Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Remembering Rabbi Eckstein | The man behind Bernie’s foreign policy | Sheera Frenkel’s seven figure book deal

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REMEMBERING — Yechiel Eckstein, rabbi who built ties with Christians, passes away: “Yechiel Eckstein, an Israeli-American rabbi who raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Israel by promoting closer ties with evangelical Christians around the world, died on Wednesday… of heart failure. The U.S.-born Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, in 1983, befriending evangelical leaders in the U.S. and building support for Israel… Over the years, the group raised over $1.5 billion.”

“Eckstein became a well-known figure in Israel, funding projects for children, new immigrants, Holocaust survivors, orphans, the elderly and victims of Palestinian violence… His face frequently appeared in large posters promoting his work, and his voice, instantly recognizable for its thick American accent, was often heard in radio advertisements.” [AP]

Haim Saban tells us: “Rabbi Eckstein was a giant among men. His steadfast work to build bridges between Christians and Jews and his tireless devotion to helping those in need have improved the lives of millions in Israel and around the world. I was privileged to count Rabbi Eckstein as a dear friend. He will be sorely missed.”

President Reuven Rivlin tweeted“A great man, a great Jew and a great Zionist. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, a man of charity and vision, left us today. His contribution to the Jewish people and the State of Israel will be felt for generations. We mourn his loss. May his memory be a blessing.”

Ambassador David Friedman“So sad to learn of the passing of my friend Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. A prodigious philanthropist & an inspirational leader who did so much to unite Christians and Jews around common values. May his memory be blessed.”

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Palestinians May Be Open to Trump Peace Plan, Official Says — by Michael Arnold: “If the U.S. plan backs a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 boundaries, with its capital in east Jerusalem, ‘we are ready to sit at the table and negotiate immediately,’ Information Minister and presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told foreign journalists in Ramallah… ‘Any plan from Kushner or Trump or anybody will be doomed to fail immediately’ if it doesn’t meet Palestinian demands… However, he said, ‘if they are willing to do this — believe me, it will solve all the issues in the Middle East.’”

“Abu Rudeineh noted the applause from U.S. legislators during Tuesday’s State of the Union address when Trump mentioned his decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but said it was easily understandable. ‘All of them are running for the Jewish money, the fundraising,’ he said.” [Bloomberg]

— Jason Greenblatt responded on Twitter: “Well, Mr. Nabil, we agree on something — there is no peace without an agreement. We are working hard on that. You’re doing nothing. You can’t claim to want peace and also try to sabotage the potential for an agreement. It can’t go both ways.”

Abbas pledges to continue security cooperation with Israel: “Abbas told a gathering of Palestinian and Israeli activists on Wednesday that his government… has a ‘joint agreement to fight terrorism’ with Israel and ‘will not violate it’ — because if it does, ‘nothing will remain.’ He added his hopes that a party committed to peace would succeed in the upcoming Israeli elections.”[AP]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on the Tikvah Fund podcast: “We are expecting President Trump to present his peace plan in the near future, and we are open-minded about looking at the plan and to negotiate… But, I think, we don’t see today someone amongst the Palestinians that will actually enter the room… You know, we have elections in Israel in a few months, and I was involved in public life and in politics since I was 10-years-old… This time, you don’t hear a conversation about the conflict with the Palestinians, not about giving up land, dividing the capital. You don’t hear it in the campaign. It proves that Israelis and the Palestinians are not optimistic about [peace].” [TikvahPodcast]

TALK OF THE REGION — Israel’s Foreign Ministry revives Twitter account geared to Persian Gulf — by Herb Keinon: “The Foreign Ministry re-started a Twitter account directed toward users in the Persian Gulf countries that has laid dormant for more than four years… ‘We are pleased to announce the re-launch of the ‘Israel in the Gulf’ page aimed at promoting dialogue between Israel and the Gulf States,’ read the opening tweet… As of early Wednesday evening, the account already had 5,615 followers.” [JPost]

U.S. to buy Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system: “The U.S. military has announced plans to buy and test out Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system… U.S. Army Colonel Patrick Seiber has said the system would be ‘assessed and experimented’ with to protect deployed U.S. personnel on a test basis only.” [BBC]

Burned by Israel Strikes, Iran to Move Weapons Supply Center Out of Damascus — by Amos Harel: “Iran would like to move its weapons supply center for Syria from the Damascus international airport to a Syrian air base located very far from the capital city. Specifically, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which runs this operation, apparently will relocate the center to the Syrian air base known as T4, located between Homs and Palmyra. The decision is related to the latest wave of Israeli attacks on the Damascene airport.” [Haaretz]

Saudi-Commissioned Report Contests U.S. Finding About Khashoggi’s Killing — by Warren Strobel: “A confidential report prepared for the Saudi public prosecutor found that none of the WhatsApp messages exchanged between Prince Mohammed bin Salman and top aide Saud al-Qahtani on Oct. 2, the day Jamal Khashoggi was killed, concerned the journalist or his murder… The report by Kroll, a large private security firm, is narrowly focused on its forensic examination of one cellphone belonging to Mr. Qahtani… Two U.S. officials said this week that the CIA stands by its “medium-to-high confidence” assessment that Prince Mohammed personally targeted Mr. Khashoggi, authorized the operation against him, and probably ordered his death.” [WSJ]

AD DEPT — The Republican Jewish Coalition is running a full-page ad in the New York Times’ print edition today to thank President Trump for appointing Elan Carr the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. “We thank President Trump for his courageous, clear-eyed leadership in engaging in the fight to defeat anti-Semitism,” the ad, signed by over 50 Republican Jewish leaders, reads. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with President Trump in saying, ‘Never Again,’ and we pledge our full commitment to helping his administration, including Special Envoy Carr, in the days, weeks, and months to come.”

new coalition of Jewish groups was launched to denounce the rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S. and across the globe and to support Carr.

SHUTDOWN WATCH — Stuart Eizenstat writes… “Trump says he wants Israel’s border wall. That means he actually wants smart fences: Neither Trump nor his television muse appears to realize that Israel generally does not rely upon a wall. And when it does, it is only to combat direct terrorist threats in high-risk areas, not to stop migrants. In fact, a compromise would be to give Trump the ‘wall’ he says he wants like the one in Israel — in other words, a smart fence… Congressional negotiators could help break the logjam by allocating more than $5 billion for border security, as Trump seeks, and directing that it pay for Israeli-style fences and technology such as ground radars, sensors and electro-optic cameras, as well as more border patrol officers, customs agents and asylum judges.” [USAToday]

TOP OP — Peter Wehner writes… “What I’ve Gained by Leaving the Republican Party: The main thing I’ve gained in unfastening myself from the GOP is critical distance and detachment. One can see certain things from outside the silo that one cannot see within it… People who are part of a tribe—political, philosophical, religious, ethnic—are less willing to call out their own side’s offenses. That’s human nature. To be sure, some are more willing to show independence of judgment than others, but none shows complete intellectual independence. I certainly didn’t.” [TheAtlantic]

PROFILE ― Who Is Matt Duss, and Can He Take On Washington’s ‘Blob’? ― by David Klion: “Matt Duss, 46, has recently become one of the most significant figures reshaping progressive foreign policy in the Trump era. Since February 2017, when Sanders hired him as his foreign-policy adviser, Duss has played a key role in advancing the Yemen resolution and has deeply informed Sanders’s growing emphasis on international affairs… And while Duss doesn’t want to take credit for what he says are his boss’s deeply held views, he has had a hand in all of this.”

“In 2014, Duss left CAP to become president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, a small nonprofit that provides grants to Israeli, Palestinian, and American civil-society groups. While at FMEP, Duss participated in working groups in coordination with Ben Rhodes to support the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran… Rhodes… is the most obvious example of the kind of role that Duss might be expected to play in a Sanders administration. Rhodes was also a critic of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment, which he dubbed ‘the Blob,’ and its interventionist consensus—and during his time in the White House, he made many of the same enemies that Duss has.” [TheNation]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Trump Plays Starring Role in Netanyahu’s Re-Election Bid — by Felicia Schwartz: ”Mr. Trump’s emerging role in Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign may provide political insurance with the prime minister’s base… Voters and politicians in Beer Sheva, a Likud stronghold, pointed to Mr. Netanyahu’s friendly relations with powerful leaders, such as the U.S. president, as a selling point to voters. ‘President Trump and the Russian president are fighting amongst themselves [over] who will say the name Benjamin Netanyahu more in an interview,’ said Shimon Bokr, the 56-year-old deputy mayor of Beer Sheva and head of the city’s Likud branch.”

“Embracing Mr. Trump also carries risks for Mr. Netanyahu… If Mr. Netanyahu wins in April but Mr. Trump loses in 2020, the Israeli prime minister will likely face an uphill battle repairing his relations with a Democratic counterpart.” [WSJ• Netanyahu channeling Trump in Israel’s election campaign [AP]

ROAD TO THE KNESSET — Former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat emergedas one of the surprise winners of Tuesday’s Likud primary… Former IDF chief Benny Gantz is scheduled to publish his candidate list for the upcoming elections on Thursday… A new poll shows that former IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi could significantly boost Gantz’s chances if he joins the Israel Resilience Party.

2020 WATCH — Top Democrats in the early 2020 primary states haven’t heard anything from Joe Biden… Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has hiredthree new Iowa staffers as she moves closer to announcing an official presidential run… 362 days before the 2020 caucuses, Iowa is weary of the candidate glut… Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) doesn’t think Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) can win the 2020 presidential election… Report: Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s mistreatment of staff scared off candidates to manage her presidential bid… CNN to host a live town hall with Howard Schultz in Houston, Texas next Tuesday.

** 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: Baupost’s Seth Klarman Hires Investment Chief, David Berkowitz, to Manage Foundation’s Assets [WSJ] • Oracle Didn’t See the Data Reckoning Coming [Bloomberg] • Elliott funds to take part in Avianca’s $75 million capitalization [Reuters• Meditation App Backed by Ashton Kutcher Is Valued at $1 Billion [Bloomberg] • Oren and Tal Alexander sell Indian Creek mansion for $50M, marking new Miami record [RealDeal]

PEW SURVEY — 88 percent of Israeli adults own a smartphone, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 27 countries over last summer.[PewGlobal]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Justice Department Opens Investigation Into Jeffrey Epstein’s Controversial Plea Deal — by Pilar Melendez: “Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd revealed that the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is conducting the probe in a letter to Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), who raised ‘significant concerns; after a bombshell investigative report by The Miami Herald unearthed new details about Epstein’s lenient plea agreement.” [DailyBeast]

MEDIA WATCH — Ex-New York Times editor Jill Abramson is reviewing passages in her new book after plagiarism allegations — by Oliver Darcy: “Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson said Wednesday night that she was reviewing passages in her new book after being accused of plagiarism. ‘I take seriously the issues raised and will review the passages in question,’ she said on Twitter. Abramson, whose book ‘Merchants of Truth’ was released Tuesday, had previously been defiant in the face of the plagiarism allegations, telling Fox News host Martha MacCallum just hours earlier, ‘I certainly didn’t plagiarize in my book.’ The allegations against Abramson were made Wednesday by Michael Moynihan, a ‘Vice News Tonight’ correspondent, who accused her on Twitter of plagiarizing multiple passages in the book.” [CNNBusiness]

New York Times Reporters Cash in on a Seven-Figure Facebook Opus — by Joe Pompeo: “Publishing insiders are buzzing about a deal that Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang have landed for a book based on their Facebook reporting for the Times. According to sources familiar with the matter, HarperCollins was the winning bidder in a competitive auction to acquire a title based on a November 14 Times investigation, headlined “Delay, Deny, and Deflect,” on which Frenkel and Kang were two of the five bylines.”[VanityFair]

WATCH — The Atlantic’s Emma Green explains how the recent uptick in anti-Semitism is particularly alarming in Europe. “So how do we stop this?” Green says in the video. “The question we should be asking is whether the latest wave of anti-Semitism can be stopped with elections alone.” [Video]

DESSERT — Cafe Chenar serves up the authentic Bukharian food you didn’t know you needed — by Dominic Armato: “Cafe Chenar, a kosher-certified Bukharian restaurant at 16th Street and Bell Road in Phoenix, cheerfully embraces the old-school archetype. In August, Mazal and Natan Uvaydov opened the small, friendly place to share their heritage — the Jewish cuisine of Uzbekistan… The break-up of the Soviet Union saw a mass and near-total emigration of Bukharian Jews, who settled primarily in Israel and Queens. The Uvaydovs also initially moved to New York before settling in Arizona, where Mazal’s son, Natan, has opened a pair of kosher restaurants — Labella Pizzeria in Phoenix and Kitchen 18 in Scottsdale — neither of which offers Bukharian cuisine.” [AZCentral]

Mike Solomonov’s New Venture Shows Israeli Food Is More Than Falafel And Hummus — by Shira Feder: “At K’Far, Mike Solomonov’s newest Philadelphia-based restaurant venture, 2018 James Beard Award winner Camille Cogswell will be making feta-stuffed burekas and other signature Israeli pastries for this all-day restaurant. ‘We’re going to be showing another facet of Israeli cuisine,’ Solomonov told Eater Philadelphia. Instead of the same tired spread of hummus, falafel and schwarma, K’Far, which means village in Hebrew, will be featuring world class goods baked in a hearth oven, that tell the story of how Israelis eat.” [Forward]

A Beloved Israeli Snack Prepares to Take Bigger Bite Out of American Market — by Navit Zomer: “Bamba manufacturer Osem Group is negotiating with Swiss multinational Nestlé S.A. for a U.S. distribution agreement that will see Bamba become a staple in the diet of U.S. kids. Osem itself is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nestlé. If the agreement is finalized, Bamba will be added to Nestle’s baby food division, which distributes such popular brands as Gerber and NAN.” [Calcalist]

BIRTHDAYS: Milwaukee-born businessman and philanthropist, former US Senator from Wisconsin (1989-2013), former owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, Herb Kohl turns 84… and also born in Milwaukee on the same date 16 years later, his first cousin, Senior Rabbi of Beth Tzedec Congregation in Toronto, president of the Toronto Board of Rabbis (2012-2015), Baruch Frydman-Kohl turns 68… Carol Mulrooney turns 77… French native, now living in West Roxbury, MA, he is director of training for the Bulfinch Group, Michel R. Scheinmann turns 71… Democratic member of the Illinois House of Representatives since 2010, previously the Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (1988-2010), Robyn Gabel turns 66… Senior research scientist at Battelle Memorial Institute and part time instructor at Carnegie Mellon University, Rick Wice turns 63… American businessman and investor arrested in Bolivia in July 2011 and held for 18 months without charges, freed through public outcry and the efforts of Sean Penn, Jacob Ostreicher turns 60…

Actor, humorist, comedian and writer known for his Saturday Night Live “TV Funhouse” cartoon shorts and as the puppeteer and voice behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Robert Smigel turns 59… Rabbi, director of congregational learning at Har Shalom in Potomac, MD and author of Jewish children’s books and teen novels, Deborah Bodin Cohen turns 51… VP of communications at PM Hotel Group in Chevy Chase, Maryland, she was previously at Hargrove, Inc., Qorvis MSLGROUP and a producer at ABC, NBC, CBS and Discovery Channel, Jennifer Diamond Haber turns 50… MLB pitcher (2005-2017), he played for the Rangers, Cubs, Orioles, Astros, Blue Jays and Reds, Scott Feldman turns 36… Executive Director of the Aviv Foundation, Adam Simon turns 44… VP at Lieberman Research Worldwide since 2004, Jonathan Weiss turns 43… Director of development at Chicago’s Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, she was previously a major gift officer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Rachael Fenton… David Israel… Michael Harris

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