Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Tillerson for State has some concerned | Ash Carter delivers F-35s in Israel as Trump criticizes cost | Jeffrey Goldberg’s hiring spree

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Will Pro-Israel Community Support Tillerson for Secretary of State?” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The potential appointment has some in the foreign policy and pro-Israel communities concerned… One of Tillerson’s closest friends is former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, whom he befriended through the latter’s work with the Scowcroft Group and other organizations… According to Bill Kristol, chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle in the Bush 41 administration, Scowcroft and James Baker had a “lack of closeness and warmth for Israel.” Some Republicans, he added, were certainly very concerned about relations with Arab states that were not friendly with Israel and skeptical about the case for Israel.” [JewishInsider]

ZOA’s Mort Klein tells us: “As an oil man, he was obviously very close to many Arab countries, had close relations with them. I am worried that this  may indicate bias against Israel. His closeness with Russia concerns me as well because Russia has been enormously hostile to Israel. So, in his work life, the Arabs and the Russians were key players in his day to day work. That makes me very concerned about whether he will be extremely biased against Israel. The fact that Trump is president, who I think will be very fair to Israel, that is what makes me most comfortable.”

Aaron David Miller tells us: “The nomination of a career corporate executive as Secretary of State is a first in the  Post WWII period. (George Shultz was a Bechtel exec for eight years but had also served as Secretary of Labor; Treasury; Head of OMB). The appointment reflects the President-elect’s deal-making transactional approach to diplomacy and how to advance US interests. Tillerson reflects the kind of tough, successful, take charge, bottom line business exec. that Trump admires and trusts. The Putin connection may create some issues for confirmation but will likely be seen — given Mr. Trump’s desire to engage Russia — as an advantage down the road.”

Chemi Shalev: “Jerusalem is bound to be somewhat disappointed with Tillerson’s appointment: All the other potential candidates that had been mentioned, including Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and others, have extensive ties to Israel and to right wing American Jews and a rich history of contacts with Israeli politicians, most notably Benjamin Netanyahu. Tillerson, it seems, is a blank slate as far as Israel is concerned, with less than favorable credentials: the oil industry traditionally keeps its distance from Israel and from Jews and is far more attentive to the oil-rich Arab world. Tillerson could also prove to be a moderating force on the nuclear deal with Iran, compared to Flynn and Mattis, who are thought to be hostile.” [Haaretz]

HEARD THIS MORNING – Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe: “As close as [Tillerson] is to those Sunni Arab nations, that also is a blind spot regarding Israel because, of course, he hasn’t done business with Israel.”

“What It Really Means to Be a ‘Friend of Putin’” by Julia Ioffe: “To do business in Russia—both for Exxon Mobil and for Tillerson’s own massive retirement fund whose fortunes would rise significantly if a Trump White House lifted sanctions—you have to dance to Putin’s tune, and take whatever favors and humiliations he sends your way.” [Politico

NUMBER 2 — “He will also be paired with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his deputy secretary of state, one of the sources added, with Bolton handling day-to-day management of the department.” [NBCNews

Bolton refused to talk about his expected appointment when asked about it by Jewish Insider at a press conference outside the UN: “I’ve tried as hard as I know how for the past several weeks not to get into that speculation.”

Bolton on the U.S. opposing UNSC resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even after Israel passed a law legalizing outposts in the West Bank: “It should not be an issue for the United States, whether it necessarily agrees with all or part of draft resolutions like this. It’s a question of maintaining the fundamental principle that peace and security can only arise on a permanent basis when the parties themselves agree. It shouldn’t be taken as expressing an American view on any particular practice by any of the parties, it’s in opposition to the idea that there’s a role for the United Nations at all in finding international peace and security on a permanent basis.”

On the two-state solution: “I think that we can conclude objectively that the pursuit of a two-state solution has failed. Whether you believe that initially it was a viable proposition or not, after 20 plus years or more, in some cases, we just don’t have the circumstances in the region that will permit it. I propose what I call a three-state solution, that’s wildly unpopular as well, giving Gaza to Egypt, dividing the West Bank and returning sovereignty of part of it to Jordan. I’m told that it’s not workable because the Egyptians don’t want Gaza and the Jordanians don’t want part of the West Bank. I’m certainly open to other alternatives as well, but I think you have to look at the objective reality that the two-state solution doesn’t work and therefore some other alternative has to arise and creative minds ought to work on it instead of pursuing the two-state possibility, which is a dead end in my view.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — Sen. Rand Paul on ABC’s This Week: “John Bolton doesn’t get it. He still believes in regime change. He’s still a big cheerleader for the Iraq war. He’s promoted a nuclear attack by Israel on Iran. He wants to do regime change in Iran. So, I think John Bolton is so far out of it and has such a naive understanding of the world. If he were to be the assistant or the undersecretary for Tillerson, I’m an out automatic no on Bolton. He should get nowhere close to the State Department if anybody with the same world view is in charge… I’ll do anything to try to prevent John Bolton from getting any position, because I think his world view is naive.” [ThisWeek

TOP TALKER: “Boeing Seeks to Sell Planes to Iran, and the Deal to Trump” by Christopher Drew: “The intended recipient of Boeing’s message clearly seemed to be President-elect Donald J. Trump. Its carefully worded statement is emblematic of the tightrope that America’s biggest exporters are walking amid his threats to shake up trade policy and undo the Obama administration’s nuclear accord with Iran… Boeing officials, already dismayed by Mr. Trump’s attack last week over the costs of a new Air Force One, acknowledged that the Iran jet deal still faced contingencies — a polite way of saying they were deeply worried about whether Mr. Trump and the Republican-led Congress would support it.” [NYTimes] • Iran says Gulf worried about war risks with Trump [Reuters]  

AFP: “Petraeus sees ‘downsides’ to Iran nuclear pact: “There are some significant downsides that should cause us great concern,” Petraeus told the Manama Dialogue security forum in Bahrain of the accord… Despite Petraeus’s reservations, the former general said “there are actually some positive elements”, as it helped curb Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon. “There’s a pretty intrusive set of verification measures,” he said.” [Yahoo]

“Trump “feels very warmly” about Israel and Jews, says Netanyahu” by Jacqueline Alemany and Natalie Jimenez Peel: “He optimistically told Stahl he expects U.S.-Israel relations to grow stronger under a Trump administration. “I know Donald Trump. I know him very well. And I think his attitude, his support for Israel// is very clear. He feels very warmly about the Jewish state, about the Jewish people and about Jewish people. There’s no question about that.” Netanyahu and Stahl also discussed the prime minister’s rocky relationship with President Obama, which hit bottom when Netanyahu lobbied against the Iran nuclear deal in a speech before Congress.” [CBSNews] • Why Netanyahu doesn’t worry about Steve Bannon [CBSNews

“Netanyahu to Lobby Trump to ‘Undo’ Iran Deal, Help on Two-State Solution” by Jacob Kornbluh: “In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” program, Netanyahu said he will present President-elect Donald Trump “quite a few” options to deal with Iran’s nuclear threat. “There are ways, various ways of undoing it.” According to Netanyahu, ripping up the international accord will not result in Iran rushing towards developing a nuclear bomb. “I think Iran didn’t rush to the bomb before there was a deal,” he said, reversing a previous stance, “because they were afraid of retribution.” “I have about five things in my mind,” Netanyahu said about the options he will put forth in his meeting with Trump, without revealing them… On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu said he is looking forward to U.S. mediation on moving forward on the basis of a two-state solution. “Yeah, I’d like to have President Trump, when he gets into the White House, help me work on that,” he told 60 Minutes.”

KUSHNER WATCH — “In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Trump suggested he’s serious in getting his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, involved in the Middle East process. “I’d love to have Jared helping us on deals with other nations and see if we can do peace in the Middle East and other things,” the President-elect said. “He’s very talented. He’s a very talented guy. We’re looking at that from a legal standpoint right now.”” [JewishInsider; AP

Trump Tweets This Morning: “The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.” [Twitter]

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv tweeted last night: “Sec Def Ash Carter arrived in Israel. He will meet top Israeli officials & take part in the delivery ceremony of Israel’s first two F-35.” [Twitter]

CNBC: “Trump’s tweet about the F-35 program causes Lockheed Martin to lose $4 billion in market value” [Twitter]

“Buoyed by Donald Trump Win, Jerusalem Mayor Hopes to Get U.S. Embassy” by Rick Gladstone: “In the interview, on Thursday, Mr. Barkat said he had commended Mr. Trump for “his very clear statements” on moving the embassy. “It should have been done years ago,” he said. “My impression is, because I know some of the people and friends around Donald Trump, I believe that it will happen, sooner rather than later,” he said… Mr. Barkat said he was friends with one of Mr. Trump’s daughters, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner… The mayor said he first met the couple a few years ago in Jerusalem. “Naturally, I believe we are aligned in our thinking on what the right thing to do in Israel and for the Jewish people is,” Mr. Barkat said in the interview, “and I do believe that both Jared and Ivanka will probably impact and give the right advice to President-elect Trump.”” [NYTimes

“Report: With Iran as Top Priority, Israeli Delegation Meets With Trump Team to Share Views, Set Expectations for Coming Years” by Barney Breen-Portnoy: “A delegation of Israeli officials traveled to the US this week and met with members of US President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, the Hebrew news outlets nrg and Makor Rishon reported on Friday. According to the report, the purpose of the meeting was to start the process of sharing views and setting expectations for the years ahead… The visiting Israeli delegation was led by acting National Security Adviser Jacob Nagel and joined by Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.” [Algemeiner; NRG]

PA delegation heading to US for talks on stalled peace process: “The delegation will be led by top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and include Majed Faraj, director of the PA’s General Intelligence Service, the Ynet news website reported Saturday. The Palestinians will meet with senior administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry. They are also expected to hold talks with officials close to President-elect Donald Trump, the report said. Quoting senior Palestinian officials and Western diplomats, Haaretz newspaper reported Saturday that the delegation aims to reach an understanding with the outgoing administration of Barack Obama that would prevent a US veto on a resolution condemning Israel’s settlements.” [ToI

“Netanyahu: Israel Needs to Govern Like Trump, Make More Political Appointments” by Barak Ravid: “Donald Trump can make 4,000 political appointments, said Netanyahu, according to a minister who was present. “We need a few hundred appointments here that do not require a tender. What is certain is that with Trump, the officials will carry out his policy. Here, too we need to be able to govern,” said Netanyahu. Netanyahu made his comments during a discussion on the appointment of deputy attorney generals, in which an argument ensued over whether their designations should be limited to six years or eight years.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — Labor Party Gears up for Primaries — by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: The Labor Party’s convention gathered last night in Tel Aviv to vote on a series of procedural matters, and the gloomy mood was impossible to hide. The latest polls in Israel show the party collapsing as it loses voters to Yair Lapid‘s Yesh Atid party. The collective depression at last night’s convention was magnified as the event kicked off with a moment of silence remembering former party leaders Shimon Peres and Benjamin Ben Eliezer, who passed away earlier this year. “It feels like this is Labor’s funeral,” one activist mumbled.

The party’s leader, Isaac Herzog, spent most of the night fighting bitterly over proposals that will allow him to consolidate his grip on the party’s internal institutions. Herzog will face a tough primary in half a year, and a number of challengers are going after his chair, claiming that the party’s decline in the polls can be turned around.

One of the emerging contenders, MK Erel Margalit, unveiled yesterday an aggressive campaign against Prime Minister Netanyahu, under the headline “the people go to the Supreme Court – Bibi goes to an investigation.” The campaign is centered on a claim that Israel’s Attorney General and Chief of Police are deliberately stalling and hindering the investigations of Netanyahu’s various scandals. Margalit and his partner in the campaign, attorney Eldad Yaniv, are asking the public to join them in a special petition to the Supreme Court, asking the court to direct a full investigation into those scandals. Since yesterday more than 5,000 people have signed their petition.

2018 WATCH — Peter Roff: “Source tells me former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor hiring staff for a 2018 U.S. Senate bid. #Virginia.” [Twitter

**Good Monday 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: Paul Singer has some economic advice for Trump [WSJ] • Stronger U.S. spending under Trump could help Israel – Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug said [Reuters] • The Complicated Life of Russian Techno Oligarch Dmitry Grishin [Bloomberg] • Why Israeli entrepreneurs keep choosing Massachusetts [BostonGlobe]

Who’s going to Trump’s tech summit in NY: “Those who will be attending along with Page, Cook and Sandberg, include: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins; IBM CEO Ginni Rometty; Intel CEO Brian Krzanich; and Oracle CEO Safra Catz… Not going is entrepreneur Mark Cuban.” [Recode

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli startups deliver much-needed tech for self-driving cars” by Yoav Leitersdorf, Ofer Schreiber and Iren Reznikov: “The transition from semi-autonomous to fully autonomous vehicles is near, but we are not there yet. Israel’s autonomous vehicles startups, fueled by military expertise and a vibrant tech ecosystem, have built businesses out of the remaining technical hurdles. Via this side road, Israeli startups can help to satisfy the U.S. government’s safety concerns and meet the functional requirements of mass automated transportation. Tesla, Google, Uber, and the traditional automakers will tap into Israeli expertise to reach the finish line as fast as possible.” [VB]

SPOTLIGHT: “How the Twinkie Made the Superrich Even Richer” by Michael Corkery and Ben Protess: “Leon Black grew up in a family that had a home in Westport, Conn., and an apartment on Park Avenue in Manhattan. He attended Dartmouth and Harvard Business School. But when Mr. Black traveled to Lubbock, Tex., to speak to a group of retired teachers, he emphasized a humbler side of his pedigree. “You should know,” Mr. Black said, according to a video recording of the February 2012 meeting, “my mother was a teacher, my sister was a teacher, my brother-in-law is a teacher. We have a lot of teachers in our family.” Mr. Black had good reason to flatter the retirees: Pension funds for teachers and other public workers are some of the biggest investors in Apollo’s funds and have helped make Mr. Black a very rich man.” [NYTimes]

NORM EISEN PROFILE: ‘It’s Like a Powder Keg That’s Going to Explode’ by Darren Samuelsohn: “Eisen has emerged as one of the two most prominent government ethicists calling for Trump to take drastic action to avoid scandal or worse. Eisen, the former top Obama White House ethics lawyer, has been cited more than 1,000 times in news stories, explaining the intricacies of the “emoluments clause” to journalists, many of whom hadn’t heard the words a month ago… “It’s unreal. It’s like a full-employment plan for government ethicists, for White House ethicists,” Eisen told me Monday as he dashed between interviews with U.S. and international journalists lining up to ask him about Trump’s complicated financial arrangements… When he served President Barack Obama, a classmate of his at Harvard Law School, Eisen pushed for greater transparency and was responsible for the White House posting its visitor logs online.” [Politico]

“Glenn Beck’s Regrets” by Peter Beinart: “Later in the show, a questioner suggested that Americans were turning away from God. Beck said he’d been thinking a lot about the prophet Jeremiah, who vainly warned the Israelite kings that catastrophe was near. Finally, when the Babylonians were about to sack Jerusalem, Jeremiah urged the Israelites to accept national enslavement, because it was God’s will. Beck saw a contemporary lesson: “Sometimes you have to pay the price for what you’ve done.” Then he started talking about Donald Trump’s assault on the Bill of Rights.” [TheAtlantic]

GOOD WATCH — Michael Lewis on Charlie Rose: “Bestselling author Michael Lewis discusses his new book, “The Undoing Project,” which tells the story of two Israeli psychologists — Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman — and their groundbreaking work uncovering the hidden biases of the human mind.” [Video]

MEDIA WATCH: “Jeffrey Goldberg Thinks The Atlantic Was Made For Moments Like Donald Trump’s Presidency” by Michael Calderone: “The Atlantic was created for moments for like this ― quite literally,” Goldberg said. “The Atlantic was created at a moment of intense fracturing… Politics is a core mission,” Goldberg said. “Explaining what just happened, and what is happening, is a core mission for The Atlantic.” Goldberg said the post-election period has signaled a “renewed appreciation for a free press and an understanding on the part of a lot of people they should pay for a free press.” [HuffPost]

TRANSITION — “The Atlantic hires BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray” by Kelsey Sutton: “Gray, one of BuzzFeed News’ most prominent political reporters, will join The Atlantic to cover global affairs and U.S. politics, the magazine announced Friday. “Rosie Gray is one of the most tenacious and indefatigable young reporters I’ve ever met, and her skills make her a perfect addition to an already outstanding web team,” Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic’s editor in chief, said in a statement announcing the hire.” [Politico]

“Politico’s Glenn Thrush To Join The New York Times” by Michael Calderone: “Thrush is joining the New York Times to cover the White House, according to sources familiar with the move… At the Times, Thrush will be reunited with former Politico stars Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, who he recently interviewed for his podcast. His hiring suggests that the paper is turning to reporters with tabloid roots to cover an incoming president reared in New York’s media culture.” [HuffPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN: Radio pirates hijack classical station to preach the Torah” by Melkorka Licea: “About a month ago, “I was reading and trying to unwind listening to WQXR when suddenly I started to hear this crackling and a weird voice,” [Kensington resident Patrick] Russell recalled. “I was like what the hell is this? Then I turned the dial and boom!” The illegal airwave — located very close to the classical station’s frequency, at 105.7 FM — features religious tunes, but is mostly a man “yelling and lecturing about the Torah” in English and Hebrew, Russell said.” [NYPost]

ACROSS THE POND: “UK adopts antisemitism definition to combat hate crime against Jews” by Peter Walker: “Britain will become one of the first countries to use this definition of antisemitism, as agreed last May at a conference of the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), the prime minister will say in London. A Downing Street statement said the intention of such a definition was to “ensure that culprits will not be able to get away with being antisemitic because the term is ill-defined, or because different organisations or bodies have different interpretations of it”. The IHRA’s definition reads: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”” [Guardian

BIRTHDAYS: Acclaimed Russian composer of classical music, he has also composed film scores, Yiddish and Klezmer music, Vladimir Shainsky turns 91… Actress and neuroscientist who plays the role of neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” Mayim Bialik turns 41… Baltimore-born world traveler and reporter-producer for ABC News, Becky Perlow turns 29… Associated Press science writer and adjunct professor at NYU’s academic center in Washington, Seth Borenstein… Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Jeffrey Goldstein… Communications Director in the office of Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL6), David Pasch… Israeli-born real estate developer active in Los Angeles, partner in Linear City Development, Yuval Bar-Zemer… Senior media strategist at Raffetto Herman Strategic Communications, formerly deputy press secretary for the US Commerce Department, Sarah Horowitz

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