DRIVING THE CONVO — Democratic members of the House renewed their criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) over the weekend after the freshman representative said that she wants to “talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” referring to Israel.
Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), who had accepted Omar’s apology last month following widespread criticism of her tweets targeting AIPAC, told Jewish Insider that her language is “of course concerning.” “I’m disappointed that she made these remarks, I certainly am,” said Rep. Rose, after attending a local event in Brooklyn. “We have to continue to work to make sure that this does not happen anymore. But I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t disappointed.”
Also on Sunday, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told Jewish Insider that Democratic leadership will “have to say something and do something” after Rep. Omar’s latest comments. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on Omar to apologize for her “vile, anti-Semitic” comments. And Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) called on Omar to “retract” her statements and “engage in further dialogue with the Jewish community on why these comments are so hurtful.”
At the same time, Congress members and Jewish community leaders condemned an anti-Muslim poster linking Omar to the 9/11 terror attacks which was displayed as part of a celebration of the West Virginia Republican party.
Omar doubled down on Sunday, responding to Rep. Lowey’s criticism: “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on [a] committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that! I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel, I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end.”
Rep. Pete King (R-NY) told Jewish Insider that it’s incumbent upon the Democratic Party’s leadership to “take some firm action to make it clear that they’re not going to take it” and that they should do it “for their own political reasons. It’s going to tar them. Also for the good of the country, they should do it.” [JewishInsider]
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for highlighting the Rolling Stone cover featuring a smiling Pelosi with Omar along the caption ‘A picture is worth 1,000 words.’ Cheney tweeted, “A picture is worth 1000 words. Pretending to condemn Ilhan Omar’s anti-semitism while embracing her on this cover & claiming she embodies ‘millions of dreams to women & girls across America’ is disgraceful and immoral. #NeverAgain.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) came under fire Sunday evening for tweeting what some perceived as an anti-Semitic trope in suggesting that Rep. Jerry Nadler was being bought by Tom Steyer, whose father is Jewish, to lead impeachment proceeding against President Trump. Jordan used a dollar sign instead of an “S” in Steyer’s last name.
PODCAST PLAYBACK — New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) on the AJC Passport podcast: “Israel is, has been, and always will be a great ally of the United States and vice versa. We are friends, we’re allies, and we should always be. Israel should — on our best days — not be a partisan issue. I wouldn’t be overly concerned or surprised that members, either of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, which may not all completely agree on all of the time on any issue. I do think when Netanyahu came to the United States and disrespected President Obama by going directly to Congress, he opened up a door that should not have been opened up. I sense that that’s reverberating a little, although I think that is probably generally past us.”[AJCPassport]
DRIVING THE DAY — U.S. closes Jerusalem consulate, demoting Palestinian mission — by Isabel Debres: “The United States has officially shuttered its consulate in Jerusalem, downgrading the status of its main diplomatic mission to the Palestinians by folding it into the U.S. Embassy to Israel… ‘This decision was driven by our global efforts to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic engagements and operations,’ State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement. ‘It does not signal a change of U.S. policy on Jerusalem, the West Bank, or the Gaza Strip.’ … Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called the move “the final nail in the coffin” for the U.S. role in peacemaking.” [AP]
— “The estate will now be the domain of Ambassador Friedman to host events and perhaps use as a residence… The consulate closure is subject to a congressional review period… but it is unclear if any Congress members registered any formal objections to the mission merger.” [NPR]
Palestinian Authority paper calls Jason Greenblatt a ‘mongoloid’: “‘Anyone who follows the prattle of Jason Greenblatt, President [Donald] Trump’s envoy in the matter of the deal of the century, sees that his condition is very similar to Down Syndrome,’ Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul, who was once the adviser to former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad, wrote in the official daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.” [JPost]
Amb. David Friedman tweeted: “I am disgusted —not for Jason (he’s got broad shoulders) — but by this utter disregard for the value of every human life.”
ON THE HILL — by JI‘s Laura Kelly: Lawmakers are out of D.C. until Tuesday but, in addition to votes for bills ranging from electoral reform to ceremonial titles, members announced new legislation to combat the President’s rhetoric and actions, from dismissing a dictator to abusing security clearance procedures.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) told MSNBC on Friday she plans to introduce legislation to revoke Jared Kushner’s security clearance, following reports that President Trump had ordered the top-secret security clearance for his son-in-law over the objections of senior staff.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) said he wants Congress to recognize that Kim is responsible. “I’ll be introducing a bipartisan resolution next week affirming that Congress holds Kim Jong Un responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier,” Malinowski wrote on Twitter.
— Over the weekend: President Trump addressed the parents of Otto Warmbier, who had earlier criticized the President for not holding North Korean chairman Kim Jong-un responsible for the death of their son. “I never like being misinterpreted, but especially when it comes to Otto Warmbier and his great family,” the President wrote on Twitter. “Remember, I got Otto out along with three others. The previous Administration did nothing, and he was taken on their watch. Of course I hold North Korea responsible.”
REPORT — Israeli defense officials oppose US Golan Heights bill — by Ariel Kahana: “Despite the bipartisan support, Israel Hayom has learned that representatives of Israel’s defense establishment have told senior senators that passing the bill into law, at least at the present time, was not ideal… The Prime Minister’s Office said: ‘Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken on many occasions with U.S. President Donald Trump, including recently, about the need to recognize Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights. After investigating the matter, no representative of the Israeli defense establishment has conveyed the [opposite] message or anything in that vein.'” [IsraelHayom]
HEARD AT CPAC — “Anti-Semitism is not just wrong, it’s evil,” Vice President Mike Pence told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. “Anti-Semitism must be confronted wherever and whenever it arises and it must be universally condemned.” In his address Friday, Pence mentioned his recent visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp. “The history of that time must never be forgotten. We mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve. But we say from our heart, never again,” he said to a rousing standing ovation. “As we stood in that place I thought, when authoritarian regimes breath out vile anti-Semitic hatred and violence, history teaches we must take them at their word.”
— Israeli innovation in security, military and economics was the subject of a panel discussion with speakers Eugene Kontrovich, an expert on international law and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Elie Pieprz from the Yesha Council, and former diplomat to the U.S. Yoram Ettinger. “First and foremost Israel is immensely grateful to the U.S. for providing the vast majority of defense technologies and defense equipment which is required by Israel to survive in the Middle East,” Mr. Ettinger said. “However, contrary to conventional wisdom, the U.S. does not extend foreign aid to Israel. In fact, in reality, the U.S. makes an annual investment in Israel and the question is what is the extent of the rate of return.”
SPOTTED — at the Young Jewish Conservatives Shabbat dinner held at the Residence Inn, National Harbor: Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, who spoke to the gathering, Julie Strauss Levin, David Milstein, Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, Elie Pieprz, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Tevi Troy, Yoram Ettinger, and Yechezkel Moskowitz.
SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — At Gridiron dinner, Ivanka Trump tries laughs: ‘As if being Donald Trump’s daughter isn’t the hardest job in the world’ — by Emily Heil: “Ivanka Trump, who said her father had asked her just that afternoon to represent him, got a cringeworthy laugh [at Saturday night’s Gridiron dinner] with a line that poked fun at her conservative bona fides — and her notoriously difficult boss/dad. ‘The press seems to think it’s ironic that I, born of great privilege, think people want to work for what they are given,’ she deadpanned. ‘As if being Donald Trump’s daughter isn’t the hardest job in the world.'” [WashPost]
— “Sen. Amy Klobuchar promised the audience at the Renaissance Washington Hotel that her remarks would be ‘shorter than a Robert Kraft visit to the Orchids day spa.’ Poking fun across the political spectrum, Klobuchar promised her campaign will combine ‘the short, peppy speeches of Joe Biden; the common touch of Michael Bloomberg; the collegiality of Ted Cruz; and the chipper, upbeat personality of Bernie Sanders.'” [NPR]
SPOTTED — via Playbook: “Rod Rosenstein sitting two seats away from Matt Whitaker. Rosenstein and Jared Kushner spoke at the reception… Jared talking to Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer. Dermer wryly asked Kushner how his peacemaking efforts were going… Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker approaching Jeff Bezos to talk to him about luring an Amazon HQ2 location to Illinois… Tom Bossert hugging Jared Kushner during the reception.”
— Ivanka shared photos on Instagram of her family baking hamentashen ahead of Purim [Pic; Pic]
John Oliver Rips Michael Cohen, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump on ‘Last Week Tonight’ — by Kimberly Nordyke: “One major issue with Jared having access to state secrets is, you know, it’s Jared — a guy who, even among Jareds, stands out as the ‘Jared’ of the group,” Oliver quipped.” [HollywoodReporter]
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — The Making of the Fox News White House — by Jane Mayer: “Well-informed sources say that Jared Kushner, an increasingly valued White House adviser, has worked hard to win over Rupert Murdoch, showing him respect and asking him for advice. Kushner has regularly assured Murdoch that the White House is a smooth-running operation, despite many reports suggesting that it is chaotic. Kushner now has an almost filial status with Murdoch, who turns eighty-eight this month, and numerous sources told me that they communicate frequently. ‘Like, every day,’ one said.” [NewYorker]
KAFE KNESSET — Bibi fires in all directions — by Neri Zilber: Mired in a legal war with the authorities and trailing in the polls, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, since last Thursday, embarked on a multi-pronged offensive to try and wrest back control of the narrative and his reelection bid, unleashing a torrent of social media posts attacking all his perceived enemies: the media, the state’s judicial authorities, his political rivals in Blue and White. “Netanyahu isn’t on trial for his actions — but because of his identity and beliefs,” read one such post. (In a mirror image of US politics, Bibi also uploaded a supportive clip from “Fox and Friends.”) This culminated yesterday with an egregious statement in his name put out by the Likud spokesman alleging that Blue and White head Benny Gantz — a former IDF chief of staff — took part in a concert honoring dead Hamas terrorists. (Both the concert and therefore Gantz’s participation in said concert never happened.) A source in Blue and White told Kafe Knesset it was all “fake news” and “a sign of the pressure that Netanyahu is under and his willingness to do anything to stay in power.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]
BIBI LOSING FRIENDS — Bret Stephens writes… “Time for Netanyahu to Go: When the final chapter on Benjamin Netanyahu’s political life is written — and it may be a long time from now — he is likely to go down as the Richard Nixon of Israel: politically cunning, strategically canny, toxically flawed… The idea that Gantz and Lapid are leftist squishes is absurd. And the reign of King Bibi has gone on long enough.” [NYTimes]
— Eli Lake tweeted on Saturday: “Bret Stephens gets it exactly right. Bibi has ruled Israel for too long. Time for a change.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) tells Al-Monitor: “The reality is that the party that Prime Minister Netanyahu has aligned himself with is the antithesis of American values. Since America plays such a significant role in supporting the state of Israel, you have to wonder at the end of the day how can we be supportive of such an alignment.” [Al-Monitor]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Can Israel Survive Without Netanyahu? Israelis Imagine the Future — by David Halbfinger: “’Even people who hate him, when they close their eyes, they can’t imagine anyone else sitting in his office,’ said Micah Goodman, a Jerusalem-based scholar… Mr. Goodman suggested that Mr. Netanyahu was suffering the result of a career spent not as a builder, like Ben-Gurion, but as a self-styled ‘preventer’ — someone who warns of catastrophe, and then, like Churchill, one of Mr. Netanyahu’s heroes, succeeds by averting it. ‘It makes him a very careful leader,’ Mr. Goodman said. ‘He didn’t go bomb Iran, he didn’t invade Gaza’ last fall the way some of his allies wanted him to, he didn’t push for peace. ‘He’s the guy that doesn’t do things.’ Ordinarily, he added, Israelis… like to sip coffee in cafes and have nothing happen to interrupt them. ‘Change doesn’t sound fine, it sounds terrifying,’ he said.” [NYTimes]
Can Netanyahu survive his own Trump-style ‘witch hunt’?… Natan Sachs: The end is nigh for Netanyahu… Aaron David Miller: Can Trump Save Netanyahu?… Zev Chafets: Why Bibi Netanyahu will never go quietly… David Horovitz: Is Netanyahu a crook? Allegedly. A threat to democracy? That verdict is sadly in… Netanyahu reacts to likely corruption charges with fire and fury.
2020 WATCH — Bernie Sanders Begins 2020 Race With Some Familiar Themes and a New One: Himself — by Sydney Ember: “During his last presidential campaign, and throughout his political career, Mr. Sanders has offered a policy-focused message almost entirely devoid of personal details. At Saturday’s rally [in Brooklyn], however, he did something new: He talked about himself. ‘Let me say a few personal words,’ he said. ‘As we launch this campaign for president, you deserve to know where I came from.’ He talked about his father, who immigrated to the United States from Poland at age 17 and whose family ‘was wiped out by Hitler and Nazi barbarism.’ He spoke of his mother, who died young but had dreamed that her family would move out of their apartment to ‘a home of our own.'” [NYTimes; AP]
— Heard at Bernie’s Brooklyn rally — Shaun King introducing Sanders: “Even today, [Sanders] speaks out against apartheid-like conditions in Palestine, even though it’s not popular.” [CSPAN]
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced this morning that he is running for president… New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tells The Atlantic that he could jump into the presidential race if Joe Biden doesn’t run… Prospective Democratic candidates, donors and staffers are frozen in place until Biden makes his decision… Meanwhile, the other candidates were fanning out in South Carolina and Iowa on Saturday, and attended the Selma march on Sunday… Bill Clinton has 2020 advice, but so far none of the party’s early front-runners has had a formal meeting with the former president.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Operatically colorful macher” — how the NYTimes Amy Chozick described Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel over the weekend[NYT] • Caesars agrees to replace three members of its board as part of a pact with activist investor Carl Icahn [WSJ] •Israeli startups raised $550 million in February [Globes] • Altice Europe’s Israeli Subsidiary Denies Sale Report[Calcalist]
SPOTLIGHT — Alterra and Vail Resorts are going head to head snapping up resorts — by Kyle Stock: “In 2008, Vail introduced the Epic Pass for unlimited lift rides at all of its resorts… Much of the strategy came from Rob Katz, a square-jawed graduate of the Wharton School and a rising star at Apollo Management LLP, the private equity firm that bought Vail out of bankruptcy and steered it onto the stock market. As a New York native, Katz had learned to ski on Hunter Mountain, a few hours north of Manhattan, and as Apollo’s winter sports enthusiast he’d slid onto the Vail board in 1996, at age 29; 10 years later, he’d taken the chief executive officer job.”
“The descendants of the industrialist Henry Crown owned a number of Colorado resorts known for fine dining and being favored by celebrities. KSL Capital, which owns California’s Squaw Valley, had previously worked with the Crown family on developing Aspen Snowmass in Colorado. In April 2017, KSL and the Crowns bought Intrawest for $1.6 billion and folded in Mammoth, Big Bear, June, and Squaw Valley on undisclosed financial terms… which eventually led to the formation of Alterra.” [Bloomberg]
HAPPENING TODAY — David Brooks will address the SXSW EDU conference in Austin, Texas. [Livestream]
STATE-SIDE — Publisher embroiled in legal battle with Arkansas over law banning Israel boycotts — by Ben Kesslen: “Act 710 was passed as a way for the Arkansas Legislature to affirm its support for Israel and respond to the BDS movement… While Alan Leveritt isn’t shy in saying the Arkansas Times leans ‘left of center,’ neither he nor the publication has ever supported a boycott of Israel or the broader BDS movement… But now a geopolitical issue he felt like he had no stake in was affecting his already precarious small business. Leveritt thought about signing the pledge… Ultimately, Leveritt said he couldn’t go through with it, though. He believed being forced to sign a pledge like the one Act 710 mandated violated his constitutional rights and his journalistic ethics. The Times lost around $13,000 on the Pulaski Tech account in three months, and Leveritt teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the University of Arkansas System’s board of trustees on his behalf.” [NBCNews]
Texas blacklists Airbnb over West Bank settlement ban: “The Texas Comptroller on Friday publicly updated the list of businesses on the state’s ‘List of companies that boycott Israel,’ pursuant to a Texas government code. According to Texas protocol which prohibits investment in companies that boycott Israel, Airbnb has 90 days from the day it was added to the list to stop boycotting Israel or to prove that it does not boycott Israel nor taken action against it.” [i24News]
ACROSS THE SEA — 40 Miles From Auschwitz, Poland’s Jewish Community Is Beginning to Thrive — by Yardena Schwartz: “Amid a resurgence of anti-Semitism throughout Europe, and despite a nationalist government that has sought to silence criticism of Polish complicity in the Holocaust, Poland’s Jewish community is being reborn… High-ranking members of the Jewish community estimate there are now 30,000 Jews among Poland’s 38 million citizens, up from 10,000 in 2007 — and say there could be many more still unaware of their ancestry. ‘Thousands of people are walking around Poland with Jewish roots they still don’t know they have,’ Jonathan Ornstein says, estimating there may be as many as 100,000. Among its events and workshops, JCC Krakow now offers genealogy services to help people trace their Jewish roots, and Shabbat dinners where gentile visitors can learn more about the community.” [Time]
A ‘Tradition’ Omission: I Had Never Seen ‘Fiddler’ Until Now — by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: “At the relatively late age of 43… I finally saw ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ … I grew up attending Jewish schools and in a home where my mother became Orthodox when I was 12… I failed to observe, I criticized their observance, all of which my mother called ‘my self-hating,’ when she was lightly chiding, and my ‘anti-Semitism’ when she wanted me to feel the full disappointment of what my resistance represented… Over just these last few months, more than several Orthodox Jews in Crown Heights have been attacked in the street, seemingly for the crime of being visibly Jewish. There are people with actual gathering permits brandishing swastikas — swastikas! — in the South, chanting that ‘Jews will not replace us.’ So I sat there and I cried, and I was filled with self-loathing for being such a target, though maybe my mother is right; maybe that’s the most self-hating part of me — not that I hated being Jewish; I hated the traditions that were imposed upon me and I thought I could avoid them but now I realize I can’t.” [NYTimes]
A Regime Still Fighting the ‘Great Satan’ — by Gerald Seib: “Iranians remember how the U.S. supported Iraq and prevented it from being overrun at key points in the conflict. ‘The lesson they drew was that you can’t trust anybody else, particularly the Americans,’ said William Burns, a former deputy secretary of state and the author of a new memoir, ‘The Back Channel,’ in which he recounts, among other things, his own role in launching the secret Obama-era diplomacy with Iran that led to the 2015 accord limiting its nuclear-weapons program.” [WSJ]
DESSERT — Acclaimed pita chef opening new Hebrew-infused eatery in Hell’s Kitchen — by Jennifer Gould Keil: “Top Israeli chef Eyal Shani is building on his Chelsea Market act, with two more dining spots coming this spring… Shani — a ninth-generation Jerusalemite — is opening a second Miznon, with counter service seating, at 161 W. 72nd St., and a Hell’s Kitchen version of his Tel Aviv restaurant HaSalon this spring. The restaurant will be adjacent to the Skyline Hotel, at 725 10th Ave. at 49th Street, with a separate entrance from the hotel.” [NYPost]
TRANSITION — Steve Clemons, a leader in The Atlantic’s massive events business, is headed to Axios. Clemons almost joined Axios when it launched, but was persuaded to stay by David Bradley. Laurene Powell Jobs is an investor in Axios and The Atlantic. And David Bradley, who sold The Atlantic to Jobs, is an investor in Axios. [Playbook]
BIRTHDAYS: Tennis player who in 1951 won both the Australian and Wimbledon men’s singles championships and was ranked #1 worldwide, the first ever Jewish athlete to appear on the cover of Time Magazine, Dick Savittturns 92… Composer and conductor, founder and initial conductor in 1950 of the US Army’s Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra, on the Julliard faculty, Samuel Adler turns 91… Former New York Times correspondent and Pentagon and State Department official, he is president emeritus of the Council of Foreign Relations, Leslie H. Gelb turns 82… US District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois, appointed by President Reagan in 1987, he has published a novel and appeared in two movies, Judge James Block Zagelturns 78… Broadcast journalist and author, best known as a correspondent for the ABC news magazine “20/20” (1977-2008), Lynn Sherr turns 77… British promoter of rock concerts, charity concerts and television broadcasts, Harvey Goldsmith turns 73… Screenwriter and director, she is the mother of actors Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal turns 73… CEO of LCH Clearnet LLC, a clearing house affiliated with the London Stock Exchange, David A. Weisbrod turns 72…
Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and a former NYC City Council member for the Upper East Side, Eva Moskowitz turns 55… President of the New England Patriots, Jonathan Kraft turns 55… Member of the New York City Council since 2014, he was previously a New York State Assemblyman (2007-2012), Rory I. Lancman turns 50… Evan L. Presser turns 49… Staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and a senior fellow at Yale Law School, Emily Bazelon turns 48… Second youngest member of the current Knesset, a member of the Likud party, Sharren Haskel turns 35… Director of public policy and best practices for the International Council of Shopping Centers, she is a graduate of CESJDS, Northeastern U (B.Sc.) and USC (M.A.), Abigail Goldstein “Abby” Jagoda turns 34… Brazilian entrepreneur and software engineer who co-founded Instagram in 2010, Michel “Mike” Krieger turns 33… Singer, music producer and composer, Aryeh Kunstlerturns 33… Israeli-born basketball player who starred at Wichita State (2006-2008), played for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans, now playing for a Russian team Zenit Saint Petersburg, Gal Mekel turns 31… Model and actress, Erin Heatherton (born as Erin Heather Bubley) turns 30…