DRIVING THE WEEKEND: On December 5-7, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings will host its 11th annual Saban Forum, titled “Stormy Seas: The United States and Israel in a Tumultuous Middle East.” This year’s Forum will include remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Isaac Herzog, Israeli chair of the Labor Party and leader of the opposition.
—Schedule: Today at 6:30PM – A Conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton andHaim Saban. 8:30PM – Israel in the Region and the World. A Conversation with Isaac Herzog, Israeli Chair of the Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition, Moderated by Jeffrey Goldberg. On Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden will speak at 1pm. On Sunday, at 11:30am, an address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At 12:15, an address by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. [Webcast]
—Scheduled speakers not making the trip: Israeli politicians Avigdor Lieberman and Yair Lapid.
TOP TALKER: “U.S. mulls harsher action against settlement construction” by Barak Ravid:“Senior Israeli officials said that White House officials held a classified discussion a few weeks ago about the possibility of taking active measures against the settlements… In addition, it isn’t yet clear how the decision to hold early elections will affect the White House’s decisions regarding the settlements. One of the aspects of this that is being looked into by the U.S. government is whether American action against the settlements at this point would weaken Netanyahu in Israeli public opinion, or do just the opposite, by portraying him as one who doesn’t cave in to international pressure.” [Haaretz; ToI] • Aaron David Miller: “The Inside Story of U.S. Meddling in Israel’s Elections” [DailyBeast]
—State Dept. Press Briefing: “QUESTION: Haaretz is reporting today that the government – the Administration is considering a number of measures sort of to punish Israel for the settlement activities. Are you aware of anything like this? MS. HARF: Well, I saw those reports. I’m obviously not going to comment one way or the other on reported internal deliberations. We’ve made clear our position on settlement activity publicly, and that hasn’t changed. QUESTION: But it seems that – or the report alleges that people are fed up with just denunciations that have been the trademark of this Administration, especially with increased settlement activities, and they do want to take some measures to show – to put some teeth, actually, into these denunciations. Is that likely to happen? MS. HARF:Again, I’m not going to comment on reports of internal deliberations or address a hypothetical.”[Transcript]
—@SenTedCruz: “Outrageous. State Department is considering sanctions on Israel, but not Iran”[Twitter]
NOT JUST OVER IRAN SANCTIONS: Fight Between White House & Sen Menendez Continues – “Democratic Senator Stalls Controversial Obama Ambassador” by Ruby Cramer in BuzzFeed: “Noah Mamet, a political consultant with ties to Jim Messina and enemies among donors, is supposed to be on his way to Buenos Aires. But a delay by Sen. Menendez has been a “phenomenal obstacle.” [BuzzFeed]
—ICYMI: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing this week on “Dismantling Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: Next Steps To Achieve A Comprehensive Deal.” Witnesses included David Albright, Gary Samore, and Michael Doran. [Video; Doran Testimony]
House Passes NDAA; Requires White House To Report To Congress On Iran Deal: “The House on Thursday passed a Defense authorization bill to equip the Pentagon with funding and programs for fiscal 2015. It passed in a largely bipartisan vote, 300-119. The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved next week before the end of the lame-duck session. Language in the National Defense Authorization Act, an omnibus defense bill, requires the White House to verify Iranian compliance with the interim nuclear deal within 30 days of the bill’s passage “to the appropriate congressional committees.”
“Responding to a pending vote on the language, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said the White House would have no problem abiding by the provision given the fact that they are, in large part, already doing so. Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL), author of the amendment alongside Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN), said the intent of the language is to cajole the Obama administration into “coming clean” on Iranian non-compliance.” [JPost; TheHill; Businessweek]
“Russian envoy helps advance Iranian nuclear deal” by Laura Rozen: “US and Western officialsand experts say, the prospective Russia-Iran energy deal helps to solve one of the toughest issues in the nuclear talks — the size of Iran’s enrichment capacity in a final deal; and they have recently gone out of their way to praise the Russian role in the sensitive nuclear negotiations as being highly constructive, professional and creative.” [AlMonitor]
HAPPENING TODAY: President Obama will announce his pick for the next Secretary of Defense this morning, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced at yesterday’s briefing. Former DepSecDef Ashton Carter is expected to be the nominee.
—NJDC Chair Greg Rosenbaum: “I know Ash Carter from my alumni leadership activities at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He is an outstanding choice to serve as our next Secretary of Defense. His detailed understanding of nuclear proliferation issues will make him another voice in this administration ensuring that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons. We look forward to working with Deputy Secretary Carter in the months and years ahead as he works to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
—JINSA ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD MEMBERS: The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs has added several retired military officers to its board of advisers. Marine Corps Gen. James Conway, Navy Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, Navy Vice Admiral John Bird, Vice Coast Guard Adm. David Pekoske, Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, Air Force Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, Navy SEAL Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli, and Army Major Gen. John Macdonald will join the board. JINSA CEO Michael Makovsky says he’s “looking forward to working with them in furthering our mission as JINSA continues to grow.” [PI]
HAPPENING SATURDAY NIGHT: Norpac hosts likely 2016 candidate and former Gov. Mike Huckabee at the home of Dr. Alan and Deborah Berger in Englewood, New Jersey.
2016 WATCH: “Romney Insider: He’s Running” by Linette Lopez and Hunter Walker in Business Insider: Mitt Romney held meetings with donors in New York this week that left one attendee convinced he is running for president again in 2016. A member of Romney’s inner circle who spoke to Business Insider said the former governor of Massachusetts traveled to New York City on Monday where he met with key financial backers of his past campaigns to lay the groundwork for a 2016 White House bid. The source, who was at one of the meetings, said other attendees included Time Warner CEOStephen Ross, New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson, and hedge funders Julian Robertson andPaul Singer.” [BI]
2016 WATCH: “Warren Buffett made the maximum possible donation to Ready for Hillary” [Slate] • “Hillary Clinton on the presidency: Just keep it real” by Maggie Haberman: “In a moment of candor about a job she is likely to seek in 2016, Clinton said Thursday that the presidency is extraordinarily challenging and that whoever held it had to avoid losing touch with “what’s authentic.”[Politico]
2016 WATCH: “Bobby Jindal Takes A Stab At Foreign Policy” by Rosie Gray: “Asked how he would describe his foreign policy when compared with other notables in the party, he said: “I think that America cannot retreat from the world,”… On the other hand: “My views are that America can not be the world’s policeman.” Jindal was similarly vague on the topic of what he would do if the nuclear negotiations with Iran fail. “I think this president’s too quick to say what he’s not going to do,” Jindal said. “Nobody in America ever wants to see ground troops as the first option, but this president’s very quick to take options off the table, I don’t think he should ever do that.” “He’s done that sometimes with his rhetoric vis-a-vis Iran, he’s done that with his rhetoric vis-a-vis the Middle East,” Jindal said. “So I think every option needs to be on the table to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.” [BuzzFeed]
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Qatar bids £2.6bn for Reichmann-built Canary Wharf [TheGuardian] • Electra sells central Tel Aviv tower to Nakash Brothers [Globes] • Ronald Perelman’s suit against Larry Gagosian is Dismissed [CNBC]
TNR SHAKEUP: “Frank Foer, Leon Wieseltier Out at The New Republic” by Yair Rosenberg: “Just after celebrating its 100th anniversary, The New Republic has lost its top two editors, as Frank Foer and Leon Wieseltier resigned their posts, in the face of pressure from owner Chris Hughes to dramatically revamp the magazine. Gabriel Snyder, formerly of Gawker, Bloomberg and The Atlantic Wire, will be the new editor, as TNR looks to become, in Hughes’s phrase, “a digital media company.” And more changes are on the way: the publication will reportedly be cutting its print frequency from 20 to 10 issues a year, and moving to New York City. This was Foer’s second stint as editor, while Wieseltier had shepherded the magazine’s storied literary section for three decades.” [TabletMag; Politico] • “A Eulogy for The New Republic” by Jonathan Chait [NYMag] • “Implosion of a Washington institution” by Dylan Byers [Politico]
LONG READ: “Can First Look Media Make Headlines That Aren’t About Itself? When a crusading but conflict-averse billionaire bankrolls several of journalism’s most prominent mavericks to create a hard-nosed investigative news organization, it’s a recipe for turmoil. eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s differences with First Look Media staff have been all over the press. Two top hires are out the door. Sarah Ellison asks whether First Look Media can make headlines that aren’t about itself: “Pierre Morad Omidyar was born in Paris in 1967 to well-to-do Iranian immigrants who had gone to France for university. When Omidyar was six years old, the family moved to Washington, D.C., so his father could begin a residency at Johns Hopkins…. Omidyar created a clunky auction site that allowed Internet users to buy goods from one another. He called it AuctionWeb—an early iteration of eBay… He is worth roughly $8 billion today. Omidyar gave up day-to-day responsibilities at eBay in 1999 (though he remains the company’s chairman).
“Don Graham ended up selling the Washington Post and some affiliated publications to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million. But the discussions with Graham had solidified Omidyar’s resolve to dive deeper into the world of journalism. Soon afterward, Omidyar pledged to start his own news organization and match Bezos’s investment in the Post. He enlisted two of the journalists who had reported on the Snowden documents: Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, who had been the first journalists to take Snowden seriously, and who did the most to bring his revelations to light… Omidyar announced that the new endeavor would have a “core mission around supporting and empowering independent journalists across many sectors and beats.” As Omidyar has by now discovered, starting an organization from scratch was hardly a safeguard against dealing with people who fundamentally disagreed with him. First Look Media, as Omidyar’s enterprise has come to be called, is beset by staff turmoil and dissatisfaction.” [VanityFair]
RADIO FREE SYRIA: “Why are ISIS and Assad both trying to kill Raed Fares?” by Eliza Griswold [NYTimesMag]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Eric Garner, C’est Toi: A Jew of color explains why anti-black violence should concern all Jews” by MaNishtana: “Some of your people are “those people.” Some of “those people” are your people. There are Jews, here, in these United States, this bastion of freedom for Jews escaping pogroms and Inquisitions and Holocausts, who cannot walk down the street without a fear for their lives from the very authorities who are supposed to protect them. There are Jews who will always be approached by police as a suspect, never as a citizen. Who will always be viewed as just another criminal savage who hasn’t been put away yet. A perp who doesn’t have a mugshot yet. And there aren’t enough streimels or black hats or tallitot in the world to protect them.” [TabletMag] • “Jewish group joins N.Y. protest march on Eric Garner case” [Haaretz]
PANDA DIPLOMACY: “Israel is the latest target for China’s ‘panda diplomacy'” by Adam Taylor: “Beijing’s famous “panda diplomacy” is finally reaching Israel. This week, China announced that as long as the facility meets the standards needed for the animals, it would soon be loaning two panda bears to a zoo in Haifa… In the complicated world of diplomacy between Israel and China, perhaps a panda makes sense. The two countries may seem like close allies now, but it hasn’t always been the case — and things are already more complicated than meets the eye… But perhaps Netanyahu should be careful when accepting panda diplomacy. In 1973, a BBC documentary noted that a number of world leaders who received pandas from China, including Nixon, Britain’s Edward Heath and Japan’s Kakuei Tanaka, were soon forced out of office. “Panda diplomacy” can sometimes become a “panda curse.” [WashPost]
BRITISH OFFICER WHO COMMANDED JEWISH LEGION REINTERRED IN ISRAEL:“British Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson, who in World War I commanded a Jewish legion drawn heavily from Zionist volunteers from Palestine, was reinterred in Israel nearly 70 years after his death. Patterson’s ashes were transfered from Los Angeles to lie near the graves of comrades at Moshav Avihayil, an agricultural community north of Tel Aviv founded by Jewish Legion veterans. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the ceremony, said his older brother Yonatan, killed leading the 1976 commando rescue of hostages from a hijacked Air France plane at Uganda’s Entebbe airport, was named after the Christian Zionist, a friend of his father’s. “Patterson was the first commander of a Jewish fighting force since the days of Bar Kochba,” Netanyahu said.” [Bloomberg]
—“Christian Zionists funding Israel immigration still scares Jews: As Jewish institutions fight over American evangelicals’ deep pockets, an in-depth look at a controversial yet fruitful relationship” by Amanda Borschel-Dan [ToI]
TOP-OPS: Jay Ruderman: “Oceans That Divide” [HuffPost] • Andy Langenkamp: “No nuclear deal next year” [TheHill] • Jennifer Rubin: “Will Obama be abandoned on Iran?” [WashPost] • Noah Feldman on Felix Frankfurter [Harvard]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Michael Steinhardt… Lisa Spies… Arnon Milchan… Jonathan Tisch…