Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: January 24, 2017

Bennett launches new attack on two-state solution idea | From a J-Street to a ZOA White House | US sent $221 million to Palestinians in Obama's last hours | Maryland country club gives itself a mulligan, reaches out to Obama

Naftali Bennett, January 16, 2017.
Naftali Bennett, January 16, 2017.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

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KAFE KNESSET IS BACK -- INSS Edition -- by Tal Shalev: In a message that appears to be designed for the ears of the Trump administration, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, addressing the INSS [Institute for National Security Studies] annual policy conference in Tel Aviv, called for abandoning the two-state solution and coined it a “failed idea of yesterday, not the future.”... referring to one of Trump’s well-known catchphrases, Bennett noted “In my previous life, I was a high-tech CEO. If one of the managers in my company came to me and said: ‘Listen, I tried a program. It failed. But you know what? I tried the exact same program again. And it failed again. And I even tried it again a third time. Yup, it failed again. I’d say to him: 'You’re fired.’”

The hot topic at INSS wasn’t the peace process or moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but the explosive state comptroller’s report on Operation Protective Edge, slated to be published in the coming weeks. The events of the July 2014 Gaza war are the subject of an ongoing political quarrel between Netanyahu, Bennett, and Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid. Bennett and Lapid, both of whom served in the government at the time, blame Netanyahu, his former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and the leadership of the IDF for failing to prepare the country for the threat of Hamas tunnels under Gaza and into Israel. A source told Kafe Knesset that the report will likely adopt Bennett and Lapid’s version of events. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

Spotted at the INSS conference: David Petraeus, Martin Indyk, Philip Gordon, Michelle Flournoy, Jane Harman, Abe Foxman, Robert Danin, Yossi Vardi, David Ignatius, Itamar Rabinovich, Tzipi Livni, Barak Ravid, Shimon Shiffer, Amos Harel, AIPAC's Cameron Brown, and TIP’s Lior Weintraub.

INBOX from a JI reader, responding to our report yesterday on the Trump team promoting the ZOA: "So we’ve gone in a decade from the AIPAC big tent to a J Street White House to a ZOA White House insane"

GOP official with close ties to the Jewish community tells us: "Mort [Klein] is a good guy and does a great job sending out press releases but everyone knows that the real player for money and also votes without question is the Republican Jewish Coalition. It has not gone unnoticed inside Trump world that at critical times ZOA has said comments critical of Mattis and Nikki Haley as everyone knows this Administration takes note of who is loyal."

TOP TALKER: “US sent $221 million to Palestinians in Obama's last hours” by Matthew Lee and Richard Lardner: “Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding after funds have been allocated. A State Department official and several congressional aides said the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning. The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department for the last time Thursday. The aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office. The Palestinian funding is likely to draw anger from some in Congress as well as the Trump White House.” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Maryland country club gives itself a mulligan, reaches out to Obama” by Bill Turque: “In an email to members Monday, Woodmont president Barry Forman said that after “many hours in recent weeks considering this matter and the views of our members,” the club’s executive committee decided to invite Obama to join. “Political views have never been part of our membership criteria, and our members have always reflected a range of opinions on issues of the day,” Forman wrote... “We are proud of our Jewish heritage.. Given our legacy, it is regrettable that we have now been widely portrayed as unwelcoming and intolerant, because that is not who we are.” Democratic activist and Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin, who resigned his membership over the issue and threatened a boycott of the club if Obama was not invited, said he was “really delighted” by the club’s decision. He declined to say whether he would rescind his resignation.” [WashPost]

"Thomas R. Nides, a former deputy secretary of state who is friendly with Mr. Obama, first introduced the president to Woodmont, where he is a member, when he played a round in 2015, along with John Shulman, the head of a private equity firm, and one of Mr. Obama’s personal aides. “This whole issue is ridiculous,” Mr. Nides said. “The only thing the guy wants to do is to play golf.” [NYTimes]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “President Trump Hasn’t Decided on Israeli Embassy Move, Despite Campaign Pledge” by Zeke Miller: "After reports suggesting the move of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could come as soon as this week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that the administration is only beginning to consider the relocation... “We are at the early stages of this decision-making process,” Spicer told reporters. When pressed if he could commit that at the end of Trump’s first term that the embassy would be moved, Spicer replied, “If it was already a decision, we wouldn’t be going through a process.”” [TIME]

“Trump White House lowers expectations for quick embassy move in Israel” by Luke Baker and Matt Spetalnick: “Another consideration for Israel is the stronger relations it has quietly been building with the Sunni Muslim world. Netanyahu speaks frequently about the "new horizon" Israel has with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf states. If the United States were to shift its embassy, it could rock those ties. Israeli officials say they don't want any move to be rushed.” [Reuters]

“Jerusalem mayor in talks with US officials over possible embassy move” by Daniel K. Eisenbud: “Although White House spokesman Sean Spicer has said that such a deal is still in its nascent stages, Barkat told Army Radio that he believes it is just a matter of time until the relocation takes place. “I am holding talks with government officials in the US and I know that they are serious about their intention,” said Barkat, who is friendly with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.” [JPost]

“How Trump can move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem” by Ilan Goldenberg: “On a more practical level, the American Embassy in Tel Aviv is in poor physical condition, making it harder for our diplomats to do their jobs and for embassy security to keep U.S. officials safe. The foreign ministry, prime minister’s office and Knesset are all in Jerusalem, where key Israeli interlocutors spend most of their time at work. American diplomats waste hours going back and forth.” [Politico]

Shmuel Rosner: "The Jerusalem embassy deserves its own moment in the sun. Trump could be saving it for later – for the Netanyahu visit in February, for the AIPAC Policy Conference in March, for Israel's 50th Jerusalem Day in May. From a PR standpoint, saving Jerusalem for later is wise. And the more the administration seems hesitant about it today – the better the impact tomorrow." [JewishJournal]

“Giuliani: Media doesn't like Trump and is against him” by Louis Nelson: “Giuliani also said he that he will travel Monday evening to Israel on business for his law firm, Greenberg Traurig. While there, the former New York mayor said he will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, something he said he does every time he visits Israel Asked if he would be bringing to Netanyahu a message from Trump, Giuliani played coy. “If I do, it’ll be from him. But I can give the general message, which is ‘I like you very much and we're very good friends,’” Giuliani said.” [Politico]

“Netanyahu Warns Lawmakers: 'Surprises' for Trump Could Harm Israel” by Barak Ravid and Chaim Levinson: “At a closed meeting with members of his Likud party Knesset faction, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu... [said] that he has a personal relationship of trust with Trump. "That's an important asset," the prime minister said. "It's important that I be given the chance to steer this. I have been steering it for eight years now, and I don't think anyone else would have done it better under very difficult circumstances." In a dig at Education Minister Naftali Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi party, Netanyahu said now is not the time to "shoot from the hip" when it comes to the new U.S. administration.” [Haaretz] Israel okays 2,500 new settlement homes, 2 days after PM talks to Trump [ToI]

"Jared Kushner Needs a Wingman" by Jonathan Schanzer: "The U.S. needs someone to first broker a peace deal between the Palestinians themselves. The Palestinian internecine conflict is a bipartisan blind spot. The last two presidential administrations labored to achieve a two-state solution without giving serious thought to solving the current three-state scenario. Indeed, Israel is currently sandwiched between two separate Palestinian statelets: a Palestinian Authority-run West Bank and a Hamas-run Gaza Strip." [PoliticoMag]

“What Trump can do for Mideast peace on day one” by Jonathan A. Greenblatt: “Whatever he decides on the embassy, there are measures that Mr. Trump can support on day one that may not solve the whole crisis but can demonstrate strong support for the Jewish state and foster trust between Israel and the Palestinian Authority This could be achieved by invoking the existing Bush letter rather than contriving a new formula.” [JTA]

According to Playbook, "Jason Greenblatt, Trump's business attorney turned guru for international deals (whatever that means), just bought an apartment in Foggy Bottom for $425,000." [Politico]

TRUMP TUMULT: “The first days inside Trump’s White House: Fury, tumult and a reboot” by Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Matea Gold: “Two people close to the transition also said a number of Trump’s most loyal campaign aides have been alarmed by Kushner’s efforts to elbow aside anyone he perceives as a possible threat to his role as Trump’s chief consigliere. At one point during the transition, Kushner had argued internally against giving Conway a White House role, these two people said.” [WashPost]

“Trump aide Kushner scraps plan for Canada visit: Canada official” by David Ljunggren: "The source said the planned visit by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner had hit logistical problems. A separate source had earlier said Kushner intended to meet Trudeau aides on the margins of a cabinet retreat in Calgary.” [Reuters]

“Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers” by Michael Shear and Emmarie Huetteman: “Representative Steny H. Hoyer who attended the meeting, said that Mr. Trump also talked about the size of the crowd for his Inaugural Address. “It was a huge crowd, a magnificent crowd. I haven’t seen such a crowd as big as this,” Mr. Hoyer told CNN, quoting Mr. Trump The reception included, among others, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.” [NYTimes]

Ed O'Keefe: “McConnell on WH meeting with Trump: "I enjoyed the President and Sen. Schumer talking about all the people they knew in New York."” [Twitter]

“Trump’s biggest donors consider abandoning new political arm” by Eliana Johnson and Kenneth Vogel: “It is unclear precisely why Rebekah Mercer became unhappy with the plans for the organization, though tensions surfaced between her and Brad Parscale, who served as the Trump campaign’s digital director, during a December meeting in Trump Tower. What is clear is that she may be nearing a breaking point both with Parscale and Nick Ayers, the Trump aides slated to run the group, as well as with Home Depot CEO Bernie Marcus and his political guru Steve Hantler, who are expected to provide key financial backing for the effort.” [Politico]

HEARD YESTERDAY: Bill Kristol on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper: “For a sitting president of the United States, not a candidate, not a spokesman, to go to the CIA, stand in front of that wall, and make the rambling and inappropriate comments the president made, people were seriously worried. I talked to serious people who are not unfriendly to the Trump administration who thought, 'Oh, my God.'” [Newsinc]

ON THE HILL: "Tillerson approved by Senate panel as secretary of state" by Karoun Demirjian and Sean Sullivan: "Republicans unanimously backed Tillerson in the 11-to-10 vote, after key Republicans who had voiced criticism of Tillerson opted to support his nomination. Chief among them was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a committee member who announced Monday morning that he would support Tillerson... “My concern was that Mr. Tillerson would be an advocate for, and would pursue a foreign policy of dealmaking, at the expense of traditional alliances and at the expense of the defense of human rights and democracy,” Rubio explained to the committee Monday." [WashPost]

“Why Marco Rubio Will Vote To Confirm Trump’s Secretary Of State” by Tarini Parti: “Rubio also got calls from Oracle CEO Safra Catz, urging him to support Tillerson. Catz was part of the Trump transition committee, while Oracle founder Larry Ellison was one Rubio’s major supporters during his White House bid. “In the end, I think Marco decided that it was better to be inside the tent than outside,” a source close to Rubio said. “A vote against Tillerson would have reduced his influence on foreign policy matters with the Trump Administration to zero.”” [BuzzFeed]

PROFILE: “Meet the ‘New Ted Cruz’” by Tim Alberta: “Restitution can be found in doing the little things. Cruz called Trump two weeks ago, for instance, to give a heads-up on legislation he was introducing with Lindsey Graham that would defund the United Nations in retaliation for its resolution on Israeli settlements. It was a deferential show of etiquette that hasn’t exactly been a hallmark of his Senate career. Cruz had previously run the idea through Senate leadership, and then reached out to the unlikeliest of partners in Graham, who has been one of his harshest critics and who joked last year that Cruz could be murdered by colleagues on the Senate floor—and that members of the chamber would vote to acquit. “I want to apologize to Ted for saying he should be killed on the Senate floor,” Graham said during their eyebrow-raising joint appearance on Morning Joe. “I’m sorry, Ted.”" [Politico]

ON THE HILL: "Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that the House Democratic Caucus has approved Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida to be the next Ranking Member of the House Ethics Committee. “Congressman Ted Deutch’s integrity commands the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” said Leader Pelosi. [DemLeader]

** Good Tuesday 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 **

SPOTLIGHT: "After Bond Chief’s Exit, Millennium’s Englander Left Alone Again" by Saijel Kishan: "Israel Englander isn’t used to getting blindsided. But on the morning of Jan. 3, Englander, the billionaire founder of Millennium Management, was caught off guard in his eighth floor offices on Fifth Avenue when his top lieutenant and potential successor abruptly resigned. The reason was as old as they come in the hedge fund game. After eight years, Michael Gelband, a hot shot in fixed income, wanted to be more than an employee at Englander’s wildly successful hedge fund. He wanted a stake. Englander, 68, known as Izzy, now finds himself where he’s spent much of his career: alone at the top. His $34.4 billion empire, built out of scores of separate trading teams, remains solely in his control and without an anointed successor."

"The question for Englander’s 2,100 employees and his deep-pocketed investors is whether Millennium can move out of its founder’s shadow. Gelband’s looming departure has set the industry abuzz. Outsiders, and many insiders, are asking what exactly is going on at Millennium. The answer, according to people close to the firm, is that Englander didn’t share ownership. A Brooklyn native with a no-nonsense demeanor, Englander is famous for his eat-what-you-kill ethos. Make money, and you get rich. Lose money, and you’re out -- fast. He’s placed his traders in about 175 silos, each with a different market strategy. Few of them get to see the big picture, a setup that makes managing Millennium a challenge but also keeps the teams focused." [Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION: Mike Granoff emails us "The digitization of information and communication has transformed our lives -- now we are digitizing transportation and that will be no less a transformation. Israel is already well known as a hub for new mobility technology innovation. With companies like General Motors and Mobileye, among many others, developing autonomous vehicle technology in Israel, it is only natural to test self-driving cars here. And with these first steps the Netanyahu government is sending a signal that Israel also intends to stamp itself an early adopter in deployment of self-driving cars, bringing an age of safer, cleaner, more efficient, less expensive and more widely accessible transportation to the public.” [JPost]

"Trends in Israel’s cybersecurity investments" by Yoav Leitersdorf: "Even as the global cybersecurity market experiences a slowdown in investment, the Israeli sector continues to grow. Companies are raising significant capital, even in tough times. Innovation from Israeli companies is a real bright spot as new security fields keep emerging. More and more companies are able to raise follow-on financing and continue to grow their business before exiting—a great sign of maturity of the cybersecurity entrepreneurs." [TechCrunch]

“Zuckerberg's latest philanthropy move: acquiring a tech startup” by Kia Kokalitcheva: “Mark Zuckerberg's philanthropic organization has made its first acquisition: Meta, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to help scientists parse through scientific papers Science and medicine are some of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's main areas of focus, so Meta's technology will help it with its goals to improve research and curing diseases. Meta's tools will become free to scientists, the company said in an announcement.” [Axios]

“A star tech and media banker shares his thoughts on dealmaking in 2017” by Portia Crowe: “For Aryeh Bourkoff, the star tech, media, and telecom (TMT) banker and founder of the boutique bank LionTree, 2017 will be a year of uncertainty. But it will also be ripe with opportunity, especially in the TMT and consumer spaces. That's the message Bourkoff gave his team in a year-end letter sent out in December. He referred specifically to the election of Donald Trump as US president and said that political shift could lead to a repatriation of cash, among other things. That could free up cash for mergers and acquisitions — especially for companies like Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Cisco, and Oracle, which combined hold some $500 billion in cash overseas.” [BI]

AT&T announces new unlimited $10 a day pass in over 100 countries including Israel: “You can talk and text all you want, and use your data plan in over 100 countries, only paying for the days you use abroad. Instead of being charged per minute, message, or megabyte while traveling, you‘ll pay just $10 a day per device for any 24-hour period you use your device in an International Day Pass country.” [ATT]

TALK OF OUR NATION: "Ivanka and Jared's Ride to Church on Shabbat Sparks Controversy" by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: "When America’s most famous observant and newly influential Jews, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kusher, travelled to her father’s inaugural balls by car last Friday and then attended a church service with the new president on Saturday morning, it sparked a debate that continues to ping-pong around the world on social media. At issue: What are the ramifications of Trump, who converted to Judaism under the tutelage of an Orthodox rabbi, and Kushner, who is from an Orthodox family, doing things publicly which violate the Sabbath and are contrary to Jewish norms?" [Haaretz]

"Ivanka Trump grabs lunch in Woodley Park with her son and some pals" by Emily Heil: "Hey, isn’t that first daughter Ivanka Trump dining in Woodley Park at the Open City coffee shop Monday afternoon? President Trump’s elder daughter was with her son, Joseph, and several female friends, according to the restaurant’s manager. They ordered from the breakfast menu (little Joseph had oatmeal, spoon-fed by mom) and were greeted by only a few well-wishers." [WashPost]

“Philip Roth E-Mails on Trump” by Judith Thurman: “Asked if this warning has come to pass, Roth e-mailed, “My novel wasn’t written as a warning. I was just trying to imagine what it would have been like for a Jewish family like mine, in a Jewish community like Newark, had something even faintly like Nazi anti-Semitism befallen us in 1940, at the end of the most pointedly anti-Semitic decade in world history. I wanted to imagine how we would have fared, which meant I had first to invent an ominous American government that threatened us. As for how Trump threatens us, I would say that, like the anxious and fear-ridden families in my book, what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.”” [NewYorker]

"Messaging App Has Bipartisan Support Amid Hacking Concerns" by Mara Gay: "Signal, a smartphone app that allows users to send encrypted messages, is gaining popularity in the political world amid rising fears about hacking and surveillance in the wake of a tumultuous election year. Council members Daniel Garodnick, David Greenfield and Corey Johnson are on the app. So are Howard Wolfson and Marc La Vorgna, close aides to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg." [WSJ]

“Mark Halperin leaves Bloomberg” by Dylan Byers: "I am no longer with Bloomberg Politics," Halperin wrote in an email to friends and associates on Monday. "I will have more updates soon on 2017 and beyond, but you might want to follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Just in case." [CNNMoney]

“Fox News signs ex-Kerry adviser Marie Harf as contributor” by Joe Concha: “Harf most recently served as senior adviser for strategic communications to former Secretary of State John Kerry. Prior to that, she held the position of deputy spokesperson for the State Department from July 2013 until May 2015.” [TheHill]

“From Harvard to ‘La La Land’” by Colleen Walsh: "On the phone recently from Los Angeles, the composer (Justin Hurwitz) recalled being told a key Harvard takeaway would be “the people you meet.” It was a spot-on prediction. As a freshman he met Damien Chazelle, a skilled jazz drummer whose budding passion for film foreshadowed the screenplay and director Golden Globes he took home for “La La Land.” A shared love of music brought the pair together.” [Harvard]

SPORTS BLINK: “Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is paying for every team employee to go to the Super Bowl in Houston” by Emmett Knowlton: “According to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, franchise owner Arthur Blank is paying to send every Falcons employee — every single one! — to Houston for the big game. As SB Nation revealed, there are approximately 270 employees in the Falcons directory, and the cheapest Super Bowl tickets are currently listed at over $3,000.” [BI]

"Jeff Bagwell came to my bar mitzvah" by Darren Rovell: "I had to have a baseball player at my bar mitzvah. That was my wish to my dad as that day, June 15, 1991, was fast approaching. Knowing that I was an avid reader of Baseball America and Minor League Baseball Card Monthly, my dad was looking to find some prospects for the celebration. Interpretation: We weren't going to break the bank on having some Hall of Famer, though one of my brother's friends did, in fact, have Mickey Mantle at his party. The irony is that today, some 25½ years later, it turns out we had a Hall of Famer there. We just didn't know it at the time." [ESPN]

DESSERT: “Biderman’s Jewish Deli Opens in Far West With Sandwiches and Soups” by Elizabeth Leader Smith: “The deli is located around the corner from the Jewish Community Center of Austin. “Austin lacks a good Jewish deli,” stated Biderman. “The Northwest Hills area, and specifically Far West, are a hub for Jewish activity in Austin with the Jewish Community Center and multiple congregations. We think our food will appeal to the masses, but thought it best to locate close to our core target market.” [Eater]

BIRTHDAYS: 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 76... Born in Tel Aviv, 2011 Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry, Professor at Technion and Iowa State University, Dan Shechtman turns 76... 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 69... Soviet-born comedian, actor and writer, emigrated to the US in 1977, noted for the catchphrase "What a country," Yakov Smirnoff (born Yakov Naumovich Pokhis) turns 66... Conductor, violinist, and violist, who has performed with leading symphony orchestras worldwide, Yuri Bashmet turns 64... Editor-in-chief of the Baltimore Jewish Times and news editor at Philadelphia's Jewish Exponent, Joshua Runyan turns 36... TACKMA's Jeffrey Schottenstein turns 31... Danny Flamberg... Judith Alban...

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