Daily Kickoff: Trump admin quietly rushes to fund Palestinian programs before Taylor Force Act is enacted | Watch Conan in Israel | Shana Tova!

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Ed note: With Rosh Hashanah beginning this evening, we would like to wish all JI readers a happy, healthy and wonderful New Year! We’ll be back next week. 

JI EXCLUSIVE: Trump administration quietly transfers $20M to Palestinian programs — by Aaron Magid: The Trump administration has quietly directed an additional $20 million towards projects that would ‘directly benefit’ the Palestinian Authority, three Capitol Hill sources told Jewish Insider. “It means that the Trump administration is trying to get money out of the door before Taylor Force (Act) goes into effect,” a Congressional aide explained. In August, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson withheld $30 million of economic aid from Egypt, citing Cairo’s harsh restrictions on human rights organizations. Congressional staffers asked the administration about the reprogramming of this funding and were told that $20 million of the sum would be spent on West Bank and Gaza programs that would “directly benefit” the P.A. [JewishInsider]

2024 WATCH — Haley passes ‘Shana Tova’ test: Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, US Ambassador Nikki Haley and ambassadors from other countries participated in a Shana Tova video produced by Israel’s mission. “Happy New Year to all of our friends, whether it’s in the United States, Israel or around the globe. Shana Tova. We wish you all the best, in health, happiness and peace. God bless,” Ambassador Haley said in her video message. [Video]

Vice President Mike Pence on the Jewish High Holy Days: “The most important word during this most important period of the Jewish year is “Teshuvah,” or Repentance. Teshuva tells us we can change. It tells us that what we have been until this moment need not limit what we can become from this moment. It says we can be better tomorrow than we were today, and that in the affairs of humankind, nothing is fixed. Of all the manifold gifts bestowed upon us by the Almighty, is there any gift greater than the power He gave us to change?”

DRIVING THE DAY: “As the Clintons Step Back From Global Stage, Bloomberg Steps Up” by Shane Goldmacher: “[Mike] Bloomberg [is hosting] a reorganized and rebranded Bloomberg Global Business Forum at the Plaza Hotel, drawing a high-powered crowd and speakers from Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, to President Emmanuel Macron of France. In a symbolic passing of the guard, [Bill] Clinton [was] the first speaker on the day’s agenda almost exactly a year after he urged attendees “you have to keep this alive” in a farewell address at the last Clinton Global Initiative. “He doesn’t just happen to be the first speaker,” said Kevin Sheekey, one of Mr. Bloomberg’s top advisers…. “There is a bit of a handoff.” The speaker and panelist list is impressive and wide-ranging.” [NYTimes• Watch the livestream[Bloomberg]

“The US Government In Exile Has A New President” by Ben Smith: “The former New York mayor is inheriting not a conference, but a platform for an alternative American diplomacy… “Nations are bound together by trade and investment, and while chief executives are not diplomats, they can be voices for cooperation on issues where the private sector can be constructive — from infrastructure to climate change,” [Bloomberg] said in an emailed comment Tuesday. “Actions taken by the private sector, while not replacing official diplomatic channels, can often carry more weight than words spoken (or tweeted) by public officials.” … Bloomberg’s new stage is a sign that on the issues on which he’s already begun to dog Trump — climate change, in particular — the former mayor is likely just getting started.” [BuzzFeed

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Anxious world lobbies Trump on Iran nuclear deal” by Nahal Toosi: “Former aides to President Barack Obama are growing increasingly worried that Trump will reject the advice of some of this top advisers and declare Tehran in violation of the agreement… That would open the door Congress to reimpose sanctions that many experts say could provoke Iran to restart its nuclear program… “We have an unmoored flame-thrower in the Oval Office who acts more out of spite and reprisal than principle,” said Ned Price, a former Obama National Security Council spokesman who helped make the official case for the nuclear deal… Arab countries hostile to Iran have mostly been quiet on the subject… “It’s not high on our list” of things to discuss with the administration, one Arab official said…”

“Trump has at least one prominent defender: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… “That’s why Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it,” Netanyahu said. Caught between competing arguments, some analysts think Trump might look once again to his favorite foil: Obama. “It’s his own internal logic chain,” said Aaron David Miller… “It all starts from his prime directive, which is to dismantle everything that his predecessor has done.” [Politico

“Netanyahu pitches his UN address to one man: Donald Trump” by Nicole Gaouette: “Netanyahu “had an audience of one,” said David Makovsky, a distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “He sees a chance to somehow either jettison the agreement or more vigorously enforce it. And that could be where they end up.”” [CNN

TRUMP TAKES NOTE: “With Combative Style and Epithets, Trump Takes America First to the U.N.” by Peter Baker and Rick Gladstone: “The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Mr. Trump said. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it, believe me.” The tough words cheered the delegation from Israel, whose prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, applauded from the gallery and called it the boldest speech he had heard at the United Nations in 30 years. In his own address later, he said Mr. Trump had “rightly called the nuclear deal with Iran an embarrassment” and pointed to North Korea as an example.” [NYTimes Twitter Trump and Teleprompter Trump merge on global stage [Politico]

Ben Rhodes‏: “Trump threatened to kill 25 million people and 10s of thousands of Americans at UN. Mooch and Spicey are interesting stars! Bibi loves it!” [Twitter]

Closing ranks with Israel, Tillerson takes aim at ‘sunset clause’ in nuclear deal: “If we’re going to stick with the Iran deal there has to be changes made to it. The sunset provisions simply is not a sensible way forward,” Tillerson said [on Fox News]. “It’s just simply … kicking the can down the road again for someone in the future to have to deal with.” [YnetFoxNews]

“GOP foreign affairs chair Ed Royce: US should stay in Iran deal, ‘enforce the hell out of’ it” by Eli Watkins: “I think we should enforce the hell out of the agreement and thereby force compliance on the part of Iran,” Royce, a California Republican, said in an interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” … Royce said he believed Iran was “violating the spirit of the agreement,” but he said the lifting of sanctions under the Iran deal meant the US lost a considerable amount of leverage that went directly to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. “They now have this money,” Royce said. “And so in a way, the toothpaste is out of the tube.” [CNN]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Chris Christie at the UANI summit at The Roosevelt: “I would be very surprised if he does not decertify the JCPOA… I am just telling you that I know the guy for the last 15 years and if I had to guess, that’s my guess of what’s going to happen – because of what I’ve heard him say during the campaign and what I think he believes philosophically, which is: a bad deal is worse than no deal.”

Jeb Bush at a panel with former Governor Bill Richardson: “I think once in awhile, the chaotic nature of the President is helpful… North Korea is a rogue nation, Iran is a rogue nation… These are regimes that need to be called out, and President Trump is pretty good at it. But what’s lacking, perhaps, is a consistent, coherent policy to back that up.”

Richardson: “If Iran is complying… I think we should retain that… Side agreements are still worth doing. But if we pull out, we are not going to get nothing.”

Richardson on the U.S -Israel relationship: “One thing I do like about the president’s policy – it seems that our relationship with Israel is back on track. That’s fundamental. Although, Prime Minister Netanyahu — I have always liked him, but there he goes and endorses an issue important to me – that I don’t like – and that’s the wall with Mexico. Why is he endorsing the wall with Mexico because he wants to please Trump? I want Prime Minister Netanyahu to know there is a Democratic Party in the U.S. that should not be ignored.”

Jeb jokes: “Does he want Mexico to pay for it, Governor?”

HOW IT PLAYED: “New York crowd gets glimpse of President Jeb(!)” by Katie Glueck: “A bespectacled Bush… was relaxed and genial during much of his appearance… He showed up to assess the Trump administration’s foreign policy so far… “Generally, in the post-World War II era, there’s been a broader [foreign policy] consensus,” he said. “I think President Trump, with his foreign policy team intact, is moving in that direction. I may be wrong, his impulses contradict that from time to time, but I can tell all the people analyzing the tweets…I would follow more what we’re doing rather than what he says.” On the campaign trail, Bush once plaintively encouraged an audience to “please clap.” And in response to that assessment of the current president, there came a smattering of applause.” [McCaltchyDC] • Donald Trump wasn’t the only politician who gave a foreign policy speech today[TampaBayTimes]

HEARD TODAY — Trump ahead of meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas: “Israel is working very hard toward the same goal… So we will see if we can put it together. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. But I think we have a good chance (for peace).” [Video

DRIVING THE CONVO: “Muzin’s work for Qatar raises eyebrows” by Theodoric Meyer: “The relatively small world of Jewish Republicans in Washington hasn’t been able to stop talking about Nick Muzin… Muzin’s decision to work for Qatar was the talk of Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s Rosh Hashanah party last week, according to three sources present, as well as the Republican Jewish Coalition’s meeting in Washington the next day. “His name was on everybody’s lips,” one source said. “Everybody was talking about it.” — There were “three main areas of puzzlement about Muzin” at the Dermer party, according to another attendee: Why “he would work for a client as grotesque as Qatar”; how he intended to sell Jewish leaders on meeting with Qatar, which has been accused of funding the Palestinian group Hamas; and why he wasn’t getting paid more for such controversial work.” [Politico

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington is organizing a protest outside the Qatari embassy in Washington, DC next Thursday to “demand the Qatari government use its influence over the terrorist group Hamas to unconditionally and immediately return the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul.”

“Trump Warned Saudis Off Military Move on Qatar” by Jennifer Jacobs: “Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates considered military action in the early stages of their ongoing dispute with Qatar before Donald Trump called leaders of both countries and warned them to back off… Trump, who initially sided with the Saudi-led bloc, had a change of heart because of evidence that a prolonged dispute with Qatar will serve as an advantage to Iran… Trump met with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday… Trump confronted the Qatari leader with what one U.S. official said is evidence that Qatar is still engaged in terrorism-related activity and told him it has to stop.” [Bloomberg]

ON THE HILL — Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), and James Lankford (R-OK) yesterday introduced the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, which would make houses of worship eligible for FEMA Public Assistance program grants. Under the Stafford Act, houses of worship are ineligible for FEMA grants for the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of private nonprofit facilities. “Religious non-profit organizations, including churches, synagogues… and community centers should not be excluded from federal disaster assistance just because they are faith-based,” Cruz said in a statement.

“Bernie Sanders, Jewish Senate Colleagues Blast Netanyahu for Blocking Equality Among Israeli Jews” by Judy Maltz and Amir Tibon: “The seven Democratic senators are Ron Wyden (Oregon), Ben Cardin (Maryland), Dianne Feinstein (California), Al Franken (Minnesota), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut) and Sanders (Vermont). “We fear actions like the conversion bill and the suspension of the Kotel agreement will strain the unique relationship between our two nations, particularly if the majority of American Jews see the movements to which they are committed denied equal rights in Israel,” the senators wrote. “Given all the challenges Israel faces on the international state, we urge you not to alienate committed Zionists.”” [Haaretz]

“Ellison compares illegal immigrants to Jews fleeing Nazi Germany” by Josh Delk: “Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is comparing giving sanctuary to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to giving shelter to Jews fleeing the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. “And if you ask yourself ‘What would I do if I was a gentile in 1941, if my Jewish neighbors were under attack by the Nazis? Would I give them sanctuary?'” Ellison said Monday in comments on President Trump’s move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.”[TheHill]

Ambassador David Friedman on Charlottesville: “I’m not saying there’s no anti-Semitism, but nothing close to what has been in the news lately. I haven’t studied it, but from my own experience, the hard-core anti-Semites that you see on television, the real ugly ones, are a tiny tiny tiny minority of the U.S. population… Anti-Semitism from the right – neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan – that’s ugly, it’s unacceptable, and almost everyone who sees it immediately recoils from it. They say it’s horrible. Anti-Semitism from the left has been cleverly repackaged as anti-Israelism. That’s something that you can discuss at a cocktail party in Manhattan or Beverly Hills and no one will throw you out of the room. You can talk about how Israel is becoming an apartheid state and how Israel shouldn’t really exist, and it is much more acceptable because at first it doesn’t sound like the Ku Klux Klan, it sounds like an intellectual argument.” [IsraelHayom]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Michael Wright Exiting As Amblin Partners CEO; Steven Spielberg Takes Reins [Deadline] • Sony Pictures Classics Buys ‘Foxtrot,’ Israel’s Ophir Winner and Oscar Entry [IndieWire] • Bond King Bill Gross Falls to the Middle of the Pack [Bloomberg• Adelson, Wynn make Forbes list of top business minds [ReviewJournalForbes] • Billionaire Warren Buffett sings a duet with Stevie Wonder at star-studded Forbes 100th anniversary [DailyMail] • NYPost: Jann Wenner really blew it with Rolling Stone [NYPost]

LISTS, LISTS, LISTS — JPost announces “50 Influential Jews Of 2017.” Jared and Ivanka are 1, Gal Gadot at 2, and Israeli PM Netanyahu at 3. Interesting pick: Disney CEO Bob Iger at 9. [JPost] • The Algemeiner’s Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life [Algemeiner]

STARTUP NATION: “Augmedics is building augmented reality glasses for spinal surgery” by Romain Dillet: “Meet Augmedics, an Israeli startup working on augmented reality headsets for surgeons performing spinal surgery. Instead of making you look away from your patient, the device acts as a heads up display and gives you greatly enhanced perception.” [TechCrunch]

“A D.C. rabbi enlists some comic book collaborators for a blessed project” by John Kelly: “Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld… knew exactly where to turn: Brian [Ash], a classmate from his Yeshiva high school in the Bronx who used to sit at the back of class drawing caricatures of rabbis. Brian brought in Yehudi [Mercado] and the trio perfected the game… The game is called AlefBlessed… The back of each card contains textual references to the blessing in question. Ohev Sholom gives packs of the cards to its young members and sells them online. “When I printed 50,000, everybody looked at me like I was crazy,” Herzfeld said. “We’re almost out of them. I’m getting calls from rabbis around the world: ‘Please ship me some AlefBlessed cards.’ I’ve been contacted by two Judaica distributors who want to sell it.”” [WashPost]

Conan Meets With Refugees, Chats With Gal Gadot in Israel Special: “Speaking to some pedestrians, the host asks what the Israeli attitude is towards President Trump. “It’s a good show for us,” one of them replies. “Did you know that the president’s son-in-law is working very hard on making a peace plan [for the Middle East]. Jared Kushner has been studying very hard on the issue of Middle East peace,” O’Brien explained to the group, before pulling out a copy of the book Middle East Peace for Dummies and proclaiming that Kushner “read two pages and got confused and went home.” … At one point, O’Brien says that [Gal] Gadot is “the whole reason” he came to Israel, before excitedly knocking on the star’s door. Although he can’t contain his enthusiasm, Gadot seems less interested.” [THR Conan O’Brien’s Trip To Israel Was Hilarious — And Heartbreaking [HuffPost

“Evangelical Christians Head to Jerusalem to Rally Behind Israel” by Jonathan Ferziger: “Thousands will pour in from more than 80 countries to the streets of Jerusalem in early October for an annual march celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Jewish festival of Sukkot… “After the elections, being pro-Israel became a part of the establishment, rather than part of the opposition,” said Rabbi Tuly Weisz… “I do believe that this year’s increase in tourism and overall growth in charitable giving can be partially attributed to the fact that the Trump administration is seen to be extremely pro-Israel.” Although some fundraisers haven’t seen a Trump-related uptick in donations, Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, saw the U.S. president’s May visit as a peerless opportunity to recruit Christian support.”[Bloomberg]

“You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Celebrate Rosh Hashana” by Bari Weiss: “The morning of Jan. 1 is when the counting of calories recommences: We join Weight Watchers; we splurge on gym memberships. Rosh Hashana requires a deeper kind of counting. That process is called “heshbon hanefesh,” literally an “accounting of the soul.” The stocktaking requires serious reflection on the past year… The remembering is not just a private act: We are required to ask for forgiveness for those we have hurt during the past year. Some rely on mass emails, but we are meant to be as specific as possible, to make the apologies personal and precise. It’s like the ninth step of A.A. But every year.” [NYTimes]

“As building booms in Chelsea area, rabbis hope for Jewish renaissance” by Laura Crimaldi: “Walking in Chelsea’s waterfront one day, [Rabbi Sruli] Baron said an older man in a car pulled up beside him, slammed on the brakes, and rolled down the window. “What’s your name? What are you doing here?” the man asked. “I can’t remember the last time I saw an Orthodox Jew walking around Chelsea.” That history, Baron said, holds great promise for the Jewish community’s future in the area. “It’s just fascinating to imagine that so much Jewish life was here,” he said. “The history allows us to envision in real, practical ways the rich future that the community could have.””[BostonGlobe]

BIRTHDAYS: After a 40 year career at the New York Times, he founded The Hill and then helped launch Politico, journalist and author Martin Tolchinturns 89… Florida real estate developer who acquired 785 acres of mostly swamp land in South Florida for $6 million in 1967 and converted it to Aventura and Turnberry Isle Resort, Donald Soffer turns 85… Author, television personality and philanthropist, she is the widow of Aaron Spelling, Carole Gene “Candy” Spelling turns 72… Long-time SVP at Booz-Allen after a career than included two White House staff positions, former CEO of Special Olympics International, Bruce Pasternack turns 70… Engineer, inventor, philanthropist, co-founder of Broadcom and owner of the Anaheim Ducks, Henry Samueli turns 63… Rabbi of Congregation Beit Torat Chaim of Jakarta, Indonesia and the founder and director of Outreach Judaism, a counter-missionary organization, Rabbi Tovia Singer turns 57…

Civil rights attorney, author and legal analyst on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News and MSNBC, Lisa Bloom turns 56… Founder of PFAP Consulting, Melissa Jane Kronfeld, Ph.D. turns 35… National security, homeland security and foreign policy advisor to Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), James Mazol turns 31… Associate director of the Middle East Program at the DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, previously a political assistant at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Emily Grunewald turns 30… MBA candidate at Columbia Business School, she was a summer associate at New Enterprise Associates during 2017, Alison Bogdonoff turns 28… OneTable’s Zoe Plotsky turns 25… Manhattan resident, Isabel Tsesarsky turns 23… Bloomberg LP’s legal reporter, Drew Singer… Membership manager of the Sacramento-based California Solar Energy Industries Association, Carter Lavin (h/t Playbook)… Lauren Ackerman

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Daily Kickoff: Trump talks peace, Bibi focused on Iran | Meet Obama’s go-to speechwriter for kishke speeches | Dicey future for jarred gefilte fish

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OUT TODAY — “Thanks, Obama. My Hopey, Changey White House Years” by former White House speechwriter David Litt: In advance of the book’s publication, we conducted an iMessage interview with David late last night. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

JI: In the book, you write “if something kishke-related came up (at the White House), I was the go-to guy.” How did you become that guy?

Litt: In 2011, President Obama delivered a speech at the Union of Reform Judaism’s annual meeting. I had this moment where I was like “As a kid, I did eight years of Hebrew school and never knew why. This is why!” After that speech if something was going to be delivered to the American Jewish community, I generally handled it.

JI: How was teaching Hebrew to the President?

Litt: It was great, except for the hard ‘CH’ sounds. Those didn’t go so well. People could be pretty hard on him if he didn’t get a “Chag Sameach” right, but I write in the book about how he gave it plenty of tries. And it’s not like he grew up with that sound. As we all know, it’s a tough one!

JI: In 2012, you were in the storm path of one Harvey Weinstein. How did that happen? 

Litt: Maybe it’s best to let people read the whole story in the book!

JI: You mention your great-grandparents from Eastern Europe several times in the book. If they were still with us, what do you think they would be most surprised to read?

Litt: Honestly, I think they’d be stunned that I ended up in the White House just a few generations after they arrived here with almost nothing, in many cases not even speaking English. That’s such a typical American story, but we shouldn’t lose sight of how remarkable that typical-ness is. And I like to think they’d understand that in it’s own way, the fact that I got serve under America’s first black president is part of that story too. This is a country that at its best is always expanding its definition of what’s possible, and my family got to be part of that.

JI: Not to spoil the ending to a chapter about the legendary Correspondents’ Dinner speeches, but what did you have to tell the President after he asked what happened to using a photoshopped picture he liked of him and Bibi Netanyahu in 2013?

Litt: “I’m sorry, Mr. President, we just couldn’t use that picture. You kind of looked like Hitler in it.” Like you said, it’s a long story. $18.29 for the hardcover. Available now [Amazon]

“Ivanka Trump talks Hillary’s book on ‘Dr. Oz’” by Maggie Coughlan: “The first daughter sat down with Dr. Oz for an interview about her life in Washington, D.C., but surprised the audience when she commented on Hillary Clinton‘s newly released book… Ivanka said she’d be curious to know what Hillary, 69, would do when she disagreed with husband Bill while he was president. During the interview, Ivanka, 35, also revealed that she suffered from postpartum depression following the birth of her first child, Arabella… “The highlight of the show was when Ivanka joked about taking over her father’s Twitter account.”” [PageSix]

TODAY AT 10:30 AM: President Trump delivers his much-anticipated address at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will attend the President’s speech. Netanyahu is expected to speak around 1:00 PM. Trump will be in the UN building, meeting with the UN Secretary-General, during Bibi’s speech. [Livestream]

“Egypt’s Sisi meets Israeli PM at UN for first public talks” by Emmanuel Parisse: “Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu publicly for the first time in New York to discuss Middle East peace… Sisi emphasized the importance of “resuming negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides to reach a comprehensive solution,” the [Egyptian] presidency said. The two leaders discussed “ways to resume the peace process and establish a Palestinian state,” it said.” [YahooHaaretz

BIBI MEETS TRUMP: Trump met with Netanyahu for over an hour yesterday at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel. Ahead of the meeting, Trump that there’s a “good chance” for Middle East peace. “It’d be a fantastic achievement. We are giving it an absolute go.” Netanyahu said, “I want to say that under your leadership the alliance between America and Israel has never been stronger, never been deeper… “I want to say, that under President Trump, America’s position towards Israel and the U.N. has been unequivocal. It’s been strong.” [Video]

HOW IT PLAYED: “Trump at U.N. Talks Up, but Does Not Press, Mideast Peace” by Mark Landler: “While Mr. Trump has clung to the hope for peace… he has put much more time into cementing alliances with the Sunni Muslim kingdoms of the Persian Gulf, as a way of confronting Iran… “Middle East peace is desirable because it’s the mother of all diplomatic deals,” said Robert M. Danin, a senior fellow… at the Council on Foreign Relations. “But the conflict that’s taking place in the Gulf is harming U.S. interests in a more immediate sense.” … The allure of a history-making peace accord is still strong, as Mr. Trump’s remarks with Mr. Netanyahu illustrated. While the Israeli leader kept his focus on “the terrible nuclear deal with Iran,” Mr. Trump spoke expansively about a peace agreement as though it was a genuine possibility, somewhat to the Israelis’ surprise.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Netanyahu said that he “shares the desire to reach peace with the Palestinians, but I insist on those vital interests – the goal is peace, security, security and peace. There will be no peace if we cannot anchor the security of the State of Israel.” Despite the fact that the peace process was the only topic mentioned by the President during the photo op, Israeli and US officials told Kafe Knesset that the issue took second place during the meeting, which was mostly dedicated to Bibi’s favorite topic – Iran. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Mea Culpa: I Said Trump and Bibi Would Blow Up” by Aaron David Miller: “A year or so ago in this space… I predicted that it would be only a matter of time before U.S. President Donald Trump and… Netanyahu would be annoying the hell out of one another… Even I’m a little stunned by how the relationship has blossomed seemingly without serious disruption and complication… Trump may be unpredictable on many issues, but when it comes to the U.S.-Israeli relationship he’s been preternaturally and consistently pro-Netanyahu.” [FP]

BRIEFING: “The President and Prime Minister Netanyahu had a very good meeting,” State Department Director of Policy Planning Brian Hook told reporters at a briefing yesterday. The President reaffirmed America’s unshakable bond with the Jewish state.” The two leaders, according to Hook, discussed “at length” countering Iran’s malign influence in the region, not allowing the “Lebanization” of Syria, and the Middle East peace process.

Hook told JI’s Jacob Kornbluh that the peace process didn’t take up much time in the meeting: “I didn’t keep a stopwatch, in terms of just how long everybody discussed each subject. As I said, they spent a lot of time talking about Iran and about Syria — Middle East peace. I would say it was an equitable distribution of topics. I think each was given the time necessary needed to kind of give it full justice. So, it was a very good discussion. But these discussions are so regular, it wasn’t a lot of time that had elapsed because the trip that Jared and his team recently made was only a few weeks ago. We’re in regular discussions with the Israelis.”

Hook on the two-state solution: “What the President has been talking about in the context of Middle East peace is trying to avoid bumper stickers and slogans around this. He does not want to impose a solution. And what he’s really trying to do is work as a facilitator to find a solution that both sides can accept. Ambassador [David] Friedman has talked about it in terms of a win-win for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. He does want to take a new approach.”

‘Ridiculous’ if Trump doesn’t back two-state solution: Palestinian official: “It would be utterly ridiculous if Mr Trump doesn’t eventually say that,” Nabil Shaath, a senior Abbas adviser, told journalists in Ramallah when asked about the two-state solution. “What the hell are we negotiating? We are negotiating a diplomatic accord between Abu Mazen and Mr Netanyahu where they can meet each other? No.” [YahooNews] • More Palestinians Seek Abbas Resignation; Skeptical of Trump [AP]

WHAT NETANYAHU WANTS TO TALK ABOUT — Netanyahu at a briefing for Israeli reporters: “The American establishment has changed its approach toward Iran. We’re in agreement with the Americans that this agreement is terrible. There’s a clear American interest, which was conveyed to me explicitly, about the desire to fix the problems in the agreement… I said in the past that the biggest problem I see isn’t if Iran violates the agreement, but if it upholds it… The president’s starting point regarding Iran is identical to ours. That wasn’t the case in the previous administration. Like us, this president sees Iran as the root of the Middle East’s problems.” [Haaretz

ON THE HILL — JI’s Aaron Magid asked Senators yesterday what they’d advise the administration to do on October 15th, the next certification deadline for the Iran deal.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): “I would support the administration on decertifying Iran from adherence to nuclear deal. He (the President) can lead on that particular issue, which is fine with me.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): “I think as they (Iran) are adhering to the nuclear agreement, we should stay in the agreement and not change it. All of the reports have said so. The Trump administration has certified that they (Iran) have been.”

HAPPENING TODAY — United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) will host its second annual Iran Summit at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. Speakers include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, General (Ret) David Petraeus, HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, Joe Lieberman, John Bolton, Dennis Ross, former Governors Jeb Bush and Bill Richardson; Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Ron DeSantis, former Congressman Steve Israel, former Senator Mark Kirk, and former Attorney General of Canada Dr. Irwin Cotler.

HEARD YESTERDAY — Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt called on the Palestinian Authority to reassert control over Gaza in an address before donor nations to the Palestinians. “The time has come to stop monitoring the situation in Gaza and start changing the situation in Gaza,” Greenblatt said, according to a transcript released by the White House. The New York attorney slammed Hamas for its abusive treatment of Palestinian people since its 2007 coup over Gaza. “For too long, Hamas has exploited the people of Gaza as hostages and shields, bullying them into submission. Hamas rules by the fist, instead of by improving the lives of the people it purports to govern,” he added.

While the Trump administration is now supporting the Taylor Force Act, which would cut off all US economic aid to the PA for terror payments, Greenblatt urged donor countries to help the PA during its current economic struggles. “The PA is still dependent on international donors and is unable to afford important services which Israel is willing to provide – so I encourage all of us to work with the parties, in a coordinated manner, to reduce fiscal losses and ensure that the Palestinian Authority collects the taxes it is owed,” he explained.

“The Hubris of Hezbollah: How the militant group will fumble into the next Middle Eastern war” by Andrew Exum: “Israel knows it cannot intercept each and every shipment of arms. Sometimes the weather is too poor, or the intelligence too fuzzy, to act. And now Hezbollah is reportedly developing indigenous arms-making capabilities that will render cross-border shipments of advanced weaponry less necessary. So, for nearly two years now, Israeli military and intelligence officials have been warning every American official who comes through Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that the next war is coming. Israel has methodically prepared its allies—and most especially the Americans— for a very, very ugly war on the horizon… Hezbollah has grossly underestimated Israel, a mistake that will prove costly. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of Israelis could die in another conflict, but Israel isn’t going anywhere. This is existential for them. It will be the Lebanese who suffer immeasurably more.”[TheAtlantic]

“Putin Seeks Syria Deal That Both Iran and Israel Can Swallow” by Anshel Pfeffer: “According to well-placed sources in Moscow, Putin is planning to propose a formula to Netanyahu whereby no foreign country will be allowed to turn Syria into a platform for attacking neighboring states. This won’t go as far as Netanyahu’s insistence that Iran be prevented from establishing a permanent presence in Syria. If enforced, though, it would prevent them from establishing air and missile bases there. Netanyahu is unlikely to accept such a formula in public, but he is unlikely to have much of a choice.” [Haaretz] • U.S. Establishes Permanent Military Base in Israel [RealClearDefense]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Kushner Cos. Acquires New Jersey Apartment Complex for $190 Million [Bloomberg] • Rubenstein Partners Sells 1000 Washington Street in Boston [BusinessInsider As ‘Diller Island’ Sinks, Whitney Plans Major Artwork on Hudson [NYTimes]

Exhibit Allows Virtual ‘Interviews’ With Holocaust Survivors: “An exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City called “New Dimensions in Testimony” uses hours of recorded high-definition video and language-recognition technology to create just that kind of “interview” with Eva Schloss, Anne Frank’s stepsister, and fellow survivor Pinchas Gutter. “What we’ve found is that it personalizes that history,” says concept designer Heather Smith. “You connect with that history in a different way than you would just seeing a movie or reading a textbook or hearing a lecture.” The project is a collaboration between the Steven Spielberg-founded Shoah Foundation, which has recorded nearly 52,000 interviews with Nazi-era survivors, and the Institute for Creative Technologies, both at the University of Southern California.” [AP]

“When Life Asks for Everything” by David Brooks: “Most religions and moral systems have aimed for self-quieting and, figuring that the great human problem is selfishness. But around the middle of the 20th century, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and others aimed to liberate and enlarge the self… Rabbi Wolfe Kelman’s life was fraught with every insecurity when he marched with Dr. King in Selma, but, he reported: “We felt connected, in song, to the transcendental, the ineffable. We felt triumph and celebration… That was a warming, transcendental spiritual experience. Meaning and purpose and mission were beyond exact words.”” [NYTimes]

“TV tonight: Seinfeld stand-up, Conan goes to Israel” by Kelly Lawler: Jerry Before Seinfeld Netflix: Jerry’s back. The comedian is debuting an intimate stand-up special on Netflix, the future home of his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series. The nostalgic special was filmed at The Comic Strip, the New York club that helped launched his career, and mixes new and archival material and even childhood videos… Conan Without Borders: Israel – TBS, 10 ET/PT: Conan O’Brien is on the move, again. The host of TBS’s Conan is taking his seventh international trip in the past two years, this time to Israel, where he visits Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other sites. The trip follows earlier sojourns to Mexico, South Korea and Cuba.” [USATodayNYT

DESSERT: “Treif No More at Franklin Barbecue: Aaron Franklin goes kosher for the day” by Daniel Vaughn: “Last week, under the burned out shell of Franklin’s now-fireless pit room, this barbecue brain trust gathered to cook a trio of kosher briskets, the likes of which had never been attempted at Franklin. The idea was hatched during a brisket competition in Brooklyn. Franklin and I were judges, and agreed with the five others on the panel to crown Sruli “Izzy” Eidelman the Brisket King of New York. His duo of smoked brisket and pastrami, both of them kosher, wowed the judges. He celebrated with his friend and fellow kosher barbecue cook, Ari White, who took 2016’s title. Eidelman felt especially proud that judges from Texas had crowned his barbecue.” [TexasMonthly]

WSJ A1: “‘I Still Have Nightmares.’ The Dicey Future of Jarred Gefilte Fish” by Lucette Lagnado: “Traditional jar fans haven’t gone away by any means, but times and tastes have changed. In an artisanal food world, Manischewitz is struggling to make its shelf-stable product hook a new, more-finicky generation of eaters. Among its more popular innovations are gluten-free gefilte fish and a “Premium Gold” version. A new secret variation is yet to come. The emphatic response from Jewish foodies? Don’t bother. “I ate gefilte fish from the jar as a child,” says Chanie Apfelbaum, a gourmet cook and kosher blogger from Brooklyn. “I still have nightmares.”” [WSJ]

SPOTTED: Mrs. Sara Netanyahu at Reserve Cut, a kosher steakhouse in NYC’s Financial District, last night. [Pic]

BIRTHDAYS: Entrepreneur and philanthropist, co-founder with his brothers of a large industrial parts and electronic component distribution firm, Morton Mandel turns 96… Actor, writer and Dean Emeritus of the Drama School at Pace University, James Lipton turns 91… Professor of Jewish history and literature at Yeshiva University, he is the only son of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Haym Soloveitchik turns 80… Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives since 2016, he was a professor of health management and policy at the University of New Hampshire, Jeffrey Colman Sallowayturns 76 (h/t Jeff Wice)… Professor at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law and director of the Innocence Project, he became famous as a member of O.J. Simpson’s defense team called the “Dream Team,” Barry Scheck turns 68… Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute, after a 28 year Pentagon career as a Middle East expert, Harold Rhode turns 68… Reporter for the Voice of America, following a long career as the Washington correspondent for the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Bruce Alpert turns 67… Stockton, California-based physician, he is Board certified in both sleep medicine and pulmonary medicine, he practices at The Pacific Sleep Disorders Center, Ronald Kass M.D. turns 65…

Reporter for The Wall Street Journal, she was born to a Jewish family in Cairo, Egypt, and wrote a prize-winning book about her childhood, Lucette Lagnadoturns 61… Attorney at the Boston-based law firm of Weston Patrick, Mark A. Chapleau turns 57… Bow tie-clad field reporter for “Major League Baseball on Fox” since 2005, sportswriter and reporter Ken Rosenthal turns 55… Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington since 2001, Ronald Halber turns 49… Author of four popular business books, former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Mike Michalowicz turns 47… Founder and CEO of MassChallenge (a startup accelerator), John Harthorne turns 44… Director of external relations at the DC-based bipartisan think tank, the Center for New American Security, Neal Urwitz turns 34 (h/t Playbook)…

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Daily Kickoff: Meetings on meetings on meetings at UNGA this week | Bibi, Ron Lauder make amends? | Jann Wenner puts Rolling Stone up for sale

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DRIVING THE DAY — President Trump will meet at 1:00pm today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan. According to Israeli officials, Netanyahu is expected to present “concrete ideas” for fixing or canceling the Iranian nuclear agreement in both his meeting with Trump and his speech at the UN General Assembly tomorrow.

“Iran: The one issue Netanyahu wants to discuss with Trump” by Oren Liebermann: “The conversation itself will be private, but Netanyahu has made it very clear what he wants to discuss: Iran.” [CNN]

— “A White House official told Israel Hayom… that the meeting… would “enhance the already strong and long-standing relationship between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu. It will touch on a variety of issues with a focus on Iran, and the president will reiterate the U.S.’s unwavering commitment to the State of Israel,” he went on to say… The issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace will also be addressed. The White House official told Israel Hayom that while the issue would not be the main focus of the bilateral meeting, efforts to achieve a peace deal were still underway.” [IsraelHayomNYTimes

SPOTTED YESTERDAY — Jared Kushner, Amb. David Friedman and Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt met with Netanyahu for 2 hours and 15 minutes at The London NYC [Pic] • An administration official described it as “just a casual hello meeting.”

WEST WING MINDMELD: While the White House is feeling optimistic about the Israeli-Palestinian peace conversations, they are lowering expectations for the United Nations General Assembly meetings this week telling folks not to expect a lot of news to be made on the peace front. “President Trump’s meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu is set to focus on Iran and his meeting with President Abbas on Wednesday is more of a check-in and relationship builder. The White House understands each party will have to publicly speak to their bases and constituencies around the UNGA. The peace conversations are ongoing on a separate track and the peace delegation has never seen UNGA as a big moment. Next steps will be shared at an appropriate time.”

KAFE KNESSET — Making Amends — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Netanyahu dedicated yesterday afternoon to patching up relations with Jewish leaders. First, he met with WJC president Ronald Lauder, marking the end of a lengthy silent treatment between these two. Lauder and Netanyahu used to be BFFs, but the relationship soured in recent years and even more in the past year. Lauder was questioned in Israel on one of Bibi’s criminal investigations and Lauder, who is also close to President Trump, has been pushing his peace dreams on the past year, much to Netanyahu’s chagrin. Kafe Knesset learned that Lauder recently flew out to Jordan to meet King Abdullah. According to a source close to Bibi, the meeting with Lauder was mostly about Jewish issues, meaning the suspended Kotel agreement and conversion bill, and was “positive and good.” Kafe Knesset is still seeking a fly on the wall to get all of the juicy details. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

Netanyahu also met for over an hour yesterday with eight prominent Jewish leaders including the Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein and Stephen Greenberg, AIPAC’s Howard Kohr and Lillian Pinkus, JFNA’s Michael Siegel and Richard Sandler, and AJC’s John Shapiro and Jason IsaacsonConsul General Dani Dayan was also spotted leaving after the meeting. “The conversation dealt with the Iranian issue — both the nuclear issue and Syria and what impact it has on Israel,” the PMO’s said in a readout. The leaders “asked the Prime Minister to clarify to US Jewry what he was doing to create a united prayer platform.” Hoenlein told us that the Prime Minister was very “forthcoming” in what he described as an “excellent” meeting. “The leaders came away with a better understanding of the issues,” Hoenlein added.[Video]

“Ahead of UN meeting, Abbas prepares united Arab position” by Uri Savir: “According to the PLO official, Abbas will come in a positive spirit to meet with Trump… The PLO official also said that Ramallah will coordinate its next steps with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The idea is for Abbas to arrive to his meeting with Trump with a united Arab position, hoping to link progress on the Palestinian issue with progress on the anti-radical Islam and Iran issues. According to the official, Abbas will propose to Trump that senior Palestinian negotiators be dispatched to Washington to meet periodically with US officials and possibly with Israeli officials, so as to set a process in motion.” [Al-Monitor]

Hamas Says Ready to Hand Gaza to a Palestinian Unity Government:“Hamas has agreed to dissolve the administration that runs Gaza, it said on Sunday, a major step towards handing control of the enclave to a Palestinian unity government after a decade of bitter rivalry with President Mahmoud Abbas.” [Reuters]

— “Senior US officials have raised the possibility of announcing the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem as a penalty if Abbas uses his UN speech to attack the Trump administration.” [Newsweek]

“How Trump could save Palestinian statehood” by Jackson Diehl: “[David] Makovsky proposes a simple trade-off: Netanyahu stops building in areas beyond the West Bank fence, and Abbas stops paying off militants and their families. Yes, Trump’s envoys already pitched that and so far got nowhere. “But the good news,” Makovsky says, “is that neither leader wants to say ‘no’ to Trump.” If the president aims in his New York meetings at pragmatic results, rather than “the ultimate deal,” he might do some real good.” [WashPost] • Aaron David Miller comments “Sensible on peace process. But as Baker said to Assad if frog could fly it wouldn’t drag its butt on ground”

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Trump, Nikki Haley to share U.S. spotlight at U.N. gathering” by Michelle Nichols: “Haley arrived at the 193-member world body in January pledging to “take names” of allies who did not have Washington’s back. Trump administration officials say the president, happy with her performance, views her as both tough and smart. He speaks regularly with Haley… A senior administration official… said that during a National Security Council meeting on Iran this month, Trump specifically asked Haley’s opinion about what strategy to pursue. “She gave her opinion, and he liked her point of view,” the official said… A senior Iranian official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “This lady for some reason is very angry with Iran.”” [Reuters] • When U.N. Envoy Nikki Haley Talks, Does President Trump Listen? [NYTimes]

“As UN meets, some ask, ‘Where’s Rex?’” by Nicole Gaouette: “”The perennial question will have to be asked again — where’s Rex?” said Aaron David Miller… who says he’s not a critic of Tillerson’s, but that he’s struck by “the strangeness of what’s occurring.” “If this were not a galaxy far, far away, if we were back on planet Earth, we would have the secretary of state leading on Arab-Israel issues, Iran, climate change and being the repository of responsibility for foreign policy,” Miller said… Trump “certainly hasn’t empowered the secretary of state as the primary repository of responsibility for foreign policy,” Miller said.” [CNN

“How Rex Tillerson alienated every ally he needs” by Jonathan Swan: “Eliot Cohen, who founded an influential foreign policy network with Tillerson’s top adviser Brian Hook, told me: “I think he really will go down as one of the worst secretaries of state we’ve had.”” [Axios]

“Criticized by Trump, Iran nuclear deal faces tough scrutiny in U.N. talks” by John Irish and Parisa Hafezi: “French President Emmanuel Macron… will warn [Trump] that weakening or scrapping the deal would not only add fuel to a regional powder keg but deter North Korea from negotiating on its nuclear program… Macron will meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani immediately after Trump to tell him that Tehran must play its role in not stoking American anger through its activities in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.” [Reuters] • Iran Accuses U.S. of Sabotaging Nuclear Deal Ahead of U.N. Talks[WSJ]

“IAEA Received Info About Suspected Iranian Sites but Didn’t Inspect Many of Them, Israel Says” by Barak Ravid: “The officials noted that almost all the suspected sites have not been visited by IAEA inspectors – either because of Iran’s refusal to grant entry or UN officials’ reluctance to confront Iran on the issue.” [Haaretz

HEARD YESTERDAY — National Security Advisor Gen. H. R. McMaster on Fox News Sunday“We know Iran has already violated parts of the agreement… The IAEA has identified and we’ve identified some of these breaches that Iran has then corrected. But what does that tell you about Iranian behavior? They’re not just walking up to the line on the agreement. They’re crossing the line at times. So, there has to be much more rigorous enforcement of the deal and we have to recognize the fundamental flaws in this deal. It is — as the president said — the worst deal.”

“As Persian Gulf crisis persists, alarm in Washington deepens” by Karen DeYoung: “Tillerson has gone out of his way to bolster Qatar, calling demands by the Saudi-led quartet unreasonable and signing a new memorandum of understanding on terrorism financing with Doha. But the administration has left itself little leverage with the other side, unless Trump is willing to sacrifice arms sales and other Saudi-U.S. business deals, or temper his own fulsome praise for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the principal Saudi partner in the fight against Qatar.” [WashPost]

ON THE HILL — Democrats still on the fence about Anti-Boycott Act — by Aaron Magid: Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) told Jewish Insider that he has not read yet the legislation, adding “I can’t lean one way or another until I read it.” Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) noted that he has yet to co-sponsor the bill. “I am going to continue to look at the bill. I have heard the concerns that people have and understand there is some efforts to have those concerns be addressed,” he explained. “I think that BDS and boycott tactics are ineffective and counterproductive.” Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) declined to elaborate about her view on the S.720 bill. Representative Joe Kennedy (D-MA) expressed caution about the legislation. “There are obviously free speech concerns and that is something that needs to be looked at. Any legislation that hasn’t begun committee process, there is always chances to try and improve that bill.” [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “Trump Lawyers Clash Over How Much to Cooperate With Russia Inquiry” by Peter Baker and Ken Vogel: “[Ty] Cobb was overheard by a reporter for The New York Times discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation at a popular Washington steakhouse. Mr. Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed “a McGahn spy” and saying [Donald] McGahn had “a couple documents locked in a safe” that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for “some of these earlier leaks,” and who he said “tried to push Jared out,” meaning Jared Kushner.” [NYTimes]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Obama Goes From White House to Wall Street in Less Than One Year [Bloomberg] • Stewart Butterfield’s Slack valued at $5bn after SoftBank joins fundraising [FT] • China signs $300m deal to buy lab-grown meat from Israel in move welcomed by vegans [Independent] • Is This Hotel an Airbnb Killer? Ian Schrager and his Public Hotel take on Airbnb with a property that boasts five bars but few unnecessary amenities [WSJ]

MEDIA WATCH: “Rolling Stone, Once a Counterculture Bible, Will Be Put Up for Sale” by Sydney Ember: “[Jann] Wenner had long tried to remain an independent publisher in a business favoring size and breadth. But he acknowledged in an interview last week that the magazine he had nurtured would face a difficult, uncertain future on its own. “I love my job, I enjoy it, I’ve enjoyed it for a long time,” said Mr. Wenner, 71. But letting go, he added, was “just the smart thing to do.” … Both Jann and Gus Wenner, the president and chief operating officer of Wenner Media, said they intended to stay on at Rolling Stone. But they said they also recognized that the decision could ultimately be up to the new owner.” [NYTimes]

“Trump’s divisive presidency reshapes a key part of his private business” by David A. Fahrenthold, Amy Brittain and Matea Gold: “In Florida this year, the president’s politics attracted a new client for one of his businesses. Steven M. Alembik, a conservative activist, is planning an $600-per-seat gala at the Mar-a-Lago Club. His logic: Trump helped Israel. So Alembik will help Trump in return. “He’s got Israel’s back,” Alembik said. “We’ve got his back.’” … He expects 700 guests. That’s $420,000. In theory, Alembik said, any leftover proceeds will go to an Israeli charity called The Truth About Israel. But, Alembik said, Trump’s club will probably keep most of the money…. Alembik was fine with the idea that he was putting money into the president’s pocket: “Yeah, and the other ones are taking money out of his pocket,” he said, meaning the charities that canceled after Charlottesville.”[WashPost]

Mark Zuckerberg and daughter Max celebrate Shabbat: “Father-of-two Mark Zuckerberg shared a sweet snapshot with daughter Max, 21 months, via Facebook Friday. “For shabbat tonight, we gave Max a kiddush cup that has been in our family for almost 100 years. Her great-great-grandfather Max got it after our family immigrated here and it has been passed down through our family ever since,” he captioned the photos.” [Facebook

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks penned an essay in the WSJ on the Challenge of Jewish Repentance: “Meaning comes not from systems of thought but from stories, and the Jewish story is among the most unusual of all. It tells us that God sought to make us His partners in the work of creation, but we repeatedly disappointed Him. Yet He never gives up. He forgives us time and again. The real religious mystery for Judaism is not our faith in God but God’s faith in us. This is not, as atheists and skeptics sometimes claim, a comforting fiction but quite the opposite. Judaism is God’s call to human responsibility, to create a world that is a worthy home for His presence. That is why Jews are so often to be found as doctors fighting disease, economists fighting poverty, lawyers fighting injustice, teachers fighting ignorance and therapists fighting depression and despair.” [WSJ]

“Amid excitement and suspicion, Bahraini prince visits Museum of Tolerance” by Benjamin Oreskes: “Prince Nasser bin Hamad al Khalifa, the son of Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa, and a large entourage, jostled their way through a rushed tour of the Museum of Tolerance. It was led by the museum’s founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier… Hier, who delivered a benediction at President Trump’s inauguration, said he visited the king’s palace in February. The two bonded over a shared appreciation of Frank Sinatra, and Hier said he was heartened by the king’s warming stance toward Israel. He said that while staying at the Four Seasons hotel, he wore his yarmulke and people did not bat an eye. “People didn’t give us a second look,” he said.” [LATimes]

“The Nazi Sites of Los Angeles” by Dana Goodyear: “The first Nazi rally in Los Angeles took place in the summer of 1933, a few months into Adolph Hitler’s chancellorship, at a downtown biergarten nicknamed the Brown House, after the Nazi Party’s offices in Munich. “Today people are marching and saying, ‘Jews will not replace us,’ ” Steve Ross, the author of a forthcoming book, “Hitler in Los Angeles,” which documents the rise of anti-Semitic hate groups and a covert Jewish-led resistance, said the other day. “In the thirties, they’re saying, ‘Kill the Jews.’ All it takes is one crazy person. People say, ‘It can’t happen here,’ but it is happening here. Once you have the Fascist takeover of the government, all the other things can happen.”” [NewYorker]

“The Holocaust Museum Sought Lessons on Syria. What It Got Was a Political Backlash” by Sopan Deb and Max Fisher: “Leon Wieseltier, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the former literary editor of The New Republic, is among the critics of both the study’s findings and its publication. He said the museum did the right thing by pulling it… Another member, Elliott Abrams, a leading conservative foreign policy expert and former museum board member, said he learned about it the day before it was posted. Mr. Abrams said he called Sara J. Bloomfield, the museum’s director, to criticize its framing and warn her about a potential backlash. “I don’t think I was the first person,” said Mr. Abrams… Mr. Abrams added that he had not asked the museum to pull the study and was unaware of who had… Menachem Z. Rosensaft, who was appointed as a museum trustee by President Bill Clinton and Mr. Obama, said that he learned of the report after it was published, and understood the decision to pull it.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “These handicapped New Yorkers are behind hundreds of lawsuits” by Melkorka Licea: “Zoltan Hirsch, 37, a double amputee from Brooklyn, is hell on wheels for those who fail to make their establishments wheelchair accessible. Since 2010, he has filed suit against 195 businesses ranging from a Soho eyeglass shop to Brooklyn bodegas to a Hell’s Kitchen restaurant.” [NYPost]

“Saban clinic celebrating 50 years of free medical care in LA” by Denise Dador: “It’s been a place for anyone who needs medical care to get help for more than 50 years. As they celebrate this anniversary, the mission of the Saban Community Clinic in Los Angeles remains the same: to keep its doors open to all, regardless of ability to pay.” [ABC7]

BIRTHDAYS: Business executive who served as co-CEO of SAP (2008-2010) and CEO of Hewlett-Packard (2010-2011), Léo Apotheker turns 64… Harvard Professor of Psychology, specializing in visual cognition and psycholinguistics, Steven Pinker turns 63… Executive director of the Los Angeles Westside Jewish Community Center since 2004, Brian Greene turns 61… One of the earliest Israeli tech entrepreneurs, he is best known for starting Aladdin Knowledge Systems in 1985, he is on multiple tech and non-profit boards,Yanki Margalit turns 55… A leader in the South Carolina Democratic Party, a pro-Israel activist, he was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives (2006-2014), Bakari Sellers turns 33… Professional poker player whose total career live tournament winnings exceed $10 million, Nick Schulman turns 33… New Jersey native, Aaron Kaplowitz turns 33… Special Assistant to US Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), he was previously an assistant director in AIPAC’s Chicago office, Zak Sawyer… Field reporter for the Washington Nationals on MASN, Dan Kolko… International Media Spokesman for the Jewish Agency, Avi Mayer… Kathy Wolf

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