Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: NYTimes on AIPAC; Rice Rants About Israel; Conference of President’s Mission; Jesse Cohn Profile; Jewish Moment at Miami Marathon

First Look: NYTimes on AIPAC – Potent Pro-Israel Group Finds Its Momentum Blunted – by Mark Landler: “The last time the nation’s most potent pro-Israel lobbying group lost a major showdown with the White House was when President Ronald Reagan agreed to sell Awacs surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia over the group’s bitter objections. Since then, the group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has run up an impressive record of legislative victories in its quest to rally American support for Israel, using a robust network of grass-roots supporters and a rich donor base to push a raft of bills through Congress. Typically, they pass by unanimous votes.

–But now Aipac, as the group is known, once again finds itself in a very public standoff with the White House. Its top priority, a Senate bill to impose new sanctions on Iran, has stalled after stiff resistance from President Obama, and in what amounts to a tacit retreat, Aipac has stopped pressuring Senate Democrats to vote for the bill. Officials at the group insist it never called for an immediate vote and say the legislation may yet pass if Mr. Obama’s effort to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran fails or if Iran reneges on its interim deal with the West. But for the moment, Mr. Obama has successfully made the case that passing new sanctions against Tehran now could scuttle the nuclear talks and put America on the road to another war. In doing so, the president has raised questions about the effectiveness of Aipac’s tactics and even its role as the unchallenged voice of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. Jewish leaders say that pro-Israel groups disagreed on how aggressively to push the legislation, even if all the groups favor additional sanctions.

–The trouble is, Aipac’s fervent push on Iran sanctions has increasingly allied it with Mr. Netanyahu and against Mr. Obama. J Street, a more dovish pro-Israel group, has lobbied vigorously against the bill, underscoring divergent views within the pro-Israel lobby. Even Aipac’s efforts to support the president have been troubled. It had deep reservations about Mr. Hagel, which officials shared privately with lawmakers. But it did not publicly oppose his nomination, in part because White House officials said the president would not forgive it. [NYTimes]

Top Talker: Mending Ties — President Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia in March to mend fences with a Middle East power increasingly at odds with his administration…. Tensions between Obama and the Saudis have grown as differences have emerged over Egypt, Syria and Iran….“This is part of the reduction of American influence in the Arab world,” Abrams said. “People are just not so willing to listen to us.” [TheHill] Note: No visit to Israel planned, reminiscent of Obama’s Cairo ’09 trip? Or will Obama come to AIPAC’s policy conference in March instead?

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t backing down from his staunch support of AIPAC, says he is an ‘unabashedly pro-Israel’ advocate: [Politicker

Less progress, more motion — Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will likely require more time than previously anticipated, US officials acknowledged….the Americans now view the hard date they originally set to be “artificial” and suggest that even the framework might need more time, given some important gaps that still remain….One of these gaps is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, a precondition for a two-state solution set by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ….Hamas, meanwhile, announced on Monday that it would never accept the two-state solution or give up “one inch of the land of Palestine.” [JPost] ——— Senators: Kerry Admits Obama’s Syria Policy Is Failing [DailyBeast]

Rice Rants: White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice Slams Israeli Criticism of Kerry — Susan Rice lashed out on her Twitter account Monday night at recent Israeli criticism of US Secretary of State John Kerry and his efforts toward brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Rice called personal attacks in Israel directed at the secretary “totally unfounded and unacceptable.” In a series of tweets, Rice wrote that “John Kerry’s record of support for Israel’s security and prosperity [is] rock solid.” And that the US government “has been clear and consistent that we reject efforts to boycott or delegitimize Israel.” [ToI]

Dermer on diplomacy – Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer says Israel wants diplomacy with Iran to succeed, but a final deal needs to fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear capability, and that the US should not lose focus of the deceitful nature of the regime. Video [USA Today]

Conference of Presidents 2014 Mission to Israel kicks off today: Netanyahu, Yaalon, Liberman, Bennett, Edelstein, and Lapid are all expected to address this year’s mission. Follow the #COPmission2014 on Twitter @Conf_of_Pres

2016 Watch: Seth Lipsky OpEd – “Unlike Kerry, Rand Paul won’t flinch on Israel: If it were up to Israel’s government to choose, Rand Paul would be a better bet than John Kerry” Interesting piece as Rand is known for wanting to end foreign aid, even to Israel. [Haaretz] (behind paywall, but enter through Twitter or Facebook to get around it)

IFL – With SuperBowl in rear-view mirror, signature event for flag football in Israel lies ahead: “Days before Super Bowl XLVIII in northern New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, a New York City room filled with players, coaches, and supporters of the Israel Football League (IFL)—a group of spanning several generations of Israeli sportsmen—looked forward to an upcoming signature event for American-style football in the Jewish state. The event marked the announcement that Jerusalem will host the 2014 International Federation of American Football Flag Football World Championships from Aug. 13-15. Thirty teams, comprised of 500 athletes from some 20 countries, are slated to participate in the largest world-championship sports competition ever to be held in Israel.” [JNS]

Who says luck can’t strike twice  Orthodox Jewish NYC real estate developer Jona Rechnitz plunked down $500 … betting the first scoring play in Super Bowl XLVIII would be a Seattle safety. The $500 turned into $25,000 — we’ll do the math for you … 50/1 odds….It’s all the more impressive because 2 years ago Jona made the same type of bet — and when the Giants scored a safety Jona walked away with $50K … and gave it ALL to charity. This year’s winnings are going to the Simon Wiesenthal Center and to the Stewart J. Rahr Foundation [TMZ]

There’s no luggage racks on top of a hearse — “While in Israel for only a few short days,Stewart Rahr took the first step toward doubling the United Hatzalah fleet of ambu-cycles; underwriting one-half million dollars to bring Holocaust survivors to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in Poland in order to bring closure to their nightmares; while along the way meeting with charities and politicians anxious for a chance to tickle Rahr’s generous fancy. The trip to Poland had been the brainchild of Jonny Daniels, the 28-year old executive director of “From the Depths,” a foundation dedicated to keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust.”[JewishJournal] Rahr is headed back to Israel in March.

Jewish Media: New York Mag Longread – What is D.C.’s most famous young (Jewish) policy wonk doing leaving the Washington Post? [NYMag] — Meet the New Face of Israeli News: i24’s Miracle Man [Algemeiner]

AP Big Story: FDA Approves Israeli Pill Camera To Screen Colon — “The ingestible pill camera from Given Imaging is designed to help doctors spot polyps and other early signs of colon cancer. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the device for patients who have had trouble with the cringe-inducing colonoscopy procedure, which involves probing the large intestine with a tiny camera embedded in a four-foot long, flexible tube. The Israeli company’s technology, developed from missile defense systems, uses a battery-powered camera to take high-speed photos as it slowly winds its way through the intestinal tract over eight hours. The images are transmitted to a recording device worn around the patient’s waist and later reviewed by a doctor.”[AP]

Kosher in combat — In April 2013, a solicitation for bids was issued by the Defense Logistics Agency for the production of kosher and halal MREs for 5 years but in early January the agency decided to amend the solicitation and eliminate the kosher part of the order….In response to this development, Agudath Israel of America has written to Major General Donald Rutherford, Chief Chaplain of the Army and Chairman of the Defense Department’s Armed Forces Chaplains Board (DOD/AFCB), to express “deep concern” over the decision. [JPupdates]

StartUp Nation: Israel Emerging as Cybersecurity Powerhouse With Investor Shlomo Kramer — Over more than two decades, Kramer has founded or backed six Israeli online-security companies, amassing a personal fortune of about $800 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The 47-year-old has taken the money earned from deals and initial public offerings and plowed it back into new startups and technologies, developing fresh ways to fend off virtual enemies. [Bloomberg]

America’s most coveted occupation: Noted Jewish investor, strategic advisor, and professor Charlie Harary writes in Wired Magazine, the 5 secrets that great entrepreneurs understand that set themselves apart from the rest. [Wired]

Meet Jesse Cohn, The 33-Year-Old Jewish Hedge Fund Investor Laying Siege to Silicon Valley: “In addition to Riverbed, Compuware and Juniper Networks, Cohn has launched activist campaigns against tech companies like NetApp, Brocade, BMC Software and Novell.  In total, he has steadily conducted some 30 activist campaigns against tech companies. Cohn has built a relatively large tech team at Elliott Management, which includes former private equity professionals specializing in tech who work for him as analysts, former tech CEOs working on a consulting basis and even an engineer who evaluates products, says a person familiar with Cohn’s operations.” [Forbes] —— Activist Fund, Elliot Management, Praises Juniper CEO, Raises Proxy Fight Possibility [ReCode]

Jesse’s boss and Jewish political bundler powerhouse, Paul Singer, was spotted with his employee Dan Senor hanging out with NJ Gov. Chris Christie at the Super Bowl [Politico]

Jewish Daughter of The Donald, Ivanka Trump on unplugging and observing the Sabbath: “Q. I don’t know if you talk about this, but I understand you kind of unplug on Fridays and observe the Sabbath. How did that come about, and why is it something that’s really important to you? A. I tend not to talk about it because it’s very personal to me. But I think generally speaking, my husband and I, we both sort of are running at a thousand miles a minute. And we really prioritize obviously family, each other, the kids. I work really, really hard to create defined periods of time where they get me all to themselves. And that’s in the mornings and evenings. I put Arabella to bed every night and then run back to the office or run out to a work obligation. But it’s really important to have those anchors during the day, the weekends.… unless it’s something for work, I don’t make commitments during the day, even with my friends. I’m just very, very focused on my work and my family right now. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, so that’s what I’m sort of trying to do.” [Miami Herald]

Profile of a Jewish landlord: Meet landlord Eugene Schneur, co-founder of Omni New York and partner of former major leaguer Mo Vaughn[RealDeal]

Philadelphia Jewish Federation Names First Female CEO: For the first time in its 112-year history, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has selected a woman to lead the community’s central fundraising body. [JewishExponent]

Philadelphia DA: No criminal charges against Nahman and Michael Lichtenstein in Kensington factory fire that killed two firefighters [PhillyCityPaper] ——— Jewish Billionaire Ron Perelman can pursue a fraud claim against art gallery owner Larry Gagosian because it’s reasonable for an experienced investor to rely on a dealer’s knowledge of the market, a judge ruled. [Bloomberg] ———  Rothstein to testify: For the first time since Scott Rothstein pleaded guilty in 2010 to running a $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme with the unwitting help of state and national politicians, the disbarred Fort Lauderdale attorney will be asked to publicly explain how he bilked so much from so many…. Rothstein, 51, who is serving a 50-year prison sentence, is to be the star witness for a former law firm associate who is on trial in federal court on three counts of wire fraud for helping perpetuate the massive scheme. [PalmBeachPost]

You can run but you can’t hide — Two Los Angeles Jews charged with participating in a $33 million bank fraud have fled to Israel….Aviv Mizrahi, who also goes by Aviv Shoham Schwartz, and Aryeh Greenes, both in their 50s, were charged Jan. 30 in US District Court in Los Angeles with bank fraud and making false statements in loan applications, CBSLA.com reported.[ToI] —— Second slaughterhouse manager who fled to Israel should face justice, former Postville priest says [DesMoinesRegister]

Dessert: Orthodox Jewish Man Proposes at Miami Marathon Finish Line. Video – [NBC Miami]

That’s all folks, have a great Tuesday!

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