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TALK OF THE REGION: Close to a month after President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital -- which the administration touted as a major accomplishment in its end-of-year video -- Israel and the Palestinian Authority are still contemplating next steps. On Sunday, the ruling Likud Party voted on a resolution that calls on Israel's prime minister to formally annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank to Israel. Early Tuesday morning, the Knesset approved an amendment to the Basic Law on Jerusalem that would require a special two-thirds majority vote in the Knesset to relinquish any part of Jerusalem under a future peace accord.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas vowed yesterday to "make important decisions in 2018," insisting that the Likud vote "could not be taken without the full support" of the Trump administration. On Sunday, Foreign Minister Riad Malki announced that Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to DC, has been called back to Ramallah for consultations “to set the decisions needed by the Palestinian leadership in the coming period regarding our relations with the US.” However, yesterday, Zomlot said he was instructed to return to Washington "immediately" after meeting with Abbas in private.
HOW IT PLAYED: "Emboldened Israeli Right Presses Moves to Doom 2-State Solution" by David Halbfinger: "The moves showed that the Israeli right senses a new opening to pursue its goal of a single state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. “We are telling the world that it doesn’t matter what the nations of the world say,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told more than 1,000 members of Likud’s central committee on Sunday. “The time has come to express our biblical right to the land.” But Palestinians and Israeli supporters of a two-state solution said the moves revealed the true colors of the country’s ascendant right wing." [NYTimes] Israel's Likud Party Members Call for Annexing Settlements [AP] Israel Raises Threshold to Cede Parts of Jerusalem in Peace Deal [Reuters]
PENCE'S ISRAEL TRIP STILL ON? -- Pence's office says VP visit to Israel remains in plans: “Mike Pence’s office on Monday said the U.S. Vice President still plans on visiting Israel this month Pence had been scheduled to come during the week of Jan. 14. But Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that the visit was no longer on its schedule for January. “The visit is not included in our provision of scheduled visits of high-level dignitaries in January,” said ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon Later Monday, Pence’s deputy chief of staff, Jarrod Agen, said the visit was still on. “As we said, we are going later this month,” he said, without providing specific dates.” [AP; Bloomberg]
Pence's Press Secretary Alyssa Farah tweets: "The VP is going to Israel in January." [Twitter]
DRIVING THE CONVO: "Trump Backs Protesters in Iran" by Aresu Eqbali and Asa Fitch: "The biggest wave of protests to hit Iran in almost a decade has backed the country’s leaders into a corner, and the Trump administration is increasing the pressure by threatening fresh sanctions if the government forcefully cracks down on the demonstrations. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who has been a favorite of the country’s moderates, now finds himself under fire from a young population eager for change." [WSJ]
"Six days of demonstrations — which have left at least 20 people dead — showed no signs of easing as the anger from the streets found new targets. What began as frustration over Iran’s sluggish economy has broadened to include open defiance of Iran’s Islamic leadership itself." [WashPost]
"Inside the classified Israeli report on the Iran protests" by Barak Ravid: "The Israeli Foreign Ministry report says the Iranian regime was surprised by the mass protest and is now trying to contain it through preventive arrests and crackdown on social media — while trying to avoid violent response against protesters." [Axios; Channel10]
“Where We Can Agree on Iran” by Mark Dubowitz and Daniel Shapiro: “We are long-time friends who have disagreed vehemently on the wisdom of President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran; Dan is Obama’s former ambassador to Israel, and Mark is one of that agreement’s most persistent critics. But we agree with equal passion that Americans, regardless of party or position on the nuclear deal, should be supporting the aspirations of Iranians to be free from their brutal and corrupt rulers... Keep politics out of it. Condemn the regime’s human rights abuses and corruption; don’t re-litigate the Iran deal.” [PoliticoMag]
"The West Can Help Iranians Take Back Their Country -- The perfect man for the job: Barack Obama" by Eli Lake: "There is currently a Change.org petition urging Obama to speak out in favor of the demonstrations. That is a good start. But the former president should do more. He should devote his good offices to publicizing the cause of Iranian freedom. No American can lead Iran’s opposition, but Obama’s unique understanding of grassroots activism puts him in an ideal position to lead the Western cause of solidarity. He could organize lawyers, newspaper editors, teachers, librarians and human rights groups to partner Iranians under siege, following the Jewish-American movement to allow Soviet refuseniks to emigrate." [BloombergView]
"How Trump could kill the Iran nuclear deal in January" by Michael Crowley: "The deadlines for Trump begin on Jan. 11, when the agreement requires him — as it does every 90 days — to certify whether Tehran is meeting its obligations under the deal... Even more consequential are upcoming deadlines for Trump to continue the temporary waiver of U.S. sanctions on Iran... The president must renew the waivers every 120 days. Sources familiar with the law said multiple waiver deadlines arrive between Jan. 12 and Jan. 17, forcing Trump to reassess the deal." [Politico]
ON THE HILL: "Trump's Justice Department Calls Anti-Iran Bill Unconstitutional" by John Hudson: "The Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act, which would require the Treasury Department to publicly report on the assets of Iranian officials, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, passed in the House on Dec. 13 but faces uncertain prospects in the Senate, where some Democrats view it as a backdoor attempt to unravel the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. The concerns raised by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd in the Dec. 20 memo further jeopardize the bill’s prospects by claiming that it risks leaking sensitive national security information... Almost every House Republican voted in favor of the bill, which was backed by AIPAC. “We support the legislation,” an AIPAC official told BuzzFeed News on Friday." [BuzzFeed]
“Game changed: Mark Halperin’s lost Trump trove” by Jonathan Swan: “Early this year, President Trump invited Mark Halperin to dinner in the White House residence. Seated around the table were Trump's inner circle, including Jared Kushner, Hope Hicks, Reince Priebus, Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, and Sean Spicer... Trump concluded the dinner by telling his team: "You guys all need to talk to him [Halperin]" for his campaign book The team cooperated. In the months since, Halperin and his co-author John Heilemann used this extraordinary access to gather a treasure trove of reporting, the most comprehensive insider account of what happened on the campaign. Several Trump campaign officials told me they gave their juiciest anecdotes to Halperin. But Halperin has since been thrown off the book project... after a number of women went public with stories about him sexually harassing them in the workplace.” [Axios]
2018 WATCH: “Billionaire kingmakers swarm Florida governor's race after Trump endorsement” by Marc Caputo and Alexandra Glorioso: “As a member of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, [Rep. Ron] DeSantis is a a supporter of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. And donors have so far loved what they have heard. “These big national finance givers are true believers. Donors like Adelson care about Israel, and they watched DeSantis fight for what they care about,” the fundraiser said” [Politico]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: With Disney Deal Looming, Murdoch’s Empire Is Fractured [NYTimes] A conversation with Dean Kamen on the myth of “Eureka!” [TechCrunch] Dallas Gets a Hot New Designer Sneakers Store founded by Brennen Pailet [PaperCity] Gary Barnett closes on $1B+ financing for Central Park Tower [RealDeal] Inside 1600 Vine: Danielle Guttman Klein's Hollywood apartment complex packed with social media’s stars [NYTimes]
PODCAST PLAYBACK -- Arthur Blank, co-founder of The Home Depot, discussed his relationship with business partner Bernie Marcus on NPR’s How I Built This podcast with Guy Raz: “Bernie [Marcus] is fourteen years my senior, probably a combination of a bother and a father figure - having lost my dad at a young age - and a rabbi. I mean, he’s always considered himself to be a rabbi, and he’s a great storyteller. I am not a great storyteller, but I am a great audience. He would tell the same stories and I would keep laughing at the same stories. It was like a great partnership because he loved hearing me laugh - it was like a marriage, it was like a very good marriage.”
When they were designing the original business plan for Home Depot, Blank said he told Marcus: "I remember one night I had all these papers spread out on the dining room table and I called Bernie and I said, 'Listen partner, I've applied five years of experience in a large public accounting firm, my own business experience, my experience running a chain of drug stores and these numbers don't add up.' I still remember what Bernie said on the other end of the phone, he just said 'change the numbers, change the numbers' (laughter). His argument was valid. Reality was investors were buying into myself and Bernie, betting on people." [NPR]
On The Atlantic Interview Podcast -- New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman shared her thoughts on Trump's first year in office and about her own faith in a conversation with host Jeffrey Goldberg -- Goldberg: “[Trump] always struck me as a guy who almost speaks in Yiddish inflections. I know that's going to trigger a lot of liberal Jewish critics" Haberman: “You're not wrong.” Goldberg: "Even the speech pattern, sentence construction, the kind of harsh but funny judgements about people, is that a thing that he picked up in Queens? ... Sometimes he just reminds me of a New Yorker." Haberman: "I know exactly what you're getting at. I don't really know how I can spell it out for your listeners better than you have and certainly better than what they just see in front of their eyes, but, yes, there is an Archie Bunker-ness to him. Right? I mean, there is this kind of outer borough guy sitting on the couch, yelling at the television thing... Which, literally, was Archie Bunker on television."
Goldberg: “I just noticed you're wearing a Hamsa.” Haberman: “I am I have a Hamsa bracelet, too.” Goldberg: “I didn't realize you were so Kabbalistic.” Haberman: "I'm deeply superstitious This one I believe my mother got me in Israel.” Goldberg: “Why are you so superstitious?” Haberman: “I don't know why.” Goldberg: “Do you have a red string?” Haberman: “I don't have a red string.” Goldberg: “Do you pray on airplanes?” Haberman: “I do, actually I cannot believe you just asked me that. No one has ever asked me that.” Goldberg: “Do you believe in an intervention as God who keeps airplanes in the air and then lets others crash?” Haberman: “Well, I have to, considering that I do pray before every flight, right? I clearly do.” [TheAtlantic]
“How America is Transforming Islam: Being young and Muslim in the U.S. means navigating multiple identities. Nothing shows that more than falling in love” by Emma Green: “The people [who] are anxious about [assimilation] are the people who are white-knuckling it, holding on to tradition, worried that they’re going to lose it,” said Zareena Grewal, an associate professor at Yale University. Imams will often compare young Muslims and Jews, she added, wondering whether their religious organizations will also be hurt by widespread disaffiliation. “They’re like, ‘Oh, the rabbis are panicking, so we should also be panicking.’” [TheAtlantic]
“New Slaughtering Rules Pit Dutch Religious Freedoms Against Animal Rights” by Nina Siegal: "In countries with painful histories of anti-Semitism, and at time when anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment runs high, some fear that the changes, even if they are intended for animal protection, will add to tensions with minority communities. “Some of those who try and ban our customs are in essence trying to make Europe more uncomfortable for Jews, because the essence and centrality of our life are our ancient traditions, and if our customs are not welcome nor are our communities,” Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, wrote in a statement.” [NYTimes]
"I'm a Jewish Grandmother. And a Mob Biographer" by Phyllis Karas: "How on earth did I — a journalist, a college professor, a doctor’s wife, a nice Jewish grandmother — become a biographer to the mob?" [Ozy]
TALK OF OUR NATION: "Two American Families Are Mourned After Plane Crash in Costa Rica" by Christine Hauser and Ernesto Londono: "The families had striking similarities: They lived in prosperous suburbs, had children in college, enjoyed exploring other cultures and were strongly involved in Jewish causes. Both families — the Steinbergs, a family of five from Scarsdale, N.Y., and the Weisses, a family of four from Belleair, Fla. — were killed on Sunday when the single-engine turboprop they were traveling in crashed into a hill in Costa Rica shortly after takeoff." [NYTimes; CNN] Bridgewater's Steinberg Killed in Plane Crash With Family [Bloomberg]
LONG-READ: "A Tech Pioneer’s Final, Unexpected Act: Upon receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer, Eric Sun set out to achieve some lifelong musical goals" by James Stewart: "As an intern, Sun met Mark Zuckerberg at a Facebook “hackathon,” one of the company’s all-night coding sessions, at which it was traditional to serve Chinese food at 10 P.M. “Hey, I’m Mark,” Zuckerberg said, extending his hand. Sun liked the egalitarian nature of the early Facebook... During a weekly meeting that Zuckerberg holds for the company, Sun joined him onstage and said that he’d be taking a medical leave. He recounted how Zuckerberg had introduced himself when they first met, even though Sun had known who he was. “I look forward to seeing you when you come back,” Zuckerberg said."
"The doctors at the University of California, San Francisco, who also analyzed the tissue, said that Sun’s life expectancy could be as short as fourteen months. Sun had largely kept his emotions in check, but hearing this he wept... His doctors had been wary of his taking on a role as demanding as the one in “Fiddler.” He had to walk and play at the same time, which was difficult with his impaired sight and depth perception. The orchestra had worked out a plan to cover for him should he suffer any sudden problems onstage. Law and Tyan sensed that, given the importance he attached to “Fiddler,” his decline might accelerate once the play was over. Six weeks after the last performance, he went into hospice care and, less than forty-eight hours later, died in Law’s arms. It was November 23rd, fourteen months after he received his diagnosis." [NewYorker]
REMEMBERING: “Yehoshua Hershkowitz, 92, Founder of a Kosher Meal Program, Dies” by Joseph Berger: “Mr. Hershkowitz established Tomche Shabbos a year after Meals on Wheels America was founded, and similar organizations had been started in the United States in the 1950s and even earlier in Britain The Borough Park program is a testament to the value that observant Jews place on the concept of tzedaka, a Hebrew term defined as either charity or, tellingly, justice “Some families are ashamed,” Mr. Hershkowitz said in a 1984 interview with The New York Times. “So we don’t tell them where the stuff is coming from. We say it’s a grocery delivery and go away.”” [NYTimes]
SPORTS BLINK: “The Israeli Ski Community on One of the World’s Most Militarized Borders” by John Clary Davies: “As such a strategic military location, Mount Hermon Ski Resort might be the most heavily militarized place to ski in the world. Cars must pass through a military checkpoint that is closed if the lifts aren't spinning. The Israeli Defense Force has a fleet of customized white snowcats at the base and bunkers on every ridgeline It's an unexpected location for the busiest ski area in the region. The 1,200-acre resort regularly has 12,000 visitors a day, many of whom are seeing snow for the first time. Due to travel restrictions, Mount Hermon is the only place in the Middle East Israelis can find snow. It is a melting pot for a segregated country, a place where Jews, Muslims, and Druze all recreate together.” [Powder]
“Battle Royale Over Rightful Heir to Israeli Self-Defense Discipline” by Isabel Kershner: “About 80 years after the Krav Maga street-fighting system was conceived, its champions are sparring among themselves. The man credited with creating Krav Maga, Emrich Lichtenfeld, known as Imi, a boxing and wrestling champion who immigrated from Czechoslovakia and settled in the coastal town of Netanya, died in 1998 at the age of 88. Now his disciples, and the disciples’ disciples, are competing over whose school is the most authentic and who is the real grandmaster. It is like a family fighting over an inheritance.” [NYTimes]
“Got spare tickets? Give a seat to someone less fortunate”by Jessica Steinberg: “In the year since it was founded, Sharing Seats Israel has given out 500 seats for various events, said Elizur Agus, who founded the organization with his 19-year-old daughter, Keren Agus, after hearing about the American version founded by Yoni Greenstein and Mike DubeHe has established relationships with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem, and the Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Raanana soccer teams, as well as with several musicians, but is still looking for more teams and performers.” [ToI]
DESSERT: “The 'Mossad' twitter account that fooled the world” by Amy Spiro: “[Shawn] Eni... never imagined he'd reach where he is today - more than 46,000 followers, and a slew of interactions with prominent accounts who seem to think he really represents the Mossad. "I thought it would be an inside joke among the Israeli social media circle," he said, "and then it really took off when I answered Linda Sarsour." Sarsour, the well-known and controversial pro-Palestinian activist, tweeted in August: "I just lost all my text threads? I have an iPhone. Any idea why?" Eni's account simply quoted Sarsour's tweet and wrote: "Yes." It remains one of the account's most popular tweets to date, with more than 3,600 retweets and over 8,000 likes While most people are in on the joke, there are always a few who take Eni a bit too seriously.” [JPost]
BIRTHDAYS: Poet who has published twenty volumes of poetry, literary and art criticism, David Shapiro turns 71... Founder and CEO of Boston-based investment firm, Weiss Asset Management, he is also an emeritus professor at Boston University, Andrew M. Weiss turns 71... Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter for The New York Times, who famously went to jail to protect her source in the Valerie Plame matter, now a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, Judith Miller turns 70... Long-time journalist for The New York Times, also author of two books including a memoir about fighting cancer, Joyce Wadler turns 70... Executive Director of the Western Publishing Association since 1996, Jane Silbering turns 69... Prime Minister of the Czech Republic (2009-2010), then Minister of Finance (2013-2014), Jan Fischer turns 67... President of the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, previously with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Alice M. Greenwald turns 66...
CEO of Loews Corporation since 1999, James Tisch turns 65... Congregational rabbi in Haifa, he was previously the president of Bar-Ilan University (2013-2017), a member of Knesset (2009-2013) and a professor of mathematics at the Technion, Daniel Hershkowitz turns 65... Former ambassador of Israel to Sweden, now deputy director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Center for Policy Research, Benny Dagan turns 61... President of the DC-based S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, previously a member of Congress from Florida (1997-2010), Robert Wexler turns 57... Justice on the Supreme Court of Israel since 2011, she was previously Dean of Tel Aviv University's law school, Daphne Barak-Erez turns 53... MBA candidate at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, she was previously at Colgate-Palmolive, Chilton Investment Company and BlackRock, Elizabeth Langer turns 28 (h/t Playbook)...
BIRTHWEEK (yesterday): Singer Foundation's Daniel Bonner turns 28... Co-founder of both BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, Jonah Peretti turns 44... Businessman and philanthropist, Ronald Perelman turns 75...
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