zuckerberg Says He’s Not Running For President” by Alex Kantrowitz and Nitasha Tiku: “No,” Zuckerberg wrote in response to a question asking if he had any plans to run for president. “I’m focused on building our community at Facebook and working on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative,” referring to the limited-liability corporation he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, founded in 2015 to advance human potential and promote equality through major bets in education and science research. Zuckerberg did not immediately respond to follow-up questions about whether he’d explicitly ruled out a run. [BuzzFeed]

“Here’s why the UN is getting interested in video games” by Colin Campbell: “Darvasi’s report also focuses on a number of games that illustrate his point. These include Peacemaker, in which the player takes on the role of either the Israeli prime minister or the Palestinian president to achieve a two-state solution. He says the game is successful because “players must think about the needs of their own stakeholders and constituents as well as their opponent’s mindset and circumstances.”” [Polygon]

“Edgy humor is a mitzvah in the age of Trump” by David Talbot: “Where would we be without “Saturday Night Live” during the nightmarish reality show that is now America? We need to thank the Jews for this essential comic relief, said Michael Krasny. “Who do you think is writing Baldwin’s material?” And who is the “SNL” creator, he added? “Lorne Michaels, a Canadian Jew, born Lorne Lipowitz.” “Comedians like Sarah Silverman, Jon Stewart, Amy Schumer — who’s half Jewish. They cut big shots down to size,” Krasny told me. “They speak truth to power. And it definitely provides a lot of solace in the age of Trump. As I’ve been doing my book appearances, I can’t tell you how many people come up to me afterwards and tell me how depressed they are, and how badly they need to laugh.”” [SFChronicle

“Why Ezra Klein Tries to Avoid Meetings Before Noon” by Thrive Global: “Cal Newport’s Deep Work led me to make concrete changes to my daily schedule. He’s very persuasive that we’re slowly training ourselves into distractibility, and that you don’t want the brain that results from a mix of thoughtless scheduling and constant digital interruptions. So since I read it, I’ve been trying to avoid scheduling meetings before noon, and I’m working to spend at least 45 minutes a day reading one book without interruptions.” [ThriveGlobal

“CNAS Announces 2017 Next Generation National Security Fellows” by Rebecca Edelston: “The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) announced today the selection of the 2017 Next Generation National Security Leaders. CNAS selected a bipartisan group of 23 emerging leaders from a host of fields. This year’s fellows include [Jordan Hirsch, special advisor at the Paul E. Singer Family Office, and Peter Rough, a fellow at Hudson Institute, among other] members of the military; professionals with the Departments of Defense and State, USAID, NSC, and the White House; congressional staffers; industry practitioners; journalists; think tank experts; and specialists from the NGO community.” [CNAS]

DESSERT: “No Avocado Toast Here: A Glatt Kosher Deli Opens in Miami” by Florence Fabricant: “I was tired of trendy food like avocado toast,” said [Zak] Stern, a 31-year-old native of Miami. “This community needs a good kosher deli, and there’s not enough people doing Ashkenazi, Eastern European food. Sephardic food gets all the attention. Most delis are not kosher, and most kosher food is not deli food… Nonreligious Jews communicate through food, not services.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Israeli peace activist and author, whose fiction and non-fiction books have been translated into more than 30 languages, David Grossman turns 63… Dean of the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion since July 2009, Naamah Kelman-Ezrachi turns 62… Toronto-born movie and television actress, writer and social activist, a regular on Showtime’s “The L Word” (2004-2009), and had a recurring guest role on the Fox TV series “24,” Mia Kirshner turns 42… Benjamin Newton Michael Glantz… Ari Cicurel… AIPAC’s David Newman… Helene Ross… Robert Newman

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]

Haim Saban donates $1M to FIDF for Simon Cowell to sing ‘Go Go Power Rangers’

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