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FLORIDA MASSACRE -- Jewish student identified among dead in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting -- by Graham Lanktree: "Student Jamie Guttenberg is the first confirmed fatality. Local outlet ABC News 10 reported that Guttenberg’s parents were notified that she died in the shooting after they had shared pictures of her on social media in hopes of locating her amidst the panic. Guttenberg’s Facebook page has since been turned into a memorial. Her brother Jesse Guttenberg is reported to be alive." [Newsweek; Local10]
-- "Rabbi Bradd Boxman of Kol Tikvah, a Reform congregation in the town inland from Boca Raton, said he knew of at least four Jewish high school students among the wounded, including three from his congregation. They were in area hospitals and had undergone surgery." [JTA]
Sen. Chuck Schumer: "Another shooting in our schools, today at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Yes, our children are resilient, but this is not a burden they should ever have to bear. My heart aches for these children & their families. #StopGunViolence" [Twitter]
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee: "Just waking up in Israel to news of heartbreaking school shooting in FL; Reminded that Israel pretty much eliminated it by placing highly trained people strategically to spot the one common thread--not the weapon, but a person with intent. #PrayForParkland" [Twitter]
COMING SOON -- President Trump will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office next month when the Israeli leader visits DC for the annual AIPAC Policy Conference (March 4-6). This will be their fourth meeting since Trump took office. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, and possibly Vice President Mike Pence, will represent the administration at the annual gathering.
A White House official tells us... "The President has a tremendous relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu and looks forward to meeting with him. This was a long planned meeting."
REPORT -- Trump and Netanyahu put annexation row behind them: "An official told Israel’s Hadashot news that the annexation kerfuffle “is already water under the bridge and has no consequence to our relationship with Netanyahu.”" [ToI]
SPOTTED LAST NIGHT: Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer on United 84 from Newark to Tel Aviv.
BUZZ ON BALFOUR -- "Israel’s Netanyahu Absorbs Fresh Political Shocks" by Rory Jones: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, battling corruption allegations that threaten to bring down his government, is arguing that he is the best person to keep Israel safe amid sharply rising tensions with its Middle East foes... Mr. Netanyahu’s strong response this past weekend to Iran’s breach of Israeli airspace has bolstered the leader’s security credentials, said Yehudit Auerbach, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University... “Even among his rivals, he’s known as ‘Mr. Security,’ ” Ms. Auerbach said. “There’s no alternative leader who can play the role managing relations around the world, and especially in the Middle East.”" [WSJ] Netanyahu, Linked to $300,000 in Bribes, Says He Won't Quit [NYTimes]
"Israel’s Netanyahu may weather corruption allegations for now, but a storm is brewing" by Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash: "Few expect Netanyahu not to fight to the bitter end. The prime minister and his wife are “addicted to power,” said Ben Caspit, the author of two books about Netanyahu... “He does not think he did anything wrong, and he really believes that no one else can lead Israel, and he cannot be himself anywhere else but here as the prime minister of Israel,” Caspit added." [WashPost]
Alon Pinkus, a former Israeli Consul General in New York, tells us... "Ostensibly, Netanyahu has not been indicted yet and in any case innocent until proven otherwise, but his ability and legitimacy to carry out policy and make decisions is by nature impeded and restricted. His standing in the world, despite what he likes to think and how he brags about it, has never been high. However, this weakens him considerably in terms of how he is perceived and his political durability and longevity."
VIEW FROM DC -- "Trump Will Be the Big Loser If Netanyahu Falls" by Zev Chafets: " Netanyahu is, for better or worse, one of the world’s most important statesmen. On matters pertaining to the Middle East, he has been President Donald Trump’s mentor, guru and partner. In some ways, his senior partner... He is a trusted and reliable go-between for Washington and Moscow..." [BloombergView]
DRIVING THE CONVO -- "US Secretary of State meets key Hezbollah allies in Lebanon" by Andrea Rosa: "Tillerson was expected to discuss the heightened tensions in his talks with the country’s top officials, including President Michel Aoun, Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri — who all maintain close relations with the militant Hezbollah group... Aoun, who kept Tillerson waiting for several minutes at the palace ahead of their meeting, said he asked Tillerson to work on preventing what he said were ongoing Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty and said that Lebanon rejects Israeli claims over parts of the countries’ maritime border. It was not clear why Tillerson was left waiting, but he arrived at the palace earlier than scheduled. At his meeting with Berri, a pro-Hezbollah politician, one of the photographers asked the men to shake hands. Berri laughed and said: “Why do you need that?” They then looked at each other, chuckled and obliged." [AP]
Ahead of Beirut visit, Tillerson says Hezbollah 'part of political process' in Lebanon: "We know that Lebanese Hezbollah is influenced by Iran. This is influence that we think is unhelpful in Lebanon's long-term future," Tillerson said at a press conference in Jordan. "We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon." Later, US Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein said however that Lebanon "would be better off without Hezbollah's terrorism and malign influence." "We will continue our efforts at strengthening those institutions that bolster Lebanon's sovereignty and stability." [DailyMail]
HEARD THE OTHER DAY -- State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert compares Israel to her best friend Julie when explaining why Tillerson skipped Israel on his Mideast tour: "We have a strong relationship with the Israeli people and the Government of Israel. There is no question about that... I kind of liken that to my relationship with my best friend from junior high school, Julie," Nauert said. "She lives in the Midwest. Every time I go to the Midwest, I don’t get to see my friend Julie. Every time that Secretary Tillerson is going to go to the Middle East, he’s not going to be able to hit every single country." [Video]
HAPPENING TODAY -- United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) will host an event on Capitol Hill at noon to discuss Hezbollah’s future in Lebanon and the region. Speakers include former Senator Joe Lieberman, Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Brad Schneider (D-IL), and the Israeli Embassy's Deputy Head of Mission, Reuven Azar.
"Jordan, a Pivotal Arab Ally, Gets More U.S. Aid Despite Rancor Over Jerusalem" by Gardiner Harris: "In a remarkably cordial reception that contrasted sharply with Vice President Mike Pence’s visit last month, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson signed an agreement that guarantees Jordan nearly $1.3 billion in annual assistance... With Mr. Tillerson, Jordanian officials were far less hectoring, as [King] Abdullah kept his meeting with Mr. Tillerson private. The softer response may have partly resulted... because Mr. Pence had stood smiling behind President Trump when he made the announcement about Jerusalem, while Mr. Tillerson was nowhere to be seen. Or maybe it was because Mr. Tillerson was known to have successfully lobbied President Trump to only halve funding for the United Nations agency that provides aid to millions of Palestinian refugees instead of eliminating it altogether." [NYTimes]
"UN gets report on what Palestinians say is Gaza catastrophe" by Edith Lederer: "Nikolay Mladenov, the special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, told the council that drinking water is short, hospitals have been closed and “doctors stopped doing surgeries.” ... [Bolivian Ambassador Sacha] Llorenty Soliz said he highlighted that the situation in Gaza has been worsened by the U.S. suspension of millions of dollars in funding for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees... Llorenty Soliz said he told the council the primary responsibility for “the catastrophic situation in Gaza” rests with Israel." [AP]
"Top Secret Israeli cable warns of Syrian chemical attacks spillover" by Barak Ravid: "According to a "Top secret" cable sent to Israeli ambassadors earlier this week, Israel fears that the Assad regime will use the chemical weapons it still has left in a way which might spill over to Israeli territory... In the cable the ambassadors were asked to tell their counterparts, "Such an incident will mandate a harsh response by Israel"... "Israel does not want an escalation but has an obligation to defend itself," the cable reads." [Axios]
"What Iran Is Really Up To in Syria" by Sam Dagher: "After the downing of the F-16, Iran and Hezbollah signaled that they did not want escalation. They are, however, bent on using the recent events to blunt further moves by Israel against the military presence they have built up inside Syria to protect the Assad regime... With their position entrenched in Syria and their influence in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen secure, Iran and Hezbollah and their Shiite allies believe they have built a formidable, unified, border-spanning front. How they choose to exert their power could dictate the future for this region." [TheAtlantic] Russian official: If Iran attacks Israel, we’ll stand with you Israel [ToI]
HEARD YESTERDAY ON THE HILL -- Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, among others, addressed the Agudath Israel leadership mission in DC. Yeruchim Silber tweeted: "Sen. Gillibrand compares herself to Queen Esther. Both plucked from obscurity and like Esther saved the Jewish people, Sen. Gillibrand says she stands ready to defend Israel and our community. Spoke forcefully against BDS and other hate speech and groups." [Pic] Schumer: "America is an amazing country - for everybody, but also for the Jewish people." [Video]
-- Trump's Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt also addressed the delegation at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building [Pic]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT... "Veterans Affairs chief Shulkin, staff misled ethics officials about European trip, report finds" by Lisa Rein: "Veterans Affairs Secretary David J. Shulkin’s chief of staff doctored an email and made false statements to create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the secretary’s wife on a 10-day trip to Europe last summer... Shulkin also improperly accepted a gift of sought-after tickets to a Wimbledon tennis match, the investigation found, and directed an aide to act as what the report called a “personal travel concierge” to him and his wife... Shulkin wrote a check Wednesday to reimburse the government for the cost of his wife’s travel, his attorneys said, and he intends to repay the cost of the tennis tickets." [WashPost]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Kushner Investors Subpoenaed by U.S. Tax Authorities, Source Says [Bloomberg] Mark Zuckerberg is increasing his stock sales to fund the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative [Recode] Tech Luminary Peter Thiel Parts Ways With Silicon Valley [WSJ]
PODCAST PLAYBACK -- Talent manager Scooter Braun on The Bill Simmons Podcast discussing how Justin Bieber dealt with fame during his teenage years -- Bill Simmons: "Why do most people who have a ton of success before they hit the age of 25 go crazy? You had Bieber and he's a massive success at age 16 and went through a hard time but is now healthy." Scooter Braun: "Look, I think Justin figured out something that we talk about all the time, that is the only reason that he did not go crazy. And that is and I'm going to get spiritual on you here -- I don't think human beings were made to be worshiped. I think we were made to serve. I think we worship something upstairs, whatever it may be, I respect anybody for their beliefs. But there's something bigger than us that can be worshiped. I think as human beings, we're here to serve each other and that's the only way we can keep our sanity."
"We hear of Fortune 100 CEOs killing themselves, and we're like, ‘I can't believe with everything they had, they would kill themselves,’ but we're not surprised. But if I was to tell you, hey, there was a lifetime volunteer at a soup kitchen who killed themselves, you'd be like, ‘That makes no sense to me. I've never heard of anything like that.’ And it's because people who serve, don't go crazy. People who give back, don't go crazy. And people who don't, who just take and take and take, and are worshiped and are just receiving, they lose their mind because they don't know where to give anything With celebrity when you live far away by yourself and the whole world is just praising you all the time... the only way you survive is if you have an outlet to give." Listen at the 42 minute mark [Audio]
The Mooch, Anthony Scaramucci, on The Axe Files: "I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood. I know the difference between a sheigetz and a shiksa. Not a lot of Italians know that difference." [AxeFiles]
MEDIA WATCH: "Observer names former Thrillist executive to top editor job" by Keith J. Kelly: "The Observer Media Group finally tapped a new editor-in-chief, naming former Thrillist Chief Creative Officer Ben Robinson to the post on Wednesday. The top slot has been vacant since Ken Kurson — a pal of then-publisher and Donald Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — jumped back to the p.r. side as a senior managing director of Teneo Strategy in May 2017... His brother-in-law, Joseph Meyer, is now the managing partner of Observer Capital and chairman of Observer Media." [NYPost]
"Leaked Chat Transcripts: New York Times Employees Are Pissed About Bari Weiss" by Ashley Feinberg: "Criticism flew in from all points of the compass — including from within the Times itself, where staffers were unusually frank in expressing their anger at both Weiss and the newspaper, according to an internal chatroom transcript obtained by HuffPost. People were outraged not only at the tweet ― which referenced a line from a song from “Hamilton” ― but also at Weiss’ refusal to acknowledge that perhaps she had been insensitive in placing an American citizen in the category of other... Many employees of The New York Times were not able to engage in this lively Twitter conversation thanks to the publication’s oppressive social media guidelines that seem only to apply to its reporters — not its opinion writers... So some employees took to Slack... to discuss the incident in a chatroom visible to the rest of the company." [HuffPost]
"Who Is Weev, and Why Did He Derail a Journalist's Career?" by Rachel Gutman: "In the span of about six hours... The New York Times announced the hiring of Quinn Norton as a tech columnist and then apparently fired her. The Times claims that their decision to “go their separate ways” was guided by “new information,” revealed... about her friendship with someone called weev... weev’s given name is Andrew Auernheimer. As Luke O’Brien reported for The Atlantic in December, Auernheimer is a white supremacist, Nazi, and internet troll who’s the webmaster for The Daily Stormer... In a podcast hosted by Christopher Cantwell in December, Auernheimer blamed Jewish people for the loss of a dot-com home for The Daily Stormer. He said, “If you don’t let us dissent peacefully, then our only option is to murder you. To kill your children. To kill your whole families.”" [TheAtlantic]
PROFILE: "This Prolific Nerd Is Shaping the Future of Wikipedia" by Daniel Malloy: "The Francisco article launched Steven Pruitt on a journey to become by far the most prolific English language Wikipedian — as the site’s editors are known — with more than 2.2 million edits pixeled into history (the next closest has completed a mere 1.8 million edits)... Time magazine recently named Pruitt one of the 25 most influential people on the internet, but unlike his fellow influencers Kim Kardashian and Chance the Rapper, Pruitt tells OZY he embraces a “stereotypical internet nerd” existence. The single 33-year-old lives with his parents, to help them as they age and to save money in the pricey Washington area."
"With the thoroughness of a lengthy Wiki entry, Pruitt explains the global historical forces that shaped his personal narrative: A Leonid Brezhnev–era weakening of emigration restrictions for Jews allowed Pruitt’s mother to leave the Soviet Union, ostensibly for Israel, but she rerouted to the United States. Pruitt’s father was a college professor in Virginia and later a Russian linguist for the Navy. They immersed their only child’s ears in opera, his mind in literature and his eyes in art." [Ozy]
HOLLYWOOD: "Marvel’s last four films have featured female leads of color. Here’s how the shift occurred" by Michael Cavna: "In May 2015, as IndieWire reported, an email by Ike Perlmutter that was sent the previous summer came under much scrutiny. According to the leaked email, Perlmutter... said in 2014 that superheroines weren’t profitable. Writing to Sony chief executive Michael Lynton, Perlmutter cited three female-led superhero movies — “Electra,” “Catwoman” and “Supergirl” — that he viewed as disasters or, at the least, “very, very bad.” Perlmutter’s email, once leaked, was widely interpreted as his argument against female-led movies, despite myriad other factors at play here — even as the email neglected to mention smash action franchises such as the Hunger Games trilogy or the Alien saga, which were led by female heroes. What that leaked email widely did, in fan perception, was paint Perlmutter as the chief obstructionist as Marvel took years to put “Black Panther” and “Captain Marvel” in motion." [WashPost]
"What It’s Like Taking Photos of the Ultra Wealthy from Inside a Helicopter" by Tiffy Thompson: "Jeff Cully has a unique window into an exclusive world of obscene wealth, marauding development, and breathtaking beauty. He’s been hanging out of helicopters as an aerial photographer for nearly three decades. Now, shooting primarily over the Hamptons, Cully enjoys the view while he gets paid to capture the sprawling summer playgrounds of billionaires and celebrities... What are some memorable residences you’ve photographed? Ira Rennert’s Fair Field Estate in Sagaponack, NY. This place is nuts. It was America’s biggest residential compound—it’s sprawling and ridiculous. Multiple pools, gardens that go on and on, multiple tennis courts side-by-side. It’s completely over-the-top. Though his gardens create some really cool patterns so it photographs beautifully." [Vice]
"Why I went from Catholic schoolgirl to Hasidic Jewish wife" by Doree Lewak: “I would drive through Williamsburg and I remember thinking, ‘What language is that?’ I thought they were Amish,” says [Yehudit] Chervony, 34... Reading “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Judaism,” she realized that she was interested in the strictest form of the religion... At age 25, she became an Orthodox Jew. “I went from the call-me-to-find-a-party girl to the Shabbos girl,” she says, referring to the Jewish day of rest that commences on Fridays at sundown..." [NYPost]
DESSERT -- "Temple Israel makes more sandwiches" by Dean Poling: "Temple Israel hopes to feed more than 10 percent of the Valdosta population with the annual Kosher Corned Beef Sandwich fundraiser. The area Hebrew congregation has set a goal of making and selling more than 6,000 sandwiches the second weekend of March, said Harriet Messcher, a member of Temple Israel... For a $12 ticket, a purchaser receives a third-pound of Hebrew National corned beef sandwich, chips, dill pickle, drink, a dessert, and condiments." [ValdostaDailyTimes] Tallahassee Jewish Food Fest taking orders for that pastrami on rye [Tallahassee]
BIRTHDAYS: Burson-Marsteller’s founding Chairman, Harold Burson turns 97... Professor emeritus of American Jewish history at Columbia University, Arthur A. Goren (born Aryeh Gorenstein) turns 92... British actress, Claire Bloom, whose paternal grandfather shortened his name from Blumenthal, turns 87... Chair of Jewish Studies at Arizona State University, a scholar of Jewish philosophy, Norbert M. Samuelson turns 82... Professor of cognitive science at both the University of Michigan and Indiana University, Pulitzer Prize winner, Douglas Hofstadter turns 73... Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives (1991-2017), Elliott Naishtat turns 73... Cartoonist, editor, teacher at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and long-time contributing artist for The New Yorker, Art Spiegelman (born Itzhak Avraham ben Zeev) turns 70... Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, television, film and stage actress, Melissa Manchester turns 67...
Host of the radio program "Jewish Moments in the Morning" since 1983, president of the Nachum Segal Radio Network, Nachum Segal turns 55... Washington director for the New Israel Fund, Karen Paul-Stern turns 55... Managing director of external affairs and development based in the DC office of CARE, the global poverty fighting organization, Elizabeth Ives ("Beth") Solomon turns 52 (h/t Politico)... Founder of "Talking Points Memo," he earned a Ph.D. in American history from Brown University, Josh Marshall turns 49... Director of business development at Treetop Development, Eric Distenfeld turns 38... Deputy executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Alex Siegel turns 32... Yogi Sanders...
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