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RARE INTERVIEW: "Jared Kushner’s father on probe into family company: 'We are not at all concerned'" by Michael Kranish: "Charles Kushner walked recently into his corner office on Fifth Avenue, his window framing a view of nearby Trump Tower. On the wall was a magazine cover of his son, Jared Kushner, headlined, “This Guy Got Trump Elected,” along with a photo of daughter-in-law Ivanka Trump... In his first interview since his son entered the White House, Charles Kushner said the company has no concerns about the investigations... Still, the criticism of his son, and the questions about whether Jared Kushner left behind a troubled company, have been searing. “I try not to focus in my life on the haters but it’s just, I have never seen anything like this,” Kushner said..."
“I could not be prouder of the things he is doing and the sacrifice he has made to try to do some good things for the people who live in our country and maybe some good things for people who live in the world,” Charles Kushner said. “I see my son taking up the Middle East, the impact on the world could be dramatic.” Asked how his son is qualified to take on so many responsibilities in the White House, Kushner responded that he gave all of his children a “lot of responsibility at young ages.” [WashPost]
DRIVING THE DAY -- #VPinIsrael -- During Knesset speech, Pence announces the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will take place in 2019: “In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem — and that the United States embassy will open before the end of next year.” [Video]
WHAT PENCE DID NOT SAY -- U.S. could possibly move the embassy gradually -- by Josh Lederman and Matt Lee: “A temporary plan that has been presented to Tillerson would see an existing U.S. consular building in West Jerusalem designated as the interim embassy until the new one is built... Under the most likely scenario, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and a handful of top aides and support staff would open temporary offices in the Jerusalem annex by this spring — possibly as early as April.” [AP]
HOW IT PLAYED: "The Vice President looked notably at ease after more awkward meetings in Egypt and Jordan, where he has been defending the U.S. decision." [WashPost]
HIGHLIGHTS -- Pence recited the Shehecheyanu blessing in Hebrew: "In April, we will celebrate 70 years since Israel's independence. As you prepare to commemorate this historical milestone, I say along with the good people of Israel, here and around the world, 'Shehekheyanu v'kiyamanu v'higiyanu lazman hazeh'..." [Video]
Pence on Iran deal certification: “This is the last time: Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed, President Trump, the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately... The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon."
Netanyahu to Pence: "It’s fitting that you are the first American vice president to speak at the Knesset in Jerusalem because no American Vice President has had a greater commitment to Israel and its people."
When only the opposition applauded Pence: “The President is fully committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and if both sides agree, the United States will support a two-state solution.”
"Mike Pence's Israel Speech Disrupted By Brawl After Arab Lawmaker Protest" by Jack Moore: "The lawmakers from the Arab Joint List, Israel’s third-biggest party, were forcibly ejected from the speech that they had earlier promised to boycott... Footage showed Israeli security officers ripping the placards from the lawmakers’ hands before engaging in a tussle to get them out of the hall." [Newsweek; Video]
-- Andrea Mitchell: "The 13 Israeli-Arab members of Israel's Parliament held up signs saying "Jerusalem is the Capital of Palestine" and were forcibly removed by security as Pence started to speak. Can you imagine Capitol Police dragging members of the congressional black caucus off the House floor?" [Twitter]
-- Lahav Harkov replied to Mitchell: "Wrong on several points. 1, they are not “THE 13 Israeli-Arab members” - there are others. 2, it is always against the Knesset rules to hold up signs or use props and there are examples spanning decades of ppl being removed bc of it. 3, ushers, not security guards led them out" [Twitter]
Pence began his day with an honor guard ceremony at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. The two leaders met privately followed by an expanded bilateral meeting. "This is the first time that I’m standing when both leaders can say those three words, 'Israel’s capital, Jerusalem,'" Netanyahu said in a statement at the start of the meeting. [Video]
WH pool: "Andrea Mitchell of NBC asked Mr. Netanyahu about the timing of the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem. “We can do it by next week,” Mr. Netanyahu said. Margaret Talev of Bloomberg asked if he was serious. “No, but we want to do it, quickly,” the Prime Minister said. Asked how important it was to him, Mr. Netanyahu replied, “Very.”"
Pence arrived in Israel last night after visiting U.S. troops at a military base near the Jordan-Syria border. Pence was welcomed at Ben Gurion International Airport by Minister Yariv Levin, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer [Pic] and Ambassador David Friedman [Pic]
"Penes, Pense, Spence: MKs get their Pence in a twist" by Sue Surkes: "Likud troublemaker Oren Hazan was among the first to wish the vice president well upon landing in Israel Sunday night, welcoming “Mike Penes” to Israel... Likud member Anat Berko... managed to mistake Pence with parody account Michael Pense. Yousef Jabareen, of the Joint (Arab) List... tweeted that the speech to be delivered by Mike “Spence” would be “another nail in the coffin of peace.”" [ToI]
“As Pence Tours Mideast, Tension Lingers Over Trump's Jerusalem Decision” by Chris Benderev: “Meeting Sunday at the Royal Palace [King] Abdullah said Jerusalem remains as important "to Muslims and Christians as it is to Jews," adding that he believed Jerusalem's status should be determined not unilaterally by the U.S. but as part of a "comprehensive" settlement of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. The king also reminded Pence that he had expressed concerns to the U.S. "over the past year" about changing the status of Jerusalem..." [NPR; WashPost] Pence says he and Jordan's King Abdullah 'agreed to disagree' on Jerusalem [Reuters]
“Israel and Trump: United against the world” by Oren Lieberman: “It's been one year into the Trump presidency and not even Netanyahu could have written the script better for himself. It seems everything is moving in his direction The last few months have seen Netanyahu score one victory after another with the Trump administration The governments of the United States and Israel have found each other, even if they've lost so many others along the way.” [CNN]
TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST -- "Abbas wins EU backing for Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem" by Alastair Macdonald: "The European Union’s foreign policy chief assured President Mahmoud Abbas at a meeting in Brussels on Monday that the EU supported his ambition to have East Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state." [Reuters] Slovenia Readies to Recognize Palestine After Trump Embassy Move [Bloomberg]
"What the Palestinians expect from Trump's peace plan" by Barak Ravid: "Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat... sent the 92-page report to Abbas and the other officials 10 days ago... Erekat recommended in his report that President Abbas reject the Trump peace plan out of hand. Erekat wrote that considering the Trump plan will give legitimacy to the Trump strategy of "imposing dictates" on the Palestinians "and will entrench the status quo and form an eternal autonomy" instead of a real independent Palestinian state." [Axios; Nana10]
"Why the Palestinians Are Boycotting the Trump Administration" -- interview with the Palestinian representative in DC, Husam Zomlot -- by Robin Wright: "Despite all of the statements criticizing the current Israeli government and Trump’s decision, the Palestinians have not cut off security coöperation as far as anyone has announced. Zomlot: "There is stuff that we can talk about, and there is stuff that we don’t want to talk about. Our commitment to the security is clear—not by words but by deeds. And this is not because we are in love with the occupier but because we think, no matter what is the political disagreement between us, we have to keep some sort of a level of sanity in our interaction with each other. We need to avoid the curse of blood at any cost. And you know our future is so bloody boringly interlinked between us and the Israelis, that we don’t want to go to the all-out confrontations." [NewYorker]
"The Tragedy of Mahmoud Abbas" by Grant Rumley: "When Abbas does eventually leave the scene (on Sunday, he said that this may be “the last time you see me here”), his defining policy positions—a preference for negotiations adhering to the two-state solution formula, a laudable commitment to non-violence, and a resolute commitment to security coordination with Israel—could likely go with him... This is the larger tragedy of Mahmoud Abbas. In him, the world saw a reformist, a leader who could get the Palestinians to the table and possibly clear the hurdle for the two-state solution. Instead, he has morphed into a bureaucratic tyrant at home, hostile to America and downright incendiary towards Israel." [TheAtlantic]
"Is Iran setting up new military forces in West Bank?" by Adnan Abu Amer: "Mahmoud Mardawi, a Hamas leader and former West Bank-based official in Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, told Al-Monitor, “Iran has certain aspirations in the Palestinian arena and is making intensive attempts to strengthen its influence by supporting military formations in the West Bank, funding and arming them... Iran has various tools to overcome obstacles to deliver weapons and money to the Palestinian territories..." [Al-Monitor]
DRIVING THE WEEK -- "Spurned by Trump, Europeans ponder how to meet Iran ultimatum" by John Irish, Robin Emmott and Arshad Mohammed: "[EU’s foreign policy chief Federica] Mogherini will brief EU foreign ministers on Monday, while U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet his British and French counterparts in London and Paris this week on a trip where Iran “will dominate” many conversations, an aide said." [Reuters]
REPORT: “Germany weighs new sanctions against Iran” by Gernot Heller: “The [Der Spiegel] report cited diplomats in Brussels as saying that Germany was pushing for new sanctions together with Britain and France to show the United States that European allies were taking Trump’s criticism against Iran seriously.” [Reuters] Iran deal won't survive beyond May 2018, sanctions expert says [CNBC]
“Destroying the Iran Deal While Claiming to Save It” by former Obama admin officials Philip Gordon and Robert Malley: “Having been closely involved in the JCPOA negotiations, we know it is not perfect; no negotiated deal ever has been or could be. Yet insisting on a “better deal” and warning that one will otherwise walk away is not a recipe for that better deal, but for no deal at all Paradoxically, the deal almost certainly would have greater odds of surviving a blunt unilateral American withdrawal than a joint U.S.-European attempt to rewrite it. A JCPOA violation with Congress’s and Europe’s imprimatur and consent would leave Iran with little choice but to reciprocate in ways that likely would kill the deal.” [TheAtlantic]
ADMIN DEPARTURES -- "U.S. Government Faces Critical ‘Brain Drain’ of Sanctions Experts" by Solum Lynch, Robbie Gramer and Dan De Luce: "In the latest departure, the State Department’s most experienced U.N.-based sanctions expert stepped down Friday... [Joshua] Black’s team is “immensely important” and “essential to the department for coordinating sanctions in the [United Nations],” one State Department official told Foreign Policy... Richard Nephew, a former State Department official who served as the lead sanctions expert on the negotiating team for the Iran nuclear deal, called Black’s departure a major setback." [ForeignPolicy]
"McMaster makes his pick to replace Powell on the NSC" by Annie Karnie: "National security adviser H.R. McMaster has chosen Nadia Schadlow, a current member of the National Security Council and the lead author of the administration’s National Security Strategy, for the role of deputy national security adviser for strategy... Dina Powell’s departure deprives McMaster of a close ally known for her unparalleled network of relationships both inside and outside the West Wing “H.R. will lose on administration intel, and ties to some very key officials,” said one outside adviser close to the White House, noting that Powell’s close bonds with Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and the president himself have benefited by-the-book McMaster, who has had trouble learning how to schmooze with Trump “I’ve known Nadia for years,” said Elliott Abrams... “She has a wide and deep knowledge of national security issues, both diplomatic and military.”" [Politico]
DEEP DIVE: "Jared Kushner Is China’s Trump Card" by Adam Entous and Evan Osnos: "[Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai's] frequent encounters with Kushner made some people in the U.S. government uncomfortable. On at least one occasion, they met alone, which counterintelligence officials considered risky. “There’s nobody else there in the room to verify what was said and what wasn’t, so the Chinese can go back and claim anything,” a former senior U.S. official who was briefed on the meetings said...“He went in utterly unflanked by anyone who could find Beijing on a map,” a former member of the National Security Council said... Kushner was “their lucky charm,” the former N.S.C. member said. “It was a dream come true. They couldn’t believe he was so compliant.”
"[Kushner] had no doubt that China and other countries were trying to persuade him to do things or to provide information, but he was, despite his inexperience in diplomacy and intelligence, confident in his ability to navigate these situations. After all, he told others, New York real estate is not “a baby’s business.” ... Henry Kissinger, who had encouraged Kushner’s dialogue with Cui, described Kushner as occupying a “daunting role flying close to the sun.”" [NewYorker]
“Mueller's interest in a mysterious White House visitor” by Jonathan Swan: “[George] Nader visited the White House frequently during the early months of the Trump administration. He became friendly with former chief strategist Steve Bannon, visiting his office regularly. A source familiar with the White House meetings said Jared Kushner also met Nader. After asking around about Nader, Kushner decided not to continue meeting with him...“ [Axios]
LongRead: "Does This Man Know More Than Robert Mueller? Glenn Greenwald’s war on the Russia investigation" by Simon van Zuylen-Wood: "When it comes to what the investigation was designed to focus on, Greenwald says he’s still waiting for hard evidence that the Trump campaign aided Russian operatives in hacking the Clinton-campaign emails — or struck some other corrupt bargain. Absent that, he’s not impressed. “Some Russians wanted to help Trump win the election, and certain people connected to the Trump campaign were receptive to receiving that help. Who the f*** cares about that?”" [NYMag]
SHUTDOWN -- Graham rips into White House's Stephen Miller: "South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham criticized White House staffer Stephen Miller on Sunday, the second day of the federal government shutdown... "As long as Steven Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration we are going nowhere," Graham told reporters. "He's been an outlier for years."" [CBSNews]
"Stephen Miller: Immigration agitator and White House survivor" by Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey: "The president... is fond of Miller’s combative style and sees him as a difficult person to replace because of his speechwriting abilities, current and former aides said. Trump has complimented Miller for standing his ground in a fight with Tillerson..." [WashPost]
"Washington looks increasingly dysfunctional as shutdown goes into day 3" by Joyce Karam: "Daniel Shapiro, the former US Ambassador to Israel experienced the last shutdown in 2013, which lasted 16 days. “Shutdowns make us look incompetent before the world,” he told The National. “Embassies cannot conduct normal business with their host governments. If you are trying to build a coalition to strengthen sanctions on North Korea or Iran, for example, a shutdown ties your hands. Foreign leaders and publics who already question the competence and coherence of the Trump foreign policy now have an additional reason to do so.”" [TheNational]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT... Missouri Governor Eric Greitens defiant in first interview since scandal broke out -- by Summer Ballentine and David Lieb: "Greitens told The Associated Press that he has no plans to resign from office as a result of the affair... “I’m staying. I’m staying,” he said twice for emphasis, adding about his relationship with his wife, staff and supporters: “We’re strong.”" [AP]
** 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: Paul Singer gains upper hand in battle over Starz value [NYPost] Icahn, Deason Push for Xerox to Explore Sale [WSJ] Now Is the Perfect Time to Go Big on Retail, New York Developer Allan Fried Says [WSJ] Israeli health-tech company, Medial, offer blood test in place of a colonoscopy [Bloomberg] WeWork Appoints Inbal Orpaz to Help Israeli Startups Expand Globally [Calcalist]
"Deaths of Canadian billionaire, wife a tantalizing mystery" by Rob Gillies: "The Star, citing unidentified experts hired by the family, reported Friday that [Barry Sherman and his wife, Honey] were tied to the rail with men’s belts, which resulted in the “ligature compression” that was the cause of death... Citing an unidentified source, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said the family’s private investigators believe the Shermans were murdered by multiple killers but provided no evidence to back up the claim." [AP]
"The Secret to Henry Kissinger’s Success" by Niall Ferguson: "While in office, Kissinger appeared on the cover of Time magazine no fewer than 15 times. He was, according to one of the magazine’s profiles of him, published in 1974, “the world’s indispensable man”—though one who stood accused by his critics of paying more “attention to principals than principles.” ... Shuttle diplomacy was a part of this. So was schmoozing journalists, at which Kissinger excelled, though he scarcely mentioned them in his memoirs... As Time noted, Kissinger had “a finely tuned sense of hierarchy.” But what mattered much more were all the other relationships in a network—including an “old boy network” of former participants in Kissinger’s summer seminars at Harvard—that spanned the globe. “He always looks for the guy who can deliver,” an unnamed aide told Time. “A lot of doors open for him,” said a “Washington friend and admirer.” The network was the precondition for his “chain reaction” diplomacy—a phrase used by the Israeli deputy premier, Yigal Allon. That was what justified the claim that Kissinger “probably [had] more impact than any other person in the world.”" [PoliticoMag]
SCENE AT SUNDANCE: "Sundance film festival debuts dark tale of Jewish triplets split at birth" by Frankie Taggart: "[Tim Wardle's] debut feature documentary “Three Identical Strangers,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, introduces Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman, who had no idea they were triplets until the age of 19... Wardle, who came across the story while scouting for new documentary ideas and has spent five years on the film, describes the story as “one of most extraordinary” he’d ever heard." [ToI]
"Ruth Bader Ginsburg Opens Up About Her ‘Saturday Night Live’ Doppelganger" by Ed Mazza: "During an interview with Nina Totenberg at the Sundance Film Festival, the long-serving Supreme Court justice said she not only enjoyed Kate McKinnon’s impression of her, she also let loose with the “Saturday Night Live” star’s signature line. “I liked the actress who portrayed me,” Ginsburg said. “And I would like to say ‘Gins-Burn!’ sometimes to my colleagues.” [HuffPost]
TALK OF OUR NATION: "Israeli rabbis say they'll hide African asylum seekers in their homes" by Sarah Birnbaum: "Rabbi Susan Silverman — an activist, writer and rabbi who immigrated to Israel from Boston in 2006 — says it’s time to fight back. That’s why she came up with the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement to house refugees in private homes... Silverman says she’s aware of the risks of opposing the government’s position on immigration. And there's the concern she and other activists could face jail time for harboring African refugees. But as she sees it, there’s no other choice. “My dad taught Holocaust Studies,” she says. “And he always said, ‘If you want to know what you would have been doing in Germany, ask yourself what you’re doing for people at risk in the world today.’ And I always thought that’s a pretty good rule of thumb.”" [USAToday]
"Honoring Daniella Moffson’s Legacy Through Acts Of Chesed" by Danielle Greenbaum: "More than 400 people, old and young, gathered together at the Ramaz Middle School for a chessed fair, held to commemorate the second yartzeit of Daniella Nechama Moffson... And they did it all with a smile, in honor of a girl who bettered this world every day of her all too-short life. Daniella dreamed of being a doctor. At the chessed fair, her friends made 45 blood donations. I’m told that translates into 135 saved lives... These numbers seem large, and they are, but they are only a small fraction of what has been done in her name over the past two years, and, what will undoubtedly continue to happen over the next few decades." [Forward]
TALK OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD: "Sunshine Cinema, a Beloved Manhattan Theater, Goes Dark" by Luis Ferré-Sadurní: "On Sunday, the five projectors at the Sunshine Cinema beamed for the last time, the finale of a cultural mainstay on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. For over a century, the building was a neighborhood cornerstone, first as a church, then as an athletic club, and later as a nickelodeon that drew hundreds of attendees a day to its Yiddish vaudeville performances. The Sunshine will be demolished and turned into a nine-story “boutique” office building for small to midsize companies, said Jonathon Yormak, the founder and managing principal of East End Capital." [NYTimes]
PIC OF THE DAY -- The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg captured a behind-the-scenes moment on Sunday: Bob Schieffer, the former host of Face the Nation, chatting with his successor John Dickerson, who himself hosted his final Sunday morning program as he transitions to CBS This Morning: “Back to the future at @FaceTheNation?” [Pic]
SPORTS BLINK -- Ex-LeBron coach David Blatt surfaces to rip Cavs at their rock bottom: "After Tyronn Lue’s crew gave up a stunning 148 points to the Thunder on Saturday, the man he replaced took a little swipe at the defense he left behind. “I hope we don’t give up as many points as Cleveland did last night,” said David Blatt, who was coaching an All-Star Game in Turkey on Sunday." [NYPost]
Ed note: We were preparing yesterday to lead today's newsletter with coverage of a Kraft Wilf Super Bowl, a matchup that would have been of particular interest to JI readers, but instead the Kraft Lurie Bowl will have to suffice.
"Vikings fall apart in Philadelphia, fumble away hometown Super Bowl dreams" by Jon Krawczynski: "Zygi Wilf walked off of the field and through the tunnel, a thousand-mile stare in his eyes and ashen complexion on his face. The Vikings owner, who strutted into Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday fully believing that his new billion-dollar football palace would be playing host to his team in the Super Bowl in two weeks, looked like he had seen a ghost. His team of destiny, the one that bucked 40 years of playoff failures a week ago with a play that will be remembered for 50 more, was supposed to be above the kind of “performance” it gave in a 38-7 wipeout at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles." [TheAthletic]
PROFILE: "Jeffrey Lurie’s Long, Strange Trip" by Robert Huber from Sept, 2017: "Jeffrey Lurie's sunniness seems preternatural in spite of the early loss of his father from kidney cancer... There was money — Lurie’s grandfather on his mother’s side had founded General Cinema, which became one of the country’s largest movie-house chains... The money allowed Jeffrey a certain freedom when he went off to Clark University. He sported a Jew ’fro, drove all over the Eastern Seaboard in a red ’69 Firebird convertible with a black interior, followed the Grateful Dead around New England, camped all night outside Boston Garden for hard-to-get tickets to the Bruins or Celtics..."
"Lurie’s goal was never simply to own a team. Norman Braman... who sold the Eagles to Lurie in 1994, was a mere owner; Braman didn’t know defensive end Reggie White from the water boy and bled the Eagles dry. Lurie’s interest is different. He has now owned the Philadelphia Eagles for 23 years... Lurie paid more for the Eagles in 1994 — $185 million — than anyone had spent on a sports team, ever, the stupidity of which the Wall Street Journal immediately noted in a front-page story... The Eagles are now worth an estimated $2.5 billion — but Norman Braman had left the team in such a state that the Journal’s analysis appeared to be spot-on. Rat-filled Veterans Stadium was awful; the team had a lousy practice facility; the scouting was bad..." [PhillyMag]
BIRTHDAYS: Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry in 2000, he is a professor in the Physics Department at the University of California Santa Barbara since 1982, Alan J. Heeger turns 82... Los Angeles resident, Ruth Lynn Sobel turns 77... Managing director and founder of Brave Warrior Advisors, an investment advisory firm, he is the son of Hall of Fame baseball star Hank Greenberg, Glenn H. Greenberg turns 71... Brooklyn-born conductor, who during his tenure as artistic director of the Kraków Philharmonic became friends with Pope John Paul II for whom he later conducted multiple Papal concerts, Gilbert Levine turns 70... Director-General of the Israeli Defense Ministry, he is a retired Major General in the IDF, Ehud "Udi" Adam turns 60... Michael Marquis turns 53...
Director of the Chabad House in Kathmandu, Nepal, Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz turns 44... Politics and local news editor at Hamodia, Yochonon Donn turns 41... NYC-based manager of strategic partnerships at Politico States and Media, Jesse Shapiro turns 27... Religion reporter for the Washington Post, she is also a professional balloon twister and a 2018 contestant on Jeopardy, Julie Zauzmer turns 27 (h/ts Playbook)... A leading young Jewish hockey player, he was a first round pick of the New York Islanders in 2014, Josh Ho-Sang turns 22... Retired physician, Dr. Geoffrey Kalchman... Senior Legislative Assistant in the DC office of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Matthew Lustbader...
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