Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: The ‘Davos Class’ in the Trump Era | The Other Kushner Brother | Lynton leaves Sony for Snapchat | Remembering Irwin Isaacson Jr.

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DRIVING THE WEEK: Parallel Inauguration Week — “Corporations Open the Cash Spigot for Trump’s Inauguration” by Nicholas Fandos: “Chevron, the oil giant, has given $500,000 for the dayslong festivities. Boeing, which has been a target of Mr. Trump, pledged $1 million. And Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, giants of the gambling industry, are said to have donated more than that by themselves… In exchange, Mr. Trump’s most prolific donors will gain access to what amounts to a parallel inauguration week, carefully planned and largely out of public sight, during which they can mingle with members of the incoming administration over intimate meals and witness Mr. Trump’s ascension from the front rows.”

Thomas Barrack Jr., the private equity investor leading the committee, said his group’s work was made considerably easier by a large untapped pool of donors who for one reason or another did not support Mr. Trump’s campaign. “A lot of the people who were not on board early on are now getting on,” said Mel Sembler, a longtime Republican fund-raiser who has helped solicit donations… Sembler agreed, but said it was certainly “good public relations” for American companies to be backing the celebration. “It’s important to have your name there if you are in that business,” he said. “It’s like supporting your community.” [NYTimes]

TOP TALKER: “Trump could cause ‘the death of think tanks as we know them’” by Josh Rogin: “Those close to him, including chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner, see think tanks as part of a Washington culture that has failed to implement good governance, while becoming beholden to donors. “This is the death of think tanks as we know them in D.C.,” one transition official told me… If the Trump team succeeds in diminishing the influence of Washington think tanks and keeping their scholars out of government, policymaking will suffer. Many of these scholars hold the institutional knowledge and deep subject matter expertise the incoming administration needs.” [WashPost

“Donald Trump: I’ll do a deal with Britain” by Michael Gove and Oliver Wright: “Mr. Trump also confirmed that he would appoint Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, to broker a Middle East peace deal (“He’s a good boy and he will get an Israel agreement that no one else would pull off”), urged Britain to veto any new UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel and repeated his criticism of President Obama’s handling of the Iran nuclear deal.” [SunTimes• Trump Calls NATO Obsolete and Dismisses EU in German Interview [Bloomberg; Bild]  

Trump on the Iran deal: “I don’t want to say what I am gonna to do with the Iran deal. I just don’t want to play the cards. I mean, look, I’m not a politician, I don’t go out and say, ‘I’m gonna do this’ – I’m gonna do, I gotta do what I gotta do… But I’m not happy with the Iran deal.” [SunTimes]

Europe hits back at Trump over NATO, Iran deal: “Speaking ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Federica Mogherini said the deal was “proof that diplomacy works and delivers.” … Britain’s foreign minister Boris Johnson also defended the deal, saying it had “great merit” and “we want to keep it going.”” [AFP]

“Reince Priebus: Iran Nuclear Deal Is ‘On Life Support’” by Harriet Torry: “Mr. Priebus told ABC’s “This Week” that a decision on the Iran deal will be made by the incoming president in conjunction with his closest advisers. “We all know that President-elect Trump doesn’t like the Iran deal, thinks it’s a terrible document…but moving forward, the best way is going to be something that is going to be a collective decision that is made, of course, with President-elect Trump having the primary say,” Mr. Priebus said. “I’m not here to declare one way or the other ultimately where this is going to go, but I do believe it’s on life support,” Mr. Priebus said.” [WSJ

“Obama says U.N. vote didn’t rupture U.S.-Israel relations” by Phil Stewart: “I don’t think it caused a major rupture in relations between the United States and Israel,” Obama said in an interview with the CBS program “60 Minutes” airing on Sunday night. “If you’re saying that Prime Minister Netanyahu – got fired up, he’s been fired up repeatedly during the course of my presidency.” [Reuters

“Obama’s parting thoughts on Syria, Israel” by Cyra Master: “And despite all the noise and hullabaloo, military cooperation, intelligence cooperation, all of that has continued. We have defended them consistently in every imaginable way.” But, he said, allowing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to worsen is a problem for both the U.S. and Israel and said settlements are “a contributing factor to the inability to solve that problem.” Obama said he wanted “to make that point” with the vote.” [TheHill; CBSNews]

HEARD LAST NIGHT: Sen. Chuck Schumer at the annual HASC concert in NYC: “…That awful one-sided resolution at the UN. But some of us worked very hard and tonight they announced, no matter what happens in Paris, nothing more is going to happen at the UN. So we don’t have to worry about that.” [Video]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Mideast conference has an urgent message for Trump” by Carol Morello and William Booth: “Though Trump was not mentioned by name, there was widespread concern in Paris that the new administration, which will occupy the White House in five days, will be so pro-Israel that its policies could threaten the idea of two states living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as their shared capital… And Netanyahu signaled that he was looking forward to Trump’s inauguration when he said the conference exemplified the “final palpitations of yesterday’s world. Tomorrow will look a lot different, and tomorrow is very close.”

— “Israeli media reported that Netanyahu brought up [the UNSC resolution] and told Kerry flatly that “the damage was already done.” Kerry pulled out a sheet of paper that apparently was a transcript of his phone call, and he read aloud a portion of it regarding the resolution, inviting reporters to quote in its entirety what he told Netanyahu: “Now, I want to stress this point: We fully respect Israel’s profound historic and religious ties to the city and to its holy sites. We’ve never questioned that. This resolution in no manner prejudges the outcome of permanent status negotiations on East Jerusalem, which must, of course, reflect those historic ties and the realities on the ground. That’s our position. We still support it.”” [WashPost; AFP

“Kerry says ‘inappropriate’ for conference to mention possible U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem” by Lesley Wroughton: “”It is being debated publicly at home and does not belong within international fora at this moment in time. It’s inappropriate,” Kerry told reporters.” [Reuters

“Israeli officials cheer ‘weakened’ Paris peace summit declaration” by Raphael Ahren: “The Israeli officials were jubilant that “problematic passages” in a contentious recent UN Security Council resolution on the settlements were not included in the Paris document… Furthermore, the Israeli officials expressed satisfaction over the fact that no further action against Israeli settlements is planned at the Security Council… The ostensible success, the officials concluded, was the “result of harsh reactions” voiced by Israel against Resolution 2334.” [ToI

“UK signals closeness to Trump with snub to French Middle East summit” by Patrick Wintour: “The British government has signalled its determination to stay close to Donald Trump’s administration by refusing to send a high-level delegation to the Middle East peace conference organised by the French government… Trump’s transition team reportedly told French diplomats they disapproved of the conference going ahead, seeing it as an attempt to put unfair pressure on Israel and give an unjustified reward to the Palestinians.” [Guardian• Anshel Pfeffer: “This statement from UK government on the Paris conference is exactly Netanyahu’s position (minus a bit of rhetoric).” [Twitter

“Here’s what Plan B in the Middle East should look like” by Stuart E. Eizenstat and Dennis Ross: “Building could continue unabated within the three major settlement blocs near the pre-1967 Green Line… But settlement expansion would cease in those areas outside the blocs in what could eventually become a demilitarized Palestinian state… The other centerpiece of Plan B would be empowering the Palestinian economy through the kind of private-sector development the Trump administration should like, rather than sending more U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority.” [WashPost

TRANSITION TOWER: “Trump slow to vet ultra-rich ambassador candidates” by Tara Palmeri: “Another candidate for Italy, financier Lew Eisenberg, a Trump loyalist, has the confidence of the transition team to get through brutal Senate hearings, a transition official said… “For Lew Eisenberg, the transition team is very comfortable that this issue has been publicly dismissed and has no merit,” the official added, noting Eisenberg’s loyalty to Trump. “Lew’s a different situation, because he’s been so active.”” [Politico

“In Bid to Block David Friedman’s Ambassadorship, Liberal Jews Lean on Chuck Schumer” by Judy Maltz: “Over the weekend, a group of 120 professors of Jewish studies, representing universities and colleges across the United States, sent a letter to Schumer urging him to vote against the appointment… Ricki Lieberman, a Democratic Party activist based in Israel who has worked as a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, is encouraging the “many thousands” of Trump opponents on her email list to write letters to Schumer expressing their opposition to Friedman’s appointment.” [Haaretz

“Israeli Settler Leaders Will Attend Trump Inauguration” by Naomi Zeveloff: “Yehuda Glick, a Brooklyn-born rabbi and member of the Israeli parliament’s ruling Likud party confirmed that he will be attending the inauguration with fellow Likud lawmaker Sharren Haskel… According to the Times of Israel, Oded Revivi, the chairman of the Yesha settler’s council, will be attending along with Benny Kasriel, the mayor of Ma’aleh Adumim, a settlement outside Jerusalem.” [Forward

BUZZ IN BALFOUR: “Netanyahu Reportedly Orchestrated Meeting Between Media Mogul and Businessmen: “According to Channel 2, Netanyahu helped set up meetings between Mozes and the Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, the Australian billionaire James Packer and even Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. He also helped Mozes reach out to the German media concern Axel Springer. All contacts were made as part of an attempt to help Mozes’ Yedioth Aharnoth daily deal with financial issues by bringing in investors… Last week, Channel 10 reported that police had searched Arnon Milchan’s office and found receipts for the purchase of cigars and other gifts for Netanyahu adding up to over 400,000 shekels ($105,000). According to that report, additional receipts for gifts worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of shekels were found in the offices of Australian billionaire James Packer.” [Haaretz] • Netanyahu decries ‘biased leaks’ over scandal with publisher [ToI]

“The neutering of Israeli journalism” by David Horivitz: “There’s a great deal that we do not definitively know, and might come to know fairly soon. But what we’ve learned already stinks. And it stinks, particularly, from the journalistic side of the political power/media watchdog equation. Politicians — shock — want to stay in power. It’s why they are politicians. Prime ministers most of all. Journalists are meant to scrutinize them, honestly.” [ToI
** 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 **
PROFILE: “The Other Kushner Brother’s Big Bet” by Katie Benner: “In the weeks after the election, Mr. Kushner has grappled with many questions over Oscar Health. The company, which is one of Mr. Kushner’s most prominent investments, sells health insurance to individuals under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. That is a law that Jared Kushner is uniquely positioned to influence now that he is a senior adviser to the president-elect, which puts his younger brother and the start-up in an awkward position. At the same time, Joshua Kushner has had to deal with queries from investors in his venture capital funds who have asked him how Mr. Trump’s ascension would affect his work”

“Joshua Kushner grew up in New Jersey, where his grandparents, Holocaust survivors who immigrated from Europe in 1949, had built apartments… At Harvard, Mr. Kushner roomed with Alexander Blankfein, the son of the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein. His circle also included Alexander de Carvalho, an heir to the Heineken beer fortune. Mr. Kushner dipped into media when he became the executive editor of a short-lived society magazine for Harvard students called Scene…”

“Mr. Kushner set about building Thrive in a methodical way, drawing on his constellation of connections. Aryeh Bourkoff, the founder of LionTree, a merchant bank that specializes in tech and media deals, said he was impressed by Mr. Kushner’s focus when the young investor spoke at an event Mr. Bourkoff held in 2011. Mr. Kushner argued before a roomful of media executives that online video would create more upheaval than the cable industry anticipated. Many in the room disagreed with that idea at the time but said he made a compelling case.” [NYTimes]

“Courtside Ventures has active first year of dealmaking” by Michael Smith: “Courtside Ventures, the venture capital fund headlined by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, George Pyne’s Bruin Sports Capital, and WPP, spent its first year investing in 14 early-stage companies… The idea behind the $35 million fund, which launched in January 2016, was to dive deep into the intersection of sports, media and technology, something it did with investments that ranged from $200,000 up to $1.5 million across the 14 businesses.” [BizJournals]

TRANSITION: “Michael Lynton Exiting Sony to Serve as Snapchat Chairman” by Kim Masters: “Michael Lynton is stepping down from his position as CEO of Sony Entertainment, the film, television and music conglomerate, to serve full-time as chairman of the board of social media power Snapchat. Lynton, who before Sony was an executive at Penguin Group, The Walt Disney Co. and AOL Europe, was an early investor in Los Angeles-based Snapchat and has served on the board of the renamed Snap Inc. for four years. He quietly became board chairman in late 2016.” [HollywoodReporter]

“Will Mark Zuckerberg Be Our Next President?” by Nick Bilton: “Increasingly, a number of influential people in Silicon Valley seem to think that Mark Zuckerberg will likely run for president of the United States one day. And some people, including myself, believe that he could indeed win. “He wants to be emperor” is a phrase that has become common among people who have known him over the years.” [VanityFair]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “At Least Washington Finally Has Interesting Billionaires Now” by Benjamin Freed: “Outside of sports and [David] Rubenstein, DC’s billionaires are a fairly quiet bunch, not really the scary “billyunayuhs” of a Bernie Sanders rally. That’s all changing thanks to Donald Trump. It’s hard for anyone, regardless of net worth, to be as colorful as the President-elect. But DC really feels like the invasion of the billionaires is truly underway.” [Washingtonian]

“What to Make of the ‘Davos Class’ in the Trump Era” by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “The World Economic Forum — an annual gathering of global policy and business leaders, who come to debate the world’s great challenges — gets underway here Monday night as the shifting political trends toward nationalism and against a sense of globalism are raising renewed questions about the relevance of the elites known as the “Davos class.” It is this group of so-called plutocrats that largely failed to anticipate — and may have even unconsciously generated — the seeping anti-establishment movement across the globe.” [DealBook]

LongRead: “The Bitter Legal Battle over Peggy Guggenheim’s Blockbuster Art Collection” by Milton Esterow: “Peggy, whose given name was Marguerite, came from two wealthy Jewish-American families—the Guggenheims and the Seligmans, although one writer said she was from “one of the poorer branches of the family.” Her father, Benjamin Guggenheim, went down with the Titanic after reportedly relinquishing his place on a lifeboat to his French mistress. In 1919, when she was 21, Peggy inherited $450,000, the equivalent of about $6.4 million today. In 1937, after her mother’s estate was settled, her income was averaging about $40,000 a year, which would be roughly $675,000 today. No one, including Peggy, seemed to know how much she was worth. She was extremely generous and supported friends financially for many years.” [VanityFair]

“With sale to Canadian firm, American Apparel will be American no longer” by Shan Li: “Founder Dov Charney charted a maverick path when he moved a nascent American Apparel to Los Angeles in 1997 and began manufacturing its cotton basics in the region. The company’s colorful garments and provocative advertising quickly caught on with young fashionistas. Charney gained prominence as a vocal supporter of immigration reform and worker rights, as the company’s “Made in USA — Sweatshop Free” motto appeared in billboards and print ads throughout the country… For Charney, the sale is a final chapter in a company that he started in his dorm room as a student at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Charney, who is working on a new L.A. clothing company, said he tried to put together another bid for American Apparel, but the financing fell through.” [LATimes

“The world’s tallest solar tower is being built in Israel” by Nathan Giannini: “Deep in Israel’s Negev Desert construction is well under way on what will soon become the tallest solar tower in the world. Scheduled to be finished later this year at a cost of about $570 million, the Ashalim tower will soar a staggering 820 feet into the sky… “We multiplied the size of the mirrors by three compared to the previous generation,” Megalim Power CEO Eran Gartner, who heads the consortium managing the project, told the Times of Israel. “Everything is connected by WiFi instead of by cables. The tower and its boiler are also designed to reduce costs. Everything is done to pursue profitability.” The current tallest solar structure in the world is the Ivanpah plant, located in California’s Mojave Desert.” [YahooFinance

“How Musician Meir Banai Reflected Israeli Culture’s Recent Return to Jewish Tradition” by Daniel Gordis: “Banai’s life and work was a reminder that it is never too late to ask ourselves what the Jewish State is all about. There are many ways to answer that question, of course, but the move from the secularism of Israel’s early generations to the heartbreak of 1973 to the religious inquisitiveness of recent decades suggests that more than anything, Israel is the place where Jews have come to reimagine what Jewish peoplehood might mean when it resides in its ancestral homeland and is coupled to sovereignty… Meir Banai’s life, and his musical output particularly after he began to re-engage his roots, is a powerful reminder that not far beneath Israel’s tempestuousness, there is a quest, a hunger and a yearning that is both deeply Jewish and achingly exquisite.” [Tablet

“Irwin Isaacson Jr., Superdome engineer, dies at 91” by John Pope: “Irwin Isaacson Jr., an engineer on projects that included the Superdome, the World Trade Center and the Rivergate, died Wednesday (Jan. 11) of a heart attack at Touro Infirmary. He was 91. A lifelong New Orleanian, Mr. Isaacson was president and chairman of Weil and Moses Inc., where he worked for most of his career, said his son Walter Isaacson, president and chief executive officer of the Aspen Institute… Mr. Isaacson was a former vice president of the Jewish Community Center. No matter how serious the situation, Mr. Isaacson never lost his sense of humor, even on his deathbed, Rabbi Edward Cohn of Temple Sinai said.” [NoLa]

“Life’s Work: An Interview with Jerry Seinfeld” by Daniel McGinn: “You can teach someone aspects of making it in the comedy profession, but you can’t teach someone to be funny. I didn’t realize how genetic it was until I saw my daughter—I couldn’t believe how funny she was. I didn’t teach her to be that way, and I know my dad was funny, so now I see that there’s a huge genetic component. You just pop out with this thing.” [HBR]

BIRTHDAYS: Physicist and professor of materials science at Oxford (1966-1992), Sir Peter Bernhard Hirsch turns 92… Editor-in-Chief (1960-1995; now Editor-at-Large) of Commentary magazine, author of the 2009 book “Why Are Jews Liberals?” Norman Podhoretz turns 87… Socially conservative talk radio host and relationship advisor since 1975, on Sirius XM Radio since 2011, author of over 20 books, Dr. Laura Schlessinger turns 70… Chef, food writer, culinary editor for the Modern Library, host of PBS’s “Gourmet’s Adventures With Ruth,” recipient of four James Beard Awards, Ruth Reichl turns 69… Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hazon Ovadia, Harav Yitzhak Yosef turns 65… Billionaire, first employee and subsequently first president of eBay, internet entrepreneur, philanthropist and movie producer, Jeffrey Skoll turns 52… DC-native, back in DC after 10 years in London, a strategic communications consultant at Podium, Debbie Berger Fox turns 44… Author, writer and Ph.D. candidate in political theory at Columbia U, former speechwriter for then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senator Chris Dodd, Rob Goodman turns 33 (h/t Playbook)… Joseph Bornstein… Suzi Brozman… David Ptalis

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