Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Meet Trump’s pick for Amb to South Africa, Lana Marks | AOC responds to Corbyn critics | Julian Edelman, first Jewish Super Bowl MVP

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COMING SOON — According to multiple sources, the Trump administration has picked a new Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and will be announcing the nominee shortly.

FIRST LOOK — Talking With Ambassador Nominee Lana Marks, Who’s Ready to Ditch Palm Beach for Pretoria — by Tish Durkin: “Since her nomination [to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to South Africa] was announced in November, Marks has been slammed for, among other things, belonging to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, lacking any diplomatic experience whatsoever, and engaging in relentless self-promotion to advance her decidedly flashy business.”

On joining Mar-a-Lago: “‘I was quite limited because I am of the Jewish faith, and my husband is also of the Jewish faith,’ she says, for example. ‘We live on the south end of the island [near the Trump estate], and we didn’t have terribly many opportunities where we could go play tennis, which is an extramural of mine, and so we decided it would be very nice if we joined Mar-a-Lago.’ She seems completely unperturbed by the reality she is describing — that, as of 2010, when she and her husband joined Trump’s club, they were barred by their religion from joining the others. But given her backstory, it has to bother her a little.”

Family history: “Blond hair and blue eyes saved Marks’s father, Alec Bank. Fleeing Lithuania in the 1930s, his mother pointed to her family’s fair coloring as proof that they couldn’t possibly be Jews. Arriving in Johannesburg as a boy, Bank grew up to make a fortune as a property developer, eventually becoming a prominent member of the Jewish community in East London. With his wife, Blanche, he raised his three children — Marks is the eldest — in comfort. Their house had a pool, a small movie theater, and (once Lana had won enough competitions to earn it in her father’s eyes) a tennis court. Marks’s sister now lives in Australia and her brother in Israel. She is bitterly estranged from both over the family trust and the care of their mother, now 89.” [NYMag]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Trump’s favorite compliment — byAlayna Treene and Jonathan Swan: “Kevin Warsh had prepared deeply for his interview with President Trump. It was the fall of 2017, and Trump had narrowed his search for the next chairman of the Federal Reserve down to four candidates. Warsh was one of them. The former Federal Reserve governor arrived at the White House with a set of sharp points to make to Trump about monetary policy, according to a friend of his. But that’s not quite how the conversation went. ‘You’re a really handsome guy, aren’t you?’ Trump said, per the friend. ‘How old are you?’ Warsh was 47. ‘Well, you look good for 47,’ Trump told Warsh.” [Axios]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Palestinians refuse to meet with Trump’s adviser, so he’s tweeting them — by Ruth Eglash: “It’s been more than a year since senior Palestinian officials have agreed to meet or even speak with representatives of the Trump administration, but now President Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, appears to have adopted a new diplomatic channel: Twitter. During the past few weeks, Greenblatt has been tweeting his thoughts, requests and criticisms to those Palestinian leaders who are active on the popular social media platform.”[WashPost]

— Greenblatt tweeted on Saturday evening: “Dr. [Hanan] Ashrawi- my door is always open to the PA and Palestinians to speak… I’m happy to meet anytime — you, Saeb [Erekat] and all your colleagues are always welcome to visit me at the White House to speak in person.”

TALK OF THE REGION — Jewish and Palestinian Teens Reach for Understanding One More Time — by Daniel Gordis: “Israeli and Palestinian teenagers hardly ever meet… The Roots program that brought these teens together, however, is the brainchild of a Palestinian peace activist, Ali Abu Awwad, and is now co-directed by Ali’s brother Haled… What turned him around, he told me when we met at his home, was the sight of Jewish tears. He was attending a meeting of Jews and Palestinians who had lost family members in the conflict, and in the course of the conversation, a Jewish woman wept. The sight, he said, shocked him. Perhaps hyperbolically, he said that it had never crossed his mind that Jews cry, too. It was then, he said, that he decided to devote his life to a different solution to the endless conflict.” [Bloomberg]

Israeli government report claims terrorists have ‘infiltrated’ Palestinian NGOs — by Raphael Ahren: “‘The terror groups have realized that armed conflict is not achieving its objective and is perceived as illegitimate by the majority of Western society,’ the Strategic Affairs Ministry report states. ‘Hamas and PFLP operatives have infiltrated and adopted seemingly benign NGOs in the Palestinian Authority, Europe, North America and South Africa, for the purpose of advancing their ideological goal: the elimination of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.'” [ToI]

As West Bank Violence Surges, Israel Is Silent on Attacks by Jews — by Isabel Kershner: “Attacks by settlers on Palestinians, their property and Israeli security forces increased by 50 percent last year and have threatened to ignite the West Bank, Israeli security officials say… While Palestinian and United Nations officials have condemned the violence… Israel’s right-wing government has remained conspicuously silent, wary of alienating settlers and other potential supporters in an election year.” [NYTimes]

Rivlin impresses Jewish connection to Jerusalem on UN ambassadors — by Greer Fay Cashman: “In a meeting at the President’s Residence on Sunday, with close to 40 ambassadors to the UN from many parts of the world, Rivlin acknowledged the importance of the UN as a multi-national entity that deals with numerous national and international issues, but was highly critical of its tendency to ignore history, specifically with regard to the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.” [JPost]

— Professor Eugene Kontorovich responds, after seeing their location in Jerusalem: “Glad to see UN Security Council Res. 2334 not being taken too seriously.”

Kontorovich elaborates in an email to JI“The Security Council resolution calls on countries to ‘differentiate’ between Israel and territories that came under its control in 1967. The resolution is of course not binding, and by going on in official state visit across the green line in the company of Israeli government officials, these UN ambassadors show that they are fully aware what a dead letter the resolution is.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — President Trump on Syria withdrawal in an interview with Margaret Brennan on CBS’s Face the Nation:“Ultimately some will be coming home. But we’re going to be there and we’re going to be staying… We have to protect Israel…One of the reasons I want to keep [the U.S. military base in Iraq] is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.”

Brennan: Whoa, that’s news. You’re keeping troops in Iraq because you want to be able to strike in Iran?

”No, because I want to be able to watch Iran. All I want to do is be able to watch.”

Trump on disagreeing with intelligence chiefs regarding the Iranian threat: “My intelligence people, if they said in fact that Iran is a wonderful kindergarten, I disagree with them 100 percent. It is a vicious country that kills many people.”

Brennan: I should say your intel chiefs do say Iran’s abiding by that nuclear deal.

“I disagree with them… I have intel people, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree.” [Video]

INSIDE THE ADMIN — John Bolton Is Living His Dream — by Elise Labott: “It was clear from our encounter that [Trump exiting the Iran deal] is one of the proudest achievements of Bolton’s professional life, commemorated by a picture hanging on his office wall. A gift from Ivanka Trump, it is a framed Wall Street Journal cartoon published shortly after Trump exited the nuclear deal. It shows Trump, with Bolton right behind him, squaring off across a chessboard against Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Scrawled on the bottom is a note from the president, ‘John, Great Job.'” [PoliticoMag]

ON THE HILL — The Senate is expected to resume debate on S.1, Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act. Procedural votes will follow later in the evening. [CSPAN]

— “The Senate bill, which has considerable Democratic support, is destined to fail in the House, where Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic Caucus chairman, has labeled it a ‘political stunt.'” [NYTimes]

HOW IT’S BEING PLAYED —Senate reasserts foreign policy role, reshapes Trump agenda — by Lisa Mascaro: “The Republican-led Senate is reasserting itself as a check on Trump’s instincts… Pushed forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the legislation also is driving a political wedge dividing Democrats, particularly those running for president in 2020, over the troop withdrawal and a separate provision supporting Israel.”[AP]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — From Celebrated to Vilified, House’s Muslim Women Absorb Blows Over Israel —by Sheryl Gay Stolberg: “Almost daily, Republicans brashly accuse Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar of anti-Semitism and bigotry, hoping to make them the Democrats’ version of Representative Steve King (R-IA)…  And while Democratic leaders publicly defend them, some Democratic colleagues are clearly uneasy. Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida and a founder of a bipartisan task force to combat anti-Semitism, said some of the lawmakers’ comments ‘fall into longstanding anti-Semitic tropes.’ When Ms. Omar was named to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, its chairman, Representative Eliot Engel of New York, told her privately that he would not allow some of her ‘particularly hurtful’ remarks to be ‘swept under the rug,’ Mr. Engel said.”

“Democratic leaders are standing by the women. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the caucus chairman, called them ‘thoughtful colleagues.’ Representative Steny D. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader and a staunch ally of Israel, said, ‘I don’t know that I draw the conclusion that these two members are anti-Semitic.'” [NYTimes]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — An old-school Democrat takes on Trump’s foreign policy — by Nahal Toosi and Marianne Levine: “Even as he calls one hearing after another that will feature pointed criticism of the president, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) hopes to retain his bipartisan credentials… Asked about how he will get along with [Ilhan] Omar and others more to left than him, Engel said ‘reasonable people can disagree’ and that views can change. ‘I’m not going to slam the door on anybody,’ he said. ‘And I will judge each person, certainly on my committee, the way he or she acts in a collegial way.'”[Politico]

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in an interview with the LATimes:“There are many people who get caught up in the BDS movement who are not anti-Semitic at all and who see it as a form of social protest. I understand that. But its strategy is to demonize and delegitimize the state of Israel. We find that deeply wrong.”

TOP TALKER — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) faced Twitter backlash on Sunday evening after she praised UK Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn following a phone conversation between the two. “Great to speak to AOC on the phone this evening and hear first hand how she’s challenging the status quo,” Corbyn wrote on Twitter. Ocasio-Cortez celebrated the call with the British leader accused of anti-Semitism. “It was an honor to share such a lovely and wide-reaching conversation with you, Jeremy Corbyn!” she tweeted.

Bret Stephens tweeted“Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite, AOC, a view widely shared by Jewish members of the U.K. Labour Party. Please educate yourself before you embarrass yourself. Again.”

Yair Rosenberg added“85% of British Jews think Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic. 87% of Jews refused to vote for his Labour party in the last election, and for good reason. AOC might want to have her staff screen her calls more carefully.”

— Ocasio-Cortez responded to the criticism by a ‘huge fan’ of hers, Elad Nehorai‏, who goes by the name Pop Chassid on Twitter: “Thank you for bringing this to me. We cannot + will not move forward without deep fellowship and leadership with the Jewish community. I’ll have my team reach out. ”

2020 WATCH — Kamala Harris Headlines First 2020 Fundraisers Before L.A., Showbiz Crowds  — by Ted Johnson: “Universal’s Jeff Shell and his wife Laura hosted Harris at their Beverly Hills home for an early evening reception, drawing a crowd that included Jeffrey Katzenberg, Fox Television Group’s Dana Walden, ICM Partners’ Chris Silbermann… Amazon Studios’ Jennifer Salke, manager Scooter Braun, political consultant Andy Spahn… Jon Feltheimer… and producer Dayna Bochco, according to attendees.” 

“‘Talking about groups in Charlottesville and saying, well, there is merit on both sides is not reflective of our America,’ Harris said. ‘Our America will stand up and fight against those who would commit violence in a synagogue, in the Tree of Life Synagogue, because that is not reflective of our America.'” [Variety]

Joe Biden is close to making a decision about running for president… Michael Bloomberg is going ahead with expensive preparations for a campaign: He directed his staff to prepare a launch plan for him… David Axelrod comments on Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and the 2020 field in an interview with the New Yorker… Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper raised $600K for a Super PAC advancing his 2020 run… The maximum donors to Hickenlooper’s Giddy Up PAC includeNorman Brownstein of the influential law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck…

ROAD TO THE KNESSET — giant billboard of a smiling Donald Trump shaking hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loomed over the main entrances to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on Sunday… Allison Kaplan Sommer: “Israel is one of the few countries in the world in which close ties to Trump carry political currency.”…  A U.S. Embassy spokesperson told Times of Israel, “We are not involved in Likud Party’s campaign messages or strategy.”… On Sunday, Netanyahu launched a daily webcast, Likud TV, to promote ‘positive and true’ coverage of his government… In an interview with the Facebook channel, Netanyahu took aim at his Likud rival Gideon Sa’ar, trying to prevent him from winning a top spot in Tuesday’s primary… Sa’ar responded: “I’ll behave like the responsible adult, won’t be dragged into a domestic war.”… Former IDF chief rabbi Rafi Peretz was selected as Bayit Yehudi’s new leader… Netanyahu called on Bayit Yehudi to unite with the National Union and far-right Otzma L’Yisrael “to prevent the loss of votes in the right-wing bloc.”

Israel’s election is a race to the right — by Oren Liebermann: “In modern Israeli politics, the equivalent of telling someone they play baseball ‘like a girl’ is calling them a leftist. ‘Smolani,’ as it’s said in Hebrew, has become the most common — and perhaps the most feared — insult across the political landscape… The left has become the favorite punching bag of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… Only Iran gets nearly as much of Netanyahu’s time and Twitter feed.” [CNN• Netanyahu’s legal woes should be a boon for Israel’s left, but it’s busy imploding [WashPost]

** 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: 1MDB Scandal Could Hit Pay for Goldman Execs, Including Lloyd Blankfein [WSJ] • CBS board narrows list of CEOs to replace Les Moonves [NYPost] • Shari Redstone Is Pulling Off the Corporate Coup of the Century [VanityFair• Formerly Facebook-first, Attn recalibrates [DigiDay• Website Building Company Wix Repurposes Four-Month Old Ad for Super Bowl [Calcalist• After A Decade Of Testing, Israeli Medical Cannabis Comes To The U.S. [Forbes• Hulu Acquires Israeli Vampire Series ‘Juda’ and U.S. Remake Rights From Banijay [Variety]

STARTUP NATION  — First Private Lunar Spacecraft Shoots for the Moon — by John Horack: “SpaceIL’s Beresheet — Hebrew for ‘In the Beginning’ — will become the first privately funded mission to launch from Earth and land on the moon, and the first spacecraft to propel itself over the lunar surface after landing by ‘hopping’ on its rocket engine to a second landing spot. The mission marks yet another milestone, not only in the history and technical arc of space exploration, but also in how humankind goes about space exploration. SpaceIL was founded in 2011 to compete in the Google Lunar XPrize.” [Space]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT — This Startup Uncovers The World’s Hidden Geniuses To Solve Global Problems — by Jonathan Moed: “Pioneer founder Daniel Gross grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household in Jerusalem, Israel. In 2010, at age 18, he applied and was accepted to the prestigious startup accelerator program Y Combinator, at which point he moved to San Francisco.” [Forbes]

LONG READ — In an age of ubiquitous direct-to-consumer genetic testing, family secrets are almost impossible to keep — by Amy Dockser Marcus: “In a paper published in October in the journal Science, researchers estimated over 60% of individuals of European descent in the U.S. now have a third cousin or closer relative in a database. ‘DNA tests can reveal that there is something odd going on,’ said Yaniv Erlich, one of the authors and chief science officer of DNA-testing company MyHeritage. ‘But they don’t tell you the story of what happened.’” [WSJ]

MIDDLE EAST TOUR — Why Pope Francis’ Historic Visit to the Gulf Matters — by Declan Walsh and Jason Horowitz: “Pope Francis started a landmark, three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, becoming the first pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church to visit the Arabian Peninsula… The Gulf countries, which include the United Arab Emirates, are among the few in the Middle East where Christian numbers are rising, despite their history of restricting religious freedom… In the United Arab Emirates, Christians, Hindus and Jews can worship openly.” [NYTimes]

— UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba writes… “Why We Invited the Pope to the Arabian Peninsula: As the birthplace of the three Abrahamic religions, the Middle East today has become a cauldron of conflict among and within them. Religion today is a treacherous fault line that divides the region. But the true faith of Muslims, Christians and Jews has never been about hate or fanaticism. There is no clash of civilizations or ideas – only a rash of ignorance and a deficit of courage and moral leadership.” [PoliticoMag]

SUPER BOWL LIII — Patriots’ Julian Edelman becomes first-ever Jewish player to win Super Bowl MVP: “The Patriots’ Julian Edelman was selected as the Super Bowl MVP while helping lift the Patriots to a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night, apparently becoming the first-ever Jewish player to win the honor… ‘I’m pretty ecstatic,’ Edelman said. ‘I’m emotionally pooped. I’m physically and emotionally pooped.'” [ToIBostonGlobe]

Spotted at the Super Bowl: Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in LA and Rabbi Bill Hamilton of Kehillath Israel in Boston. [Pic]

Andrew Beaton tweets: “Robert Kraft rolls into the Patriots locker room with 50-year-old cigars. ‘They let us smoke in here?’ a player asks. ‘Yes,’ Kraft says with no hesitation.” [Pic

WATCH — Cardi B Dances With Robert Kraft at Super Bowl Party, Meek Mill Approves: “Kraft looked anything but nervous… joined the Cardi B on stage at the Fanatics Super Bowl party in ATL, which was hosted by Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin… As if Cardi wasn’t enough… Kraft had Meek Mill for a hype man pumping him up on the side of the stage.” [TMZ] • In an interview with Fox & Friends, Kraft praised Trump for working for country’s ‘best interests’ [TheHill]

Who’s in the Atlanta Falcons Owner’s Huddle? — by Andrew Beaton: “When Arthur Blank ran Home Depot Inc., he tried to spend up to half his time wearing an orange apron in his stores. To get the bluntest feedback possible about his business, he had to directly interact with his customers… Mr. Blank has taken that same approach as owner of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which [hosted] Sunday’s Super Bowl, has been lauded for its fan-friendly approach… Here, [are his] other trusted advisers: Bernard Marcus, Home Depot co-founder: In 1978, Messrs. Marcus and Blank were fired on the same day at Handy Dan, a home-improvement retailer, in what Mr. Blank now calls ‘a bonding moment.’ Together, they started Home Depot and turned it into one of the country’s largest retailers. They ate lunch together whenever one wasn’t traveling and developed a partnership that thrived because of a ‘yin-yang’ dynamic.” [WSJ]

TALK OF THE TOWN —  A Mayor’s Effort to Play Down Henry Ford’s Anti-Semitism Backfires — by Steve Friess and Adeel Hassan: “Mayor John B. O’Reilly said that given Dearborn’s ethnic diversity now — it is about one-third Arab-American — it was irresponsible [for the Dearborn Independent] to present [Henry] Ford’s offensive opinions… While the mayor may have been trying to limit the reach of the journal, his decision has only spread word of its contents. Tens of thousands of users have read the bulk of it on Deadline Detroit, a web publication.” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: Talent agent and co-CEO of WME (William Morris Endeavor) with Ari Emanuel, Patrick Whitesell turns 54… President and COO of Blackstone Group, Jonathan D. “Jon” Gray turns 49… The first elected Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti turns 48… Actor best known for his work as Herman “Hesh” Rabkin on HBO’s “The Sopranos” and as Howard Lyman on CBS’s “The Good Wife,” Jerry Adler turns 90… Stowe, Vermont resident, Barbara Gould Stern turns 85… Co-founder and Chair of SAGE Publications, an academic publishing company, she was international president of B’nai B’rith Girls at the age of 19, Sara Miller McCune turns 78… Attorney, bank executive and philanthropist, donor of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Adrienne Arsht turns 77… Patrick Leek turns 66… Attorney, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson turns 62… Senior content editor of the Koren/Steinsaltz English Talmud and director of E-Communities at the Lookstein Center of Bar Ilan University, Shalom Berger turns 59…

Actress, best known for her award-winning role as Private Vasquez in the 1986 science fiction action film Aliens, Jenette Elise Goldstein turns 59… Member of the State Senate of Maryland since 2013, representing portions of Montgomery County, Brian J. Feldman turns 58… Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska since July 2015, previously he was the Democratic Minority Leader in the Alaska House of Representatives (1999-2007), Ethan Berkowitz turns 57… Television writer and producer, best known for his work with his colleague Adam Horowitz on two ABC dramas, Lost and Once Upon a Time, Edward Lawrence “Eddy” Kitsis turns 48… Executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, Howard Libit turns 47… Author, psychotherapist and group fitness instructor, her book is about her genetic disease that has made her almost completely blind and deaf, Rebecca Alexander turns 40… Manager in the NYC office of Monitor Deloitte, he held a series of White House, OMB and Commerce Department positions (2011-2017), Justin Meservie turns 36… Political consultant, formerly at the Israeli American Council and AIPAC, Abigail Dana Cable turns 31… Dan Ben-Canaan… Jan Winnick

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