Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: LeBron apologizes “if I offended anyone” over ‘Jewish money’ post | Joel Kaplan’s role at Facebook | Tension in Tiberias

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Ed note: News cycle permitting, this will be the final Daily Kickoff of 2018. We are super appreciative to all of you for being highly engaged subscribers. Thank you for all the emails, birthday tips, sightings, and even occasional critiques. It has been an important and exhausting year of news but we look forward to returning in 2019 with renewed vigor and an even stronger commitment to delivering you the news you need each day. Happy New Year from the team at JI! 

FROM TABLET TO NYT — Women’s March Roiled by Accusations of Anti-Semitism — by Farah Stockman: “The divisions apparent at that very first meeting continue to haunt the Women’s March organization, as charges of anti-Semitism are now roiling the movement and overshadowing plans for more marches next month… The rift is now so dire that there will be two marches on the same day next month on the streets of New York: one led by the Women’s March group, which is billed as being led by women of color, and another by a group affiliated with March On that is stressing its denunciation of anti-Semitism. The accusations of anti-Semitism, which were outlined in an article this month in Tablet, an online Jewish magazine, have prompted some women to reconsider their support for the group.”

“Rachel O’Leary Carmona, chief operating officer of the Women’s March group, cast the controversy as the growing pains of a new organization that is struggling to build a diverse coalition… But [the leaders] acknowledged that the role of Jewish women was discussed in that first meeting. “Since that conversation, we’ve all learned a lot about how while white Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy, ALL Jews are targeted by it,” [Tamika] Mallory said in a statement to The New York Times… Now Women’s March activists are grappling with how they treat Jews — and whether they should be counted as privileged white Americans or “marginalized” minorities, especially in the aftermath of the October mass shooting in Pittsburgh, when 11 people were gunned down at their synagogue.” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK — LeBron James under fire after posting tenuously anti-Semitic lyrics to Instagram: “James posted a selfie on Instagram on Saturday featuring lyrics from rapper 21 Savage’s “asmr” which references keeping “kosher” and “getting that Jewish money.” [Newsweek

— “Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone,” James told ESPN following the Los Angeles Lakers’ 107-99 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. “That’s not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That’s what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn’t through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody.”[ESPN]

TOP TALKER — President Trump continued to defend his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria in a series of tweets over the weekend. Assuring that the pullout would be “low and highly coordinated,” Trump bemoaned the coverage and criticism of his move, tweeting quotes of Sen. Rand Paul to back up the decision to bring American troops back home “after decimating ISIS in Syria.”

Trump tweeted on Sunday: “Bob Corker was responsible for giving us the horrible Iran Nuclear Deal, which I ended, yet he badmouths me for wanting to bring our young people safely back home.”

— Corker replied“Yes, just like Mexico is paying for the wall… #AlertTheDaycareStaff.”

White House says Erdogan promised Trump he’d finish off ISIS in Syria — by Josh Lederman: “In his phone call with President Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly promised that Turkey would take responsibility for finishing off the Islamic State if the U.S. pulled out of Syria… “Erdogan said to the president, ‘In fact, as your friend, I give you my word in this,’” [a senior White House] official said… U.S. officials, as well as Turkish officials, have told NBC News that Trump agreed to pull out of Syria during the call.” [NBCNews]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Netanyahu brands Tayyip Erdogan ‘anti-Semitic dictator’ as verbal spat spirals — by Itamar Eichner: “I was just exposed to the daily trolling of the anti-Semitic dictator Erdogan,” Netanyahu said at a holiday event for Christian soldiers of the IDF. “He is obsessed with Israel… But there has been an improvement. Erdogan used to attack me every two hours and now it is every six hours.” The row began when Erdogan claimed Saturday that “Jews in Israel” beat defenseless Palestinian people, including women and children, and threatened to “teach them a lesson.”[Ynet]

Netanyahu will meet Pompeo next week to discuss the Syria pullout — by Barak Ravid: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo next week in Brazil to discuss President Trump’s decision to pull U.S. forces out of Syria… They’ll both be there for Jair Bolsonaro’s inauguration… This will be the first high level meeting between Israeli and U.S. officials since Trump announced the pullout.” [Axios]

— Netanyahu at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem yesterday: “I would like to reassure those who are concerned. Our cooperation with the US will continue in full and finds expression in many areas: Operations, intelligence and many other security spheres.” [AP]

Israeli Army Chief: U.S. Leaving Syria Is ‘Significant,’ but We Shouldn’t Exaggerate — by Yaniv Kubovich: “Israeli military Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said on Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria is “significant,” but should not be overblown… “For decades, we have dealt with this front alone,” Eisenkot said… “That’s also how it has been over the past four years, during the American and Russian presence [in Syria]. We have been acting in support of Israel’s security interests.” [Haaretz]

DRIVING THE CONVO — Susan Rice writes… “The Threat in the White House: Cutting and running from Syria benefits only militants, Turkey, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Russia and Iran… We are leaving Israel alone to confront Iran and Hezbollah’s hostility, while relinquishing our remaining influence over the future of a fractured Syria.” [NYTimes]

Rahm Emanuel“Mueller will decide whether there’s collusion with the Russians on the election. But we can now say there’s collusion with the Russians on foreign policy, and it’s not to America’s benefit.”

Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz“Although Khamenei didn’t say so, it’s a good guess that if given the choice between dealing with American sanctions or America staying in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, he’d take the former. Trump’s withdrawal has severely weakened his own Iran policy, signaling boredom, fickleness, fatigue, and fear.”

Former Senator Rick Santorum on CNN’s State of the Union: “Look, there are very few Rand Pauls in the United States Senate. There are very few Rand Pauls in the House. There are very few Rand Pauls in the Republican Party. And there are very few Rand Pauls in the base of Donald Trump voters… I don’t know of too many base voters who believe that the president, in response to a call from the Turkish president, should be capitulating in front of the Turks and allowing our allies to be slaughtered by Turks. I don’t think anybody in the president’s base is for that. It’s not just bad policy.”

Rand Paul Festivus grievances target foreign policy establishment — by Jason Le Miere: “The senator from Kentucky has made it a tradition to mark Festivus, a fictional holiday invented by the sitcom Seinfeld which has since taken on a real-life cult following, by taking part in an “airing of grievances.” … “I’m going to start out with a grievance against the entire foreign policy establishment of Washington DC, who 2 years ago were swearing that Donald Trump was going to start multiple nuclear wars or something,” he began on Twitter.” [Newsweek]

Paul on Jared Kushner: “Speaking of criminal justice reform, I have to give Jared Kushner credit. He was great on this. And I’m glad I got to know him, because before that I was a bit suspicious he was the kid from the Omen movie all grown up. And folks, that is NOT who you want in charge of your Middle East peace plans.”

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — For Trump, ‘a War Every Day,’ Waged Increasingly Alone — by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman: “More recently, the president has told associates he feels “totally and completely abandoned,” as one put it, complaining that no one is on his side and that many around him have ulterior motives. That extends even to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was credited for helping push through the criminal justice bill, praise that Mr. Trump took note of. Longtime associates said Mr. Trump’s relationship with his children has grown more removed and that he feels he does not have a friend in the White House. He disagrees with Mr. Kushner and Ivanka Trump much of the time, but cannot bring himself to tell them no, leaving that instead to [John] Kelly.” [NYTimes]

But, but, but… “Son-in-law Jared Kushner is an increasingly influential interlocutor with foreign governments, such as Saudi Arabia, and was dispatched, along with Vice President Pence and Mulvaney, to the Capitol on the eve of the government shutdown to try to negotiate a spending deal with congressional leaders.” [WashPost]

Trump Moves Up Departure Date for Defense Secretary Mattis — by Michael R. Gordon, Nancy A. Youssef and Jessica Donati: “Irked by the response to [James] Mattis’s resignation letter, which laid bare some of the core disagreements between the Pentagon chief and the Republican president, Mr. Trump expedited the defense secretary’s departure on Sunday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Mr. Mattis Sunday morning and told him the White House wanted him out by Dec. 31, a senior administration official said, instead of the Feb. 28 date Mr. Mattis set in his letter.” [WSJ]

Eliot Cohen writes… “You Can’t Serve Both Trump and America: The departure of Jim Mattis from government service is proof that you cannot have it all. You have to walk if you are to remain the human being you were, or conceived yourself being, before you went in. He alone refused to curry favor, to pander at the painful televised Cabinet sessions, or to praise someone who deserved none of it. In the end, he could not do his job and serve the country as he knew it had to be served. No one could. Henceforth, the senior ranks of government can be filled only by invertebrates and opportunists, schemers and careerists.” [TheAtlantic] 

LONG READ — Iraq’s Post-ISIS Campaign of Revenge — by Ben Taub: “The ground campaign to take back Mosul began in earnest in the fall of 2016… For three years, the Iraqi Army had told civilians to stay at home and wait for liberation… Now, as the Army encircled the Old City, electricity and water supplies were cut off, and life became impossible… The coalition concluded that the Old City could not be captured according to the rules of engagement that had governed the battle in East Mosul, so it loosened its requirements for calling in an air strike. In March, the U.S. dropped a five-hundred-pound bomb on a roof in the Old City, in an effort to kill two ISIS snipers. The explosion killed a hundred and five civilians who had been sheltering inside the building. Survivors reported that there were no ISIS fighters in the vicinity at the time of the strike.”

“The Iraqi judiciary has also exposed the willingness of Western liberal democracies to quietly regard due process as a strategic disadvantage. During the battle for Mosul, France deployed elite soldiers to track and kill its own citizens. Some five thousand Europeans joined ISIS, and, of the thousand or more who have returned to their home countries, very few have been charged with crimes, owing to the near-impossibility of collecting court-level evidence in a foreign war zone. European intelligence agencies are overwhelmed; to carry out comprehensive surveillance on a single target requires a team of around thirty people. And so countries that have outlawed capital punishment are tacitly encouraging Iraq to eliminate their jihadi citizens. “If the Iraqi government were just rounding up and killing Iraqis in this way, we could be more vocal” in criticizing it, the European diplomat said. “But we don’t have any idea what to do about our own citizens. There is no policy.” [NewYorker]

IRAN SANCTIONS — Iraq receives 90-day extension to Iran sanctions waiver — by Philip Issa: “The U.S. initially granted Iraq a 45-day waiver to allow it carry on buying electricity and gas from its neighbor while arranging for new suppliers. Iraq will now have another 90 days where it can continue to pay for electricity imports, the State Department’s public affairs office said. But it is barred from paying for gas imports.” [AP]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Israel to Hold Elections in April, Netanyahu’s Government Announces: “Israel’s coalition heads announced Monday that they have unanimously decided to hold elections on April 9… The announcement comes hours after Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid announced that his party will vote against the new law on drafting yeshiva students when it comes for its final votes in the Knesset scheduled for two weeks from now.”[Haaretz]

— “This high-stakes political drama is connected to the attorney general’s upcoming decision whether to indict Netanyahu on three separate cases of bribery… The decision to go for early elections might influence his timetable.”[Axios]

Aaron David Miller tweets“A key question — Will the Trump Administration launch its own campaign to help Bibi get reelected? Bringing out the Kushner peace plan — and its rumored provisions for a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem — would not be helpful.”

Shalom Lipner“After Syria — and Trump’s budding bromance with Erdogan — Netanyahu’s not sure he can tame the presidential beast anymore. If a beleaguered POTUS decides that his Ultimate Plan is just the deus ex machina that the doctor ordered, Netanyahu is in the soup. Accept it and his gov’t collapses. Reject it and beware of Trump’s vengeance. Elections now freeze the diplomatic clock.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump Plan to Include Palestinian State, Israeli Minister Says — by Alisa Odenheimer: “[Israel’s education minister Naftali] Bennett told Army Radio that Trump’s peace plan, which is expected to be presented in coming months, envisions a Palestinian state “with certain conditions.” He didn’t elaborate on what that meant or how he knew the contents of the U.S. plan.” [BloombergToI

2020 WATCH — Cory Booker Is Building A 2020 Campaign That’s Just Like Him: Vegan, Hyperactive, And Unapologetically Unconventional — by Ruby Cramer and Darren Sands: “Donald Sussman, a donor who has spent millions supporting Democratic causes, has… indicated that he is ready to support a Booker campaign, according to two officials familiar with his thinking.” [BuzzFeed]

Why Is the Left Already Trying to Annihilate Beto O’Rourke? — by Peter Hamby: “The [Bernie] Sanders wing of the Democratic Party… is treating O’Rourke’s rise with some reasonable questions—what does this guy actually believe in?—and, in some cases, outright hostility. Still wounded from the insider anointment of Hillary Clinton in 2016 and her ultimate primary victory, they’re worried about a depressing sequel in which Sanders, again mulling a campaign, gets muscled out by powerful elites who want a more palatable centrist at the helm.” [VanityFair

** 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: Steven Mnuchin sparks unease with unusual effort to reassure markets [FinancialTimes• The Israeli Team Snapchat Is Counting on to Lift It Out of the Doldrums [Haaretz• New central bank chief Amir Yaron takes office in Israel [AP• Perrigo’s Slump Drags Israeli Stocks to Biggest Drop Since 2011 [Bloomberg]

SPOTLIGHT — The CEO Behind Tinder, OkCupid on the Future of Online Dating — by Chip Cutter: “In her nearly 13 years at Match Group Inc., where she became chief executive in January, Mandy Ginsberg has watched the stigma of online dating fade almost entirely. Today, many people even proudly pursue a multiapp dating strategy. Match owns well-known dating apps including Tinder, Hinge and OkCupid, along with lesser-known brands… Her first year at the helm has been an eventful one. After unsuccessfully trying to acquire the dating app Bumble, Match sued its rival last spring for infringing patents for “swiping” and other features that have made Tinder popular… Despite the competitive pressures, the online dating business “will never, ever, ever get stale,” said Ms. Ginsberg… “We need human connections. Even if we don’t want them, it’s this underlying craving to go seek them.” [WSJ]

PROFILE — Facebook’s Lonely Conservative Takes on a Power Position — by Deepa Seetharaman: “[Joel] Kaplan is Facebook’s longtime global policy chief but his remit has expanded considerably in the last two years. He has often been the decisive word internally on hot-button political issues and has wielded his influence to postpone or kill projects that risk upsetting conservatives, said the people familiar with the decisions. Mr. Kaplan now has a say in whether certain news-feed products get launched, an area that has long been the purview of Facebook’s engineers and product teams… Mr. Kaplan has played an influential role in a number of sensitive internal decisions in the last year.” [WSJ] • Why Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s ‘adult in the room,’ may pay the price for its failings [TheGuardian]

HOLLYWOOD — Diane Kruger Is Tired of Being Offered Nazi Movies — by April Wolfe: “Diane Kruger grew up in the German countryside before traveling abroad for education… For this reason, her accent has become unplaceable, a vaguely foreign sound that can be slotted into any nationality… Potentially, this was a factor in Kruger’s casting in Robert Zemeckis’s Welcome to Marwen, an adaptation of the documentary Marwencol (2010), about an artist who built a miniature WWII town in his backyard to arrange and then photograph dolls in war scenes as a means to work through the trauma of having lost his memory from being brutally beaten by Nazis. In a conversation with Vulture, Kruger [said]… “I’ve been offered so many Nazi roles. You couldn’t believe… I never had any desire to be in that kind of movie to be honest, for obvious reasons, and I feel like it’s been done to death.” [Vulture]

ACROSS THE OCEAN — Jerusalem Criticizes Berlin’s Jewish Museum for ‘Anti-Israel Activity’ — by Melissa Eddy and Isabel Kershner: “Berlin’s Jewish Museum prides itself on stirring things up. In recent exhibitions exploring Jewish stereotypes and attitudes to circumcision, the museum pushed visitors to question what it means to be Jewish in Germany, and the world… The “Welcome to Jerusalem” exhibition, which presents Jerusalem’s role as a crossroads of the world’s three monotheistic religions, is singled out in a letter that surfaced this month, with the title, “German Funding of Organizations Intervening in Israeli Domestic Affairs or Promoting anti-Israel Activity.” The seven-page paper… is unsigned… But Israeli officials, while not owning up to having written it, say they agree with its message: that the German government should halt any financial support to organizations or institutions the Israeli government views as undermining the Jewish state and siding with the Palestinians.” [NYTimes• Germany opens anti-Semitism reporting center [DW]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Ultra-Orthodox and Secular Jews Struggle Over Tiberias, Israeli Tourist Town — by Dov Lieber: “This ancient city on the Sea of Galilee was once a popular weekend beach getaway for Israelis and a magnet for foreign visitors drawn by its 2,000 years of history. Now, seagulls and stray cats outnumber people on the city’s seaside promenade on the Sabbath… Many longtime residents cite a reason that reflects changes rippling across Israel: ultra-Orthodox Jewish migration. The situation in Tiberias has come to symbolize Israel’s national struggle over a booming ultra-Orthodox population, the country’s fastest-growing group. The ultra-Orthodox now make up 12% of Israel’s nearly nine million citizens, up from 10% in 2009, and around 5% percent in 1990. They are projected to be 16% of the population by 2030, with households that average seven children fueling the growth.”[WSJ]

WONDER WOMAN — Court says Justice Ginsburg up and working after surgery: “Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is up and working as she recuperates from cancer surgery. A spokeswoman for the court, Kathy Arberg, also says that Ginsburg remained in New York at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on Sunday… Ginsburg underwent surgery Friday to remove two malignant growths in her left lung. Doctors say there is no evidence of any remaining disease.” [AP]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Podcasts that tell the unheard Christmas stories — by Fiona Sturges: “The American series, Pitch, about music and the ways we relate to it, has released a terrific one-off holiday episode. Here the journalist Jeffrey Goldberg tells hosts Alex Kapelman and Whitney Jones about his enduring fascination with the fact that Christmas songs such as “Winter Wonderland” and “Let it Snow” were written by Jewish songwriters but, he says, “most Hanukkah music is very, very bad.” Which brings him to Orrin Hatch, a long-serving Republican senator from Utah who moonlights as a songwriter. When Goldberg first met Senator Hatch, who had already written scores of Christmas songs, he jokingly suggested that he should turn his attention to Hanukkah, which Hatch did roughly 10 years later with the song “Eight Days of Hanukkah.” “Is it the greatest Jewish song ever written? No,” says Goldberg. “But a Mormon elder Republican senator… decided to write a Hanukkah song with a Jewish songwriter and have it sung by an Arab-American singer. It’s nice to think that something like that can happen.” [FinancialTimes]

David Cavell writes… “I’m the speechwriter who wrote Obama’s final Christmas message — Trump should give it a listen: Two years ago at this time, I was the Jewish speechwriter tasked with writing a Christmas message from the president to millions of Americans… The president closed things out by talking about how his family would celebrate the birth of a Savior while celebrating his universal message of compassion and hope that helps guide “Jewish Americans and Muslim Americans; nonbelievers and Americans of all backgrounds.” I was proud to help celebrate Christmas. And I say that as a Jew who, true to form, ate Chinese food and went to the movies on a few Dec. 25ths.” [USAToday]

REMEMBERING — Warsaw ghetto uprising fighter Simcha Rotem dies at 94 — by Aron Heller: “Simcha Rotem, an Israeli Holocaust survivor who was among the last known Jewish fighters from the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising against the Nazis, has died… Rotem, who went by the underground nickname “Kazik,” took part in the single greatest act of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust… Rotem, who passed away Saturday after a long illness, helped save the last survivors of the uprising by smuggling them out of the burning ghetto through sewage tunnels… With his passing, there is only a single known remaining Warsaw ghetto uprising survivor left in Israel — 90-year-old Aliza Vitis-Shomron… “It’s a difficult day because this really means that this is it. I’m the only one left and there is no one else to keep the story alive,” she told The Associated Press.” [AP]

BIRTHDAYS — MONDAY: Professor of Education and Liturgy at Gratz College for 42 years until retiring in 2017, Saul Philip Wachs turns 87… Pulitzer Prize-winning national security reporter for The Washington Post (1975-2015), now a columnist and senior national security reporter at The Cipher Brief, Walter Haskell Pincus turns 86… Owner of The Wonderful Company which operates POM, Fiji Water, Teleflora, Wonderful Pistachios and other businesses, Stewart Resnick turns 82… Co-founder, co-CEO and one of the rabbis of Ohr HaTorah in Venice, California he is also the co-founder of The HUB on Venice, Rabbi Mordecai Finley turns 64… Former Director of the National Economic Council under both Presidents Clinton and Obama, Gene Sperling turns 60…

Founder and Chief Investment Officer at BlueStar Indexes (tied to Israeli public companies), Steven Schoenfeld turns 56… Founder in 2010 of Ochstein Strategies, a firm to provide PR and digital strategy for startups, Jodi L. Ochstein turns 55… Member of the UK Parliament since 2005, former leader of the Labour Party as well as Leader of the Opposition (2010-2015), Edward Samuel Miliband turns 49… Professor of Internet law and computer science at Harvard’s Law School, Harvard’s Kennedy School and Harvard’s School of Engineering, Jonathan Zittrain turns 49… Pianist, singer and composer, at 9 years old he became the youngest artist to have his own hour-long National PBS Concert Special, his performances have raised over $50 million for charities, Ethan Jordan Bortnick turns 18…

TUESDAY: Sociologist, author, fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal, Kay Hymowitz turns 70… Israeli singer, songwriter, musician and painter, Yehuda Poliker turns 68… CEO of Whitebarn Associates, a private investment company, and vice-chair of the board of The Ohio State University, Abigail Wexner turns 57… Reporter and editor who has worked at FiveThirtyEight, CNN, Politico and the Jerusalem Post, Hilary Leila Krieger turns 42… Founder at Light Fuse Communications and a partner in Definers Public Affairs, he was the communications director for Jeb 2016, Tim Miller turns 37… Attorney in the regulatory and government affairs group at global law firm DLA Piper, Irene Beren Jefferson Sherman turns 34… Director of the Israeli community at HomeIs, she was previously the executive director at The America-Israel Friendship League, Daniella Rilov

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