Daily Kickoff: Texas Governor flies Air Adelson to Israel | Davos Preview | U.S. to pay Iran $1.7B in settlement; new sanctions for missile program
DRIVING THE WEEK: “Why the world’s movers and shakers flock to Davos” by Alain Sherter: “German economist Klaus Schwab founded the WEF in 1971 with a seemingly simple goal: to make the world a better place. “We believe that progress happens by bringing together people from all walks of life who have the drive and influence to make positive change.”… “Change,” as the WEF blandly puts it, usually amounts to a cut-throat contest of interests rather than a collegial exercise in consensus-building. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who are both expected in Davos this week, are unlikely to hug out their countries’ differences over an apres-ski schnapps.” [CBSNews]
Headline from Davos 2015: “An Israeli Cyber Warrior Puts a Scare Into CEOs at Davos” [Bloomberg]
“Who’s who at the World Economic Forum” by Lynsey Barber: “On the Swiss slopes, the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum which kicks off this Wednesday, brings together the world’s biggest politicians, business leaders and a sprinkling of celebrities to liven things up too. Leonardo DiCaprio is the most high profile of them to set foot on the snowy slopes of the Swiss town, while Will.I.Am returns for a second year along with names such as Bono and Kevin Spacey. Alibaba’s Jack Ma Facebook’s, Sheryl Sandberg (no Mark Zuckerberg, he’s on paternity leave), Uber’s Travis Kalanick, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Eric Schmidt of Google, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Meg Whitman of HP, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki and Nathan Blecharczyk of Airbnb.” [CityAM; BBC; CNN]
Other attendees: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Canyon Partners’ Mitch Julis, Stuart Eizenstadt, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of the Conference of European Rabbis, CBS News David Rhodes, BlackRock’s Laurence Fink, Michael Dell, Elliott’s Paul Singer, Elliott’s Dan Senor, Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Henry Schein’s Stanley Bergman, David Miliband, Moelis & Co’s Eric Cantor, George Soros, Robert Soros, Gene Sperling, Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, Douglas Durst, David Rothkopf, Thomas Friedman, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Third Point’s Daniel Loeb, TPG’s David Bonderman, Ezekiel Emanuel, Westfield’s Peter Lowy (Chairman of Tribe Media), Yale’s Peter Salovey, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.
Israeli Delegation at Davos: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former President of Israel Shimon Peres, American Jewish Committee’s Rabbi David Rosen, Bank Hapoalim’s Yair Seroussi, Bank Leumi’s David Brodet, Yossi Vardi, Sami Sagol, Ehud Shapiro, Matan Hoffman.
AIR ADELSON: Also on the guest list for Davos is Texas Governor Gregg Abbott. Yesterday, Haaretz’s Avi Scharf tweeted asking why Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands’ 737 flew from Austin to Tel Aviv and who was on board? Well, a source confirmed that the plane brought the Texas Governor’s delegation to Israel prior to his trip to the Swiss Alps. Last night, Abbott tweeted a picture from the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and we’re told he plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett today. Unclear if Adelson’s plane is also flying the delegation from Israel to Davos and, if so, who else might hitch a ride.
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Iran: Now the hard part begins” by Michael Crowley:“The centrifuges are packed up, the sanctions are lifted, and President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is now a fact on the ground. But managing the deal’s aftermath in Obama’s final year could be nearly as hard as the process of striking it, say current and former administration officials involved in the issue. Resentful Iranian hardliners may provoke new confrontations with the U.S. Republicans will push for new sanctions and issue threats of war. Israel and Saudi Arabia will pounce on any hint of Iranian misbehavior.” [Politico]
“Netanyahu Asserts Israel Will Be Iran’s Watchdog” by Steven Erlanger: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Israel would ensure that Tehran never obtains nuclear weapons, while also taking credit for keeping Iran from already having them… “What is clear is that Iran will now have more resources to dedicate to their terrorism and aggression in the region and in the world, and Israel is prepared to deal with any threat,” he said.” [NYTimes]
“Prisoner Swap May Help Iran Arm Assad” by Josh Rogin: “In exchange for the release of four American prisoners, the Barack Obama administration agreed to free seven Iranians in U.S. custody and stop trying to arrest 14 others, two of whom the U.S. government had accused of funneling weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime and Hezbollah in Syria. For years, Iran’s privately-owned Mahan Air has been using its planes to bring soldiers and arms directly to the Syrian military and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah by flying them from Tehran to Damascus, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.” [BloombergView]
“14 Testy Months Behind U.S. Prisoner Swap With Iran” by Peter Baker and David Sanger:“The Americans were flabbergasted. “We’ve already talked about this,” said Brett McGurk, the lead negotiator. But the Iranians were adamant, according to American officials informed about the meeting. And so Mr. McGurk and his team picked up their papers and walked out, putting an abrupt end to the meeting. Mr. McGurk’s interlocutors had come from Iran’s state security apparatus, a group that had barely, if ever, met Americans, much less negotiated with them.” [NYTimes]
“Progressive Democrats Met Secretly With Iranian Diplomat In December” by Laura Barron-Lopez: “In early December, six House Democrats traveled to New York for an under-the-radar meeting with Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo. The topic: Four Americans being detained by Iran… The tone of the roughly 30-minute meeting, which included Reps. Jared Huffman (D-Cal.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), was “positive,” according to a source in the room.” [HuffPost]
“U.S. to pay Iran $1.7 billion in legal settlement” by Laura Koran: “The U.S. State Department announced the government had agreed to pay Iran $1.7 billion to settle a case related to the sale of military equipment prior to the Iranian revolution, according to a statement issued on Sunday.” [CNN]
“U.S. Sanctions 11 Iranian-Tied Entities for Role in Tehran’s Ballistic Missile Program” by Jay Solomon: “The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned nearly a dozen Iranian-linked entities Sunday for their alleged role in Tehran’s ballistic-missile program, a move coming just hours after Washington and Tehran concluded a high-stakes prisoner swap.” [WSJ]
DEM DEBATE RECAP — by Jacob Kornbluh: On Iran deal — Sanders expressed his desire to see the U.S. move forward to restore diplomatic relations with Tehran, while Hillary appeared more skeptical of Iran changing its behavior as a result of the nuclear deal implementation. [JewishInsider]
Sanders: “I think what we’ve got to do is move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran. Understanding that Iran’s behavior in so many ways is something that we disagree with; their support terrorism, the anti-American rhetoric that we’re hearing from of their leadership is something that is not acceptable. On the other hand, the fact that we’ve managed to reach an agreement, something that I’ve very strongly supported that prevents Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and we did that without going to war…. I think the goal has got to be, as we have done with Cuba, to move in warm relations with a very powerful and important country in this world.”
Hillary: “They have been so far following their requirements under the agreement, but I think we still have to carefully watch them. We’ve had one good day over 36 years, and I think we need more good days before we move more rapidly — before more normalization. And we have to be sure that they are truly going to implement the agreement, and then we have to go after them on a lot of their other bad behavior in the region.”
How It Played: “Hillary Clinton Embraces Obama Legacy, as Bernie Sanders Aims for Democrats’ Hearts” [ABCNews] • “Bernie Sanders says GOP rivals ‘seem to want’ to get U.S. bogged down in Syria ‘quagmire'” [TheWeek] • “Clinton and Sanders sharpen their tone as the stakes rise” [WashPost] • “Clinton Seizes on Policy Shifts by Sanders” [NYTimes]
“Bernie’s ISIS Strategy Is A Disaster” by Tim Mak: “Sen. Bernie Sanders wants Iran and Saudi Arabia to send ground troops into Syria as part of a coalition of Muslim nations to fight ISIS, an idea he’s pressed multiple times as a strategy to fight Islamic extremism in the region. It’s the Middle East policy equivalent of a COEXIST bumper sticker. Sanders’ proposal might sound promising to foreign policy lightweight—but those with expertise in the area know that the concept is deeply troubling.” [DailyBeast]
“In primary challenge, Wasserman Schultz faces unprecedented test” by Mike Lillis: “For Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the problems with the left just keep coming. Now she’s facing a primary challenge from a liberal Wall Street reformer who says she’s a corporate shill detached from her district. Timothy Canova says Wasserman Schultz’s positions on trade, criminal justice, consumer protection and drug policy reform — among others — are evidence that she’s sold out to corporate interests at the expense of her constituents.” [TheHill]
“A Look Inside Lichtenstein’s Hillary Fundraiser” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Lichtenstein said he closed off by saying: “The leading Republican candidate, who so many people are inspired with, this is a quote from him. He said, ‘Greed is good. You can’t be too greedy. You can’t own enough. Take everything you can.’ Here’s a quote from Clinton that she said when she was 14. She heard it from her teacher. She said it changed her life and this is the quote: ‘Do all the good you can to whomever you can, in as many was as you can, however you can for as long, ever, as you can.’ Which one exemplifies our value system best?” [JewishInsider]
“SNL Calls Out Anti-Semitism Of Ted Cruz’s ‘New York Values’ Comment” by Julia Brucculieri: “When one of the moderators points out that the Texas senator is just describing “Seinfeld,” Cruz responds by saying, “Believe me, if I could say ‘liberal Jews,’ I would.” [HuffPost] • “Why New York Values Works For Ted Cruz: It Can Mean Anything” by Rosie Gray [BuzzFeed]
AIPAC to Host Iowa Caucus Watch Party in NYC: “The event, in a theater-style program with over 1800 participants, will take place at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center on the same night as the Iowa Caucuses and will feature a panel of campaign experts discussing the 2016 presidential race. David Gregory will moderate… Howard Dean and Ralph Reed will appear together on stage to discuss the 2016 presidential race and its implications for the U.S. – Israel relationship. According to one AIPAC official, tickets for the gala are already sold out two weeks ahead of time.” [JewishInsider]
Sen. Cory Booker posts… “About 10 days ago I was in the Middle East… during a small break, my chief of staff and I broke away to visit one of my favorite places on the planet earth: The Kotel or The Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. I have prayed there many times. It dates back to the second temple which was destroyed in the year 70. I can go on about its significance historically and religiously but won’t here. What I will say is that it was an honor to be there again and with Matt. I took time to pray for peace and said prayers for the year ahead. May we all be instruments of peace, may we all better instigate love and more ardently wield kindness.” [Instagram]
TRANSITION: “Keyes to be PM’s English language spokesman” by Herb Keinon: “David Keyes, a pioneer in using online crowdsourcing platforms to promote human rights around the world, will become Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s next English-language spokesman, The Jerusalem Post has learned from senior government officials. Keyes will replace outgoing spokesman Mark Regev, who was appointed as the next ambassador to London and is expected to take up that position by the beginning of March.” [JPost; ToI]
LongRead — Letter From Jerusalem: “A Palestinian Israeli Leader For Peace” by David Remnick: “Odeh came to the United States several weeks ago… But the trip could not be counted an unmitigated success. Invited to meet with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in New York, Odeh arrived at its offices, on the East Side, and discovered that it shares a floor and some space with the Jewish Agency—an organization that, among other activities, helps settle new arrivals in Israel. That, Odeh told me, was “a red line.” He would not go upstairs. Odeh’s host, Malcolm Hoenlein, could not fathom this logic. “How do you accept a paycheck every month from the Knesset?” he asked Odeh.” [NewYorker]
BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Russian oligarchs lose $11bn in just 10 days during oil price crash” [Telegraph] • “Bill Clinton’s pardon of fugitive Marc Rich continues to pay big” [NYPost] • “Chelsea Clinton, 33, and husband Marc Mezvinsky, 35, are about to swap their $4 million pad for a huge new $10.5 million one nearby.” [DailyMail] • “Soros’ son ‘stashed’ $21M in bank as wife battled cancer” [NYPost] • “Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Donates $31 Million in Stocks to Charity” [Haaretz] • “Shalom, SynaCondo, Midtown Temple’s Move to Stay Afloat” [Curbed]
HOLLYWOOD: “‘Hail, Caesar!’ Explores the World of the Hollywood ‘Fixer’” by Michael Cieply: “You might need political maneuvering from Matthew Hiltzik, who worked for Hillary Clinton and used to keep Harvey Weinstein out of trouble; some power-agent work from Ari Emanuel of William Morris Endeavor; and help from at least one of those quiet, intricately wired physical production executives, who seemingly know all the secrets and where they are kept.” [NYTimes]
TALK OF OUR NATION: “The country’s tastiest chicken will soon be kosher” by Victor Wishna: “When the multi-breed mix of approximately 1,500 reaches market-ready maturity in May, the chickens will head east to a rabbinically supervised slaughterhouse in upstate New York — and become the first kosher heritage poultry commercially available since the rise of factory farming more than a half-century ago… The Jewish Initiative for Animals, or JIFA, officially launches Monday with the aim of educating the Jewish community on the ethical issues of industrial farming and encouraging Jewish institutions to create food policies showcasing animal welfare as a Jewish value. The initiative is being jumpstarted by Washington, D.C.’s Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies and the Leichtag Foundation in Encinitas, California.” [JTA]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Rebbe with a Cause: Rachel Timoner Preaches Social Justice in Park Slope” [Observer]
MLK DAY: “King and Heschel and Moses: A documentary film draws connections between the civil rights leader, the Jewish theologian, and the prophet” [TabletMag]
–Watch: “The Maccabeats and Naturally 7 – Shed a Little Light – MLK Jr. Day” [YouTube]
WEEKEND WEDDING: Eric Wachter, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League Washington regional office, wed Dr. Miriam Fischer, an emergency medicine physician at Inova Fairfax Hospital, on Sunday evening in a ceremony officiated by Rabbi Jack Moline at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in downtown Washington, DC.
–SPOTTED: The bride and groom were surrounded by more than 200 friends and family who dined, danced and celebrated with the happy couple late into the night. Guests included Bluelight Strategies managing director and co-founder Aaron Keyak and wife Avi Goldgraber, a former HHS appointee; Jeffrey Snyder, a top AIPAC Board Member; Ben Suarato, press secretary for Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA); Israel on Campus Coalition Director of Strategic Communications Melissa Weiss; Arielle Poleg, media and client manager at 30 Point; DNC Media Center Director Mitch Malasky; Grant and Thorton LLP’s Adrianne Malasky; AIPAC’s Tom Holtz; AIPAC’s Melissa Kaplan; Hunton and Williams’ Liza Lewis; Shelby Anderson, attorney, U.S. Dept. of Commerce and American Academy of Physician Assistants’, Sarah Sonies; and Hillary Smith Kapner. H/T Politico Playbook & Wedding Guests [Pic; NYT]
NYT Wedding: “Melissa Goldberg, Evan Mintz: Her mother is on the board of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee… The groom, 29, is a writer and editorial board member at The Houston Chronicle, where he covers local politics and the energy economy. He graduated from Rice University and received a law degree from Yeshiva University… The couple connected through JDate in 2011. It was not difficult to recognize each other’s photos online because as children they had met through their mothers, who were sorority sisters.” [NYTimes] • Spotted at the wedding: Lee Wunsch, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston.
BIRTHDAYS: Tamir Goodman, the ‘Jewish Jordan,’ turns 34… Martin O’Malley turns 53… Actor Jason Segel turns 36…