Daily Kickoff — Lunch Edition: Trump may present peace plan without PA at the table | Bergman book party | BDays: Malcolm Hoenlein; Abbi Jacobson

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SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC — Richard Plepler, the Chairman and CEO of HBO, hosted a book party celebrating the publication of Ronen Bergman’s new title, Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations. Approximately 75 guests gathered at the Harold Pratt House on the Upper East Side to meet and hear from Bergman.

Bergman summarized his book in a nutshell: “The story of the book is a story of great technical successes and disastrous strategic political failures. And I think that nowadays when the U.S. has adopted many of the operational and intelligence lessons and skills that Israel developed through the last 70 years, when employing the tactics of focused targeted killings way beyond enemy lines, it is important to also understand the price that Israel has paid, and is still paying, for using these methods and having such power.”

“I think Israeli leaders have drawn the wrong conclusion from the success of the Israeli intelligence services who are arguably the best. Sooner or later, they provide Israeli leaders with solutions to every challenge but Israeli leaders drew the wrong conclusion. They thought that having this powerful tool at the tip of their finger they could order to bomb a facility, to kill someone, and in that way stop history, hold it by the tail, and that by using that tool they don’t need to turn to statesmanship, to turn to political discourse.”

Bergman, who published an excerpt of the book in last Sunday’s NYTimes Magazine, joked that NYT fact-checkers are tougher than Israeli security interviewers: “There are no other people like the New York Times. And every time I have to go through this forced labor, ongoing stress with the fact checkers, I swear I would never do this again (laughter)… You know, I got a call — one of the main interviewers for the story just published in the magazine was a former senior IDF official. After having a conversation with the fact checking team, he called me and said, ‘Listen, I have been through the most harsh and strict questioning by the Shin Bet, by the Mossad — for security clearances — and I’ve never experienced something like that.’”

Bergman thanked Plepler for hosting the event and noted the HBO Chief’s generosity even though “I don’t have any business with HBO,” to which Plepler quipped, “No, no, no, you do now.” Bergman recounted a dinner a few years back when he was going through some difficulties and Plepler gave him some advice. “Richard gave me a speech about life, about relationships, and told me a few words in Yiddish (laughter)… Just imagine the CEO of HBO from New York is teaching someone from Tel Aviv, who was born to Holocaust survivors, a Polish guy, words in Yiddish. And one of these words — ‘bashert’ – really helped me overcome the obstacle of that time. So Richard, thank you for being such a mensch.”

SPOTTED: ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, NYTimes Executive Editor Dean Baquet, Tablet Mag’s founder and editor-in-chief Alana Newhouse, CFR’s Richard Haass, Random House’s Andy Ward, NYTimes Book Review’s Pamela Paul, Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, Jamie Black, Ashley Moskowitz. [Pic]

ON MORNING JOE TODAY — Bergman said that Israeli officials were warned about sharing sensitive intelligence information even before Trump was inaugurated: “In January, senior U.S. officials shocked their Israeli counterparts – meeting here in the U.S. – when they said at the end of a regular meeting, ‘We advise you, until it becomes clear that the Russian do not have any leverage on President-elect Trump, or his team, to be very careful not to share sensitive information with the White House and the National Security Council because we are afraid that this information might be leaked to Russia, and from Russia it’s a very short path to Iran.’”[MSNBC]

TRANSITION: “Top career US diplomat to step down in blow to State Dept” by Matt Lee: “The State Department’s third-ranking official, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, informed agency staffers that he will retire as soon as a successor for his Senate-confirmed post is chosen and ready to assume the job. Shannon is a near 35-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and was the most senior department official to remain in his job after the transition from the Obama to the Trump administrations…  Shannon’s departure is sure to be seized on by critics of the administration who accuse Trump and Tillerson of gutting the foreign service, particularly its senior ranks.” [AP]

“When Donald Rumsfeld Asks You to ‘Solve Pakistan” by Uri Friedman: “I asked [Douglas] Feith whether he ever solved the Pakistan problem. “No, of course not,” he responded. Then he got philosophical: “Technology advances. You can say polio got solved. But if you’re talking about a problem with a country—even if you talk about something like Nazism: Nazism to a large extent got solved by the defeat of the Axis in World War II. But as we see, fascistic Nazi-style thinking can make a comeback. And while it may get solved in one country, it could pop up in another. It could even pop up in the same one under different circumstances.” “Problems that relate to human nature never actually get solved,” Feith argued. “They simply change form.””[TheAtlantic]

DRIVING THE DAY — Polish senate passes Holocaust bill despite Israeli protests: “The upper house of parliament voted 57-23, with two abstentions, to approve the bill, which sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who refers to Nazi German death camps as Polish or accuses Poland of complicity in the Third Reich’s crimes… To take effect, the legislation still needs to be signed by Polish President Andrzej Duda, who on Monday had said he was “flabbergasted” by Israel’s “violent and very unfavourable reaction.”” [France24

State Department warns Holocaust bill could hurt relations with Poland — by Justyna Pawlak and Mohammad Zargham: “The legislation “could undermine free speech and academic discourse…” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. “We are also concerned about the repercussions this draft legislation, if enacted, could have on Poland’s strategic interests and relationships,” Nauert said.” [Reuters]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM : “Israel ‘Adamantly Opposes’ Polish Parliament’s Approval of Controversial Holocaust Bill” by Noa Landau: “Israel views with utmost gravity any attempt to challenge historical truth,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said… An Israeli official expressed “deep disappointment given the fact that the relationship between the two countries is important to both sides.” He added that “the law’s passage goes against the spirit of the conversation between the two prime ministers [last] Sunday.” Earlier, Likud Minister Yisrael Katz demanded Netanyahu recall Israel’s ambassador to Poland over the bill. Minister Yoav Gallant said the bill amounts to Holocaust denial, with lawmaker and former foreign minister Tzipi Livni describing it as “spitting in Israel’s face.”[Haaretz]

Barak Ravid: “After Poland’s Senate approves Holocaust law Israel postpones visit to Jerusalem by Polish national security adviser planned for next week.” [Twitter]

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Greenblatt to EU envoys: Settlements are not the obstacle” by Herb Keinon: “According to a participant in the meeting, Greenblatt said it is necessary to look at what construction has actually taken place, rather than at various announcements made about settlement construction in the media. Greenblatt, according to one of the participants, said there is not that much actual building taking place; that where it is taking place is contiguous to existing settlements; and that Israel has taken a sensible approach on the matter.” [JPost]

REPORT — “Trump may present peace plan even if Palestinians won’t negotiate” by Barak Ravid: “The White House is considering presenting President Trump’s Middle East peace plan even if the crisis with the Palestinian Authority continues and Palestinian President Abbas refuses to come to the negotiating table, senior U.S. officials tell me… U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt held a series of meetings with Netanyahu, his advisers and several ministers over the last two weeks… On Wednesday, Greenblatt participated in an emergency meeting of the donor countries to the Palestinian Authority… The Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah also participated in the meeting. It was the first time senior Palestinian and U.S. officials were around the same table since the Jerusalem announcement. Greenblatt and Hamdallah shook hands but didn’t hold a meeting.” [Axios]

“UN roundly condemned for blacklist of companies doing business in Israeli settlements” by Ben Evansky: “In a statement from United States Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley said the report is “the latest anti-Israel actions taken by the Human Rights Council.” … Speaking later on at the U.N. General Assembly Holocaust Remembrance event, [Ambassador Danny Danon] said the blacklist goes back to centuries-old, anti-Semitic boycotts… Earlier Wednesday the U.N.’s Human Rights’ office issued the report which it said detailed a database of business enterprises “engaged in certain, specific activities in the occupied Palestinian territory that are explicitly linked to Israeli settlements.”” [FoxNews

“German FM says Trump support not necessarily good for Israel” by Aron Heller: “As a friend of Israel, and as a foreign minister of a country with a special commitment to your country’s security, I am sincerely concerned about Israel’s mid- to long-term options,” [Sigmar Gabriel] said in an address to the Institute for National Security Studies’ annual conference… “The Americans are taking your side more clearly than ever before, but is this really only a good thing? When I think of the likely consequences I think this is more ambivalent,” Gabriel said. He said the U.S. had long acted as an “arbiter” in the region despite its close ties to Israel… But he asked: “Can the Americans still play such a role if they take sides so openly?” [AP

Netanyahu interrupts German FM to downplay two-state support: “In statements after the meeting, Netanyahu interrupted Gabriel as he talked about a two-state solution to the conflict. Gabriel said he was “very thankful to hear that, of course, also the government of Israel wants to have two states” with secure Israeli borders. But Netanyahu interjected to reiterate his position… “No, that we will control security west of the Jordan (river)… that is, I think, the first condition,” Netanyahu said. “Whether or not it’s defined as a state when we have the military control is another matter, but I’d rather not discuss labels, but substance,” he added.” [ToI

Gabriel meets with Israeli opposition leaders to discuss new diplomatic plan — by Mazal Mualem: “In a breakfast meeting at the Jerusalem King David Hotel between German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Zionist Camp leader Avi Gabbay and head of the opposition Isaac Herzog on Jan. 31, Gabriel expressed great interest in the new diplomatic plan being formulated in the Labor Party…” [Al-Monitor

WAR ON TERROR — “U.S. State Department designates Hamas leader as terrorist” by Mohammad Zargham: “The State Department said in a statement that [Ismail] Haniyeh, along with two Islamist groups active in Egypt and one in the Palestinian territories, were listed as specially designated global terrorists. It quoted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as saying the designations “target key terrorist groups and leaders – including two sponsored and directed by Iran – who are threatening the stability of the Middle East, undermining the peace process, and attacking our allies Egypt and Israel.”” [Reuters

U.S. Shows Beginning of a Response to Muslim Brotherhood” by Eli Lake: “Jonathan Schanzer, the senior vice president for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told me this week, “There was a reluctance in the last three years of the Obama administration to designate Hamas guys.” Part of this is because of Israel. After the 2014 rocket war with Hamas in Gaza, Israel reached an understanding with two principal supporters of Hamas — Qatar and Turkey — to allow more approved goods into Gaza… Schanzer told me that at the time, he had heard from his contacts at the Treasury Department that they did not want additional sanctions to undermine those nations’ understanding with Israel…” [BloombergView

David Makovsky and Lia Weiner write… “Hamas Failures in Gaza Are Changing Israel’s Stance: During a recent trip to the Middle East, the authors were struck by the number of Israeli security officials and even right-wing politicians who have joined international groups operating on an unexpected principle: that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip cannot be ignored anymore… Whether the PA retakes control in Gaza is uncertain for now. Yet the imperative seems clear for international groups like the AHLC: to support the rebuilding of infrastructure in the Strip. In the end, such economic moves may be the only way of fostering favorable political consequences.”[WashInstitute

HAPPENING TODAY — Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg will discuss the intersection of law, media and Jewish life with Forward editor-in-chief Jane Eisner at Adas Israel in Washington, DC. Watch live at 7 PM ET here [Livestream]

DRIVING THE CONVO — ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt discussed the growing rift between Israel and U.S. Jewry during a panel yesterday at the INSS annual conference in Tel Aviv: “We have “Taglit,” Israel studies programs opening around the U.S., companies like Waze and WeWork and Gett, Gal Gadot and Fauda – but if we thought all that familiarity would engender good relations, we were wrong…. Dynamics in Israel have contributed to the strained relations; for US Jews, it’s deeply disconcerting to see the lack of momentum on the peace process, and they’re confused and upset about the conversion bill and the Kotel decision. I think it could get worse. Take a look at the situation with African refugees: if you start deporting them, American Jews will make parallels to “Dreamers” in the U.S.”

— Former U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “Throughout 2015, a very difficult year for the relationship, many in the US felt they were put in that position — to “choose.” We face a somewhat different situation with the current administration… We’re in an unprecedented period of polarization, so it should be possible to cultivate a positive relationship with the current administration while also ensuring the U.S. President’s opponents in the US are not dismissed because this administration will be out one day and those opponents will have their turn.” [INSS

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Alibaba’s Jack Ma plans May visit to Israel [Calcalist] • Maryland Lawmaker files ‘Jared Kushner Act’ to limit tenant arrests [ABCNews] • Seth Klarman Gives $5 Million to Spelman College[Bloomberg] • Chicago Cubs Co-Owner Todd Ricketts Named New RNC Finance Chairman [NPR] • Canadian billionaire Daryl Katz’s company is the new owner of LifeZette, the site co-founded by Fox News host Laura Ingraham [CNNMoney] • “This Is Serious” — Facebook Begins Its Downward Spiral [VanityFair] • Is Lionsgate’s Chief Finally Ready to Sell? [HollywoodReporter]

SPOTLIGHT: “European Jewish Congress head on US Treasury’s ‘Putin list’” by Tamara Zieve: “European Jewish Congress president Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor was among 96 businesspeople and 114 senior political figures alleged to have close ties to the Kremlin… The names were placed on what has been dubbed the “Putin list” or “oligarchs list,” as part of a US sanctions package signed into law in August. It does not mean those included will be subject to sanctions… Forbes estimated Kantor’s net worth at US $3.8b., making him the 34th-richest person in Russia… The US list also includes Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich and Eugene Kaspersky, the co-founder and CEO of IT security company Kaspersky Labs.” [JPost]

HOLLYWOOD: “Something’s coming: Spielberg and Kushner to take on ‘West Side Story’ remake” by Jordan Hoffman: “The initial casting call is looking specifically for Latino and Latina actors to play parts that were, in the 1961 film, played by white actors. Natalie Wood as “Maria” is nothing short of ridiculous when you look back at it now. (Though nothing is quite as cringeworthy as Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in another New York classic from that same year.) Spielberg’s primary collaborator on this project is Tony Kushner, the much celebrated Jewish-American author of “Angels in America,” arguably the most important theatrical work of the 1990s…” [ToI]

DESSERT: “Textile Magnate Weaves a Kosher Bakery and Cafe Into Boyle Heights” by Mona Holmes: “An industrial part of Boyle Heights is set to get a new bakery and cafe in early March. Asher Caffe comes from Asher Shalom, owner of Asher Fabric Concepts, a fabric and textile distributor located across the street from their showroom. A passion project for Asher, the eatery will be completely kosher. According to project manager Sergio L. Yang, the food will have a heavy European influence.” [LAEater

BIRTHDAYS: Actor Stuart Whitman turns 90… Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm I. Hoenlein turns 74… Partner in LA-based law firm, Fredman Liebermann Pearl, and past president of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, Howard S. Fredman turns 74… Midtown Manhattan physician, affiliated with Lenox Hill Hospital, specializing in Nephrology and Internal Medicine, Mark H. Gardenswartz, MD turns 68… Composer and conductor, music director of the Chappaqua Orchestra since 2002, author in 1994 of “The Jewish 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of All Time,” Michael Jeffrey Shapiro turns 67… Far Rockaway, NY resident, Maurice Lazar turns 67… Lakewood, NJ-born, president and part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Stan Kasten turns 66… Artist whose oil on canvas paintings have many Jewish themes, Israel Tsvaygenbaum turns 57…

25-year veteran of the Israeli foreign service, now a scholar-in-residence at American University in Washington, Dan Arbell… Deputy director for policy and government affairs at AIPAC, David Gillette turns 57… Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Becky Sobelman-Stern turns 56… One of Israel’s top soccer players of all time, successful on both Israeli and European teams, now manager of Beitar Jerusalem, Eli Ohana turns 54… Actor Pauly Shore turns 50… Chair of Perkins Coie’s Political Law practice who was general counsel to Hillary for America and advises the DNC, DSCC, DCCC and the DGA, Marc E. Elias turns 49… Experimental jazz guitarist Yoshie Fruchter turns 36… Comedienne, writer, actress and illustrator, Abbi Jacobson turns 34… Cincinnati native, now a senior director of business development for Politico Pro, Andrew Friedman turns 31… District Director for Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila James Kuehl, Stephanie Beth Cohen turns 29… David Aryeh Leshaw turns 27… Television and movie actress, Julia Garner turns 24… Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for AIPAC, Tara Brown… David Shaw

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Daily Kickoff: Why many Dems stayed seated for Trump’s Jerusalem SOTU line | The African deportations controversy in Israel explained | Noga on LES

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STATE OF THE UNION TAKEAWAYS — President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address last night before Congress. While seeking to strike a unifying tone, Trump touted his accomplishments and reiterated some of his tough rhetoric on immigration and foreign policy. Here were a few key moments.

1. Doubling down on threat to cut foreign aid: Reminding the nation of his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump lamented that “dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America’s sovereign right to make this decision. In 2016, American taxpayers generously sent those same countries more than $20 billion dollars in aid. That is why, tonight, I’m asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests — and only go to friends of America, not enemies of America.” Trump did not explicitly declare that the legislation should block foreign aid to all 128 nations who voted to condemn the Trump administration’s move on Jerusalem.

Dan Shapiro points out: “TRUMP: We’ll cut aid to countries who don’t support us at the UN. STAFF: OK, let’s start with Egypt and Jordan. ISRAEL: Um, about that….” [Twitter]

2. Divided on Jerusalem: The vast majority of Democrats — with the notable exception of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Joe Manchin, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz — remained seated while the rest of the chamber gave a standing ovation following Trump’s remark: “Last month, I also took an action endorsed unanimously by the Senate just months before: I recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

HOW IT PLAYED — Dan Senor‏: “Was actually surprised so many Dems remained seated. That’s a problem.” [Twitter

JI READERS REACT — IPF’s Michael Koplow: “I think that was both substantively disappointing and politically unwise. It may have been a reaction to the Pew study and an attempt to reflect what Democrats believe their base is thinking, or it may be as simple as Democrats not wanting to be for anything that Trump has done. But the fact remains that Democrats overwhelmingly voted for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital and moving the embassy when they had the chance, and that while the move has destroyed whatever forward movement there had been on the peace process, it has not led to the violence and upheaval that many  – including me – predicted and expected. It is one thing to decry Trump for making the situation between Israelis and Palestinians far worse, as he has, and another to oppose a policy initiative that supported a staunch American ally, even if it was not done in an ideal manner. My hunch is that many Democrats are going to be left struggling to explain their reaction to that part of the speech.”

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro: “On its own merits, I think most Democrats support recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as I do. They might also be concerned that Trump’s clumsy management of that issue, and his silence in the speech on working for Israeli-Palestinian peace, mean that he is prepared to squander the goodwill Jason Greenblatt built up as he traveled the region to advance that goal, and whether such a decision is consistent with our obligations to our ally, Israel.”

RJC’s Matt Brooks: “Sadly it demonstrates once again how the Democratic Party is moving away from its traditional support for Israel. With the formation of a new Jewish Democratic group, the JDCA, we ask, ‘What is their plan to reverse this troubling slide?’”

Aaron David Miller emails us… “Schumer feels this passionately. Why most didn’t stand is probably opposition to Trump — and that fact that there was no effort to set the Jerusalem decision in context or to promote peacemaking. He just pocketed it as a political gain.”

3. Trump back to fix, not nix, Iran deal: Trump did not repeat his recent threat to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal. Instead, he urged Congress “to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.”

FDD’s Mark Dubowitz tells us: “I don’t read much into this. He made it abundantly clear a couple of weeks ago that he will withdraw from the Iran deal unless the Europeans and Congress fix the deal’s fundamental flaws. He reiterated at the State of the Union how he sees the deal as “terrible” with “fundamental flaws” that need to be fixed.”

4. Trump commemorates Otto Warmbier, the Jewish American student who died after his captivity in North Korea: “The Warmbier family received two standing ovations. Otto Warmbier’s parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, of Wyoming, Ohio, stood next to First Lady Melania Trump and wept as they acknowledged the cheers. “You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all,” Trump said. “Thank you very much.” At that, the chamber stood and applauded for the second time. “Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with total American resolve.”” [CincinnatiVideo]

5. Which Trump will emerge tomorrow? “Trump acts presidentially in State of the Union, at least for a night” by Ashley Parker and Michael Scherer: “After a year as president, Trump has proved himself capable of reading words from a teleprompter. When he chooses, the former reality-TV star can summon a performance to rival that of Martin Sheen as the aspirational President Jed Bartlet on “The West Wing.” What is less clear, however, is whether he has the ability — or even the interest — to turn his well-delivered words into tangible results without self-sabotaging or undermining his and his team’s best intentions.” [WashPost

MAGGIE ON MONDAY NIGHT — New York Times’ reporter Maggie Haberman at Skirball Talks in advance of the State of the Union: “I think you will hear from TelePrompter Donald Trump… Then I think it will get lots of praise as a potential new tone, and then I think he will tweet 8 to 12 hours later and undo all of that.”

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON SPEECH — RJC National Chairman and former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman emails us: “Disappointing and shameful that Democrats couldn’t applaud paid family leave, vocational training and $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment. They ignored the message because they want to politically kill the messenger. Americans deserve better than that. Trump made a strong case for America First.”

Andrew Weinstein, a leading Democratic donor from Coral Springs: “The tone might have been different, but make no mistake this was the same old Donald Trump. A president who claims credit for things he didn’t accomplish and assigns blame for the things he did. A president who is steadfast in his refusal to address Russia’s continuing efforts to interfere in our elections and who won’t even acknowledge the immediate threat that climate change presents or the significance of the #MeToo movement. And where is his strategy to address the opioid crisis? Trump may have spoken about bipartisanship, but he did so while appealing to his base, not to the majority of Americans who oppose his policies.”

RJC’s Brooks texts us… “The speech by the President was a substantive and rhetorical tour de force. Truly one of the best speeches of his presidency. He echoed themes of healing the divide and bringing people together. As the president argued for bipartisanship the Democrats in sharp contrast showed their unwillingness to even work with the President. It’s a strong kickoff to Super Bowl weekend and a win by the Philadelphia Eagles.”

The Wilson Center’s Miller: “Smart and emotionally charged use of his invited guests by an emotionally detached and low energy President. Much of the vindictive and combustible Trumpian rhetoric was missing as it was in last year’s February address before Congress, but it’s unlikely that the new and more sober Trump will endure.”

Amb. Shapiro: “It’s hard for many Americans — not only Democrats, by the way — to applaud a President who refuses to sanction Russia for interfering in our elections, who holds Dreamers hostage to an anti-immigrant agenda, who has been callous about hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, who has tried to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, who fails to condemn Nazis and racists marching in American cities, whose family is personally profiting from his presidency — even when he cites an issue on which they agree.”

PIC OF THE DAY — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman watched the State of the Union in Miami with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, who recently disparaged American Jews as “naive and sheltered.” [Pic

Expect additional dignitaries — involved in the U.S.-Israel relationship — to visit Miami in the coming days… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

BEHIND THE SCENES — “Before Trump’s Speech, a Chaotic White House Follows Tradition” by Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman: “In drafting his speech, Mr. Trump relied on Stephen Miller… and a team of speechwriters and aides… Their process, which a White House official said began last fall and in earnest in mid-December for this speech, usually involves Mr. Trump telling Mr. Miller what direction he wants to take with the speech. He will then talk out some lines. Then Mr. Miller, who drafts the material with a keen ear for applause lines he has heard during the president’s previous speeches, usually revamps the speech and hands it back to Mr. Trump. On at least one occasion, the president has noticed that Mr. Miller struck a line he had said he wanted in. It is usually restored.” [NYTimes

REPORT — US may reject UN’s granting of Palestinian refugee status to descendants: “The Trump administration is considering halting all of its financial aid to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, and declaring that it rejects the UN criteria under which refugee status is extended to millions of descendants of the original Palestinian refugees… Hadashot TV news said this “new ultimatum” under consideration by the Trump administration is one of the avenues being considered as the US seeks to press the Palestinian Authority into returning to peace talks with Israel.” [ToI

IRAN DEAL — “Here’s How the U.S. and EU Can Thwart Iranian Missile Programs” by Behnam Ben Taleblu and Richard Goldberg: “In a last-ditch attempt to prevent President Donald Trump from exiting the Iran nuclear deal, European leaders have finally promised to work with the United States to address Iran’s ballistic missile program. If Trump is serious about fixing the deal, the transatlantic working group now tasked with forming a common U.S.-EU position must produce nothing less than a commitment to reimpose tough sanctions on Iran should the regime’s missile development and testing continue.” [ForeignPolicy

“Ex-CIA Director Petraeus in Israel: Everything can be hijacked, weaponized” by Yonah Jeremy Bob: “The world has entered the age of “the weaponization of everything,” former CIA director and US General David Petraeus said on Tuesday at the INSS Conference in Tel Aviv… The former CIA director said that most countries are, “struggling to keep up with technological developments with…robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles, ships, subs…and some of which are truly autonomous… Hezbollah is quite sophisticated with both its manned and unmanned forces,” he said.” [JPost

“U.S. defends role of Lebanon army as Israel threatens to attack it” by Dan Williams: “We will sustain our efforts to support legitimate state security institutions in Lebanon, such as the Lebanese Armed Forces, which is the only legitimate force in Lebanon,” David Satterfield, acting assistant U.S. secretary of state, told the conference organized by Tel Aviv University’s INSS think-tank. Satterfield… added that the Lebanese army “could well serve as a counter-weight to Hezbollah’s desire to expand its own influence there, as well as Iran’s reach in Lebanon.” But speaking three hours later on the same stage, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman reiterated his view that the Lebanese army was subordinate to the better-equipped Hezbollah. “As far as I‘m concerned, all of Lebanon – the Lebanese army, Lebanon and the Lebanese army – are no different from Hezbollah,” said Lieberman.” [Reuters]

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Israeli Embassy to U.S.: We Oppose Qatar’s ‘Outreach’ to pro-Israel U.S. Jews” by Amir Tibon: “Israel’s Embassy to the United States does not support Qatar’s campaign to improve its image in the American Jewish and pro-Israel community, an embassy spokesman told Haaretz on Tuesday. “We oppose this outreach effort in the Jewish and pro-Israel community,” said embassy spokesman Itai Bar Dov… A senior Israeli official… told Haaretz that “we have our own channels for this issue. These visits are not related to us. They are about Washington.”” [Haaretz

HEARD YESTERDAY — Prof. Alan Dershowitz declines Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s invitation to publicly debate his visit to Qatar in an interview with i24News: “I’m not going to engage with Rabbi Boteach. He’s not an expert about Qatar. He just likes to get attention by attacking people like me. He has basically suggested that I’ve done this for the money. I mean, I spend 50% of my professional time doing pro bono work on behalf of Israel. He gets paid for every minute he spends. Is he really suggesting that my views would be different if I hadn’t been sent on a “junket,” so I’m not going to engage him… I did not defend Qatar. I am not the mouthpiece for Qatar. I’m not representing Qatar. I have simply asked for an objective investigation of the conflicting claims. I want to learn the truth… Believe me, before I went to Qatar, I spoke to people, both in the United States government, the Israeli government; I did not need permission of a Rabbi from New Jersey to go there… I came back with more questions than answers.” [Video

TOP TALKER: “Mike Pence Never Said That Thing About The Holocaust That Everyone On The Internet Got Outraged About” by Yair Rosenberg: “Pence never said that the victims of the Holocaust were resurrected in Israel. He said that the Jewish people resurrected themselves after their own near genocide. But thanks to an incompetent transcription from a social media staffer, Pence’s quote from the clip was mangled it into an utterly absurd assertion that he never made… But even as liberal Jews may have overreacted to Pence’s largely banal remarks, conservative Jews would be wise to check their schadenfreude. That’s because the entire brouhaha on the Jewish left over Pence’s comments uncannily echoes similar episodes of upset surrounding Barack Obama on the Jewish right…” [Tablet]

“A Republican who appears on white supremacist podcasts published a list of “Jews” in the media” by Michael Edison Hayden: “Paul Nehlen, a Republican who is attempting to unseat GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, on Tuesday posted to his Twitter account what he claimed is a list of “Jews” in the media who have attacked him within the last month… A cursory glance at Nehlen’s list shows that statement to be inaccurate. For example, Newsweek has twice reported on Nehlen… and the reporter was misidentified on the list as being Jewish. He is Catholic and of Egyptian descent… Thor Benson, a freelance writer, also reported that he was misidentified as being Jewish…“So odd that Jews would criticize an anti-Semite,” CNN’s Jake Tapper wrote of the list on Twitter.” [Newsweek

Yashar Ali replies to Nehlen: “I see you have me on this list. I’m not Jewish… I’m a practicing Roman Catholic. But I’m in some pretty good company on this list… so feel free to say I’m Jewish. Also my name in Hebrew means “straight” but I’m not, so if you’re going to do a gay list please add me.. I’m single.” [Twitter]

STATESIDE — “US court temporarily suspends Kansas anti-BDS law” by Roxana Hegeman‏: “US District Judge Daniel Crabtree wrote in his decision that the US Supreme Court has held that the “First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law.” … The judge granted the request from the American Civil Liberties Union to block enforcement of the Kansas law while the case proceeds. Crabtree found it is “highly likely” that the Kansas law is invalid… “A desire to prevent discrimination against Israeli businesses is an insufficient public interest to overcome the public’s interest in protecting a constitutional right,” Crabtree wrote.” [AP

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Leonard Stern’s Hartz Mountain opens first phase of The Harper at Harmon Meadow [NJBiz] • Wix is skipping the Super Bowl thanks to past Super Bowl success, says chief marketing officer Omer Shai[FastCompany] • China’s Wanda puts $1.2B Beverly Hills development project, after overcoming objections and lawsuits filed by Beny Alagem, up for sale [HollywoodReporter] • Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, on How I Built This with Guy Raz [NPR

STARTUP NATION: “Next Up In Israeli Foodtech: Pesticides, Healthier Fruit Juice” by Jennifer Marston: “Inspecto has developed a portable kit that can be used for early detection of pesticides and other contaminants in food. The company claims its product will, once it hits the market, provide a much more affordable way to detect such things. Users operate a portable scanner to detect pesticides or contaminants, then analyze the results, which they get in real time…” [TheSpoon

SPOTLIGHT: “Dog-walking service Wag — with the heavy imprint of SoftBank — is replacing its CEO and accepting $300 million in cash” by Theodore Schleifer: “Wag said on Tuesday that Hilary Schneider, an experienced executive who most recently led LifeLock, would replace the company’s co-founder, Josh Viner, as its CEO. Viner’s departure as CEO comes as Wag accepts $300 million in an unusual deal that is expected to give the SoftBank Vision Fund a 45 percent stake in the company…” [Recode

DAVOS DISPATCH: “Facebook Isn’t Dancing To Silicon Valley’s Humble New Tune” by Ben Smith: “COO Sheryl Sandberg — the company’s chief diplomat — made conciliatory visits in Paris and Brussels before arriving in Davos. And she gave assembled reporters a speech about the power of Facebook’s advertising product to do good even as it makes the company billions, focusing on the stories of small businesses and even desperate patients, telling the story of a man who placed an ad looking for a kidney donor for his father and found one — for just $12. But the company’s effort to maintain its self-confident, disruptive momentum has made it a singular punching bag. At one point on a Davos stage, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff suggested the social network be regulated like cigarettes. George Soros described the social platform as “harmful” and deceptive… So it’s no surprise that a large part of Google’s and others’ strategy right now is hiding behind Facebook.” [BuzzFeed

TALK OF OUR NATION: “African Deportations Are Creating a Religious Controversy in Israel” by Emma Green: “The situation lays bare a central tension for Israel, which has both a particular obligation to protect Jews and, some Jews believe, a general responsibility to represent Jewish values to the world… Advocates argue, Jewish identity should be built on values and ethics, not just membership in a tribe… For the most part, the arguments made by Netanyahu and other government officials are embraced by native Israelis. One potential reason is that native Israelis may be conditioned to see non-Jews in the state as a threat—whether to their safety or to Israel’s Jewish majority… Especially for the Jewish activists who believe that Israel should be built on what they see as Jewish values, the next few weeks will be a crucial test of its identity as a nation—and how it is perceived by the world.” [TheAtlantic

“The road to an Israeli-Palestinian deal is vanishing” by David Ignatius: “Vered Ben-Saadon says she and her husband felt a sense of biblical mission to cultivate “part of the land of Israel” when they founded their winery here at a settlement about 30 miles north of Jerusalem. And she appears to have no intention of leaving… Here in these rocky hills, you sense the collision between competing narratives about the Israeli-Palestinian problem: The Ben-Saadons believe this is Israel; the Arabs in the village just to the east surely think it’s Palestine. You come away with a conviction that the “ultimate deal,” as Trump calls his still-fuzzy vision of a peace agreement, isn’t going to happen…” [WashPost

“Israelis sue New Zealanders over Lorde boycott” by Tia Goldenberg: “The two New Zealanders, Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab, penned an open letter to Lorde last year in which they urged her to “take a stand” and “join the artistic boycott of Israel.” … The group, Shurat HaDin, claims the New Zealanders, one Jewish and one Palestinian, knew that their letter could trigger a boycott, making them open to a suit under the law. The group, which filed the lawsuit in a Jerusalem court on Tuesday, is suing on behalf of three Israeli would-be concertgoers for about $13,000 in damages.” [ABCNews

RABBINICAL APPOINTMENT: “Five Towns Rabbi Named To Committee To Protect Monuments Abroad” by Alex Costello: “Senator Chuck Schumer announced he plans to appoint Rabbi Hershel Billet of the Young Israel of Woodmere to the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. The commission aims to protect U.S. cemeteries, monuments and historic buildings in Eastern and Central Europe.” [Patch

MEDIA WATCH — Max Boot named columnist for Washington Post Opinions: “The Washington Post has named foreign policy analyst and historian Max Boot a columnist for the Opinions section. A former advisor to military commanders and top-ranking Republican politicians, Boot will write a column focused on national security, American government and foreign affairs…” [WashPost

SUPER BOWL PREVIEW — Kraft sees disdain for Patriots, says ‘hatred’ too strong: “The Patriots owner said Monday night the booing of his team at the Grammy’s the previous night in New York is “sort of a compliment, the Boston-New York thing. I’d rather be on the winning end. Remember for 34 years I used to sit in the stands and feel it from the other way.” Kraft has been to nine Super Bowls as owner… He believes the disdain for his team is actually rooted in respect for the Patriots. “Once we went to the Super Bowl (the first time), a lot of people who had been kind and gracious changed,” he said. “I think everyone loves a doormat in this league.”” [AP

“Super Bowl team owners call Palm Beach home” by Darrell Hofheinz: “As anyone who follows news about the nation’s billionaires knows, there’s almost always a Palm Beach connection. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, and Jeffrey Lurie, majority owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, are both seasonal residents.” [PalmBeachDailyNews]

DESSERT: “Miznon, Now Open in Chelsea, Dreams of Capturing New York in a Pita” by Serena Dai: “Owner Eyal Shani, who runs a dozen restaurants and is a regular presence on Israeli television, insists that it’s not a carbon copy of all the other locations. In fact, Miznon, he says, is about a sense of place. Half of the pita-packed menu will be unique to the 120-seat NYC restaurant… “It’s a completely new creation, a new dream,” says Shani… “And it’s always coming from the fact that I’m dreaming of a place, and I want to translate, to convert it into food. This Miznon is giving me a chance to do that.” … Miznon is not the first pita-focused restaurant in Chelsea Market; Michael Solomonov’s wildly popular hummus counter Dizengoff is close… A Dizengoff spokeswoman says Solomonov is very excited about Shani’s new restaurant.”[NYEater]

— Dani Dayan‏: “Israeli celebrity super-chef Eyal Shani opened today “Hamiznon” in Chelsea Market. It was fun, super tasty and finally stood on the other side of the bar.” [Twitter

NEW ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE: Noga Restaurant, a new upscale kosher dairy restaurant specializing in fresh fish and handmade pasta, has now opened in the Sago Hotel at 120 Allen Street. They will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with plans to open on Shabbat with catered hot food. [InstagramMenu]

BIRTHDAYS: Scion of a leading rabbinic family in pre-WW2 Poland, former Assistant US Solicitor General, now a private attorney with an active Supreme Court practice focused on religious liberty issues, Nathan Lewin turns 82… Baltimore-born, classical music composer as well as acclaimed movie score composer, Philip Glass turns 81… Associate professor emeritus of Talmud and rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary, Mayer Elya Rabinowitz turns 79… Former Chief Rabbi of Norway while also serving as a member of Knesset (1999-2009), Michael Melchior turns 64… Founder and CEO of MWW, a PR firm headquartered in East Rutherford, NJ, he is a top “bundler” for the Democratic party, Michael W. Kempner turns 60… Co-founder, chairman and CEO of Meridian Capital Group, Manhattan-based commercial mortgage brokerage, Ralph Herzka turns 56… Classical cellist, born in Hadera, Israel, moved to Toronto at 6 years old, debut in Carnegie Hall in 1982, Ofra Harnoyturns 53…

Host of NPR’s news quiz “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!,” playwright, screenwriter, actor and marathon runner, Peter Sagal turns 53… Canadian-born businessman, best known for founding American Apparel, where he served as the CEO from 1989 until 2014, Dov Charney turns 49… CEO of Atlas Obscura, previously editor of Slate, David Plotz turns 48… Security technology executive at NYC’s DGA Security Systems, Daniel Oppenheim turns 42… Film producer and founder of Annapurna Pictures, three of her movies have been nominated for Academy Awards as Best Picture, daughter of Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Megan Ellison turns 32… Director of analytics and insights at Whistle Sports, Matthew Gottlieb… Managing director of BerlinRosen’s New York office, Michael Rabinowitz-Gold (h/ts Playbook)… MassChallenge’s Israel Program Manager based in Boston, formerly Social Secretary for Israeli Ambassadors Oren and Dermer, Clara Scheinmann… Grant Silow

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]




Daily Kickoff: State of the Union preview | Why Mort Klein went to Qatar | Noble Energy sells Tamar stake for $800M | BDays: David Cordish; Lee Zeldin

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DRIVING THE DAY — President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at 9 PM ESTAccording to a senior administration official, who previewed the speech in a background call to reporters, after outlining the administration’s domestic priorities, the president will emphasize rebuilding the military, promoting peace through strength, and discuss a return to clarity in who America’s friends and adversaries are. [CSPAN]

Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), has invited Christine Levinson, the wife of Bob Levinson from Coral Springs who has been missing in Iran for nearly 11 years, as his guest to the State of the Union.

Breaking with tradition: “Rep. Eliot Engel… has repeatedly scored aisle seats to steal a handshake with the president. This year, Engel told Business Insider he would not be doing so. “I’m gonna be there for the speech, but I’m going to sit with my colleagues in the middle of the row rather than the aisle,” Engel said.” [BusinessInsider

“Schakowsky will boycott Trump’s State of the Union speech” by Lynn Sweet: “[Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)] cited specific reasons for skipping the speech – usually the biggest audience of the year for a president: Trump’s Muslim ban; reaction of the violence in Charlottesville and his failure to denounce Nazi’s and more recently using vulgar language to refer to African nations during a discussion about immigration.” [ChicagoSunTimes

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) explains why she’ll boycott Trump’s address: “We have to stand up for Africa just as people who are Jewish here stand up for Israel.” [Cosmopolitan]

SPOTLIGHT — “Ahead of State of the Union, Democrats are united against Trump — but not on impeachment” by David Weigel and Sean Sullivan: In one year, if Democrats win control of the House of Representatives, [Rep. Jerry] Nadler will become Judiciary chairman. At a recent town hall in his Upper West Side district, Nadler’s constituents made clear what they want him to do… Nadler’s record and philosophy suggest that he will not necessarily push relentlessly for impeachment. “An impeachment cannot be partisan,” he said at the Capitol earlier this month… More importantly, Nadler said, some portion of those who voted for the target of impeachment must support the effort, or at least believe “you had no choice.” “If you don’t achieve that, then the country’s going to be torn apart. You’re going to have 20 years of recriminations.’ We won the election, you stole it.’” [WashPost]

IMMIGRATION POLICY — “How ‘chain migration’ brought us the Trump White House” by Philip Bump: “A number of prominent members of the Trump administration have ancestors who are only in the country because they came to join members of their families who would be excluded from sponsoring them under the new proposal… [Stephen] Miller is the great-grandson of a man named Sam Glosser… son of a man named Wolf Lieb Glotzer… Glotzer’s arrival wouldn’t have met Trump’s standard for entry. But once here, he could have petitioned for Sam Glosser — under 21 and unmarried — to join him…”

“Perhaps the most interesting immigrant story is Jared Kushner’s. His paternal grandparents immigrated to the United States in 1949, after surviving the Holocaust. His grandmother, Rae Kushner, was instrumental in helping orchestrate a mass escape from a Nazi-controlled ghetto… In an interview with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington given in 1982, Kushner laments that the policies of the United States during the war made it hard for refugees from Nazi-controlled areas to immigrate.” [WashPost

HEARD YESTERDAY — Ron Lauder in an interview with Udi Segal on Reshet TV: “I feel like President Trump is probably going to be the first president to make a two state solution [happen]. He is committed to it. How he is going about it is a question we have to look at, but I believe the final outcome will be a positive one for both Israelis and Palestinians.” [Video

REPORT — In first since US Jerusalem move, Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah and Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to meet: “The meeting set for next Sunday at Kahlon’s Jerusalem office will focus on joint economic initiatives that were put on ice after US President Donald Trump’s declaration about Jerusalem last month… Ahead of his sit-down with Hamdallah, Kahlon met with US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who implored him to stress to the Palestinians that there is no alternative to US-brokered peace talks… The report said the Palestinians had initiated the meeting.” [ToI]

Palestinian protesters disrupt US-organized seminar in Bethlehem: “Protesters threw tomatoes at the sports utility vehicle, which had US consular licence plates, kicked one of its doors and ripped the plastic casing off a side mirror as it drove off under Palestinian police escort from the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce…” [Ynet]

“Slovenia’s Parliament Expected to Recognize State of Palestine” by Noa Landau: On Wednesday, the foreign affairs committee of Slovenia’s legislature will vote on a draft resolution, with the backing of Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec, before it passes to parliament for a full vote… Slovenian President Borut Pahor told AFP that he opposed recognizing Palestine for the time being. However, the president, like in Israel, does not control what the parliament does.” [Haaretz

IRAN DEAL — “Trump, Haley Press U.N. Security Council on Iran” by Felicia Schwartz: “Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley… said she pressed fellow Security Council members: “‘If you don’t do anything about all of these violations, I can’t promise you that we’re staying in the deal,’” she said…  The nuclear accord came up during a lunch with Mr. Trump… Mr. Trump told the U.N. ambassadors he believed the nuclear agreement is “a really bad deal.” He also told them that other actions by Iran are “clear violations” that require action…” [WSJ

“Netanyahu threatens to ‘stop’ Iran if it tries to entrench itself in Syria” by Raphael Ahren: “The question is: Does Iran entrench itself in Syria, or will this process be stopped. If it doesn’t stop by itself, we will stop it,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters during a telephone briefing, moments before taking off from Moscow en route to Tel Aviv…” [ToI]

DEEP DIVE: “Hezbollah Goes on the Cyber Offensive with Iran’s Help” by Levi Maxey: “Hezbollah has proactively sought to develop its cyber capabilities, expanding its potential disruptive and influential reach into the digital sphere. While the group has long used the internet to disseminate recruitment messaging, propaganda, and operational know-how, it also has begun leveraging it as an attack vector to gain valuable intelligence, undermine the reputation of opponents and hold its adversaries, especially Israel, at risk.”[TheCipherBrief]

“Why Did ZOA’s Mort Klein Go to Qatar? ‘I Talked With the Emir About Hamas and Al Jazeera’” by Amir Tibon: “Earlier this month… Klein had visited Qatar at the invitation of the Emir, and had a private meeting with him in Doha, the Emirate’s capital city. The visit… took place at the same time that other prominent public figures who are known as supporters of the Israeli government, such as Alan Dershowitz and Mike Huckabee, visited Doha… “They invited me to go a number of times – in September, October, November and December,” he said. “At first I refused, because of their support for Hamas and the anti-Semitism being broadcast on Al Jazeera. But over time, I saw that more and more Jewish leaders were going there, and I realized that at this point, they won’t be able to use me for propaganda, because everyone is already going, but I might use the visit to push them on these issues.”

Klein told Haaretz that the Qatari choice to engage with “right-of-center Zionists” was noticeable. “They didn’t invite people from J Street, Americans for Peace Now or the Reform Movement,” he said. “I think it’s interesting.” Like most of the other Jewish leaders invited to Qatar, Klein’s trip was paid for by the Emirate (“I didn’t take anything else from them,” he emphasized).” [Haaretz]

Of note: “Just this past June, ZOA called on the Trump administration to cancel the license of Qatar Airways to fly into the United States because of Qatar’s support for terrorism.” Ibid

DOUBLING DOWN — “Poland Opposes Calls to Scrap Bill on Nazi Camp Talk” by Konrad Krasuski and Adrian Krajewski: “There is declaration by the Polish government to form a working group to discuss the issue with the Israeli side, but I would like to say very clearly that this does not mean we are ready to negotiate the provisions of this law,” Jacek Sasin, an aide to the prime minister, told state broadcaster TVP Info. “There is no stepping back.” … The bill still requires approval of the upper house of Poland’s parliament and must be signed by President Andrzej Duda to become law. “There was no participation by Poland or the Polish people as a nation in the Holocaust,” Duda said during a visit to Zory in the south of the country.” [Bloomberg]

New York Times editorial… “Poland’s Holocaust Blame Bill: Regardless how it is parsed, the Polish bill is a blatant and chilling effort by a nationalist government waging an offensive against the rule of law and freedom of expression to discourage that search… In a striking coincidence, the Polish bill was passed just as the leader of a major Muslim institution in Saudi Arabia, a sternly Islamic kingdom better known for its virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli positions, publicly proclaimed the Holocaust “among the worst human atrocities ever.”” [NYTimes]

“Former ADL chief Abe Foxman: Poland’s nationalist gov’t is trying to rewrite history” by Tamara Zieve: “This is a political move to do two things: first, to rewrite history, but more importantly to prevent new history,” Foxman told The Jerusalem Post… “We understand they don’t want to hear ‘Polish concentration camp’ – nobody is arguing that. Nobody says that is not a legitimate sensitivity and concern… What we are seeing is a political move to rewrite history, deny history and to make sure that honest history is not written.” [JPost]

2018 WATCH: “Ron DeSantis launches gubernatorial bid, vows he’s the outsider’s choice” by David Smiley: “DeSantis said after his speech that he chose Boca Raton… in part because of his support in the Jewish community… “You heard about my leadership on moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he told the Miami Herald. “I got a lot of support from people in Boca who said, you were the guy who was out there on it, and I think that’s part of the reason why we had a good crowd today.” Ron Krongold, a Coral Gables businessman and a director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said after a private breakfast between DeSantis and some supporters that the Jacksonville native has become the state’s champion in Congress on diplomacy with Israel. Boca is also home to some of DeSantis’ biggest supporters, including Home Depot Co-founder Bernie Marcus.” [TampaBay

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Houston’s Noble Energy said it will sell a 7.5 percent stake in its large Tamar gas field offshore of Israel in the Mediterranean for $800 million [Chron] • Games developer Playtika to invest up to $400 million in Israeli tech [Reuters] • Activist hedge fund Elliott in talks to buy Waterstones [FinancialTimes] • Jared Kushner Played a Role in Guy Fieri’s Restaurant Closure [NYEater] • Extell’s Diamond District plans just got even more mysterious: Developer  Gary Barnett has filed paperwork to demolish 12 buildings [RealDeal] • Disney CEO Bob Iger sells classic Fifth Avenue pad for $18.75M [CurbedNY] • Isaac Kassirer and Harbor Group are selling 15 Bronx buildings for $65M [RealDeal]

STARTUP NATION: “SAP, Comcast Back Israeli Data Protection Startup BigID” by Meir Orbach: “Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Tel Aviv with additional offices in New York, BigID develops and markets a data protection product that uses machine learning and identity intelligence technologies to track and guard enterprise customer and employee data… In a statement, BigID said it will use the funding to recruit additional engineers in Israel and to expand its global sales and marketing operations.” [Calcalist]

HOLLYWOOD: “Warner Bros’ Shed Media Takes U.S. Rights To Israeli Format ‘Back To Life’” by Peter White: “Shed Media, a division of Warner Bros. Unscripted and Alternative Media, run by General Manager Pam Healey has optioned the U.S. rights to the format, which launches on Israel’s Channel 10 in February. Back To Life, which has already been sold into Germany, Italy and Poland, is a docu-reality series that follows the stories of patients and families in a race against time as they wait for a lifesaving organ donation. Each episode will tell the story as well as their donor and follow the pair on the emotional journey to good health.” [Deadline]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Big Changes Are Reshaping Jerusalem” by Gwen Ackerman and Fadwa Hodali: “The number of employed east Jerusalem Arabs is rising, salary gaps with the city’s Jewish population are narrowing, more are learning Hebrew—6,000 currently study the language in classes—and registration at higher education institutions in the western sector is up. City Hall has established an employment center in east Jerusalem and plans a second one. There are even growing applications for citizenship, said Ben Avrahami, the mayor’s adviser for east Jerusalem affairs…” [Bloomberg

“Western Wall rabbi apologizes for gender segregation during Pence visit but says rules won’t change” by Ruth Eglash: “Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, chairman of the ultra-Orthodox Western Wall Heritage Foundation that runs the sacred site, indicated in a statement to The Washington Post that the situation would not change. “The plaza is a place of prayer and a synagogue, separation between men and women will remain for every type of event,” the rabbi said… Rabinovitch did say, however, that efforts would be made to improve press coverage for future events but “without compromising the sanctity of the site and its customs.” [WashPost]

TOP-OP: “The Slut-Shaming of Nikki Haley” by Bari Weiss: “In the Trump era, the left has smartly and justifiably seized a moral high ground that the right has abandoned by its embrace of the president. That’s a high ground the left cannot hold if it embraces subtle double standards that it would never accept for a moment if the woman in question was a Kirsten Gillibrand or a Kamala Harris. When Matt Lauer subjected Hillary Clinton to a harsh interview, within 24 hours it was common knowledge that it was evidence of misogyny. But when Nikki Haley is smeared with the most base, sexist lie, it’s met with little more than a collective shrug.” [NYTimes

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg interviewed Noah Feldman, author of “The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President.” Sandberg notes Madison was also “partner to Dolley Madison, one of America’s most fascinating first ladies – and truly a woman ahead of her time.” [Video]

“Cohen, cantor, choir win Grammy for best rock performance” by Bill Brownstein: “Of course, the late Leonard Cohen, Montreal cantor Gideon Zelermyer and the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue choir would win the Grammy Award Sunday for Best Rock Performance for their collaboration on You Want It Darker, the first track on Cohen’s 14th and final album… Zelermyer… was left nearly speechless after hearing the announcement in a ceremony prior to the main 60th annual Grammy Awards presentation at New York’s Madison Square Garden. “This is just so surreal,” Zelermyer said. “A Grammy Award — that is beyond my wildest dreams. I just let out a scream when I heard it announced. I hadn’t been this nervous since my Bar Mitzvah.” [MontrealGazette]

REMEMBERING: “Arno Motulsky, a Founder of Medical Genetics, Dies at 94” by Denise Grady: “Dr. Motulsky’s path to prominence began in harrowing fashion. He had been one of more than 900 Jewish refugees aboard the German liner St. Louis, which reached the Miami coast in 1939 but was turned away by the United States and sent back to Europe. He then spent a year in internment camps in France, where many prisoners died from starvation or typhoid, before finally reaching the United States in 1941.” [NYTimes

PIC OF THE DAY — Tevi Troy was back at the White House yesterday: “Awaiting the swearing in of new HHS Secretary Alex Azar [Pic

Troy emails us… “It was old home week at the White House as Team Alex — the group of health experts, most of whom worked for George W Bush, who helped Alex Azar prepare for his confirmation — gathered in the Roosevelt Room, along with Azar‘s family, for his swearing in to be the 24th Secretary of Health and Human Services. President Trump came in and gave remarks and Vice President Pence – who knows Alex well from Indiana — did the swearing in, followed by brief remarks from now Secretary Azar. Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, who knows Sec Azar from their time at Dartmouth, was there as well, and elated by his success. When the ceremony was finished, Sec Azar came and thanked the team, posed for a picture, and said, “Let’s get to work.””

INBOX — “Joey Allaham Spearheads Allaham Consultancy to Offer a One-Stop Solution with Unique Real Estate Spaces and Long-Term Profitability” [DigitalJournal

DESSERT — The Dish: Israeli chef Michael Solomonov: “Israeli chef Michael Solomonov is a master of Middle Eastern cuisine. His Philadelphia restaurant Zahav has become a must-visit venue for food lovers and last year earned Solomonov a James Beard award for outstanding chef. He also won the 2016 awards for both cookbook of the year and best international cookbook. Here are some of Solomonov’s signature recipes…” [CBSNews]

SPORTS BLINK: “Owner Zygi Wilf vows Vikings will ‘get to the Lombardi’ soon” by Courtney Cronin: “Eight days removed from Minnesota’s 38-7 loss in the NFC Championship Game, the Wilfs are beginning to move past what could have been after the Vikings came up short of their goal of being the first team to both host and play in the Super Bowl in the same season. Minnesota is early in the reflection period, according to co-owner Mark Wilf, who did little to dwell on the “amazing experience” it would have been to have his family’s team take center stage in Minneapolis and the surrounding area this week. “We’ve been in the business for 13 years and we have our ups and downs,” Zygi Wilf said.” [ESPN]

BIRTHDAYS: Chairman of The Cordish Companies, a Baltimore-based international development firm specializing in casinos, urban revitalization projects and entertainment districts, David S. Cordish turns 78… Republican member of the US House of Representatives from eastern Long Island, NY since 2015, Lee Zeldin turns 38… Theatrical producer and director, winner of 21 Tony Awards, more than other person, Harold Prince turns 90… Teacher and national community leader, holder of a Ph.D. in modern Jewish history from New York University, Judith Friedman Rosen turns 66… Heather Grafturns 64… Philadelphia area psychologist, Dr. Rachel Ginzberg turns 60 (h/t Daniel Lippman)… Assistant Professor in the electrical engineering department at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Guy Gilboa turns 47… Senior director for Middle East affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Joshua M. Kram turns 39… White House correspondent for CBS Radio News, Steven Portnoy turns 37… Max Delahanty turns 29… Jared Isenstein turns 26… Eli Langer… Alexa Smith… Gisele Rogers

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Leslie Wexner’s Limited Brands deal in line with new Ohio State apparel contract

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Scarlet and Gray has gone Pink. The recent release of a Victoria’s Secret Pink Ohio State collection has raised questions of how the new Buckeye line fits in…

Wilf brothers work quietly behind the scenes to help Vikings turn things around

Thursday, January 3, 2013

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – For Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf, leadership isn’t about doing interviews about the state of the organization. It’s about placing a symbolic…