Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Incoming House members visit Israel | Sheldon wants an NYC casino | How Bob Bakish met Sumner Redstone

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HEARD YESTERDAY — President Trump in remarks at the beginning of a feisty Oval Office meeting with Democratic Senate and House leaders: “If you really want to find out how effective a wall is, just ask Israel — 99.9 percent effective. And our wall will be every bit as good as that, if not better.” [Pic]

Trump tweets this morning: “The Democrats and President Obama gave Iran 150 Billion Dollars and got nothing, but they can’t give 5 Billion Dollars for National Security and a Wall?”

AP fact check“There was no $150 billion payout from the U.S. Treasury. The money he refers to represents Iranian assets held abroad that were frozen until the deal was reached and Tehran was allowed to access its funds.”

MINORITY LEADER — A Brawl With the President on Live TV — by Russell Berman: “It was Chuck Schumer’s smirk that said it all. The Senate minority leader had just lobbed an honest-to-goodness zinger at President Donald Trump. Inside the Oval Office… “When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble,” Schumer cracked to the press in the middle of a White House meeting… that had quickly devolved into a verbal brawl in full view of reporters. His quip pulled off, the New York Democrat then peered around the room with a look of supreme self-satisfaction and a smile that would stay on his face until the end of the extraordinary, if wholly unproductive, summit.”

“Schumer… is a man about whom it is famously said, “The most dangerous place in Washington is between Chuck Schumer and a TV camera.” And the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with a Republican president at the White House is one he seized with gusto.” [TheAtlantic

Trump says standing by Saudi crown prince despite pleas from Senate — by Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton: “He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia. They’ve been a very good ally,” Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office. Asked by Reuters if standing by the kingdom meant standing by the prince, known as MBS, Trump responded: “Well, at this moment, it certainly does.” [Reuters]

ON THE HILL — The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill yesterday that would impose new sanctions on against Hamas, Hezbollah and foreign state agencies who use human shields in war. The Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act (H.R. 3342) — introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Tom Suozzi (D-NY) — unanimously passed by the Senate in October – also condemns Hezbollah’s use of human shields “as a gross violation of internationally recognized human rights.” The bill now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

REPORT — U.S. Rejects Israel’s Request for Sanctions on Lebanon Over Hezbollah Tunnels — by Yaniv Kubovich: “The United States has rebuffed Israel’s request to impose sanctions on Lebanon and the Lebanese army so they would take responsibility for Hezbollah digging tunnels into Israel and violating UN Resolution 1701… Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested sanctions when he met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels last week.” [Haaretz]

JI INTERVIEW — Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christian United for Israel, discussed his group’s efforts to pressure Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to remove a hold on the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 in an interview with Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh. Pointing out that this is the final approval of the bill after it was first passed by the Senate in August, Hagee said, “Paul put a hold on the legislation the second time around. He, in essence, supported its passage before he opposed its passage, and for reasons that no one really fully understands.”

“I can’t help but believe that Rand Paul is fully aware of the political consequences of standing against this support of Israel when Israel so desperately needs the help,” Hagee added. “We have 110,000 members in the state of Kentucky that are contacting him continuously and I’m sure that he has been made fully aware of that at this point in time.”

Asked how CUFI — which passed the 5 million-member mark this week — would work with a divided Congress in the next two years, Hagee noted, “CUFI is a non-partisan organization. We work with elected officials from both parties as long as the issue is Israel. We are a one-issue organization. Israel, Israel, and Israel. And if it helps Israel, we support it. If it’s opposed to Israel, we oppose it.”

Hagee on Trump’s peace plan: “No one really knows what’s in that peace deal. I can make you this absolute pledge and promise that the peace plan is up to Israel to decide. It is not for Americans who live 6,000 miles away to dictate or even try to advise the people of Israel on what they should be willing to do. If the people of Israel support it, we will support what the people of Israel say that they want.” [JewishInsider]

SPOTTED IN JERUSALEM — A delegation of newly elected House members are on a 5-day visit to Israel. The trip was sponsored by the AIPAC-affiliated American Israel Education Foundation. The group — Tim Burchett (R-TN), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Susie Lee (D-NV), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA) and David Trone (D-MD) — met yesterday with opposition leaders Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid. [PicPic• The delegation toured the Israel-Gaza border today [Pic

DEEP DIVE — Palestinians offer new details of Israel’s botched Gaza raid — by Fares Akram and Mohammed Daraghme: “Based on interviews with Hamas officials, a picture is emerging of a carefully planned Israeli intelligence operation in which agents posing as Palestinian aid workers may have gone undetected for up to two weeks before it went awry… According to some of the accounts, the scheme began to unravel when the team made its way to Abassan. Suspicious residents alerted Hamas security, which stopped their van… Several things did not appear right. He said a woman was sitting between two men, even though their IDs showed them to be members of different families. Under local customs, it is frowned upon for a woman to sit alongside men who are not her relatives.” [AP]

POLL — New polling shows that the U.S. public’s views on Israel’s policies are shifting — by Shibley Telhami: “A one-state solution (with equal citizenship if the two-state solution were no longer possible)… has considerable support among the American public, as revealed in a University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll, fielded by Nielsen Scarborough, which was conducted in September and October… When asked what outcome they want U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to seek in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… 35 percent say they want a one-state solution outright, while 36 percent advocate a two-state solution… Among those between 18 and 34 years old, support for one state climbs to 42 percent.” [ForeignPolicyHaaretz]

MEDIA WATCH — Temple University condemns, but does not punish, Marc Lamont Hill over Israel remarks — by Isaac Stanley-Becker: “In an address last month at the United Nations, Marc Lamont Hill called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” … CNN, where Hill had been a contributor, cut ties with the 39-year-old almost immediately… But on Tuesday, Temple University, where Hill is a professor of media studies, reached a different determination, finding that his speech was protected by the First Amendment. The board of trustees of the Philadelphia university condemned the professor’s remarks but said it would not dismiss or even discipline him.”[WashPostFoxNews]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — What does it take to become Trump’s chief of staff? Jared and Ivanka’s approval — by Gabby Orr: “Trump’s son-in-law and daughter… want a political ally in the chief of staff job, and they are using their unrivaled influence to ensure they get one, according to seven former and current White House officials… Their influence could dim the chances of some candidates for the post… Among Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s top choices is Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whom they view as extremely loyal… Other candidates include White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Republican fundraiser Wayne Berman.”[Politico] • Ivanka, Kushner could profit from tax break they pushed [AP]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Moment of reckoning looms for ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen — by Jim Mustian: “A federal judge in New York is set to decide whether Cohen gets leniency or years in prison for crimes including tax evasion, making illegal hush-money payments to protect Trump during the campaign and lying to Congress… U.S. District Judge William Pauley III… may allow Cohen to begin serving any prison term he receives at a later date. But legal experts said Cohen could also be taken into custody immediately.” [AP]

2020 WATCH — 2020 Democrats Face a Vexing Issue: Big Money From the Rich — by Shane Goldmacher: “Perhaps no potential Democratic candidate counts more billionaire potential financiers as friends or allies than [Cory] Booker, who attended Stanford and wooed investments from Silicon Valley when he was Newark mayor, including a $100 million donation for schools from Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook… [Booker] also has close ties to the family of Donald Sussman, one of the party’s most generous givers. Mr. Booker officiated the wedding of one of Mr. Sussman’s daughters; another hosted a fund-raiser for him at her Hamptons home last summer.” [NYTimes

** Good Wednesday 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: When Bob Bakish Met Sumner Redstone: How a Crisis at Blockbuster Brought Viacom’s CEO Together With Redstone[Variety] • David Lichtenstein’s Lightstone scores $73M loan for Moxy South Beach hotel [TheRealDeal] • Clark Valberg’s InVision, valued at $1.9 billion, picks up $115 million Series F [TechCrunch] • Hedge fund Elliott builds stake in Pernod Ricard [FinancialTimes]

Sheldon Adelson makes a play for a New York City casino — by Dana Rubinstein: “Sheldon Adelson wants to build a casino in New York City, and the corporation he runs is enlisting some of New York’s most prominent players in a campaign to win the close ally of President Trump his prize. Howard Glaser, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former operations chief, is working as a consultant for Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation and has brokered meetings between officials from the company and New York business leaders.”[Politico]

TRANSITIONS — Endeavor has promoted Mark Shapiro to the newly created position of president, four years after he joined the Hollywood talent agency and media company from Dick Clark Productions. Shapiro will continue to be based in New York and will report to Endeavor Chief Executive Ari Emanuel. [LATimesHollywoodReporter]

Kathie Lee Gifford announces she’s leaving ‘Today’ show — by Leora Arnowitz: “Kathie Lee Gifford is leaving the “Today” show in April, she announced Tuesday morning… Gifford said she was leaving to focus on other projects, such as an 11-minute film, “The God Who Sees,” filming in Israel.”[USAToday]

Popular YouTube Streamer Promotes Channel That Publishes Anti-Semitic Content — by Chris Morris: “PewDiePie, the most popular streamer on YouTube, has never shied away from controversy, but Sunday was a doozie, even for him. The Swedish YouTube star, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, is under fire after singing the praises of another streamer whose online presentations often include homophobic and anti-Semitic language.” [Fortune]

COMING SOON — Nick Cave: cultural boycott of Israel is ‘cowardly and shameful’ — by Ben Beaumont-Thomas: “[Australian musician] Nick Cave has elaborated on his stance regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, calling the cultural boycott of Israel “cowardly and shameful.”  … Writing on his website in an answer to a question from a fan, Cave posted an email he had sent to Brian Eno, one of the artists promoting the boycott. “I do not support the current government in Israel, yet do not accept that my decision to play in the country is any kind of tacit support for that government’s policies,” Cave wrote… He also said the boycott “is partly the reason I am playing Israel… as a principled stand against those who wish to bully, shame and silence musicians.”[TheGuardian

TALK OF THE TOWN — Kirk Douglas honored in NY birthplace with historic marker: “Public officials and relatives of Kirk Douglas have unveiled a new historic marker in his upstate New York birthplace to honor the Hollywood legend on his birthday. The blue and yellow New York state historic marker was presented in Amsterdam on Sunday, the actor’s 102nd birthday. The sign will be erected near the home where he was born as Issur Danielovitch to Russian Jewish parents on Dec. 9, 1916. The marker says Douglas “Rose From Poverty To Appear In Over 90 Films In Hollywood.” [AP]

REMEMBERING — William Blum, U.S. Policy Critic Cited by bin Laden, Dies at 85 — by Sam Roberts: “William Blum, who raged against United States foreign policy in relative obscurity for decades until one of his published anti-imperialist broadsides received a surge in sales thanks to a surprise public tribute from Osama bin Laden, died on Sunday in Arlington, Va… In an interview with The Washington Post in 2006, Mr. Blum encapsulated his life’s mission as “ending, at least slowing down, the American Empire,” or “at least injuring the beast.” … William Henry Blum was born on March 6, 1933, in Brooklyn to Jewish immigrants from Poland, Isidore Blum, a machine operator, and Ruth (Katz) Blum.” [NYTimes]

DESSERT — A lot of the bread in the US will no longer be kosher — by Ben Sales: “The largest baking company in the United States will be removing kosher certification from nearly all of its bread and rolls… The company produces brands including Arnold, Sara Lee, Stroehmann, Freihofer’s and others. Two of its major brands, Entenmann’s and Thomas, will remain certified kosher… The decision will make it much harder for those outside major Jewish population centers to buy kosher bread, say executives at the Orthodox Union and Kof-K… Rabbi Menachem Genack, the rabbinic administrator of the O.U.’s kosher division… explained that the decision stems from a mix of corporate efficiency and obscure kosher laws: Bimbo wants the flexibility to produce its breads on the same factory lines as breads that contain dairy products.” [JTA]

Benji’s Deli in Milwaukee has been a kosher-style cuisine staple for more than 50 years — by Geoff Bruce: “The business owes its name to its original owner, Werner Benjamin. “Back in the day, it was actually called Benjamin’s, but then when he sold it in, I believe ’95, he had the guys that bought it from him shorten the name to just Benji’s. Everybody called him Benji,” explained current owner Mike Price. Price came on board at Benji’s while in college in 1991… The deli’s menu hasn’t changed much over the years, and the Prices remain proud to serve their kosher-style menu, which includes potato pancakes, brisket, Reubens and matzo ball soup.” [JournalSentinel]

BIRTHDAYS: Actress and neuroscientist who plays the role of neuroscientist Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory,” Mayim Chaya Bialik turns 43… Attorney, political operative and television commentator, his clients have included President Bill Clinton and more recently, Michael Cohen, Lanny Davis turns 73… Two-term Congressman (2007-2011) (D-Wisconsin-8), he is a physician who founded the Kagen Allergy Clinics in Appleton, Green Bay, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac, Steven Leslie “Steve” Kagen, M.D. turns 69… Associated Press science writer and adjunct professor at NYU’s academic center in Washington, Seth Borenstein turns 57…

Israeli-born real estate developer active in Los Angeles, partner in Linear City Development, Yuval Bar-Zemer turns 56… Account director at Lewis Global Communications, Sarah R. Horowitz turns 32… Reporter-producer for ABC News, Becky Perlow turns 31… VP at Targeted Victory’s public affairs practice, where he specializes in healthcare policy communications, he previously worked for HHS and for Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL-6), David Pasch turns 30… Dual Master’s degree candidate at Harvard and Dartmouth, he was previously a deputy chief of staff and special assistant to the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (2014-2017), Jeffrey Goldstein...

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