IMPACT OF SANCTIONS — Mistrust infects Iran’s bazaars as sanctions bite — by Najmeh Bozorgmehr: "Traders in Tehran's bazaar say the Islamic Republic should sit at the negotiating table with the U.S. and make difficult decisions about its regional and defense policies. Iran has managed to ease the currency crisis in recent weeks by buying rials in the open market with foreign currency... Shopkeepers complain about skyrocketing wholesale prices and the declining purchasing power of consumers... Iran’s leaders have pinned some hope on the EU’s willingness to stick with the nuclear deal and find ways to defy the U.S. sanctions. But Iranian officials say the political significance of Europe’s promises is yet to yield economic benefits." [FinancialTimes]
Jared Kushner, in Buenos Aires for G20, pays tribute to victims of AMIA Jewish center attack: "White House senior adviser Jared Kushner paid tribute to the victims of 1994 attack on AMIA, Buenos Aires Jewish center [on Friday]. Kushner was received by AMIA President Agustin Zbar, who thanked the U.S. for its commitment to the AMIA victims and the positions it has taken against Iran." [JTA; Pic]
DRIVING THE DAY — Israeli prime minister to meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brussels: "Benjamin Netanyahu's office says he is set to meet with Pompeo in the Belgian capital on Monday to discuss "regional developments." It did not provide specifics. Netanyahu will be accompanied by top Israeli intelligence and military officials. The meeting comes as the U.S. administration gears up to release its much-anticipated Middle East peace plan, as well as in the wake of the U.S. restoring sanctions on Iran." [ABCNews]
— "Before taking off from Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said that he will discuss with Pompeo "the Iranian aggression in Israel's northern border." [Axios]
HEARD YESTERDAY — House Democratic Leader and likely the next House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Israeli American Council (IAC) national conference in South Florida: "Some people say to me in the Jewish community, 'You can't possibly understand, you don't have Jewish grandparents.' To which I say: No, but I have Jewish grandchildren." Earlier in the panel, Pelosi mentioned that 4 of her 9 grandchildren are Jewish.
Appearing alongside Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Pelosi sought to reassure the Jewish community that under her leadership support for Israel will remain strong despite some concerns about newly-elected members of Congress and an ongoing drift in support for Israel among young Democrats.
Pelosi singled out prominent Democratic lawmakers who are in line to head key committees in the next Congress as proof that the Democratic Party remains committed to supporting security aid to Israel and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship. "We have people very well placed to share our values in terms of Israel in the heart and in spirit. Remove all doubt in your mind. It's just a question of not paying attention to a few people who may want to go their own way. But as far as Congress is concerned, we try very hard to unify and to have bipartisanship in all of this."
"The House is in very good shape to be really strong for Israel this year," Senator Schumer added.
Schumer also repeated the defense of his party's record on Israel in the Senate, pointing out that every single member of his caucus supports security aid to Israel. "And now we have the U.S.-Israel security pact. Every single Democrat supports it. One person is holding it up, that's Senator [Rand] Paul. He's a Republican. But I don't say that Republicans don't support Israel, just him."
Haim Saban, who served as moderator: What's with Rand Paul all of a sudden?
Schumer: "Rand Paul marches to his own drum ― in all due respect he is a very nice man, I see him in the gym on the bike — but no one can quite figure out where he is coming from on some of these issues, because if you believe in the security of America, you have to support the security of Israel."
Pelosi: "I don't know about Rand Paul. I don't go to the gym."
Schumer: "You are welcome to the gym, Madame Speaker."
While the two Democratic leaders refrained from mentioning President Trump, Saban — after discussing the rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S. — indirectly referenced Trump's Charlottesville comments: "I said I am not going to do this, but I am going to do it. There are no nice people on both sides. There are bad people and there are good people. The bad people are the anti-Semites, period." (Applause)
SPOTTED — Schumer flying commercial on a Sunday afternoon JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to Newark [Pic]
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS AT THE IAC CONFERENCE — Vice President Mike Pence, who delivered the keynote address on Friday: "In the wake of Airbnb’s decision to ban listings of Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, we've made it clear: the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is wrong, and it has no place in the free enterprise of the United States of America... We stand with Israel because support for the Jewish state is not a partisan issue; it is an American issue... I believe there may have been no better example of the President's love for the Jewish people, and his leadership, than the way this President responded in the wake of the brutal attack that took place at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."
Florida Governor-elect Ron DeSantis: "If we’re not the most pro-Israel state in the country, we will be on January 8... I have already warned companies like Airbnb that if you single out Jews in Judea and Samaria for disparate treatment, we are going to review our BDS laws… and we are going to act. We need to fight anti-Semitism on all fronts and BDS is nothing more than a cloak for anti-Semitism... Whether you are Airbnb or any other company thinking about taking action against Israel, all I can tell you is, as Governor: Go ahead and make my day, because I will act and act quickly." [Pic]
Rand Paul breaks with Trump on Saudi Arabia — by Laura Kelly: "Republican Senator Rand Paul blamed scheduling conflicts for his absence at a Washington D.C. conference hosted by right-wing think tank Frontiers of Freedom last week, instead sending a 10-minute pre-recorded speech to the event. In his remarks, Paul criticized the Trump administration’s relations with Saudi Arabia. "I think we should re-examine our ties to Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We need to be stronger, we need to stand up to the Saudis and say, no more weapons until you start behaving. I’m breaking with the administration on their handling of this.” [JewishInsider]
REMEMBERING GEORGE H.W. BUSH — The nation is mourning the passing of former President George H.W. Bush, who died late Friday at age 94. Members of Congress will welcome the casket at an arrival ceremony held at the U.S. Capitol this afternoon.
George Bush’s Final Days — by Peter Baker: "His longtime friend and former secretary of state, James A. Baker III, arrived at his Houston home on Friday morning to check on him. Mr. Bush suddenly grew alert, his eyes wide open. “Where are we going, Bake?” he asked. “We’re going to heaven,” Mr. Baker answered. “That’s where I want to go,” Mr. Bush said. Barely 13 hours later, Mr. Bush was dead." [NYTimes]
William Daroff, who worked on Bush's presidential campaign in 1988, emails: "My first personal interactions with George Herbert Walker Bush were in 1987, when he was running for President and I was working for Congressman Jack Kemp (R-NY), who was also seeking the Republican nomination. Despite being ensconced in an entourage befitting a sitting Vice President, Bush always stopped to exchange pleasantries and express his respect for the fact that his opponents’ staff were engaged in the political process. After Kemp dropped out of the election, I went to work for the Bush campaign, and then on his Inaugural Committee, and finally as a political appointee in his Administration. My interactions with him continued to show that he had a deep respect for everyone with whom he interacted. I had left the Administration by the time of the loan guarantee crisis, which was a low-watermark in US-Israel relations. However, I honor his efforts on behalf of the Jewish people, including his instrumental role in liberating Jews from the former Soviet Union, Syria and Ethiopia." [Pic]
Lloyd Green, another Bush campaign staffer, writes: "George H. W. Bush was the last president to distinguish between two different tasks: campaigning and governing... The Bush White House was also the last organically bipartisan administration. President Bush was friends with Democrats like Senator Daniel Moynihan, Congressmen Lud Ashley of Ohio and Sonny Montgomery of Mississippi. Like Mr. Bush, each had worn a uniform, and served in America’s armed forces... Now, they are all gone."
Dennis Ross, who served as the Director of Policy Planning in the State Department under President Bush, shared with Jewish Insider an internal debate he and former Secretary of State James Baker had with Bush over an international summit to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following the first Gulf war, a condition raised by former President Mikhail Gorbachev during a summit in Helsinki. After accepting the advice of his aides, Ross recalls, Bush called Baker from Air Force One to apologize and to thank him — and relay his appreciation to Ross — for saving him from making a mistake. Read the full story here [JewishInsider]
"No one said anything for a few minutes, and then John Sununu, the White House Chief of Staff, broke the silence and said maybe we could have just a reference to an international conference and Baker said get off of it. Bush then said, 'Look Jimmy, if you can get a statement without it, fine.' And we were able to do so. Bush left Helsinki before we did, but in an act typical of him, but not necessarily of most presidents, he called Baker from Air Force One to thank him and asked him to thank me for saving him from making a mistake. He apologized for getting angry and appreciated what we had done for him."
Aaron David Miller, who served as an advisor on Arab-Israeli negotiations in the Bush administration, shares his first interaction with Bush: "One day in 1982, when I was still a young intelligence analyst at the Department of State following Lebanon and the Palestinians, the phone rang in my office. It was the White House situation room on the line. Shortly after the operator told me to hold, I heard George H.W. Bush, who was the vice president to Ronald Reagan at the time, say, "Aaron, I know you're busy, but I read one of your memos on Lebanon. Do you have a few minutes to chat? I'm sorry to bother but I have a lot of questions." [CNN]
Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro writes: "For Better or Worse, George H.W. Bush Changed the Face of the Middle East: In the months following the Gulf War, [Jim] Baker was relentless in cajoling Israel, Syria, Jordan, and a Palestinian delegation to attend a Middle East peace conference, which was eventually held in Madrid in October 1991. The conference itself produced no substantive breakthroughs, beyond having Israeli delegates seated at the same table with sworn enemies. But Madrid launched both bilateral and multilateral tracks of talks that continued for years." [Haaretz]
Dore Gold, who served as an advisor to then-Deputy Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the Madrid conference, tells us: "What I felt about President Bush was that the old world order was collapsing, and you needed a new order to replace it and he was attentive to the fundamental problems of the Middle East. In the new order, there should be no place for terrorist organizations, for example, and the principles for world order should relate to the problems we are facing. I think had he won the 1992 elections, we would have seen a greater expression of these ideas."
Abe Foxman, former ADL National Director, shared with Jewish Insider two personal experiences with Bush related to anti-Semitism: "Then-Vice President George H. W Bush, running for president in 1988, was considering appointing his senior advisor Fred Malek as his chief of staff. A story surfaced that during President Nixon's term, Malek had drawn up a list of important Jewish officials at the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the behest of President Richard Nixon. Charges of anti-Semitism against Malek came from Democratic sources and Malek was never appointed to the position. I defended Malek, saying that one mistake did not make him an anti-Semite. Bush sent me later a hand-written letter thanking me for the decency and courage of standing up to defend a good person publicly. That’s how my friendship with the president started."
"Several years later, he and I received honorary degrees from the Florida International University. Bush greeted me, saying, 'I just wrote you a letter on the plane thanking you for standing up against charges that I was an anti-Semite.' Days later, the letter arrived in which Bush expressed his appreciation. Bush was criticized in some Jewish circles because of his Middle East policies. I stated that while I disagreed with the president on the Middle East, he certainly was not an anti- Semite. I later witnessed his extraordinary efforts on behalf of Jews in trouble in the Soviet Union, Ethiopia and Syria."
Watch: Then-Vice President George H. W. Bush at the Freedom Rally for Soviet Jews in DC in 1987 [CSPAN]
White House Hanukkah Party postponed due to Bush memorial: This year’s White House Hanukkah party, scheduled for Wednesday, has been pushed off to Thursday in deference to the memorial service of President George H.W. Bush. “Wednesday, December 5, has been designated a national day of mourning in honor of President George H.W. Bush,” the White House Social Office announced in an email to invited guests. “We are writing to inform you that the White House Hanukkah Reception that you were invited to on that day... has been rescheduled to Thursday, December 6.” [JewishInsider]
Trump Administration Scrambling to Save U.S. Support for Palestinian Security Forces — by Amir Tibon: "In recent weeks... the administration realized that starting from 2019, American security assistance to the PA could end... as a result of recent legislation which grants American courts jurisdiction with regard to acts of terrorism committed abroad. The administration is trying to convince members of Congress to amend the law, fearing that if remained unchanged all U.S. assistance to the PA’s security forces will be terminated in early 2019." [Haaretz]
Worth watching: Tim Sebastian interviews Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat for DW’s Conflict Zone [Video]
HAPPENING TODAY — The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is kicking off its 3rd annual Never Is Now summit at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York this morning. The program includes panel discussions on the rise in anti-Semitism in the U.S. and around the world, an award presentation by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and a keynote address from Apple CEO Tim Cook in the afternoon. [Livestream]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Michael Cohen’s Lawyers Ask for No Prison Time After Plea — by Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Rebecca Ballhaus: "Lawyers for Michael Cohen... asked a federal judge in a memorandum filed late Friday night to impose no prison time for Mr. Cohen... Mr. Cohen’s lawyers said Mr. Cohen’s decision to cooperate with investigators reflected his “personal resolve, notwithstanding past errors, to re-point his internal compass true north toward a productive, ethical and thoroughly law abiding life.” [WSJ]
— "Threaded throughout the document were testimonials from people closest to Mr. Cohen... The most powerful letter was from his 83-year-old father, Maurice Cohen, a Holocaust survivor, who wrote that his son is “the oxygen in the air that I breathe.” “I pray and beg, beg and pray that you won’t take my oxygen away from me,” the elder Mr. Cohen wrote." [NYTimes]
Alan Dershowitz says he's still advising Jeffrey Epstein — by Jonathan Swan: "Alan Dershowitz still provides legal advice to serial pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, he confirmed to Axios... "He has called me a couple of times about legal issues because I'm still technically his lawyer," Dershowitz told me in a phone interview on Saturday. "But I haven't had any social, or any other kind of contact... You never stop being a person's lawyer." [Axios]
Jamal Khashoggi's private WhatsApp messages may offer new clues to killing — by Nina dos Santos and Michael Kaplan: "In more than 400 WhatsApp messages sent to a fellow Saudi exile in the year before he was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Khashoggi describes bin Salman — often referred to as MBS — as a "beast," a "pac-man" who would devour all in his path, even his supporters... But in August, when he believed their conversations may have been intercepted by Saudi authorities, a sense of foreboding descends over Khashoggi. "God help us," he wrote... According to Bill Marczak, a research fellow at the Citizen Lab, the software was the invention of an Israeli firm named NSO Group, and deployed at the behest of the Saudi Arabian government." [CNN] Saudi friend of Khashoggi sues Israeli surveillance company [AP]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Israeli Police Urge Bribery and Fraud Charges Against Netanyahu. Again — by David Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner: "The Israeli police recommended Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on bribery, fraud and other charges, accusing him of trading regulatory favors for fawning news coverage... It was the third time this year that the police have urged that Mr. Netanyahu face criminal prosecution... Mr. Netanyahu, a close ally of President Trump’s, called the recommendations in the latest case unsurprising... “The witch hunt against us continues,” he told a gathering of activists from his Likud party." [NYTimes]
— "Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit's decision will influence Netanyahu's forthcoming political decisions — mainly the date for early elections. The decisions on the Netanyahu corruption cases will also affect the calculus of the Trump administration as they attempt to determine a release for their Israeli-Palestinian peace plan." [Axios]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: ‘J-Angel’ investors, Oded Hermoni and Jim Koshland, lift up Israeli expats in Silicon Valley [JWeekly] Why KFC keeps trying, but failing, in Israel [CNBC] Israel's Elbit gets $112 million Asia-Pacific intelligence systems deal [Reuters] Israeli gaming firm Playtika buys Germany's Wooga [Reuters] Top Israeli Investor Ron Zuckerman Predicts A Smart Chip Revolution In Guns [Forbes] Israel's Cannbit eyes medical cannabis growth, export in Portugal [Reuters]
Soros-founded university says it has been kicked out of Hungary as an autocrat tightens his grip — by Griff Witte: "An American university established a quarter-century ago to educate a new generation of leaders and scholars after communism’s collapse in Central and Eastern Europe said Monday it had been kicked out of its home in Hungary. The university, which was founded by Hungarian American financier George Soros... said Monday it had been left with no choice but to move its primary campus to Vienna next year after Orban’s government refused to acknowledge an agreement that would enable the school to continue to admit new students in Budapest."
"Despite the Soros affiliation, CEU was also, for a time, even defended by the Trump administration... But last week, after it became clear there would be no deal, Ambassador David B. Cornstein broke with previous U.S. policy on the matter. In an interview with The Washington Post, he refused to criticize Orban — whom he described as his “friend” — and pinned the blame on Soros, who he said had been insufficiently acquiescent to the government." [WashPost]
This Document Is Some Of The Research Facebook Commissioned On George Soros — by Ryan Mac, Joseph Bernstein, Charlie Warzel and Mat Honan: "The document includes headlines and excerpts taken from publicly accessible information including news clippings and blog posts... There is at least one other, longer Definers document involving Soros... Since the publication of the Times’ story, Eddie Vale, a spokesperson and consultant for Freedom From Facebook, said that no money from Soros directly or indirectly had been used to fund the coalition’s work." [BuzzFeed]
Michelle Obama Is Done With the Gospel of ‘Lean In’ — by Opheli Garcia Lawler: "Michelle Obama set the record straight during an appearance at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night, one of the many stops on her Becoming book tour... “That whole ‘so you can have it all.’ Nope, not at the same time,” Obama said. “That’s a lie. And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that s**t doesn’t work all the time.” “Leaning in” is a method that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote about in her book 2013 book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead." [TheCut]
PROFILE — Artist Alex Katz: ‘I’m 91, for Chrissakes, and I’m cranking out paintings’ — by Lilah Raptopoulos: "The thing about Alex Katz is that he never fitted in. His parents immigrated from Russia to a New York neighborhood with just one other Jewish family; he says he was known as “that crazy Katz kid”. When he found his style, about a decade after art school, it was also out of joint: “I didn’t fit in with the old Realists, I didn’t fit in with the Abstract Expressionists, I didn’t fit in with Pop Art,” he says. “There were a lot of parts of me that were not connecting at all.” [FinancialTimes]
TOP TALKER — Marc Lamont Hill apologizes for Israel remarks: "I take seriously the voices of so many Jewish brothers and sisters, who have interpreted my remarks as a call to or endorsement of violence. Rather than hearing a political solution, many heard a dog-whistle that conjured a long and deep history of violence against Jewish people. Although this was the furthest thing from my intent, those particular words clearly caused confusion, anger, fear, and other forms of harm. For that, I am deeply sorry." [Philly] Marvel’s “Incredible Hulk” Actor Mark Ruffalo Is Either Anti-Semitic Or Incredibly Stupid [RedState]
DEEP DIVE — How the DSA Went From Supporting Israel to Boycotting the Jewish ‘Ethnostate’ — by Abraham Riesman: "The DSA has made liberation of the downtrodden and the oppressed its goal since its founding more than 35 years ago. For much of that time, the organization felt it shared that goal with the left in Israel... But something deep in the soul of the group has transformed... One now struggles to find a DSAer—let alone a young one—who firmly identifies with Zionism, the ideology that (roughly speaking) says Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state and must be defended... In conversations with dozens of members over three months, nearly everyone complained about the national leadership being disorganized, ineffective, and often unreflective of local chapters’ concerns." [DailyBeast]
NEXT ON RAHM'S SCHEDULE — by Illinois Playbook: "Rahm Emanuel’s post-mayoral plans include teaching at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. The course would be politics. “In the corporate suite, you can’t outsource politics. It has to be central” to what businesses do, he told POLITICO during an interview in D.C... Emanuel also plans to spend time working in venture funds and with start-ups. And he’ll continue to make TV appearances as he’s done in recent months."
SPORTS BLINK — Brett Favre tricked into recording anti-Semitic video — by Max Jaeger: "Brett Favre says he was duped into recording an anti-Semitic video... The Hall of Fame hurler was paid $500 to make the recording riddled with coded hate speech and conspiracy theories for the Cameo service, which pays celebrities to record short, personalized video messages. Posing as a veterans organization, hate groups the Handsome Truth and the Goyim Defense League paid Favre $500 to read a statement that included several veiled anti-Semitic remarks." [NYPost]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Synagogue holds Hannukah ceremony at mass shooting site — by Ramesh Santanam: “To me, it’s a simple message: The light is the message,” Rabbi Jeffrey Myers said, pointing to the Menorah standing at the corner where a makeshift memorial for the 11 victims once stood and was visited by thousands paying their respects. Five weeks after the massacre... about 500 people gathered outside Tree of Life to pray, sing songs and witness the lighting of the Menorah." [AP]
Hallmark, Famous For Christmas Movies, Plans Two Hanukkah Features — by Jonathan Berr: "Officials at Crown Media, the parent of Hallmark and its sister network Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, said the movies are in their early stages. The script of one called “Holiday Date” is being written. It will have “Hannukah elements … which is a lot of fun as Hanukkah and Christmas overlap in 2019,” according to a company spokeswoman." [Forbes]
SCENE LAST NIGHT ― Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) addressed the American Friends of Bet El 36th annual dinner at the New York Marriott Marquis. [Pic; Pic]
CNN KFILE's Andrew Kaczynski tweets: "I walked by the World’s Largest Menorah lighting in Brooklyn and ended up getting pulled into a dance with a string of Orthodox men and an NYPD cop." [Video]
DESSERT — At Shalom Japan, an 'authentically inauthentic' celebration of Jewish, Japanese cultures — by Saleah Blancaflor: "The annual tradition at the Brooklyn restaurant, which opened in 2013, began at home for Shalom Japan's chefs and owners Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi, who would often cook and watch Miyazaki films together while dating. The now-married couple have been offering a hot pot prix fixe for Christmas since opening Shalom Japan, which they describe as "authentically inauthentic" Japanese and Jewish food... On the menu at Shalom Japan: sake kasu challah, matzoh ball ramen, and — during the colder months and to celebrate Hanukkah — okonomi-latkes (a combination of the Japanese okonomiyaki, a savory pancake, and the traditional Jewish latkes, which are often cooked on Hanukkah)." [NBCNews]
BIRTHDAYS: Howard Krizer turns 86... Close associate of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, an influential figure within the Chabad movement, Rabbi Chaim Yehuda ("Yudel") Krinsky turns 85... Malibu resident, she is the founder of a successful wedding gown business and a lifestyle coach, Sandy Stackler turns 81... 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winner for his book on Arabs and Jews in Israel, he was a long-serving foreign correspondent and Washington bureau chief for The New York Times, David K. Shipler turns 76... Member of the New York State Assembly since 1994, Jeffrey Dinowitz turns 64... Painter and art teacher residing in Maryland, her teaching career started in Petach Tikva (1981-1983), Heidi Praff turns 62... Criminal defense attorney whose clients have included O.J. Simpson and Charlie Sheen, Yale Galanter turns 62...
British publicist, music manager, he initiated the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower that is a focal point of the Special Counsel investigation, Rob Goldstone turns 58... Former senior Israeli diplomat, he has served as the managing director of the Israel Diamond Exchange and now leads Dindex Ltd., a fintech startup, Eli Avidar turns 54... Middle school English instructor, Malinda Marcus turns 48... SVP of Communications at NBC News, previously SVP of Communications for Time, Fortune and Money, Alison "Ali" Weisberg Zelenko turns 47... French journalist, author, television and radio personality, Marie Drucker turns 44... Member of the New York City Council for the 33rd District since 2010, Stephen T. Levin turns 37... Professional tennis player who won the gold medal in women's singles at the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel, Sharon Fichman turns 28...