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DRIVING THE CONVO: In a move described as historic, President Donald Trump announced yesterday that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The President also directed the State Department to begin a process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said in a speech at the White House's Diplomatic Reception Room. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.” Prior to the speech, Trump signed the 6-month waiver postponing the relocation of the embassy.
The move was hailed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli politicians -- right and left -- as an "important step toward peace," while the Palestinian Authority condemned the move, saying the decision "destroyed any possibility of a two-state solution." Among other Arab states and most Western countries, Saudi Arabia expressed "great regret" over the decision and warned of the "serious consequences of such an unjustified and irresponsible move." However, the President, in his remarks, insisted that the move will advance the peace process and is a "necessary condition for achieving peace.”
"U.S. asks Israel to restrain response to Jerusalem move - document" by Arshad Mohammed: “While I recognize that you will publicly welcome this news, I ask that you restrain your official response,” the document dated Dec. 6 said in talking points for diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to convey to Israeli officials... A second State Department document... said the agency had formed an internal task force “to track worldwide developments.” [Reuters] Man With Palestinian Flag Smashes Jewish Restaurant Windows in Dutch Capital [Reuters]
"Rallying Cry of Jerusalem May Have Lost Force in Arab World" by Anne Barnard, Ben Hubbard and Declan Walsh: "As Arab and Muslim leaders raised their voices to condemn the move, many across the Middle East wondered if so much had changed in recent years that the real Arab response would amount to little more than a whimper... While Arab leaders have continued to pay lip service to the Palestinian cause, it has slipped in importance" [NYTimes]
Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer tells JI's Aaron Magid regarding concerns Trump's move could undermine peace efforts: “You should ask some of the people who told you that this would undermine peace whether they think that what President Obama did in May 2011, when he said that the Palestinian state should be based on the 1967 lines plus swaps, undermines peace? That border issue is a matter of dispute and a point of negotiations between the parties so the Obama administration was putting its thumb on the scale and moving the goal posts. That undermined peace.”
"The fact that Israel will have a capital in Jerusalem is ostensibly not a point of dispute between the parties, not even according to the Palestinian Authority’s stated public positions. And the US did not say there were deciding the boundaries of Jerusalem, which they said would be up to the parties. So here, the US did not move goal posts on negotiation but are righting a historic wrong, puncturing the campaign to deny Jewish history and claims in Jerusalem and laying a cornerstone for a peace based on truth.” The full conversation with Ambassador Dermer will be featured in tomorrow's Daily Kickoff
WHITE HOUSE MIND MELD -- A senior White House official emails Jewish Insider: "The President said he would do it during the campaign and he delivered on a decision he thinks is in the best interest of the United States. The President didn’t say anything yesterday that would preclude peace negotiations going forward. We recognize that the Palestinians may take a step back from talks for the time being but that’s ok. We’ve done a lot of listening and now we’re typing away and getting closer to preparing a plan. This action has the potential to enhance the President's credibility both with Israel and the Arab world in the future when tough decisions need to be made for peace."
IS THIS PART OF A GRAND STRATEGY? -- Nimrod Novik, a Fellow at Israel Policy Forum and former advisor to Shimon Peres, tells us "The silver lining that I see here is that the President and the administration are accumulating a lot of stocks in their pro-Israeli credentials. When the President one day unveils his roadmap to the ultimate deal, no one will be able to challenge his pro-Israel credentials."
HEARD YESTERDAY ON CNN -- Dennis Ross to Wolf Blitzer: “He's now done something that every Israeli Prime Minister would have liked to have seen. It puts him in a position where with the Israeli public, he's crossed a threshold With the plan that at some point is going to be presented, he does have the capacity to be asking something of Israel that will won't be so easy for Israel. He's created a political context in Israel that will obviously give him some leverage.”
Aaron David Miller responded to Ross: “If this is the honey as a prelude to the vinegar during an actual negotiation, in other words, if the President, the ultimate transactional man, really thinks that this is the way to create a situation where no one will now be able to say about Donald Trump that he is not the most pro-Israeli president since Harry Truman, well then, he is in a position to apply ample amounts of vinegar along with the honey during the course of an actual negotiation. But I'm telling you... that's straining the bounds of credulity to the breaking point because that would require a degree of pressure and awkwardness, and tension with the government of Israel, and all of the president's constituencies for whom he did this.”
Also on CNN, Elliott Abrams: "Israel has a capital. It is Jerusalem. Presidents go and visit it. Where do they think they are, on the moon? They're in the capital city of Israel. All of these countries that we were just hearing about have interest in fighting terrorism, in alliances, in friendship with the United States, they're going to pursue those interests. They're not going to break relations. They're not going to say, 'Oh, we don't want to talk to you anymore.' This is really completely overblown."
Tom Friedman... "Trump, Israel and the Art of the Giveaway: Trump just gave it away — for free. Such a deal! Why in the world would you just give this away for free and not even use it as a lever to advance the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian deal? ... Trump is susceptible to such giveaways, not only because he is ignorant, but because... he sees himself as the president of his base. And because that’s the only support he has left, he feels the need to keep feeding his base by fulfilling crude, ill-conceived promises he threw out to them during the campaign." [NYTimes]
"Praise and Alarm From American Jews Over Trump’s Jerusalem Move" by Laurie Goodstein: “I’ve never thought the U.S. should be an honest broker,” said [Nathan] Diament, who represents the largest umbrella group of Orthodox Jews (OU)... “Pro-Israel Americans aren’t looking for the U.S. to be an honest broker. Pro-Israel Americans are looking to the U.S. to be a friend to our ally, Israel.” [NYTimes]
BEHIND THE SCENES -- “Jerusalem Divides Trump’s Team and Complicates Kushner’s Peace Plan” by Margaret Talev and Jennifer Jacobs: “[Mike] Pence was a strong advocate within the administration for the policy shift ...Chief of Staff John Kelly and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley also recommended that Trump overturn U.S. policy and publicly acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis recommended against the move [Jared] Kushner and Jason Greenblatt were kept “fully in the loop” about the decision and support it, two White House officials said.” [Bloomberg]
-- According to CNN, CIA Director Mike Pompeo was also against the move. [Source]
HEARD LAST NIGHT -- Vice President Mike Pence at the Kemp Leadership Award Dinner: “During his time in Congress, there was really no greater friend to Israel, in the Republican ranks, than Jack Kemp Throughout his career, Jack Kemp worked tirelessly to strengthen the bond between our two nations. And today, President Donald Trump strengthened that bond even further After decades of talk, President Trump took action. He’s a man of his word. As the President said today, today we finally acknowledge the obvious; we recognize facts that we know will form a foundation for real progress, for real peace, in that region of the world.”
SHELDON'S EFFORTS: “On Jerusalem, Trump’s view molded by powerful allies” by Jonathan Lemire and Julie Pace: “Appearing before a forum organized by the Republican Jewish Coalition Trump was asked a delicate, but predictable, diplomatic question: Did he believe Jerusalem was the undivided capital of Israel? The presidential candidate, who prided himself on candor and straight talk, dodged A smattering of boos erupted from the audience. But as Trump’s candidacy took off, he began courting pro-Israel American Jews and evangelical Christians. [Sheldon] Adelson consistently raised the topic in nearly all of his phone calls and meetings with the President.” [AP]
“Kushner bets he can have it both ways on Jerusalem move” by Annie Karni: “For Kushner, the Jerusalem issue also provided a chance to reassert some of his lost authority in the White House. Privately, he told the president he backed the move “If he’s right, he will be a hero of heroes,” [a] Kushner ally said. “He end-ran Tillerson again. If he’s wrong, he’s doomed.” Kushner also feels as though he has the private backing of major players in the region Kushner and [Jason] Greenblatt have no pending trips planned, a spokesman said.” [Politico]
-- "Trump's decision was supported by both Mr. Kushner and... Jason D. Greenblatt, who had concluded that shaking up the status quo could actually help rather than hurt their peace efforts. While they say they recognized that it would cause an immediate uproar — including potentially driving the Palestinians away from negotiations for some time — they believed the process was resilient enough to withstand the shock." [NYTimes]
Last night on CNN's Outfront, Erin Burnett asked Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer about his infamous reaction to Trump mistakenly implying Israel was not located in the Middle East during his last visit to Israel: "That is you, Ambassador, on the right-hand side... appearing to cover your eyes as Trump says while he is in Israel, right in the heart of the Middle East, that he just got back from the Middle East. Look, I'm making a serious point here. Do you have confidence that President Trump is making this historic and consequential decision with a true understanding of what he's doing?"
Dermer replied: "The funny thing about it is that a helicopter had landed a few minutes before, blew dust in my hair, my kippah off my head, and that's all I was doing in that clip. I know it was the stuff of late-night comedies, but that was ultimate fake news... I have confidence in the President of the United States because what the President has done has just put a dagger in fake history, that the Jews have no claim to Jerusalem, no history in Jerusalem." [Video]
WEST WING SCENE: The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Rabbi Marvin Hier, who spoke at Trump's inauguration, and Rabbi Meyer H. May posed for pictures with Jared Kushner and other administration officials at the White House yesterday after Trump's announcement. [Pic]
OVAL OFFICE MEETING TODAY: "The President will meet with former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton."
HAPPENING TODAY -- Trump will host his first White House Hanukkah party at 7:30 PM ET. The Vice President and Second Lady Karen Pence will attend the reception.
ON THE HILL -- "Schumer called, met with Franken and told him to resign" by Jordan Carney and Mallory Shelbourne: "Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday told Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) that he needed to resign after another woman came forward with sexual misconduct allegations. A person familiar with their discussions said Schumer called Franken... before the resignation calls started, to tell him he needed to step down. Schumer also urged Franken to resign during a “series of phone calls” throughout Wednesday, the source said, and had a meeting with Franken and his wife at Schumer’s apartment." [TheHill]
2018 WATCH -- Kathy Manning, former JFNA chief, mounts congressional run in North Carolina: "Kathy Manning, the first woman to be chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, is mounting a challenge as a Democrat to... Ted Budd in North Carolina’s 13th district, a once reliable Democratic district that trends Republican after recent redistricting... In addition to chairing JFNA from 2009-2012, she was the founding chairwoman of Prizmah, the umbrella body for Jewish day schools of all denominations. At Harvard in the 1970s, she founded the university’s first all-woman a capella group, the Radcliffe Pitches, which still exists." [JTA]
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SPOTLIGHT: "Disney CEO Bob Iger expected to stay past 2019 if Fox deal happens" by Ryan Faughnder and Meg James: "The Disney board is expected to extend Iger’s contract so that he can oversee the integration of Fox properties with Disney... However, Iger has not extended his contract yet, and Disney may not buy Fox... Many people have speculated that Iger, who has been outspoken on issues such as gun control and climate change, may seek public office after he leaves Disney. But investors have been reluctant to see him leave." [LATimes]
RECODE 100 -- No. 77: "Jonathan Greenblatt is the man trying to shut down extremists online" by Joe Brown: "Jonathan Greenblatt is evolving the century-old Anti-Defamation League to fight white supremacy, anti-Semitism and other forms of extremism in the digital age. “We shouldn’t be surprised that extremists exploit new media,” says Greenblatt. With his guidance, the tech and media industries are taking a more proactive role in combating hate and extremists on their platforms. ADL is now working directly with engineers at tech companies like Twitter to solve problems with code rather than lawsuits." [Recode] Also on list: Stewart Butterfield at No. 36 [Recode]
TALK OF OUR NATION -- Jewish Cemetery Dug Up to Make Way for Supermarket in Poland: "Authorities say human remains from an old Jewish cemetery in Poland have been dug up and dumped unceremoniously in an empty lot to make way for the construction of a supermarket, parking lot and an electrical transformer station. Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, who is originally from New York, described it Thursday as a "full-out scandal" and the worst desecration of a Jewish cemetery that he has witnessed in the 17 years that he has served in Poland." [AP]
“This fighter pilot flew the last mission over Japan in WWII. Then he learned to love his enemy” by Marwa Eltagouri: “[Jerry] Yellin... was shaken by the attack on Pearl Harbor... and enlisted two months later on his 18th birthday It was the physical test that proved tricky — particularly the eye exam. He had 20/30 vision in one eye and failed as a result, he said. The doctor told him to go home, stay in a dark room, eat a lot of carbs, avoid reading anything and come back to retake the exam. Yellin asked his mother, who worked for the draft board, to bring him home an eye chart and spent the next three days memorizing it. He passed. He spent the next 18 months training. His Jewish faith, he discovered, meant he had to work especially hard to prove his worth as a fighter pilot Yellin said he suffered discrimination throughout his childhood and recalled how, during his freshman year of high school, boys he played football and basketball with on the street saw him leave a synagogue. A few days later, his family’s home was vandalized with swastikas.” [WashPost]
DESSERT: "Hanukkah cheese-basked pastries celebrate the story of Judith" by Peggy Wolff: “We used to have a cake that was made out of cheese, like a fried-cheese-type thing,” says chef Laura Frankel, culinary director for Kosher Media International. Until the fried cheese tradition made it to northern and eastern Europe where they fried things in schmaltz (animal fat). “Obviously, with kosher rules,” Frankel explained, “you can’t fry anything with cheese in schmaltz... So they changed the cheese out for potatoes. It was something people ate a lot of, they were filling, they were plentiful. This brings us to a shocking revelation. Though the original latkes were cheese latkes, the Ashkenazic Jews (who brought the latke to America) subbed potatoes.” [ChicagoTribune]
BIRTHDAYS: British expressionist painter, known for portraits, life drawings and cityscapes of London, England, Leon Kossoff turns 91... Linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, political activist and Professor Emeritus at MIT, Noam Chomsky turns 89... Rabbi of The Jewish Center of Princeton, NJ (1992-2005), now Rabbi Emeritus, author or editor of 45 books including the New York Times best-selling Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul, Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins turns 80... Hedge fund manager and philanthropist, he is the co-founder of Taglit-Birthright Israel and the founder of Hebrew language charter schools in NYC, Michael Steinhardt turns 77... Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, Nicholas Michael Katz turns 74... Novelist (15 books), essayist and screenwriter, Susan Isaacs turns 74... Former Israeli Foreign Ministry legal adviser and then Israeli ambassador to Canada, now at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Ambassador Alan Baker turns 70... Campaign chairman for Massachusetts State Senator Eric P. Lesser, member of the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee and chair of the Longmeadow Democratic Town Committee, Candy Glazer turns 70... Woodland Hills, California resident, Elaine Kretchman turns 70... President and COO since 1996 of Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner in the US, Richard S. Sokolov turns 68...
Chairman of Loews Hotels and co-owner of the NFL's New York Giants, Jonathan Tisch turns 64... Pamela Decker turns 63... Teacher in the Elko County School District in the northeast portion of Nevada and local Jewish community leader, Shawn Welton-Lowe turns 54... Co-Founder of Laurel Strategies, a CEO advisory firm based in Washington, formerly at the International Finance Corporation, Dafna Tapiero turns 48... Director, producer, writer, actor and comedian, best known as the director of "Modern Family" and "Life in Pieces," Jason Winer turns 45... Leading actress in multiple television series including "Roswell," " Life Unexpected" and "UnREAL," Shiri Appleby turns 39... VP and executive recruiter at NYC's Mission Staffing, Jaime Leiman turns 27... Founder of Dash Dot, an active wear accessories brand, Hannah Fastov turns 27 (h/ts Playbook)... Partner in Cornerstone Venture Partners and founder of "Made in Jerusalem," Hanan Brand... Hannah Vilinsky... Toby Lerner... Jeff Blum...
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