DRIVING THE CONVO — The U.S. recognized Venezuelan Opposition Leader Juan Guaidó as its legitimate head of state after Guaidó declared himself interim president yesterday. Nicolás Maduro responded furiously by cutting diplomatic ties with the United States. Fearing for the safety of the Jewish community in Venezuela, Israel has remained silent on Guaidó, while the Palestinian Authority condemned the “direct intervention of some countries in the internal affairs of Venezuela by supporting an attempted coup against President Nicolás Maduro.”
SCENE LAST NIGHT — In the middle of a speech from the president of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City, Israel’s Consul General in New York, Dani Dayan, rose from his front row seat and, along with his entourage, noticeably stormed out of the gala.
The incident — described by several in attendance— occurred when Adi Stern, president of the Bezalel Academy, warned that freedom of expression in the U.S., as in Israel, is under attack. “That’s not true,” shouted Dayan, interrupting Stern’s speech. When Stern resumed his prepared remarks noting that Bezalel will be at the forefront of the battle for democracy, the Consul General got up and “stormed out” of the hall with his security detail, according to those accounts, and also later confirmed by Dayan. Dayan told JI that he found it upsetting that Stern was “slandering” Israeli society in order to raise money in New York.
Guests related that attendees and the leadership of Bezalel were puzzled by Dayan’s reaction. One attendee labeled it “uncharacteristic and completely not warranted,” while another called it “just weird.” Asked to respond to those who felt it was an overreaction and not diplomatic to stage a walk out at the event, Dayan replied, “My presence there could have been interpreted as corroborating his outrageous claims.” [JewishInsider]
Greatest (Slaughterer) Of All Time? — Mark Zuckerberg once killed and served his own goat to Jack Dorsey — by Emily Smith and Sara Nathan: “Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg killed one of his own goats and served it up cold to Jack Dorsey for dinner… The Twitter CEO revealed to Rolling Stone that mild-mannered Zuckerberg massacred the goat with a laser gun and a knife, then cooked it… Asked if Zuckerberg slaughtered the goat in front of him, Dorsey responded, “No. He killed it before.” [PageSix]
Jack Dorsey: Twitter Nazis Are Here to Stay — by Bess Levin: “In an interview with Rolling Stone published Wednesday, Dorsey was asked about the frequent calls to “get the Nazis off Twitter,” to which he initially offered the near-incomprehensible response, “[The topics of] abuse and our policies have been much more pronounced recently. And it comes in the form of categorizing people as Nazis and wanting them removed. People are definitely not satisfied with our progress there. It’s not as simple as what the reply would indicate, but it is work that needs to be done.” Then, after being informed that the site has not gotten rid of a number of “professed white nationalists,” Dorsey essentially blamed non-Nazi Twitter users for failing to do the company’s job.”[VanityFair] • Farhad Manjoo: Never Tweet [NYTimes]
Twitter is hosting the World Jewish Congress at its headquarters in New York City today as part of a new #WeRemember campaign. The event will feature the testimony of Holocaust survivor Toby Levy, followed by a panel discussion on ways to combat hate online and off.
SNEAK PEEK — Excerpts from former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s forthcoming book, Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics, set for release on Jan. 29:
In chapter 18, titled “Jared Meltdown,” Christie describes Jared’s emotional reaction to his appointment as chairman of the transition team on May 6, 2016, one of their first face-to-face interactions since the Charles Kushner case. “I don’t think we should rush on this,” Jared told his father-in-law and Corey Lewandowski, the then-campaign manager as they were finalizing the press release announcing Christie’s appointment.
Christie writes: “He sounded like a person who’d been holding poison inside himself for a very long time. ‘You really want to know why?’ Jared asked. ‘Because I don’t trust him to have this, and you know why I don’t trust him to have it… He tried to destroy my father. ’…‘This was a family matter,’ Jared said, ‘a matter to be handled by the family or by the rabbis’ — not by a hard-charging federal prosecutor. Jared glanced at me, then fixed his gaze on his father-in-law, Donald. ‘How can he be trusted to handle the transition.’”
After this, Trump suggested the following: Resolve the Christie-Kushner dispute over a dinner: “Donald laid it out. ‘Me and Chris, you and your dad. What if we all go out to dinner and just try to resolve this?’ I have to say I breathed a small sigh of relief when Jared refused to bite on Donald’s deal. I could hardly imagine a tenser gathering. ‘I don’t think there’s any way that my father is ready to have dinner with the governor,’ Jared said… The whole thing was just too surreal.”
The feud came to an end the next day when Jared called Christie into the office after the formal announcement and offered a truce: “You and I should put all this behind us, Governor…It’s all in the past as far as I am concerned. We have to do what is best for the campaign.” As he mentions several times in the book, Christie closes the chapter by saying, “Things didn’t quite turn out that way.”Read other key excerpts here [JewishInsider]
ON THE HILL — Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), along with by Reps. Ted Budd (R-NC) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY), introduced a House Resolution rejecting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the U.S. and around the world ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27th. “The House of Representatives rejects anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hatred in the United States and around the world,” the resolution reads, as it details recent anti-Semitic incidents and remarks.
A spokesperson for Rep. Zeldin told JI that the New York Republican reached out to Democrats for support, but would not provide any names. “It can come to the floor without being bipartisan, but the Congressman welcomes anyone of any party to cosponsor the resolution before it is introduced in the House as he reiterated in a Dear Colleague letter inviting them to sign on today,” said Katie Vincentz, Zeldin’s Communications Director.
The resolution also singles out Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) over her support of the BDS movement and association with pro-Hezbollah activist Abbas Hamideh, and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her 2012 tweet suggesting that “Israel has hypnotized the world.”
— Vincentz maintained that Omar’s apology earlier this week was “one step forward, seven steps backward.” Adding, “The fact that the tweet was published in the first place and was allowed to perpetuate the hate it incited for over 6 years is another reason why we need the resolution — to be clear this type of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hate will not be tolerated from the moment it happens. Rep. Steve King also apologized for his remarks, but that resolution was still voted on afterwards and passed, rightfully so.”
TOP TALKER — Israel asks U.S. to amend law that would cut aid to Palestinian security forces — by Barak Ravid: “Israeli officials tell me they have asked the Trump administration to amend the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) that would essentially end aid for the Palestinian Authority’s security forces… The law is slated to go into effect Feb. 1, and with the government shutdown continuing with no immediate end in sight, a legislative fix is not expected to be enacted in time… Prime Minister Netanyahu’s aides and the Israeli ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer have reached out to the White House, State Department and members of Congress asking to find some kind of arrangement to ensure U.S. aid to the Palestinian security forces continues.” [Axios]
Sander Gerber, known as the architect of the Taylor Force Act, emails us: “PA security forces do stop bad actors that both threaten Israel and the PA itself. Israel as a sovereign nation can choose to fund this security cooperation, but should not seek to place the burden on the U.S. taxpayer, particularly at the expense of American victims of Palestinian terror operations.”
AIPAC’s Marshall Wittmann: “We have a long standing position in support of security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
SCOOPLET — In response to an inquiry from JI about the status of the Golan Heights, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s spokesperson relayed that the Congressman believes that “Israel should maintain control of the Golan Heights.”
This comment comes in the context of growing support among Democrats for a U.S. move to formally recognize Israeli control over the Golan Heights, which Israel gained from Syria in the Six Day War in 1967, and effectively annexed in 1981. When asked if this meant the Maryland representative supported formal recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, Hoyer’s spokesperson didn’t have more to comment. Last week, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) sent a letter to President Trump urging him to recognize Israeli control of the Golan. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is also supporting the move.
REPORT — Netanyahu may visit King Mohammed VI in Morocco: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may visit King Mohammed VI of Morocco in the country’s capital Rabat, Moroccan media reported… According to the report, the visit will take place following Pope Francis’s visit to Morocco on March 30.” [JPost]
STATE-SIDE — Judge lets Arkansas law against Israeli boycotts stand — by Andrew DeMillo: “A federal judge on Wednesday let stand an Arkansas law requiring state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel… U.S. District Judge Brian Miller dismissed the lawsuit the Arkansas Times had filed challenging the 2017 law. The newspaper had asked the judge to block the law, which requires contractors with the state to reduce their fees by 20 percent if they don’t sign the pledge… Miller wrote that refusing to purchase items isn’t protected speech.” [AP]
Bill Would Label Criticism of Israel in Florida Schools Anti-Semitic — by Jerry Iannelli: “If enacted, the measure from Palm Beach County Rep. Mike Caruso, a Republican, would ban both obvious and abhorrent cases of anti-Semitism (denying the Holocaust, calling for attacks on Jewish people, etc.) and criticism of the Israeli state. The bill would force all public institutions in Florida, from kindergarten through public university, to “take into consideration anti-Semitism when determining if a practice or act was discrimination on the basis of religion.” [MiamiNews]
ON THE GROUND — The New Iron Curtain: Russian Missile Defense Challenges U.S. Air Power — by Thomas Grove: “Russia’s S-400 antiaircraft missile system, a nettlesome and potentially deadly aerial shield, is changing the calculus of the U.S. and its allies in potential hot spots, beginning with its deployment in Syria. Radar employed by the S-400… casts a net around western Syria that stretches from Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea to Israel.”[WSJ] • Russia says ‘arbitrary’ Israeli air strikes on Syria must stop [Reuters]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Michael Cohen Indefinitely Postpones Testimony to Congress — by Maggie Haberman: “Michael Cohen… indefinitely postponed his congressional testimony set for next month… Mr. Cohen’s lawyer Lanny J. Davis cited verbal attacks from Mr. Trump, who had begun suggesting after Mr. Cohen agreed to testify that one of his relatives be investigated for unspecified crimes… Mr. Trump has referenced the Eastern European background of Mr. Cohen’s father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, to imply that Mr. Shusterman has ties to organized crime. No evidence has emerged to back up that suggestion. Mr. Shusterman was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty in 1993, a year before Mr. Cohen married his daughter, to cashing $5.5 million in checks to evade federal reporting requirements. It is not clear that Mr. Trump is aware of that case. A retiree, Mr. Shusterman emigrated to the United States in the early 1970s after facing anti-Jewish persecution in Soviet-controlled Ukraine, Mr. Cohen has told friends.” [NYTimes; Politico]
PALACE INTRIGUE — Giuliani’s Fate Is Uncertain After Botched Interviews — by Gabriel Sherman: “According to sources, a debate is playing out inside the West Wing over Giuliani’s future. Trump is being encouraged by several people, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, to dump Giuliani before it’s too late, while outside advisers Corey Lewandowski and Dave Bossie are lobbying Trump to keep Giuliani.”[VanityFair]
Kushner thrusts himself into middle of shutdown talks — by Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa: “Jared Kushner spoke up at a recent Oval Office meeting about cutting a deal to end the government shutdown… After listening to Kushner… Trump glanced at the others in the room. “Apparently, Jared has become an expert on immigration in the last 48 hours,” Trump said… The remark, described by one White House official as playful, underscored the latest power shift inside the White House: Kushner has emerged as an omnipresent and assertive player in the now-33-day impasse.” [WashPost]
ROAD TO THE NEW KNESSET — Nir Hefetz, who was the Netanyahu family’s most trusted spokesman until he became a state witness, recorded the Netanyahus’ behavior in almost daily entries in diaries… Netanyahu’s attorneys published a letter Wednesday that they sent to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, complaining about daily leaks to Israeli media by investigators involved in the corruption cases against him… Orit Galili-Zucker, a political branding consultant who once worked for Netanyahu, believes said Benny Gantz could appeal to voters fed up with politics and Netanyahu “but always glad on the other hand to see Gaza destroyed.”
2020 WATCH — Jason Zengerle spent a few months with Bernie Sanders to figure out what he wants to do next… As he considers throwing his hat into the ring, Joe Biden is facing scrutiny for a paid speech he gave last fall that helped Rep. Fred Upton, a vulnerable Republican, win re-election in Michigan… Veteran campaign finance lawyer Marc Elias, who signed on with the Kamala Harris campaign as general counsel, has a non-exclusive agreement that will allow him to provide services to other 2020 candidates, according to NYTimes’ Shane Goldmacher…
TALK OF DAVOS — Why Davos is the capital of the Resistance — by Matthew Walther: “Davos is the Iowa State Fair, except instead of farmers and regionally famous bakers and carnies it’s the amorphous class of people who do non-jobs: not only investment banking and “asset” management, but consulting, “start-ups,” marketing, PR, “events.” [TheWeek]
— HAPPENING TODAY: George Soros may go after China in remarks at his annual dinner at the Seehof. At Canada Cannabis House, Anthony Scaramucci interviews former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is now chairman of a medical marijuana company called InterCure.
** 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 [email protected] **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Sumner Redstone probate case — after three-year court slog — finally ends in victory for family [LATimes; HollywoodReporter] • Can Sheryl Sandberg’s Apology Tour Restore Facebook’s Image (and Stock Price)? [VanityFair] • Why Billionaire Sam Zell Just Bought Gold For The First Time In His Life [Forbes] • Israel cabinet expected to approve medical cannabis exports [Reuters]
STARTUP NATION — Lumigo scores $8M seed to help manage serverless operations — by Ron Miller: “Lumigo, an Israeli startup, announced a healthy $8 million seed round today, as it emerged from stealth to help companies monitor serverless architecture. Investors include Pitango Venture Capital, Grove Ventures and Meron Capital. The company was started by a couple of ex-Checkpoint execs, Erez Berkner and Aviad Mor.”[TechCrunch] • Tech, tourism, and anti-Semitism drive up luxury real estate in Israel [BusinessInsider]
SPOTLIGHT — David Einhorn’s Greenlight Hit by Investor Redemptions — by Rachael Levy: “Mr. Einhorn’s hedge-fund firm now manages about $2.5 billion, Greenlight told clients Tuesday evening at the firm’s annual meeting at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. That is down from about $5.5 billion as of the middle of last year. The drop marks a new low for one of Wall Street’s most well-known hedge funds. Just five years ago, Greenlight would have counted as one of the industry’s largest hedge funds, managing $12 billion. Mr. Einhorn is one of a handful of managers, including John Paulson and William Ackman, who rose to prominence during the financial crisis, making large bets that paid off as the market crumbled… To stem the redemptions, Greenlight told clients Tuesday it would allow new investments for the first time in years.” [WSJ]
Carolyn Maloney is working on a bill to target LLCs in real estate: “Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said she’s hoping to introduce a bipartisan bill that would force every LLC to reveal its owners, the New York Post reported… A poster child for the problem has been 650 Fifth Avenue, the report said. The 35-story high-rise was built by the last Shah of Iran before he was overthrown, and later transferred to entities that are tied to the terror-supporting country. Iran has allegedly taken in millions of dollars from rental fees from tenants like Marc Rich, a commodities trader and tax fugitive who sold Iranian oil to Israel despite sanctions. Federal authorities, however, weren’t able to tie the country’s government to the property after years of investigation.” [TheRealDeal; NYPost]
PROFILE — Meet J.B. Pritzker, a Duke Trustee, governor and richest current U.S. elected official: “In the two classes Pritzker took with C. Eric Lincoln—professor of religion and culture at Duke from 1976 to 1993 and author of books on black Muslims in America—Pritzker learned a lot about civil rights advocacy and leadership, such as the relationships between African-American activists and civil rights activists outside and inside government. However, his parents had already played a large role by instilling their values in Pritzker. ‘I’ve spent my whole life as an advocate expanding civil rights and individual rights because my parents were progressive Democrats and were involved in issues like fighting for women’s rights,’ Pritzker said.”
“Pritzker helped lead the creation of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center that teaches more than 60,000 students and teachers every year to fight bigotry, hatred, and intolerance. ‘I am a Jew who comes from a family that is only alive in this country because they were going to be killed in their home country of Ukraine when Jews were being chased and oppressed and killed,’ Pritzker said.” [DukeChronicle]
SPORTS BLINK — Robert Kraft teams with Jay-Z, Meek Mill in starting criminal justice reform organization — by Lorenzo Reyes: “Sports and entertainment figures including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael Rubin, recording artist and entrepreneur Jay-Z, and recording artist Meek Mill announced the foundation of a criminal justice reform organization called REFORM Alliance.” [USAToday] • Kraft discussed NFL officiating, laser pointers, and Tom Brady in ‘Good Morning America’ interview [Boston]
Subterranean 1,500-year-old cistern complex hidden under Jerusalem playground — by Amanda Borschel-Dan: “Back in 2005, the Israel Antiquities Authority received word that at a Jerusalem neighborhood playground, the sand was being swallowed up into the earth. After initial testing by IAA archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch, it was discovered that the sand box was constructed directly above an ancient water cistern. Today, as the Jerusalem Municipality begins a renovation of the Katamon neighborhood playground, the IAA and the municipality are in talks to decide whether the 1,500-year-old water cistern can be turned into a national site along the lines of Ramla’s subterranean Pool of Arches.” [ToI]
LONG READ — A Guided Tour of Hebron, from Two Sides of the Occupation — by Masha Gessen: “The stories of Hebron are the stories of the absent and the unseen… Hebron is divided in such a way that some will only ever see the empty streets, while others see a crowded and bustling town—one bound by fences, walls, and barbed wire, beyond which the emptiness begins… For several years, two activist groups, one Israeli and one Palestinian, have been leading tours of the occupation of Hebron. I recently went on both, crossing from the living city of Hebron to its hollow shadow and back several times.” [NewYorker]
TALK OF THE TOWN — The Horrors of Auschwitz at a Museum in New York — by Ralph Blumenthal and Joseph Berger: “The exhibition, titled “Auschwitz. Not Long Ago. Not Far Away.,” is aimed at refocusing the Museum of Jewish Heritage into one that will delve more deeply into the Holocaust… “This exhibit reminds them, and it reminds all of us, where anti-Semitism ultimately leads,” said Ronald Lauder, the philanthropist who helped raise $110 million to preserve Auschwitz. “And the world should never go there again.” Heritage Museum officials said they anticipate spending $8.5 million on the project, split between the cost of installing the exhibition and the cost of other building improvements that are timed to coincide with it.“ [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE NATION — ADL Report: ‘Right-Wing Extremism’ Responsible for Almost All 2018 Hate-Related Murders — by Aaron Bandler: “The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) latest report on murder and extremism found that “right-wing extremism” was responsible for almost all hate-related murders in 2018. According to the report, at least 50 people were killed in 2018 as a result of violent extremism, putting 2018 behind only 1995 (184), 2016 (72) and 2015 (70) in terms of extremist killings.”[JewishJournal]
TRANSITION — Kristen Silverberg will be the new EVP for policy at Business Roundtable. She most recently was managing director at the Institute of International Finance and is a Bush 43 alum and served as U.S. ambassador to the European Union. (h/t Playbook)
DESSERT — Hannah Bronfman on traveling — by Alex Postman: “What are some (healthfully indulgent) restaurants you would fly for? I would go back to Israel to go to some of the places we ate. We went to Machneyuda in Jerusalem and had this delicious fish pot, almost like a seafood boil.” [CNTraveler]
How these Jewish women launched challah baking businesses and got thousands of Instagram followers — by Josefin Dolsten: “Since starting Mandylicious Challah in 2013, Mandy Silverman has seen her enterprise grow both locally — delivering some 50 loaves every week in Sharon, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb — and internationally, dispensing challah-baking advice… Silverman, 40, is among a growing number of home bakers making a business out of their love of all things challah. Most post their interpretations of the traditional braided Shabbat and holiday loaves on social media, and reach local customers through word of mouth.” [JTA]
BIRTHDAYS: Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, previously Deputy National Security Advisor in the Bush 43 administration and Assistant Secretary of State in the Reagan administration, Elliott Abrams turns 71… Chicago-based Talmudic scholar, he served as the chief judge of both the Beth Din of America and the National Beth Din of the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz turns 94… Executive producer of the CBS series Blue Bloods, he was head of programming for ABC and president of 20th Century Fox, Leonard J. Goldberg turns 85… Singer-songwriter, musician and actor, one of the world’s best-selling recording artists of all time, member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Neil Diamond turns 78… Born in Tel Aviv, 2011 Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry, Professor at Technion and Iowa State University, Dan Shechtman turns 78… Soviet-born comedian, actor and writer, emigrated to the US in 1977, noted for the catch phrase “What a country,” Yakov Smirnoff (born Yakov Naumovich Pokhis) turns 68… Conductor, violinist, and violist, who has performed with leading symphony orchestras worldwide, Yuri Bashmet turns 66… Principal at Opera Solutions, a global data analytics consulting firm, Daniel Flamberg turns 65…
Founder of an online software training website which was acquired by LinkedIn in April 2015 for $1.5 billion, Lynda Weinman turns 64… West Hempstead, NY resident, he is a board member of the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, Beryl Eckstein turns 61… NYC-based senior correspondent for Fox News since 1997, Rick Leventhal turns 59… Former CEO of Ford Motor Company (2014-2017), now a senior advisor at private equity firm TPG Capital, Mark Fields (his family’s original name was Finkelman) turns 58… B’nei mitzvah coordinator at Temple Beth Am of Los Angeles, Judith Alban turns 57… Founder and executive director of Protect Democracy, he served as associate White House counsel (2009-2011), Ian Bassin turns 43 (h/t Playbook)… Editor-in-chief of the Baltimore Jewish Times, formerly editor-in-chief of Chabad News and news editor at Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent, Joshua Runyan turns 38… TACKMA’s Jeffrey Schottenstein turns 33…