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WHITE HOUSE DEPARTURE LOUNGE: "Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser, to depart Trump White House" by Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey: "Powell is exiting on good terms with the president, the officials said. She and Trump have discussed her departure and are working on an arrangement for Powell to continue advising the administration on Middle East policy from outside the government... National security adviser H.R. McMaster called Powell “one of the most talented and effective leaders with whom I have ever served.” ... Powell is planning to accompany Vice President Pence on his high-stakes visit to Israel and Egypt later this month. “Dina has done a great job for the administration and has been a valued member of the Israeli-Palestinian peace team,” Kushner said in an email. “She will continue to play a key role in our peace efforts, and we will share more details on that in the future.” Powell is departing days after Trump announced the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, throwing a wrench into peace talks." [WashPost]
Elliott Abrams tells us... “Dina was one of the voices urging and then defending the President’s decision on Jerusalem. There are many reasons I’m sorry to see her go and this is one of them.”
Flashback -- Kushner at the Saban Forum last week: “Her family is Egyptian, she speaks Arabic, she’s been very instrumental in helping us develop a regional aspirational economic plan for what could happen post-peace." [Video]
-- SPECULATION: "Ms. Powell’s name has also surfaced in speculation about a shake-up in the administration’s foreign policy ranks. If, as expected, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson leaves his job in the coming months, a potential successor would be Nikki R. Haley, who is the American ambassador to the United Nations. With her home base in New York, Ms. Powell is viewed as a candidate for the United Nations post." [NYTimes]
HEARD YESTERDAY -- U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Fox News Sunday: "I have said for months that I am not interested in the Secretary of State position and it's because I know that I am valuable here at the United Nations. I am able to negotiate, I am able to move the ball... So I think I'm effective, and I try to do the best I can for the president, as well as the American people and so that's why I choose to stay in New York."
LongRead: "Can Nikki Haley Save the World?" by Andrew Rice: “She’s very content with staying at the U.N. and is actually happy that [Mike] Pompeo inserted himself into the situation,” says one person in contact with Haley’s team. “Anyone who gets too close to Trump’s orbit gets burned.” In internal debates, Haley has been aligned with Pompeo... Over the summer, according to Politico, as Trump raged against the [Iran] deal to Tillerson, who favored staying in it, Haley met with the president and offered to “lay a foundation” for withdrawal... Tillerson was reportedly furious, but the president ended up following Haley’s course. Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, credited Haley with “helping to translate his gut desire to take an action into a policy.” ...
-- "At the U.N., Haley has surrounded herself with a fiercely protective circle of young aides she brought with her from South Carolina. “The No. 1 person she listens to is Jon Lerner,” says a former State Department official. Haley’s longtime political strategist now serves as her deputy in Washington... Lerner — a protégé of Arthur Finkelstein, the famously ruthless consultant responsible for the careers of Jesse Helms and Al D’Amato — has a long-term plan for Haley, and he is there to make sure nothing derails it. “I certainly think she has presidential aspirations,” says Tom Davis, a South Carolina state senator who knows Haley and Lerner well. “George Bush had Karl Rove, and Obama had Axelrod. Nikki Haley has Jon Lerner.” [NYMag]
Haley talks Trump's Jerusalem move on CNN's State of the Union with Jake Tapper: "When the president made this comment on Wednesday, everybody said the sky was going to fall. So, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the sky is still up there. It hasn't fallen. It is maybe human nature for some to say, this is terrible, this is terrible, but what if this actually moved the ball forward? ... What I will tell you is, you know, you have to look at the situation, that he just took Jerusalem off the table... So, now they get to come together. They get to decide what the borders will look like. They get to decide the boundaries. And they get to talk about how they want to see Jerusalem going forward. All we did was say, this is not something that we're going to allow to happen in the middle of your negotiations... We did not talk about boundaries or borders for a reason, and that's because... that's between the Palestinians and the Israelis. That's not for the Americans to decide." [Video] Emma Green writes, "Trump Did Not Bring Jerusalem Crashing Down" [TheAtlantic]
Nikki Haley tweets: "Happy Hanukkah @Jaketapper. I hope you have a great holiday season!" [Twitter]
CORRECTION: A prior version of an article in Jewish Insider on Friday mistakenly ran the headline that “Following Jerusalem, Dermer calls on Trump to recognize Israeli control over Golan.” The headline was unclear. We regret this error. Ambassador Dermer was responding to our reporter’s question. The reporter asked, “Are you calling on the US to also recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel?” Ambassador Dermer answered: “That’s an issue that we’ve raised many times. We think governments should recognize. That’s an issue that has actually come up before. So yes, the answer for that would be yes. Maybe we’ll have another historic day during the Trump Presidency. We’ll see. Meanwhile, we should all appreciate what happened Wednesday.”
Palestinian president to shun Pence over Jerusalem move: “Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will refuse to meet US Vice President Mike Pence later this month "There will be no meeting with the vice president of America in Palestine," Abbas's diplomatic adviser Majdi al-Khaldi told AFP. "The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision," he added.” [AFP] Egypt's Coptic Church rejects meeting with Pence over Jerusalem move [Reuters]
In a statement issued yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence’s spokeswoman Alyssa Farah called the Palestinians’ decision ‘unfortunate’ -- "The Vice President very much looks forward to traveling to the region and to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President el-Sisi. It's unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority is walking away again from an opportunity to discuss the future of the region, but the administration remains undeterred in its efforts to help achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians and our peace team remains hard at work putting together a plan.” [Twitter]
FIRST LOOK -- Mike Pence's itinerary on Israel trip -- by Mike Allen: "Pence takes off from Washington, lands in Tel Aviv and goes straight to Jerusalem for a bilateral meeting with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu. Pence then will light a menorah at the Western Wall. An aide said that Pence's message in Israel will be that Trump... is committed to working for peace between Israelis and Palestinians... On Sunday, Pence will give the signature speech at the Knesset... The speech will be aimed at the region overall. Pence will emphasize that he is there on behalf of the president, and detail why Israel is a most cherished ally of the United States." [Axios]
NEW DETAILS: "Trump Administration Blindsided Palestinian Leaders on Jerusalem Designation" by David Kenner: "Just last week, Palestinian diplomats were cautiously optimistic that U.S. President Donald Trump was on a path that could deliver what the president termed the “ultimate deal”... Their optimism was bolstered by a series of interactions with Trump, culminating in a previously unreported meeting on Nov. 30. The meeting included... Jared Kushner... Jason Greenblatt, and... Dina Powell, who met with three senior Palestinian intelligence and diplomatic officials... The Palestinian delegation asked whether Trump would sign the waiver to prevent the U.S. Embassy from moving to Jerusalem... but the American side did not volunteer the additional information about Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem... The Palestinian official said his delegation believed that the two sides were continuing to lay the groundwork for a diplomatic process... Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem this week, however, has stopped these efforts in their tracks." [FP]
HAPPENING TODAY: President Donald Trump will participate "in a presentation of the Friends of Zion award with Faith Leaders" in the Oval Office, according to the WH schedule.
"Tougher U.S. Tone Toward Saudi Arabia Exposes Rift on Key Ally" by Nick Wadhams and Nafeesa Syeed: "“There seems to be a little more of a unified voice from Washington,” said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. “Those are the same arguments that Mattis and Tillerson were making earlier, but earlier we saw statements out of the White House or tweets from the president that seemed to undermine their concerns and now those statements are absent.” ... In recent weeks, Tillerson got Trump’s permission to deliver private messages to Prince Mohammed, warning him against further destabilizing actions in Qatar." [Bloomberg]
Iran says ‘good relations’ possible if Saudis change: "In a speech broadcast Sunday, [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani said the regional rivals could have “good relations” if the Saudis end their “misguided friendship” with Israel and halt the “inhuman bombardment” of Yemen." [AP]
INSIDE THE ADMIN: "White House Names Trump Loyalist to Iran Policy Job at State Department" by Robbie Gramer and Dan De Luce: "Andrew L. Peek, a former captain in the U.S. Army Reserve and member of the president’s State Department transition team, will become the new deputy assistant secretary of state covering Iran and Iraq... He will replace Chris Backmeyer, who... previously served as deputy coordinator for sanctions policy at the State Department and National Security Council director on Iran from 2012 to 2014 under President Barack Obama... According to his LinkedIn profile, Peek... was a columnist for the New York Observer, a news outlet then owned by Jared Kushner." [FP]
INSIDE THE OVAL: "Inside Trump's Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation" by Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker: "Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, has told associates that Mr. Trump, deeply set in his ways at age 71, will never change. Rather, he predicted, Mr. Trump would bend, and possibly break, the office to his will... Mr. Trump, [John] Kelly and Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, met for more than an hour on Nov. 1 as [Jeanine] Pirro whipped up the president against [Robert] Mueller... The president became visibly agitated as she spoke. “Roy Cohn was my lawyer!” he exclaimed... suggesting that was the type of defender he needed now... In between, it is time for phone calls, to... old friends like Thomas J. Barrack Jr. and Richard LeFrak." [NYTimes]
DEEP DIVE: "The Myth of Vladimir Putin the Puppet Master" by Julia Ioffe: "Russia’s interference in the U.S. election was just as shortsighted. At first, Donald Trump’s victory seemed to be a great coup for Putin. Kremlin loyalists celebrated Trump’s inauguration in Moscow, including at a live watch party with free-flowing champagne. And it conferred on Russia prestige of a sort. When I asked Victor Minin, the former Russian-government cybersecurity specialist who runs hackathons across Russia, about the effect of American media coverage of Russian hackers, he said, “It’s the brand of the year. It’s a good thing when, aside from oil, we have cutting-edge specialists and the whole world is talking about them.” But this victory has burned out even faster than the others... Congress, in a rare near-unanimous vote, stripped Trump of the ability to unilaterally lift American sanctions on Russia." [TheAtlantic]
“Obama invokes Nazi Germany in warning about today's politics” by Miranda Green: “You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we've seen societies where that happens," Obama said at the Economic Club of Chicago on Tuesday... "Now, presume there was a ballroom here in Vienna in the late 1920s or '30s that looked and seemed as if it, filled with the music and art and literature that was emerging, would continue into perpetuity. And then 60 million people died. An entire world was plunged into chaos," Obama said. "So you got to pay attention -- and vote." [CNN]
ALABAMA SPECIAL ELECTION -- "In Alabama, evangelicals weigh good, evil and Roy Moore" by Jonathan Allen: "Trump remains popular with Alabamians... His recent declaration that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, mentioned by Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., at Trump's Friday night rally, was immensely popular with evangelicals who believe that Jewish control of Jerusalem is a predicate for the second coming of Jesus Christ." [NBCNews] "One can also read Trump signalling his comfort with Alabama evangelists in the timing of the decision to move the US embassy... to Jerusalem." [Guardian]
“How Trump came around to an accused child molester” by Eliana Johnson and Alex Isenstadt: “White House aides advised the president against getting involved in the contest... That includes members of his own staff and even his daughter Ivanka, whose harsh words for Moore worked only to push the president in the opposite direction.” [Politico]
2018 WATCH -- Andy Levin running for his father's open seat -- by Jonathan Oosting: "Democrat Andy Levin wants to succeed his father in Congress but will face primary competition from state Sen. Steve Bieda and others. Levin and Bieda each launched campaigns Wednesday for the seat long held by U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, who announced Saturday he will not seek re-election in 2018... Experts say Levin enters the race as a leading candidate who could prove a force if his father backs him and provides access to established fundraising channels." [DetroitNews]
** Good Monday 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **
SPOTLIGHT: "Jim Simons, the Numbers King" by D. T. Max: "Simons, a noted mathematician, is also the founder of Renaissance Technologies, one of the world’s largest hedge funds. His income last year was $1.6 billion, the highest in the hedge-fund industry... One thing that Simons did not predict is that Robert Mercer would become one of the most divisive figures in American politics. In October, Simons, who is the non-executive chairman of Renaissance’s board, encouraged Mercer to resign from his management position at the firm. Mercer did so. Simons said that the decision was practical, not political. Mercer’s growing notoriety was “not so good for morale,” he explained. “One of our very best people had just said he was quitting,” he noted, and “another of the very best people seemed to be on the verge.” Simons checked in with the firm’s members recently, and he believes that he got the data he wanted: morale has improved. “I think I was right,” he said." [NewYorker]
"Can Marriott Keep Starwood’s Culture of Cool, and Its Customers?" by Ron Lieber: "Starwood’s primary origins are in two acquisitions in the late 1990s, first of Westin and then of Sheraton’s parent company. The first W Hotel, which grew into a boutique chain (something that previously was an oxymoronic notion), arrived in New York in 1998... All of that gave Starwood a running start, but it eventually became clear that its founder, Barry Sternlicht, whom Bill Marriott once dismissed as a “kid with a backpack,” was better at buffing and building higher-end brands than he was at the more boring task of getting hotel developers to build $100-a-night limited-service properties in college towns and suburban office parks." [NYTimes]
PODCAST PLAYBACK: "Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos used to be just like you, says Y Combinator’s Daniel Gross" by Eric Johnson: "When Daniel Gross moved to Silicon Valley from Jerusalem, he thought he was right to be intimidated by his new peers. But the Y Combinator partner... says he was happy to be wrong about that. “The day-to-day emotional rollercoaster ride is intense,” Gross said of being a tech entrepreneur on the latest episode of Recode Decode. “But the thing you need to realize — if you’re listening to this and you’re outside of Silicon Valley and it all looks hard and unapproachable — is that it’s very gradual. Everyone starts out with very, very humble beginnings.”" [Recode]
"When Waze Won't Help, Palestinians Make Their Own Maps" by Miriam Berger: "If you’re set on crossing the often invisible dividing line between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, your best option is to close Waze and open Maps.Me. The Belarus–born, now Russian–owned navigation app pulls from open source mapping and can be downloaded for offline use, a crucial feature in the Territories, where there’s no 3G for Palestinian providers... It’s a database of roads, schools, squares, shops, and other landmarks that programmers have plotted through open source mapping... places that otherwise would have been left largely off the radar." [Wired]
"Jerusalem: It’s Tense, Crowded and Can Feel Like a Jail" by David Halbfinger: “I’ve been driving for 18 years,” says Muhammad Ziada, 39. He says he has many Jewish friends, goes to their weddings, attends their relatives’ funerals, as they do for his. “But there’s a big religion problem in Jerusalem,” he said. “It’s a city of racism. Once there’s a little bit of balagan” — chaos — “between Jews and Arabs, Jews won’t go in my taxi, and Arabs won’t go to the mall. And if I go into a religious neighborhood and they find out I’m Arab, they’ll stone my car... There will never be peace here,” Mr. Ziada says. But he does not lay blame. “If they take all the Arabs away, the Jews would eat each other. And the same thing with us.” [NYTimes]
"Bella Hadid Joined ‘Free Palestine’ March Outside U.S. Embassy in London" by Amanda Arnold: "Bella Hadid went straight from London’s Oxford Street to the U.S. Embassy last night, where she joined in with “Free Palestine” demonstrators who were protesting Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel earlier this week, TMZ reports. The 21-year-old model looked unintentionally glamorous, marching with a “Free Palestine: End Israeli Occupation” sign while still wearing her evening gown from the event before." [TheCut]
HOLLYWOOD: "Kirk Douglas Celebrates 101st Birthday: Exclusive Look Inside The Family Party" by Pete Hammond: "Douglas’ Oscar winning son Michael flew in from New York just to be with his day on the special day... Kirk’s son Joel drove in from the desert and posed for a photo with Michael and Kirk by spelling out 101 with their fingers... Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has cited Kirk as his model for philanthropy, was there... Universal Chairman Ron Meyer also came by the lunchtime event... Among others at the small gathering were producer George Schlatter and wife Jolene, Neile McQueen Toffel, producer David Permut, writer David Bender, and director Jeff Kanew... Perhaps, the most important guest was Douglas’ cardiologist, Dr. P.K. Shah who per tradition at these annual birthday gatherings brought along the vodka for the one drink a year he allows Kirk to have. Everyone vowed to be back next year to do it all again for his 102nd." [Deadline]
TALK OF THE TOWN: "Hotel starved us during $37K bat mitzvah: suit" by Kathianne Boniello: "[Nancy] Held planned 700 passed hors d’oeuvres — but most never made it to the guests, she claims. The entrees of steak or scallops were then served “ice cold,” Held alleges. Those who sent their entrees back to the kitchen allegedly got a second helping that was no better. Dessert wasn’t sweet either. “The adult guests at the Held Party were so hungry, as little to any desserts were being served, that many of the adults ate the kid’s ice cream,” according to court papers. “We were starving,” Held’s husband, Marc, told The Post. “We were hosting the party and we didn’t have any food to eat.”" [NYPost]
DESSERT: "Go Ahead, Bite Into That Bacon Cheeseburger. It’s Kosher" by Flora Tsapovsky: "How, one wonders, can you serve a juicy cheeseburger and still keep your restaurant kosher? At Crave, the new fast-casual restaurant by American chef Todd Aarons, the union is made possible thanks to a a couple of twists no one saw coming: Vegan cheese and lamb bacon." [TabletMag]
BIRTHDAYS: Businessman and philanthropist who kept 3,000 employees on his payroll in 1995 when his company Malden Mills' factory burnt down, Aaron Feuerstein turns 92... Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, professor at Rockefeller University, Paul Greengard turns 92... U.S. Secretary of State in the Obama administration (2013-2017), following 28 years (1985-2013) as a US Senator from Massachusetts, John Kerry turns 74... Stuart Paley turns 72... Professor of International Economics at Princeton University, Gene Grossman turns 62... Joanne Ring turns 59... Policy researcher at Rand Corporation and a special advisor on Israel with Rand's Center for Middle East Public Policy, Shira Efron Ph.D. turns 39... Manager of public affairs and marketing at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Michael Chananie turns 28... Criminal Justice Reporter for the Washington Examiner, Kelly Cohen turns 27... Judah Schulman turns 26... Marshall Wolf... The Daily Beast's Gideon Resnick... Politico’s Marianne LeVine... Perry Rosen... President at DP Strategies Group and partner at Dark Horse Strategy, Josh Brown (h/ts Playbook)...
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