Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: February 17, 2017

Trump attacks Turx after failing question on anti-Semitism | Pence to speak at AIPAC | Kushner whines to Time Warner | Plouffe fined

JI Staff
U.S. President Donald Trump at a news conference at the White House in Washington, February 16, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump at a news conference at the White House in Washington, February 16, 2017.Credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS
JI Staff

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Just Announced -- Vice President Michael R. Pence to Speak at AIPAC Policy Conference: Is this in addition to or in lieu of Trump? If Trump isn't coming, is it due to AIPAC's public apology after his speech last year? Alternatively, is it possible AIPAC prefers Pence over Trump, who is unpredictable and divisive within AIPAC's big tent?

MOOD -- YESTERDAY'S TRUMP PRESSER: "peak example of the by-now classic genre of Trump zone-flooding. By the end of it, you barely remember what happened at the start" -- Rosie Gray via Twitter.

“In 77 Chaotic Minutes, Trump Defends ‘Fine-Tuned Machine’” by Michael D. Shear, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: “At one point, Mr. Trump searched for a new face among the veteran White House reporters who were challenging him and settled on a journalist wearing a skullcap whom he clearly did not recognize, hoping for the best. “Are you a friendly reporter?’’ Mr. Trump said. The response of the reporter, Jake Turx of Ami magazine, a Jewish publication, could not be heard in the room. The president’s anger then flared when Mr. Turx asked about a rise in anti-Semitic incidents around the country. Telling Mr. Turx to sit down and accusing him of lying about asking a “very straight, simple question,” Mr. Trump rejected the charge that he is personally anti-Semitic — something the reporter had explicitly said he was not asserting.” [NYTimes] Trump tells Jewish magazine's reporter to 'sit down,' blames anti-Semitism on 'the other side' [CNN]

What Turx was referencing: "Telephone terrorism' has rattled 48 Jewish centers. Is anyone paying attention?" [CNN]

BACKSTORY: "A Jewish Reporter Got to Ask Trump a Question. It Didn’t Go Well" by Laurie Goodstein: "When President Trump called on him at a news conference on Thursday, saying he was looking for a “friendly reporter,” Mr. Turx was prepared. He had spent an hour crafting a question about a recent surge of anti-Semitism, with a preamble that he hoped would convey his supportive disposition toward Mr. Trump. But the exchange did not go the way he expected. A few hours later, with the clip replaying on social media and Jewish groups issuing news releases, Mr. Turx, 30, was still reeling. He said in a telephone interview, “Regretfully, today was a day I wish we could have done over.” His editor, Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter, watched aghast from the magazine’s offices as his young correspondent received a tongue-lashing from the president: “It was a very disheartening moment for us, to watch him being berated.”

“We didn’t do a political endorsement of him, but I really wanted the president to be elected, and I do want him to succeed,” said Rabbi Frankfurter, the editor in chief." Rabbi Frankfurter, whose parents survived the Holocaust, said, “Perhaps the president should speak out more vigorously than he has. He’s got a bully pulpit, and he should use it for good reasons.” After the news conference, Mr. Turx, a pen name, said that he had had conversations on Thursday evening with White House staff members and that he and members of the Orthodox Jewish community were “extremely confident” that the White House would give “the proper help, guidance and collaboration” on anti-Semitism." [NYTimes] Watch the exchange [CSPAN]

Major Jewish American organizations, the ADL and AJC Global, issued statements denouncing the President’s treatment of Turx and refusal to address an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents across the country. “It is mind-boggling why President Trump prefers to shout down a reporter or brush this off as a political distraction. This is not a partisan issue. It’s a potentially lethal problem -- and it’s growing,” ADL’s Marvin Nathan and Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. AJC CEO David Harris said, “Mr. President, please use your bully pulpit not to bully reporters asking questions potentially affecting millions of fellow Americans, but rather to help solve a problem that, for many, is real and menacing.”

Steve Goldstein, director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect: “Mr. President, that’s an alternative fact on a psychedelic acid trip. Have you been adding magic mushrooms to your chopped liver on matzo?”

Abe Foxman, Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, tells us: “The continuing saga on the question of anti-Semitism and the White House is troubling and perplexing. Not every question asked of the President should be seen as a personal attack. In this case, Jews in over 40 communities in the U.S. are anxious and in fear as a result of anti-Semitic threats. All they want is for the President to acknowledge that he is aware of it, is sensitive to their anxieties, and will instruct law enforcement to deal with these crimes. In my 50 years of Jewish public service, I have frequently challenged kings and presidents to speak out against anti-Semitism. It was not seen as disrespectful or insulting. I hope the President will soon find a way to reach out and embrace Jewish community members in those threatened communities who want the President to succeed in making America a greater and safer country.”

Turx tells Jewish Insider: “I understand why the President was so frustrated. It’s a very hopeful sign -- it shows that he takes this matter very seriously, and it’s just regretful that it had come to a point where some of the media have been so dishonest that it is difficult for the Jewish community to get closure on this issue. But I remain very confident that because of his close connections with the community this will be addressed.”

LATE NIGHT: "‘Daily Show’s’ Trevor Noah Tears Into Trump Presser: You Don’t ‘Deserve’ Easy Questions" by Matt Wilstein: “Beyond Trump's completely botched attempt at reassuring the Jewish community,” Noah said, “what’s even more striking in that interaction, is you have a president of a democracy who thinks press is only valid when they ask him easy questions, questions that he likes. In his mind, he deserves it.” Besides, Noah added, “That’s an easy question: ‘What are you going to do about anti-Semitism?’ We’re going to stamp it out. Done. That’s all you have to say. That’s the softest ball possible. A matzoh ball, if you will.” [DailyBeast] Video [TheDailyShow]

EARLY PRESSER HIGHLIGHT: "Trump says billionaire, former critic Paul Singer visited White House" by Christine Wang: "As you know, Paul was very much involved with the anti-Trump or as they say 'Never Trump' and Paul just left and he's given us his total support and it's all about unification ... So, I want to thank Paul Singer for being here and coming up to the office. He was a very strong opponent and now he's a very strong ally and I appreciate that," Trump said... The Elliott Management founder's Thursday visit is the latest instance of the two mending fences... The opportunity to implement economic policy with Trump's White House and a Republican-controlled Congress appealed to Singer, sources said." [CNBC]

HEARD YESTERDAY ON THE HILL: David Friedman, Trump’s nominee for Israel Ambassador, expressed regret for his past comments on J Street, the ADL, and Senator Chuck Schumer. “There is no excuse” for the “hurtful words” and “I deeply regret them,” Friedman said. “The inflammatory rhetoric during the presidential campaign is entirely over. There is no excuse for my offensive comments They don’t reflect my character.” He promised that his earlier campaign rhetoric “would be left in New York” if the US Senate confirms him to his post in Israel.

“Trump’s Nominee for Israel Envoy Apologizes for ‘Hurtful Words’” by Emmarie Huetteman: “While Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said he had accepted Mr. Friedman’s personal apology for saying that the organization’s members sounded like “morons,” not everyone was mollified. Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, said Mr. Friedman’s “many restrained and careful answers” and expressions of “regret” were not enough.” [NYTimes]

Friedman also indicated a shift in his stance on the two-state solution. “I would be delighted to see peace come to this region I expressed skepticism about the two-state solution due to the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” he explained. “The two-state solution, if it can be achieved, will bring great benefits for Israelis and Palestinians.” [JewishInsider; CNN] Watch the full hearing here [CSPAN]

POST-HEARING REACTION -- We interviewed SFRC Chairman Bob Corker who told us: “It didn’t seem to me that he had any trouble answering everyone’s questions. They were full and complete.”

Q: Will you be supporting him?

Corker: “I want to reconvene. I had a very good meeting with privately. Obviously, he has a passion for the country that he has been nominated to as Ambassador and a lot to be said for that. He has learned a great deal just by going around, sitting and talking with members.”

Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): “I haven’t decided. I am still concerned because I think in a sensitive position like that there are some things you just can’t take back and while I didn’t agree with those people who stood up in the hearing room and shouted, I think it speaks to the depth of feeling that there is on both sides about what is happening in the Middle East and so it raises questions who can best address those concerns.”

Rand Paul (R-KY): “It was a good hearing but difficult. I think you want somebody who is open minded and all you can do is take someone at their word. Someone who is open minded to understand the ramification of all different sides.

Q: Does Friedman fit that description?

Paul: “No comment.”

“Trump's Israel Pick Friedman Gave Sen. Schumer Over a Dozen Campaign Donations” by Judy Maltz: “The records show that Friedman and his wife Tammy contributed a total of $14,800 to Schumer’s various political campaigns Together they have made 13 campaign contributions to Schumer starting back in 1998. The last donation was in 2010. Asked to comment, Marisa Kaufman, a spokeswoman for Schumer said: “As with all nominees, Senator Schumer will decide how he votes based solely on the person’s record, viewpoints, skill-level and the answers provided during testimony.”” [Haaretz]

New York Post Editorial Board on the hearing: "At a Senate confirmation hearing Thursday, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) grilled Trump’s pick for US envoy to Israel, David Friedman, on his loyalty to America. “We cannot have an ambassador” who will “bend” to Israel, Menendez said, demanding the nominee affirm his “loyalty and commitment” to the United States. True, Friedman has been fervent about his support for Israel. But that’s no reason to question his allegiance. Doing so only feeds anti-Semitic slurs that American Jews put Israel’s interests above their own nation’s." [NYPost]

ADL deleted a tweet criticizing Menendez for his "inappropriate" comments. [Twitter]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “U.S. ambassador at U.N. says Trump supports two-state solution” by Ned Parker: "First of all, the two-state solution is what we support. Anybody that wants to say the United States does not support the two-state solution - that would be an error," Nikki Haley told reporters at the United Nations. "We absolutely support the two-state solution but we are thinking out of the box as well: which is what does it take to bring these two sides to the table; what do we need to have them agree on." [Reuters; NYT]

“Trump’s Two-State Tap Dance Won’t Last” by Daniel Shapiro: “I read the performance at the press conference as a favor from Trump to Netanyahu, a way to help the Israeli prime minister deal with the pressures from his coalition, which is dominated by right-wingers who reject the two-state solution But it will be hard to tap dance there for long. Even according to Trump’s own dictum that both sides must agree, Palestinian leaders (like the Israelis) get not just a vote but also a veto.” [FP]

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Elliott Abrams discussed Trump’s break from traditional support for two states on NPR’s Morning Edition: “I do think what the President's saying there is basically find a solution. Let's find some solution, which has been the Arab attitude for a long time, that is whatever deal Israelis and Palestinians can make, we will accept. That's been the Arab position in many cases. And I think that's pretty much what the president is saying.” [NPR]

HAVEN'T HEARD THIS NAME IN A WHILE... "Netanyahu Discussed Jonathan Pollard's Probation With White House" by Barak Ravid: "A source in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's entourage in Washington said that Netanyahu discussed the issue of the limitations imposed on Jonathan Pollard as terms for his release with White House officials. Pollard, who was released from prison in 2015, served 30 years in prison for spying for Israel and, among other limitations, is barred from leaving the United States. "It was agreed that Israeli ambassador [to the United States] Ron Dermer would deal personally with the matter vis-à-vis the White House," the source said." [Haaretz]

TEHRAN WATCH: “Netanyahu: US, Israel have 'grand mission' to confront Iran threat” by Fox News: “Netanyahu told Fox News' "Hannity" Thursday night that his country and the United States have a "grand mission" to confront the threat of a nuclear Iran "The deal essentially said this, it said no bomb today, 100 bombs tomorrow, in ten years," he said. "Now the assumption was, people [would say] ‘Well, OK, we’re kicking the can down the road.’ But this nuclear can of a single bomb then becomes the capacity to make dozens and dozens of bombs Everybody now understands it and there’s an American president who understands it and we’re talking about what to do about this common threat."” [FoxNews]

TRUMP TUMULT: “Trump’s pick to replace Michael Flynn as national security adviser turns down offer, people familiar with decision say” by Jenna Johnson and Adam Entous: “Retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward has turned down President Trump's offer to become his new national security adviser One factor in Harward's decision was that he couldn't get a guarantee that he could select his own staff, according to a person close to Trump with knowledge of the discussions.” [WashPost]

“Out of the loop: Rex Tillerson finds state department sidelined by White House” by Julian Borger: “Senior state department officials who would normally be called to the White House for their views on key policy issues, are not being asked their opinion. They have resorted to asking foreign diplomats, who now have better access to President Trump’s immediate circle of advisers, what new decisions are imminent Tillerson has had lunch with Trump since taking the job, but he was taken by surprise when the president at the last moment rejected his choice of deputy secretary of state, Elliott Abrams, because Abrams had criticized him during the campaign.” [Guardian]

"State Dept. carries out layoffs under Rex Tillerson" by Margaret Brennan: "Not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner - who has no regional expertise or diplomatic experience - had a greater role in the meeting than the Senate-confirmed secretary of State." [CBSNews]

"John Kerry Finds a Job as a Yale Fellow" by Stephanie Saul: "The new program, called the Kerry Initiative, was announced today by the university’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. “Secretary Kerry is going to teach school,” said Jim Levinsohn, director of the institute, home of the new program. “Students are going to show up, and that’s going to be John Kerry in the classroom.” ... The “Kerry Conversations” will feature Mr. Kerry in discussions with world leaders, Mr. Levinsohn said." [NYTimes]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Barry Sternlicht Says Brooklyn Hotel His 'Most Exciting' [Bloomberg] Ivanka Trump's fashion brand hits the bargain bin [WWD] Steven Lowy plots reform goals for game in flux [TheAustralian]

SPOTLIGHT: "Former Obama aide fined $90,000 for illegally lobbying Emanuel on Uber's behalf" by Bill Ruthhart and Hal Dardick: "A former Uber senior executive who once served as Barack Obama's campaign manager has been fined $90,000 by the Chicago Board of Ethics for illegally lobbying Mayor Rahm Emanuel on behalf of the ride-sharing company. The board voted 5-0 to find that David Plouffe violated city ethics rules by failing to register as a lobbyist after contacting Emanuel to help the company on regulations for picking up travelers at Chicago's two airports." [ChicagoTribune]

MEDIA WATCH: "Jared Kushner Delivers Critique of CNN to Time Warner Executive” by Keach Hagey and Damian Paletta: “In a meeting at the White House, Mr. Kushner complained to Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president of corporate marketing and communications at CNN’s parent Time Warner, about what Mr. Kushner feels is unfair coverage slanted against the president, the people said Behind the scenes, Mr. Kushner, the real-estate scion who until recently owned the New York Observer newspaper, has been pushing the issue with Time Warner executives including CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker.” [WSJ]

Ana Navarro: “Little boy Kushner, tough guy who's supposed to achieve Middle East peace, is complaining about me to CNN. Boo-hoo!” [Twitter]

TALK OF THE TOWN: "On a ‘Day Without Immigrants,’ Workers Show Their Presence by Staying Home" by Liz Robbins and Annie Correal: "In the Hasidic neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn, some customers noticed the absence of the usual Latino immigrant employees at their local stores. “I thought, ‘Oy, my coffee will not be as good as any day,’ but I felt, ‘Good for them, they are standing up for their rights,” said Rabbi Joel Labin, 34, a writer and activist who shopped at Center Fresh market. “We grew up with these stories. I hear from my grandparents the issue of immigration from Europe. I feel like it’s kind of my story, too.”" [NYTimes]

"Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Bucking Tide, Takes Public Stand Against Isolationism" by Mike Isaac: "[Mark] Zuckerberg, 32, chose to make the statement as an update to his original founder’s letter, which was published in 2012 when Facebook went public. In that letter, he wrote that the social network “was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected.” In an interview this week at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Mr. Zuckerberg said that when he started Facebook, “the idea of connecting the world was not controversial.” “The default assumption was that the world was just incrementally moving in that direction,” he said. “Now, that’s actually a real question. "" [NYTimes] Behind the Scenes of Mark Zuckerberg’s Manifesto [BackChannel]

SPORTS BLINK -- Cuban vs. Lasry at NBA Celebrity All-Star Game 2017: "Mark Cuban is more than just the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and one of the stars of Shark Tank. He still thinks he can play basketball, and he will get another chance to show off his skills at the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game Friday night. The game will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN. The East team will be coached by ESPN host Jemele Hill, and it features actor and recording artist Nick Cannon, as well as Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry, Brazilian basketball star Oscar Schmidt and ex-NBA player Jason Williams." [BleacherReport]

"Herrell's in Northampton goes green, kosher to make ice cream" by Judith Kelliher: "Pioneer Kosher certified the shop's products as kosher in September. This summer, Herrell's plans to sell its kosher ice cream and baked goods at Michael's Cafe at the Jewish Geriatric Services on Converse Street in Longmeadow, its first kosher wholesale customer, Herrell said. Herrell's Ice Cream, founded in 1980, celebrated all the changes with a grand re-opening on Jan. 22, including a formal ribbon cutting by Mayor David Narkewicz, who also served ice cream to customers. Herrell's is known for its customization of ice cream servings with choices of more than 30 ingredients, such as sprinkles, candy and cookies, which get "smooshed" in." [MassLive]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Executive Director of HUC-JIR's American Jewish Archives and professor of Reform Jewish History at HUC-JIR, Gary Phillip Zola turns 65... One of the most popular Israeli basketball players of all time, Miki Berkovich turns 63... Israel's Minister of the Interior and leader of the Shas party, Aryeh Deri turns 58... Filmmaker known for directing and producing big-budget action films including the many Transformers films, Michael Benjamin Bay turns 52... Emmy-winning journalist, currently co-host of Bloomberg's "Masters in Politics," former executive producer of Meet the Press (2002-2013), executive in residence at American University, Betsy Fischer Martin turns 47 (h/t Playbook)... Israeli actress, model and beauty queen who won the Miss World beauty pageant in 1998, she has since become an Orthodox Jew and recently completed law school, Linor Abargil turns 37... Actor and filmmaker, with multiple roles as a child actor continuing to the present, he played Edward Snowden in the Oliver Stone film "Snowden" (2016), Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns 36... Public policy official at San Francisco-based Stripe, an online payment firm, previously at the US Treasury, National Security Council and Goldman Sachs, Samantha Vinograd turns 34... Executive Director of the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life (the Columbia / Barnard Hillel), Brian Cohen... Executive editor of McClatchy Washington and a Politico alum, Kristin Roberts (h/t Playbook)... Assistant managing editor at CNN Politics and a Politico alum, Dianna Heitz (h/t Playbook)... Miriam Schulman...

Democratic US Representative for New York's 16th congressional district, ranking minority member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel turns 70... Actor, screenwriter and comedian, best known for his acting roles in Neighbors (2014) and its sequel (2016), Isaac "Ike" Barinholtz turns 40... Singer-songwriter and pianist, Regina Spektor, turns 37... Born in Israel and raised in Baltimore, national director of development for J Street, previously the West Coast Director for the OneVoice Movement, Adee Telem... Supreme Master of the Board of Governors of Alpha Epsilon Pi (2014-2016), Larry C. Leider... Chief Development Officer, Valley Alliance of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Lori Tessel... Associate producer at CBS Evening News, former reporter at CBS Politics and National Journal, Rebecca Kaplan... Stacey Gardner... Ben Wofford (h/ts Playbook)... James Hohmann... Scott Liebman... Dylan Sandler...

Nobel Prize laureate in particle physics and string theory, professor of theoretical physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, David Jonathan Gross turns 76... Former chairman of the board and CEO of Sony Corporation, chairman of the board of trustees of the American Film Institute, Howard Stringer turns 75... Novelist, essayist and short story writer, winner of a 2005 MacArthur genius fellowship, Jonathan Allen Lethem turns 53... Founder of NYT's DealBook and co-creator of Showtime's "Billions," Andrew Ross Sorkin turns 40... Former MLB relief pitcher for the Phillies, Michael Schwimer turns 31... Actor who played the young autistic Jacob "Jake" Bohm in the Fox TV series "Touch," later portraying a young Bruce Wayne in another Fox series "Gotham," David Mazouz turns 16... CEO of Taglit Birthright Israel since 2008, previously an Israeli diplomat at embassies and consulates in Istanbul, Bonn and NYC, Gidi Mark... Founder and president of the eponymous Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, on the boards of the Whitney Museum, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Aspen Institute, Laurie M. Tisch turns 66... and also the birthday of her first cousin once removed, founder and CEO of the e-commerce app, Spring, Alan Tisch who turns 29... Writer of the "In the Know" column for The Hill, Judy Kurtz Altscher... Daniel Blum (h/t Playbook)... Sharon Edelman... William Silverman... Kevin Bishop... Burton Epstein... Ben Birnbaum...

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