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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Defense, intelligence officials caution White House on terrorist designation for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard” by Karen DeYoung: “Senior defense and intelligence officials have cautioned the White House that a proposal to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization could endanger U.S. troops in Iraq and the overall fight against the Islamic State, and would be an unprecedented use of a law that was not designed to sanction government institutions. Defense and intelligence concerns have been expressed at the highest levels over the past several days, as the White House was preparing to roll out an executive order dealing with both Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Muslim Brotherhood.” [WashPost]
“CIA Memo: Designating Muslim Brotherhood Could ‘Fuel Extremism’” by Blake Hounshell and Nahal Toosi: “One problem is that it’s hard to define what the Brotherhood is, given its loose structure and culture of secrecy. “What you have is a disparate network of groups that may or may not meet criteria,” said Jonathan Schanzer, a former Treasury Department analyst now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Schanzer thinks the Muslim Brotherhood’s “mothership” in Egypt wouldn’t qualify, but other parts of the movement, such as the Islah party in Yemen, might if the Trump administration took a more targeted approach. Otherwise, “it’s trying to hit a grand slam and it’s probably going to lead to a strikeout,” he said.” [Politico]
HAPPENING TODAY — at 12PM: “With a new administration and Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House on February 15, and continuing aggression by the Iranian regime – including more ballistic missile tests – JINSA’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy and United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) will co-host a lunch briefing with Amb. John Bolton, Sen. Cory Gardner, Stephen Rademaker, and former Sen. Mark Kirk.” [Livestream]
HEARD YESTERDAY IN DC — The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) hosted a policy forum to discuss the agenda for Trump and Netanyahu’s first Oval Office meeting and the broader issues at stake for the U.S.-Israel relationship in the Trump era. Panelists included Robert Satloff, David Makovsky and Yoaz Hendel, former director of communications for Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Highlights — Satloff: “The Jerusalem Embassy issue was a campaign promise. So I expect the President to find a way to implement and fulfill this campaign promise… Timing is one of the key criteria. This is one of the issues that you do very soon or not for a while… You do this now, well before the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, well before the anniversary of the six-day war, or you have to wait until that episode is behind. Because if you want to avoid or limit the risk of provocation you don’t enmesh this in the 1967 issues, you anchor it in what I call the 1948 set of issues. The absence of an American Embassy in Jerusalem is a residue of a 1948 decision by the Truman Administration that is what President Trump can repair but to enmesh it in the 1967 issues only heightens the possibility that it triggers the reaction that you are trying to avoid. So, it is really an issue for now in the next several weeks well before the decision in May about whether or not to extend the waiver in the law on the Embassy.”
Makovsky: “Netanyahu knows the rhythm of Washington: don’t come too late before the policy is set in concrete. When everything is in flux is the time to try to influence the contours of a new approach. Everyone I met in Israel was of the enforcement school. They want to enforce it (Iran deal) vigorously. As one key (Netanyahu) advisor said to me, 80-90% of our concerns coming to Washington on Iran when it comes to the nuclear deal is about the so-called sunset provisions — the elements of the deal that fade out in 10-15 years. Netanyahu is going to come and take a pulse and get a sense where is the President on this enforce vs. scrap.” [JewishInsider]
KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: Netanyahu is back at the Blair House next week. A PMO official confirmed the White house has invited PM Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sarah, and senior members of his entourage to enjoy close hospitality and stay at the official guest house during the visit to Washington DC. Netanyahu has stayed in the Blair house in the past, but in his recent visits to DC, against the backdrop of the tensions with the Obama administration, he stayed in hotels, and renewing the tradition sends exactly the message Netanyahu wants to convey – a new page with the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, ahead of the much-anticipated visit, it appears Bibi might have to give up one of his favorite jobs – the communication portfolio. For months, Netanyahu has insisted on keeping the Communications Ministry under his reign, but the recent police revelations about his connections with the media might prompt him to pass it to one of the Likud ministers… The common assumption in political circles is that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will find it hard to defend Netanyahu in the appeal and will ask him to give up the communications ministry, regularly referred to as “Bibi’s Baby” as it enables him influence and control over the future media landscape in the state. Netanyahu might not be happy to pass on the portfolio, but Likud ministers are already out to grab it. Culture minister Miri Regev, one of Netanyahu’s most loyal confidants, is pushing to get the job and is planning to stir up the media elite just as she has rattled the cultural community over the past two years. Another leading candidate is Tzahi Hanegbi… Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]
“Does Trump signal golden age for Israeli settlements?” by Mazal Mualem: “The feeling here is that we just experienced a miracle,” Hagai Ben-Artzi told Al-Monitor. Ben-Artzi, who lives in Beit El, is also the Prime Minister’s brother-in-law. “It is important to understand that the continuation of the Obama administration’s policies under Hillary Clinton would have been bad news for us… Now it is quite possible that everything will be turned around, and we will annex the land instead.” [Al-Monitor]
“Newly approved settler homes financed by Trump’s Israel envoy pick – report” by Times of Israel: “The five-story apartment block slated for construction in the settlement near Ramallah is financed by American Friends of Bet El Institutions, which [David] Friedman chairs… The current project is also slated to be built partly on private Palestinian land and, if it goes ahead, will be legalized ex post facto under a controversial new law passed earlier this week in the Knesset.” [ToI]
COMING SOON: According to a J Street email blast yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is currently working on scheduling a hearing for David Friedman, perhaps as soon as the middle of next week.
TRUMP TUMULT: “How Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Influence Donald Trump” by Us Weekly: “Donald doing the most controversial stuff when Ivanka and Jared aren’t around — there is some truth to that,” a close Ivanka insider reveals in the new issue of Us Weekly… But for Ivanka, no challenge is insurmountable. Notes a friend, “She’s staying positive and focused on what she’s trying to do.” … “Sometimes Jared and Ivanka are a big influence and sometimes he takes other opinions into account and does something they disagree with,” says the insider. “They win some and they lose some.” [USWeekly] • Ivanka Trump quietly settles into White House life [CNN]
“Trump blasts retailer Nordstrom, raising new concern on business ties” by Nandita Bose and Timothy Gardner: “After Trump’s highly unusual move to use a White House platform to intervene in a commercial matter involving his daughter, Nordstrom reiterated that its action last week was based on declining sales of the Ivanka Trump products. But White House spokesman Sean Spicer characterized the move as a “direct attack” on the president’s policies… Norman Eisen, an ethics adviser to President Barack Obama, noted that several states have unfair competition laws, including California where Nordstrom operates many stores. The tweet, he said, could spark lawsuits if the company’s brand was being injured by an unfair attack.” [Reuters]
“Power breakfast at the Four Seasons: Political players, CEOs, and Ivanka” by Annie Karni: “This is the resistance,” Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of state under Clinton and a top backer of her failed presidential bid, joked when [Dina] Powell introduced [Ivanka] Trump to his table, where he sat with former top Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan and Ben Rhodes, the former Obama foreign policy adviser and speechwriter. Ivanka Trump chuckled gamely, according to a person who heard the conversation, and replied: “Good luck with that.” [Politico]
“Sen. Schumer Attacks Trump: ‘Did Not Honor the Six Million Jews Murdered by the Nazis'” by Amir Tibon: “The abominable Nazi ‘Final Solution’ had as its target the extermination of the Jewish people. This is a fact. And one that must always be remembered,” Schumer told Haaretz. “It is troubling and unfortunate,” he added, “that the administration did not acknowledge and honor the six million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime in the Shoah.” [Haaretz]
“Trump Aide Derided Islam, Immigration And Diversity, Embraced An Anti-Semitic Past” by Jessica Schulberg: “A senior national security official in the Trump administration (Michael Anton) wrote under a pseudonym last year that Islam is an inherently violent religion that is “incompatible with the modern West,” defended the World War II-era America First Committee, which included anti-Semites, as “unfairly maligned,” and called diversity “a source of weakness, tension and disunion.”” [HuffPost]
“DeVos’ first assignment: Mend fences with education foes” by Maria Danilova: “Rabbi A.D. Motzen, a school-choice advocate and the Cincinnati-based national director of state relations for the Orthodox Jewish group Agudath Israel of America, said he has known DeVos for a decade and worked with her organizations. “Whatever the policies that come out of the Department of Education, she’s going to have a fresh perspective, and I guarantee you it will be focused on parents and children, and less about where they attend school and where they live,” he said by phone.” [AP]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: How Israel is leading the world in R&D investment: Country spends more as share of GDP than any other developed nation [FinancialTimes] • Fallen Tycoons Nochi Dankner and Eliezer Fishman Strike Back [Haaretz] • Boston political power duo Larry Rasky and Joe Baerlein part ways [BostonGlobe] • Key board member resigns from embattled Banc of California, following chairman [LATimes] • Kushner trial vs. condo owners ends in sudden mistrial [CentralJersey] • Live Nation buys into Israeli concert business, launches Ticketmaster Israel [CMU]
SPOTLIGHT: “Chelsea Clinton’s Husband Closes His Hedge Fund” by Saijel Kishan: “Eaglevale Partners, the hedge fund co-founded by Marc Mezvinsky, the son-in-law of Hillary and Bill Clinton, closed in December, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Eaglevale, based in New York, is in the process of returning money to clients, said the person who asked not to be named because the firm is private. Eaglevale was started by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. traders Bennett Grau, Mark Mallon and Mezvinsky in 2011.” [Bloomberg]
“Kevin Warsh is a contender for Federal Reserve Chair” by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa: “He’s young, he’s Republican and he was seen a key steward of the Federal Reserve’s financial crisis, Chairman Ben Bernanke’s right-hand man. It’s only natural that the name of Kevin Warsh, ex-Fed governor and now a fellow at the Hoover Institution, would come up as a potential replacement to Janet Yellen, whose term expires at the end of January 2018.” [BusinessInsider] • Warsh is married to Jane Lauder, daughter of Jo Carole Lauder and Ronald Lauder
PROFILE: “Nasdaq’s Black Belt CEO on IPOs, Unicorns, and Roundhouse Kicks” by Michael Regan: “The Roland Park Country School is just a few miles—but worlds away—from the hardscrabble streets of Baltimore that The Wire made famous. Yet this all-girls prep school was where Adena Friedman learned a lesson that’s helped her thrive in the historically all-boys club located on one of the meanest streets there is for smart, ambitious women like her: Wall Street. “You can be anything,” she recalls her teachers telling her. And it was something about financial markets that captivated young Friedman’s imagination when she visited her dad at T. Rowe Price, long before Take Our Daughters to Work Day was a thing. After business school, Friedman landed an internship at Nasdaq and, except for a two-year stint at Carlyle Group, she’s been there ever since. In January she became chief executive officer.” [Bloomberg]
“Rahm Emanuel: Too many Dems care more about being right than winning” by Kim Janssen: “Mayor Rahm Emanuel has warned Democrats they need to “take a chill pill” and realize that they are not going to take back national power anytime soon. “It ain’t gonna happen in 2018,” Emanuel said Monday at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in California. “Take a chill pill, man. You gotta be in this for the long haul.” As he did last month at an event in Washington, D.C., the mayor expanded on what he believes is the road map back to power for his party — putting moderate candidates such as veterans, football players, sheriffs and business people up in Republican districts, picking battles with Republicans, exploiting wedges within the GOP and fighting attempts to redistrict Congress on partisan grounds.”
“But this time he didn’t hold back on his frustration with some of his fellow Democrats. “Winning’s everything,” he said. “If you don’t win, you can’t make the public policy. I say that because it is hard for people in our party to accept that principle. Sometimes, you’ve just got to win, OK? Our party likes to be right, even if they lose.” He added, “I don’t go to moral victory speeches. I can’t stand them. I’ve never lost an election. It’s about winning, because if you win you then have the power to go do what has to get done.” [ChicagoTribune]
HOLLYWOOD: “Ari & Patrick Get Political As WME | IMG Forms PAC” by Dominic Patten: “When you represented the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host who is now the President of the United States and your Chicago Mayor brother was Chief of Staff to the previous POTUS, politics is never really at arm’s length. Now WME | IMG bosses Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell have decided to put their money in the arena. “In the coming weeks, you will hear more from us about this,” it adds and lists: The formation of a federal political action committee (PAC) in the U.S. • Convening internal and external forums with politicians and allied stakeholders • Connecting our clients with elected officials • Introducing company-wide matching policies to support donations of time and money • Developing actionable public policy solutions” [Deadline]
“Discovery’s Unabomber Drama Adds Brian D’Arcy James, Elizabeth Reaser” by Kate Stanhope: “Reaser will play the role of Ellie, the wife of Jim Fitzgerald (Sam Worthington), the FBI agent who deployed a radical approach to intelligence gathering to take down Kaczynski. The actress, best known for the Twilight films, Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Wife, is repped by UTA and Stone Genow.” [THR] • Natalie Portman Teaches Hebrew Slang [VanityFair]
SCENE YESTERDAY IN NYC — Masa Israel Journey hosted a panel yesterday featuring representatives from Israeli start-ups with a presence in New York, including WeWork and Playbuzz. Among those in attendance were Guy Franklin, founder of “Israeli Mapped in NY,” an interactive map of Israeli start-ups in New York; Shaul Olmert; Co-founder and CEO of Playbuzz; Shachar Orren, VP of Content at Playbuzz; Jonathan Poor of Startupbootcamp FinTech; Gal Sela of WeWork; Adi Hila Yoffe, Director of Business Development at Masa Isral Journey; Adi Barel, Director of International Business Development at Masa Israel Journey; and Meara Razon Ashtivker, COO at Masa Israel Journey.
SPORTS BLINK: “Patriots Owner Invites Ezra Schwartz’s Family as His VIP Guests To Super Bowl” by Eddie Dvir: “Ezra Schwarz’s aunt, Rachel Deri, reached out to OS News with this amazing message of Hakarat Hatov… “Robert Kraft invited my sis and her fam to the superbowl. He called and invited them as vip guests… flights included. My sis is Ezra Schwartz’s mom. As you prob remember he was shot and murdered last yr in Gush Etzion.. What a nice gesture of Robert Kraft… What a mensch…and a good neshama… What a great turn-around and win for Kraft’s Patriots…bc of his mitzvahs and good heart!”” [OnlySimchas]
“With their abysmal on-court record, the Philadelphia 76ers have decided to pivot — to investing in startups” by Andrew Zaleski: “The Sixers’ fling with startups traces back to a conversation about high-IQ office furniture. In 2011, a nine-person group, including several prominent financiers, bought the Sixers for $280 million. The new owners installed Scott O’Neil as the new CEO. He’s the kind of guy who runs an inter-organization pickup league that hoops at 6:30 in the morning. O’Neil faced an immediate problem: New deals weren’t rolling in for the victory-challenged Sixers. As O’Neil puts it, “On the court the last three years, we won 45 or some-odd games. Partners weren’t ringing us because of the incredible interest in a winning team.” So to attract new lines of business, he cast a wide net.” [BackChannel]
“MMA fighter Jared Cannonier explains why he holds up Jewish prayer shawl after victories” by Ariel Helwani: “I’m not Jewish. I don’t put any title on my belief system. I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The talit is what I use as a tool to remind me that God is my father, that I follow his commandments, and it helps me keep myself in check.” [MMAFighting]
BIRTHDAYS: Grammy Award winning songwriter Barry Mann (born Barry Imberman) turns 78… Economist and a professor at Columbia University, Nobel laureate in Economics in 2001, Joseph Stiglitz turns 74… Two-time Tony Award and two-time Emmy Award winning actress, Judith Light turns 68… Professor of history and modern Jewish studies at UCSD since 2004, has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Hebrew U, Tel Aviv U and the University of Haifa, Deborah Hertz turns 68… Israeli singer mostly in the Mizrahi music tradition, who has released over 30 albums, Shimi Tavori (born Shimshon Tawili) turns 64… Australian billionaire, philanthropist and owner of a series of mineral and energy companies, Georgina Hope “Gina” Rinehart turns 63… Chair of the DNC (2001-2005), Chair of two Clinton presidential campaigns (Bill’s in 1996, Hillary’s in 2008), now Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, a/k/a ‘the macker,’ turns 60… Theoretical physics professor at Columbia University since 1996, author of multiple books written for the general public such as “Icarus at the Edge of Time,” Brian Greene turns 54… Managing Director of Tiedemann Wealth Management, Jeffrey L. Zlot turns 46… Television and film actress, born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) in the Soviet Union (now Russian Federation), living in the US since 1991, Margarita Levieva turns 37… Deputy Director of Congressional Relations at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Boris Zilberman turns 33… Israeli-Arab teenager who, in 2014, was forced to go into hiding after he publicly expressed support for Zionism and the State of Israel, Muhammad Zoabi turns 20… Isaac Lieberman… Rafael Regla…
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