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SIREN -- Republicans and Democrats Grow Even Further Apart in Views of Israel, Palestinians: “The partisan divide in Middle East sympathies, for Israel or the Palestinians, is now wider than at any point since 1978. Currently, 79% of Republicans say they sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, compared with just 27% of Democrats. The latest national survey by Pew Research Center finds that 42% say Donald Trump is “striking the right balance” in the situation in the Middle East, while 30% say he favors Israel too much The survey finds that while Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided in views of Israel, so too do they differ markedly in opinions about Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. Nearly three times as many Republicans (52%) as Democrats (18%) have favorable impressions of Israel’s leader.” [PewResearch]
IPF’s Michael Koplow: “In 2016, Dems sympathized with Israel over Palestinians 43-29; in 2017, 33-31; now, 27-25. So it isn’t that sympathy for the Palestinians is increasing, just that sympathy for Israel is decreasing And that right there is the Trump effect, and what so many people -- including me -- were scared of and continue to be scared of. Dems are associating Israel itself with Trump it wouldn’t be because of what Trump is doing but because of the way the Israeli gov’t reacts to and treats Trump The Trump legacy is going to the final cementing of Israel as a deeply partisan and divisive issue that revolves around Trump, and not the other stuff.” [Twitter]
Shmuel Rosner on Pew: "Moderate and conservative Democrats continue to sympathize more with Israel (35%) than the Palestinians (17%)” [Twitter]
“Trump’s Hard-Line Israel Position Exports U.S. Culture War Abroad” by Max Fisher: “Mr. Trump represents the culmination of a trend that pro-Israel groups resisted for years: the loss of Jewish support. Even as Jews grew more liberal, many supported strongly pro-Israel policies. But as “pro-Israel” becomes synonymous with “conservative Republican,” Jews are drifting away Revoking aid from refugees to punish Palestinian leaders, for instance, aligns with Mr. Trump’s nationalist tendencies to treat foreign populations as monolithic blocs. This, too, has its roots in American culture wars over immigration.” [NYTimes]
DRIVING THE DAY -- "Yeti eats Davos Man: Snowmaggedon tripped up opening of annual elite networking fest" by Ryan Heath: "Like a Trump metaphor from the skies, the Davos snow-in proved that just-in-time supply chains don’t just hurt Rust Belt towns, they hurt CEOs and ministers too. One hour delay turned into several hours for many, losing battery and patience on clogged mountain roads and lifeless helipads... The global elite missed their own party in Davos Monday. Marissa Mayer, the former Yahoo and Google highflyer, cut a lonely figure in the Davos Congress Center Monday afternoon, surrounded by, well, no one... WEF supremo Klaus Schwab was reduced to meeting the leaders of NGOs in his Very Very Important Person meeting room." [Politico] How Trump ended up in Davos [Axios]
"Netanyahu to Davos as Den of Globalism Set to Host Donald Trump's Isolationism" by Noa Landau: "The Netanyahus will meet with various world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emanuel Macron, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. Prime Minister Netanyahu will also meet with heads of major corporations as well as Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Swiss President Alain Berset, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte... No meeting with US President Donald Trump, who will also be attending the conference, has been confirmed." [Haaretz; ToI]
#VPinIsrael -- Pence tours Yad Vashem, visits Western Wall: Vice President Mike Pence met with President Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin at his residence this morning, on the second day of his Israel trip. Rivlin described Pence him as a “mensch” and “a dear friend of the Jewish People and the State of Israel” who stands “very firmly behind your words.” Pence repeated what he said at the Knesset that the President has instructed the State Dept. to work with Ambassador David Friedman to expedite moving the embassy by the end of next year.
Pence then headed to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Here at Yad Vashem we mourn for the six million Jewish martyrs of the Holocaust, and we draw inspiration from the faith and resilience that rose from such times, Pence wrote in the Yad Vashem visitors' book. "Standing in this place, we say with all the people of Israel – Never Again."
CONTRAST -- Flashback to May 2017: Trump found Holocaust museum 'amazing' — which had many people cringing -- "Trump’s tweet-like message in Yad Vashem’s guest book has sparked a new round of controversy. “It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends,’’ he wrote. “So amazing and will NEVER FORGET!”" [LATimes]
Pence later visited the Western Wall along with Ambassador David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt and joined by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch [Video] After a short prayer, Pence signed the site’s guest book: “It is my great honor to pray here at this sacred place. God bless the Jewish people and God bless the state of Israel always,” Pence wrote. He told reporters the visit was "very inspiring."
PENCE VS. TILLERSON? Secretary of State hasn't signed off yet on plan to move embassy to Jerusalem -- by Ben Gittleson and Conor Finnegan: "Despite Pence's announcement [yesterday], Tillerson had not officially signed off on that plan as of Sunday night, according to a senior State Department official... But either way, Tillerson is moving the process along as fast as possible, the official added: "There was never any policy intent to slow-roll the issue of an embassy move ... The focus is on executing the president's decision in a manner which assures the safety, security, functionality of any premises." [ABCNews]
"Pence: Timetable for unveiling U.S. peace plan depends on Palestinians" by Jeff Mason: “The White House has been working with our partners in the region to see if we can develop a framework for peace,” Pence told Reuters... “I think it all just depends now on when the Palestinians are going to come back to the table,” Pence said... “We want them (the Palestinians) to know the door is open. We understand they’re unhappy with that decision but the president wanted me to convey our willingness and desire to be a part of the peace process going forward."
"Israeli media have speculated that a 2019 embassy move could help Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu win reelection in a vote scheduled for November of that year. Asked if he hoped for Netanyahu’s reelection, Pence said: “I‘m a strong supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu, but I don’t get a vote here.” [Reuters; Bloomberg]
Ben Caspit quotes an Israeli cabinet member: “The VP is here mostly for fun. No one expects the diplomatic process to be resumed or for any breakthrough to be achieved. Pence is a friend of Israel’s and was the motivating force behind the Jerusalem declaration, so he’s here to celebrate his victory.” [Al-Monitor]
PALACE INTRIGUE -- Ivanka Trump takes charge of finding John Kelly's replacement -- by Gabriel Sherman: "Two prominent Republicans in frequent contact with the White House told me that Trump has discussed choosing Kelly’s successor in recent days... Ivanka is also playing a central role in the search, quietly field-testing ideas with people. “Ivanka is the most worried about it. She’s trying to figure who replaces Kelly,” a person who’s spoken with her said. Kelly’s departure likely isn’t imminent." [VanityFair]
"‘Defiance Disorder’: Another new book describes chaos in Trump’s White House" by Ashley Parker: "At one point, Kurtz writes that Stephen K. Bannon... dresses down the president's daughter early in the administration. "My daughter loves me as a dad," Bannon told Ivanka, according to Kurtz. "You love your dad. I get that. But you're just another staffer who doesn't know what you're doing." Kurtz also recounts an Oval Office meeting in which Bannon blamed Ivanka for a leak — and Trump supported him over his daughter: " 'Baby, I think Steve's right here,' Trump told her."" [WashPost]
SHUTDOWN -- "Schumer's shutdown performance sparks unrest in his ranks" by Burgess Everett and Elana Schor: "The turn of events Monday marked the most serious cracks in the unity Schumer has painstakingly built within his caucus since he became Democratic leader a year ago. After holding almost all Democrats together through fights over the Supreme Court, health care, taxes and even Friday’s vote that shut down the government, Schumer is now under attack from the left and confronting pointed criticism of his negotiating skills... Liberal groups were furious, threatening in a conference call with progressive senators on Monday to spend money against Schumer and his vulnerable incumbents this fall." [Politico]
2018 WATCH -- NY Lt. gov to meet with Jewish leaders in potential challenger’s backyard" by Carl Campanile: "Lt. Gov. Kathleen Hochul is planning to meet this week with Brooklyn Jewish leaders in the backyard of a potential Democratic primary challenger, City Councilman Jumaane Williams... Williams recently announced that he’s exploring a run for Hochul’s job. Hochul has arranged to discuss the importance of private education with members of the Jewish Community Center of Crown Heights and visiting a yeshiva." [NYPost]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Bill Ackman cuts staff, shuns limelight as he seeks to turn around fund [Reuters] FirstEnergy Gets $2.5 Billion From Elliott, Bluescape Investor Group [WSJ] Orange Denies Interest in Acquiring Portugal Telecom from Altice [FoxBusiness] Kushner Companies no longer seeking $150M in EB-5 for Jersey City project [TheRealDeal] Financier Stephen Feinberg Is Top Choice to Advise President on Intelligence Matters [ForeignPolicy]
TALK OF OUR NATION: "Silicon Valley wrestles with religion. Is high-tech “clean meat” kosher and halal?" by Chase Purdy: "The ascendance of high-tech meat companies such as Hampton Creek, Memphis Meats, SuperMeat, and Finless Foods has sparked novel conversations in Jewish and Muslim circles over whether these novel products are kosher and halal, respectively. And with the first clean meat products expected to hit the market this year, tech companies are actively engaging with groups responsible for certifying food products as kosher and halal, for obvious reasons. The global kosher market is worth more than $24 billion; the halal market $1.6 trillion globally..."
"It’s just such an exciting development,” says Menachem Genack, a rabbi and CEO of the kosher division at the Orthodox Union... Genack marvels at potential for industrial-sized clean-meat operations to reduce the waste of the current meat-production system, with its sprawling factory farms and mammoth poultry barns. In theory, clean meat would require less water and land, emit fewer greenhouse gas, and eliminate animal suffering altogether... Genack says he’s poised to offer the new food technology his blessing..." [Quartz]
"Hijab-Wearing Model Steps Down from L’Oréal Paris Hair Campaign" by Sarah Spellings: "Following backlash surrounding old “anti-Israel” tweets, [Amena] Khan is no longer a L’Oréal Paris U.K. brand ambassador. The BBC reports that Khan stepped down from the campaign after her tweets were discovered (they have since been deleted). Khan apologized in an Instagram post stating, “With deep regret, I’ve decided to step down from this campaign because the current conversations surrounding it detract from the positive and inclusive sentiment that it set out to deliver.”" [TheCut]
"My visit to the Israel-Syria border, where global competition is hot" by Trudy Rubin: "The Syrian civil war virtually destroyed medical care in Syrian conflict zones. So Israel also permitted the Louisiana-based U.S. Christian charity Friend Ships to open a clinic last summer right at the border that serves families who cross over daily for chronic or emergency illnesses. It is amazing to look across the fence and see a hut in no-man’s-land where Syrian civilians are checked, then allowed to walk down a path and through a gate into Israel. Volunteer manager Sheray Morrison, a 66-year-old grandmother of 14 from New York, says 2,500 patients have crossed along with a Syrian doctor who commutes daily... Children are given toys and parents get food packages; piles of stuffed animals..." [Newsday]
SCENE LAST NIGHT -- by Jacob Kornbluh: Former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, retired IDF Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, and New York Assemblyman Walter Mosley addressed AIPAC's Northeast gala, celebrating 70 years of the U.S.-Israel friendship, at the Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall in NYC. Elected officials in attendance included New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Public Advocate Tish James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Councilmembers, members of the State Assembly, New Jersey's State Senate leaders Loretta Weinberg and Tom Kean; Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, foreign diplomats, and noted dignitaries from Israel.
-- Jason Koppel tweets: "Bipartisanship in action at AIPAC's Northeast Gala with NJ Senate Majority Leader @SenatorLorettaW and Republican Leader @tomkean join in their support for #Israel. With AIPAC President-Elect Dr. Mort Fridman and Board Member @sklinghoffer." [Twitter]
DESSERT: "How To Live Life Like Erez Komarovsky: The Hell-Raising, Iconoclastic Israeli Bread Baker" by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: "Here is how to live your life, according to Erez Komarovsky: Don’t take people’s advice. Ask yourself why you’re doing the same thing you were doing last year... Stop following recipes. Recipes don’t teach you anything... A recipe is a way to force a food to be the same forever. It denies what Komarovsky thinks is the essential nature of food. “Cooking is endless,” he says. “Each time it comes out completely differently. The reason it does that is because you’re different every time you make it and you’re different every time you eat it. It depends on your mood and your hormones, both the cook’s and the eater’s, and it depends on the chemistry between me and the people that are eating...”" [Saveur]
"Wilmington vegan eatery now certified kosher" by Patricia Talorico: "Drop Squad Kitchen, a vegan eatery at the Wilmington Riverfront... has recently received kosher certification from the Vaad HaKashrut of Delaware. The family-run kitchen... becomes the first kosher restaurant in Wilmington in more than 20 years. Rabbi Steven Saks, head of the Vaad HaKashrut of Delaware, said having a local kosher restaurant "enhances the vitality of Jewish life in Delaware."" [DelawareOnline]
"This Shabbat dinner pairing app isn’t for everyone — and that’s the point" by Gideon Grudo: "On December 15, the Friday during Hanukkah — ehm, Shabbanukah — the three-and-a-half-year-old OneTable achieved its strongest Friday night ever, seating 3,034 people across 241 dinners spanning the country. The majority of OneTable’s 22-person staff seems to agree: there’s no single way to hold a Shabbat dinner, as long as it’s on a Friday. OneTable — whose budget climbed from $800,000 for the second half of 2014 to $5.6 million for the coming 2018 — is taking a novel approach to an ancient conflict. Leaning on modernity in the form of an iOS app, blogs stuffed with GIFs, and aggressive social media practices, it aims to engage under-affiliated Jews in their 20s and 30s in one of Judaism’s oldest and defining rituals — and have them make a habit of it." [ToI]
REMEMBERING: “Connie Sawyer, Late-Blooming Comic Actress, Dies at 105” by Cheryl Cheng: “Connie Sawyer, who appeared alongside everyone from Sophie Tucker to Frank Sinatra to James Franco in a late-blooming career that saw her continue to work until recently, has died... She was born Rosie Cohen on Nov. 27, 1912 — Thanksgiving Day — in Pueblo, Colorado. Her father worked as a store clerk, and her mom was an aspiring actress. “My mother loved showbiz,” Sawyer told The Jewish Journal in 2012. “She would enter me into those amateur contests like they have today — what do they call them, Idol?”” [HollywoodReporter]
BIRTHDAYS: President and CEO of Staples Inc. since September 2016, Shira Goodman turns 57... Real estate developer and former owner of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, Bruce Ratner turns 73... Educational consultant, trade association and non-profit executive, previously an aide to Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug (D-NY), Peter D. Rosenstein turns 71... Manager of Innovative Strategies LLLP and JHJ Investment LLLP, board member of the Baltimore-based Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund, Howard K. Cohen turns 71... Israeli archaeologist, educator, on the faculty of Oxford Brookes University, Estee Dvorjetski turns 67... 41st Mayor of Los Angeles (2005-2013), now a candidate for Governor of California in 2018, Antonio Villaraigosa turns 65... CEO of Foundation for Jewish Camp since 2010, after a 20+ year career as CEO of Manischewitz, Jeremy J. Fingerman turns 57... Senior political analyst for MSNBC, co-author of "Game Change" and "Double Down: Game Change 2012," John Heilemann turns 52... Creator and host of Jew in the City, Allison F. Josephs... Mark Meyer Appel, founder of the Bridge Multicultural & Advocacy Project (was yesterday)...
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