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Daily Kickoff: Bibi & Mossad split on Iran | With 3rd speech to Congress, Bibi would join his hero Churchill | Amazon to buy Israeli startup for $370M

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: Iran, Iran, and Iran… That is until the Sheldon Silver news broke at 12:17am. Back to Iran in a sec

—“Sheldon Silver, New York Assembly Speaker, Faces Arrest on Corruption Charges: Federal authorities are expected to arrest Sheldon Silver, the powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, on corruption charges on Thursday, people with knowledge of the matter said, in a case that is likely to throw Albany into disarray.​ Details of the specific charges to be brought against Mr. Silver were unclear on Wednesday night, but one of the people with knowledge of the matter said they stemmed from payments that Mr. Silver received from a small law firm that specializes in seeking reductions of New York City real estate taxes. Mr. Silver failed to list the payments from the firm, Goldberg & Iryami, on his annual financial disclosure filings, as required.​” [NYTimesWSJ] • Ben Smith: “The Most Dangerous Man In American Politics: Preet Bharara goes to war” [BuzzFeed]

TOP TALKER: “Argentine Phone Calls Detail Efforts to Shield Iran” by Jonathan Gilbert and Simon Romero: “Intercepted conversations between representatives of the Iranian and Argentine governments point to a long pattern of secret negotiations to reach a deal in which Argentina would receive oil in exchange for shielding Iranian officials from charges that they orchestrated the bombing of a Jewish community center in 1994. The transcripts were made public by an Argentine judge on Tuesday night, as part of a 289-page criminal complaint written by Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor investigating the attack. Mr. Nisman was found dead in his luxury apartment on Sunday, the night before he was to present his findings to Congress.”

“But the intercepted telephone conversations, if proved accurate, would describe an elaborate effort to reward Argentina for shipping food to Iran — and for seeking to derail the investigation into a terrorist attack in the Argentine capital that killed 85 people. The deal never materialized, the complaint says, in part because Argentine officials failed to persuade Interpol to lift the arrest warrants against Iranian officials wanted in Argentina in connection with the attack… Mr. Nisman asserted for years that Iran had helped plan and finance the bombing, and that its Lebanese ally, the militant group Hezbollah, had carried it out. His body was found at his apartment on Sunday with a gunshot wound to his head in a murky episode that government officials have called a suicide. An investigation by a prosecutor is underway.” [NYTimes] • “What Iran Gains From The Death Of A Crusading Argentine Prosecutor” by Armin Rosen [BusinessInsider] • “Argentine Jews rally for ‘truth, justice’ over 1994 bombing” [Yahoo]

ROGIN & LAKE SCOOP: “Netanyahu–Mossad Split Divides U.S. Congress on Iran Sanctions” by Josh Rogin and Eli Lake: “The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has broken ranks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling U.S. officials and lawmakers that a new Iran sanctions bill in the U.S. Congress would tank the Iran nuclear negotiations. Already, the Barack Obama administration and some leading Republican senators are using the Israeli internal disagreement to undermine support for the bill, authored by Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Robert Menendez, which would enact new sanctions if current negotiations falter.”

Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee  — supported by Republican Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain — is pushing for his own legislation on the Iran nuclear deal, which doesn’t contain sanctions but would require that the Senate vote on any pact that is agreed upon in Geneva… Evidence of the Israeli rift surfaced Wednesday when Secretary of State John Kerry said that an unnamed Israeli intelligence official had said the new sanctions bill would be “like throwing a grenade into the process.” But an initial warning from Israeli Mossad leaders was also delivered last week in Israel to a Congressional delegation… When Menendez (who was not on the trip) heard about the briefing, he quickly phoned Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer to seek clarification.” [BloombergView]

Sen. Menendez’s Iran Rant: “I have to be honest with you, the more I hear from the administration and quotes. The more it sounds like talking points coming out of Tehran. And it heeds to the Iranian narrative of victimhood, when they are the ones with original sin: an illicit nuclear weapons program over the course of twenty years that they are unwilling to come clean on. I don’t know why we feel compelled to make their case… So then, the bottom line is, they get to cheat in a series of ways, and we get to worry about their perceptions? To quote from your testimony: “Even if such sanctions are not arguably a technical violation of the joint plan of action, we would believe it would be perceived as such by Iran.” So, we’re worried about their perceptions, but our perceptions of what they are doing to advance their nuclear interests can be clearly swept under the rug.” Watch the full Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing from yesterday [C-SPAN]

—“Democratic Iran hawks hesitate on overriding Obama” by Burgess Everett: “Republicans are eager to rumble with the White House over sanctions on Iran, but they may have trouble getting President Barack Obama’s Democratic critics to go along.” [Politico] • “David Cameron’s Iran lobbying effort fails to sway Republicans” [Telegraph] • European Foreign Ministers: “Give diplomacy with Iran a chance” [WashPost]

—TOP OP: “Fatal Attraction: Why Obama’s push to build a legacy relationship with Iran is going to end in heartache” by Aaron David Miller: “The mullahs need to have the United States as an adversary to maintain their control and to avoid the slippery slope of uncontrolled openings to the West that might jeopardize it… As long as the mullahcracy and security establishment continue to see Iran as a revolutionary Islamic power at home and abroad, the chances of an Obama engagement strategy transforming the U.S.-Iran relationship — even over time — look pretty bleak.”

“Indeed, perhaps the greatest danger is that a deal really won’t diminish Tehran’s determination to remain a screwdriver’s turn away from a weapon. And if the administration is too eager for an agreement, it will find itself with the worst of all possible worlds — with an emboldened Iran freed from sanctions and international pressure, untransformed, unrepentant, and in a stronger not weaker position to challenge U.S. interests in a turbulent Middle East. So come February, Mr. President, send your valentines to Michelle and the girls. Skip the mullahs. They really don’t deserve it.” [ForeignPolicy] • Michael Wilner: “None of this inside-the-beltway debate over Iran sanctions matters” [JPost]

COMPETING BACKSTORIES – Bibi’s Speech to Congress — Who Reached Out To Whom?

—Politico’s Jake Sherman: “Boehner’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff coordinated with Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. On Jan. 8, just two days after Boehner was reelected as speaker, he called Dermer — a native of Miami Beach, graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and close adviser to Netanyahu — to gauge the prime minister’s interest. The Israeli Embassy gave a “quick affirmative response,” a Republican aide said. Boehner’s office then provided a list of possible dates for an address, and the embassy chose the week of Feb. 9.” [Politico]

—Barak Ravid: “A senior Israeli official with knowledge of the contacts, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter, said that the one who had initiated the contacts with Boehner and with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and their staffs was Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s former aide… According to the senior official, Dermer approached Boehner, McConnell and other senior Republican Party figures at Netanyahu’s behest and suggested the idea of the speech. “Dermer and Boehner cooked up this whole invitation to Congress,” the official said.” [Haaretz]

White House Reaction — by NYTimes’ Peter Baker: “White House officials said they had learned of his appearance only Wednesday morning, shortly before it was announced. Not only is Mr. Obama not scheduled to meet with Mr. Netanyahu during his trip to Washington, but miffed aides to the president said they had not even heard directly from their Israeli counterparts that the prime minister would be in town. “The typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there,” Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, told reporters traveling on Air Force One with the president to a speech in Boise, Idaho. “That certainly is how President Obama’s trips are planned when we travel overseas. So this particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol.”​ [NYTimes]

—Top Tweet: @Yair_Rosenberg — “When Netanyahu addresses the US Congress next month, he’ll join his hero Winston Churchill as only other world leader to address it 3 times” [Twitter]

—@Martin_Indyk: “Now that Speaker Boehner put US Congress in middle of Israeli elections whydon’t Democratic leaders insist on inviting Buji to speak too?” [Twitter]

—Vox’s Max Fisher seems to disagree with Boehner’s invite: “John Boehner’s outrageous plan to help a foreign leader undermine Obama” [Vox] • Nathan Guttman: “Did Benjamin Netanyahu and the GOP Just Pull Off a Coup — or Lay an Egg?” [Forward] • Aaron David Miller: “Bibi, Boehner Team Up Against Obama” [DailyBeast]

—Abe Foxman: “This looks like a political challenge to the White House and/or a campaign effort in Israel. I certainly support the sanctions if the deal doesn’t come through, but having said that, the invitation and acceptance is ill-advised for either side​. It is too important an issue to politicize it. I see the White House giving both parties a ladder to climb down by saying this is a protocol breach,​ I hope they accept it.”​ [JTA]

2016 WATCH: “Backing Obama, Hillary Clinton opposes new Iran sanctions bill in Congress: “Why do we want to be the catalyst for the collapse of negotiations?” Clinton asked the crowd, speaking in Winnipeg, Canada, on Wednesday. “If we’re the reason— through our Congress— that in effect gives Iran and others the excuse not to continue the negotiations, that would be, in my view, a very serious strategic error.” ​[JPost] • “Clinton urges more financial, military aid to Ukraine” [Politico]

“Biden Might Challenge Clinton” by Peter Nicholas and Colleen McCain Nelson: “Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday he might enter the 2016 presidential race even if it would mean facing off against Hillary Clinton—a scenario that could force her and other potential Democratic candidates to rethink how they would position themselves in the primary.” [WSJ]

“Romney and Jeb Bush to Meet, Raising Speculation on Presidential Race” by Jonathan Martin: “Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are scheduled to meet privately in Utah this week, raising the possibility that the two former governors will find a way to avoid competing presidential campaigns that would split the Republican establishment next year, two prominent party members said Wednesday night.​” [NYTimes] • “Romney outlines possible rationale for third bid” [AP]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Billionaire Jeff Greene, Who Bet Against Subprime, Goes Long on U.S. While Bemoaning Jobs Crisis” [Bloomberg] • Josh Kopelman leads $10M round for deluxe suit rental business The Black Tux [TechCrunch] • (attn: J.I.S) “Lake Mary apartment complex sells for $66M”[BizJournal] • “United Synagogue of Consevative Judaism selling its real estate” [JTA] • “Israeli man arrested over leaked Madonna songs” [NYPost] • Tootsie Roll Melvin Gordon’s Succession Puts Spotlight on Aging CEO Ranks [Bloomberg] • Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt at the World Economic Forum: “Faith and tolerance in a troubled Europe” [WEForum]

STARTUP NATION: “Israel’s StoreDot Will Recharge Your Cellphone in 30 Seconds” by Martin Denholm: “Based in Tel Aviv, StoreDot harnesses the power of nanotechnology to recharge a battery in just a few seconds.​ Specifically, the scientists’ method is based on a material called a nanodot – which they say is the world’s first bio-organic nano-crystal to be discovered.​StoreDot Founder and CEO,Doron Myersdorf, explains that by synthesizing these artificial molecules, it “enables the chemistry and improved physics required for fast charging. We’re using these bio-organic materials in order to enrich the movement of ions inside the battery – from the electrode to the electrolyte – in a faster way.”​[WallStDaily] • “Amazon in talks to buy Israeli startup Annapurna Labs for $370M” [Reuters] • “Dropbox’s Purchase of Israeli CloundOn Another Move In Evolving Enterprise Strategy” [Techcrunch] • “Israel’s mobile technologies for disabled find mass market appeal” [Reuters]

LONGREAD: “The New Suez Canal And The Art Of Leading By Thinking Huge” by Victor Kotsev in Fast Company: “Egypt is legendary for autocratic leaders who have sought to cement their leadership by building big—starting, of course the pyramids. During the 1950s and 1960s a modern Egyptian strong-fisted legend, Gemal Abdel Nasser, made a name for himself in the Arab world by nationalizing the Suez Canal and building the Aswan Dam on the Nile. And now Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who won the May election by a landslide after originally coming to power through a military coup last summer, is apparently trying to step into Nasser’s shoes. Witness: the second Suez Canal. It’s a bold move. Sisi’s raised $8.5 billion in just over a week in September directly from his people to finance the construction.” [FastCompany]

SPORTS OWNERS: “Nationals owner Ted Lerner saw opportunity in Max Scherzer — and owned it​” by Barry Svrluga: “Theodore Lerner sat in the corner chair of the front row of a conference room Wednesday afternoon, listening. Lerner, 89, has a winter home in Palm Springs, Calif., but he spent the past weekend in Washington, balancing family and business. He had to marry off a grandson — and he had to sign Max Scherzer.​ “You don’t have the opportunity to sign this type of pitcher very often,” Lerner said just after Scherzer was introduced to Washington as a National.​ Forget the others on the dais at Nationals Park: left to right, Manager Matt Williams, General Manager Mike Rizzo, Scherzer himself and his agent, Scott Boras. It was Lerner who had to decide whether to spend $210 million on a single player.​”[WashPost] • “Giants co-owner Jonathan Tisch gives an insider’s look at hosting the Super Bowl” [CNBC] • Marc Lasry’s Bucks franchise value rises to $600M after purchasing the team for $550M less than a year ago [JSonline]

HAPPENING TODAY: United Nations holds first-ever meeting on anti-Semitism on Thursday: “The U.N. General Assembly is holding its first-ever meeting devoted to anti-Semitism on Thursday in response to a global increase in violence against Jews – a meeting scheduled even before the recent attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris. The daylong informal meeting will feature a keynote address by French philosopher and writer Bernard-Henri Levy and speeches by Canadian, German and French ministers and U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power in the morning. A panel discussion in the afternoon will include U.S. and Canadian lawmakers and several human rights experts including an Israeli professor.” [AP] • “Man Assaulted in Boulder Bar for Refusing to Remove Yarmulke” [DenverEater]

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel,’ by Anita Shapira. Reviewed by Ilene Prusher[NYTimes]

DESSERT: “Hot pastrami and the decline of secular, Jewish-American identity” by Peter Beinart: “There’s something else going on: the decline of secular American Jewish identity. In my youth, it was easier to find cultural spaces that were both distinctively Jewish and utterly non-religious. Jews – no matter how little they cared about Torah and God – lived at a greater distance from their non-Jewish neighbors. Back then, Jews were more likely to classify law firms, hospitals, country clubs, universities, even sports teams, as ours or theirs. The prominent Jewish conservatives of the 1970s were generally called “neoconservatives” in part because they had once been liberals but also to mark the cultural space that separated them from their right-wing Christian allies.​..”

“The younger generation, don’t need deli because they don’t particularly want to distinguish themselves from their gentile neighbors… In the grand drama of American Jewish assimilation, there are winners and losers. And painful as it is to imagine the knish being deposited in history’s dustbin, that’s where it may be going – smeared with mustard, of course.” [Haaretz]  ​

That’s all folks; have a great day!
**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**

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