Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: February 20, 2017

Bret Stephens delivered the annual Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA last Thursday | White House chief of staff says take Trump seriously when he calls press 'the enemy' | Fake News Or White House Manipulation?

JI Staff
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
JI Staff

IF YOU ONLY READ ONE ITEM -- Bret Stephens delivered the annual Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA last Thursday: "If a public figure tells a whopping lie once in his life, it’ll haunt him into his grave. If he lies morning, noon and night, it will become almost impossible to remember any one particular lie. Outrage will fall victim to its own ubiquity. It’s the same truth contained in Stalin’s famous remark that the death of one man is a tragedy but the death of a million is a statistic." [FullText] Watch the speech [YouTube]

"White House chief of staff says take Trump seriously when he calls press "the enemy"" -- by Reena Flores: "When Dickerson asked again whether the press was necessarily “the enemy,” Priebus responded: “I think that the media should stop with this unnamed source stuff. Put names on a piece of paper and print it. If people aren’t willing to put their name next to a quote, then the quote shouldn’t be listed.” [FaceTheNation] Bill Kristol: "Amusing, from someone who's often been an unnamed source" [Twitter]

"Fake News Or White House Manipulation?" by Ben Shapiro: "Why didn’t the White House just disown the proposal immediately upon request for comment? According to Nate Silver, "Because then they can decry the press for reporting "fake news." The White House has used this tactic several times already." There’s no excuse for going silent with the media simply in order to castigate their credibility for issuing factually true reports. No wonder nobody knows what to believe anymore." [DailyWire]

"Why Trump Needs an Enemy" by Ryan Lizza: "Last week, a senior White House official shared a candid theory with me about why President Donald Trump and his team have been adrift since November: they’ve yet to adjust to the post-election reality, and they haven’t yet learned how to operate without a single, common enemy—Hillary Clinton—to focus on. It was a frank admission that a team built for winning a campaign has so far failed at governing... the big debate inside the White House has been who to define as Trump’s “enemy.” At his press conference on Thursday, Trump appeared to settle the issue by declaring—or reigniting—a war on the media. This was the target that Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, who calls the press “the opposition party,” favored." [NewYorker]

TRUMP TUMULT: “Donald Trump fires senior national security staffer for criticizing him” by Tom McKay: “According to one source, [Craig] Deare confirmed reports that Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has significant influence over foreign policy and has worked with Bannon to design strategy in isolation from NSC directorates.” [Mic] Former Mossad chief: Maybe Flynn was thrown under the bus to protect Trump [JPost]

“A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates” by Megan Twohey and Scott Shane: “The proposal, a peace plan for Ukraine and Russia, remains, along with those pushing it: Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, who delivered the document; Felix H. Sater, a business associate who helped Mr. Trump scout deals in Russia; and a Ukrainian lawmaker When Mr. Cohen met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office in early February, he said, he left the proposal in Mr. Flynn’s office. Mr. Cohen said he was waiting for a response when Mr. Flynn was forced from his post.” [NYTimes]

John Bolton for National Security Adviser? -- by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman: “[John] Bolton does have support from two important donors to Mr. Trump, according to people briefed on the White House process: the casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson and the philanthropist Rebekah Mercer. Mr. Bolton would presumably continue the tough approach begun by Mr. Flynn of pressuring Tehran over its ballistic missile program and its sponsorship of terrorist groups.” [NYTimes]

"Trump ignores 'the grown-ups' in his Cabinet” by Eli Stokols and Josh Dawsey: “President Donald Trump this week abruptly dropped the nation's commitment to a two-state solution for Middle East peace — without reviewing the specifics of his new strategy with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. State Department officials and Tillerson's top aides learned about the president's comments in real time, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation. Tillerson himself was in the air when Trump announced the change in the longstanding U.S. position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the White House, there was little thought about notifying the nation's top diplomat because, as one senior staffer put it, "everyone knows Jared [Kushner] is running point on the Israel stuff." He has been annoyed, two sources say, but has not yet gone "off the deep end at the White House," according to one of these people. He has tried to strike a diplomatic tone. Much of that, another source said, is due to his solid personal relationship with Kushner.” [Politico]

“Trump Has No Foreign Policy” by Jon Finer: “On Israel, Trump made a confounding, Dr. Seussian statement about the peace process while standing next to a bemused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Did that mean, as many news accounts suggested, that he abandoned the longstanding U.S. commitment to Palestinian statehood? Was he simply saying, in true dealmaker fashion, that what’s good enough for the Israelis and the Palestinians is good enough for him? Was it a throwaway line to save Netanyahu some political heartburn back at home?” [Politico]

Matt Nosanchuk, former WH Jewish Liaison and State Dept. official under President Obama, tells us: "When the President speaks, one's typical reaction is to take it as a reflection of policy. But I also don't believe that this president puts the kind of thought into and preparation into it when he makes statements like that... I don't see the statement like one-state, that one comment as particularly well thought out, but it certainly on its face departed from official policy of the administration. Clearly, the subsequent statements by Ambassador Nikki Haley (on the two-state solution) doesn't suggest that it's being written into official policy. I think it remains to be seen what that means."

Does AIPAC Prefer Pence Over Trump at Policy Conference? -- by Jacob Kornbluh and Aaron Magid: “Every time Trump speaks there is a layer of unpredictability. There is no doubt of that,” Tevi Troy explained to Jewish Insider. Troy added, “Look, I think it makes sense for all involved. Pence has a long history of being very, very pro-Israel. I think if Pence speaks there still might be some people who want to protest, but I think if the AIPAC folks said we’ve got to treat the administration and the Vice President with respect, then that would probably be heeded. But, I don’t think AIPAC is as confident that the same would happen if Trump were to speak.” [JewishInsider]

“Trump, an Outsider Demanding Loyalty, Struggles to Fill Top Posts” by Peter Baker and Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “During President Trump’s transition to power, his team reached out to Elliott Abrams for help building a new administration. Mr. Abrams, a seasoned Republican foreign policy official, sent lists of possible candidates for national security jobs. One by one, the answer from the Trump team came back no. The reason was consistent: This one had said disparaging things about Mr. Trump during the campaign; that one had signed a letter opposing him. Finally, the White House asked Mr. Abrams himself to meet with the president about becoming deputy secretary of state, only to have the same thing happen — vetoed because of past criticism. Richard N. Haass, a former Republican official and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said Mr. Trump had “ruled out much of an entire generation of Republican public policy types” and alarmed others with his empowerment of Stephen K. Bannon... to shape national security." [NYTimes]

TOP TALKER: “Kerry Offered Netanyahu Regional Peace Plan in Secret 2016 Summit With al-Sissi, King Abdullah” by Barak Ravid: “When Kerry came to Israel on November 24 (2014), Netanyahu informed him that the proposals he had presented just two weeks before were no longer on the table. Kerry, who was shocked at Netanyahu’s backtrack, met with [Isaac] Herzog the same day to explore whether the possibility of Zionist Union joining the government was a realistic one. Herzog’s reply did nothing to improve Kerry’s mood Kerry left the region frustrated and angry.” [Haaretz]

KAFE KNESSET -- by Tal Shalev: Recuperating from a slight stroke just two weeks ago and struggling with negative opinion polls, the vibrant discussion of the summit brought Herzog back to the spotlight and to his element. In July, Herzog’s seat as Labor Party leader is up for grabs, and news of the summit gives Herzog the perfect explanation for... his ongoing contacts with Netanyahu: that there was a historic opportunity which justified forming a unity government. “What happened was amazing,” Herzog said today, speaking to the Conference of Presidents annual gathering in Jerusalem. “I worked with Netanyahu on a draft appendix to our agreement, which had included certain steps that were quite dramatic. Had these steps been agreed upon, namely, had he agreed at the end to go for it, it would have changed the region. Netanyahu simply reneged on basic understandings which we had. These understandings, had they been fulfilled, would have prevented the catastrophe of UN Security Council vote. History will judge Netanyahu on that failure, unfortunately,” he said. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

“Netanyahu: Trump and I agreed to form team on settlements” by Liran Levy and Elisha Ben-Kimon: “We also agreed to create a team in an area that we have not previously agreed on: I mean, of course, on settlement in Judea and Samaria," Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting "The alliance between Israel and the US has always been steadfast but, I told them there and also here in Jerusalem: This alliance has become even stronger," Prime Minister Netanyahu, who returned from Washington on Friday, added. "There is a personal connection of many years between President Trump and myself, and it is important.” [Ynet]

-- “Netanyahu told the cabinet... that a joint team led by Israel's ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer and Trump's adviser Jason Greenblatt will seek to reach understandings on the subject.” [Haaretz]

"Minister: Israel expects Trump to keep vow to move embassy to Jerusalem" by Yonah Jeremy Bob: "The government expects President Trump will meet his obligations to his voters and move the [US] embassy to Jerusalem,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Monday... She added, “I definitely think the embassy should move to Jerusalem and hope he will keep his promise.” Shaked also addressed... the drop in support for Israel among US Democrats... “I am concerned aboutdecreasing support for Israel in the Democratic party. I almost didn’t sleep at night after I saw a poll two weeks ago” of dropping support – calling the drop “a strategic issue for Israel.” [JPost]

“Top Jewish American Leader Gives Thumbs Up to David Friedman as Israel Envoy” by Judy Maltz: “Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem, Stephen Greenberg, the chairman of the the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, said he was impressed by the performance of U.S. President Donald Trump's pick for Israel ambassador during last Thursday’s confirmation hearing “He is very well thought of as a creditor-debtor lawyer,” said Greenberg. “He has the confidence of the president. Certainly he is knowledgeable, and he is articulate. "I think he has made some statements that he has come back and modified, and I think that given his background, his family lineage, his love for this country, and his general intellect – he has all the makings.”” [Haaretz]

HEARD YESTERDAY - President Reuven Rivlin at the opening dinner of the Conference of Presidents’ annual leadership mission: "We cannot allow Israel to be a political football between different sides, between different ideologies. Support for Israel must and will always remain a bipartisan issue. I also want to send from here, my warm wishes to President Trump, and I hope he is able to visit us soon.” [Pic]

-- Lapid stresses need for bipartisan U.S. support: “It’s clear that anti-Trump sentiment is a big issue in the Jewish community, we’re at the risk of losing a generation. The majority, around 70%, are Democrats and that increases with young people. We’re not doing a good enough job and some of it is because internal political issues – foreign affairs are split between six ministers and public diplomacy between five. It is mishandled in too many ways. It is OK to celebrate that we have what seems to be a friendlier administration but we have to remember that one of the sources of Israel’s strength in the United States is that we were always bipartisan. It will be a huge mistake to affiliate ourselves with one party. The Prime Minister is considered, not entirely through any fault of his own, to be an Israeli Republican and if this is the case we have to work harder on approaching Democrats not only in the House and the Senate but on campuses, in cities and across states. It should be a joint venture between Israel and American Jewish leaders to make sure we remain a bipartisan issue.” [KafeKnesset]

“A top Jewish leader urges Trump act against anti-Semitism” by The Associated Press: “Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, says: "I think that the president helps set the tone for a country. ... I'm hopeful that what he said about ... addressing hate and racism of all kinds in American society will be translated into clear action." Hoenlein spoke in Jerusalem on Sunday.” [AP]

“Vice President Pence visits former Nazi concentration camp” by Kevin Liptak: “It also came the same week that President Donald Trump himself faced two public questions about a rise in anti-Semitic attacks, which he downplayed, refused to condemn, and challenged as an effort to undermine his presidency Pence's visit was meant as a public show of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust, many of whom passed through Dachau on their way to death at Auschwitz Pence didn't offer a specific message during his visit Instead he quietly toured the cell blocks and other buildings with a guide and a survivor, Abba Naor.” [CNN]

Pence tweeted after the visit: “Moving and emotional tour of Dachau today. We can never forget atrocities against Jews and others in the Holocaust.” [Twitter]

HEARD OVER THE WEEKEND -- Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, defended Trump’s refusal to acknowledge and address the rise of anti-Semitic incidents since his election. “Of course, the President should speak out against Anti- Semitism. But we shouldn’t select the venue for him,” Rabbi Hier said in an interview with CNN’s John Berman. “Maybe we should say to the President at a time that he’s comfortable in the very near future,” Hier suggested in his interview with CNN. “He should address Anti-Semitism and bigotry. But let’s be very clear, Anti-Semitism and bigotry preceded President Trump.” [JewishInsider]

"Why Trump Can't Answer Questions About Anti-Semitism" by Peter Beinart: "Presidents are supposed to show empathy for their anxious constituents. But when it comes to anti-Semitism, the only person Trump shows empathy for is himself." [TheAtlantic]

“Is anti-Semitism truly on the rise in the U.S.? It’s not so clear” by Mark Oppenheimer: “While there is real anti-Semitism, we have no reliable statistics available to show there’s been a rise in anti-Semitism since Trump’s election. And while it’s easy for some to blame Trump for all acts of bigotry, we should discern what’s new from what we’re simply noticing for the first time In any case, there is no good statistical evidence (yet, anyway) that Americans have grown more anti-Semitic in recent months.” [WashPost]

ON THE HILL: ”U.S. senators consider sanctions against Iran for missile development” by Andrea Shalal and John Irish: "I think it is now time for the Congress to take Iran on directly in terms of what they’ve done outside the nuclear programme," Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the Munich Security Conference Senator Christopher Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said had backed the nuclear deal in the explicit understanding that it would not prevent Congress from taking actions against Iran outside the nuclear issue... “I don't necessarily think there's going to be partisan division over whether or not we have the ability as a Congress to speak on issues outside of the nuclear agreement." [Reuters] Saudi Arabia, Israel present de facto united front against Iran [Reuters]

DNC WATCH: "Will Keith Ellison Move the Democrats Left?" by Vinson Cunningham: "In 2006, when opponents of Ellison’s congressional campaign called attention to his writings, he distanced himself from the Nation and renounced Farrakhan as an anti-Semite and a bigot. He told me that he’d thought it was a settled matter, and seemed perhaps navely surprised that it had become an issue for him again. Hours after the CNN story ran, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement saying that the old writings were “disqualifying” in the D.N.C. race, and the Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban called Ellison “an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual.”" [NewYorker]

"Barack Obama’s presidential library may need $1.5 billion" by Richard Johnson: "The Obama Center is due to be so expensive because it will require the construction of both a presidential library and a museum about the lives of Barack and Michelle Obama. And federal requirements now stipulate that former presidents must have larger endowments to pay for annual operating costs at the libraries. Husband-and-wife architectural team Tod Williams and Billie Tsien noted that it will be difficult to raise such a huge sum because Obama scrupulously declined to do much fundraising while he was still in office." [NYPost]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Tycoon Patrick Drahi Takes on the Cable Cowboy [Bloomberg] Monzo, a UK digital-only bank, is closing in on new funding led by U.S.-based Thrive Capital [TechCrunch] Israel's Pivot To Asia Unfolds With OurCrowd Move To Taiwan [Forbes]

STATE VISIT: "James Packer’s no show as pal ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu visits" by Will Glasgow: "Sources say Packer is in America on business. His will be a notable non-attendance during Bibi’s three-night Australian stay. Remember, the billionaire made sure he was there early in 2015 when his prime ministerial buddy addressed the US congress in Washington... Private jets are due to fly en masse to Sydney airport as prominent members of the Melbourne Jewish community mark the occasion. Expected Melburnians along for the Sydney events — which include a business lunch where Netanyahu will be joined by PM Malcolm Turnbull — include Chadstone shopping king John Gandel (worth $5.4bn), retail mogul Solomon Lew (worth $2.31bn) and Jeanne Pratt (matriarch of the $10.53bn Pratt family empire)." [TheAustralian]

SPOTLIGHT: "The Rise and Decline of the Hedge Fund Billionaire" by Gretchen Morgenson: "[Nathan] Vardi pointed to the history of hedge fund managers who have appeared on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. In 2006, there were 13 billionaires on the roster whose wealth was generated by their oversight of hedge funds... By 2015 the number of hedge fund billionaires on the list had more than doubled, to 32... But last year, the winds changed. Four managers fell off the list of the 400 richest Americans: William A. Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management; David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital; Marc Lasry of Avenue Capital Group and owner of the Milwaukee Bucks; and Nelson Peltz, of Trian Fund Management. All are still billionaires, according to the Forbes estimates, but they are no longer among the 400 wealthiest Americans." [NYTimes]

“Trump's In-Laws May Put Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac in Tough Spot” by Joe Light: “Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, said Kushner would comply with applicable ethics rules and would recuse himself from any discussions about overhauling Fannie and Freddie, which lawmakers have sought to do in recent years Kushner Cos. says Jared’s White House position won’t have any effect on the family business. "The election has not changed Kushner Companies’ relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," said Kushner Cos. spokesman James Yolles.” [Bloomberg] Kushner Took a Stricter Approach on Ethics Than Trump, Emails Show [NBCNews]

"Why Joshua Kushner nixed bid to buy Miami Marlins" by Josh Kosman: "Loria was asking $1.8 billion for the Marlins, and Kushner’s offer of around $1.3 billion was looking to the outside world like a bargain. But, according to baseball insiders, it was not. A rival suitor said the most he would offer would be less than $1 billion, since the Marlins lose roughly $30 million a year, already have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and have a new stadium — meaning there are no cuts to be made and no expansion possibilities to attract more revenue." [NYPost]

PROFILE: "Jake Tapper: From Jewish Day School Troublemaker To Trump’s Worst Nightmare" by Nathan Guttman: “Those who knew the 47-year-old anchor of CNN’s “The Lead” back at Jewish day school just outside Philadelphia are not surprised to see where Tapper ended up. He has always been this way: outspoken, irreverent and very, very confident His upbringing was fiercely Jewish: He attended high school at Akiba Hebrew Academy... and Camp Ramah... Back in his Akiba Hebrew Academy days, Tapper was more about the mischief than about studying. Years later, fellow students and teachers still remember him clearly: some because he was class president, others for his cartooning talent (in the school paper and on the gym wall), but most for the pranks All joking aside, [Hazan Harold] Messinger thinks Akiba might have helped Tapper develop his famous chutzpah.” [Forward]

BIRTHDAYS: Born in Tehran, Iran, emigrated to the US in 1950, co-owner of NYC-based TF Cornerstone, owner of 8 million square feet and 7,000 apartments in NYC and DC, Kamran Thomas Elghanayan turns 72... University Professor of Social Science, Anthropology and Italian Studies at Brown University, winner of a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, David Kertzer turns 69... Founder of 18 Media, Inc. whose titles include the Gentry lifestyle magazines directed at affluent readers in the San Francisco Bay Area, M. Sloane Citron turns 61... Cantor at University Synagogue in West LA's Brentwood area, Kerith Carolyn Spencer-Shapiro turns 47... Comedienne, actress, and writer, best known for portraying Gina Linetti on Fox's series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," Chelsea Peretti turns 39... Former Major League Baseball starting pitcher (2006-2008) for the Houston Astros and the Colorado Rockies, Jason Hirsh turns 35... Ethiopian-born Israeli fashion model and television personality, winnner of the Israeli version of "Big Brother," Tahounia Rubel turns 29... Levi Shemtov (but not the DC Rabbi) turns 24... SVP of News at CBS-owned local television stations, David Friend... Senior Program Officer at Maimonides Fund, Aimee Weiss... Andrea Kachuck... David Storobin...

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