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HEARD LAST NIGHT IN DC -- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discussed her judicial career and the role of Judaism in her life in a conversation with the Forward's Editor-in-Chief Jane Eisner at Adas Israel synagogue. “Many people have asked me when are I'm going to step down,” Ginsburg, 84, said towards the end of the conversation ("Never" an audience member shouted out). Ginsburg noted that she is already "the longest sitting Jewish Justice, more than [Louis] Brandeis and [Felix] Frankfurter. So I’m just candid, and say: 'As long as I can do the job full steam, I’ll be here.'”
RBG'S FAVORITE BAGEL? "A New York poppy seeds bagel." Eisner: "Oh my Gosh. This is amazing. I did not know the answer to this, and this may be the only thing that Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg agree on. They all picked poppy seeds. Wow, I am amazed." [CSPAN]
-- "Asked by Eisner about life on the court for Jews, Ginsburg said she had to work to change a rule that attorneys who became certified to try cases before the Supreme Court were given certificates that described the date — the year — the person became certified as “the year of our Lord” — or Jesus Christ. Orthodox Jewish lawyers who longed to frame their certifications would not — until Ginsburg argued... She got the paperwork changed so there was more flexibility, she said." [WashPost]
"Ginsburg: Independent judiciary ‘our nation’s hallmark and pride’" by Edward-Isaac Dovere: "Asked... if she felt the pressure to respond at a moment when many democratic norms are being challenged, Ginsburg demurred. “The judiciary is a reactive branch of government. It doesn’t generate the controversies that come before it — it’s reactive to what’s out there,” she said." [Politico]
COMING SOON -- “Abbas to address U.N. Security Council on Feb. 20 amid U.S. tensions” by Michelle Nichols: "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will address the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 20 during the body’s monthly meeting on the Middle East “This will be a good thing for members of the Security Council to listen to the president himself,” said Kuwait’s U.N. Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, president of the council for February. “No council members rejected this proposal.” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon accused Abbas of “seeking to put an end to any possibility of negotiations with Israel” with his address to the 15-member Security Council.” [Reuters]
"Palestinians court Russia as new broker in peace process" by Khaled Abu Toameh and Stuart Winer: "Abbas is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea summer beach resort of Sochi on February 12.. Abbas will tell Putin that the Palestinians do not believe the Trump administration is capable of playing any “constructive” or “positive” role in efforts to achieve peace with Israel, said a PA official in Ramallah." [ToI]
VIEW FROM JERUSALEM -- “Abbas’ gift to Netanyahu” by Akiva Eldar: “The reactions of the Palestinian leadership to President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel should be accorded a prominent place in a Diplomacy 101 textbook under the heading “How NOT to Manage a Conflict.” ... It has been almost nine years since Netanyahu’s landmark Bar-Ilan University speech — the last time he publicly offered to pay for an agreement with the Palestinians. To date, he has not dared put the two-state principle he described in 2009 to a domestic political test Abbas extricated Netanyahu from the spot he hates most — between the American rock and the settlers’ hard place. He freed Netanyahu of the need to decide which is the lesser of two evils...” [Al-Monitor]
"Trump wants to attack North Korea? He should learn from Israel first” by David Ignatius: “Discussions with Israelis at a conference here reinforced the value of deterrence but also offered some basic lessons: If you’re going to try a quick hit, don’t talk about it; don’t strike unless you have very good intelligence about your targets; and don’t assume that your adversary won’t drag you into a long, bloody war. All three negatives complicate any plans to strike North Korea There’s one final, essential point: Unlike any of the adversaries that Israel has attacked, North Korea has nuclear weapons.” [WashPost]
ANOTHER LESSON FOR TRUMP? -- "A state founded as a haven for the displaced may deport 40,000 job-seeking Africans" by Zev Chafets: "Once you have sealed off the border, Israelis learned, you are still left with the illegal immigrants who are already on your side of it. This is an issue the U.S. will have to contend with if and when it builds its wall. Israel is dealing with it now... On April 1, [the Sudanese and Eritreans] will face three choices: They can return to their countries of origin. They can go to prison. Or they can accept resettlement in a third country... Israel’s planned operation... will provide a real-life example of a post-wall removal policy. The scale, sensitivities and complexities are completely different, of course, but Trump has proven to be a close student of all things Bibi. Presumably he will be watching." [BloombergView]
PODCAST PLAYBACK -- Qatar’s deputy prime minister and defense minister Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah discussed the Gulf crisis with Susan Glasser on The Global Politico podcast: "It’s not about working with Iran; we have—as I told you, we are trying to have a normal relation with all of our neighbors. But, going back to the situation in Iran, we’ve always been encouraging. Even before the crisis we’ve been encouraging that’s the only way to solve our issue in the region; we are neighbors, so it’s the dialogue. The shortest solid way is to have dialogue. And we always encourage our friends and allies everywhere that this is the way we should do it, whether with Iran or with the others." [Politico]
"Qatari Foreign Minister on U.S. Jewish Groups Visiting: 'We're Building Good Relations'" by Amir Tibon: "Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani... said his country does not discriminate on the basis of religion or ethnicity. “All of them are welcome and we are building good relations with them,” he added. Al-Thani spoke at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute." [Haaretz; Video]
“Trump DOJ enters into final settlement in IRS targeting scandal” by Brooke Singman: “The Justice Department announced Thursday that it entered into the final settlement with a pro-Israel nonprofit called Z Street. The group claimed that the IRS applied “heightened scrutiny” to applications for their tax-exempt status connected “in any way to Israel.” According to court documents, the IRS expressed its “sincere apology.” Z Street had applied for tax-exempt status in 2009.” [FoxNews]
-- “The IRS Campaign Against Israel—and Us” by Lori Lowenthal Marcus: “When Z Street’s creation was announced, thousands sought to join. Then the IRS attempted to kill us. No lawsuit can remedy that assault, as the IRS knew. The settlement gives us the truth, but we can’t get back our seven years.” [WSJ]
TALK OF THE NATION: "The Constitutional Right to Boycott" by Conor Friedersdorf: "This week, in Koontz v. Watson... the court granted a preliminary injunction preventing further enforcement of the Kansas [anti-BDS] law... Broadly speaking, the court’s decision in this case is likelier to be cheered by those on the left, where most of the energy behind boycotts of Israel emanate, and to be jeered by the Republicans and conservative Democrats who’ve lately pressed ahead with multiple efforts to legislate against economic boycotts of Israel." [TheAtlantic]
DEEP DIVE -- The Mooch Recalls His 10 Days in the Swamp -- by William Cohan: "[Anthony] Scaramucci’s cell phone rang. It was the White House. He was invited to come to the Oval Office to meet with Trump, with a stop first to see Ivanka. Scaramucci was not sure what this was all about. “And I don’t care,” he said... The Mooch went to see Ivanka Trump in the White House, as requested. “So I go over that day,” he said. “I go see Ivanka. They clearly don’t want Priebus to know that I’m coming. I go through the door. There’s a study off the Oval Office. I’m sitting there with the president. Ivanka’s open with me. She says, ‘We have to re-structure.’” [VanityFair]
2018 WATCH -- “Joe Arpaio has given at least 5 interviews to an anti-Semitic publication” by Dan Nowicki: “Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Arpaio has given several interviews to a publication that traffics in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories But Arpaio declined to criticize it or other anti-Semitic content associated with the publication. "I'm not going to criticize the news media like you," Arpaio told The Arizona Republic Arpaio said he doesn't discriminate between news outlets and suggested there was no difference between the fringe "American Free Press" and other news organizations such as The Republic and Phoenix New Times.” [AZCentral]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: CBS, Viacom form committees to consider deal at the behest of Redstone family [LAbiz; NYT] PE giants Blackstone, Apollo report upbeat earnings amid strong fundraising [FinancialTimes] Elliott turns to snail mail in NXP mom-and-pop investor campaign [Reuters] Israeli CEOs, tech entrepreneurs speak out against African deportations [JPost] Abby Rosen posts on social media that his W Hotel in Jaffa will open in May, 2018 [Instagram] More skyscrapers pop up along Israeli skyline [AlMonitor]
"Why Bill Nye Agrees Israel Is The Global Center Of Medical Marijuana Research" by Stephen Gardner: "Ever since Israeli organic chemist Raphael Mechoulam first isolated the THC compound for scientific study more than 50 years ago, Israel has led the world in medical marijuana research. In 1996, Israel began its national medical marijuana (MMJ) program, the first one in the world. Ironically, Israel created its MMJ program the very same year as California, a U.S. state that dwarfs Israel in population and economy." [IBTimes]
MEDIA WATCH: "What went wrong at the Los Angeles Times?" by Dylan Byers: "The list of the accused is long: Lewis D'Vorkin, who was ousted as editor-in-chief this week as the staff was in open revolt against his leadership. (He will become chief content officer at Tronc, the Times' parent company). Ross Levinsohn, the publisher and CEO, who was put on unpaid leave earlier this month amid revelations about a history of bad behavior (Levinsohn reportedly called the allegations against him "lies"; the company is investigating the claims). Above all: Michael Ferro, the chairman of Tronc, the Times' parent company, under whose leadership Levinsohn and D'Vorkin were appointed to those positions and who convinced Tronc to pay another of his companies $15 million in consulting fees after laying off hundreds of employees across various papers last year." [CNNmedia]
TALK OF THE NATION -- “After 22 years, a synagogue study group finishes reading the Torah from beginning to end” by Julie Zauzmer: “It took the Israelites 40 years to walk through the desert to the promised land. It took the Torah study group at Congregation B’nai Tzedek more than half as long just to read about it. On Thursday, the members finally finished reading the Torah — a project they started 22 years ago “We moved slowly,” Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt admitted The end of the Torah isn’t the end of the group. Next, the class will read the book of Joshua, which continues the story where the Torah leaves off. After that, they might move on to other books of Prophets. Or they might take the advice of Rabbi Ben Bag-Bag, who famously said of the Torah: “Turn it and turn it again, for everything is in it.”” [WashPost]
“Holocaust survivor, US lawmaker Lantos gets Budapest statue” by Pablo Gorondi: “A statue of Hungarian-born U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever to serve in the U.S. Congress, was unveiled Thursday in Budapest In a video during Thursday’s ceremony, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden recalled being Lantos’ guest in Hungary and said he often cited a Lantos quote in his own speeches — “The veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.”” [AP]
“Caitlyn Jenner To Be Feted As ‘Champion of Israel’ And Its LGBTQ Rights Record” by Curtis Wong: “The U.S.-based World Values Network will honor Jenner with the Champion of Israel and LGBTQ Rights Award on March 8 in New York. The former Olympian and transgender icon will be presented the award by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach at the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala On social media, some people cast the news of Jenner’s award as an example of pinkwashing by U.S. supporters of Israel A representative for Jenner told HuffPost that the former Olympian would not be making a statement about the award until the gala.” [HuffPost]
Alan Dershowitz tweets: "I once made mistake of being in a debate at Harvard with @RabbiShmuley on my side. He screamed and yelled like a child. Hurt the cause of Israel. I promised never again to be in debate with him. He only wants publicity not truth. Happy to debate any reasonable expert." [Twitter]
REMEMBERING: "Haim Gouri, Poetic Voice of a Rising Israel, Is Dead at 94" by Isabel Kershner: "As a filmmaker, Mr. Gouri was best known for his work on a trilogy of documentaries, notably “The 81st Blow,” a film about the Holocaust that was nominated for an Academy Award in 1974. The two others, made in the 1980s, were “The Last Sea,” about Jewish immigration to Palestine, and “Flames in the Ashes,” about Jewish resistance during World War II.As a journalist he covered, in 1961, the trial of Adolf Eichmann... In more recent years, he became increasingly critical of the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and of what he saw as rising nationalism and religious extremism in some sectors of Israeli society." [NYTimes]
WINE OF THE WEEK -- Chateau Pape Clement 2014 -- by Yitz Applbaum: "Most of the time when I host wine focused dinners, 75% percent of the group will request full bodied, big-fruit, California wines. Around 25% of the attendees will request more earthy, aromatic French wines. I used to attempt to provide enough variety to satisfy both groups. But then I have come to realize that one doesn’t actually have to pour different wines to satisfy these disparate requests. Recently, I found a wine which satisfies both parties with a single pour — a wine with big fruit and distinct earthiness."
"The Chateau Pape Clement 2014 is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot; some Petite Verdot, and a splash of Cabernet Franc for balance and intensity. This wine opens with some serious acidity. You will be able to drink this wine for at least 10 more years due to this acidity. The mid palate is full of dust, soil, grass and wet mushrooms. And then comes the fruity explosive finish with a slight hint of tangerine. Is this of a Californian palate, or is it French? I postulate that it is the best of both. Drink this wine with lamb, and you will understand the concept of a perfect marriage." [Bernard-Magrez]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS -- FRIDAY: Chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, Barry Diller turns 76... Former mayor and city councilman of Irvine, California, Larry Agran turns 73... Author, host of the Food Network program "Barefoot Contessa," and former OMB staffer for Presidents Ford and Carter, Ina Rosenberg Garten turns 70... Television, movie and theatre actor, comedian and singer, best known for his portrayal of the android, Lieutenant Commander Data, in the Star Trek television series and four subsequent films, Brent Spiner turns 69... Movie and theatre actress and screenwriter, known for the 2001 film "Kissing Jessica Stein," Jennifer Westfeldt turns 48... Tony Award-winning actress with many stage, movie and television credits, a semi-finalist on Season 6 of Dancing With the Stars, Marissa Jaret Winokur turns 45... Engagement Editor for Government Executive Media Group, Ross Gianfortune turns 37... Internet personality and self-described progressive political activist, David Pakman turns 34... Managing director and co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, Aaron Keyak turns 33... Actress Zosia Mamet turns 30... Rebecca Shimoni Stoil ... Avi Katz...
SATURDAY: Longest-serving Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1993-2001), one-time owner of "Roll Call," now a senior adviser at the Carlyle Group, Arthur Levitt Jr. turns 87... President and founder of Rubenstein Associates, Howard J. Rubenstein turns 86... Former president and CEO of clothing manufacturer Warnaco Group (1986-2001), Linda J. Wachner turns 72... Chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the US for almost the full 8 years of the Obama administration, Fred Hochberg turns 66... Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, formerly Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, Joette Katz turns 65... Singer-songwriter, best known for composing "From a Distance," a big hit for Bette Midler and winner of the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1991, Julie Gold turns 62... Professor of biology at MIT, mathematician and geneticist, he was co-chair of President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Eric Lander turns 61... Director of Business Strategy for Birmingham Wealth Management Group within Morgan Stanley, and on the boards of the Jewish Federations in both Detroit and Aspen, Steven F. Schlafer turns 59... Founder of Fourth Factor Consulting, Joel Mowbray turns 42... Speechwriter and adviser to Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director at the International Monetary Fund, he was previously a staffer at the Obama White House and State Department, Josh Lipsky turns 32... Program Associate in the Synagogue Leadership Initiative at the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Joshua Keyak turns 30... Executive communications manager in the Office of the President of Yeshiva University, Noam Safier turns 24...
SUNDAY: Actor best known for his work as Herman "Hesh" Rabkin on HBO's "The Sopranos" and as Howard Lyman on CBS's "The Good Wife," Jerry Adler turns 89... Co-founder and Chair of SAGE Publications, an academic publishing company, she was international president of B'nai B'rith Girls at the age of 19, Sara Miller McCune turns 77... Attorney, bank executive and philanthropist, donor of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Adrienne Arsht turns 76... Patrick Leek turns 65... Attorney, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, Evan Wolfson turns 61... Senior content editor of the Koren/Steinsaltz English Talmud, Shalom Berger turns 58... Member of the State Senate of Maryland since 2013, Brian J. Feldman turns 57... Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska since July 2015, previously he was the Democratic Minority Leader in the Alaska House of Representatives (1999-2007), Ethan Berkowitz turns 56... Philanthropist, charter school advocate and global head of real estate and a member of the board of directors of Blackstone Group, Jonathan D. "Jon" Gray turns 48... The first elected Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti turns 47... Director of Policy and Government Affairs at the Israeli American Council, Abigail Cable turns 30... Barbara Stern... Jan Winnick... Dan Ben-Canaan...
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