Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Tensions remain over Congress’ role in MOU | In Kushner, Trump finds a kindred spirit | Amb Dermer looks forward to working with Bannon

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Tensions Remain Over Congress’s Perceived Weakened Role in Aid Deal to Israel” by Aaron Magid: After Trump’s resounding electoral victory, Washington experts on Israel remain cautious that the real-estate mogul turned Commander-In-Chief will dramatically boost financial assistance to the Jewish state. David Makovsky told Jewish Insider, “It is wrong to view the incoming Trump as a gravy train for Israel.” Citing the current divide within the Republican Party on the role of American involvement in the Middle East, Makovsky added, “There is a fiscal side of Trump who feels that America has limited resources and our friends should not be exploiting” that generosity… Given the economic woes facing many Trump supporters, offering Israel with more aid—beyond the $38 billion—is not likely to occur during the beginning of the next administration, explained Dan Arbell.

Democratic Rep. Gene Green supported providing Jerusalem with $38 billion, but he objected to the clause preventing the Jewish state from lobbying for additional missile defense funds. Green told Jewish Insider, “I think Israel and anyone else ought to be able to access elected officials.” Although some have argued that a Trump Administration would be more favorable to amending these clauses of the MOU given his perceived support for the Jewish state, Green questioned whether the President-elect would in fact adopt more pro-Israel policies.

Rep. Brendan Boyle also criticized part of the agreement that required Israel to return any money Congress provided over the MOU limit in 2017 and 2018. “Given the tremendously dangerous situation that Israel faces on a number of its borders, it is impossible to anticipate in the next year or two what their needs will be let alone over the next 10 years,” Boyle told Jewish Insider. The Pennsylvania legislator noted that over the past 16 years—during both the Bush and Obama Administrations—there has been a perception of a “creeping power” moving from the legislative to executive branch, especially in areas related to Foreign Policy. [JewishInsider]

JUST IN: “Trump taps conservative Kansas congressman for CIA” by Deb Riechmann:“Trump has offered the CIA director job to Mike Pompeo, a conservative Republican congressman from Kansas who has heavily criticized the Iran deal.” [AP]

Pompeo tweeted yesterday: “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” [Twitter

LongRead: “Obama Reckons With a Trump Presidency” by David Remnick: “Obama told staff members that he had talked Trump through the rudiments of forming a cabinet and policies, including the Iran nuclear deal, counter-terrorism policy, health care—and that the President-elect’s grasp of such matters was, as the debates had made plain, modest at best. Trump, despite his habitual bluster, seemed awed by what he was being told and about to encounter. Denis McDonough strolled by with some friends and family. The day before, the person Trump sent to debrief him about how to staff and run a White House was his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. They had taken a walk on the South Lawn. I asked McDonough how it was going, and he gave me a death-skull grin. “Everything’s great!” he said. He clenched his teeth and grinned harder in self-mockery.”

— “Obama has a similar view about the Iran nuclear agreement, despite Trump’s regular denunciations of it. “We actually have over a year of proof, and you’ve got the Israeli military and intelligence community acknowledging that, in fact, it has worked,” he said. The agreement has not changed “some of the more obnoxious behavior of Iran,” but it has insured that Iran does not now have “breakout capacity,” the ability to build a weapon in a short window of time. “So, given that proof, I don’t think that it is inconceivable that Republican leaders look and they say, ‘This thing worked. Obama is no longer in office. This is not something that our base is hankering to undo, and we may quietly leave it in place.’”” [NewYorker]

“Trump’s embrace of Bannon sparks divisions, angst among Jewish groups” by Greg Jaffe:“There are lots of questions and concerns and a lot I would like to say,” said a senior executive of a group focused on the U.S.-Israeli relationship, who like some other Jewish organizational leaders, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “But I have a mission and a job to do, and I can’t blow it up.” [WashPost

Bari Weiss: “Steve Bannon’s Heart Doesn’t Matter. His Actions Do.” [TabletMag]

Chemi Shalev: “If Liberal Jews Are the Targets of Trump-inspired anti-Semitism, Is It Really anti-Semitism?” [Haaretz

Rep. Steve King tells Sahil Kapur: “Bannon went to work for Andrew Breitbart. He and I called Andrew Breitbart a mutual, mutual friend. Andrew was Jewish, for one thing… A disproportionate number of minorities surround Steve Bannon in his life. And so you cannot possibly know this man, look at this man, and conceive of uttering the words that he’s a white nationalist. He absolutely is not.” [Twitter]

Jonathan Greenblatt tells Breitbart’s Adelle Nazarian: “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I said he “presided the premier website of the Alt Right.” So am I wrong about what the alt-right is, do you think? Is the alt-right not about white nationalism? I guess what I would just do, is just go back to Steve Bannon’s words, where he said that “Breitbart had become the platform for the alt-right.” So this says “premier website.” This says, “the platform.” So, I guess we can dispute whether “premier” website means the same thing or something different than “the platform.” I think it essentially means the same thing.” [Twitter]

HEARD YESTERDAY – Jonathan Greenblatt at ADL’s “Never is Now” inaugural conference in NY: “Because it rolled on for so long, it’s hard to remember just how unique the election was, and not just because of the candidates themselves. The harassment and hate that bubbled up around the campaigns was unlike anything we have seen in recent history… The American Jewish community has not seen this level of anti-Semitism in mainstream political and public discourse since the 1930s…  There recently have been reports that the new Administration plans to force Muslim-Americans to register for some sort of master government list. Look, Islamic extremism is a threat to us all. But as Jews, we know what it means to be registered and tagged, held out as different from our fellow citizens… I pledge to you right here and now, because I care about the fight against anti-Semitism, that if one day in these United States, if one day Muslim-Americans will be forced to register their identities, then that is the day that this proud Jew will register as a Muslim.”

Investor Chris Sacca tweets: “Jonathan is a friend who I already admired. But this raises my respect for him to another level.” [Twitter]

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, on Black Lives Matters’ platform singling out Israel: “I imagine we will be asked for money, and I think we will consider their behavior, and in this example, a behavior which is not acceptable.”

Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg, a victim of anti-Semitic hate on Twitter: “To believe [threats] just stays on Twitter, I don’t think it is something we can really sustain. If you see it on Twitter you probably should worry a little more about it.”

NYT’s Jonathan Weisman: “The messages I’ve gotten since the election are all now ‘we’re coming to get you, we won… now we get to impose our will.”

TRANSITION WATCH: “David Petraeus in the running to be Trump’s secretary of state” by Julian Borger and David Smith: “The former US army general and CIA director who was prosecuted for mishandling classified information – has entered the race to become Donald Trump’s secretary of state, diplomatic sources said on Thursday… The former British prime minister Tony Blair is reported to have met Kushner in New York this week, but did not pass on details of the meeting to the British embassy.” [Guardian

“Trump considering Mitt Romney for secretary of state” by Eric Beech: “Trump is considering Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, for secretary of state, NBC News reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is due to meet Trump on Sunday to discuss the position, NBC News said.” [Reuters

Phil Rosen to Jewish Insider: “Romney would make a fantastic SEC State. He would take the State Department to heights never seen before. As for myself I followed Romney to the ends of the earth in ’12. Would be honored to do it again anytime he would ask. And a Trump-Romney team would be a real dream team.”

Tevi Troy emails us: “I backed Romney pretty hard for president, so I thought he could do that job. Kal v’chomer (all the more so), I think he could be Sec of State.”

Norm Eisen: “Giuliani X 100 better than Bolton but Mitt X 1000 better than Giuliani. In economic diplomacy (=US jobs) he would be superstar.” [Twitter

“Trump Discusses Russia, Iran in Meeting with Henry Kissinger” by Jacob Kornbluh:“President-elect Trump and Dr. Kissinger have known each other for years and had a great meeting,” Trump’s transition team said in a readout after the meeting. “They discussed China, Russia, Iran, the EU and other events and issues around the world. “I have tremendous respect for Dr. Kissinger and appreciate him sharing his thoughts with me,” added Trump in a statement.” [JewishInsider

“Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer vouches for Trump, Bannon” by Matthes Nussbaum:“Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel,” Dermer told reporters. “We have no doubt that Vice President-elect Mike Pence is a true friend of Israel, he’s one of Israel’s greatest friends in the Congress, one of the most pro-Israel governors in the country. And we look forward to working with the Trump administration with all of the members of the Trump administration including Steve Bannon and making the U.S.-Israel alliance stronger than ever.” [Politico; JI] Video [CSPAN]

Gil Hoffman‏: “Exclusive: Heard from good source who spoke to multiple people on Trump transition team that next US ambassador to Israel = Gov. Mike Huckabee.” [Twitter

“Moskowitz says she will not serve as Trump education secretary” by Eliza Shapiro: “At this time, I will not be entertaining any prospective opportunities,” Moskowitz told reporters at an unrelated news conference outside City Hall. “I will work with him and whoever he selects as education secretary,” she said, adding that she is “troubled by what I see as a sort of rooting for Trump’s failure.” [PoliticoNY

“Donald Trump’s Son-in-Law, Jared Kushner, Tests Legal Path to White House Job” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Trump is urging his son-in-law to join him in the White House, according to one of the people briefed… Mr. Kushner has consulted with at least one lawyer and believes that by forgoing a salary and putting his investment fund, his real estate holdings and The New York Observer into a blind trust, he would not be bound by federal nepotism rules, according to one of the people briefed.”

— The anti-nepotism law “would seem to block out Kushner flatly,” said Norman L. Eisen, who served as Mr. Obama’s ethics counsel during his transition and at the White House. If Mr. Trump were to try to skirt it by having Mr. Kushner advise him in a volunteer capacity, he added, he “would be treading upon very serious statutory and constitutional grounds…. When push comes to shove, on the very hardest calls that confront a president, you want the president’s adviser to remember that their oath or affirmation to the Constitution comes first, before family ties,” Mr. Eisen said. “You need to be able to say no. You need to be able to hold the line. You need to be able to threaten to resign, and you need to be able to actually resign. You can’t resign from being somebody’s son-in-law.”” [NYTimes]

“In Jared Kushner, Trump finds a kindred spirit” by Annie Karni: “One Trump insider described Kushner as “the most powerful person after Donald himself” on the campaign and now in the transition team, because “nobody wants to cross the family.” Kushner has recently lost a noticeable amount of weight, as he has become subsumed in the frantic day-to-day. But he appears to be along for the ride… Over the past year, Kushner took on some of the most sensitive and high-stakes campaign tasks. He became Trump’s designated go-between for billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who now sits on the president-elect’s inauguration team… Kushner, the grandson of Holocaust survivors and a supporter of gay rights, has emerged as a moderate voice in Trump’s circle… Kushner is all in with his father-in-law, and so is his immediate Orthodox Jewish family, who insiders describe as “big believers in Donald.” In general, Kushner also serves as a secure line for people who want to get in touch with Trump, including people who wanted to support the campaign but were fearful of going public with it.” [Politico]

“The Bitter Feud Behind the Law That Could Keep Jared Kushner Out of the White House” by Josh Zeitz: “Even if LBJ signed the law out of personal animus, there’s a reason that Congress passed it by a comfortable margin. And it’s a reason worth remembering today. Presidents enjoy enough power and access to talent without needing to resort to nepotism—and as we can see from RFK’s appointment, all family members—though personally loyal to the president—are not necessarily fit to hold high office.”[PoliticoMag]

“Bill Clinton makes first appearance since Hillary’s loss” by Mara Siegler: “Bill Clinton made his first appearance since wife Hillary lost the election, and was escorted by Secret Service agents into MoMA for the premiere of “Lion,” with Harvey Weinstein. “We suffered a nightmare as a country,” Democratic donor Weinstein told the crowd. But he added of Bubba, “As long as my friend is here with me and with the American people, then I don’t think we’re gonna have to worry. We are gonna have to fight — but at least we have somebody who is an inspiration.”” [NYPost

“House votes to prohibit sale of commercial aircraft to Iran” by Richard Lardner: “By a 243-174 vote on Thursday, lawmakers passed a bill to prohibit the Treasury Department from issuing the licenses American banks would need to complete the transactions. The House action seeks to counter the Obama administration’s decision to grant aviation giants Boeing and Airbus permission to sell the planes to Tehran.” [AP

“U.S., Iran clash over Tehran’s testing of limit in nuclear deal” by Francois Murphy: “The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is policing the deal, said Iran’s overstepping of the limit on its stock of a sensitive material for the second time this year risked undermining countries’ support for the agreement. The victory of Donald Trump – a vocal critic of the deal – also raised the question of whether his country would continue to support the accord.” [Reuters

“Bolton calls regime change the ‘only long-term solution’ in Iran” by Madeline Conway:“The ayatollahs are the principal threat to international peace and security in the Middle East,” Bolton told Breitbart News Daily, a radio program run by the hard-right website with close ties to Donald Trump. “Now, their ouster won’t bring sweetness and light to the region, that’s for sure, but it will eliminate the principal threat.” [Politico

**Good Friday 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

SPOTLIGHT: “Israel’s Magal sees Mexican wall as no barrier to business” by John Reed:“While controversy rages in the US and Mexico over President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to build “a wall” along the two countries’ border, an Israeli company is quietly positioning itself for a boom in new business. Saar Koursh, the company’s chief executive, told the Financial Times that Magal was hoping to supply the US with border sensors, cameras, and other equipment if the president-elect makes good on his promise to build a wall.” [FinancialTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Mark Halperin And John Heilemann’s Bloomberg Politics Show To End” by Michael Calderone: “Halperin and Heilemann, who joined in May 2014 and served as co-managing editors of Bloomberg Politics, will continue to host the show daily until Dec. 2. Bloomberg will produce four hourlong specials previewing Trump’s presidency and then cover the event on Jan. 20. The two journalists will cease day-to-day roles with the company, but according to the memo are in discussions to “play a role at Bloomberg as contributors and columnists.”” [HuffPost

“Ruth Gruber, who accompanied 1,000 Jews to the shores of the United States during the Holocaust, dies at 105” by Emily Langer: “Aboard the ship, Dr. Gruber assumed the only rank that commands more respect than general: that of a mother. The refugees, some of them too old to walk, actually called her “Mother Ruth.” Fluent in German and Yiddish, she organized English lessons, cared for the seasick and taught at least one refugee her first English song — “You Are My Sunshine,” the Boston Globe reported. Together they made the two-week journey without attack, and the refugees arrived in the United States “safe beyond their most roseate dreams,” according to a New York Times account at the time… In her 70s, she was the only foreign correspondent to observe Operation Moses, the airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel during famine. Ruth Gruber was born in Brooklyn (the “shtetl” of Williamsburg, she called it) on Sept. 30, 1911, to Russian Jewish immigrants.” [WashPost; NYTimes

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Tales from the Mitzvah Tank” by Allan Ripp: “A few months ago, I popped into a Winnebago parked at the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, right across from Tiffany and Bergdorf Goodman. This was the Mitzvah Tank, a roving synagogue on wheels operated by the Chabad Lubavitch movement. The “tank” brings old-school Judaism to high-traffic parts of New York. In five minutes or less, anyone can drop by for a quick blessing and some Talmudic wisdom.” [WSJ]

Yitz Applbaum on the Wine of the Week — 2013 Capcanes La Flor del Flor de Primavera: I often wonder what drives me to choose the wine I will drink at any given juncture. This is true when dining at a restaurant or sampling from my own cellar. Of course the mood, company and food all have an influence – though I am counterintuitively least swayed by the food. I have found that when the mood is either romantic or challenging that I gravitate towards a Spanish wine. The past several years has seen the Kosher Spanish wine market blossom.

Recently I opened a 2013 Capcanes La Flor del Flor de Primavera. It is a deep purple – of late I have been focusing a lot on the hues or the wines I drink. It is lush and velvety on the palate. The Grenache grape is full of tart fruit berries taken too soon off the bush. Let the wine breathe for an hour before digging in. This wine can be consumed with most foods, though it is very special with some Osso Buco. I would drink it without any food at all. This wine will keep you happy for days. [CellerCapcanes; Kosher]

BIRTHDAYS: Israeli theoretical physicist, who at age 27 became a professor and then later President of the Weizmann Institute, Haim Harari turns 76… Lecturer at Boston University School of Law, formerly SVP and General Counsel of Fidelity Management & Research Company, Eric D. Roiter turns 68… Reporter at the New York Times, Sheryl Stolberg turns 55… Philanthropist and pro-Israel activist Laurie Luskin… Richard Gorman… Talia Fadis… Roland Tovar… Roberta Goldstein… Shira Dicker

Professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Leeds, Polish born Zygmunt Bauman turns 91… Award winning television and radio host including the eponymous “Larry King Live” nightly show on CNN from 1985 to 2010, Larry King (born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger) turns 83… Retired New York State Supreme Court judge, whose tenure on the television program “The People’s Court” was far shorter than that of his wife “Judge Judy,” Jerry Sheindlin turns 83… Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University, Richard Zare turns 77… Fashion designer Calvin Klein turns 74… Following a 27-year career as a Professor at Princeton, she became President of the University of Pennsylvania, Amy Gutmann turns 67… Los Angeles based real estate investor, Sydney Cetner turns 67… Hollywood screenwriter, producer, director, and lyricist, best known as the writer of “Being John Malkovich,” Charlie Kaufmanturns 58… Angel investor, investment banker and President of Sunrise Financial Group, Nathan Lowturns 56… Author of over 30 books, television host and Chabad Rabbi in Oxford, England (1988-99), Shmuley Boteach turns 50… Executive Editor of Time Magazine’s digital platforms, Sam Jacobs… Vice President of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and director of its Washington, DC office, Lisa Eisen… Senior Director of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Seth Cohen

Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden turns 74… Actor, comedy writer and producer, best known for creating and performing the satirical stuntman character Super Dave Osborne, Bob Einstein turns 74… Singer and songwriter best known for writing and performing the song “Spirit in the Sky,” Norman Greenbaum turns 74… U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (2005-2006), currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, John Bolton turns 68… White House official in both the Bush 41 and Bush 43 administrations, now a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, Jay Lefkowitz turns 54… Billionaire hedge fund manager, founder and president of Greenlight Capital, David Einhorn turns 48… Attorney in Goulston & Storrs Boston-based real estate practice, Zev D. Gewurz turns 45… Bloomberg TV’s senior markets correspondent Julie Hyman turns 40… Politico’s writer for its daily newsletter, New York Health Care, who covers NYC politics, focusing on hospitals and health care, Dan Goldberg… Political consultant and opposition research specialist for the DNC and for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, founder of Beehive Research, Devorah Adler… Benjamin Gonsher turns 37… Michael Jankelowitz… James Goldman

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