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TAKE IT FROM AN ELDER: "The Boss of Victoria’s Secret, Les Wexner, Bets on a Radical Idea: Smartphones Will Fade” by Khadeeja Safdar: “For a man who runs a company known for its eye-catching marketing, Wexner avoids the spotlight. A tastemaker for decades, he can be seen dressed in a simple dress shirt, tie and zippered vest. He may think smartphones have peaked, but he carries two and wears an Apple Watch with an Hermès wristbandSome investors are trying to profit by betting against Mr. Wexner, believing that his commitment to stores and malls is starting to hurt the business"
"The internet won’t kill stores, the Columbus-based billionaire says. Moreover, the fascination with smartphones will fade. “We’re in the process of bouncing back from that,” he says in an interview. “I don’t think this is a new norm.” People crave social interaction and will seek it at places like malls. “There are times when that gets interrupted, but people want to be with other people,” he says. “I’ve got 5,000 years of history on my side,” pointing to the ancient shopping bazaars in Rome and Istanbul.” [WSJ]
LongRead: "A Kingdom from Dust: A story of power, drought, migrant labor, and an insatiable drive to expand" by Mark Arax: "Stewart Resnick is the biggest farmer in the United States, a fact he has tried to keep hidden while he has shaped what we eat, transformed California’s landscape, and ruled entire towns. But the one thing he can’t control is what he’s most dependent on — water..."
"Unlike many other billionaires, Stewart and Lynda Resnick could poke fun at themselves. During the holiday season, they sent out 4,000 gift boxes to their “nearest and dearest friends” filled with their fruits and nuts, along with a card of the two of them dressed in skin-colored body stockings, posing as Adam and Eve. “If only Eve had offered Adam a pomegranate instead of an apple,” Lynda wrote, “every day could have been a holiday.”
"Growing up in New Jersey, Resnick’s pals were all Jewish kids from upper-class families, so it wasn’t easy being the poorest one, the one whose father was a gambler and capable at any moment of losing the few comforts they had... Over the years, they had donated large sums of money to political campaigns, and some of it went to Republicans who had pledged to prop up California agriculture. This was how a billionaire who needed more water did politics. At the core, though, the Resnicks were still moved by the duty of social justice, not just as traditional liberals but as secular Jews. Stewart would deny that [John] Gibler’s reporting played a part in their philanthropy. “Look, I have no guilt. I’ve done no big wrong in my life that would cause me to have any. Well, maybe just a little guilt, but that’s Jewish.” [CaliforniaSundayMag] h/t EMF
“Fraying Israel-Turkey Ties Threaten Planned Natural Gas Venture” by Yaacov Benmeleh and David Wainer: “Malcolm Hoenlein, a director at Leviathan stakeholder Delek Drilling LLP, said it’s too early to rule out a deal with Turkey, even though Erdogan has “complicated progress.” Trade continued to grow even after ties soured in 2010 over Israel’s deadly storming of a Turkish ship trying to break Israel’s Gaza blockade, noted Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Egypt, though, is a better option at this point “because there’s a lot to be done with the existing LNG plants there,” he said in a phone interview.” [Bloomberg]
"Hoenlein: Bridges need to be built to Democratic party" by Herb Keinon: “We can’t afford in the United States right now to lose the Democratic left,” [Conference of Presidents's Malcolm Hoenlein] said. “We are working hard all the time, reaching out and trying to build connections.” ... At the same time, Hoenlein made clear: “We welcome the support of [US] President [Donald] Trump. We are not going to sacrifice that, and say that because they don’t like it, we should dismiss him, or not express appreciation for the good that he is doing. It is a big change from where we were.”" [JPost]
DRIVING THE CONVO -- "Poland’s President Supports Making Some Holocaust Statements a Crime" by Marc Santora: "President Andrzej Duda announced on Tuesday that he would sign into law a bill that makes it illegal to accuse “the Polish nation” of complicity in the Holocaust, but in a nod to critics, he asked the Constitutional Court to review the legislation. In a speech broadcast live on Polish television and radio, Mr. Duda said that he was seeking the high court’s involvement because this “very painful, delicate issue” needed to be dealt with carefully..." [NYTimes]
"Polish PM says it’s too late to amend Holocaust bill" by Michael Bachner: "Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday said it was too late to amend his country’s contentious legislation... adding that “no Jews could have survived on this land without the help of a Polish family.” Morawiecki invited several Israeli journalists to his Warsaw residence in order to voice the Polish stance on the controversial law... “The response from our friends in Israel is serious and so I take that seriously,” he told Hadashot TV news... The Polish leader told the journalists that his aunt is Jewish and lives in the central Israeli city of Herzliya, and that he himself had sent his kids to a Jewish school..." [ToI; Video]
"Israeli minister 'honored' to be barred from Poland over Holocaust bill" by Lidia Kelly and Maayan Lubell: "Earlier on Monday, Naftali Bennett said he would travel to Poland to discuss the bill, which Israeli officials have said amounts to Holocaust denial. However Poland’s government spokeswoman said there would be no such visit. “The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it,” Bennett later said in a statement. “The government of Poland canceled my visit, because I mentioned the crimes of its people. I am honored.” [Reuters]
"On Holocaust distortion, Poland is the ‘tip of the iceberg,’ Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff says" by Raphael Ahren: “It was ironic that the Israeli government chose to speak out on Poland’s Holocaust complicity bill when it has never chastised such countries as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Croatia and Hungary, which played a more active role aiding the Nazis in their genocide of the Jews during World War II and have for decades tried to downplay their guilt." [ToI]
TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST: “Abbas sets conditions for fresh peace talks, with diminished US role” by Khaled Abu Toameh: “The Palestinians are prepared to return to the negotiating table with Israel, but only on the basis of an international multilateral mechanism, the Arab Peace Initiative and international resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday. Abbas’s comments were made during a phone conversation with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.” [ToI]
Boris Johnson: “Good to speak to President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority today. We discussed the importance of resuming peace negotiations towards a two-state solution.” [Twitter]
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweets: "20 years ago I gave an ambulance to Har Bracha hoping it would be used to deliver healthy babies. Instead, a man from Har Bracha was just murdered by a terrorist, leaving behind a wife and four children. Palestinian “leaders” have praised the killer. Praying for the BenGal family." [Twitter]
“Modi to 'Honor' Arafat in 'Historic Palestine Visit,' Three Weeks After Netanyahu's India Tour” by Noa Landau: "Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit the Yasser Arafat Museum in Ramallah during his official visit to the West Bank this weekend, according to the Indian Foreign Ministry. At the museum, Modi will be attending a ceremony "in the honor of the departed leader," a senior ministry official told journalists According to the official, the purpose of the "historic visit" is to demonstrate India's solidarity with the Palestinian people and its commitment to "deepening ties with Palestine." Modi is scheduled to arrive in Ramallah on February 10.” [Haaretz]
VIEW FROM JERUSALEM -- “Trump administration is an opportunity for West Bank sovereignty, MKs say” by Lahav Harkov: “The time is right for the government to apply sovereignty to West Bank settlements in light of the Trump administration’s attitude toward Israel, said cabinet ministers, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and other MKs at a Land of Israel Caucus conference on Monday” [JPost]
"Abbas’ government sued over alleged CIA-backed wiretapping" by Mohammed Daraghmeh: "Allegations of continued intelligence-sharing with the United States could prove embarrassing for Abbas who has been on a political collision course with Washington since President Donald Trump’s recognition in December of contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The claims are contained in a 37-page anonymous document that was been shared widely among Palestinians, mostly on WhatsApp. The document alleges that three of the Palestinian security services set up a joint electronic surveillance unit in mid-2014 and monitored the phone calls of thousands of Palestinians, from senior figures in militant groups to judges, lawyers, civic leaders and political allies of Abbas." [AP]
COMING SOON -- For the second year in a row, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley will speak at AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference at the Washington Convention Center in DC on March 4th - 6th. Haley is the first member of the Trump administration to be confirmed as a speaker. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to attend the conference after skipping it last year.
TOP TALKER: “Pro-Israel Groups Receive Letters From Al Jazeera Seeking Response for 'Lobby' Documentary” by Amir Tibon: “A number of pro-Israel organizations in the United States received letters from Al Jazeera on Friday, informing them their employees will appear on the Qatari-owned network's upcoming documentary on the Israel lobby in Washington... Al Jazeera publicly admitted in October it had planted an undercover reporter inside leading pro-Israel organizations in the United States Some said the letters indicate that the film will be broadcast within the next weeks, possibly around the time of the annual AIPAC conference in early March. Others believed the opposite was true, claiming that the Qatari government was pressuring Al Jazeera not to air the report, and that the letters are the result of an internal debate within the network about the documentary One senior official in a pro-Israel organization called the Al Jazeera documentary a "wake-up call."” [Haaretz]
ON THE HILL -- Menendez Will Retake Foreign Affairs Committee Role -- by John Hudson: “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has given his blessing for Sen. Bob Menendez... to return to his previous job as the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week, aides said In recent years, Menendez took more money from pro-Israel donors than any other Democrat in the Senate, and members of the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC personally financed his legal defense fund as he fought corruption charges Menendez is expected to retake the position from Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin who on Monday filed for re-election for what would be his third term.” [BuzzFeed]
PROFILE: “Former Congressman Still Active At 99” by Sheri Arbital Jacoby: “Lester Wolff, a 50-year resident of the peninsula who turned 99 on Jan. 4, is the oldest former Congress member In fact, he tweets every day at @repwolff and four or five years ago, began streaming Ask Congress, the show he hosted on PBS for many years Wolff was born in New York City and raised by a Jewish family who immigrated to the United States in the early 1800s... He still attends services almost every Friday night at Temple Emanuel... Wolff was first elected to Congress in 1964... The amendment he put into the Foreign Assistance Act forced President Lyndon B. Johnson to sell F4 jets to Israel, which was a factor in helping Israel survive the attack by the Arabs during the Six-Day War in 1967.” [GreatneckRecord]
2018 WATCH -- UPDATE: “Illinois Republican Party exploring ‘options’ to dump GOP Holocaust denier” by Lynn Sweet: “The Illinois Republican Party on Monday announced it was exploring “all options” to dump Holocaust denier and white supremacist Arthur Jones The Republican Jewish Coalition chair also floated on Monday the possibility of a write-in candidate surfacing to run against Jones to deny him the GOP nomination in March. Republican Jewish Coalition chairman Norm Coleman told Jewish Insider, a newsletter covering the U.S. Jewish community, “I would hope there is a write-in candidate so he doesn’t get the nomination”” [ChicagoSunTimes]
“In turbulent year, a newcomer challenges a political veteran in Montgomery” by Rachel Siegel: “Montgomery County Council candidate Ben Shnider was born in 1989, about a decade after the incumbent he is challenging in the Democratic primary was first elected to public office. That incumbent, Sidney Katz (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville) says his long experience in politics and government is invaluable A graduate of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Shnider previously worked as the political director for J Street, a liberal, nonprofit advocacy group that focuses on policies related to Israel, and launched the political arm of Bend the Arc, a progressive, Jewish justice organization.” [WashPost]
INBOX -- Rabbi Robert Barr Ending OH-1 Congressional Campaign: "Rabbi Robert Barr announced today that he will end his campaign for Congress in Ohio’s First Congressional District. Rabbi Barr said, “My campaign was motivated by the same belief that drew me to become a rabbi – the belief that each of us needs to leave our world better than we found it, and I will continue to do my part. I decided to end my campaign for Congress after Aftab Pureval decided to enter the race. Aftab has a proven track record of unseating a long-standing Republican incumbent, and he is committed to representing the voters of Southwest Ohio in a manner focused on many of our shared concerns.”
PODCAST PLAYBACK -- David Axelrod on a potential 2020 presidential bid by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz: "You see the outside candidates being talked about - the Howard Schultz's... Someone told me that they thought he could be a dark horse candidate, I said, ‘He sounded more like a dark roast candidate.’” [AxeFiles]
** Good Tuesday 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: Steven Schoenfeld's ETF tracking Israel's hot cyberstocks is breaking out [CNBC] Study finds lower ultra-Orthodox male employment in Israel [ABCNews] Vladimir Putin inherits apartment in downtown Tel Aviv [JPost] Daniel Freedman's BurnAlong raises $1M to let more people work out online with familiar faces [Technical.ly]
“Germany agrees to compensate Holocaust survivors from Algeria” by James Master: “Approximately 25,000 people are eligible for a one-off payment of €2,556 ($3,184), according to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, an organization that negotiates with the German government on behalf of Holocaust survivors Daniel Gal, who lived during the war with his family in Oran, a coastal city in northwest Algeria, told CNN he remembers being "kicked out" of his school and sent to learn with other Jewish children Gal left Algeria after graduating from high school in 1950, eventually settling in Jerusalem "I am very happy," Gal told CNN on Monday. "Justice has been done and while it has taken a long time, the Claims Conference has done a very good job. My phone has been going all morning with friends calling me about it.” [CNN]
HOLLYWOOD: "Netflix Nabs Ryan Murphy Series ‘The Politician’; Ben Platt Set, Barbra Streisand & Gwyneth Paltrow In Talks To Star" by Nellie Andreeva: "Netflix has landed The Politician, a new hourlong comedy series from longtime collaborators Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan and Ryan Murphy, I have learned. The project, starring Tony winner Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen), with Oscar winners Barbra Streisand and Gwyneth Paltrow in negotiations to co-star, has received a two-season straight-to-series order." [Deadline]
HOMELAND BACK TO ISRAEL? -- "Homeland Boss on Season 7’s Trump Inspiration, Alex Jones and RIP Peter Quinn" by Debra Birnbaum: "Do you have a plan in mind for the final season? Alex Gansa: "More of a hope than an idea. This show began in Israel [as “Prisoners of War”], and there’s something poetic about going back to that part of the world in the show. So we’ve been thinking, just in a thematic way, that it might be nice to end the show set in Israel."" [Variety]
TALK OF THE TOWN: "Gossip From the Liz Smith Memorial, Just the Way She’d Want It" by Jacob Bernstein: "In the late 1980s, [Barry] Diller worked as an executive at Fox, where one of his responsibilities was starting what he described as an “‘Entertainment Tonight”-type show. “Liz introduced me to a producer she had known and who I had never met before,” Mr. Diller said. “He’d come from political campaigning, and I thought he’d be great. He was, but not for this show. We became friends, and later I introduced him to Rupert Murdoch. His name was Roger Ailes. So, Liz, it’s all your fault.” [NYTimes]
“Paul Simon to give up touring 'after all these years'” by Corky Siemaszko: “The beloved singer-songwriter announced Monday he was retiring from the road and this spring his aptly-named “Homeward Bound — The Farewell Tour” will be his last... Simon, 76, said he still expects to do the “occasional performance in a (hopefully) pristine hall” and donate the proceed to philanthropies “whose objective is to save the planet, ecologically.”” [NBCNews]
WINTER OLYMPICS -- "The Hebrew Hammer' set to make Israeli Olympic history" by Nick Zaccardi: "A.J. Edelman... will be easy to spot in his racing helmet in PyeongChang next week. It features the biblical figure Samson breaking pillars above the flag of Israel. “The breaking of the pillars represents accomplishing the impossible dream,” said Edelman, who was born in Boston but said he has several family connections to Israel. Edelman said the International Olympic Committee allowed his helmet, determining that it is not a political or religious statement." [NBCOlympics]
“Ivanka Trump to attend Olympics closing ceremony” by Betsy Klein: “Ivanka Trump will lead the Presidential delegation to South Korea for the closing ceremony of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic winter games The first daughter and senior adviser was asked to attend the closing ceremony by her father, President Donald Trump, and the United States Olympic Committee.” [CNN]
SPORTS BLINK: "Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie fulfills lifelong dream" by Michael Silver: "Jeffrey Lurie sat in the corner of a mint-green loveseat in the back of a jam-packed victory party early Monday morning, clutching his mother's left arm with one hand and the Lombardi Trophy with the other. The 66-year-old owner of the Philadelphia Eagles had just realized his lifelong dream... Lurie had his reasons for wanting to prevail over the Pats: A native of Newton, Massachusetts, which is just outside of Boston, Lurie had lost out to Robert Kraft on a bid to buy the Patriots in 1994, instead purchasing the Eagles from Norman Braman a few months later." [NFL]
PIC OF THE DAY -- Philadelphia-born songwriter Benj Pasek with Kobe Bryant, who notes that Bryant’s dad was his JCC soccer coach. [Pic]
ACELA CORRIDOR -- Colm O'Comartun tweets this morning: "Maybe in a nod to growing inequality, the first class car on the 5:00 Acela to NYC From DC has separated from the train while moving, causing the train to stop and become stranded between Baltimore and Wilmington." [Twitter]
COMING SOON -- Walter Russell Mead will become a columnist for the Wall Street Journal opinion pages, writing the weekly Global View column on foreign affairs. Mead is the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and previously taught American foreign policy at Yale University. [DowJones]
SCENE LAST NIGHT -- Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at Columbia University hosted Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan for a speech on Israel and the Middle East conflict. Outside, a group of protesters held up posters against Israel and attempted to encourage students and the faculty to boycott the event. Dayan joked that he often gets confused with Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon. "We sit in the same building, I often get his emails, and he gets my phone calls. The most ironic thing happened when I sent flowers to this lady, and he got the thank you note," Dayan said to laughter. [Video]
SCENE SUNDAY NIGHT -- at Abby Cable's 30th birthday party at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, MD: AIPAC's Steve Beckerman, JBG's Nicole Hollander and Lily Goldstein, former Bush operative Eric Gallagher, Ariana Kaufman, Ivanka Trump's Rachael Baitel, Ariana Heideman and Joe Tipograph, Nick Muzin, CNN's Ariel Bashi, Alex Shively, Jonathan Arogeti, and Isaac Snyder.
REMEMBERING: "Melvyn Weiss, Lawyer Who Fought Corporate Fraud, Dies at 82" by Sam Roberts: "Weiss was a pro bono lawyer for victims of terrorism and other causes, a prodigious fund-raiser for liberal Democratic candidates and a leader of the Israel Policy Forum, which favors a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict. He and his wife, the former Barbara Joan Kaplan, sponsored a program in public-interest law at his alma mater, New York University Law School." [NYTimes]
DESSERT: “Eat The World's Largest Bagel & Lox This Week In Brooklyn” by Stephanie Maida: “In honor of National Bagel and Lox Day [Acme Smoked Fish] is teaming up with Zucker's Bagels to break the Guinness World Record for the heftiest smoked salmon sandwich ever, complete with gigantic globs of cream cheese, tomatoes, red onions, and capers The fishy foodie event is free for all this Friday, February 9th, at noon.” [GuestofaGuest]
BIRTHDAYS: Israeli pediatric endocrinologist, winner of the the 2009 Israel Prize, in 1966 he described the type of dwarfism later called Laron syndrome in his name, Dr. Zvi Laron turns 91... Bill Levine turns 86... Member of the New Jersey Senate since 2005, she currently serves as Senate Majority Leader, Loretta Weinberg turns 83... Rosalyn Kaplan turns 81... Cantor of Congregation Hugat Haverim in Glendale, California, Harvey Lee Block turns 77... Syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, Richard Martin Cohen turns 77... Louisiana Commissioner of Administration, after serving as Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana (2010-2016), Jay Dardenne turns 64... Author and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Michael Pollan turns 63...
Los Angeles attorney specializing in criminal and civil appeals, author of an amicus brief for members of Congress in the Jerusalem passport case of Zivotofsky v. Secretary of State, Paul Kujawsky turns 61... Long-time foreign correspondent for NPR in many capitals including Jerusalem, author of the NYT-bestseller "The Geography of Bliss," Eric Weiner turns 55... Special events producer at Ballas Bloom Consulting, Jacquelyn Ballas Bloom turns 49... Television and film actress, writer and producer, best known for her role as Pepper in the FX series "American Horror Story," Naomi Grossman turns 43... Israeli-French singer-songwriter whose hit single "New Soul" was used by Apple in a 2008 advertising campaign for its MacBook Air, Yael Naim turns 40... AIPAC's Mid-Atlantic Regional Political Director, Stephen Knable turns 37... Steven I. Weiss... IBM consultant and Bnai Akiva Toronto boger Yadin Koschitzky...
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