Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: December 13, 2017

Trump suffers 'big black eye' in Alabama | Netanyahu to Macron: I’ll make concessions for Trump peace plan | Trump’s Jerusalem move was supposed to destabilize the entire Middle East. It didn’t

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Democratic Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones at his election night party in Birmingham, Alabama on December 12, 2017.
Democratic Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones at his election night party in Birmingham, Alabama on December 12, 2017.Credit: Marvin Gentry/Reuters
JI Staff

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ALABAMA ELECTION -- "Trump suffers 'big black eye' in Alabama" by Eliana Johnson: "Doug Jones didn’t just defeat Roy Moore in Alabama’s Senate race on Tuesday night — he administered the most crushing and embarrassing political blow of President Donald Trump’s young presidency... Jones' win, said one senior administration official, "is a big black eye for the president."" [Politico]

Jones in his victory speech: "To all my Jewish friends, happy Hanukkah." [Video]

CNN's Jake Tapper after the race was called for Jones: "This definitely shows there are standards and there are limits to what voters will accept, even in this era of tribes. Even in this era where Democrats and Republicans stick to their teams, root for their teams, there is still a point past which some people will not go." [Video]

Former Sen. Norm Coleman, current Chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, tweets: "Short term pain, long term gain. Roy Moore and Steve Bannon losing tonight is big win for the GOP. We will survive 2 years of D. Jones. Moore would have buried GOP in 2018." Coleman added, "Doug Jones surest path to re-election: announce tomorrow he is switching parties & joining the GOP. This was not a pro-Jones, anti Trump, anti GOP vote tonite. It was a “couldn’t stomach a vote for Roy Moore “ night." [Twitter]

A spokesperson for the newly-formed Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) emails us: “The election results in Alabama were a Hanukkah gift for the American people and a victory for morality accountability, and common decency. It was not a bad step for the first night of Hanukkah, but there is still much more work to do."

DRIVING THE CONVO -- “Billionaires at New York Galas Can't Agree on Trump's Tax Plan” by Amanda L Gordon and Max Abelson: “Robert Rubin, who was once a U.S. Treasury Secretary and co-head of Goldman Sachs, referred questions on the Republican tax overhaul to another guest at the UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street Dinner. "Ask John," Rubin said Monday evening, looking through his round black spectacles at hedge fund manager John Paulson. They were taking their seats next to each other on the dais in front of 2,000 people in a ballroom of the New York Hilton Midtown. Paulson, who served as an economic adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, had already opined during cocktail hour He talked of a "tidal wave" of benefit that will come from lowering the corporate tax rate"

"Across the street at the Dubin Breast Cancer benefit in the Ziegfeld Ballroom, Michael Novogratz didn’t sound as amenable on a day when the Treasury Department put out a one-page report that tried to defend the economic impact of the plan. "Steve Mnuchin never even modeled the thing -- idiot, I-D-I-O-T," said [Michael] Novogratz. "Gary Cohn shouldn’t be able to live with himself." At the UJA gala honoring Howard Lutnick and Lee Fixel, one guest, Bruce Richards said he and his wife are talking about moving because of tax changes. "The truth is, most of us have homes in Florida, in Miami or in Palm Beach," he said.” [Bloomberg]

TOP TALKER -- “Netanyahu to Macron: I’ll make concessions for Trump peace plan” by Barak Ravid: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French President Emanuel Macron on Sunday that he will be ready to make concessions in the context of a Trump peace plan According to [EU] diplomats, Macron told Netanyahu Trump's peace plan will be "disruptive" for the status quo Macron added that Trump told him that in a few months, he will present a peace plan that will be different from all previous Middle East peace initiatives. The diplomats said Netanyahu told Macron... he doesn't know what Trump will put on the table Netanyahu's office confirmed most of the description provided by the European diplomats, but denied that Netanyahu spoke about possible concessions. Israeli officials said Netanyahu only told Macron he thinks the Trump plan will challenge both him and Abbas.” [Axios]

"Palestinian president says no role for US in peace process" by Zeynep Bilginsoy and Sarah El Deeb: "Abbas said Trump’s decision was a “crime” which came at a time when the Palestinians were engaged with Washington in a new push to reach what he said was anticipated to be the “deal of our times.” “Instead we got the slap of our times,” Abbas said. “The United States has chosen to lose its qualification as a mediator ... We will no longer accept that it has a role in the political process from now... We call that the (peace) process in its entirety be transferred to the United Nations,” Abbas said." [AP]

"Joint List joins Palestinians' Pence snub" by Lahav Harkov: "The Joint List plans to skip US Vice President Mike Pence’s speech to the Knesset on Monday... MK Ahmad Tibi, chairman of the Joint List’s Jerusalem Committee said Pence is a “representative of a government that totally adopted the narrative of the Israeli occupation, including the matter of Al-Kuds,” Jerusalem in Arabic... “Boycotting the speech is a demonstrative step to politically protest the [American] government’s dangerous stance,” he added.” [JPost]

“Trump’s Jerusalem move was supposed to destabilize the entire Middle East. It didn’t” by Sarah Wildman: “Many Palestinians who went through the second intifada don't want to repeat it,” says Ghaith al-Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute Plus, Omari adds, Palestinians sense there is a lack of direction, and a lack of stewardship, from their political leaders, and are thus reluctant to protest without a clear purpose or guidance. However, he explains that individual acts of violence may still occur: “When there is despair, there is no way to predict what will trigger people.” [Vox]

HEARD YESTERDAY -- "Tillerson Says Embassy in Jerusalem Is at Least Three Years Away" by Gardiner Harris: "Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said Tuesday that it is unlikely that the American Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem before 2020. “It’s not going to be anything that happens right away,” Mr. Tillerson said, adding, “Probably no earlier than three years out, and that’s pretty ambitious.” ... Mr. Tillerson discussed the future of the embassy in a speech at the State Department." [NYTimes]

State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert: "I think the moving of the embassy will be done when it’s ready. And some of the things that have to be done include talking to Congress about the money, taking a look at the most appropriate site for it. As you all know, security is extremely important. We have to take a look at all the security things that have to be factored into that site. Is this the right space for it. So a lot of that stuff is just, frankly, going to take time, and that’s why the Secretary said it could take several years."

HEARD LAST NIGHT -- NEC Director Gary Cohn at the 39th annual National Hanukkah Menorah lighting ceremony on the Ellipse: “While we gather tonight in Washington, we must remember another city that made the news last week. President Trump delivered on a promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel... The president made the right decision and it makes this years celebration of Hanukkah particularly meaningful. On behalf of the president, the first lady, and the administration, I wish you all a very Happy Hanukkah.” [CSPAN]

HANUKKAH ON SOCIAL MEDIA -- Ivanka Trump tweeted a picture of her family after lighting the 1st candle [Pic]

President Trump tweeted a statement congratulating his "Jewish brothers and sisters" celebrating Hanukkah and wishing them "a happy and healthy eight nights in the company of those they love." [Twitter]

Chelsea Clinton replied to a reporter teasing her for Hanukkah greetings noting "she's running" -- "Or... I am on my way home to light candles with my family. Happy Hanukkah!" [Twitter]

474K LIKES -- Barack Obama: "Happy Hanukkah, everybody, from the Obama family to yours. Chag Sameach!" [Twitter]

JARED INSIDER: "Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Hang on in the Swamp" by Emily Jane Fox: "On Thursday evening, Jared Kushner and Ivanka... joined their parents and assorted other Trump family members... in the East Room of the White House to perform the traditional Hanukkah blessing... According to two people in attendance, Kushner... was greeted heroically. “There were lots of handshakes and pats on the back,” one attendee said. “He was very well received,” another said... The evening evidently buoyed the Kushner-Trumps, one person who talked to them at the event told me..." [VanityFair]

"The education of Ivanka Trump" by Sara Murray and Betsy Klein: "White House officials insist some of the tales about Ivanka appealing to her father to moderate his tone or flip on controversial issues were exaggerated. "I think it was overblown," said Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs... These days, Trump no longer feels the need to weigh in on the issue du jour. Instead, she has focused on economic initiatives that benefit women and families..." [CNN]

ON THE HILL -- Senate misses 60 day window to re-impose Iran sanctions -- by Aaron Magid: President Donald Trump announced with great fanfare that he was decertifying the nuclear deal with Iran on October 13. Under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), Congress had a special 60 day period to reimpose nuclear sanctions against Iran. On the Senate side, under this special provision, only a simple majority was required with 51 Senators. However, the 60 day window has passed. Congress still has the ability to reimpose nuclear sanctions against Iran after the two month window but the path will now be more difficult. In the Senate, a vote would now require support from 60 Senators through regular order allowing Democrats to filibuster.

“I believe, frankly, that we are in a situation where the President himself and the executive branch can take action,” Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) told Jewish Insider yesterday. “The Senate rules are creating a roadblock in a whole range of areas and the last thing we have got to do on the House side is have those Senate rules restrain what we do. We ought to do what we think is right and then if the Senate is not able to impose the kind of sanctions or produce the kind of reforms we know are necessary, then they have to explain that to the American people.”

On October 23, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker (R-TN) explained, “I don’t have any timetable. We’ll get it passed when it’s ready.” Working with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), the Tennessee lawmaker added, “This is something we hope to pass with 80-85 votes.”

Some Democrats were pleased that the 2015 nuclear agreement will remain intact for now. “The message is we think that there are things that are working about the Iran deal and we don’t want to overturn it,” Rep. Pramila Jaypal (D-WA) asserted. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) noted, “Even people who had qualms about the agreement now see its value. It’s not just Democrats, it’s Republicans that control this place.” [JewishInsider]

-- "The White House said Tuesday there was never any expectation Congress would act on sanctions within the review period and that the administration is still working with Congress on a longer-term, legislative fix to the deal." [ABCNews]

The Senate unanimously passed yesterday the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act, aimed to help Holocaust survivors and their families obtain restitution or the return of Nazi-confiscated assets and introduced in by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted that the legislation - pending approval by the House of Representatives - passed just hours before the start of Hanukkah. “Passing this bill makes eminent sense and was the right thing to do, especially on this night because the memories of those who perished in the Holocaust will always shine brightly like Hanukkah candles," Schumer said in a statement.

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Luminati has a new partner: mega-mall developers Ghermezian brothers [Riverhead] Sir Frank Lowy: 'I'm not the retiring type' [TheAustralian] Competing James Packer biographies set to hit shelves [SidneyHerald] Netanyahu to be questioned for seventh time in graft probe [ToI] The slide deck that Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield shows to new hires reveals how he never expected the company to get so huge [BusinessInsider]

STARTUP NATION: "Homeis, a culture network for immigrants, launches and nabs $4m seed round led by Spark Capital" by Danny Crichton: "Immigrating to a new country is one of the most challenging experiences any person can face. In a single instant, your social networks, your ability to communicate, and your knowledge of how a society functions disappears, and nearly everything has to be learned from scratch. That extraordinary dislocation is one reason why ethnic enclaves exist in large cities like New York City or San Francisco — being around others like yourself provides a bridge from one’s old country to their new home. Homeis is the creation of two Israeli entrepreneurs, Ran Harnevo, the former president of video for TechCrunch parent Oath, and Hanan Laschover, the former CEO of Aol Israel."

"Homeis is a “culture network” for local, foreign-born communities. The vision for the product is to connect immigrants together around critical tasks, including finding local services, learning about their new society, and connecting with peers in a similar situation as themselves. In addition to launching the product, the company announced today a $4m seed fundraise. Joining lead investor Spark in the seed round was Canaan Partners, The Chernin Group, and Samsung Next, along with angels including Oath CEO Tim Armstrong and Adam Singolda, CEO of Taboola." [TechCrunch]

FAUDA FEEDBACK -- Due to the large response from readers to our coverage yesterday of the Fauda Season 2 screening, we figured we'd share a funny photo from the evening featuring Lior Raz demonstrating a knock out punch on moderator Dan Senor [Pic] h/t Bari Weiss.

TALK OF OUR NATION: "Tens of thousands of Israelis attend ultra-Orthodox rabbi's funeral" by Peter Beaumont: "Rabbi Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman said he would be content if 10 people came to his funeral. On Tuesday, tens of thousands attended the commemorations for the leader of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, one of Israel’s most influential rabbis, who has died aged 104. There were no eulogies, as Shteinman requested in a will that also included the plea that his followers neither name their children after him nor write press articles about him. Shteinman, widely regarded as “Gadol Hador” or “leader of the generation”, was known for his rabbinic scholarship, his relatively pragmatic rulings and his extremely modest lifestyle." [TheGuardian; Reuters]

TOP OPS -- “Appalled by Trump and Betrayed by Netanyahu, Liberal American Jews Feel Alone and Abandoned” by Chemi Shalev: “Liberal Jews, who comprise the majority of American Jews, would rather talk in public about any topic in the world besides Israel. It makes them feel uncomfortable. Jacobs believes his movement should embrace social activism and dedicate itself to equality and social justice not just as worthy causes but as a means of reengaging with younger Jews, who have abandoned the temples and rituals of their parents as well as their blind devotion to Israel. Jacobs called on his audience on Saturday to rediscover the positive things that they love about Israel, but he and other Jewish leaders know that selling 2017 Israel, ruled as it is by ultra-Orthodox, settlers and a prime minister who is a consummate cynic, is a mission impossible." [Haaretz]

“Is Today’s ‘Social Justice’ Jewish?” by Josh Block: "Today, rather than using the bar or bat mitzvah as an opportunity to impart critical lessons that will help ground our children in a common identity and an authentic commitment to protecting Jewish lives, far too often we are encouraging them to skip all that and go directly to causes that are essentially universal. These causes are praiseworthy in their own right, but the shift in emphasis has meant that the role of an individual Jew is simply to do something good, for anyone, for any cause, because we are Jewish and we seek to repair the world. Yes, it is still labeled as “Jewish,” but without the core elements of history, peoplehood, and textual heritage, that label has become increasingly hollow." [TabletMag]

"An Eye-Opening Introduction to the Jewish Influence on America's Founding" by Tevi Troy: "For lovers of Jewish ideas and American political history, these eight one-hour videos (Tikvah Fund’s new online course Jewish Ideas and the American Founders) constitute an eye-opening introduction to the Jewish influence on the American founding and the early republic, relayed through Rabbi Meir Soloveichik’s erudite insights into the religious underpinnings of some of America’s basic political ideas... If you think an American rabbi can’t do British humor, you haven’t heard Rabbi Soloveichik reciting the exchange on the divine right of kings between King Arthur and a surprisingly well-informed peasant from Monty Python and the Holy Grail." [MosaicMag]

"Lighting Hanukkah Candles Under the Swastika’s Shadow" by Daniella Greenbaum: "In Kiel, Germany, in 1932, Rabbi Dr. Akiva Posner and his wife, Rachel, lit the menorah and placed it on their window sill. Directly across the street was a Nazi flag... The poignancy of the juxtaposition didn’t escape Rachel Posner. She took a photograph of the menorah and the swastika. On its back, she scribbled in German, “ ‘Death to Judah’ so the flag says, ‘Judah will live forever,’ so the light answers.” ... For 51 weeks of the year, the menorah belongs to Yad Vashem... But each year, right before Hanukkah, the family takes the menorah back and puts it to good use. I spoke by phone with the Posners’ great-grandson, Akiva Baruch Mansbach, who... lights the menorah every year... “The same light that my great-grandparents lit in the exile in Germany is the light that so many light today in Israel,” he told me. “It demonstrates the continuity of Jewish history.”" [NYTimes]

"The Political Power of Art" by John Ortved: "In the living room, pictures of [Ariel] Foxman with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Michelle Obama sit on a mantel next to family photos and a silver menorah. Above them hangs a felt cafe board on which the artist Maynard Monrow wrote with plastic letters, “For your information we the people are all immigrants.” “We just love the message of the piece,” Mr. Foxman said. “I’m the child of immigrants. My father was a Holocaust survivor."" [NYTimes]

DESSERT -- BIG FOR SF: "Kosher bakery pumps out 4,000 donuts a day for Hanukkah" by Lisa Fernandez: "Yesterday, I made 4,000 sufganiyot," [Isaac Yosef] the co-owner of Frena Bakery said, using the Hebrew word for jelly donut - a huge treat in Israel for the eight-day Festival of Lights... Frena opened last year at 132 6th Street and specializes in savory Mediterranean pastries. Many of the recipes were gleaned from Yosef's great-grandfather who traveled from Iraq to Israel. Frena means oven in Greek. It is one of the only kosher bakeries in the Bay Area, and the only one in San Francisco." [KTVU]

BIRTHDAYS: New York State Senator (1985-2012), Suzanne "Suzi" Oppenheimer turns 83... California-based real estate developer active in the revitalization of downtown San Jose, he is a former co-owner of the Oakland Athletics, Lewis Wolff turns 82... Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel of Hollywood since 1988, Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, and a member of the Executive Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street, John Rosove turns 68... Executive chairwoman and chief media officer of Eko (a start-up focused on interactive music videos), she was previously a high ranking executive at Microsoft and CBS, Nancy Tellem turns 65... Chairman of the Federal Reserve (2006-2014), now a Distinguished Fellow in Residence at the Brookings Institution, Ben Shalom Bernanke turns 64... Academic, hedge fund manager, investor, writer and adjunct professor at Columbia University, Joel Greenblatt turns 60... After 10 years as a Maryland state senator from Montgomery County, he became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2017, Jamie Raskin turns 55... Co-Founder and principal of The Lead PR, LLC, a NYC based public relations firm, following 14 years as SVP for communications at ABC News, Jeffrey W. Schneider turns 49... Mayor of New Rochelle, New York since 2006, Noam Bramson turns 48... Manager of Global Communications and Public Affairs at Google's DC office, Riva Litman turns 32... President Emerita at UCLA Faculty Women's Club, Bette Billet...

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