ON THE HILL: “Congress Defers ‘anti-Semitism’ Bill to 2017” by our new DC correspondent Aaron Magid: A Congressional staff official, who insisted on anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, told Jewish Insider that Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, was responsible for deferring the measure. Since this is the House’s final week in session, Goodlatte opposed “rushing” the bill through without adequate study, noted the Hill staffer. Goodlatte “thought the wording was a little vague and there were definitely first amendment issues as well,” the Congressional official added… Despite the delay, the Congressional official emphasized, “I am quite certain that based on the overwhelming support this bill receives from outside groups and members that there will be an interest and a drive to consider this and review it next year.”
— Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told Jewish Insider that the bill was especially important since he believes that most American universities have “either closed their eyes to the problem (of anti-Semitism) or given a wink and a nod” to the issue. When asked about the charges that the measure would limit free speech, Cooper dismissed these critiques. “When there is a pushback against bullies, very often they (those attacking Israel) will present themselves as victims,” he added.
Given that both the House and Senate will need to reintroduce the bill in the next session, Norm Brownstein, a superlobbyist who led the effort in supporting this legislation, quoted his friend the late Senator Edward Kennedy as best describing the current environment and the way forward in 2017. “The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.” [JewishInsider]
TOP TALKER: “Obama Pressed to Wade Into Israel-Palestinian Fight a Last Time” by Kambiz Foroohar, Margaret Talev and Jonathan Ferziger: “An abstention “wouldn’t shock me,” said Dennis Ross, Obama’s former Middle East policy coordinator, even though the administration has been signaling for some time that Obama isn’t inclined to re-engage in the Israel-Palestinian question. The U.S. would veto any formulation supporting Palestinian statehood, Ross said, but “a narrow resolution on settlements? That’s less far-fetched.” Determined to avert a confrontation with Obama during his final weeks in office, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will do everything he can to delay the final vote on the Israeli settlements legislation until after Trump takes office, said Danny Ayalon, who was Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2002 to 2006. “He doesn’t want this bill, that’s for certain, but the political pressure he’s facing is huge,” Ayalon said in a telephone interview. “There’s a very good chance that his government could fall apart over this.”” [Bloomberg] • Gilead Sher: “Obama’s last chance to bring lasting peace to Israel” [Newsweek]
“Obama Gets Defense Bill Prohibiting Guantanamo Closure” by Roxana Tiron: “The negotiated measure would also boost Israeli missile defense programs by more than $400 million, including the Iron Dome missile defense system.” [Bloomberg]
INBOX — AIPAC statement: “These funds will help Israel defend its citizens against rocket and missile threats, and will further America’s own missile defense programs… Beyond missile defense funding, provisions in the measure provide for a broad range of U.S.-Israel cooperation and demonstrate Congress’ strong interest in addressing Iran’s malign behavior.”
“U.S. wants to send Guantánamo detainee to Israel for trial — but there’s a snag” by Carol Rosenberg: “U.S. intelligence authorities have linked Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu, 43, to a 2002 terror attack on an Israeli hotel in Mombasa, Kenya… According to three government officials who were aware of the trip, the State Department’s Special Envoy for the closure of Guantánamo, Ambassador Lee Wolosky, traveled to Israel in April and met with senior officials who “expressed interest” in the case. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was not among those he met. But the deal has hit a snag, according to three sources, because the FBI has failed to furnish the Israelis with information from its interrogations.” [MiamiHerald]
“Iran Races to Clinch Oil Deals Before Donald Trump Takes Office” by Thomas Erdbrink and Clifford Krauss: “Our officials are in a rush to sign contracts with big oil companies in order to have leverage when Trump enters the White House,” said Saeed Laylaz, an economist with close ties to the government of Mr. Rouhani… “It seems the big oil and gas companies in Europe are determined to show Mr. Trump that they are going to make deals with Iran anyway,” said Reza Zandi, an Iranian journalist and analyst who specializes in the oil and gas industries. “These are important signals to America.” [NYTimes]
— Rasmussen poll: “Forty-one percent (41%) believe the Trump administration should repudiate the Iran deal and renegotiate a new one, but slightly more (43%) say it should allow the deal to continue as negotiated by the Obama administration. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided.” [RasReports]
NOW ON YOUTUBE: Our GA panel with Republican Jewish ‘Insiders’ discussing Donald Trump’s victory [YouTube]
TRANSITION TOWER — Trump’s Transition Team ‘Is Like Game of Thrones’ by Gabriel Sherman: “According to a senior transition official, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is supportive of Priebus’s staff choices because they bring a level of professionalism to the chaotic Trump team. But some at Trump Tower are alarmed that Priebus has so far not offered jobs to a number of Trump loyalists who may have been expecting them, including Michael Cohen, Corey Lewandowski, Hope Hicks, and Dave Bossie… Sources said Trump himself may not be aware that members of his original team haven’t been offered jobs.” [NYMag]
“Trump ‘originals’ say they’re getting frozen out” by Alex Isenstadt and Ken Vogel: “As it stands, a number of Trump originals, as they call themselves, have yet to be promised positions in the administration. That includes people like… Michael Glassner, the former deputy campaign manager.”[Politico]
“Romney spotted near Trump Tower amid cabinet talks” by Emily Smith: “A sharp-suited, carefully coiffed Romney was seen with a briefcase briskly walking on 56th Street, near Fifth Avenue, on Thursday. A witness said, ‘Romney was walking away from Trump Tower and seemed in a hurry, like he didn’t want to be seen.'” [NYPost]
“Israel’s top rabbi: Ivanka Trump is Jewish enough for me” by Yousef Saba: “Ivanka Trump’s conversion to Judaism needs no further clarification or investigation, according to Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef. In July, Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court — an entity distinct from the Chief Rabbinate — ruled that it would not recognize conversions by prominent New York rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who certified Ivanka Trump’s embrace of Judaism in 2009 after she married Jared Kushner.”[Politico]
“A Guided to Donald Trump’s (Complicated) Foreign Relationships” by Ian Bremmer:“Trump’s hard line on Iran and all things Islam reassures Netanyahu that America remains a reliable and powerful friend. But this relationship has always been on solid footing, because even when the partners were glaring at each other, the families still got along fine. At every level of government, communication and cooperation between the U.S, and Israel have been strong for decades, and influential interest groups continue to protect the relationship in both countries. (AIPAC, the most powerful Israel lobby in the U.S., were among the first to force Trump onto a teleprompter!) Netanyahu won’t get everything he wants from Trump. Assad will remain in power in Syria, and Trump may balk at shredding the Iran nuclear deal, for example. But the foundation of this relationship remains as strong and resilient as ever.” [TIME] • “Trump Victory Spurs Israeli Talk of West Bank Annexation” [WSJ]
“Will Trump and Netanyahu Make the America-Israel Relationship Great Again?” by Lee Smith: “Some Israeli officials believe the Trump administration may be able to broker the kind of comprehensive regional understanding that has eluded Western diplomats for the half-century since the Six Day War eliminated the fantasy of pushing the Jews into the sea. The sticking point, say a number of Saudis analysts I’ve spoken with, is that Israel has to show some movement on peace with the Palestinians for Riyadh and Jerusalem to move closer… It’s hard to know exactly what Trump’s Middle East policy will look like—what the new White House’s level of engagement will be in the region, or, most vitally for Israel, whether it will walk away from the JCPOA, enforce it, or try to renegotiate it. Israelis are certain about a few things, however—Donald Trump and the figures he’s appointed to top national security positions are all friends of Israel.” [Tablet]
“Right to the end, Trump campaign spent less than Clinton’s” by Julie Bykowicz and Chad Day: “Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, together gave $10 million to Future 45 in the final weeks of the campaign, the new reports show.” [AP]
“Business giants piled cash into GOP Senate super PAC in election’s final days” by Jacob Pramuk: “Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam donated $7.5 million on Oct. 24, while billionaire Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman contributed $2.2 million a day later. Hedge fund manager Paul Singer of Elliott Management chipped in $2 million on Oct. 26… Adelson and Singer, huge Republican donors in the past, shied from Trump in this cycle but still contributed to other Republican causes. Schwarzman, who has been less active as a donor than Adelson or Singer, will head a forum that will advise Trump on business policy.” [CNBC]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “How money eclipsed power as Washington’s chief social currency” by Roxanne Roberts: “The black-tie dinner at the National Gallery of Art was a dazzling affair. David Rubenstein, one of the gallery’s five trustees, was sitting at his table when a guest came over to greet him. “David! How are you?” the man exclaimed, then turned to the person seated to Rubenstein’s right. “Hi! Who are you? What’s your name?” “John Roberts.” “And what do you do?” the man continued, clueless. Rubenstein hastily explained that his dinner partner was the chief justice of the United States. Roberts was unflappable, the man embarrassed. But when another guest approached Rubenstein for a selfie, the billionaire gently suggested that one with Roberts would be more impressive.”
“The idea that the chief justice was not instantly recognizable, even in a room full of VIPs, would have been shocking just 10 years ago. But Washington’s social landscape has changed dramatically in the past decade, driven by bitterly partisan politics and a booming private sector. The handful of federal officials at the East Wing dinner was eclipsed by philanthropists like Rubenstein, Roger and Vicki Sant, Calvin and Jane Cafritz, Adrienne Arsht, Mitch and Emily Rales, and Connie Milstein, all billionaires or millionaires.” [WashPost]
**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.
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Goldman Sachs C.E.O. Lloyd Blankfein Changes His Tune on Donald Trump [VanityFair] • Time Inc. Hires Banks to Help Field Takeover, Partnership Interest: Move follows bid from group including Edgar Bronfman Jr. [WSJ] • The Thiel Fellowship was created to prove that a college degree doesn’t matter. It became one of the most elite credentials for young entrepreneurs [BackChannel] • Joe Lonsdale pours $4.55M for alcohol IoT startup Nectar [TechCrunch]
“Oscar Health, Joshua Kushner’s startup, opens brick and mortar space in Brooklyn” by Sara Ashley O’Brien: “On Thursday, Oscar announced the opening of its first offline effort, a 6,000 square foot brick and mortar doctor’s office in downtown Brooklyn.This news comes at a precarious time for Oscar, which has a potentially complicated relationship with the incoming presidential administration… Spokespeople for Thrive and Oscar would not comment on whether Jared Kushner is an investor in Oscar.” [CNNMoney]
“Facebook court filings hint at possible political future for Mark Zuckerberg” by Alan Yuhas: “The class-action lawsuit was first filed in late April, after Zuckerberg proposed a corporate shake-up that would dilute the voting power of shareholders – giving him “eternal control” of the company, in the words of the shareholders’ lawyers. Text messages excerpted in the court documents reveal that Zuckerberg and two board members discussed the CEO’s possible government service, and argued about how to present it to shareholders… According to the proposal as it was described in a regulatory filing, Zuckerberg would be able to take a two-year leave from Facebook to serve “in a government position or office” without losing control of the company.” [Guardian]
LongRead: “Why Witnesses to Venezuela’s Catastrophic Corruption Keep Turning Up in the U.S.” by Ethan Bronner and Michael Smith: “Since he was 8, [Martin] Rodil has worn a Star of David pendant, a gift from his grandfather. He wasn’t raised as a Jew, but as he worked with an Israeli on an investigation involving Iran, he began to think about that part of his identity… Rodil’s links to Israel have grown. When he and his wife were unable to conceive, they traveled to Israel in 2007 to try in vitro fertilization. Their twins are “made in Israel,” in Rodil’s words. With funding from a Venezuelan Jew, he’s also brought dozens of Venezuelan doctors and other specialists to Israel to confer on a detailed plan for rebuilding the country after the fall of Chavismo. In the past year, Rodil helped found the Venezuelan American Leadership Council, a lobbying group modeled on the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” [BloombergBW]
“What the U.S. Government Really Thought of Israel’s Apparent 1979 Nuclear Test” by Avner Cohen and WIlliam Burr: “On February 21, 1980, CBS Evening News aired an exclusive report by Tel Aviv based CBS correspondent, Dan Raviv, saying that CBS learned that the Vela event was indeed an Israeli test… According to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Raviv had reported his story to CBS from Rome to evade Israeli press censorship; he subsequently lost his press credentials and was thrown out of the country for his censorship offense, on direct order from Minister of Defense Ezer Weizman… The late Eliyahu Speiser, a high level and reliable Israeli politician who served as a member of the Knesset from 1977 to 1988, confirmed to Raviv that an Israeli nuclear test had occurred.” [PoliticoMag]
SCENE LAST NIGHT — in DC: Atlantic Media’s The Atlantic After Hours gathering, hosted by master moderator and Atlantic Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons, upgraded from Peet’s Coffee shop to the British Ambassador’s Residence. Ambassador Kim Darroch participated in the conversation along with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), and Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson. Barrasso predicted President-elect Trump would soon visit “our greatest allies Britain and Israel.”
Spotted: Heather Podesta, Newseum President Jeffrey Herbst, Sharon Polansky, Alana Herbst, James & Deborah Fallows, Mark Penn, Nancy Jacobson, Ron Kampeas, Kerry Senior Advisor Marie Harf, and Washington columnist at The Boston Globe Indira Lakshmanan.
Yitz Applbaum on the Wine of the Week: I recently dined at the first Kosher restaurant housed in a Ritz-Carlton: the Herbert Samuel Restaurant in Herzliyah. The atmosphere was intense and robust sitting there eating a 16 ounce, forty-day aged steak while listening to a retired IDF general relate some stories of the Entebbe operation. The moment demanded a wine which would hold up to both the steak and the stories.
I found the wine. The Tzora 2014 from Shoresh Vineyard. It is a blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Syrah and 4% Petit Verdot – juicy enough to hold its own in that room, with that steak and those people. It was almost as if one could taste the juice of the grapes as they are being crushed on the conveyer belt — both tart and flavorful. The front of one’s palate is quickly inundated with the Syrah’s punchiness. Luckily, one’s mid-palate gets a rest as the intensity declines. The finish rebounds up to the former height of the open. This wine is young. Give it three years to fully open up, and let the Syrah properly integrate with the other grapes for a more balanced wine. Drink with steak or any other meat where you can enjoy the juice of the meat with the juice of the grapes. [TzoraVineyards]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Leading box office star of the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in over 90 movies during his 60 year acting career, Kirk Douglas (born Issur Danielovitch) turns 100… Former Deputy Secretary and Acting Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, now President of the P&C Division of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Neal S. Wolin turns 55… Member of the Knesset for Likud (2003-2014) with stints as Minister of the Interior and Education Minister, Gideon Sa’ar (born Gideon Zarechansky) turns 50… Junior United States Senator from New York since 2009, Kirsten Gillibrand turns 50… Senior Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg turns 42… Los Angeles investor and businesswoman Lisa Greer… Manager of social media and writer for The Weekly Standard, co-founder of Network Red and Executive Director for CityGOP, Shoshana Weissmann…
Progressive political activist, headed the AmeriCorps VISTA program during the Carter administartion, Margery Tabankin turns 68… Israeli filmmaker and political activist, son of Israeli politician Shulamit Aloni, supporter of BDS and Palestinian rights, Udi Aloni turns 57… Actress, born in Montreal to a Sephardic Jewish family, known for her roles in HBO’s “Entourage” and CBS’s “The Mentalist,” Emmanuelle Chriqui turns 39… Owner of Judaica House in Teaneck, New Jersey, Reuben Nayowitz… Kaylene Hartford… Dan Goldstern…
Businessman and philanthropist who kept 3,000 employees on his payroll in 1995 when his company’s factory burnt down, Aaron Feuerstein turns 91… Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, professor at Rockefeller University, Paul Greengard turns 91… U.S. Secretary of State since 2013, following 28 years (1985-2013) as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry turns 73… Professor of International Economics at Princeton University, Gene Grossman turns 61… Policy researcher at Rand Corporation and a special advisor on Israel with Rand’s Center for Middle East Public Policy, Shira EfronPh.D…. Manager of marketing and public relations at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey, Michael Chananie… Criminal Justice Reporter for the Washington Examiner, Kelly Cohen… Joanne Ring… Judah Schulman… Marshall Wolf…