Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: February 12, 2018

Harvard's new president | Dem lawmakers on why party sat for Trump's Jerusalem line at SOTU | How to ship a cat from Israel to Pakistan

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Lawrence Bacow speaks after being introduced as the 29th president of Harvard University on Sunday, February 11, 2018, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Lawrence Bacow speaks after being introduced as the 29th president of Harvard University on Sunday, February 11, 2018, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Credit: Bill Sikes/AP
JI Staff

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WIRED COVER STORY: "Inside Facebook's Hellish Two Years—and Mark Zuckerberg's Struggle to Fix it All" by Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein: "WIRED spoke with 51 current or former Facebook employees for this article, many of whom did not want their names used... The stories varied, but most people told the same basic tale: of a company, and a CEO, whose techno-optimism has been crushed as they’ve learned the myriad ways their platform can be used for ill. Of an election that shocked Facebook, even as its fallout put the company under siege. Of a series of external threats, defensive internal calculations, and false starts that delayed Facebook’s reckoning with its impact on global affairs and its users’ minds. And—in the tale’s final chapters—of the company’s earnest attempt to redeem itself." [Wired] See the cover of a bruised Zuckerberg [Wired]

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Schumer: ‘We are in big trouble’ if support for Israel fades -- by Jacob Kornbluh: During a speech at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York's annual congressional breakfast yesterday, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer addressed the recent Pew survey on support for Israel among Democrats and Republicans. “One of the great things I am worried about, as a defender of Israel my whole life, is that support for Israel is not as strong as it once was. We see it on the far left, we see it on the far right, and we need to speak out strongly against both If support for Israel among the younger generation fades, we are in big trouble, big trouble. The young people don't know and don't realize it because Israel, through its own hard work, perseverance, courage and intelligence, has made itself more secure, but that security could go away very quickly. And so we have to alert the young people that Israel is still in danger. We also have to alert them that the Palestinian side does not really believe - too many of them - in a two-state solution. They don't believe there should be any Jewish state in the Middle East - that's the truth.”

Schumer added that passing the Taylor Force Act by unanimous consent will send a message that support for Israel remains bipartisan. “We have to make it happen because it is so, so important. The House could pass this bill by unanimous consent. I have checked with every Democratic Senator -- not a single Democrat would block it. There’s some dispute among the Republicans of the wording, of what kind of humanitarian aid to allow, and so that's being worked out, but this will pass very very soon, and as Minority Leader, I'm doing everything I can to pass it.” [Video

LAST WEEK ON THE HILL: "Chuck Schumer: Orthodox Jews should do more to call out Trump for failing to condemn neo-Nazis" by Ron Kampeas: "An otherwise congenial meeting between Jewish organizational officials and Democratic senators included a moment when Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said Orthodox Jews should do more to call out President Donald Trump for failing to confront hate in the United States. Schumer, D-N.Y., described what he depicted as a tepid reaction to Trump’s equivocation following the neo-Nazi and white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August... Members of the Orthodox group present at the meeting on Wednesday, the Orthodox Union, responded by saying that it and other groups had expressed concerns about Trump’s remarks in a timely fashion after the demonstration." [JTA

Hikind: Schumer’s Jab At Orthodox Jews Is ‘Hypocritical Chutzpah’: “Singling out Orthodox Jews was distasteful, shameful and arrogant,” said Hikind, a fellow Democrat. “This statement of Senator Schumer’s was nothing less than his playing to his progressive liberal base... Where was Schumer when Linda Sarsour showed support for terrorists and undermined the existence of Israel? Or when Black Lives Matter adopted anti-Israel platforms? Let the good Senator work on alleviating anti-Israel animus within segments of the Democratic party." [Facebook

--Jeryl Bier in the WSJ on Thursday: "In 2006, during his first run for Congress from Minnesota, Mr. Ellison conceded he had worked with the Nation of Islam for 18 months before the October 1995 Million Man March. In a letter, he assured Jewish groups: “I reject and condemn the anti-Semitic statements and actions of the Nation of Islam [and] Louis Farrakhan.”... In September 2013, however, Messrs. Ellison and Farrakhan dined together. The occasion was a visit by Iran’s newly elected President Hassan Rouhani to the United Nations." [WSJ]

Jewish Insider's Jacob Kornbluh asked several New York Democrats, who attended the JCRC breakfast, if they are worried about a decline in support for Israel among progressive Democrats and whether it was appropriate for the vast majority of Democrats to remain seated while the rest of the chamber gave Trump a standing ovation for his Jerusalem decision at the State of the Union?

Rep. Tom Suozzi: “I am constantly working on trying to address that issue. We need to change the conversation so that Democrats recognize the Jews have been oppressed - because a lot of times, Democrats want to emphasize with people they feel are oppressed and there’s been a movement to try and portray the Palestinians as being oppressed, but in reality, it’s the Jews that have been oppressed. Democrats, especially those from a minority background, have to be educated about the oppression Jews have felt and have been subjected to for literally thousands of years so that people recognize that Israel is our best friend, they share our values, they support democracy, rule of law, and do everything we would want any country to ever do.”

--Suozzi on SOTU: “That was not about Jerusalem and that was not about Israel. It was all about Trump. A lot of things that Trump said in his speech are things that many Democrats would agree with. The problem is who is the messenger. And it’s hard to separate the message from the messenger.”  

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney: “Support is not dropping among this Democrat. No, I don’t think it’s dropping, nor should it, certainly not among the Democrats I serve with. I think it’s fair to worry about the rise of anti-Semitism on both the left and the right. We’ve certainly seen it on the right in place like Charlottesville, but we also see it on the left with the BDS movement. Both parties need to stand tall, support Israel and fight anti-Semitism wherever it appears.” On SOTU: “I wouldn't read too much into the State of the Union theatrics. It’s more show than substance.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler: “There’s a long-term worrying trend, and you have to distinguish between Democratic public officials and people who say they are registered Democrats. Democratic public officials, almost entirely, remain very supportive of Israel. What worries me is 15 years from now - people who are in college and graduate school will in 15 years from now maybe be in public office and what their attitude is going to be. One doesn’t know. But a continued education effort, there’s no substitute for that.”

“Democrats were sitting when Trump spoke about almost everything. I don’t think most people study who is standing and who is sitting down at what point in the State of the Union address. I don’t think that has any impact whatsoever on anything.”

Rep. Eliot Engel: “I didn't sit. I can only speak for myself. I stood up and applauded, and many Democrats did.”

TOP-OP: "We All Live on Campus Now" by Andrew Sullivan: "Over the last year, the most common rebuttal to my intermittent coverage of campus culture has been: Why does it matter? These are students, after all. They’ll grow up once they leave their cloistered, neo-Marxist safe spaces. The real world isn’t like that. You’re exaggerating anyway. And so on. I certainly see the point... The reason I don’t agree with this is because I believe ideas matter. When elite universities shift their entire worldview away from liberal education as we have long known it toward the imperatives of an identity-based “social justice” movement, the broader culture is in danger of drifting away from liberal democracy as well." [NYMag]

TRANSITION: "Harvard University Names Lawrence Bacow Its 29th President: "Bacow served as president of Tufts University for a decade and is currently a leader-in-residence at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Center for Public Leadership... Bacow said he also plans to continue to work to protect students at Harvard who were brought to the country as children and living here illegally. "We have to do everything we can to protect and support those students who are here, who know no other country," he said, pointing to his family history. The 66-year-old is a native of Pontiac, Michigan, and son of immigrants — his father was a refugee from the pogroms of Eastern Europe and his mother was a survivor of Auschwitz who arrived in the United States after World War II at the age of 19, the only surviving Jewish member of her town." [AP]

Harvard Kennedy School Names Dina H. Powell as Senior Fellow: Former Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell has been named a non-resident Senior Fellow at The Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Powell will share her expertise on U.S. foreign policy, the Middle East, and international politics during the coming year. [BelferCenter]

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST -- "Tension Rises Between Israel and Iran After Syria Clash" by Rory Jones: "Israel’s attempts to stop Iran and Hezbollah from setting up on its northern border are likely to lead to further confrontation, defense experts say... “There is a determination by Iran to build a military force in Syria and Lebanon and there is determination by Israel not to let it happen,” Amos Yadlin, director of the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies and a former air force general, told reporters... “And the two vectors are colliding.” [WSJ

"Israel Believes Syria Strikes Took Out Nearly Half of Assad’s Air Defenses" by Amos Harel: "In Saturday’s exchange of fire Syria scored a rare success, downing an Israeli F-16 fighter jet with an antiaircraft missile, apparently taking advantage of a vulnerability in the way the crew flew the jet. Israel however destroyed nearly half of President Bashar Assad’s air defenses, according to military estimates." [HaaretzCNN The drone shot down by Israel was an Iranian copy of a U.S. craft, Israel says [WashPost]

"No one wins after Israel’s strikes, but Syrians definitely lose" by Ishaan Tharoor: "The incident gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing a potential corruption indictment at home, a chance to reprise his favored role as a champion of Israeli national security." [WashPost

"U.S. Secretary of Defense: Israel Has 'Absolute Right to Defend Itself' From Iran" by Amir Tibon: "Speaking to reporters before flying to a work visit in Europe, [James] Mattis said... that the U.S. did not have any "military involvement" in the events that took place on Saturday... "Israel has an absolute right to defend themselves. They don't have to wait until their citizens are dying under attack before they actually address that issue," he concluded. Mattis is the first senior American official to directly discuss the events that took place over the weekend." [Haaretz

TRUMP MISSING IN ACTION? "Is This the Start of an Israeli-Iran War?" -- by Marc Schulman: "An additional lesson learned today was the complete absence of the United States. Not since the 1950s has America been such an irrelevant actor in events in this part of the Middle East. Yesterday morning, the President of the United States was busy with irrelevant tweets. In an unusual move the Department of Defense was the department issuing a statement defending Israel's right to defend itself." [Newsweek

The White House released a statement Saturday night: "Israel is a staunch ally of the United States. We support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria. We call on Iran and its allies to cease provocative actions and work toward regional peace." 

Earlier in the day, experts explained the silence -- “This is a symptom of a White House in crisis,” Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, told The Daily Beast. “President Trump is obviously distracted by the Russian investigation and the White House staffing debacle... The U.S.-Israel relationship has generally been managed under Trump by only three or four people, which is just not a viable way to manage real time crises...” ... “The United States is no longer the region’s 911,” Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York, summed the day up... “It started with Obama and Trump is essentially continuing this policy, albeit with a different music... So it should come as no surprise, nor should anyone whine ‘abrogation.’” [DailyBeast]

Martin Indyk
"The White House hasn’t said a word. For 6 months as this conflict was building Trump paid no attention. Bibi had to go 7 times to Moscow with cap in hand. When it comes to political symbolism Trump is a hero. When it comes to Israel’s strategic interests in Syria he’s MIA." [Twitter]

DRIVING THE WEEK -- Tillerson’s Mideast Trip Was Already Daunting. Then Israel and Iran Collided” by Gardiner Harris and Margaret Coker: “An intense military clash between Israel and Iran over the weekend presented Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson with an unexpected crisis as he headed to the Middle East on a five-nation tour that was already shaping up to be the most challenging trip of his tenure He is forgoing a visit to Jerusalem, perhaps because Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is still Israel’s principal American intermediary...” [NYTimes

“Tillerson 'Keeping Close Tabs' on Syria Escalation, but No Plans to Visit Israel During Mideast Tour” by Amir Tibon: "The are no plans on this short trip for the secretary to make a stop in Israel," [a] State Department official said. "He is keeping close tabs on the situation.” [Haaretz]  "Tillerson has "not ruled out" adding a stop in Israel in order to help diffuse the situation, a State Department official said." [JPost]

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): "Tillerson should change his schedule and go to Israel on Middle East trip. Make clear we will support Israel's ability to defend its borders, increase funding for Israel's protection." [Twitter

Dan Senor: "Alas — Admin officials tell me that Tillerson won’t squeeze an Israel stop on his Middle East trip. They say he’s strongly against it. These Admin officials think it’s a bad decision — to be in the region right now but not be in Israel." [Twitter]

CRACK OF ‘DAYLIGHT’ -- Trump questions Israel's interest in making peace: ”President Donald Trump questioned Israel's interest in making peace with the Palestinians in an interview published Sunday, spotlighting its West Bank settlements as a complicating factor "Right now, I would say the Palestinians are not looking to make peace... And I am not necessarily sure that Israel is looking to make peace. So we are just going to have to see what happens," Trump was quoted as saying "The settlements are something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace, so I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements," he said.” [AP

ANOTHER NOTABLE COMMENT -- Q: What are your thoughts about U.S.-Israel relations right now? "I think they are great. I think Bibi Netanyahu is a terrific person,  a terrific leader, I think the relationships are good, but I think they will be a lot better if they ever get to making a peace deal I think we are probably closer than ever before. But I feel much better if we can actually make a deal in terms of peace." [IsraelHayom

"Netanyahu: Annexation of West Bank Settlements Being Discussed With U.S." by Chaim Levinson: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that for some time now he has been holding talks with the U.S. administration about the possibility of expanding Israeli sovereignty to Israeli settlements in the West Bank." [Haaretz]

RJC VEGAS RECAP -- "Desperate Republicans turn to Adelson" by Alex Isenstadt: "Confronting the potential loss of one or both chambers of Congress in the midterms, and struggling to raise money against an energized Democratic base, the party is desperate for Adelson’s millions. So the praise at the annual Republican Jewish Coalition conference he hosts overflowed, even though the billionaire, attending the funeral of a close friend in Israel, wasn’t on hand..." [Politico]

"Jewish Republicans reach uneasy truce with Trump" by Katie Glueck: "Many donors who have long been fixtures of the organization were absent—for a wide range of reasons, but in part, one explained, because of “mixed feelings on RJC’s embrace of [the] Trump administration.” Yet those who did show up were vocally supportive of Trump’s agenda... “I think they’re feeling thrilled,” said former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, the chairman of the RJC... “If you look at the change of what has happened with Israel, in terms of moving the capital to Jerusalem, the tough approach to Iran, holding the UN finally accountableI think there’s a great deal of enthusiasm in the center-right, pro-Israel community about President Trump.” 

“Donald Trump’s style is not a good fit for Jewish Republicans, and because of his insensitive comments during both the campaign and in Charlottesville, there has been concern about his style,” said [a] major GOP donor... “Having said that, people are very happy with his actions in office.” [McClatchyDC]

2018 WATCH -- "Sen. Bob Corker's second thoughts on retiring" by John King and Rebecca Schatz: "Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has had conversations with a few colleagues in recent days about whether he should reconsider his decision to leave Congress and not seek re-election this year... Whether it is a serious reconsideration, or just chatter with colleagues is the subject of some disagreement. There are also conflicting accounts of whether Corker has initiated the conversations, or whether he has had them with colleagues who are pushing him to think again." [CNN]

RUMOR MILL: "Michael Oren pursued to head Jewish Agency" by Gil Hoffman: "Jewish leaders from the United States, Europe and Israel have expressed interest in having Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Michael Oren replace Natan Sharansky as Jewish Agency chairman." [JPost]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: How Joseph Lubin Cofounded Ethereum And Scored A Billion-Dollar Fortune [Forbes]  How Adam Neumann's WeWork Has Perfectly Captured the Millennial Id [TheAtlantic]  Trailblazer Orna Berry steps down from Dell EMC in Israel [JPost

SPOTLIGHT -- "John Galliano Opens Up" by Elisa Lipsky-Karasz: "For the past three years, [John] Galliano, 57, has been creative director at Maison Margiela, the fashion house founded in 1988 by avant-garde designer Martin Margiela... The space is just four miles but a world away from the primly perfect dove-gray hallways at the Avenue Montaigne headquarters of Dior, which Galliano helped build into a pulsing $1.1 billion empire—until he was fired days before the fall/winter 2012 show when a video of him drunkenly making anti-Semitic remarks at a Parisian bar became international news.... He says he has been sober for nearly seven years—he attended rehab after losing his post—and in that time has tried to face his demons head-on. “I said what I said. I didn’t mean it,” he says now. “And I continue to atone. Some people have forgiven me, and some people will never forgive me. But that’s something that I have to take on board.” He says he is also still grappling with legal issues stemming from the incident." [WSJ

PROFILE: "Atlanta’s #BillionDollarLawyer Is Looking Out for Your Favorite Rappers" by Joe Coscarelli: "Backstage at concerts, [Drew] Findling often finds himself being approached by young people... who thank him for all that he’s done for the culture... This is the surreal life of the #BillionDollarLawyer, a reputation and hashtag Mr. Findling developed years after becoming an indispensable, behind-the-scenes fixture in the world of Atlanta rap — which, with the rise of the trap sound and dominance of streaming, is basically the heart of the musical universe... Findling was raised Jewish on Long Island by a single mother, on a steady diet of Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and peace rallies. At 17, he moved to Atlanta on a running scholarship and never left." [NYTimes

REMEMBERING: "Melvyn Weiss Was Ready to File Class-Action Lawsuits When Corporations Stumbled" by James Hagerty: "His Milberg Weiss law firm obtained billions of dollars of judgments and earned enough fees to allow Mr. Weiss to afford a 12,000-square-foot waterfront home, decked with art by Picasso, on Long Island... Critics said the class-action suits were akin to extortion... Mr. Weiss’s friends said he served society by doing free legal work to help Holocaust survivors recover wealth seized during World War II and by helping young lawyers pay off student loans so they could take low-paying public-service jobs. Mr. Weiss died Feb. 2 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 82. The son of an accountant, Mr. Weiss specialized in discovering lapses by auditors. Accounting firms “generally play a three-monkey role,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 1985. “They speak, hear and see no evil. And they become the handmaidens of senior management of major corporations who pay the freight for the audit.” [WSJ]

TALK OF THE NATION: "The Government Gets Into the Church-Rebuilding Business" by Emma Green: "Tucked among the provisions in the budget bill passed by Congress on Friday are new rules about how FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, works with houses of worship. According to the new law, religious nonprofits can’t be excluded from disaster aid just because of their religious nature... The Orthodox Union, which represents Modern Orthodox Jewish synagogues and rabbis, said the law will bring “a new era of fairness for disaster-stricken synagogues, churches, and other houses of worship.”" [TheAtlantic]

SCENE FRIDAY NIGHT IN NYC --Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, accompanied by his cabinet and some 200 guests, attended Shabbat dinner hosted by Rabbi Mendy and Frumie Weitman at Chabad-Lubavitch's Jewish Latin Center in Manhattan. Israeli Consul General of NY Dani Dayan spoke of Guatemalan diplomat Jorge García Granados who worked at the UN for Israel's independence and cast the very first vote for the creation of the state of Israel. He also recounted of his father's work as an Israeli diplomat in Guatemala and showed everyone the Order of the Quetzal, Guatemala's highest award, which was awarded to his father.

SPOTTED: Guatemalan Ambassador to the UN Jorge Skinner-Klee, Muriel Seligson, UJA’s Mark Medin, Izzy Tapoohi, Andrew Kleiman, Melanie Robbins, Alexander Rosemberg, Siggy Flicker, and Rabbi Motti Seligson.

HOLLYWOOD: "Larry David’s daughter is making her way to TV, millennial style" by Emily Smith: "Cazzie David — the much buzzed-about comedian daughter of Larry David — will soon be following her dad to TV and is being hyped as the “next Lena Dunham.” Sources tell Page Six there’s a bidding war to bring Cazzie’s hip Web series “Eighty-Sixed” to the small screen .A Hollywood insider says that Hulu and Amazon are interested in developing her series as a TV project, and that there have been meetings with HBO — the home of Larry’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”" [PageSix

DESSERT -- "Kosher Asian Restaurant With ‘Pastrami Ramen’ and Oyster-Sake Bar Open: "Boru Boru, a Kosher Asian comfort food restaurant, opened on Sunday at 774 Amsterdam Avenue at 98th Street. There’s a wide range of food, from Korean fried wings to pastrami ramen to shaved vegetable salad. This is how they explain it on the website: “We’re inspired by the streets of the Lower East Side and the Bowery and the many tastes that have existed here since the 1920s. We incorporate these cultures – Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Eastern European – in everything we do.”" [WestSideRag]

Virgin Atlantic removes 'Palestinian' from in-flight dish description after complaints from Israel-supporting customers" by Helen Coffey: "The dish – a mix of Maftoul and other couscous, tomatoes and cucumber seasoned with parsley, mint and lemon vinaigrette – was formerly called “Palestinian couscous salad” on the menu. However, the name has since been changed to “couscous salad” after various complaints. Some social media users threatened to boycott the airline, accusing Virgin of being “terrorist sympathisers."" [Independent]

"How I Moved My Cat From Israel To Pakistan" by Diaa Hadid: "I recently hunched over my desk lunch and typed: How to get a cat from Israel to Pakistan... Most of my worldly possessions — and my cat — were in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, where I was previously based as a Mideast correspondent for The New York Times... Finally, through the company Animal Airways, I reached Eytan Kreiner, an Israeli veterinarian. I explained the pickle I was in. "Don't worry. We are experts in taking animals to enemy countries," he said in a thick Israeli accent. I imagined an aged Mossad operative. "We just took a dog to Iran," he said. "We have an underground network of vets who help us. Everybody is sympathetic to animals. Even enemies." Kreiner said he could fly my cat from Israel to a third country. They would change his papers and then fly him to Pakistan..." [NPR

BIRTHDAYS: Prime Minister of Israel (1999-2001), Deputy Prime Minister (2009-2013), Defense Minister (2007-2013), highly decorated IDF soldier and general, Ehud Barak turns 76... Commercial director in the Inglewood and Beverly Hills offices of Keller Williams Realty, he is also a principal at Westside Realty Advisors, Gary Aminoff turns 81... Best selling author, known for children's and young adult fiction, Judy Sussman Blume turns 80... Author, former member of the Knesset (1992-2003) and then chair of the Tel Aviv City Council (2008-2013), daughter of Moshe Dayan, Yael Dayan turns 79... Periodontist in Newark, Delaware, Barry S. Kayne, DDS turns 74... Economist, physicist, legal scholar and libertarian theorist, his father was Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, David D. Friedman turns 73... Google's computer genius, author, inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil turns 70... Esther Dickman...

Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks and the President of Disney-ABC Television Group, former President of ABC News, Ben Sherwood turns 54... Film director, Darren Aronofsky turns 49... Comic book author and illustrator, Judd Winick turns 48... Former MLB player, he is now the program director and owner of London, Ontario-based Centrefield Sports, Adam Stern turns 38... NYC-based reporter for the Wall Street Journal who covers management trends and chief executives, Rachel Feintzeig turns 33... Media strategist at NYC-based Stu Loeser & Co., she worked previously for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in both her NYC and Washington offices, Anna Miroff turns 25 (h/ts Playbook)...

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