Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Polis on being Colorado’s first Jewish Gov | Ted Cruz’s Yeshiva friend | Durham City Council debates Israeli police training

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DRIVING THE DAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is outlining U.S. policy in the Middle East in a speech this hour at the American University in Cairo. The speech, “A Force for Good: America Reinvigorated in the Middle East,” was previewed by Politico as a repudiation of President Obama’s views of the region. Earlier this morning, Pompeo met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the Ittihadeya Palace to “discuss security and economic cooperation.” [CSPAN]

During a press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Pompeo maintained that “there’s no contradiction whatsoever” in the shifting Syria strategy since President Trump’s initial announcement of U.S. withdrawal. “This is a story made up by the media.”

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor for President Barack Obama, discussed Pompeo’s Cairo speech and the Democratic opposition to advance the anti-BDS bill in the Senate on the Pod Save the World podcast with Tommy Vietor.

“I don’t know why Mike Pompeo is giving this speech in the first place,” Rhodes said. “I mean, the Cairo speech was 10 years ago, and he’s pretty juvenile that all he can do 10 years later is try to take some shot at Barack Obama… Pompeo is fixated, obsessed with framing everything that they are doing as somehow different from us because they are ‘getting tough on Iran and we were weak on Iran.’ … If Obama’s audience was all the people around the world, Pompeo’s is really a domestic political audience back home that he thinks likes a hard-line message on Iran, including his boss.”

Rhodes on the Senate Dems blocking the anti-BDS bill: “There’s a real political crisis in this country, and the idea that the number one thing that the U.S. Senate is doing is addressing BDS is a huge part of what’s wrong with our politics… Even if you oppose BDS, the idea that that would come before reopening the government is insane… The second point is… I personally don’t support BDS, but I also think this bill goes way too far… And frankly, that’s going to do far more to make people look at BDS than it is going to prevent it… If you polarize support for Israel instead of having it be something that there’s a bipartisan consensus about, in the long run, that’s not good for the U.S.-Israel relations.” [PodSaveTheWorld]

HEARD YESTERDAY — IPF’s Michael Koplow discussed waning support for Israel in the Democratic Party during a roundtable discussion held at the Pryor Cashman law firm on Times Square in New York: “I think there is no question Democratic attitudes on Israel are changing, but I don’t think it’s accurate in any sense to portray the Democrats as an anti-Israel party in any way. I think that there are definitely extremes within the base who are anti-Israel and would proudly describe themselves as such, but that has not filtered up in terms of elected officials, except on the very margins. In two or three election cycles from now, is it possible that there will be one or two Democratic senators who support BDS? Of course, it’s possible. If Rashida Tlaib becomes a senator one day, she’ll support BDS. But it’s still a lot harder to get through a Democratic primary if you support BDS, particularly on the Senate side where you’ve got to win over an entire state and you’re not just focused on smaller districts. It still remains even harder to win a general election across a state if you do.”

“And even the ones who have been getting the most press, there’s a big difference Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib on one hand, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other hand. Even within kind of that group that gets lumped together, I think there are real serious differences. As opposed to Tlaib and Omar, that have said or tweeted things that certainly are anti-Zionist and in some of their cases can very fairly be characterized as anti-Semitic, Ocasio Cortez has not done that. She has voiced her opposition to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and she’s voiced her opposition to Israeli government policies. I think that folks on the left who are looking for her to set a foreign policy tone that perhaps is more critical of Israeli actions, I think they’re likely to be disappointed. I don’t think she’s going to be sort of a traditional AIPAC Democrat by any means, but I also don’t think that she is interested or seeking to be at the vanguard of some vast anti-Israel movement.” [Pic]

STATE-SIDE — Maryland man sues Hogan, Frosh for executive order forbidding contracts with those who boycott Israel — by Lillian Reed: “A former Maryland state representative has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Gov. Larry Hogan and Attorney General Brian Frosh, taking aim at an executive order denying government contracts to businesses that boycott Israel. The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court by Syed Saqib Ali, alleges that the Maryland leaders violated his First and 14th Amendment rights… The Council on American-Islamic Relations… is providing legal counsel for the Montgomery County resident in his suit.” [BaltimoreSun]

Why this Durham panel won’t ask the city to take Israel out of its policing statement — by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: “Rabbis, politicians, activists and others gathered Tuesday night to find common ground in the aftermath of a Durham City Council statement on policing that some saw as anti-Semitic… The council approved a policy statement in April 2018 that put the city on record opposing military-style police training with foreign countries… But after months of discussions and a final three-hour meeting and vote on their report, commission members stopped short of asking the council to remove the reference to Israel.” [NewsObserver]

REPORT — Massive internet address hijacking spree has ties to Iran ― by Joe Uchill: “FireEye reports that a multi-year, global campaign of hacking government, telecommunications and internet infrastructure systems has ties to Iran… These attacks targeted dozens of victims in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and North America, and were clustered between 2017 and the present.” [Axios]

SHUTDOWN WATCH — Jewish employees affected by the government shutdown are getting some help from this organization — by Josefin Dolsten: “The Hebrew Free Loan Association of Greater Washington approved an emergency program last week to provide loans of up to $2,000 per household to affected Jews living in the Washington, D.C., area. Several people have applied and two have been approved, the organization’s president, David Farber, told JTA… The association has allocated some $30,000 to the program, and it’s reaching out to local synagogues and Jewish organizations to help in case the demand extends beyond that threshold.”[JTAReligionNews]

White House Weighs Canceling Trump’s Trip to Davos This Month — by Michael Bender: “President Trump’s team is weighing canceling his trip to Davos, Switzerland, later this month if the partial government shutdown hasn’t been solved by the Jan. 22 start of the annual World Economic Forum… It is likely that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will still attend the event, but the size of the U.S. delegation probably will be significantly restricted, officials said.” [WSJ]

Trump in the Oval Office: “Israel put up a wall — 99.9 percent successful, according to Bibi Netanyahu. He came into my office a couple of months ago. He said, ‘What’s with the wall? We put up a wall. It was 99.9 percent successful.’  99.9. I said, ‘Do you mind if I use that number? Because, you know, they’ll fact-check it and they’ll go and say, ‘Oh, it’s actually only 99 percent. The President told a fib.’ ‘No,’ he told me, ‘99.9 [percent].’ Maybe he’ll change it and make it 99.” [Video]

ON THE HILL — Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) is the first woman to chair the powerful House Appropriations committee since it was created in 1865. [Politico]

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) was selected to serve as Chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

SCENE LAST NIGHT — The Council for a Livable World, Foreign Policy for America, J Street and Truman Center hosted a reception for incoming members of Congress at the Sonoma Restaurant in Washington, DC. Members in attendance included Greg Stanton (AZ), Andy Levin (MI), Angie Craig (MN), Colin Allred (TX), Kim Schrier (WA), Josh Harder (CA), Katie Porter (CA), Jared Golden (ME), Elissa Slotkin (MI), Andy Kim (NJ), Abigail Spanberger (VA), Jason Crow (CO), Jennifer Wexton (VA), Donna Shalala (FL), Abby Finkenauer (IA), Cindy Axne (IA), Sharice Davids (KS), Joe Morelle (NY), TJ Cox (CA), Gil Cisneros (CA). Incumbent Reps. Joaquin Castro (TX), David Cicilline (RI), Anthony Brown (MD) and Rosa DeLauro (CT) also attended the event. [PicPic]

Matt Lewis writes… “Rashida Tlaib Is Becoming the Michele Bachmann of the Left: For years, I wrote about the destruction of the conservative movement, labeling ita tragedy of the commons-type situation where “individual actors have perverse incentives to tarnish the collective brand” of the GOP. Whether it was Michele Bachmann or Ted Cruz, Republican rabble-rousers said and did things that tarnished the GOP brand and drove leadership insane, even as they seemed to prosper politically. Ultimately, this fostered a chaotic and fractured environment that led to the nomination of Donald Trump… Democrats like Tlaib, it seems, were taking notes.”[DailyBeast]

‘GROWING’ MOMENTUM FOR PEACE? — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted on Wednesday: “Pretty cool: A good friend is studying in Yeshiva in Israel. His rabbi told him he liked my beard, elaborating “It gives Cruz a Talmudic & Rabbinic look & presence that will put the fear of the Lord into Israel’s enemies & promote Middle East peace.” Wow. Perhaps a bit much.” [Pic]

— Flashback to Jan. 2nd’s JI Daily Kickoff: David Milstein has departed Senator Ted Cruz’s office after five and a half years, and will be studying at Aish HaTorah in the Old City of Jerusalem. He served on Cruz’s national security team with a specific focus on Israel.

PROFILE — Colorado Governor Jared Polis and his partner Marlon Reis talk about their political journey before with New York Times reporter Matthew Schneier: “When Mr. Polis was elected to the House, he and Mr. Reis… road-tripped to Washington through the American South, stopping in Amarillo, Texas… They recalled stopping at a steakhouse in Amarillo for dinner one night. “We might be the only Jewish people in town but they probably understand that,” Mr. Polis told Mr. Reis at the time. “There’s not a lot of gay people but they probably understand that. But no matter what you do in this town, don’t say you’re a vegan.”

“Mr. Polis has been subjected to slurs and threats; in his first campaign, he received so many pieces of hate mail that he began to tack them up. “It filled up a whole wall,” he said. More of the attacks were anti-Semitic rather than homophobic, Mr. Polis said — he is also Colorado’s first Jewish governor — and the vitriol diminished over time. But it is not gone.” [NYTimes

ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — Netanyahu says Israel “is ready to foil any cyber intervention” as a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin denied trying to sway elections… Minister Yoav Galant formally joined the Likud Party yesterday. Netanyahu welcomed the former IDF general during a rare joint press conference at the Knesset… Yair Lapid has reportedly offered former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi the number 2 spot on his party list… Michal Zernowitski, hoping to become the first ultra-Orthodox MK, is running in the Labor Party primaries…

2020 WATCH — Tom Steyer, Billionaire Impeachment Activist, Won’t Run Against Trump — by Alexander Burns: “Tom Steyer, the California billionaire who has crusaded for President Trump’s impeachment, said on Wednesday that he would not join the pack of Democrats running for president in 2020 and would instead redouble his efforts to topple Mr. Trump before the election. Mr. Steyer’s decision came as a surprise even to some of his political confidants… Mr. Steyer intends to spend at least $40 million on impeachment efforts in the coming year… Mr. Steyer, 61, left himself some wiggle room to change his mind on 2020, saying in prepared remarks that he had decided against running “at this time.” [NYTimes]

— “The former hedge fund manager said he will be hosting town halls across the country to discuss what he terms the dangers of Trump’s presidency. He is planning trips to Nevada, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia in the next month.” [WashPost]

Jeff Weaver won’t reprise role as Sanders campaign manager — by Holly Otterbein: “Jeff Weaver, a longtime member of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ inner circle who served as campaign manager of his 2016 presidential bid, will not return to that role if the Vermont senator mounts another campaign in 2020.” [Politico]

** Good Thursday 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: Larry Fink reshuffles BlackRock’s senior management, promoting Mark Wiedman to a new international role [FinancialTimesWSJ] • Norman and David Sturner’s MHP Real Estate Services in contract to buy Bronx Post Place [NYPost• CBS CEO Search On Hold As Viacom Merger Talks Resurface [Deadline] • At Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, allegations of misconduct were met with little change—and a big payout for the man in charge [CJR] •  Irving Langer’s E&M just sold off another big Harlem portfolio [TheRealDeal] • Hudson Yards arts center to be named the Bloomberg Building, after former Mayor Michael Bloomberg[CrainsNewYork] • Israel health fund aMoon II gets $600 mln in investor commitments [Reuters] • Amazon acquires Israeli start-up CloudEndure [JPost] • YieldStreet’s Alternative Investment Marketplace Booms In Times Of Volatility [Forbes]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Steve Bannon Angled for a Job Lobbying on Behalf of E-Cigarette Giant Juul — by Betsy Woodruff and Asawin Suebsaeng: “Juul Labs, which hawks flavored e-cigarettes that teens love, recently drew a controversial suitor: ex-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. The offer came during a meeting on Oct. 10 of last year, where Nick Muzin, a former staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), met with Tevi Troy, vice president of public policy at Juul. At the meeting, Muzin pitched Troy on the lobbying services of his firm, Stonington Global. Muzin also brought up Bannon, saying the former White House strategist would help with his company’s lobbying work for the vape company.” [DailyBeast]

HOLLYWOOD — John Lasseter comes out of #MeToo hiding to run animation at Skydance — by Nicole Laporte: “John Lasseter, the director of Toy Story and Cars and the creative executive who ran Pixar and Walt Disney Animation until #MeToo revelations led to his suspension and then departure, will be the new head of Skydance Animation, a division of David Ellison’s Skydance Media company. Lasseter… resurfaced in recent months, reportedly having a two-hour meeting with Ari Emanuel, the co-head of Endeavor, and making appearances around his Northern California home. The connection with Skydance isn’t entirely surprising. Ellison is the son of Oracle cofounder and billionaire Larry Ellison.” [FastCompany]

Harvey Weinstein Looking for New Lawyers as Trial Nears — by Pervaiz Shallwani and Noah Shachtman: “Harvey Weinstein is reaching out to new lawyers to shore up his criminal defense team, currently headed up by superstar attorney Ben Brafman… But Weinstein, in a rare statement, said, “The rumor is untrue. We are looking to augment the team, not replace anyone.” [DailyBeast]

SPORTS BLINK — Turner President David Levy Enthusiastic About Prospects Of Legalized Sports Betting — by Dawn Chmielewski: “Turner president David Levy picked perhaps the perfect venue, Las Vegas, to offer his bullish predictions about the future of sports betting. A pivotal U.S. Supreme Court decision last May opened the door to legalized sports betting in most states, so sports fans no longer have to travel to Las Vegas to wager on March Madness or the Super Bowl… In the near future, Levy said media companies will be able to develop content that gaming companies like MGM or Caesars will need to create attractive sports wagering services.” [Deadline]

Special Julian Edelman cleats sold to benefit Jewish federations: “The special cleats worn by Julian Edelman as part of the NFL My Cause, My Cleats campaign have been sold for $10,000. A California company, Golden West Food Group, bought the cleats and is donating the money to Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston and Pittsburgh’s Jewish Federation… The cleats are dedicated to the 11 people who were killed during the October mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.” [WCVB]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Selfless rabbi saves 2 lives a decade apart with organ donations — by Doree Lewak: “It wasn’t enough that he donated his kidney to a stranger 10 years ago: Last month, a 50-year-old Teaneck, NJ, father of nine gave part of his liver to save yet another stranger. Little wonder why some people think Rabbi Ephraim Simon is a saint. “Living liver donation is a risky surgery in general, but especially when a person only has one kidney,” says Donna Ferchill, a liver-transplant coordinator at Cleveland Clinic, where one-third of Simon’s liver was transplanted into a 44-year-old Long Island father of three… But Simon, who flew home last week after the seven-hour surgery, a day in ICU and several weeks in the hospital, believes the risk was worth it.” [NYPost]

AJC Hosts Meeting Between L.A. Women’s March Leaders, Jewish Groups — by Erin Ben-Moche: “Emiliana Guereca, executive director of Women’s March Los Angeles (WMLA) met with several large Los Angeles Jewish organizations Jan. 9th at a meeting hosted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC) to discuss the Anti-Semitism taking place surrounding the National Women’s March.” [JewishJournal]

ACROSS THE SEA — Jihadists Behind Bars Pose New Threats for Europe — by Valentina Pop: “A terrorism trial starting in Brussels on Thursday highlights the difficulties Europe’s courts and prisons face containing the spread of jihadist ideology behind bars. Mehdi Nemmouche, a 33-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, faces life in prison for allegedly shooting and killing four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum in May 2014. But once in prison, law-enforcement officials warn, terror suspects and convicts breed even more plots and spread their ideology to other inmates.” [WSJ]

Eilat high on NY Times’ list of top destinations for 2019: “The “newly accessible” resort town of Eilat was rated one of 2019’s top travel destinations by The New York Times, which featured Israel for the first time ever in its annual list of recommended places to visit. The annual list published Wednesday placed Eilat in sixth place, highlighting Eilat’s coral reef diving opportunities and luxury hotels… It was the first time an Israeli location was featured on the Times’ annual “52 places to go” list since it began in 2008.”[ToINYTimes]

DESSERT — These D.C. breakfast sandwiches are anything but boring — by Megan McDonough: “Ring your mom and tell her the hype for Call Your Mother’s breakfast sandwiches is real and, more important, warranted. Carb cravers line up before 8 a.m. and usually wait 45 minutes for the self-described “Jew-ish” deli’s tasty and creative wood-fired bagel creations. (To pass the time, try to identify all the Jewish celebrities who inspired the dishes’ names.) … On your way out, peep the deli’s “Drake wall,” adorned with mugs of the half-Jewish rapper.” [WashPost]

Portland’s First Kosher Brewery is Opening a Taproom — by Andi Prewitt: “Leikam Brewing co-founder Sonia-Marie Leikam confirms that she and her husband, head brewer Theo Leikam, have purchased a building in the Mount Tabor neighborhood that formerly housed a Thai restaurant on East Burnside Street… The new location sits just about two miles from the original backyard brewhouse, one of the nation’s only kosher-certified, which began operating in 2014.” [WillamatteWeek]

TRANSITIONS — Jenna Lifhits, previously a Staff Writer at The Weekly Standard has joined the House GOP Conference as its Deputy Policy Director.

Andrew Rehfeld, a leading political scientist and advocate for progressive Jewish and social-justice causes, was chosen as the 13th president of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

BIRTHDAYS: SiLOTUS Jared Kushner turns 38… Founder of the Center for Research on Institutions and Social Policy, he was a former speechwriter for Robert F. Kennedy, Adam Walinsky turns 82… Conservative columnist and author, think tank president, critic of political correctness on college campuses, David Horowitz turns 80… Executive editor of Denver’s Intermountain Jewish News, historian and teacher of the Mussar movement, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, Ph.D. turns 73… Professor at Brandeis University since 2018, he was president of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston for 30 years before that, Barry Shrage turns 72… Former President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (2012-2017), Baron David Edmond Neuberger turns 71… Passaic, NJ-born musician, singer-songwriter and co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band “Steely Dan,” Donald Fagenturns 71… Riga, Latvia-born, world renowned cellist, emigrated to Israel in 1971, has over 50 recordings on the Deutsche Grammophon label with many top orchestras, Mischa Maisky turns 71… Long-time editor at Bantam Books, Simon & Schuster and Crown Publishers, Sydny Weinberg Miner turns 68… Retired executive director at Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor society for accounting students, (2003-2013), Hadassah (Dassie) Baum turns 68…

Born in Paraguay, she has lived and worked in Russia, Israel, Europe and China, and is the founder and CEO at Los Angeles-based Quantifiable Media, Rose Kemps turns 68… Senior Scholar for Religious Freedom at the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute, Richard Thomas Foltinturns 67… University Professor and Professor of American Jewish History in the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, Jonathan D. Sarna turns 64… Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the majority owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, Joe Lacob turns 63… Member of the Knesset since 2008 for the United Torah Judaism party, Uri Maklev turns 62… Actor with a recurring role in “Sex and the City” and author of two books on his recovery from acute myeloid leukemia, Evan Handler turns 58… Naples, Florida resident, Beth E. Wolff turns 57… Boston area Director for Birthright Israel Foundation and fitness instructor at the Worcester JCC, Caryn Lazaroff turns 41… Speechwriter for Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD-5), Adam David Weissmann turns 36… Associate director for media relations at the Moscow Project for the Center for American Progress, Morgan Aubrey Finkelstein turns 28… Digital operations manager at JTA, Andrew Tobin… Senior project manager for Jewish Futures Conference at the Jewish Education Project, Debbie Seiden