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BIG DEAL: “SoftBank set to invest more than $3 billion in Adam Neumann's WeWork” by Brian Sullivan: “The investment being discussed is a $2 billion primary tranche of funding, followed by a secondary round worth more than $1 billion. SoftBank may increase the size of the secondary investment to nearly $2 billion, the source said, for a total investment of nearly $4 billion in the shared space real estate startup. For WeWork insiders, there is a tender offer on the table at around $44.10 per internal share. If the deal closes, WeWork would be valued at more than $20 billion. The most recent investment into WeWork valued the New York-based company at about $17 billion. In December, Masayoshi Son, the Japanese billionaire who control SoftBank, promised Donald Trump he would invest $50 billion in the United States.” [CNBC; TechCrunch]
NEW THIS MORNING -- 'Manischewitz Radio Hour' -- how Jeffrey Goldberg describes his appearance on David Axelrod's podcast The Axe Files. Describing his upbringing, Goldberg tells Axelrod: “My whole upbringing was shaped by the fact that the Italian-Irish contingent where I grew up didn’t have much feelings for Jews. But it was black kids - actually a couple of black friends back in middle school - who taught me how to fight and that was an interesting experience. But what it did was -- this notion of Jews being created by anti-Semitism in a kind of way, and I think it’s partially true. It’s not very pleasant, but it’s partially true in my case where when people outside are telling you you’re different and you’re bad - in many cases as a young person, I think you flee Judaism, you flee Jewishness, or you sort of embrace it and say what is this thing. And so, when I went to Israel for the first time as a 13-year-old for my Bar Mitzvah, something clicked and I said this is interesting - a Jewish-majority state, a powerful place, Star of David on tanks. You know, if you are a powerless kid, you cotton to this.” [CNN]
FROM THE WEEKEND: “In new era, Jewish Republican group is loyal to Trump above all else” by Theodore Schleifer: “Perhaps most tellingly, top Jewish Republican donors showed little eagerness to blame Trump for occasionally crossing them, such as when he slow-walked acknowledging the anti-Semitism behind the Holocaust this month or the recent threats at Jewish community sites this week. "You get that with the package," said top GOP fundraiser Mel Sembler, who chalked up those controversies to mere political naveté. "We've got a new president. We want him to win. We're here to support him." And besides, on their signature issue, Israel — donor after donor said — Trump couldn't align with them better. That trumps all. "The idea that he didn't happen to say the right word, or the word that somebody was looking for," said Marc Goldman, an influential RJC donor from Florida, "it doesn't to me change anything about where he's coming from." [CNN]
ALTERNATIVE VIEW: “Jewish Republicans torn over Trump” by Alex Isenstadt: “At a closed-door session on Friday, Beverly Hills homemaker Elissa Czuker, who contributed $50,000 to elect Trump during the closing days of the campaign, questioned whether it was appropriate that some board members of the Republican Jewish Coalition had publicly called out the new GOP president. Others, including Florida dental insurance executive Jeffrey Feingold, pushed back on the idea of silencing Trump's critics Others fretted that Trump’s unpredictable temperament will thwart his efforts to reach a peace accord. “People are worried that he’s a loose cannon,” said one attendee. "There's a real concern that he could slide off the edge.”
-- “Behind the scenes, the White House is taking steps to win over Republican Jews, a small but influential group. It has enlisted the 83-year-old Adelson as an unofficial adviser. Two senior Trump aides, Jared Kushner and Stephen Bannon, have been holding regular and detailed conversations with Adelson about Israel Kushner has been in touch with RJC executive director Matt Brooks about a variety of issues Also visiting the White House recently was Sara Bloomfield, the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She met for breakfast with Trump spokesman Boris Epshteyn, who has been identified as the Trump aide who wrote the much-criticized Holocaust statement.” [Politico]
“Pence Says U.S. ‘Assessing’ Move of American Embassy in Israel” by John McCormick: “The president I know will be an unabashed advocate for a stronger Israel-American relationship,” Pence said Friday evening at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “We are also reviewing additional steps to demonstrate America’s support, including assessing whether the American embassy in Israel should be relocated.” [Bloomberg; Reuters] Pence, addressing Jewish Republicans, condemns rash of anti-Semitic vandalism [Politico; JewishJournal]
INTERVIEW - Former Senator Norman Coleman, who was appointed as RJC Chair, spoke with JI's Jacob Kornbluh about his new role as Chairman and the RJC’s relationship with the Trump Administration. “The sad reality is that support for Israel which has always been a strongly bipartisan issue, that dynamic is changing,” Coleman explained. “A recent poll showed that a very significant portion of the Democratic Party’s base no longer supports Israel, and that is disheartening. But it’s a time of opportunity for Jews who care about the U.S.-Israel relationship to vote Republican. One of my goals is to expand the reach and the scope of the RJC. I would hope that there are disenfranchised Democrats who look at what Obama did on his way out of office, his last slap in the face of Israel by not vetoing the UNSC resolution, I would think that these folks would find a home in the Republican Jewish Coalition. There’s also a great opportunity in 2018 with 10 Democratic Senators running in states that Trump won to actually increase the Republican majority in the Senate and maintain a majority in the House. I just think that this is an exciting time for the RJC and a moment of opportunity.”
Coleman on Trump's response to the rise of anti-Semitism: “The fact is that anti-Semitism has been rising in this country a long time -- the BDS movement, anti-Semitism on college campuses, equating Zionism with racism. That has been a plague that has impacted us for a long time. All of a sudden, the media is discovering it now with the Trump presidency. I find that rather ironic I do think that the media is continuously looking for ways to try to put the Administration at odds with the Jewish community. They are looking to create a conflict there."
Q: Is the RJC prepared to call out Trump again in the future like it did with the Holocaust statement?
Coleman: “I think it’s very reasonable for the RJC to note that from a Jewish perspective it was an oversight not to mention Jews in the Holocaust statement. We do that as a friend of the Administration. There’s nothing unusual about that. That fact is that the Jewish presence in the White House is more than a minyan. We have no doubt that that on the key issues, on the issue of Israel, that this is a president who is deeply and firmly committed to supporting the Jewish state." Read the full interview [JewishInsider]
“How Trump Split Conservatives Three Ways” by Tevi Troy: “Conservatives who backed Trump before the election are like people who bought a penny stock before it went big Others are quieter not out of any concerns about Trump, but because they’ve either landed administration jobs or are hoping to Since the inauguration, though, there have been several tough attacks on Trump from the right Looking ahead, this group, especially the Cohen wing, is making a bet that Trumpism will recede If Trumpism were not to recede, Cohen and others like him – including Wehner, Max Boot, and Bret Stephens – are effectively saying that they would not be part of a Trump-infused conservative movement in the future The Safe Spacers are not comfortable with everything Trump does, but are choosing to direct their fire at the media and the left Whichever group wins over conservatism will likely dominate the Republican party for the foreseeable future.” [Politico]
“New DNC chair wants to make Ellison 'the face of the Democratic Party'” by Allison Sherry: “In an interview Sunday, Perez said he had big plans for Ellison as his deputy, including letting him run point on the party’s grass roots organizing efforts Perez also noted he wanted to make Ellison the “face of the Democratic Party.” “He’s such an eloquent spokesperson,” Perez said. “We need many faces of the Democratic Party and so I think we’re incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to create the synergies that together allows us to do what we need to do.” [StarTribune]
“Keith Ellison’s supporters say Israel attacks helped sink his DNC bid” by Jeff Stein: “In the final 36 hours, the Ellison campaign spent significant resources combating an 11th-hour smear campaign that was sending targeted emails to Jewish DNC members,” texted an official on the Ellison campaign “Oh, absolutely it hurt him: It’s what they used against him,” said Jean Ross, of National Nurses United Eric Bauman is the vice chair of the California Democratic Party, and was a pro-Ellison advocate. A self-described “observant, pro-Israel Jew,” Bauman said he spent much of his time in the last six weeks responding to questions from constituents worried about Ellison’s history on Israel.” [Vox]
Reaction from Perez supporters -- Norman Eisen tells us: “Tom will make a great DNC chair. He is an old friend and colleague, and I was honored to help introduce him to leading members of our community from coast to coast. Like me, they were impressed with his vision for the party and with his strong support for Israel, where he has visited, gaining a firsthand appreciation of the security challenges."
Ann Lewis: “The Democratic Party has now elected a Chair who talks about being in the Golan, and seeing Israel’s security needs for himself - while continuing to oppose Donald Trump’s anti-immigration, anti-women, anti-LGBT policies. That’s why most American Jews will continue to be at home in the Democratic Party -- the party that honors our values and welcomes our children. All our children.”
ZOA's Morton Klein : "Dershowitz promised quitting Democratic Party if anti-Semite Keith Ellison became DNC Chair - will he quit now that Ellison is Deputy Chair?" [Twitter]
HEARD YESTERDAY -- at the J Street National Conference in Washington DC, Alan Solow, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and a national co-chair of the 2012 Obama reelection campaign, urged liberal Jewish organizations to choose a diplomatic response to the new administration's policies on the Middle East. “In this current status of five or six weeks into this presidency, it’s important to try to give the Administration some room to find its way to try and to work with the administration and encourage them to work with Israelis and the Israeli government,” he explained. “Therefore, I would say, outward criticism on those issues, if I were in leadership would be premature at this point.”
“At J Street, a Debate Over David Friedman’s Role” -- by JI’s Aaron Magid: Alon Pinkas, former Israeli Consul General to New York, asserted that despite the outspoken rhetoric, Friedman serving as Ambassador “means nothing.” Pinkas added, “He (Friedman) is not going to drive policy. He is going to do what he is being told. It is along the lines of the changing role of the Ambassador.” However, Ilan Goldenberg emphasized that Friedman’s role could likely change in a Trump presidency. “Trump seems to operate more based on terms of personal relationships and he has a personal relationship with Friedman. It is much tighter than the personal relationship he seems to have with Rex Tillerson so who is going to be driving policy is a little unclear.” [JewishInsider] Jewish Federation Head Voices Support for David Friedman as U.S. Envoy to Israel [Haaretz]
SCENE SATURDAY NIGHT -- “Press pool left in darkness as Trump dines at his hotel” by Rebecca Morin: “Trump was pictured sitting with his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, a senior adviser, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Brexit movement, among others, according to a tweet by Benny Johnson, reporter for Independent Journal Review, who happened to be at the Trump International Hotel.” [Politico] Also spotted at dinner: Reed Cordish
"Inside Trump's Secret Dinner: A Side of the President You Don't Ever See” by Benny Johnson: “The President gets up and walks across the restaurant to his Secretary of State's table. The President kisses Tillerson's wife Renda, and he and Tillerson make small talk. They laugh and speak jovially for a few minutes as dinner guests who had been sitting next to Tillerson look on in stunned amazement." [IJR]
Paparazzo -- Jared pictured with his brother Josh Kushner enjoying a Saturday stroll [DailyMail]
At the Oscars: "Karlie Kloss is also wearing an ACLU ribbon" by Emily Yahr: "This is notable if only because Kloss is dating investor Josh Kushner, brother of Jared Kushner, also known as President Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser." [WashPost]
TRUMP ERA: “Sources: U.S. considers quitting U.N. Human Rights Council” by Nahal Toosi And Eliana Johnson: “A final decision on membership in the council would likely involve Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and of course the president himself. A former State Department official briefed on the discussions said while the council's targeting of Israel is likely part of the debate, there also are questions about its roster of members and doubts about its usefulness overall.” [Politico]
“Trump proposal for terrorist listing of Iran Revolutionary Guard in limbo: sources” by John Walcott and Matt Spetalnick: “The proposal has been in the works for weeks, and was originally expected to be rolled out this month. But while the idea remains under consideration, it is unclear when – or even if – an announcement might be forthcoming "That move could potentially backfire" in Iran's domestic politics, too, said one of the officials. "The Iranians are a major source of trouble ... but those kind of moves would only help the hardliners" in Iran In addition, said another of the officials, adding the IRGC to the terrorist list would cause friction with U.S. European allies, who in the wake of the 2015 nuclear agreement are trying to rebuild business ties to Iran.” [Reuters]
VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Israeli intelligence minister says Trump created a new path to peace” by Ruth Eglash: “Israeli Minister of Intelligence Israel Katz[‘s] plan, which he says has been adopted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is regional and multilayered. The creation of a Palestinian state or at least an autonomous, demilitarized entity will come by default at the tail end Katz said this point and others made recently by the new U.S. administration has made clear that Trump will allow Israel to find its own solution, in its own time. Trump, he said, has opened up the playing field for peace.” [WashPost]
KAFE KNESSET -- by Tal Shalev: The contentious State Comptroller's report about the 2014 Gaza operation is due to be published tomorrow. The report is slated to harshly criticize Netanyahu, his former defense minister Yaalon and the IDF top brass for their inadequate preparations for the 51 day operation in Gaza. The report will also shed light on the flawed decision-making process in the security cabinet. All of this has been at the top of the headlines for days, and was the talk of the Knesset today, leading all of the faction meetings. The only one who kept silent was the Jewish Home's Naftali Bennet, who is likely to be dubbed as the great winner of the report, as the Comptroller adopts Bennet's case against Netanyahu and Yaalon.
Netanyahu, back from a week-long tour of Australia and Singapore, opened the Likud meeting brushing off the criticism. "when one enters the cabinet he must leave the cell phones outside, as well as petty politics and personal interests. No cabinet in history was as informed as this cabinet during Protective Edge. The most important lessons are not in the report, and I – unlike the Comptroller – back and support the IDF Command." Earlier today, Yair Lapid called on Netanyahu to publicly acknowledge that he was wrong and made mistakes. "The report is professional and profound, but also difficult and severe. Even after the Shin Bet and IDF intelligence emphasized to the PM that the tunnel threat has become a strategic threat, Netanyahu did not bring the issue to the cabinet or give the IDF the right directives to deal with it. The army did the right thing and started to amend the mistakes the day after the war started but the political echelon, and especially the PM did exactly the opposite." Read today's entire Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider]
“H.R. McMaster Breaks With Administration on Views of Islam” by Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt: “The adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first “all hands” staff meeting, that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic,” according to people who were in the meeting." [NYTimes] Jake Tapper: “McMaster vs. Bannon is going to be an interesting dynamic to watch.” [Twitter]
“U.S. detains and nearly deports French Jewish historian” by James McAuley: "On Wednesday, [Henry] Rousso landed from Paris at Houston’s George Bush International Airport after an 11-hour flight, en route to Texas A&M University in College Station Rousso — an Egyptian-born French citizen — was “mistakenly detained” by U.S. immigration authorities, according to Richard Golsan, director of the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M. The university then sprang into action, the Eagle reported, with President Michael Young reaching out to law professor Fatma Marouf [who] quickly and successfully intervened with immigration authorities, and Rousso was released and allowed to deliver his lecture.” [WashPost; TheEagle] French Historian Says He Was Threatened With Deportation at Houston Airport [NYTimes]
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Trump’s presidency: ‘We are not experiencing the best of times’” by Kristine Guerra: ““We're not experiencing the best of times,” Ginsburg said Thursday on BBC's “Newsnight,” though she did not comment directly about the president “Some terrible things have happened in the United States, but one can only hope that we learn from those bad things,” she added, citing the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II as an example.” [WashPost]
“I'm a Silicon Valley liberal, and I traveled across the country to interview 100 Trump supporters — here's what I learned” by Sam Altman: "What don't you like about him? “He continually plays into a character that he has created to rile his fan base. Accepting anti-Semitism, white nationalism, or hate emanating unnecessarily creates a vacuum of fear on social media, on television, and around the dinner table. Even though the policies may be similar to that of any recent Republican president, the behavior to act so immaturely sets a bad example for children and undercuts many cultural norms, which more than anything causes disruption to our sociological foundations."” [BI]
** 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 **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: White House Power Player Jared Kushner Is Keeping Parts of His Real Estate Empire [ProPublica] Noble Energy, partners move ahead with $3.75B project [BizJournals] Air Force buys mysterious $15m Israeli 'drone killer' kits to fight DIY ISIS UAVs [DailyMail] Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media [TheGuardian] In Trump-CNN Battle, 2 Presidents Who Love a Spectacle [NYT]
“Some of the biggest names in the hedge fund industry are planning to invest in a hot new fund” by Rachael Levy: “Philippe Laffont, the founder of Coatue Management; Louis Bacon, the founder of Moore Capital; and Dan Loeb, the founder of Third Point, are planning to invest in Ben Melkman's Light Sky Macro, a New York hedge fund that is set to launch March 1. Billionaire Steve Cohen, the founder of Point72 Asset Management, is also investing in the fund The fund is expected to launch with at least $400 million.” [BI]
SCENE YESTERDAY -- JFNA's William Daroff received a national award recognizing his Jewish civic leadership at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) annual conference held at the Capital Hilton in DC. Prior to the awards dinner, Daroff moderated a panel with "the two Noahs" - RJC'a Noah Silverman and Noah Pollak on how the Jewish community should engage with the Trump Administration.
TALK OF THE NATION: "Another Jewish cemetery vandalized and again Muslims reach out to help" by Colby Itkowitz: "On Sunday night, El-Messidi read the news of yet another vandalized Jewish cemetery. This time it hit closer to home, just miles from where he lives in Philadelphia. He called fellow Muslim activist, Linda Sarsour, and they agreed to use the fund to help with repairs and restoration. Then El-Messidi immediately drove to the cemetery to see how he could help. There he found a team of diverse people, including many local Muslims, at work doing their best to erect what he said were several hundred toppled headstones at Mount Carmel Cemetery in a neighborhood in the northeast part of the city. Police have said they counted about 100 overturned." [WashPost]
HOLLYWOOD: "The minute-by-minute breakdown of the shocking ‘Moonlight’/‘La La Land’ best picture mix-up" by Emily Yahr: "In what was surely the most shocking moment in Oscars history, Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner for best picture at the end of the ceremony, awarding the trophy to “La La Land” when it actually was supposed to go to “Moonlight.” The “La La Land” team arrived on stage, and producers Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt delivered their speeches. All of a sudden, there was a flurry of activity behind them... “This is not a joke,” Platt interjected. “I’m afraid they read the wrong thing.” Confused gasps and stunned silence from the crowd quickly turned into a standing ovation." [WashPost] From Pikesville to 'La La Land,' producer Marc Platt sees a bright future for movie musicals [BaltimoreSun]
“Chris Martin Says Coldplay Will Not Perform Israeli-Palestinian Peace Concerts, Despite Rumors” by Colin Stutz: “Frontman Chris Martin squashed speculation with a Twitter post on Friday (Feb. 24), following unsubstantiated reports the band would be performing two concerts during this trip. In Martin's post, he explained he and his bandmates are in region to "listen and learn and that's all." "We are just having an interesting and enlightening trip to learn about the area," he continued.” [Billboard]
MEDIA WATCH: “Fox News' Israel Bureau Chief [Eli Fastman]: It's 'Insulting' Trump Didn't Tag Us as Enemy of the People” by Nir Gontarz: "I personally would not be opposed to Trump including us in that category of enemies of the people, but he didn’t do it It’s very insulting. Because it says that we are a type of collaborator No media body wants to be a collaborator of the government. But he made us the exception.” [Haaretz]
DESSERT: “A Rabbi Strives to Make His Corner of Siberia Kosher Again” by Amie Ferris-Rotman: “The majority of Birobidzhan’s Jews grew to not observe most kosher rules Rabbi [Eli] Riss, who peppers his speech with humor (“Even the local drunkards greet me with ‘Shalom’ ”), aims to encourage local Jews to embrace kosher practices as he does. His suitcases of food are for himself and his family. He wants his flock, too, to be able to eat kosher easily. “Once we get kosher food, it will be a Jewish heaven,” he said on an early December day His synagogue is waiting to hear if its application to local authorities for a kosher food shop is successful. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, to which Rabbi Riss belongs, is financing the shop’s construction. Under the rabbi’s plan, frozen kosher goods such as beefsteaks and sour cream will travel in bulk to Birobidzhan from Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway.” [WSJ]
BIRTHDAYS: Performance artist and film-maker, Eleanor Antin turns 82... Writer and illustrator of children's books, Uri Shulevitz turns 82... Billionaire, investor, trader and philanthropist, Chair of Julliard, Vice Chair of Lincoln Center and on the Board of the Metropolitan Opera, Bruce Kovner turns 72... Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Alan Harvey Guth turns 70... Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue, a member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Julia Neuberger turns 67... Film and television actor, now starring as FBI Agent Stan Beeman on the FX series "The Americans," Noah Emmerich turns 52... VP of Education and Regional Operations at the Anti-Defamation League, David S. Waren turns 54... Singer-songwriter, composer and prayer leader, co-founder of NYC's Kol Zimrah minyan, Sam Benjamin "Shir Yaakov" Feinstein-Feit turns 39... Massachusetts State Senator since 2015 and former Obama White House aide where he was one of the originators of the White House Seder, Eric Lesser turns 32 (h/t Playbook)... Grand"Pa" of Dov and Joe et al., Michael Gervis... Alana Berkowitz... Rebecca Sinderbrand (h/ts Playbook)... William Drykos... Judith Meyer... Lenore Wax...
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