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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION -- AP sources: "Obama leans against last-minute action on Israel" by Josh Lederman: "Frustrated by the lack of progress, Obama for more than a year had considered giving a major speech describing his vision for a future peace deal or, in a more aggressive step, supporting a United Nations resolution laying out parameters for such a deal... Discussions about those potential maneuvers, under way before the U.S. election, have fallen off since Donald Trump's surprise victory, officials said. Obama is now highly unlikely to approve either of those options presented to him by U.S. diplomats, said the officials, who weren't authorized to discuss internal deliberations and requested anonymity." [AP]
Aaron David Miller: “Why Carter is wrong on State of Palestine: As hard as it may be to accept right now, a unilateral move might make matters worse. And the reality is that any initiative the United States proposes -- especially recognition of Palestinian statehood -- would anyway have a very real chance of being overturned or undermined by the next administration, which would leave the Obama legacy in tatters, while diminishing US credibility in the process.” [CNN]
ADL's Jonathan Greenblatt: “President Obama Shouldn’t Go It Alone on Middle East Peace: Regardless of how President Obama and his staff may feel about their successors, this is a task for a new administration, not the last great act of an outgoing president.” [Forward]
DRIVING THE WEEKEND -- “Kerry, Trump Advisors to Attend Saban Forum This Weekend” by Jacob Kornbluh: The annual Saban Forum taking place in Washington, D.C. this weekend will focus on the challenges awaiting the incoming Trump administration in the Middle East. According to Brookings Executive Vice President Martin Indyk, the presidential transition is a “perfect opportunity to review the lessons of the past and forge ideas for future policy.” Speakers include Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry... Senator Lindsey Graham. President-elect Trump’s special advisor on Israel, David Friedman and foreign policy advisor Walid Phares will also be among the participants. [JewishInsider]
FIRST DAUGHTER: "Ivanka Trump, climate czar? The first daughter aims to use the first lady’s lectern to champion liberal causes" by Annie Karni: "In September, as Donald Trump railed against the media and sold himself as the candidate of the forgotten man, Ivanka Trump ventured into the lair of the liberal media and power elite that was laughing at her father. She jetted off to Aspen with her husband, Jared Kushner, to attend “Weekend with Charlie Rose,” an off-the-record gathering at which 90 percent of invitees were Trump haters. If there were any question whether Ivanka’s deep involvement in her father’s divisive campaign would ruin her social standing among liberals, here was her answer: Less than two months before Election Day, she was still a member of the club — albeit with a full security detail keeping her at a slight remove."
"Ivanka is not currently expected to leave Manhattan for Washington. But she is searching for a chief of staff and other hires to help shape her new role. “Certainly this is unprecedented in the modern era,” said Katherine Jellison, an expert in first lady studies at Ohio University. “There’s been nothing like this since World War I.” Ivanka is already trying out her ceremonial role, at least. She served pre-Thanksgiving meals at UJA-Federation of New York with her 2-year-old son in tow and visited Success Academy in Harlem, where she spent about 90 minutes touring seven classrooms." [Politico]
“Top Israeli diplomat: We would 'welcome' Jared Kushner” by Nolan McCaskill: “We would be so happy if someone could bring peace to the Middle East,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said, according to an interview with This Week in Asia published Tuesday. “We welcome him.” … Hotovely – who is Israel’s de-facto top full-time diplomat as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also foreign minister – said his ethnicity was not an issue. “What matters is that he is American...we will be happy if someone can promote peace,” she said… “People want easy solutions but the Middle East is not an easy place. We need complex solutions.” [Politico; SCMP]
"Mahmoud Abbas Proposes Palestinian Unity Government With Hamas" by Peter Baker:"Mr. Abbas also used the occasion to defend himself against critics who have accused him of working too closely with Israel. “I am not sorry that I went to President Peres’s funeral,” Mr. Abbas said. “Representatives of 70 nations participated, and why not us? I’m also not sorry, and don’t need to apologize to anyone, for sending our firefighters to help our neighbors to put out the fire. I feel very strongly as neighbors this is a human obligation.”" [NYTimes]
“Abbas: Palestinians Hope Trump Will Support Quest for Independence” by Jack Khoury: "We know nothing about him," Abbas said. "His people elected him. We didn't, and if he wants to talk with us, we are pursuing that… We hope that he will be able to offer something to the Palestinian cause, to offer a solution, a sane, balanced and fair (solution)," Abbas said, adding that "we expect to develop good relations with [Trump] and continue to be in touch with the French about convening an international peace summit." [Haaretz; AP]
Dennis Ross: “How Trump could surprise the world on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking” [WashPost]
“US general sees 'uptick' in bad behavior by Iran since nuke deal” by Kristina Wong: “Army Gen. Joseph Votel said the agreement… was being "implemented appropriately," but that it has not changed Iranian behavior. "I am concerned about continued malign activities of Iran across the region," Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said at a forum hosted by the Foreign Policy Initiative.” [TheHill]
“Former Israeli Official: Iran in Rush to Arm Terror Proxies Before Trump Takes Office” by Ruthie Blum: “Iran is stepping up the speed at which it is arming its proxies in the region due to its fear that after Donald Trump assumes the US presidency in January, its room to maneuver in Syria will be greatly hampered, a former director-general of Israel’s Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy told The Algemeiner.” [Algemeiner]
“Pressure Mounts On Trump To Keep The Iran Nuclear Deal by Sam Stein and Jessica Schulberg: “I think it would be a major mistake for U.S. security, for the United States, to rip up the agreement,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the few Senate Democrats who voted against the deal… Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) another Democrat who initially voted against the deal is opposed to efforts to weaken it, a Senate Democratic aide confirmed to The Huffington Post. “Since the deal went into effect, he has never sought to undermine it, and has no plans to start now,” the aide said. The influential pro-Israel organization American Israel Public Affairs Committee has not pressed the matter strongly ― at least in public ― since the agreement’s approval. There is nothing on the group’s legislative agenda about killing the deal.” [HuffPost]
TRANSITION TOWER -- Ari Fleischer on CNN Tonight: "There are legitimate questions about why Mitt Romney would want to [join the Trump administration]... When you criticize somebody to the length and direct manner in which Mitt Romney criticized Donald Trump, it is a legitimate question to say, 'If you don't like him that much, why would you want to work for him?' And I think that's something that Donald Trump is feeling his way through; it's why it's appropriate to talk, to air it, to see if it works out. But I am surprised that Mitt Romney is going through this, and because it's a public process, it's going to be a much more difficult process."
Bret Baier: "Fox News: John Bolton met with Mike Pence in DC today to discuss the Sec. of State position & will meet with Donald Trump in NY Friday afternoon." [Twitter]
“Rand Paul not sold on Romney as secretary of state” by Burgess Everett: "We need to know more about what Romney's viewpoint is," Paul said. "I haven't heard a lot from him that parallels [Trump], so I want to hear from him that he understands the historical significance of the Iraq war, making us less safe, making the region less safe and emboldening Iran.” The senator, however, has indicated Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) would be an acceptable pick.” [Politico]
"The Hollywood Connection Between Trump’s Treasury Pick and Billionaire at Center of Netanyahu Scandal" by Allison Kaplan Sommer: "This first Jewish member of the president-elect’s cabinet is also the business partner of a close friend and confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Australian billionaire James Packer. In 2013, Mnuchin merged his company Dune Entertainment with RatPac Entertainment, co-owned by Packer... The Hollywood Reporter, which has detailed Mnuchin’s show-business connections, said he met Packer through Israeli-American mega-producer Arnon Milchan, another close Netanyahu friend whose Herzliya home the prime minister used for secret meetings last year."
-- "Mnuchin’s unusual last name is considered a Slavic version of the biblical name “Menachem,”meaning “one who comforts” and a common Hebrew first and last name. The violinist Yehudi Menuhin’s original family name was Mnuchin but was changed by his Belorussian immigrant parents when they became American citizens. Despite his background, Mnuchin appears to have no public connection to Jewish life or Jewish institutions." [Haaretz]
"Goldman Sachs poised for return to power in Trump White House" by Ben White: "Goldman's president, Gary Cohn , spent an hour schmoozing with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday and could be up for an administration job, possibly as director of the Office of Management and Budget, people close to Cohn and the transition said. Cohn, a long-time commodities trader, is friendly with Trump's powerful son-in-law, Jared Kushner." [Politico]
2020 BUZZ -- Look where Jason Kander is going" by Steve Kraske: "Kander, who ran a highly regarded race for the U.S. Senate in Missouri this year, is traveling to Iowa in December to give a big speech... The announcement from the group got tongues wagging on social media Wednesday. No less a Democratic than Dan Pfeiffer, an adviser to President Obama, tweeted that “a lot of Democratic operatives are interested in what office Kander wants to run for next. Doesn’t have to be in Missouri.”" [KCStar]
**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@example.com
SPOTLIGHT: "Why Did Lightspeed Hire a 22-year-old?" by Barry Eggers: "I’m pleased to welcome Adam Goldberg as our newest Associate Partner at Lightspeed. Adam skipped middle school and high school and went straight to Cal, where he studied pure mathematics. He then went to Stanford for a BS in Computer Science and work towards his Masters. (He’s clearly conflicted at the Big Game). Entrepreneurs like to work with investors they can relate to. Investors like to work with entrepreneurs that can relate to them. Consumer entrepreneurs are a diverse set... And we have all seen consumer entrepreneurs getting younger — we invested in Evan Spiegel when he was a senior at Stanford, and it’s only a matter of time before we fund the next college (or high school?) entrepreneur." [LinkedIn]
"Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Donates $100 Million to Charities" by Deepa Seetharaman: "Ms. Sandberg, a billionaire who has been at Facebook since before its initial public offering, transferred 880,000 of her Class A shares in Facebook to her donor-advised fund, according to a regulatory filing Wednesday... Ms. Sandberg’s latest donation will be used to fund LeanIn.Org, her nonprofit focused on women’s empowerment, as well as OptionB.org, an initiative focused on helping people build resilience after experiencing loss, according to a person familiar with the matter." [WSJ; ReCode]
ACROSS THE POND: "Labour anti-Semitism used to distract from ‘racist’ Tory campaign: Speaking at Jewish News’ UK-Israel policy conference in Westminster on Wednesday, Shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner defended Labour’s record on combating racism. Mr Gardiner insisted that the Tory campaign to get Zac Goldsmith elected to City Hall in May was the most racist he had ever witnessed. He said: “I found it extraordinary that the Labour Party, that has always prided itself on opposing racism – it opposed apartheid, it opposed all forms of anti-Semitism – was being taken to task in the media in quite the way it was at a time when the Conservative Party had just run a mayoral election campaign in London which was the most racist campaign that I can ever remember as a major political campaign in this country." Mr Gardiner said that Labour would not tolerate anti-Semitism in its ranks." [JewishNews]
Michael Oren writes... "France Should Be Ashamed of Labeling Products Made By Jews" [Newsweek]
ON THE HILL -- Bipartisan Senate Legislation to Combat Anti-Semitism on Campus: "Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation to grant the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) the necessary statutory tools at their disposal to investigate anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act would codify the definition as one adopted by the U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism." [JewishInsider]
KAFE KNESSET -- A Storm in Jerusalem -- by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: "The headlines this morning in Israel were all about the weather, as a tough period of droughts and fires finally ended with some blessed rain. But it soon became clear that the real storm today has nothing to do with weather conditions. In the early afternoon, the police approved to publish the name of Gil Shefer, Prime Minister Netanyahu's former chief of staff, as the main suspect in a sexual harassment investigation that has been in the news since last night. A woman claims he tried to force himself on her after offering her a ride at the end of a social event they both attended. Shefer's associates deny the allegation and say it is a ploy against him. Shefer was Netanyahu's chief of staff during the years 2012-2014, and has been close to the Netanyahu family for many years."
"If that's not enough, today Netanyahu's wife, Sara, was also summoned by the police for questioning, as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged spending irregularities at the Prime Minister's official residence. Shefer, it turns out, was also questioned about this affair a few months ago, as were other former aides to the Prime Minister. This development joins the decision by Israel's General Attorney from last week to open an inquiry into the "submarine affair" involving Netanyahu's lawyer and close confidante, David Shimron. The combination of all these different inquiries and investigations is creating a sense of drama in the political system, although no one knows for sure what, if anything, will come out of it all."
"In separate news, last night the Prime Minister published a lengthy attack on the Israeli media on his Facebook page, accusing leading journalists of trying to take down his rule and having a hard time to accept his election victory. It seems that with the rain and the police activity, comes the familiar scent of a build-up towards new elections."
PROFILE: "Aby Rosen Restores a Modernist Landmark in Old Westbury" by Sarah Medford: "Rosen—a German-born, New York–based real-estate developer and a colorful figure himself—is coming off the successful launch of 11 Howard, his new downtown hotel, whose restaurant, Le Coucou, is one of the city’s most coveted reservations. In January he welcomes a new restaurant to the former home of the Four Seasons in the Seagram Building. The Mies van der Rohe–designed skyscraper on Park Avenue is one of several modernist landmarks—Lever House across the street is another—owned by RFR Holding, the real-estate investment, development and management company Rosen founded with partner Michael Fuchs in 1991. Despite the public profile of his ventures, Rosen professes to live out of the spotlight these days." [WSJMag]
Dessert -- "Ivanka Trump Makes Kugel in her Kosher Kitchen" by By Liza Schoenfein: "Ivanka Trump is known to keep a kosher home, and while I gather she’s not the one whipping up most of the family’s meals, her website does tell us that “In her free time, Ivanka enjoys traveling, cooking and tending her garden with her children.” The recipes on what turns out to be a Gwyneth Paltrow-worthy lifestyle site are often simple, family friendly and surprisingly haimish... There’s also her mother-in-law’s veal marsala, along with a roasted tomato soup from “New Kosher Cuisine: Healthy, Simple & Stylish” and dishes from other notable kosher cookbooks including “Kosher By Design” and “The Silver Platter.”" [Forward]
INBOX -- Tevi Troy in Jerusalem -- "At Kohelet Forum's Jerusalem office, Tevi Troy gave a talk on his latest book "Shall We Wake the President?: Two Centuries of Disaster Management from the Oval Office" . . . Spotted: Columnist David Weinberg, Shalom Lipner -- fresh off of his 51st birthday mention in Jewish Insider -- Center For Medicine in the Public Interest's Bob Goldberg, Pundicity webmaster Grayson Levy, constitutional law expert Eugene Kontorovich, and Kohelet Deputy Director Meir Buchnick."
BIRTHDAYS: Actor, comedian, filmmaker, playwright, and musician, whose career spans more than six decades, Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg) turns 81... Executive producer on The CW's ’"MADtv." who has produced over 200 shows with more than 15,000 hours of television over a long career, David E. Salzman turns 73... Singer, songwriter, actress, comedian, and film producer, Bette Midler turns 71... Comedian, actor and voice actor best known for his starring role in the animated sitcom "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist," Jonathan Katz turns 70... British playwright, director and scriptwriter who has won many awards for his work on the stage, film and and television, Stephen Poliakoff turns 64... Israeli-born co-CEO and and Board member at Oracle Corporation, Safra A. Catz turns 55... Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Cambridge Raymond E. Goldstein turns 55...
Emmy Award-winning stand-up comedienne, actress, producer and writer, Sarah Silverman turns 46... Managing editor for news at "Foreign Policy" and regular guest on NPR's Diane Rehm Show, Yochi Dreazen turns 40... Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director, comedian, producer, writer and actor whose work includes SNL Digital Shorts, Akiva Schaffer turns 39... Director of Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and New York City (1995-2016), Rabbi Daniel Landes... SVP of Communications for the National Football League, after stints working for Rupert Murdoch, Mike Bloomberg and Senators Barbara Boxer and Paul Wellstone, Natalie Ravitz... Political editor and author of the weekly "Against the Grain" column in the National Journal, Josh Kraushaar... Brett Lieberman... David Seldin... Becky Weissman... David Milstein of Sen. Cruz’s office (h/t Legistorm)... Joan Craig-Bailey... Shira Sacks...
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