Jan
13

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Daily Kickoff: Booker, Kaine support Udall amendment criticizing settlements | Arbess meets Abbas | Struggling Sports Bar went Kosher, Biz Took Off

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EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Udall’s Amendment Criticizing Settlements Rejected In Committee — by Aaron Magid: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed Resolution 6 on Thursday criticizing the recent UNSC action against Israel, and it will head to the Senate floor for a vote at a later time. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced an amendment to the bill yesterday, which added a line, “reaffirming that it is also the policy of the United States to discourage settlement building.” Seven Democrats supported the revision including Tim Kaine (VA) and Cory Booker (NJ). Notably, Booker “received more money from pro-Israel donors than any other Democratic candidate in the 2014 election cycle,” according to NJ.com. Nonetheless, the amendment failed to pass as the other members of the committee including three Democrats — Robert Menendez (NJ), Ben Cardin (MD) & Chris Coons (DE) — joined the remaining eleven GOP members on the committee to oppose the provision.” [JewishInsider]

“For the first time, Democrats are about as pro-Palestinian as pro-Israel” by Aaron Blake: “Similar numbers of Republicans and Democrats have sympathized more with Israel than with the Palestinians dating back to the late 1970s. Today, though, 74 percent of Republicans sympathize more with Israel, while just 33 percent of Democrats do the same. And perhaps most notably, for the first time this century — if not ever — Democrats are now about equally split between sympathizing more with Israel (33 percent) and with the Palestinians (31 percent)… While liberal Democrats favored Israel by 30 points at the turn of the century, they now favor the Palestinians by 12 points. The causes could be many. Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama haven’t exactly been buddies, and Pew’s data shows Democrats’ views of Netanyahu are pretty dim. Perhaps that has depressed support for Israel among Democrats.” [WashPost]

ON THE HILL: “Capital of Israel Is Tel Aviv, Says Trump’s Pentagon Pick Mattis” by Amir Tibon:“The U.S. embassy is in Tel Aviv, however U.S. policy doesn’t explicitly state that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital. Mattis also explained that “that’s where all the government people are.” While Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are both located in Jerusalem, the Israeli Defense Ministry and the IDF headquarters – two places that Mattis has visited many times when he served in the U.S. military – are in fact located in Tel Aviv.” [Haaretz; JewishInsider]

FULL EXCHANGE — Graham: What’s the capital of Israel? Mattis: The capital of Israel that I go to, sir, is Tel Aviv because that’s where all their government people are, but… Graham: Do you agree with me that the capital of Israel is Jerusalem? Mattis: Sir, right now I stick with the U.S. policy. Graham: Okay. Do you support moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Mattis: I would defer to the nominee for Secretary of State on that, sir. Graham: Do you support maintaining the qualitative edge for Israel against all potential adversaries in terms of their military capability? Mattis: I do, sir. Graham: Do you support a two-state solution? Mattis: I do. If that brings peace to the Middle East, I am eager to see it work. If there’s another solution, I’d be happy to hear what it is. Graham: Absolutely. Who is in charge of the Palestinian community? Mattis: That’s a good question, sir. I think there’s a number of people who think they are. Graham: It’d be hard to have a two-state solution if one of the parties really doesn’t have anybody in charge. Mattis: There is nothing easy about the two-state solution.

On Hamas — Graham: You think Hamas is a terrorist organization? Mattis: I do, sir. Graham: You think they would abide by any agreement that the Palestinian Authority negotiated with Israel given the state of affairs as we know today? Mattis: Only if forced to. Graham: Okay. I’d like to know how we would force them.

— “Mattis on several occasions during his testimony defended the F-35 in light of Trump tweets that called into question the program costs. Mattis said it was a superior aircraft with stealth and electronics beyond the current generation of fighters. Allies that are purchasing the aircraft are also depending on the program, he noted. Trump only wants to make sure the program is getting “the most bang for the buck,” he said.” [NDIA] • Mattis: “Israel’s security is very, very important to the United States.” [YouTube

“Mattis breaks with Trump on Iran, Russia” by Austin Wright and Jeremy Herb: “While Mattis is known as an Iran hawk, he said Thursday he believed the United States should stick with the Iranian nuclear deal. “I think it is an imperfect arms control agreement — it’s not a friendship treaty,” Mattis said in response to questions from Senate Armed Services ranking Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island. “But when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.”” [PoliticoNYTimes]

“Rex Tillerson couldn’t recall ExxonMobil subsidiary’s work with Iran. Here’s the proof it happened” by Ed O’Keefe and Steven Mufson: “Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the Securities and Exchange Commission contacted ExxonMobil in 2006 and 2010 about Exxon’s dealings with Iran, Syria and Sudan, including Infineum and its work with Iran… While these transactions were small compared to the oil giant’s overall business… any leaks in a sanctions regime can undercut U.S. policy even if they are not large for an individual company the size of Exxon, sanctions experts note… On Feb. 7, 2006, Exxon’s assistant general counsel Richard E. Gutman wrote back saying the transactions were too tiny for a company with $371 billion in revenue to matter to investors.” [WashPost

“Don’t tear up the Iran deal, make it better” by Amos Yadlin and Avner Golov: “The incoming Trump administration should revive the two main levers that brought Iran to the negotiations, but were partially abandoned by the Obama administration: a credible threat of sanctions that could severely damage the Iranian energy and financial sectors, and a credible surgical military option… Close cooperation with Israel could strengthen the American position. Israeli intelligence on Iran can assist in detecting Iranian violations, while an Israeli military threat can also convince Iran not to exploit the flaw.” [USAToday]

TOP TALKER: “Meeting With Kushner’s Friend Convinced Abbas: Trump Serious About Embassy Move” by Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury:“Around two weeks ago New York businessman Daniel Arbess approached senior officials in Abbas’ office through the mediation of another American businessman, asking to meet with Abbas and the head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saeb Erekat… An American source who knows him says Arbess has friendly ties with the most significant man in Trump’s entourage, his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The source says Arbess and Kushner sit beside each other at the Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue in Manhattan’s Upper East Side… An Israeli source familiar with details of the meeting said Arbess told Abbas that as far as he knew, Trump was serious about moving the embassy to Jerusalem and might announce this shortly after being sworn in on January 20.” [Haaretz]

Barak Ravid tweets:“Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt tells me “Daniel Arbess does not represent Trump, Jared Kushner or anyone in the upcoming administration… Daniel Arbess doesn’t know the President-elect’s views on Israel, the Palestinian Authority or the peace process.” [Twitter]

“Obama Surprises Joe Biden With Presidential Medal of Freedom” by Michael D. Shear: “For the first time, Mr. Obama awarded the medal with distinction, an added level of veneration that previous presidents had reserved for recipients like Pope John Paul II and Colin L. Powell… “To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully,” Mr. Obama said during the televised ceremony, as Mr. Biden wiped tears from his eyes.” [NYTimes]

“U.S. Vice President Biden to make swansong visit to Ukraine” by Pavel Polityuk: “Biden… has been the front man for U.S. policy towards Ukraine since street protests in 2013-2014 forced a Russian-backed leader to flee and the pro-Western opposition took over… Biden has been closely involved, visiting Ukraine four times since the change in power and maintaining regular telephone contact with Poroshenko and the prime minister.” [Reuters] • Flashback 12-27-2016: Phone Call From Biden Said to Precipitate Ukraine’s UN ‘Yes’ Vote [Tablet]

“Biden: Intel officials told us Trump allegations might leak” by Josh Lederman: “The vice president… took umbrage at Trump’s comments accusing intelligence agencies of allowing the information to leak publicly and drawing a comparison to “living in Nazi Germany.” “The one thing you never want to invoke is Nazi Germany, no matter what the circumstances,” Biden said. “It’s an overwhelming diversion from the point you’re trying to make.”” [AP• German foreign minister ‘perplexed’ by Trump’s Nazi Germany comment [DW]

“Holocaust Survivor Evi Blaikie Denounces Trump Over Nazi Reference” by Jacob Kornbluh: “I was angry, I was really angry,” Blaikie, the founder of Hungarian Hidden Children of the Holocaust, told Jewish Insider outside City Hall on Thursday. “I was astounded that he would make such a statement that is so ignorant of what Nazi Germany was about… I’m afraid of Donald Trump,” she said, “but at the same time, I’m not going to let the fear paralyze me. I’m going to do my best and ask everyone else to fight him on everything. We can’t be kept silent. We have to speak up no matter what the ramifications.” … “I have a message for our President-elect: Mr. Trump when it comes to your prejudice attacks, shut your tweeting face,” Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center [for Mutual Respect], said. “Your words injure.” [JewishInsider]

“Why Won’t More Jewish Groups Condemn Trump’s Shameful Nazi Comparisons?” by Jane Eisner: “There is one person, though, who should be able to persuade Trump to stop using Nazi references in such an awful way: his son-in-law, the grandson of survivors. Maybe the Jewish organizations that won’t publicly condemn Trump will try to whisper in Jared Kushner’s ear.” [Forward

TRANSITION TOWER: “New York Financier to Land White House Adviser Role” by Jonathan Lemire: “[Anthony Scaramucci’] may move into the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, which is currently run by Valerie Jarrett, one of President Barack Obama’s most powerful allies… He has deep ties with incoming White House strategist Steve Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner… In the closing months of the presidential campaign, Scaramucci became tight with Kushner.” [AP

** 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 **

TALK OF THE TOWN — Be’er Sheva Added to Bloomberg Innovation Team Grant List: “Program deepens funding in the United States and Israel, also expands to Canada. The program helps City Halls drive bold innovation, change culture, and tackle big problems to deliver better results for residents. Multi-year grants will be awarded to help cities create better results for a range of pressing problems – from tackling poverty and neighborhood revitalization to recruiting and retaining public employees… I-teams are currently in Tel Aviv, Israel and Jerusalem, Israel.[BloombergPhil; CityLab]

“Davos Wonders If It’s Part of the Problem” by Matthew Campbell and Simon Kennedy:“The repeated failure of business and political elites to predict what’s coming—last year, that included the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union—doesn’t strike those returning this month to the Swiss Alps as very funny. After a year in which political upsets roiled financial markets and killed off the careers of once-dominant Davos-going politicians, the concern for delegates attending this year’s meeting isn’t that their forecasts are often wrong, but that their worldview is.” [Bloomberg]

“15 Israelis making a mark on Silicon Valley’s tech scene” by Viva Sarah Press: “Oren Zeev and Oren Dobronsky are often mentioned in the same sentence. The two share a sense of responsibility for grooming the next generation of Israelis in Silicon Valley. Zeev, founder of Zeev Ventures, was an early investor in Chegg, Houzz, Audible, Tipalti and others, and sits on numerous boards of directors. He is also cofounder and chairman of supplier payments automation platform Tipalti. “Israelis here succeed at all levels, as entrepreneurs and as executives. An Israeli who lands here has a massive advantage over Swedes, Italians — or even Texans — because everyone knows everyone,” Zeev told Haaretz, adding that Israelis are represented at every significant company in the area.” [Israel21c]

“Gaza is attracting the attention of Silicon Valley as young tech entrepreneurs push to solve problems themselves” by Christopher Schroeder: “If you have any doubt that near-universal access to tech is helping a new generation take control of their own lives, solving problems and building opportunity from the bottom-up everywhere — that “near-universal” means it’s not a phenomenon of the elite, but unleashing talent anywhere it resides — come to Gaza… More than two-thirds of Gazans are under 24, and nearly all have high written and computing literacy. If the definition of a great entrepreneur is one who thrives in working through and around challenges and creating innovative solutions, it’s no surprise that Gaza is chock-full of them.” [ReCode] • With Electricity in Short Supply, 10,000 Protest in Gaza, Defying Hamas [NYTimes]

THIS TOWN: “Jeff Bezos’s New $23 Million House Will Make Him Jared Kushner’s Neighbor” by Emily Jane Fox: “The Washington Post reported Thursday that Jeff Bezos bought a 27,000-square-foot property in October less than a half mile from Ivanka and Jared’s new digs. The home, the largest in the city, was purchased for $23 million in cash.” [VanityFair; WashPost]

“What I learned about Jared Kushner from working at The Observer” by Ross Barkan: “Long before Trump was a serious candidate for President, Observer staff was told to broaden its reach… We dropped “New York” from our website as a way to “nationalize” the brand. We were told we were now writing for people everywhere: the Midwest, the South and beyond. In theory this was noble, but in practice it made little sense. We weren’t traveling across America because our budget was rather meager… Thanks to a sleek redesign and the emergence of stories with clickbait headlines… web traffic grew, and Kushner took this as a sign that his paper, if he cared, was finally reaching the masses.” [NYDN

MEDIA WATCH: “Libel Lawsuit Settled Between Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson, WSJ Reporter” by Lukas I. Alpert: “The suit, filed in 2013, accused the Journal’s then-Hong-Kong-based Asia gambling-industry reporter, Kate O’Keeffe, of libel, for a passage in which Mr. Adelson was described as “a scrappy, foul-mouthed billionaire from working-class Dorchester, Mass.” Mr. Adelson has said he isn’t foul-mouthed. .. The case was brought in Hong Kong, where the law makes it easier for plaintiffs to win libel cases than in the U.S., in part, by putting the burden on defendants to prove the truth of the challenged statement… The Journal took action in U.S. federal courts to subpoena witnesses, including executives at Las Vegas Sands and Mr. Adelson’s former bodyguard and driver, who could testify about whether he indeed was foul-mouthed.” [WSJ] • “Trump met with mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, transition says” [TheHill]

WHITE HOUSE TRANSITIONS: “Jake Broder Fingert, senior policy adviser for the National Economic Council, will be a partner at Camber Creek, a D.C.-based venture capital firm focused on real estate tech. Jake covers infrastructure and real estate at the White House and previously helped manage the federal government’s real estate portfolio, acquisitions program and IT, as a senior adviser at GSA.” [Playbook] • President Obama announced his intent to appoint Andrew Weinstein to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council [WhiteHouse

“The Dark Irony of a Jewish Country Club’s Debate Over Whether to Admit President Obama” by Rachel Shukert: “Woodmont has the right to let in or not let in whoever they want, and I am confident the President—a President who held the first seder ever in the White House, who has had more Jews in key positions than any other administration in history, and whose policy views are echoed by the vast majority of American Jews—will ultimately find a nice place to play golf. But it is something that a club founded in protest of exclusion of those with different worldviews, so to speak, should feel so comfortable with it in practice.” [Tablet]

“‘Jewish Americana’ music gets its moment in the spotlight” by Gabe Friedman: “Since Jews were viewed as immigrants in the United States for a large part of the 20th century — and are still widely seen as an ethnic “other” in American society — Jewish music and Americana, at first glance, seem an unlikely mixture. But in addition to [Saul] Kaye, artists such as Nefesh Mountain, a husband-and-wife bluegrass duo from New Jersey, and Joe Buchanan, a convert to Judaism from Houston who plays James Taylor-esque country, are gaining in popularity on the national Jewish music circuit. Joey Weisenberg, a Brooklyn-based prayer leader and music teacher, has garnered praise for his modern bluesy, indie rock-inspired takes on “niggunim,” or traditional Jewish melodies.” [JTA]

SPORTS BLINK: “Amar’e In Israel: Fresh Start In The Old City” by Jon Wertheim: “While stopping short of considering himself Jewish, [Amar’e] Stoudemire self-identifies as a Hebrew Israelite, a tribe that’s believed to have descended from the Kingdom of Judah and inhabited what is now Israel before its expulsion by the Romans in 70 A.D. In keeping with kosher tradition, Stoudemire doesn’t eat pork or shellfish, and he sports a menorah tattoo on his left wrist… Stoudemire says that he’s committed to “holy living” and that in Jerusalem, “I’ve never felt more at home, more tied to a place where I’m playing.”” [SI]

Wine of the Week — by Yitz Applbaum: Sitting with Arnon, one of the founders of the Montefiore winery, is a wonderful experience. Arnon helped to shape the Israeli wine market over the past 20 years, so his knowledge and passion for Israeli wines are overwhelming. Imagine that you are overlooking the Montefiore Windmill in Jerusalem, sitting with Arnon – the wine is not even necessary to obtain a high.

The Montefiore Aria is a complex wine. It is a blend of 65 percent Syrah, 20 percent Carignan, and 15 percent Petite Syrah. An amazing trait of this wine is that you can taste the different grape varietals on completely different parts of your palate. One almost gets to blend the wine in one’s own mouth. The wine is aged predominantly in French oak with a touch of some American oak as well. Drink this wine now. Drink it with marinated meat and chicken if you can. This is likely to create a memorable meal. [MontefioreWines

DESSERT: “This Sports Bar Was Struggling — Until It Went Kosher and Business Took Off” by Britta Lokting: “The bar is located between Baruch College and Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, and Hardoon and Brooks, who are both Orthodox, watched unhappily as Jewish customers they knew to be observant ate nonkosher food. Hardoon didn’t like them violating kashrut in his establishment. He first tried offering sushi, which only partially worked, and then one night suggested to Brooks they just make the whole place kosher… Despite the higher costs and some lost weekend revenue, the bar makes more money than ever. Eddie Fahmy, the manager, says business is up 50 to 60 percent. One waitress says she can collect $200 in tips on some nights, a big boost from the $50 she might have earned before certification.” [GrubStreet]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: South African biologist and a 2002 Nobel Prize laureate, Sydney Brenner turns 90… Founder of Working Today and Freelancers Union, leading organizations of independent workers, a MacArthur Fellow in 1999, Sara Horowitz turns 54… Statistician and writer who analyzes baseball and elections, editor-in-chief of ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver turns 39… AIPAC’s German Shepherd and Jack Russell Terrier mix, Jersey Brown turns 11… NYC pediatrician at Carnegie Hill Pediatrics, graduate of the University of Witwatersand in Johannesburg, Barry B. Stein, MD… DC-based Deputy Director of Communications for the Israel on Campus Coalition, Carly Freedman… North America Director at The Israel Forever Foundation, Heidi Krizer Daroff… Bruce Maclver… Shira Berenson… Lucia Meyerson… Rebecca Seider… Kathleen Chambers

Award-winning legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio since 1975, focusing primarily on the US Supreme Court, Nina Totenberg turns 73… Screenwriter, director and producer, best known as co-writer of the films “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Return of the Jedi,” Lawrence Kasdan turns 68… AIPAC board member and activist, founding member and co-managing partner of LA-based law firm, Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP, Michael L. Tuchin turns 52… Associate attorney in the Toronto law firm of McCague Borlack, Aryeh Samuel… Stephen Panikoff… Alba Farquharson… Barbara Singer-Meis… Eric Alterman… Saul Saulisbury

German-born, US-educated, moved to Israel at age 44, professor of electro-optics at the Jerusalem College of Technology, author of several books on Science and Judaism, Yehuda “Leo” Levi, Ph.D turns 91… Diplomat and attorney, former domestic policy advisor to President Carter, US Ambassador to the European Union (1993-1996), Deputy Secretary of Treasury (1999-2001), Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat turns 74… Cryptographer, computer security specialist, blogger, writer, author of 13 books, CTO at Resilient (an IBM company), a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Bruce Schneier turns 54… Basketball analyst for CBS Sports since 2012, after a ten-year stint at ESPN, formerly a college basketball star who played professionally in the USBL, Europe and for Maccabi Ra’anana, Doug Gottlieb turns 41… Conservative political commentator, nationally syndicated columnist, author, radio talk show host, and attorney, Ben Shapiro turns 33… Madelyn Palley turns 68…

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Jan
12

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Daily Kickoff: Senators Sasse, Graham & Franken dance, swap hats with Hasidic Jews on the Hill | Soros lost $1B after election | Latest Hamas tactic

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TOP TALKER: “US intel sources warn Israel against sharing secrets with Trump administration” by Ronen Bergman: “During the meeting, according to the Israelis who participated in it, their American colleagues voiced despair over Trump’s election… The American officials further added that they believed Russia President Vladimir Putin had “leverages of pressure” over Trump – but did not elaborate… The Americans implied that their Israeli colleagues should “be careful” as of January 20, Trump’s inauguration date, when transferring intelligence information to the White House and to the National Security Council (NSC), which is subject to the president. According to the Israelis who were present in the meeting, the Americans recommended that until it is made clear that Trump is not inappropriately connected to Russia and is not being extorted – Israel should avoid revealing sensitive sources to administration officials for fear the information would reach the Iranians.” [Ynet

“ADL Calls on Trump to Apologize for ‘Nazi Germany’ Reference” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The President-Elect’s use of Nazi Germany to make a political analogy is not only an inappropriate comparison on the merits, but it also coarsens our discourse and diminishes the horror of the Holocaust,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement… During a press conference at Trump Tower – as his son-in-law Jared Kushner was looking on – the President-elect doubled down… “I think it was disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake” to be leaked to the press, Trump said. “That’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.” … ADL’s Greenblatt called on Trump to “explain his intentions or apologize for the remark.” [JewishInsider

HAPPENING TODAY: Holocaust survivors, members of the NY City Council’s Jewish Caucus, and the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect to denounce Trump’s Nazi Germany comments at a press conference on the steps of City Hall at 10: 45 am EST.

“PMO: Netanyahu will not attend Trump inauguration” by Shlomo Cesana and Yoni Hersch: “The Prime Minister’s Office clarified that Netanyahu had not been invited to the ceremony and that it is not customary for foreign leaders to attend presidential inaugurations.” [IsraelHayom]

“Trump must forge anti-terror coalition with Israel and Arabs, Avigdor Liberman tells Jpost” by Yaakov Katz: “According to Liberman, this coalition would be similar to the one the US established ahead of the First Gulf War in 1991, but would this time include Israel… According to Liberman, this coalition would help not only in fighting terrorism but also in building trust between Israel and the Palestinians.” [JPost

TOP OF THE HILL: “Lindsey Graham and Ted Cruz team up to defund UN over Israel vote” by Kyle Feldscher: “Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, appeared together on MSNBC about a new bill introduced Thursday that would block taxpayer dollars from going toward the U.N. They explained that the bill would call to stop American funding for the UN as long as Resolution 2334 stands, and to renew it only if the Security Council reverses the anti-settlements resolution.” [WashExaminer; Haaretz]

SPOTTED — Sen. Ben Sasse tweeted a photo of Sen. Lindsey Graham with a group of Chabad-Lubavitch visitors:“On the subway to the vote, Lindsey literally struck up the conversation with “Hey Fellas. I love your hats.” [Pic] • Meghan McCain, Sen. John McCain’s daughter, replied: “@BenSasse This warms my cold, dark heart.” [Twitter]

Later, Ali Rogin of ABC News tweeted: “Spotted: Sen. Al Franken passing a bunch of Hassidic Jews and breaking out in “shalom aleichem” and a dance. Made my night.” [Twitter]

“Tillerson Offers Full-Throated Support for Israel” by Aaron Magid: “Israel is, has always been, and remains our most important ally in the region,” Tillerson said. “They’re important to our national security.” Tillerson also criticized [UNSC 2234]… “The UN resolution that was passed in my view in not helpful. I think it actually undermines setting a good set of conditions for talks to continue.” The former ExxonMobil CEO said Secretary of State John Kerry’s December 28 speech on the peace process was “quite troubling because of the attacks on Israel and in many ways undermining the government of Israel itself in terms of its own legitimacy of the talks.” Earlier during his testimony, the Secretary of State nominee singled out Israel as an example of “long-standing friends who honor their promises and bolster our own national security.” [JewishInsider

Tillerson on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “If you’re negotiating with someone that denies your right to exist you’d have to question why would they ever live up to any agreement – if they don’t expect you to be around… There have been many opportunities since the Oslo Accords for parties to sit down and try to work things out. The leadership, certainly, has not seized those opportunities. I would say in the case of the Palestinian leadership, while they have renounced violence, it’s one thing to renounce it, it’s another to take concrete action to prevent it. And I think until there is a serious demonstration on their part that they are willing to do more than just renounce the violence, willing to do something to at least interrupt it or interfere with it, it’s going to be very difficult to create conditions at the table for parties to have any productive discussion around a settlement… I do think that it is a matter to be discussed and decided between the two parties, to the extent America’s Foreign Policy engagement can create a more fruitful environment for those discussions, then that’s the role we can play, but at the end of it, this has to be settled between the two parties.”

On the two-state solution: “I don’t think anyone would take a position that they don’t hope for peace in that area and for the issues to be ultimately resolved.”

Sen. Tim Kaine: “And peace within the context of a two-state solution, as it was determined by the UN and has been the bipartisan policy of the U.S. since the late 1940’s?”

Tillerson: “I think that is the dream that everyone is in pursuit of. Whether it can ever be a reality remains to be seen.”

Kaine: “What do you think from a Secretary of State’s position you could do to try to hasten the day when we could find a path forward… What might you bring to the table on that?”

Tillerson: “Sometimes it takes another generation to have a changed view. Often times, we just have to try and make the situation as stable as possible and limit the impact on people that are living there now. The Palestinian people have suffered a lot, under their own leadership in many cases, as a result of there not being more progress made. So I think it has to be a shared aspiration of all of us that that ultimately is resolved. The issues are longstanding, and I think it’s the State Department’s role to try to create an environment that brings parties together that want to find a way forward. I can tell you that under the conditions today, it’s extremely challenging to do that, but that has to be the aspirational goal. Sometimes, it takes a different generation that is not carrying all that baggage of the past with them.”

“Tillerson Calls for ‘Full Review’ of Iran Nuclear Deal” by Jenna Lifhits: “If confirmed, my recommendation … is to do a full review of that agreement as well as any number of side agreements that I understand are part of that agreement,” Tillerson said… “My understanding is the current agreement, for instance, does not deny them the ability to purchase a nuclear weapon,” he said. “It just denies them the ability to develop one. The real important question is, what comes at the end of this agreement?” he continued. “What comes at the end of this agreement must be a mechanism that does, in fact, deny Iran the ability to develop a nuclear weapon.” [TWSAl-Monitor] • Iran nuclear deal is in the crosshairs and may not survive a Trump administration [WashPost]

“Rex Tillerson Says Exxon Mobil Didn’t Lobby Against Sanctions. Public Records Suggest Otherwise” Jessica Schulberg: “Confronted by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) an architect of several Congressional sanctions bills targeting Iran, Tillerson denied that the lobbying took place. “I never lobbied against sanctions,” said Tillerson. “To my knowledge, Exxon Mobil never directly lobbied against sanctions.” … “I think you called me at the time!” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said.” [HuffPost

“Tillerson fails to win over key GOP senators by Nicole Gaouette: “Rubio — who refused to say if he would vote for Tillerson after a day of testimony — pressed the former ExxonMobil CEO hard Wednesday on a slew of human rights questions, pushing him to denounce the behavior of Russia, China, Saudi Arabia… and expressing deep disappointment when the Texan refused to do so. Rubio’s vote could make the difference in Tillerson’s progress, as Republicans have only a one-vote margin on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and Democrats may not support him… Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN that he is also undecided about Trump’s candidate.” [CNNMarco Rubio goes after Trump’s pick for secretary of state. Hard. [WashPost

Phil Elliott: “If confirmed, it’s highly doubtful Rex Tillerson will be inviting Marco Rubio to the State Department’s holiday party. Brutal.” [Twitter]

Aaron David Miller tells Jewish Insider: “I don’t know where Tillerson is on the issue of Israel, and I think he’s probably in the mainstream. It’s also conceivable that some of those mainstream positions would be out of step with both the R’s and the D’s on the committee. So the question is, given where his boss is, he’s got no stake whatsoever in breaking any crockery with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Israel. I think by and large the positions that he took I describe them as pro-Israel, but not excessively so. If that is where he really is on the issue of Israel, I think he also realizes that the purpose of the confirmation hearing is to survive the process and get confirmed, and he’s already facing any number of difficulties. Tillerson doesn’t need additional headaches. I just don’t think the Arab-Israeli issue is one that is at the top of his radar screen.”

ZOA’s Mort Klein, who was at the hearing, tells us: “He seemed to have a very superficial talking point knowledge of the Arab-Islamic war against Israel, but I was pleased that he said that the Palestinian terrorism against Jews is the primary problem, not the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. It was also encouraging that he understood the Iran deal is a serious problem and that he pledged to fight BDS. But it was also troubling that his criticism of the UN resolution was rather tepid and weak. I was sorry that as opposed to Trump’s platform (the GOP 2016 platform) on Israel, which doesn’t even mention the Palestinian state, that he thought ultimately that he hopes that we could reach a Palestinian statehood, which I think shows a complete lack of understanding of the Palestinian Authority’s goals. So that was disappointing but understandable.”

INBOX — NJDC statement: “Tillerson’s rhetoric would be taken more seriously on preventing a nuclear-armed Iran if he and Exxon didn’t make so much money doing business with Iran under his leadership. When it comes to the security of the United States and our dear ally Israel, golden showers mean little in comparison to Tillerson’s golden deals with Iran.”

Sen. Ben Cardin takes swipe at Trump: “I also need to stress that our important partner in this part of the world — Israel — needs more than tweets about how ‘great’ our relationship is going to be.” [CBSNews]

“Over 100 Congressmen Urge Trump to Move Embassy to Jerusalem” by Aaron Magid: “Moving the Embassy will strengthen the unique alliance between Israel and the United States and send a clear message to the world that we support Israel in recognizing Jerusalem as its eternal capital,” the lawmakers noted in the letter… The GOP officials noted that transferring the Embassy would be an appropriate response to the December United Nations Security Council resolution 2334.” [JewishInsider]

TRANSITION TOWER: “Ivanka Trump shifting gears, heading to Washington” by Catherine Lucey: “In a post on her Facebook page Wednesday, Ivanka Trump said she would take a “formal leave of absence” from her executive positions at the Trump Organization and her lifestyle brand… She also stressed her ongoing interest in issues affecting women and girls and said she would seek to determine the “most impactful and appropriate ways for me to serve our country.” The Trump team has said Ivanka Trump will divest some assets and will receive fixed payments rather than a share of the profits from the Trump Organization. She will also not be involved in the company’s Washington hotel.” [AP

“Jared Kushner’s moment: Hoping President-elect Trump’s senior adviser rises to the occasion” by NY Daily News Editorial Board: “Kushner… lacks conventional public policy experience — and it remains to be seen whether he has the chops to, say, navigate the complexities of Mideast peace. Giving cause for hope, he brings to the White House sharp intelligence, sensitive political antennae, strong relationship-building skills and an ingrained pragmatic streak likely to counter the rigid partisanship that too often infects Washington brains.” [NYDN]

“Jared Kushner Wouldn’t Be the First Powerful Son-in-Law in Presidential History” by Olivia B. Waxman: “William Gibbs McAdoo was a high-profile businessman before he went to work in Woodrow Wilson’s administration, where he served as Secretary of the Treasury. He also married the President’s daughter.” [TIME

“Mnuchin will sell investments, quit boards, if confirmed for Treasury” by Kevin McCoy: “Mnuchin, 54, listed what The Wall Street Journal estimated as $150 million-plus in holdings in a 42-page public financial disclosure report filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics on Tuesday. Mnuchin also pledged to divest his interests in Ratpac-Dune Entertainment Holdings, LLC, a Hollywood movie production company he helps run with filmmaker Brett Ratner, “within 120 days of my confirmation.” Additionally, Mnuchin wrote that he would resign from positions in 42 businesses, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, “upon confirmation.”” [USAToday; WSJ]

SCENE AT TRUMP TOWER — Benjy Sarlin: “Joe Lieberman is at Trump Tower, per NBC News” [Twitter] • Tommy Vietor, former NSC spokesman under President Obama: “OF COURSE HE IS” [Twitter

“Why Donald Trump Gave Marvel’s CEO a Shout-Out in His Press Conference” by Tom Huddleston, Jr: “Trump also mentioned that Perlmutter has been “very, very involved” in advising Trump’s team on veterans affairs issues. Trump also called Perlmutter—the Israeli-American executive who became Marvel’s CEO in 2005—”one of the great men of business” in the Wednesday press conference.” [Fortune]

“How the government can crack down on anti-Semitism on college campuses” by Kenneth Marcus: “When the Senate begins to consider President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to run the Department of Education, Congress should focus on the surge of anti-Semitism that continues to plague our nation’s campuses… The job of combating hate crimes on campuses falls on an obscure yet important agency in the Department of Education, called the Office for Civil Rights. It has found countless civil rights violations against women and against African-Americans. But when it comes to anti-Semitism on campus, the agency has been paralyzed.” [Politico]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Criminal investigation of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu could threaten his hold on power” by Joshua Mitnick: “After years in which the prime minister has been able shake off accusations by the Israeli press about cozy relations with wealthy Israeli and foreign benefactors, the criminal investigation has created a significant possibility that Netanyahu could be charged in the case, analysts said… Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and Wednesday told a meeting of politicians from his Likud Party, “Now that I’m aware of all the details, I can say: There will be nothing because there was nothing.’’” [LATimes

“Herzog Associates Would Back ex-Likud Lawmaker as PM if Netanyahu Forced to Resign” by Yossi Verter: “Zionist Union MKs close to the party’s leader, MK Isaac Herzog, have suggested Kulanu leader and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon as prime minister. “With me, ego isn’t a problem,” Herzog said on Wednesday.” [Haaretz]

“Netanyahu: Middle East peace talks are a rigged move against Israel” by Peter Beaumont: “This conference is a fraud, a Palestinian scam under French auspices, whose goal is to lead to the adoption of additional anti-Israeli positions,” said Netanyahu at the beginning of a meeting with the Norwegian foreign minister, Børg Brende, on Thursday. “This pushes peace backwards. It’s not going to obligate us. It’s a relic of the past. It’s a last gasp of the past before the future sets in.” [Guardian]

ACROSS THE POND: “UK top diplomat admits to helping draft anti-settlement UN resolution” by Stuart Winer: “I remind the House that the UK was closely involved in its drafting, although of course it was an Egyptian-generated resolution,” [Boris] Johnson said on Tuesday, according to a transcript of the proceedings. “We supported it only because it contained new language pointing out the infamy of terrorism that Israel suffers every day, not least on Sunday, when there was an attack in Jerusalem.” [ToI]

** 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 **

SPOTLIGHT: “Billionaire George Soros Lost Nearly $1 Billion in Weeks After Trump Election” by Gregory Zuckerman and Juliet Chung: “Stanley Druckenmiller, Soros’s former deputy who helped Soros score $1 billion of profits betting against the British pound in 1992, anticipated the market’s recent climb and racked up sizable gains, according to people close to the matter… Last year, Soros returned to trading at Soros Fund Management LLC, which manages about $30 billion for Soros and his family.” [WSJ]

“The Inside Story of BitTorrent’s Bizarre Collapse” by Jessi Hempel: “As a child on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Bram Cohen was smart, introverted, and strange. “I knew I was weird,” Cohen once told FORTUNE, explaining that he got frustrated trying to interact with other people. “I can really remember lots of stories in my life — things that it’s really obvious to me now what was going on, but I didn’t realize it back then because I didn’t understand people very well.” He graduated from Stuyvesant High School. But for all of his ability to focus, his grades were dismal… In his mid 20s, having worked a string of dot-com jobs, Cohen spent the better part of nine months hunched over a Dell keyboard at his dining room table, consumed by a puzzle he could only solve by writing code and more code. He lived off his savings, and later credit cards… The result, of course, was the open-source protocol BitTorrent.” [BackChannel]

STARTUP NATION: “Slow Internet Threatens Israel’s Start-Up Status” by Gwen Ackerman: “The future of internet in Israel may depend on allowing a reorganization of Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp., despite concerns the move could undermine years of efforts to make the local market more competitive. “If we don’t move ahead with a national fiber-optic infrastructure, Israel’s internet will get stuck in another two or three years,” Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, whose brief includes Bezeq, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Without the advanced network, we’re in danger of going from Start-Up Nation to Stuck-Up Nation.”” [Bloomberg]

“Old Espionage Ruse, With a Modern Twist: Israelis Say Hamas Used Online Seduction” by Isabel Kershner: “It usually started with a bit of cyberflirting. A direct message was sent through Facebook or another social network from an unknown woman to an Israeli soldier’s smartphone. Then, according to Israeli military officials, it developed into a chat in flawless Hebrew, heavily peppered with millennial slang… Instead, senior Israeli intelligence officials said on Wednesday, they were Hamas operatives who set up fake profiles and trawled social networks, befriending naïve soldiers and enticing them to download applications that effectively turned their cellphones into tracking devices and tools for spying.” [NYTimes]

“The enduring spirit of the Sotloffs” by Danielle Berrin: “On Jan. 8, they finally broke their silence in their first public interview since Steven’s murder in September 2014, appearing on the CBS program “60 Minutes.”  The first thing Lesley Stahl asked them was if they had seen their son’s “savage and shocking” beheading, recorded on video and broadcast for the world to see.  “I have viewed Steven’s body with his head on his chest,” Art [Sotloff] said. “I had to see that because I needed to be sure that that was him,” Shirley added. Their resilience is a testament not only to the power of faith itself but to a lived Judaism that is more embodied than practiced. They have lived the words of the Psalm we speak at every funeral: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death … ”” [JewishJournal]

Where to go on holiday if you want to meet the heavy hitters: “On his most recent trip to Israel, Elisha Wiesel said Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning, for his father Elie Wiesel. “I always feel like I’m coming home,” Wiesel said of his trips to the land of milk and honey. The family toured the country for 10 days, with the kids floating in the Dead Sea, going to the top of Masada, picking kumquats, and eating falafel. “You have a high-tech industry sitting footsteps from archaeological digs,” said Wiesel of the country’s appeal… Many assume a trip to India requires at least a full week on the ground. But Marc Rowan, co-founder of Apollo Global Management, and his family, including designer wife Carolyn Rowan and their three kids, did it in just five days with the help of a top-notch guide. They focused on the state of Rajasthan, where they visited Jaipur and Udaipur, and then visited the Taj Mahal at Agra in the nearby state of Uttar Pradesh.” [IrishTimes]

SPORTS BLINK: “Barstool Sports’ David Portnoy compares Roger Goodell going to Foxboro with Hitler visiting Israel” by Weei: “Portnoy also explained he can understand Goodell’s hesitation to come to Foxboro considering the commish’s status in New England. “It should be risky and I don’t think it’s because of anything I said or what anybody else has said. It’s because what that jerk has done,” Portnoy said. “We’re responding to him. That’s like Hitler killed a bazzalion Jews and he goes to Israel and they thought it would be a great spot for him.”” [TheMashup]

BIRTHDAYS: US-born biochemist, moved to Israel in 1973 after being granted an M.D. and Ph.D. from NYU, winner of the Israel Prize (1999), professor (now emeritus) at Hebrew U in Jerusalem, Howard (“Chaim”) Cedar turns 74… Israeli-born, raised in London from age 13, jewelry designer, editor, and businesswoman who was the First Lady of Iceland (2003-2016), Dorrit Moussaieff turns 67… Philanthropist and Chair of the Board of Directors of Hillel International, Tina Price… Author of over 40 books, most widely recognized for his crime fiction, Walter Mosley turns 65… Radio personality since 1976, on terrestrial bandwidth until 2005 and on Sirius (now Sirius XM) since 2006, producer, author, actor, and photographer, Howard Stern turns 63… Identical twin comedians and actors, Randy Sklar and Jason Sklar, turn 45… Director of the West Coast office of Jewish Funders Network, previously Western States Counsel for the ADL and a consultant for DreamWorks on the film “The Prince of Egypt,” Tzivia Schwartz Getzug… Deputy Director of AIPAC’s Leadership Institute, Jonathan Schulman… Daniel Silvermintz

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]

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Daily Kickoff: Trump asks ‘Are we living in Nazi Germany?’ | Report: Golf club may reject Obama over UNSC vote | Cuban Jews on Trump’s Greenblatt pick

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him” by Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper & Carl Bernstein: “Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN… The two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government, according to two national security officials.” [CNN]

Trump tweets this morning: “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” [Twitter]

“BuzzFeed Posts Unverified Claims on Trump, Stirring Debate” by Sydney Ember and Michael Grynbaum: Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor in chief… offered a further explanation about why the site had published the document. “Our presumption is to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers,” Mr. Smith wrote. “We have always erred on the side of publishing. In this case, the document was in wide circulation at the highest levels of American government and media.” … Immediately after BuzzFeed’s publication, some reporters volunteered that they, too, had received copies of the report. “Raise your hand if you too were approached with this story,” Julia Ioffe, a journalist who has written extensively on Russia, wrote on Twitter, adding that she had not reported on the information in the document “because it was impossible to verify.”” [NYTimes]

“Michael Cohen: ‘It Is Fake News Meant to Malign Mr. Trump'” by Rosie Gray: “It alleges that Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, was central to “the ongoing secret liaison relationship between the New York tycoon’s campaign and the Russian leadership,” and that he met secretly with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016. “I’m telling you emphatically that I’ve not been to Prague, I’ve never been to Czech [Republic], I’ve not been to Russia,” Cohen said.  “The story is completely inaccurate, it is fake news meant to malign Mr. Trump.”” [TheAtlanticYahoo]

HAPPENING TODAY: President-elect Donald Trump holds a news conference, his first since winning the 2016 election. Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh will be reporting from the press conference. [CSPAN]

TRANSITION TOWER: “Trump’s risky approach to the West Wing” by Annie Karni:“This president has a son-in-law who works for him, and family coming over to the East Wing,’ [Obama’s first chief of staff Rahm] Emanuel said. “None of us has ever experienced that.” … A senior transition official stressed how well [Jared] works in tandem with Priebus and Bannon, offering internal support for the former Breitbart chairman, and valuing Priebus for his inside-the-beltway connections. But with Kushner adding a big unknown to the chain of command, Emanuel said, “there’s no advice I could give. We all would say, ‘try to keep whatever’s in the East Wing in the East Wing.’ This is something no chief of staff has experienced.” [Politico

PROFILE: “Who are Trump’s friends? One is Thomas Barrack, a Californian who could shape his views on the Middle East” by Michael Finnegan: “Barrack, a grandson of Lebanese Christian immigrants, grew up in Culver City. His father ran a grocery store; his mother was a secretary. In the family’s small stucco house, his parents spoke English with Barrack and his sister, Arabic and French with the grandparents… As Trump prepares to take power, Barrack’s long business history in the Mideast — and his deep knowledge of its politics and its cultures — makes him a significant player in shaping Trump’s thinking on the region… Barrack said he declined a top role in Trump’s administration, telling the president-elect he could serve him better as a friend with “no skin in the game.”” [LATimes]

“Trump laying the groundwork for 2020 reelection bid” by Alex Isenstadt:“Trump plans to keep his Manhattan-based campaign headquarters open as he assumes the presidency – a move that represents a sharp break from his predecessors, and one that positions him to begin running for reelection in 2020. Trump intends to retain a skeletal campaign staff of around ten people with a senior aide at the helm. The office will be overseen by Michael Glassner, a veteran Republican strategist and top campaign adviser.” [Politico] • Flashback: Our profile of Glassner from last February “From AIPAC to Trump: Michael Glassner’s journey” [JewishJournal]

REPORT: “Obama may get rejected from golf club over Israel policies” by Daniel Halper:“Obama is looking to join the elite Woodmont Country Club in Maryland once he becomes a private citizen. But members of the mostly Jewish club are at each other’s throats over whether to accept the golf-loving president, with many saying he deserves to be snubbed for not blocking an anti-Israel vote at the United Nations, according to the sources. “In light of the votes at the UN and the Kerry speech and everything else, there’s this major uproar with having him part of the club, and a significant portion of the club has opposed offering him membership,” a source told The Post.” [NYPost; GolfDigest]

Flashback – Netanyahu on 9-21-2016: “I want you to know, Barack, that you’ll always be a welcome guest in Israel. And, by the way, I don’t play golf, but right next to my home in Caesarea in Israel is a terrific golf course.” [Politico]

“Obama warns against support for Israeli settlements” by Tia Goldenberg: “If the notion is that unfettered support for Israel or more specifically support for the Netanyahu government’s policies — no matter what they are, no matter how inimical they may be to the prospects for peace — if that’s what qualifies as a good friend, then I think that we will see a worsening situation over time,” Obama said during the interview, filmed in Washington last week. Obama defended the abstention in the interview, saying “I believe it was the best move for peace.” [AP

–Key quote: “He had a good friend, just Bibi did not always recognize it. He had a good friend in the last eight years.” [Mako

“Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu lock horns in separate appearances” by Herb Keinon: “Netanyahu, speaking to a group of AIPAC leaders he met in Jerusalem on Tuesday, doubled-down on his assertion that the US shepherded through the resolution. “I want you to know in no uncertain terms, we have unequivocal evidence that the Security Council resolution passed at the UN against Israel was led by the administration. There is no question whatsoever about that,” he said, repeating for emphasis, “no question whatsoever.” … The premier then went on to quote from then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who said in 1994 that the US opposed a similar UN resolution because of specific references to Jerusalem. “We simply do not support the description of the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war as occupied Palestinian territory,” Netanyahu quoted her as saying.” [JPost; Twitter] • Barely a fifth of Jewish Israelis think Obama was friendly to Israel, poll shows [ToI

“Kerry Assails ‘Factless’ Environment, Defends Obama Legacy” by Matthew Lee: “At a conference focused on national security and the presidential transition, Kerry rejected criticism that the Obama administration had failed to lead in dealing with world crises. “We’ve been leading,” he said, pointing to the Iran nuclear deal… He said charges that the administration mishandled the Arab Spring revolts against authoritarian leaders were wrong. “People are not separating a remarkable transformation that is taking place globally from things that we are really responsible for,” Kerry said… “We didn’t start the Arab Spring, we couldn’t have stopped the Arab Spring. There is no way the Obama administration doing anything would have changed what was happening in those countries.”” [AP] • Kerry to attend Middle East peace conference in Paris [France24

“Kerry Laments Lack of Progress on Trump Transition at State” by Nick Wadhams and Margaret Talev: “There are some people who have been in the building for a period of time,” Kerry said of Trump’s “landing team” at State, “but quite candidly I think there has not been a lot of high-level exchange at this point,” he said. He added that he has yet to meet with Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state… Lambasting Trump’s passion for commenting via tweets on issues of all kinds, Kerry said, “If policy is going to be made in 140 characters on Twitter and every reasonable measure of accountability is being bypassed and people don’t care about it, we have a problem.” [Bloomberg

DRIVING THE DAY: “Tillerson to testify Russia must be held to account for its actions” by Josh Rogin: “In his statement, Tillerson will also pledge that the Trump administration will get tough on Iranian violations of the nuclear deal and China’s reluctance to use its influence to stop North Korea’s nuclear program.” [WashPost

“Five things to watch in Rex Tillerson’s Senate confirmation hearing” by Tom DiChristopher: “Tillerson will likely be confronted with a range of questions on hot-button issues, including the Iran nuclear agreement, the Syrian civil war and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.” [CNBC]

HEARD YESTERDAY: Sen. Bob Corker, Chair of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, on CNN’s “The Lead” with Jake Tapper: “We want to know how is he going to try to influence the president? What is his view? At the end of the day, when they walk away from the table, he’s going to do what president-elect Trump wishes for him to do… How do they feel about alliances around the world… What people are going to be looking for is how is he going to influence the president, even though, at the end of the day, he may not win the case.” [CNN

“2 Experts Back James Mattis, Defense Nominee, as ‘Stabilizing’ Force” by Michael R. Gordon: “Eliot A. Cohen… who signed a letter during the campaign arguing that Donald J. Trump was unfit to serve as commander in chief, argued that an exception should be made because General Mattis was a person of integrity… “A Secretary Mattis would be a stabilizing and moderating force, preventing wildly stupid, dangerous and illegal things from happening, and over time helping to steer American foreign and security policy in a sound and sensible direction,” Mr. Cohen said.” [NYTimes

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Democratic Sen. Chris Coons (NJ) at Christians United for Israel: “I’m here to thank you for your advocacy, your engagement, and your passion for the State of Israel.”

TOP OF THE HILL: “Senate Foreign Relations Committee to Discuss Resolution On UNSC 2334 Today” by Aaron Magid: “It is critical that this resolution pass, pass by a wide margin and before January 15,” David Brog, Founding Executive Director of the Christians United for Israel explained to Jewish Insider. “Any effort to add additional measures to this resolution—however worthwhile they might be in the abstract— should be avoided if it will result in either a delay in the vote or a decreased majority voting in favor,” he added… Mort Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) objected to the inclusion of the two-state solution in S. Res. 6. “The “two-state” language should be deleted prior to a vote,” he demanded.” [JewishInsider]

Sen. Corker tweets: “Was glad to welcome David Friedman, President-elect Trump’s nominee for Ambassador to Israel, to the office yesterday.” [Twitter]

DISPATCH FROM JERUSALEM: “Trump reportedly moves ahead with embassy relocation” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The incoming White House team has already begun informing U.S. allies in the Middle East and Gulf about President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to a report by CNN… According to several media reports, Trump is determined to follow through on his campaign promise, albeit a specific date has not been revealed.” [JewishInsider

“PLO threatens to revoke recognition of Israel if US embassy moves to Jerusalem” by Peter Beaumont: “Senior Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh told reporters on Tuesday that any move to relocate the US embassy would provoke a reaction. “One of the measures we are considering seriously is the issue of mutual recognition between the PLO and Israel. [It] is not valid any more doing this,” he said.” [Guardian

“Trump may start with US ambassador in Jerusalem, not an embassy” by Elise Labott and Nicole Gaouette: “Trump’s transition has been floating the possibility of initially having the US ambassador to Israel work and live in the US consulate in Jerusalem, while the American Embassy remains in Tel Aviv… Diplomats said there have been signs Trump may pull back from his campaign pledge… Diplomatic sources said having Friedman work out of the consulate, at least until the waiver expires, could give the incoming administration time to think through the consequences of relocating the embassy and find a face-saving way to back out of Trump’s campaign pledge.” [CNN]

“Will Trump be the president who moves the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem?” by William Booth and Carol Morello: “It could even be a virtual embassy, with the Trump administration announcing that all ambassadorial duties will henceforth be conducted in Jerusalem — and the ambassador could meet people in the lobby of the King David Hotel, for example, if he wished.” [WashPost

“Bennett: We must seize ‘unique opportunity’ of Trump’s first weeks to tell him what Israel wants” by Raphael Ahren: “‏I view the next three weeks as a unique window of opportunity that will close,” Bennett said, in a meeting with the editorial staff of The Times of Israel. “Because in those three to four weeks, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu for the first time will have to say to President [Donald] Trump what he wants. ‏The new administration wants to hear our vision. It’s open to listening.” The first step Bennett intends to take, right after Inauguration Day, is proposing a bill to apply Israeli law to Ma’ale Adumim, a Jerusalem suburb outside the pre-1967 lines. “I want to break the glass ceiling through Ma’ale Adumim,” he said… Donald Trump has shown in his own personal history the ability to take very creative and bold approaches. This [annexing Area C of the West Bank to Israel] is a creative and bold approach.” [ToI] 
** 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 **

TOP TALKER: “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Builds Political Muscle for Philanthropic Work” by Mike Isaac: “David Plouffe, who managed Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and is chief adviser and a board member at Uber, is leaving the ride-hailing company to join the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as president of policy and advocacy. In addition, Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan are forming a public policy advisory board of former government officials and other experts in the fields of education, science communications and advocacy. The new board will be led by Kenneth Mehlman, who managed President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and is now head of global public affairs at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the private equity firm. Mr. Mehlman will volunteer part of his time to the new board, which is recruiting other members who will also serve in a part-time capacity.” [NYTimes

“Thanks to $10M gift from the Krafts, Combined Jewish Philanthropies renovates its HQ” by Catherine Carlock: “The office will feature the Myra Kraft Boardroom, named after Kraft’s late wife, and the Harry Kraft Center for Jewish Education, a learning space named after Kraft’s late father. “CJP is a vital resource, and my family’s vision is that this gift will allow the organization to continue to thrive in its work of fulfilling the most important needs and aspirations of our Greater Boston Jewish community,” Robert Kraft said in a statement… The Kraft family’s $10 million donation funded a bulk of the project, and the $5.6 million balance will be funded through additional donations or tax-exempt financing, [Julie] Somers said.” [BostonBizJournal

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Miami’s Cuban Jews ponder the meaning of Trump’s pick for international negotiator” by Franco Ordonez: “To Marcos Kerbel, knowing that a devout Jew will have the ear of the president-elect of the United States to help shape Cuba policy is an encouraging sign. President-elect Donald Trump named Jason Greenblatt, a top Trump Organization executive and Orthodox Jew, to a new role as special representative for international negotiations. His portfolio is expected to include Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the American relationship with Cuba.” [McClatchyDC]

“After bomb threats, JCC Association reassures Jewish community” by Danielle Ziri: “The JCC Association, which oversees all Jewish Community Centers in North America, attempted to reassure its frightened members on Tuesday, a day after bomb threats were called in to at least 16 of its centers across the United States…[David Posner, director of strategic performance at the association] said…  that the organization has a partnership with the Secure Community Network, which focuses on security for Jewish institutions throughout North America, as well as an “ongoing relationship” with the Department of Homeland Security.” [JPost

SCENE LAST NIGHT – fundraiser in support of Tom Perez in his race for DNC Chair at the home of Barbara and Michael Goldman in DC. Host committee included County Executive Ike Leggett, Ambassador Norm Eisen, Ann Lewis, Pennie Abramson, Howard Friedman, Debbie Driesman, Frank Islam, Rick Edson, Susie Gelman, Aaron Keyak, Steve Rabinowitz, Jeffrey Abramson, Terry Lierman, Mike Goldman. Also present: DeDe Feinberg, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Beth Grupp, Bluelight’s Madeline Peterson and Jason Berger. [Pic]

SPORTS BLINK: “Jewish-American pros look to boost baseball in Israel” by Aron Heller: “Israel has just one baseball-specific field, and most Israelis know little about the game. Yet the country has emerged as a potential spoiler in the upcoming World Baseball Classic thanks to quirky regulations that allow it to pack its squad with American pro players of Jewish descent. Major leaguers Ike Davis, Sam Fuld and Ryan Lavarnway were among 10 team members who visited Israel for the first time this month to get a glimpse of the country and people they will represent — and to boost a sport that remains on the fringes of the local athletic scene.” [AP]

DESSERT: “The Long, Unusual History of the Pickled Cucumber” by Ernie Smith: “These days we eat pickles because we like them, but in the pre-refrigeration days, pickling was an essential way to preserve food for storage. The process is closely associated with Jewish food due pickled foods being used by Eastern European Jews to get flavorful food during the cold winter months.” [AtlasObscura]

BIRTHDAYS: Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, author of 40 books on jurisprudence and economics, Richard Posner turns 78… Film, television and theater director, best known for his TV series “Full House” and “Family Matters” and his films “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Fat Albert,” Joel Zwick turns 75… Co-author (w/ John Heilemann) of “Game Change” and “Double Down: Game Change 2012,” Mark Halperin turns 52… Film, stage and television actress, star of the 2000 comedy film “The Whole Nine Yards,” Amanda Peet turns 45… Born in Montreal to a Moroccan Jewish family, former goaltender with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes who also played in six other leagues, Josh Tordjman turns 32… Founder of Nannies by Noa, a full-service childcare agency, serving families in NYC and the Hamptons, teen entrepreneur Noa Mintz turns 16… Lynn Blitzer… Stephen Needleman… Jerome Groopman

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]

Digital learning bills would expand reach to non-public school students in Florida

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jeff Solocheck, of the Tampa Bay Times, reports on a new bill out of the Florida House Education Choice and Innovation Subcommittee that would, among other things, require the…

Ruby Schron pays $25M for Coney Island retail site

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Real estate investor Ruby Schron has forked out $25 million to buy a 49,000-square-foot building at 532 Neptune Avenue near Coney Island, according to public records filed with…

LA mayoral contenders share strong ties to Jewish community

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The LA Times reports on the upcoming mayoral election and the big impact the local Jewish community is having on it even though they account for only about…

Rohr and Tabacinic’s NCH Capital Wins Greek Development Deal

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Greece’s privatisation agency on Thursday picked U.S. private equity fund NCH Capital to develop land on the island of Corfu for tourism, in a 23 million euro deal…

The NBA’s Jewish Playmaker

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A nylon curtain splits the gymnasium along the half-court line at the YM-YWHA of Union County, N.J. Fathers and sons wearing yarmulkes walk to the far side of…

Q and A with Matisyahu: ‘Hasidic reggae superstar’ sans the Hasidim

Monday, January 7, 2013

Washington (CNN)– It has been a year since Matisyahu, the famed Hasidic reggae star, shaved his beard, separated from his devout following of Orthodox Judaism and said he…