Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: February 21, 2017

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Ivanka Trump attends U.S. President Donald Trump's strategy and policy forum with chief executives of major U.S. companies at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 3, 2017
Ivanka Trump attends U.S. President Donald Trump's strategy and policy forum with chief executives of major U.S. companies in Washington, U.S. February 3, 2017.Credit: Reuters
JI Staff

KAFE KNESSET -- by Tal Shalev: On the sidelines of the Conference of Presidents meeting in Jerusalem, Malcolm Hoenlein told Kafe Knesset he plans to initiate a high level world leader summit to combat the recent rise in anti-Semitism. "Anti-Semitism is a virus that you have to counter before it metastasizes and impacts everyone. Fighting anti-Semitism is key to fighting all forms of racism and bigotry. It is not exclusive. That's why I'm calling for convening a world conference to be lead by leaders in Europe and around the world including Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister May, President Trump -- like we did on Soviet Jewry in the 70s - and make it a declaration of war against anti-Semitism and bigotry that will make it clear that its unacceptable and that we will mobilize resources collectively to fight the spread of hate on the Internet."

Kafe Knesset: There are calls for President Trump to speak out much more clearly about anti-Semitism...

Hoenlein: "I have said that clearly the President is not an anti-Semite and these kinds of charges are irresponsible and certainly counterproductive to the purpose that we all share, which is to fight anti-Semitism. Every society has haters and the way to judge it is how do those in authority stand up and speak out against it -- law enforcement, opinion holders, religious leaders, academics. Do they stand up and speak out against it? And do they show that they have a policy of zero tolerance?"

Kafe Knesset: Wouldn't step one be naming anti-Semitism -- the White House appears to be dodging that term and referring to general hate crimes?

Hoenlein: "Hate crimes is a general category but the specific issue is anti-Semitism and you have to name and shame. You can't just say that crimes took place when there are robberies, shootings and other categories. The fact is, that the increase in the number of attacks against Jews is larger than against other groups. It is a unique category and should be addressed as such. I hope that everyone will join in being clear about it." Read today's entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Ivanka Trump Calls for Tolerance After Threats on Jewish Centers” by Maggie Haberman and Niraj Chokshi: “President Trump’s oldest daughter and a convert to Judaism issued a statement over Twitter on Monday calling for “religious tolerance” after a new wave of threats against Jewish community centers. The tweet was Ms. Trump’s most vocal foray into a public discussion and was made over an issue her allies say she feels personally putting her in a position to be a prominent voice at a moment when a number of anti-Semitic episodes have taken place around the country In addition to Ms. Trump’s statement, the Trump administration addressed the issue more directly on Monday. “Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom,” Lindsay Walters, the White House deputy press secretary, said in a statement. “The president has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.”” [NYTimes; NBCNews]

Vandals wreck headstones at historic Jewish cemetery in St. Louis: "Karen Aroesty, the regional director for the St. Louis-area Anti-Defamation League, was alerted to the damage at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery and did a walk-through Monday afternoon. Aroesty said she was appalled at what she saw. Police, who are reviewing security footage, would not say whether they are considering the incident a hate crime... The vandalism occurred the same day as 11 Jewish community centers received bomb threats, the fourth wave of threats this year... The Chesed Shel Emeth Society has been serving the St. Louis Jewish community for more than 125 years." [USAToday

NYT's reporter Niraj Chokshi tweets: "Just got off the phone with Anita Feigenbaum, executive director of the vandalized Jewish orthodox cemetery outside St. Louis. She estimates 170-200 headstones toppled, mostly late-1800's to mid-1900's. In the oldest section, so some damage may not be new. Kids being kids? Those stones are heavy and a LOT were toppled. She's not inclined to buy that." [Twitter]

"Trump's Silence on Jewish Centers Bomb Scare Encourages anti-Semites, Experts Say" by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: "Even Mort Klein... a leading Trump defender, said the president should issue a statement. “President Trump should come out as soon as possible against these phone threats and make it clear that we in America will not tolerate this kind of disgraceful hatred toward Jews,” said Klein... Klein said that anti-Semites are active precisely because Trump so appreciates Jews and Israel. “It is possibly a response by Jew haters to a president who has been extremely supportive of Israel, who has Orthodox Jewish children and grandchildren, and this is making people with hatred toward Jews miserable. And they’re acting out of frustration and misery,” he said." [Haaretz]

Chelsea Clinton: “2 months into 2017: JCC bomb threats, synagogue defamed, subway swastikas, Jewish cemetery desecrated. NOW will Trump condemn antisemitism?” [Twitter

Hillary Clinton: “JCC threats, cemetery desecration & online attacks are so troubling & they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out, starting w/ @POTUS.” [Twitter]

NYT's Maggie Haberman on CNN's "New Day" program this morning: Trump's silence "stands in stark contrast to the number of any wide range of things that he chooses to weigh in on... He has been incredibly quiet on this. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, did tweet about this. But again, missing from her tweet and missing from the WH statement is the word 'Jew.' It could be about anything." [SnappyTV]

FINALLY -- Heard Just Now -- Trump on MSNBC: "Anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s going to stop, it has to stop." Q: So you're denouncing it now, once and for all? Trump: "Oh of course, I do it wherever I get a chance, I do it." [Video]

WH aide Boris Epshteyn on Trump’s Holocaust statement in interview with Israel’s Channel 10: “I am very proud to be part of a diverse and inclusive team with a lot of folks of Jewish background -- a lot of Jews here at the White House That statement beautifully honored and commemorated the great sacrifice of the Jewish people and the unfathomable atrocities suffered by the Jewish people including my ancestors who were killed in the Holocaust."  

Epshteyn on Trump’s settlement policy: "I don’t think there is much to elaborate on. The President was very clear in his words. We are not going to negotiate this publicly, but the President was clear what he said during the press conference, and then he had a very productive meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. The goal is peace The President is open to whatever the best solution is for peace and that may be a two-state solution, maybe it’s not. But the President is absolutely focused on [achieving] peace in the Middle East." [JewishInsider

TRANSITION: “Trump Chooses H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser” by Peter Baker: “This was the second time [John] Bolton... has been considered and rejected for a high-level post in Mr. Trump’s administration. Mr. Trump made a point on Monday of praising Mr. Bolton and saying that he would find a position for him in his administration eventually. “We had some really good meetings with him. Knows a lot. He had a good number of ideas that I must tell you I agree very much with,” the president said. “So we’ll be talking with John Bolton in a different capacity.”” [NYTimes

“Trump Taps General Who Doesn’t Back Down” by Kimberly Dozier: “H.R. McMaster is one of the most impressive army officers of his generation—a rare combination of soldier and scholar,” said Max Boot, a military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations... “But not even the most talented individual will succeed in that job as long as Bannon and Kushner continue to run their own foreign policies and as long as Trump continues to make outlandish statements questioning basic American commitments and valued allies.” [DailyBeast]  Andrew Exum: Trump Gets an Upgrade at National Security Advisor [TheAtlantic

Bill Kristol: "I say this honestly and non-snarkily: I can't imagine anyone better prepared for the challenges of being Trump's NSA than H.R. McMaster." [Twitter

ISRAEL ANGLE -- from April 14, 2016: "The Secret U.S. Army Study That Targets Moscow" by Bryan Bender: “Oddly enough, the model for the new effort is the Army’s detailed study of a war fought 43 years ago, one that most people have forgotten about. As a guide to this new major review, Politico has learned, McMaster is dusting off the Army’s landmark after-action review of the Yom Kippur War between Israel and Moscow’s then-proxies, Egypt and Syria.” [Politico] In a 2008 publication, McMaster wrote that the Israeli army "was not prepared for the mission" and "had unrealistic expectations" in '06 Lebanon war with Hezbollah [Twitter; Survival]

-- In 2012 Speech, Incoming National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster Emphasized Importance of Remembering the Holocaust [Algemeiner

“In Policy Dissent, Jim Mattis Wields Influence” by  Gordon Lubold and Julian E. Barnes: “Republicans say there is a degree of consternation with Mr. Mattis in the White House, partly because of his desire to install in key Pentagon posts Democrats or Republicans who were critical of Mr. Trump during the campaign Mr. Trump subsequently has altered his stance on the value of NATO, but maintained that European allies should pay more for collective defense On other issues, there appears to be more daylight between Mr. Mattis and the president Mr. Mattis has also taken a different stance on Russia than Mr. Trump, although there are signs the administration is moving his way.” [WSJ

“I didn’t think I’d ever leave the CIA. But because of Trump, I quit” by Ned Price: “To be clear, my decision had nothing to do with politics, and I would have been proud to again work under a Republican administration open to intelligence analysis. I served with conviction under President George W. Bush, some of whose policies I also found troubling But this administration has flipped that dynamic on its head: The politicians are the ones tuning out the intelligence professionals.” [WashPost]

INTERESTS: "Seeking to secure Sinai, Egypt builds closer ties with Hamas" by Lin Noueihed: "After years of strained relations, Egypt is moving closer to Hamas in Gaza, offering concessions on trade and free movement in return for moves to secure the border against Islamic State fighters who have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in northern Sinai. "We want cooperation in controlling the borders and tunnels, the handover of perpetrators of armed attacks and a boycott of the Muslim Brotherhood. They want the crossing to be opened and more trade," one senior Egyptian security source said." [Reuters]

Kahlon reaches out to Mnuchin -- by Tal Shalev: After the Netanyahu-Trump meeting last week, other senior cabinet ministers have started reaching out to their new US counterparts. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met with Secretary Mattis last weekend at the Munich Security Conference, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has also contacted his new American partner, Steve Mnuchin, in recent days. Kafe Knesset has obtained a copy of the letter Kahlon sent out to the new Treasury Secretary after his confirmation earlier this month, in which he expresses his hope and will to developing strong economic cooperation and strategic partnerships and wished him good luck on the job.

"On behalf of the Government of Israel and myself personally it gives me great pleasure to congratulate you on your confirmation," Kahlon, who had a very friendly relationship with former Secretary Lew, wrote to Mnuchin. "Your consummate experience in the financial services industry provides you with a unique perspective for the challenging position. Furthermore it is my firm belief that advancing our strong economic ties will not only foster continued economic success but will also contribute to a strengthening of the unshakeable and crucial bond between the United States and Israel." [JewishInsider]

TWO STATES: "Singaporean PM, hosting Netanyahu, endorses 'two-state' plan" by Annabelle Liang: “Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, hosting a visit by his Israeli counterpart, acknowledging the "very complex situation" between Palestinians and Israel, Lee [Lee Hsien Loong] called for direct negotiations that will ensure "progress toward a just and durable solution to this long-standing and often, unfortunately violent conflict Afterward, at a state dinner, [Netanyahu] said he believes there is an opportunity to seek peace now "because I sense a great change in the Arab world... and I hope ... to be able to use that newfound attitude toward Israel to help us solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well."” [AP

“Netanyahu’s Planned Visit to Australia Is Met With Opposition” by Jacqueline Williams: “Sixty notable Australians, including political, religious, cultural and business figures, have signed a letter opposing Mr. Netanyahu’s visit because of his government’s policies toward the Palestinians Colin Rubenstein, executive director of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, an advocacy group, called the statements in the letter “misplaced, illogical and counterproductive,” but he said he did not think they would affect Mr. Netanyahu’s visit.” [NYTimes]  Shorten in his own two-state dilemma ahead of Netanyahu meeting [TheAustralian]

TOP TALKER: "Elor Azaria, Israeli Soldier Who Killed Wounded Assailant, Gets 18 Months in Prison" by Ian Fisher: "An Israeli soldier who shot an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the head was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Tuesday, in a case that has divided Israelis and prompted calls for his pardon... Politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have called for Sergeant Azaria to be pardoned. His lawyers have said they would appeal any sentence." [NYT]

** 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 **

OVERHEARD -- Berkshire Hathaway Vice-Chairman Charlie Munger discussing his hero at the 2017 Daily Journal Corporation Annual Meeting -- by Phil DeMuth: "My hero is Maimonides. All that philosophy, all that writing he did after working all those hours a day as a practicing physician all his life. He believed in the engaged life. I recommend that you engage life. If you spend all your time on how some politician wants it this way or that way and you’re sure you know what’s right – you’re on the wrong track. You want to do something every day where you’re coping with reality. You want to be more like Maimonides and less like Bernie Sanders.” [Forbes] h/t Mike Granoff

“These are the watches worn by some of the most powerful men in finance” by Frank Chaparro: Cliff Asness is one of the co-founders of AQR Capital Management, a global investment firm based in Connecticut, US Asness is pictured wearing what the Swiss watch experts at Crown & Caliber believe to be a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar. It costs a whopping $41,500 pre-owned Despite his fortune of over $10 billion, Stephen Schwarzman isn't flashy. The CEO of Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, uses a flip phone and prefers Swatches over luxury watches. He's pictured in the previous slide wearing a sporty Swatch Sistem51, which retails for a modest sum of just $150.00 David Solomon is the president and co-chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs Solomon has been photographed wearing a Shinola Runwell Chronograph. The watch retails for $750 at Shinola.” [BI

PROFILE: “New York attorney general bids to become Trump's No. 1 enemy” by Steve Peoples: “He was once depicted as a deranged Clockwork Orange character on the cover of a newspaper owned by Trump's son-in-law. And he faced intense anti-Semitic attacks from Trump loyalists on social media that continue even today. "It's really vile stuff. It's a picture of your face going into a gas chamber, your face on a lampshade," Schneiderman told The Associated Press, acknowledging a new rash of anti-Semitism in recent weeks as he fought the new president's travel ban.” [AP

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Why we should teach cursive writing to all kids” by Bethany Mandel: “When Jack Lew was nominated to be Treasury secretary in 2013, President Barack Obama joked that as a condition of the appointment, Lew would have to learn to sign his name more legibly. The secretary’s signature, after all, was going to appear on US currency. Lew, a New Yorker, was a city public-school student. And now the school system that produced him is hoping to iron out that particular wrinkle for any future potential Treasury secretary: New York is bringing back cursive instruction.” [NYPost

“Vatican and Rome’s Jewish Museum Team Up for Menorah Exhibit” by Elisabetta Povoledo: “”This is a historic event,” Ruth Dureghello, the president of Rome’s Jewish community, said at a news conference on Monday The exhibit, “Menorah: Worship, History, Legend,” which includes about 130 artifacts, will open in May and will be presented at the Vatican Museums and at Rome’s Jewish Museum. The collaboration between the two institutions will finally transform longstanding dialogue into something “concrete,” Ms. Dureghello said “As soon as news of the exhibit will be printed in newspapers, everyone will say, ‘Finally, the Vatican has dug out the original menorah,’” Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, joked on Monday.” [NYTimes

"Meet the volunteers who are risking their lives to save Jewish history in the Middle East" by Emily Feldman: "One of the higher-profile Jewish heritage sites lost to the fighting in Syria was the centuries-old Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in a suburb of Damascus... Eddie Ashkenazie, a Diarna researcher from Brooklyn with roots in Syria, has been closely following the destruction. He felt a new determination in his work after watching aerial footage shot in the ancient Syrian city of Homs... Ashkenazie has been scouting out Brooklyn synagogues with Syrian congregants whose memories of Jewish sites might still be fresh. “I tell them what I do, and they're like, ‘Oh, bring us your pictures tomorrow, bring us your maps,’” he says. “Just yesterday, after prayer services a group of men helped me [locate] synagogues in Damascus.” After the meeting, he returned to his office and added the synagogues to Diarna’s expanding database of sites." [Newsweek

LIFE LESSONS: “Psychologists explain why name-dropping basically always backfires” by Leah Fessler: "If you truly belong to an in-group, after all, you don’t need to go around boasting about your membership in it. So by associating with someone who is an “insider,” you inadvertently confirm the outside status you seek to obscure.” [Quartz

BIRTHDAYS: President of Yale University Peter Salovey (Soloveitchik) turns 59... Award winning science fiction and mystery author of more than 20 novels and 40 short stories, Richard A. Lupoff turns 82... Developer of the L'Ermitage Beverly Hills in 1976, subsequently for some time the owner of the Bel Age and Mondrian hotels, Severyn Ashkenazy turns 81... Billionaire, philanthropist, film executive, co-founder of Dreamworks and noted collector of American artists' work, David Geffen turns 74... Special Assistant to President Trump for Legislative Affairs, previously Chief of Staff for Senator Ted Cruz (2014-2017) after 12 years at the US House Republican Study Committee (2001-2013), Paul Teller turns 46... Reality televison star with frequent appearances on "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," Jonathan Cheban turns 43... NYT bestselling novelist (two of which have been made into movies), writer-in-residence in the graduate creative writing program at NYU, Jonathan Safran Foer turns 40... Chicago Cubs player best known for being hit in the head on the first pitch of his MLB debut resulting in a a compound skull fracture, Adam Greenberg turns 36... Chicago White Sox pitcher who picked up two saves for the Israeli team at the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifier, Brad Goldberg turns 27... Israeli rhythmic gymnast who competed in the 2012 Olympics and other international gymnastic events as a member of the Israeli team, Polina Zakaluzny turns 25... Professional tennis player who in 2015 was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, Noah Rubin turns 21... Bob Sherman (h/t son Jake, Playbook)... Miriam Fischer...

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