Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Rep. Max Rose invites Steve King to Staten Island… sort of | Haim Saban on 2020 | Israeli bid to resell U.S. F-16s to Croatia fails

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DRIVING THE CONVO — Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is under fire from fellow members of Congress and Jewish groups for his comments in an interviewwith the New York Times that appeared to defend white supremacy. “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” asked King.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in a statement that King’s “language is reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society.” His comments “are abhorrent and racist and should have no place in our national discourse,” House GOP Conference leader Liz Cheney (R-WY) added on Twitter.

Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) told Jewish Insider“Steve King is a disgrace to Congress and this country. I’d like to see him come to Staten Island and South Brooklyn and say this.”

RJC’s Matt Brooks: “We have been highly critical of Cong. Steve King in the past and have refused to support him. Once again we are appalled and disgusted by his views and comments. He doesn’t represent the values of the RJC or the Republican Party. I’m thrilled so many leaders in Congress have spoken up and spoken out against him.” [JewishInsider]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Reps. Tlaib, Omar, and Carson headline CAIR reception — by Laura Kelly: The first two Muslim women elected to Congress — Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) — headlined a meet and greet hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim advocacy organization in the U.S., at the Grand Hyatt in Arlington, Virginia. During their speeches Reps. Tlaib and Omar both focused on their backgrounds in progressive politics, as disruptive change-makers who upend the narrative of what a Muslim woman is expected to look and act like.

Jinan Shbat, the national outreach manager for CAIR, expressed hope that when Congress gets back to work, issues like the immigration, healthcare, and the ‘Muslim ban,’ will be on the agenda of the Muslim representatives. On legislation related to Israel, Ms. Shbat deferred, saying that she can’t speak for Reps. Omar and Tlaib — who have both expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS)— but said that CAIR has been open about opposing any law that would infringe on freedom of speech. “When it comes to the BDS movement, we [CAIR] have a stance that we believe that [anti-BDS legislation] is an infringement on our First Amendment right and that it shouldn’t be…passed regardless of what it’s supporting, she said. [JewishInsider]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Sen. Joe Lieberman tells Neil Cavuto on Fox Business that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) isn’t the future of the Democratic Party: “With all respect, I certainly hope she’s not the future and I don’t believe she is. She’s gotten a lot of attention because she’s different. She’s controversial. But if you look at the majority of new Democrats in the House, they tend to be, I say, center-left, if they are not left-left. And that is because they had to be center-left to win some of those competitive swing districts that they took from Republicans.” [FoxBusiness]

Watch: Ocasio-Cortez and Rev. Al Sharpton showed off their dance moves after a meeting on Capitol Hill yesterday. [Video]

ON THE HILL — On Thursday, the Senate failed once again to advance legislation that would reauthorize the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel and an anti-BDS measure after Senate Democrats — excluding Bob Menendez (NJ), Joe Manchin (WV), Doug Jones (AL) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) — managed to block it from reaching the 60 vote threshold. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) immediately filed cloture again, setting up a third procedural vote for next week.

Freshman Senator Josh Hawley‏ (R-MO) tweeted yesterday: “Voted AGAIN this afternoon to secure our ally Israel. Dems AGAIN blocked it as they continue their shutdown. Anti-Israel and anti-Semite groups celebrating. Dems: are you proud of this?”

HEARD ON THE SENATE FLOOR — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): “It’s important for us to make it clear that our commitment to Israel is unwavering. It is especially important in light of the decision to withdraw from Syria because what a lot of the countries, including Iran, are reading into this is: the U.S. commitment to the Middle East is no longer strong. And not only are they not committed to being involved in the region, but they are also actually withdrawing any of the assets they could be using to be supportive of their allies in the region. So these statements of policy are important.” [CSPAN]

— Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is reportedly working on compromise legislation that he hopes can bring more Democrats on board to support the anti-BDS bill. “I’m working on drafting a new version of Rubio’s language that could get a lot of Democratic votes,” Murphy told al-Monitor. “There’s a way to make these bills truly bipartisan and bicameral. Unfortunately, Republicans seem more interested in using Israel as a wedge issue than actually getting as many votes as possible.”

SHUTDOWN WATCH — White House Aides Explore Alternative Ways to Pay for Border Wall — by Michael Bender, Kristina Peterson and Peter Nicholas: “White House officials are divided over whether President Trump should declare a national emergency to obtain funding to build a border wall and end a partial government shutdown… Inside the West Wing, Jared Kushner… has been lobbying for restraint.” [WSJ]

Bret Stephens, who toured the Israel-Lebanon border this week, writes… “What Real Border Security Looks Like: The Israeli experience suggests that the best way to protect a border is to rely on the tools of the 21st century, not the 12th… There are vastly more effective means than concrete to defend even the most dangerous borders. Why can’t Democrats and Republicans simply agree to build additional smart fencing in places where it’s missing and call it, for political effect, an “Israeli-style barrier”?” [NYTimes]

TOUR OF THE REGION — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out the administration’s vision for America’s role in the Middle East in a speech at the American University in Cairo on Thursday. Without mentioning him by name, Pompeo rebuked President Barack Obama’s landmark 2009 speech in Cairo, vowing that now was really “a new beginning” for ties between the U.S. and the Middle East, despite President Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria.[CSPAN]

HOW IT PLAYED — Two Speeches, a Decade Apart: How Pompeo Departed From Obama — by Megan Specia and Alan Yuhas: “Mr. Obama adamantly supported a two-state solution, asserting America’s “unbreakable” bond with Israel while condemning Israeli policies… Mr. Pompeo said little about the peace process and made no mention of a two-state solution… Messages of support for Israel were woven prominently throughout the address… Mr. Obama quoted the Quran, the Bible and the Talmud… Mr. Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, began his address with a nod to his faith.”[NYTimes• Pompeo vows to quell Obama’s Mideast ‘mistakes’ [Politico]

— In the Middle East, Is Trump the Anti-Obama or Obama 2.0? — by Uri Friedman: “The irony is that while the conduct of Obama and Trump in the Middle East couldn’t be more different, they’ve in fact ended up engaged in the same struggle: to extract the United States from the Mideast morass.” [TheAtlantic

Amb. Dan Shapiro tweets“Prediction: no one in the Middle East will remember anything about Pompeo’s speech by next week.”

Washington Institute’s Robert Satloff“Surprised at no mention of U.S. role in Egypt-Israel and Jordan-Israel peace.”

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — NPR’s Daniella Cheslow reports: “Israelis saw the speech as favorable. Pompeo mentioned Israel more than a dozen times, and in each instance asserted the U.S. priority on maintaining its ally’s security. Dore Gold, former director general of Israel’s foreign ministry, said Pompeo’s “critique of Iranian expansionism was very important for Israel.” [NPR]

Most Israelis See Trump’s Planned Syria Withdrawal as Harmful — by Alisa Odenheimer: “Almost 58 percent of Israelis polled considered that a pullout… would damage Israeli security interests.” [Bloomberg]

DEALMAKING — Israel fighter jet sale to Croatia fails after US objections — by Darko Bandic: “Israel has failed to overcome U.S. objections to its plan to sell 12 used fighter jets to Croatia and the $500 million deal will likely be canceled… Croatian Defense Minister Damir Krsticevic said after meeting with Israeli defense officials in Zagreb on Thursday that “despite accepted obligations,” Israel failed to obtain the needed consent and his ministry “will propose to the government to make appropriate decisions.” [AP]

The Saudi engine of repression continues to run at full speed — by David Ignatius: “One hundred days after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is pressing ahead with anti-dissident campaigns and remains in regular contact with Saud al-Qahtani, the media adviser whom the CIA believes helped organize Khashoggi’s killing, according to U.S. and Saudi sources… “Domestically, he feels very confident and in control. As long as his base is secure, he feels that nothing can harm him,” says one American who met recently with MBS.” [WashPost

ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — Shmuel Rosner writes… “The Inevitable, Necessary Death of Israel’s Labor Party: Sometimes, you have to recognize that it’s time to say goodbye. With Israel’s April 9 general election fast approaching, Israelis can finally say farewell to the Labor Party and the Jewish Home Party… When a political party outlives its usefulness, it becomes a distraction… A new reality, including a new culture, demands a new platform… And so it should be no surprise that the parties established to represent other portions of the electorate — outdated portions — are losing steam. Moving forward without them would not be a great loss.” [NYTimes]

2020 WATCH — A spokesperson for Haim Saban emails us regarding outreach to him from 2020 hopefuls: “While there are certainly a number of qualified Democrats running — or thinking about it — Haim strongly believes it’s simply too early in the process to support anyone. He has said that he will, however, continue his commitment to working with elected officials in both the House and Senate to reinforce the U.S.-Israel alliance. Haim will continue playing a role to make sure that bipartisan support and understanding for U.S.-Israel relations continues.”

Kirsten Gillibrand reps lease 5,000 square foot Troy building — by Kenneth Crowe II and Diego Mendoza-Moyers: “Campaign representatives for Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand signed a lease for a 5,000 square foot space in downtown Troy, according to a local Democratic operative — a sign the recently re-elected Albany native could be basing a presidential campaign in the Capital Region.” [TimesUnion] • Gillibrand plans first Iowa visit [Politico]

Mike Bloomberg on 2020 decision: “I have got until February to think. So we’ll see, I don’t know.” [Video]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Ben Melkman, who won backing from billionaire Steven Cohen and Dan Loeb for his fledgling hedge fund, suffers a second year of losses [Bloomberg] • Goldman Sachs gives Michael Milken ‘hero’s welcome’ as firm lecturer [FoxBusiness] • BlackRock to lay off 500 employees in coming weeks [NYPost] • Fed is not likely to increase rates, says David Rubenstein [CNBC] • IKEA to open smallest-yet Israeli store at Tel Aviv Port[ToI]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — The Exclusive That Wasn’t? Publication Retracts Moonves Interview — by Edmund Lee: “A media mystery popped up a week before Christmas: Leslie Moonves, who had just been fired as the chief executive of CBS after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, appeared to give an exclusive, on-the-record interview to a little-known publication in which he bluntly addressed his dismissal… On Thursday, Agenda removed Mr. Moonves’s comments from the article and attached an editor’s note that read, in part, “A spokesperson for Mr. Moonves issued a statement denying that Mr. Moonves spoke with reporters from Agenda.”

“So what happened? The reporters, Stephanie Forshee and Jennifer Williams-Alvarez, did what most writers do when trying to track down a high-profile subject: They trawled the Nexis database. After they entered his name, the database spit back several phone numbers. The reporters tried each one, until someone on the other end of the call identified himself as “Les Moonves.” … The person who answered the call from the Agenda reporters remains a mystery. When a reporter for The Times tried the same number, a man answered by saying, “Guten Tag” — German for “good day.” Asked if he was Les Moonves, he ended the call.” [NYTimes

The Mystery of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s Movie Date — by Julie Miller: “While in Palm Beach, Florida, [Jared and Ivanka] decompressed from their political power positions… by venturing out to the local multiplex to see a movie… The couple went in an interesting direction, according to People — by seeing Vice, Adam McKay’s biopic about Dick Cheney… A source close to the administration confirms to Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox that the couple did see the movie during their vacation, and did exit early—though close to the end of the film. So they could not have been upset by Bale and Amy Adams’s bedroom Macbeth monologue, which takes place about halfway through the film, or the split-second cutaway to a young Donald Trump.” [VanityFair]

HOLLYWOOD — ‘Yiddish Policemen’s Union’ Alt-History Drama Set From Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman —by Nellie Andreeva: “What if Alaska is home of a big Jewish settlement and the fledgling state of Israel was destroyed? That is the setup of a TV series project based on Michael Chabon’s acclaimed 2007 alternative history book Yiddish Policemen’s Union. CBS TV Studios, Nina Tassler and Denise DiNovi’s PatMa Productions and Keshet Studios have acquired a spec drama script by husband-and-wife writing duo Chabon and Ayelet Waldman. The project will be taken out shortly to premium cable and streaming networks.” [Deadline]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Spirit Airlines turned our flight into an anti-Semitic nightmare: couple — by Yaron Steinbuch: “A Borough Park couple is accusing Spirit Airlines of turning a trip to Florida into an anti-Semitic “nightmare” from start to finish — calling them “retarded” as the plane took off, harassing them throughout the flight, and having cops escort them off the plane after landing. “It was clearly anti-Semitism, a personal thing,” said [a] 24-year-old passenger, who identified himself only as Binyamin, of Rockland County. He said he was so shocked by the repugnant comment that he came forward to tell the couple he was prepared to vouch for them.” [NYPost]

ACROSS THE POND — Six unidentified Holocaust victims to be given unprecedented Jewish funeral in UK — by Matthew Robinson: “The remains of six unidentified Holocaust victims are to be given a formal Jewish burial after being stored at London’s Imperial War Museum (IWM) for decades. The victims will be laid to rest in a Jewish cemetery in Hertfordshire on January 20, just one week before Holocaust Memorial Day… The remains of the victims were collected at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp by a Holocaust survivor. The museum, which has a license to hold human tissue, will soon hand over the remains to the Office of the Chief Rabbi and the United Synagogue — a union of British Orthodox Jewish synagogues — having consulted the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis and the Auschwitz museum in Poland.” [CNN]

LAST NIGHT AT THE DIRECTORS GUILD — Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh spoke of the lessons learned from the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre — which he described as his own ‘Kristallmorgen’ — at the start of a special screening of Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List at the Directors Guild of America Theatre in Manhattan. The screening was hosted by Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan and Joel Citron of the USC Shoah Foundation. [PicPic]

“I could wallow in my grief or stand above it. I chose life,” Rabbi Meyers said. “I made a pledge that hate will not win, not now, not ever. And I chose a simple act to demonstrate my commitment so that 11 beautiful souls will not have died in vain. I pledged to never again use the ‘h’ word. It is a four letter word, an obscenity, and I have excised it from my vocabulary. If you ‘h’ something, don’t use the ‘h’ word. Just say that you don’t like it. If you are a New York Giants fan, like me, just say ‘I don’t like the Dallas Cowboys.’ If you prefer the summer over the winter, just say, ‘I don’t like the winter.’ … Imagine as we eliminate the ‘h’ word, we might even begin to eliminate acts of ‘h’.” [Video]

T’ruah’s Jill Jacobs targets ‘Supreme Commander’ in the Washington Post: “U.S.-based nonprofits still send millions of dollars a year in tax-deductible contributions to organizations that espouse Meir Kahane’s ideology. The Jerusalem Heritage House is supported heavily by Jewish Heritage Movement, a Staten Island-based tax-exempt organization… Contacted by The Washington Post, each of these organizations said that the IRS complaints were without merit and that they don’t violate laws in the United States or Israel. “I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly ridiculous and disingenuous these absurd accusations are,” said Ben Packer, director and “supreme commander” of the Jerusalem Heritage House.” [WashPost]

TRANSITION — Haim Engelman, most recently of Rep. Peter Roskam’s office, has joined the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship as a policy advisor and is working for Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL).

WINE OF THE WEEK — Yarden 2014 Cabernet Bar’on Vineyard — by Yitz Applbaum: “Last week I dined on the rooftop of the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem with some new friends where we had a front row seat to one of the greatest views in the world, overlooking the Old City. Enveloped by history and great conversation, I needed a wine to capture the moment. One wine did not do the trick. It took, rather, three bottles to help make the evening special. All three were great, but the standout of the evening was the Yarden 2014 Cabernet Bar’on Vineyard.”

“The Yarden 2014 Cabernet Bar’on Vineyard combined with the setting was mystical. This wine is made from one hundred percent Cabernet grapes. It is aged in French oak for 18 months. On the front of my palate I sensed a soft billow of cigar smoke from a Montecristo No. 2 cigar. The mid-palate evoked a taste of roses and the finish was a deep dark chocolate. This is a wine to eat with steak tartare and beef carpaccio. The wine will last long into the next decade.”[GolanWine]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Retired judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago (he served from 1981 to 2017), author of 40 books on jurisprudence and economics, Richard Posnerturns 80… Film, television and theater director. best known for his TV series “Full House” and “Family Matters” and his films “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Fat Albert,” Joel Zwick turns 77… Las Vegas resident, Stephen Needleman turns 77… Economist and professor of banking at Columbia University, he was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2006-2008), Frederic Stanley “Rick” Mishkin turns 68… Noted gardener and florist, she has been married to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer since 1973, Lynn Greenfield Blitzer… Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and author of five books, Dr. Jerome E. Groopman turns 67…

CEO of Sense Education, an AI company, he was the founder of VisibleWorld, a developer of viewer customized television advertising now known as FreeWheel, Seth Haberman turns 59… Film, stage and television actress, star of the 2000 comedy film “The Whole Nine Yards,” she wrote a book about a Jewish girl during the Christmas season, Amanda Peet turns 47… Born in Montreal to a Moroccan Jewish family, former goaltender with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes who also played in six other leagues, Josh Tordjman turns 34… French-American actress, Flora Cross turns 26… Founder of Nannies by Noa, a full-service childcare agency, serving families in NYC and the Hamptons, teen entrepreneur Noa Mintz turns 18…

SATURDAY: US-born biochemist, winner of the Israel Prize (1999), professor (now emeritus) at Hebrew U, Howard (“Chaim”) Cedar turns 76… Israeli-born, raised in London from age 13, jewelry designer, editor, and businesswoman, she was the First Lady of Iceland (2003-2016), Dorrit Moussaieff turns 69… Author of over 40 books, most widely recognized for his crime fiction, Walter Mosley turns 67… NYC-based psychiatrist and the medical director of the Child Mind Institute, Harold S. Koplewicz, MD turns 66… Radio personality since 1976, on terrestrial bandwidth until 2005 and on Sirius (now Sirius XM) since 2006, producer, author, actor, and photographer, Howard Stern turns 65… Director of the West Coast office of Jewish Funders Network, previously Western States Counsel for the ADL and a consultant for DreamWorks on the film “The Prince of Egypt,” Tzivia Schwartz Getzugturns 57…

Midday news anchor at Washington’s WTOP Radio, Debra Feinstein turns 57… Chair of Hillel International, she is also on the boards of Israel on Campus Coalition and UJA Federation of New York, Tina Price… Elected in 2018 after a four-year hiatus, following three earlier terms as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates (2003-2014), he is the nephew of US Senator Ben Cardin, Jon S. Cardin turns 49… Identical twin comedians and actors, Randy Sklar and Jason Sklar, turn 47… National Director of AIPAC’s Synagogue Initiative, Jonathan Schulman turns 37… Director of finance and operations at NYC-based Hornig Capital Partners, Daniel Silvermintz turns 26…

SUNDAY: South African biologist and a 2002 Nobel Prize laureate, Sydney Brenner turns 92… Kathleen Chambers turns 73… Cathy Nierenbergturns 72… NYC pediatrician at Carnegie Hill Pediatrics, graduate of the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Barry B. Stein, MD turns 62… Lifelong resident of Greenwich Village, a two-time Emmy Award winner as a television producer, she worked for NBC Nightly News, Susanna Beth Aaron… Director of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships during the Obama administration, Cindy Moelis turns 58… Founder of Working Today and Freelancers Union, leading organizations of independent workers, a MacArthur Fellow in 1999, Sara Horowitz turns 56…

Bruce Maclver turns 53… North America Director at The Israel Forever Foundation, Heidi Krizer Daroff… Editor-in-chief of ABC News’s FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver turns 41… Senior development director for strategic philanthropy at The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Shira Berenson Feinstein turns 33… DC-based Deputy Director of Communications for the Israel on Campus Coalition, Carly Freedman turns 28… Lucia Meyerson… Rebecca Seider… Sandra Shapiro… German Shepherd and Jack Russell Terrier mix, Jersey Brown turns 13 (and will be celebrating a “bark” mitzvah we’re told)…