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TOP TALKER: “A Quiet Giant of Investing Weighs In on Trump” by Andrew Ross Sorkin: “A private letter he wrote to his investors a little over two weeks ago about investing during the age of President Trump… has quietly become the most sought-after reading material on Wall Street… In his letter, Seth Klarman sets forth a countervailing view to the euphoria that has buoyed the stock market since Mr. Trump took office, describing “perilously high valuations.” “Exuberant investors have focused on the potential benefits of stimulative tax cuts, while mostly ignoring the risks from America-first protectionism and the erection of new trade barriers,” he wrote… “The big picture for investors is this: Trump is high volatility, and investors generally abhor volatility and shun uncertainty,” he wrote. “Not only is Trump shockingly unpredictable, he’s apparently deliberately so; he says it’s part of his plan.” … Mr. Klarman is a registered independent and has given money to politicians from both parties.” [NYTimes]
DRIVING THE DAY: “Trump sizes up a critic for high-level State Department job,” by Michael Crowley: “President Donald Trump is close to tapping a longtime critic as the No. 2 official at the State Department, a move that would reassure foreign policy elites worried about a lack of diplomatic expertise at high levels in Trump’s administration. Trump will meet on Tuesday with Elliott Abrams, a former National Security Council and State Department official in the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations… Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who favors Abrams for the job, will also attend the meeting. Abrams’s appointment has been on hold for weeks as White House officials, led by chief strategist Steve Bannon, reviewed his past criticism of Trump to determine whether he could be trusted.” [Politico]
“Trump’s Neocon?” by David A. Graham: “Matt Waxman, a former Bush administration State Department official… wrote that Abrams could be a strong asset to the administration. “Secretary Tillerson needs a strong #2 who knows the State Department and the interagency process, as well as the Washington and global diplomacy arenas,” Waxman said. “Elliott is masterful at working the levers in all of them.”” [TheAtlantic]
Robert Costa: “Senator Paul will oppose the nomination of Elliott Abrams to the No. 2 spot at State, per a senior aide close to Paul.” [Twitter]
President-in-law: “EU to Discuss Mideast Peace With Trump Officials” by Julian E. Barnes and Felicia Schwartz: “The European Union’s foreign-policy chief will head to Washington this week for meetings with the Trump administration on the Israel-Palestinian peace process… [Federica] Mogherini is set to arrive on Thursday and is scheduled to meet at the White House with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, and Mike Flynn, national security adviser. Mr. Trump said has said Mr. Kushner will be his envoy to try to help negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.” [WSJ] • China Courts Ivanka, Jared Kushner to Smooth Ties With Trump [Bloomberg]
“Jared as Trump Whisperer? How a hoary cliche can’t be good for the Jews” by Ron Kampeas: “Abe Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO-emeritus, sees a sinister side to the elevation of the Trump-Kushners to figures of overweening influence made unavailable because of a Jewish ritual. “It’s about Jews controlling, in this case Orthodox Jews,” he said in an interview. “It’s disturbing, and sinister. What this comes down to is that if they didn’t observe the Sabbath, the immigration executive order wouldn’t have happened.” I asked him if he thought there was sinister intent, and Foxman said no, but that was not the point: The default of the Controlling Jew never ends well for them. “Ultimately, it blames the Jews for what goes on in the White House,” he said.” [JTA]
“White House offers list of terrorist attacks the press took lightly” by Rebecca Morin and David Cohen: “Oddly, the list includes no attacks in Israel, despite a spate of knife attacks in 2015-16 that were meant to terrorize the population.” [Politico]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump Administration Looks at Driving Wedge Between Russia and Iran” by Jay Solomon: “Mr. Trump and his advisers have made clear since assuming office that constraining Iran would be among their top priorities. They have also privately acknowledged there is no certainty the Kremlin will cooperate… The Trump administration’s show of force has raised concerns that the U.S. and Iran could stumble into a military conflict. But officials close to the Trump administration said they believed the White House could gain the respect of the Kremlin if it showed a commitment to enforcing its warnings to other governments.” [WSJ]
“Kremlin says it disagrees with Trump’s assessment of Iran” by Maria Tsvetkova: “”Russia has friendly partner-like relations with Iran, we cooperate on a wide range of issues, value our trade ties, and hope to develop them further,” said [Kremlin spokesman Dmitry] Peskov.” [Reuters]
“Pence Warns Iran to ‘Think Twice’ Before Testing Trump Administration” by Conor Finnegan: “Iran would do well not to test the resolve of this new president,” Pence said on “This Week” Sunday, adding that Iran should “think twice about their continued hostile and belligerent actions.” … Asked how the U.S. would respond to another provocation, Pence answered that the “president said everything’s on the table” — including military action… [George] Stephanopoulos pressed Pence on the administration’s policy toward Iran. “The president and I and our administration think it was a terrible deal,” the vice president said. “We’re evaluating [what to do next] as we speak.” [ABCNews] • McConnell: fate of Iran deal up to Trump [CNN]
“Netanyahu calls on ‘responsible nations’ to sanction Iran” by Angela Dewan: ”That’s why I welcome President Trump’s insistence on new sanctions against Iran. I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations, and I’d like to talk to you about how we can ensure Iran’s aggression does not go unanswered.” [CNN]
“May refuses Netanyahu’s call to impose new sanctions on Iran” by Patrick Wintour: “Following the meeting, May’s official spokeswoman said that the PM had “made clear that we support the deal on nuclear that was agreed… We also need to be alert to Iran’s pattern of destabilizing activity in the region.”” [Guardian]
INTERVIEW — Tzachi Hanegbi, a close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Minister of Regional Cooperation, spoke with Jewish Insider‘s Aaron Magid about the Iran deal, settlement construction and recent legislation to defund the United Nations. With police investigations against the Israeli premier for alleged corruption intensifying, Ma’ariv and Al-Monitor columnist Ben Caspit wrote on Sunday that Netanyahu would likely select Hanegbi as his replacement if he were forced to step down.
Q: Last week you said, ‘Nobody, I think, in Israel is really calling for tearing the JCPOA agreement (Iran deal) apart.’ Why is this the case?
Hanegbi: “Because it is not realistic since it’s not only an American-Iranian agreement. It’s an agreement that was signed by the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany and it was adopted by the United Nations and the European Union and by most countries in the world. The US can withdraw from the agreement, but it is not going to make the agreement disappear or be torn apart. So that is not a realistic demand.”
Q: In response to the UN Security Council vote in December critical of Israel, should the US cut off all of its assistance to the international body?
Hanegbi: “I feel that it is not going to be wise on my part to give suggestions to the United States what is the right way to repair the devastating damage that was done with this resolution. There are several ways to repair it. Not all of them are militant. Some of them can be through diplomacy. We know the target: to make this resolution disappear. How to do it? As I said, there are various options.”
Q: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to build 3,000 settlement homes in the West Bank in addition to 2,500 units last week. Do you see this new construction surge in response to the new Trump presidency?
Hanegbi: “I really don’t know why it was announced. I remember many protests of the last administration so I am sure there were several occasions of such announcements. I don’t know why they were in week one [of the Trump admin] but I think that the administration understands that the way to go forward is to advance the negotiations and go back to discussing the issues. Once you have the solution, and you have final arrangements and two states for two people solution, there are no settlements anymore. There is a border and there is Palestine and Israel. This is a major understanding of the current administration.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]
“Does Trump Actually Want to Succeed?” by Susan B. Glasser: “[James A. Baker]’s advice… don’t act as “Israel’s lawyer” … He also… argued that Israel is risking its future by building more settlements. “We have allies that are just scared to death,” he notes, as a result of Trump’s early rhetoric and unpredictable foreign policy… Baker… tells me he has also given his advice directly to Trump, Tillerson and Trump’s new chief of staff Reince Priebus. And presumably also Vice President Mike Pence, who was seated next to Baker at [Sunday] night’s Super Bowl in Houston.” [Politico]
Baker on Jerusalem embassy: “If that happens, it’s going to make it a heck of a lot harder to even think about negotiating a peace deal, not to mention what the fallout will be in other countries in the region that would be opposed to that type of a move.” [Politico]
COMING SOON: According to Jon Ralston, “In one of his first major speeches outside DC, VP Pence will be in Vegas in late Feb. to speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition.”
TRUMP TUMULT — “Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, occupies a central role in the administration and has been present at most major decisions and photo ops, but he is a father of young children who has taken to life in Washington, and, along with his wife, Ivanka Trump, has already been spotted at events around town. Mr. Bannon has rushed into the vacuum, telling allies that he and Mr. Miller have a brief window in which to push through their vision of Mr. Trump’s economic nationalism.” [NYTimes] • ‘We’ll do better’: Trump’s White House tries to gain a sense of order amid missteps [WashPost]
“How Stephen Miller’s Rise Explains the Trump White House” by Rosie Gray: “Leaks out of the administration have also been unflattering to Miller… “They’re totally outmaneuvering him in the press,” the source close to Miller said. “I think he feels totally under assault. He’s not politically astute, he’s not ready for this.” But in an interview, Miller batted down the idea that he’s in conflict with Priebus and his allies… Miller came onboard the Trump campaign early on, before any primary votes had been cast, and rose quickly. But in an environment like Trump-world, where anyone who outshines the principal is at risk, that might not be the safest position.” [TheAtlantic]
PROFILE: “Becoming Steve Bannon’s Bannon” by Andrew Marant: “When [Julia] Hahn wrote for Breitbart, her primary beats were immigration and the perfidy of Republicans who, in her view, sold out American interests—especially the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan… William Sims, one of Hahn’s close friends, said, “She loved having intellectual debates and challenging assumptions, her own included. We didn’t talk primarily about politics, but I would say that she was never a by-the-book liberal—I think people just looked at her, saw this very sweet Jewish girl from California, and made assumptions.”” [NewYorker] • “Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub: The Vatican” [NYT]
“Pro-Trump group hacked, website taken down in Cabinet fight” by Tom LoBianco: “The 45 Committee — a PAC started by mega-donors Todd Ricketts and Sheldon Adelson — released a new ad pushing Trump’s Cabinet picks this week… But the group was forced to take down its site after hackers got in and re-labeled some videos — a spot pushing Tom Price for Health and Human Services secretary was re-named “Steve Bannon is a White Supremacist” and the spot supporting Sen. Jeff Sessions was dubbed “Sessions is Deemed Too Racist to be a Federal Judge.”” [CNN]
“Appointment of US ambassador to Israel delayed over political concerns” by Alex Fishman and Orly Azoulay: “David Friedman’s appointment as the US Ambassador to Israel has yet to be confirmed reportedly due to Republican concerns regarding Friedman’s rejection of the longstanding “two states for two peoples” solution.” [Ynet]
“Israel Passes Provocative Law to Retroactively Legalize Settlements” by Ian Fisher:“The vote on Monday, which passed, 60 to 52, retroactively legalized several thousand housing units in 16 settlements on about 2,000 acres of Palestinian-owned land. The law provides for compensation to Palestinian landowners… Mr. Netanyahu and the right — some allies, some opponents — have taken into account that they have more leeway under President Trump than under President Barack Obama, who regularly condemned settlement building.” [NYTimes] • Netanyahu trapped between right-wing settlement law, US president [Al-Monitor]
—“The [Trump] administration needs to have the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward,” a State Department official told AFP on condition of anonymity.” [AFP]
KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev: Three months after the controversial land appropriation bill was approved in its first legislation stage, the Knesset finalized the law and passed it in its 2nd and 3rd reading last night. While many right-wing politicians – led by Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett – opened champagne bottles celebrating their achievement, Netanyahu was high in the sky on his way back home from the UK and his first meeting with PM May. Netanyahu didn’t get a chance to celebrate his successful visit to London, but also didn’t take part in his coalition’s festivities. Some in the Knesset corridors speculated that his absence was not just a flight schedule coincidence.
Netanyahu never went on the record against the bill, but his discontent with it is one of the best-known secrets in the cabinet. For weeks he has been trying to stall this bill from advancing… First, he argued using the “Obama card,” warning the bill would prompt a last-minute UN move, which it did. Then he used the Trump card, asking for time to consult with the new administration. Even this Sunday, Netanyahu tried to convince Bennett to wait until after his first White House meeting next week. But Bennett didn’t budge. “Our determination paid off,” he said last night after the vote. The bill is now likely to be disqualified by the Supreme Court, and Jewish Home MKs are already planning new legislation that will bypass the court’s verdict. But for Bennett and his comrades, the achievement is the pill for sweetening last week’s Amona evacuation.
Kafe Knesset asked Netanyahu during his London briefing for his response to the White House omitting any Jewish reference on their International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement. Netanyahu tried to evade a clear answer, stating only that “the question will be raised during the visit, and I am sure it will receive a clear answer.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]
“How Israelis See the Settlements” by Yossi Klein Halevi: “Although the settlements tend to be regarded by the international community as an undifferentiated entity, the discourse about them in Israel is very different. For Israelis who support a two-state solution, settlements fall into two broad categories: those within so-called settlement blocs, close to the pre-1967 border and likely to remain a part of Israel in a final agreement, and those outside the blocs, which Israel would probably evacuate as part of a peace deal… Depending on how one draws the map, more than three-quarters of the settler population lives in blocs likely to be kept by Israel under an agreement. The blocs plan gives hope to supporters of a two-state solution that settlement-building hasn’t yet reached the point of no return.” [WSJ]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Disney CEO Robert Iger May Extend Tenure Again [WSJ] • Billionaires Paul Tudor Jones and Michael Dell Ensnared by ‘Hamilton’ Scam [Bloomberg] • Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital hires Obama’s Director of Product Josh Miller to focus on tech for the underprivileged [TC] • Blau, Macklowe and Schrager talk developer’s role in shaping the future of NYC [RealDeal]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “New York Commuters Unite To Remove Anti-Semitic Graffiti On Subway” by Mark Hanrahan: “Gregory Locke, 27, an attorney from Harlem… found swastikas and other graffiti on every window, door and advertising display. Slogans were also written across the carriage… “The train was silent as everyone stared at each other, uncomfortable and unsure what to do,” Locke said in a Facebook post. “One guy got up and said, ‘Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol.’ He found some tissues and got to work.” Locke told NBC News that his fellow passengers then began looking for hand sanitizer, while others started wiping off the graffiti, which was gone before the train made it as far as Lincoln Center at 66th Street.” [NBCNews]
“Five myths about anti-Semitism” by Yair Rosenberg: “Most bigotries debilitate their targets while empowering their disseminators, much like slavery and redlining enriched America’s white majority at the expense of its African American minority. Many successful societies have been built atop prejudices. Anti-Semitism, however, is a unique case — and uniquely corrosive to those societies that embrace it. That’s because it often takes the form of a conspiracy theory about how the world works. By blaming real problems on imagined Jewish culprits, anti-Semitism prevents societies from rationally solving them.” [WashPost]
Renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor wins prestigious Genesis Prize: “British-Indian sculptor Sir Anish Kapoor has been named this year’s winner of the prestigious Genesis Prize for commitment to Israel and Judaism. Kapoor, whose large works of art are landmarks in cities worldwide, was born in 1954 in Mumbai to a Hindu father and a Jewish mother. He moved to Israel as a teenager, and has been based in Britain since the 1970s… Kapoor announced he would use his $1 million award, and the global platform provided by the Genesis Prize, to help alleviate the refugee crisis and try to expand the Jewish community’s engagement in global efforts to support refugees.” [IsraelHayom]
SPORTS BLINK: “Julian Edelman’s ‘miracle’ catch leads to Super Bowl victory” by Daniel Sugarman: “Julian Edelman, who has a Jewish father and identifies as Jewish, managed to evade three Atlanta Falcons players and catch the incoming ball just centimeters off the ground. By completing the pass towards the end of the game in Houston last night, the Patriots player helped his team to go on and score, tying the game at 28 each and marking the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history… Both the Patriots and the Falcons have Jewish owners, with the former owned by Robert Kraft and Arthur Blank, the co-founder of Home Depot DIY chain.” [TheJC] • Robert Kraft hopes Trump can help retrieve Super Bowl ring Putin pilfered [WashPost]
NFL players head to Israel to meet locals, visit religious sites: “The delegation of 12 — Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, Martellus Bennett, Delanie Walker, Michael Kendricks, Cameron Jordan, Kenny Stills, Calais Campbell, Carlos Hyde, Dan Williams, Justin Forsett, and ESPN commentator and former linebacker Kirk Morrison — will visit Rambam hospital in Haifa, the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and the Black Hebrew community in the southern city of Dimona, according to a statement.” [ToI]
BIRTHDAYS: Milwaukee-born businessman, former US Senator from Wisconsin (1989-2013), former owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, Herb Kohl turns 82… and also born in Milwaukee on the same date 16 years later, Senior Rabbi of Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto, president of the Toronto Board of Rabbis (2012-2015), Baruch Frydman-Kohl turns 66… Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives since 2010, previously the Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (1988-2010), Robyn Gabel turns 64… American businessman and investor arrested in Bolivia in July 2011 and held for 18 months without charges, freed through public outcry and the efforts of Sean Penn, Jacob Ostreicher turns 58… Actor, humorist, comedian and writer known for his Saturday Night Live “TV Funhouse” cartoon shorts and as the puppeteer and voice behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Robert Smigel turns 57… Rabbi, director of congregational learning at Har Shalom in Potomac, MD and author of Jewish children’s books and teen novels, Deborah Bodin Cohen turns 49… VP of marketing and communications at trade show manager Hargrove, Inc., previously a VP/MD at at Qorvis MSLGROUP and a producer at ABC, NBC, CBS and Discovery Channel, Jennifer DiamondHaber turns 48… MLB pitcher since 2005, has played for the Rangers, Cubs, Orioles, Astros and Blue Jays, signed to a one-year deal in 1-2017 by the Reds, Scott Feldman turns 34… Executive Director of the Aviv Foundation Adam Simon… Associate Director of Development at Chicago’s Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School Rachael Fenton… Rabbi, spokesman and director of public relations for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, director of its website Chabad[dot]org, Zalman Shmotkin (h/t Motti Seligson)… Senior Research Manager at Lieberman Research Worldwide, Jonathan Weiss… David Israel… Rick Wice… Michael Harris… Carol Mulrooney…
BIRTHWEEK (Sunday and Monday): Founding Rabbi of The New Shul in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village (1999-2010), author or editor of ten books, now living in Chicago, Niles Elliot Goldstein turns 51… President and COO of American Signature, the parent company of Value City Furniture, Jonathan Schottenstein turns 35… VP of Public Affairs at Teach For All in DC, after living in China for seven years (2006-2013), Sarabeth Berman turns 33… Israeli golfer on the LPGA Tour, resident of Caesarea, competed for Israel in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Laetitia Beck turns 25… Chair of the Board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, recently national campaign chair for Jewish Federations of North America, Linda A. Hurwitz… Former Senior Advisor to Ambassador Ron Dermer (2013-2015) and spokesman and speechwriter for Israel’s Ministry of Defense (2011-2013), now a political and communications consultant, Joshua Hantman…
Author, journalist, activist and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Michael Pollan turns 62… Los Angeles attorney specializing in criminal and civil appeals, author of an amicus brief for members of Congress in the Jerusalem passport case of Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State, Paul Kujawsky turns 60… Long-time foreign correspondent for NPR in many capitals including Jerusalem, author of the NYT-bestseller “The Geography of Bliss,” Eric Weiner turns 54… Television and film actress, writer and producer, best known for her role as Pepper in the FX series “American Horror Story,” Naomi Grossman turns 42… Israeli-French singer-songwriter whose hit single “New Soul” was used by Apple in a 2008 advertising campaign for its MacBook Air, Yael Naim turns 39… AIPAC’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Political Director, Stephen Knable turns 36… Cantor of Congregation Hugat Haverim in Glendale California, Harvey Lee Block… Bill Levine… Steven I. Weiss… Rosalyn Kaplan… Yadin Koschitzky…
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