Daily Kickoff

Jewish Insider Daily Kickoff – Dec 6.

First Look – The Tower Magazine December Issue: Jonathan Schanzer – We Really Need to Talk About Corruption: The U.S. has made Israeli-Palestinian peace into a top priority. But how can you build a legitimate, peaceful state out of a kleptocratic regime? — Michael Ledeen: Dare We Say It? The Mullahs Must Go – In dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat, there are many options besides capitulation and war. — Benjamin Kerstein: What You Can Lose When You Try Too Hard – Twenty years later, the dashed hopes of the Oslo Accords still feel to many like an open wound. Will the diplomats learn from past mistakes? [TowerMag]

Nelson Mandela, 95, first democratic president of South Africa, was close to country’s Jews [JTA] —  Jewish Groups Had Complex Relationship with Mandela: Mourning Today, but Criticism in Years Past [Forward] — Nelson Mandela was close to Jews, resolutely loyal to Palestinians [ToI] — One Jewish South African on the Moment Mandela Walked Free [TabletMag]

AP’s The Big Story – Obama celebrates end of Hanukkah at White House: “President Barack Obama marked the end of Hanukkah with not one, but two receptions at the White House on Thursday. He noted a rare quirk in the calendar that overlapped Thanksgiving and the start of the eight-day Jewish holiday. At the first gathering, Obama recognized guests who are credited with coming up with some unusual names for the joint holiday, such as “Thanksgivukkah,” a combination of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, and “menurkey,” a blend of the words menorah and turkey. Menorahs were lit at both receptions. The White House said it expected about 500 people at each.

–American Jewish leaders and representatives from Israel were among those present at the second event, which was held hours after the world learned that former South African President Nelson Mandela had died. Obama said Mandela was a “moral giant” who inspired millions worldwide with his dignity, courage and hope. At the second gathering, Obama also touched on two issues of deep importance to the Middle East, Israel’s security and the nuclear ambitions of Iran, Israel’s nemesis. He said the U.S. is determined to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and referenced an interim agreement among Iran, the U.S. and five world powers that would freeze parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for some relief from stiff economic sanctions. Obama said the world powers are “testing” whether it’s possible to achieve that goal through diplomacy. “Over the coming months, we’re going to continue our diplomacy with the goal of achieving a comprehensive solution that deals with the threat of Iran’s nuclear weapons once and for all,” Obama said from the Grand Foyer of the White House. “And through it all, as always, our commitment to Israel and its security will remain ironclad and unshakable.”[AP] Top Tweets and Pictures from the White House Hanukkah Party [JewishInsider]

Kerry seeks to sooth Israeli security concerns [AP] — Mood music mixed after Palestinians hold talks with Kerry [Reuters] — White House Loses Leverage in Iran Talks [FreeBeacon] — U.S. assures Israel that core Iran sanctions still in place [Reuters] — Twitter cracks down on terrorists [IntelWire]

Haim Saban’s Mideast confab to hear from Obama, Clinton, Kerry, Netanyahu: “Less than two weeks after President Barack Obama spoke to a fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of entertainment mogul Haim Saban, the president is planning to sit down with him again in Washington Saturday for an on-stage interview as part of an annual Mideast policy forum Saban sponsors. The Saban Forum, affiliated with the Brookings Institution, is also expected to draw other policy heavyweights including Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to speak to the conference by satellite.

–The forum comes at a time of significant tension between the U.S. and Israel over American backing for an international deal cut last month which American officials say will freeze Iran’s nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited relief of international sanctions now in place against Tehran. Netanyahu has denounced the pact as a mistake of historic proportions. At a similar Saban forum in 2011, then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Kerry turned heads by stating that the Obama administration had “wasted” a year and a half in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by trying to persuade Israel to suspend settlement activity in order to jump-start negotiations and that he “never thought” such an approach could succeed.” [Politico]

Top Talker – Jeffrey Goldberg: Reasons for Optimism in Iran: “How you feel about the potential effectiveness of the interim agreement has a lot to do with how you feel about the Barack Obama administration’s commitment to an if-all-else-fails military strike and to keeping the sanctions in place. One concern I’ve heard is that Obama has lately stopped threatening, even elliptically, military force should Iran move toward nuclear breakout in defiance of the international community. Earlier this week, I asked his deputy national security adviser, Benjamin J. Rhodes, about this worry. “All options continue to be on the table. We’re not shying away from expressing a preference for resolving this peacefully, but this shouldn’t take away from the fact that all options remain on the table,” he said.

–What, I asked, will happen if a major company — oil or otherwise — comes to believe that the sanctions regime is loosening and tries to re-enter the Iranian market in a major way? “Frankly, we would have an interest in demonstrating that the sanctions regime will be enforced,” Rhodes said. In other words, the administration would be eager to see someone try to break the sanctions regime in order use this violation as an opportunity to make a point about the durability of U.S. policy.

–The biggest worry of all about the interim agreement is that it legitimizes Iran’s so-called right to enrich — to produce fissile material domestically. It didn’t seem smart to concede this point at the outset of negotiations. The acknowledgment of this “right” was something the Iranians desperately sought. On the other hand, the reality of the nuclear program is such that this “right” was going to be conceded sooner or later. As Rhodes pointed out to me, nuclear knowledge cannot be negotiated away. “The Iranians know how to do the fuel cycle. They’re not going to unlearn that.” He went on: “The question is not whether they have the capability; the question is, Would you accept a program with significant constraints and limitations and greater transparency, or do you think the status quo is a good thing? We didn’t have robust inspections or transparency before. Now we will. We feel the answer to the status quo question is, No, it was not a good thing.”

–Rhodes is right; the status quo wasn’t working. The danger here is in the creation of a new status quo, one that enshrines Iran’s nuclear “rights” without making sufficient demands for nuclear concessions. As I wrote earlier this week, there are plenty of reasons to doubt whether this agreement is a good thing. But it is also too early to know just how bad, or how good, it actually will be: Everything depends on the Obama administration’s willingness to hold the line and to walk away from negotiations if the Iranians don’t budge on the issues that truly matter.” [Bloomberg]

George F. Will: Better a contained Iran than an all-out war [WashPost] — Walter Russell Mead: A Riyadh-Jerusalem Entente [WSJ]

Rumor Mill — Former Obama Advisor: White House Convinced Israel Not to Strike Iran in 2012 [Algemeiner] — Is President Shimon Peres’ Staff Hiding His Poor Health? [ArutzSheva] — Haaretz to lay of 5% of workforce [Globes] — Los Angeles Kabbalah Centre Sued By Former Followers for $1M [Forward] — Source: Trump Aide Michael Cohen behind Trump-for-governor story [CapitalNY] — Top Clinton Associate Ducks Questions at Anti-Israel Book Event [FreeBeacon]

Avi Schick OpEd – Tony Shorris is a great first step for de Blasio: [DailyNews] — Agudath Israel welcomes de Blasio’s appointment of Bratton as NYPD Commissioner: [JPupdates] — Jews Dominate NYC Mayoral Write-In Votes [TabletMag

WSJ – A Race to Preserve the Voices of Holocaust’s Last Survivors – As witnesses die, historians find reality of tragedy harder to convey: “The survivors’ moral credibility lets them speak to power in a way others can’t. When President Barack Obama visited Yad Vashem in March, he appeared moved by a private conversation with its chairman, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, who was liberated from Buchenwald at 7 while hiding under a pile of corpses. Mr. Lau, one of the camp’s youngest survivors, is now 76. The questions raised by the survivors’ aging go deeper than educational techniques. With their fading, the Holocaust is transforming from memory to history, and it is now being fitted into its long-term place in the Western narrative.The question is where that place is. Some museums are trying to keep the Holocaust relevant, as survivors age, by putting it in the context of more recent atrocities. Belgium recently opened a “Museum on the Holocaust and Human Rights,” and it seeks to tie the tragedy to recognizable daily problems.”[WSJ]

Jewish Real Estate RoundUp: Frank Lowy’s Australian shopping gian Westfield reveals shock split [SAC] — Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. plans escalate for big Boston Quincy Market upgrade [BostonHerald] — New Developments – Extell and Halcyon [REW] — George Soros’ fund leases chunk of Mort Zuckerman’s Boston Properties’ 250 West 55th [RealDeal] — Hartz sells Secaucus building to HGI for $47M [NorthJersey]

StartUp Nation – Six Israeli Startups That Raised Over $1M Using Israeli Crowdfunding Platform ‘OurCrowd’ [NoCamels]  — Any.Do: A calendar app you can stick to [GeekTime] — Payment processing firm Dwolla partners with Fiverr, offering free gigs in US to help spur adoption [TheNextWeb] — Israeli Carambola raises $4M from Pitango [GeekTime]

Dessert: Kosher restaurant caters to a new Newark: “The Green Chicpea is a kosher Middle Eastern restaurant catering to Jews and non-Jews, vegetarians, and meat eaters, on Halsey Street in Newark. While kosher options in Newark are few, owner Martin Weber doesn’t want to limit his customer base. Instead, he wants people to come to Green Chicpea because the food is good.

“Jews find you through word of mouth. Other people don’t even realize it’s kosher,” he said. He loves when construction workers and students from nearby Rutgers University drop in. “One day I had a guy in here who was doing mathematical equations” on the chalkboard tabletops, he said. “Cory Booker was supposed to come for a mezuza hanging, but he’s been so busy since his run for the Senate,” said Weber. “I’m working on the signage, and we’re still trying to coordinate something” with Booker. The restaurant is definitely on the radar of the former Newark mayor, who tweeted about it in November.” [NJJN] Sen. Booker retweeted JI’s tweet about The Green Chicpea yesterday to 1.4M followers expanding the @J_Insider account’s normal reach by 8505x

Thats all folks, have a great Friday! 

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