Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff - January 31, 2017

Spicer calls criticism of Trump's Holocaust statement 'pathetic' | Hanegbi on Iran deal: 'not calling to tear it up' | Adelson & NFL

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White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks at the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., January 30, 2017.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer speaks at the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., January 30, 2017.Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP

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ANOTHER DAY, SPICER KEEPS HOLOCAUST STATEMENT IN THE HEADLINES: Spicer on Monday called the repeated emphasis on the Trump administration’s omission of Jews in its Holocaust Remembrance Day statement “pathetic.” “The statement was written with the help of an individual who is both Jewish and the descendant of Holocaust survivors,” Spicer told reporters at the daily briefing. “To suggest that remembering the Holocaust and acknowledging all of the people — Jewish, gypsies, priests, disabled, gays and lesbians — I mean, it is pathetic that people are picking on a statement.” As Yair Rosenberg pointed out on Twitter, "To be fair, thanks to Team Trump's imbecility handling the issue, there's no chance anyone will be forgetting about the Holocaust anytime soon." Will this story keep going? How soon does the Trump team appoint a Jewish liaison? Will they admit their mistake? Better yet, is this White House ever capable of admitting any mistakes? 

How It Happened: "White House aide Epshteyn wrote controversial Holocaust memorial statement" by Annie Karni: "Boris Epshteyn, a veteran of the Trump campaign who joined the Trump administration as a special assistant, did not immediately respond to calls and emails. The White House press office did not respond to emails. Epshteyn is a Russian-Jewish immigrant and the descendent of Holocaust survivors." [Politico]

"Inauguration rabbi calls Trump Holocaust statement a 'mistake'" by Jake Tapper & Theodore Schleifer: "I do not accuse President Trump of wanting to dishonor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust who were Jewish, but it was a mistake," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Hier added that to remove Jews from mention in commemorations of the Holocaust, as is done by nationalist groups in the US and Eastern Europe seeking to minimize how much the Holocaust was specifically targeting the Jews of Europe for genocide, "is dangerous."" [CNN]  GOP Senator Susan Collins: White House Holocaust statement a 'historical mistake' [TheHill]

Marco Rubio tells the Guardian's Ben Jacobs: "Florida senator Rubio expressed his dismay over the statement, while insisting that the White House meant nothing “bad” by it. “Clearly, the Jewish people suffered disproportionately and massively in the Holocaust,” Rubio told the Guardian. “It’s true other groups were involved, but the vast majority of people who died at the hands of the Nazi monsters were Jews,” he said. “I don’t think [the White House] meant anything bad by what they did, and I think they should have just said that if they had to do it over again, they would have written it different. That probably would have been the best way to address the questions and concerns that have arisen.” [TheGuardian

Agudath Israel's spokeswoman Leah Zagelbaum emails us: "The omission was surprising and disappointing. It was a missed opportunity, moreover, for the new President to distance himself from elements of society that seek to deny the singular focus of the Nazis on murdering Jews or the extent of the losses suffered by our people during the Holocaust." 

Former ADL Chair to Ron Lauder: ‘Who’s Playing Politics?’ -- by Jacob Kornbluh: In an email to Jewish Insider on Monday, Robert Sugarman, former National Chair of the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents, said he was “distressed” to see Lauder, “who has played such an important role in helping to rebuild Jewish institutions in Europe after theHolocaust,” accuse the ADL of “playing politics” for criticizing Trump’s omission of Jews in his statement marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “Were the Republican Jewish Coalition and ZOA, who also criticized the administration’s statement, playing politics, as well? ” Sugarman asked. [JewishInsider]

"The Trump Administration's Flirtation With Holocaust Denial" by Deborah Lipstadt: "It may have all started as a mistake by a new administration that is loath to admit it’s wrong. Conversely, it may be a conscious attempt by people with anti-Semitic sympathies to rewrite history. Either way it is deeply disturbing. For me these developments are intensely personal—not because I have immediate family members who died in the Holocaust. I don’t. But I have spent a good number of years fighting something which the White House now seems to be fostering." [TheAtlantic]

"Holocaust Exploitation" by James Kirchick: "Why the sudden rush to Shoah analogies from people who just handed over the keys to the Middle East to the Iranians? And why did Trump leave the Jews out of remembrance of the genocide?" [TabletMag]

"Can Jared and Ivanka Outrun Donald Trump’s Scandals?" by Emily Jane Fox: "Little more than a week into the Trump presidency, the timing of the Friday sunset seems to be growing increasingly important. Kushner, along with his wife, Ivanka Trump, is also an orthodox Jew who observes Shabbat. From sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday, the couple abstains from technology and work. And early in the incipient Trump administration, that brief period has been unusually fraught."

"Kushner also appears to have already endured the physical toll of the job. He has become pale, the source noted. His body language and his demeanor toward Trump had changed, and he had lost a noticeable amount of weight from his already slight frame in just a week. (Another source who knows Kushner said that he typically forgets to eat when working long hours. Nevertheless, Politico’s Playbook on Monday spotted him picking up pizza in Dupont Circle on Sunday evening.)" [VanityFair] "Don’t Blame Ivanka and Jared, They Were Observing Shabbat" [NYMag]

COMING SOON -- Israel PM Netanyahu to meet with Trump on Feb 15: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Donald Trump on Feb. 15 for talks covering a range of security issues, the White House said on Monday. "Our relationship with the only democracy in the Middle East is crucial to the security of both our nations, and the president looks forward to discussing continued strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation with the prime minister," White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters as he announced the visit." [Reuters] Will Bibi be invited back to the Blair House? 

"Netanyahu must not be Donald Trump’s yes-man" by David Horovitz: "Netanyahu sees himself as the leader of the Jewish people, and the Jews know all too well the consequences of the cold-hearted closure of entry gates to fleeing peoples... His embrace of Trump’s Mexican wall did not make for a good start — speaking out when he had no need to. His failure to highlight the Jewish problem with Trump’s Holocaust day statement was still more discouraging — staying silent when he should have spoken out. He needed to find the words to convey concern at the too-sweeping entry bans; still does." [ToI]

"Israel’s Hard-Liners Want to ‘Go Big’: Annex a Settlement" by Ian Fisher: "Ma’ale Adumim has become a flash point of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. Right-wing politicians, emboldened by a more sympathetic Trump administration, want to annex it to Israel proper — the first formal annexation of a settlement. Supporters of the move argue that in the long absence of negotiations, Israel cannot stand still, and Ma’ale Adumim would likely be a part of Israel in any case." [NYTimes]

IRAN DEAL: "Iran Launches a Missile, Testing Trump’s Vows of Strict Enforcement" by David Sanger: "Iran conducted its first missile test since President Trump took office, American and Israeli officials said Monday, posing an early test of whether the Trump administration will make good on its promises to strictly enforce all aspects of the Iranian nuclear deal and a side agreement on missile testing... Inside the administration, there seems to be little appetite now to tear up the 2015 agreement, despite Mr. Trump’s criticism of it." [NYTimes]

Russia says Iran missile test does not contravene UN resolution: "Russia on Tuesday said that a reported ballistic missile test by Iran does not contravene a United Nations resolution on Tehran's nuclear program, as the Security Council was set to hold emergency consultations on the alleged test-firing of a medium-range missile." [i24]

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel's cabinet minister for regional cooperation, at the Washington Institute: “Nobody, I think, in Israel is really calling for tearing the JCPOA agreement apart... The Iranians have a structured interest to comply with the agreement. Their interest is to get to the end of the agreement, get all of the sanctions relief, the world to invest in them, their economy richer and richer. When times come and that’s where the various paragraphs of the agreement expire, they are free to have unlimited uranium enrichment facilities. They will have the R&D during the time so they don’t even need so many centrifuges. The Iranians will implement it because it is a great agreement. They have patience. It’s a Persian Empire living for thousands and thousands of years and they can wait eight more years. We cannot sit back and be paralyzed. We have to do many, many things vis-a-vis the ICBA program, the issue of them breaking the UNSC resolution vis-à-vis the ICBA program, terrorism, the influence in the region."

"They are more important to the Arab world because we know how to defend ourselves. We did it in 1981, according to various American books in 2007, but we know who cannot do it. Saudi Arabia cannot do it, maybe Egypt, maybe Jordan, UAE. The Arab world is terrified. Seeing the United States disassociating itself from this issue or on the contrary praising it as a great legacy. It has to be challenged again. The Israeli leadership understands as time passes it becomes more difficult to challenge it and thank God we have a new administration that understands the importance of this new challenge."

"It’s a given that you will have disputes among sides, in every administration: whether Republican or Democrat, Likud or Labor, there will be issues that both sides will not look at in the same direction. It happened during Reagan who was a great supporter of Israel. We had problems with Carter and Bush. But, the last eight years were different in the way that we did not feel the disputes or tensions reflect what happens in a family. We felt that the administration in various issues, especially settlements and Iran agreement, we felt that animosity that was growing between us and the American administration was beyond what we expected with such a profound alliance. We are so hopeful for the future because we believe that even once we will have disputes with the new administration, and it will happen, we do feel that we will not have the same problems that we had with President Obama. We feel that he comes from a place that is different where we stand and it will be easier." 

ON THE HILL: Jewish Insider's Aaron Magid asked Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) why he delayed Senate resolution six, which condemned the UN Security Council for its resolution castigating Israeli settlements. Durbin told Jewish Insider "I wanted Senator Udall (D-NM) to be able to offer an amendment." While the New Mexico legislator had already presented his amendment criticizing settlements to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 12, Durbin suggested that Udall also wanted the opportunity to bring the amendment on the Senate floor. It is unclear when the non-binding bill—co-sponsored by 77 Senators—will receive a floor vote.

"The Republican Fausts" by David Brooks: "In the first place, the Trump administration is not a Republican administration; it is an ethnic nationalist administration... If Barack Obama tried to lead from behind, Trump’s foreign policy involves actively running away from global engagement. Outspoken critics of Paul Ryan are being given White House jobs, and at the same time, if Reince Priebus has a pulse it is not externally evident... With most administrations you can agree sometimes and disagree other times. But this one is a danger to the party and the nation in its existential nature. And so sooner or later all will have to choose what side they are on, and live forever after with the choice." [NYTimes]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: A key figure in Paul Singer's epic Argentina trade has stepped down [Yahoo]  Madison moves to foreclose on Toledano-owned Chelsea rental [RealDeal]  Falcons owner Arthur Blank buys 2nd Montana ranch [AP

SPOTLIGHT: "Adelsons withdraw investment from proposed Raiders stadium in Las Vegas" by Richard N. Velotta: "The family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson have withdrawn as investors in a proposed $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed football stadium intended to bring the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to Southern Nevada. Adelson said he was surprised by the Raiders’ submission of a proposed lease agreement to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority on Thursday, noting that it has “sent shock waves through our community.” “It’s clear the Raiders have decided their path for moving to Las Vegas does not include the Adelson family,” Adelson’s statement said. “So, regrettably, we will no longer be involved in any facet of the stadium discussion.”" [ReviewJournal]

Jon Ralston with the Inside Details: "The Sands chairman, known as a negotiator with no mercy, told people he believed the Raiders and their partners-in-waiting, Goldman Sachs, had dealt with him in bad faith. And hell hath no fury like an Adelson scorned. Imagine how The Litigious One feels after letting the Raiders tap into his political juice, after intimidating the Legislature into giving his legacy dream $750 million in public money. And now he is taking his $600 million and going home. “It’s just a matter of how scorched he is going to make the Earth,” one insider told me... Whether or not the NFL whispered in Davis’ ear, “Get rid of the casino guy or we won’t let you move,” it’s clear the Raiders, backed by the football bosses made Adelson an offer they knew he would refuse. And he did." [NevadaIndependent]

Donald Etra, criminal lawyer, dies at 69: "Donald Etra, renowned Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who was appointed in 2003 by his friend President George W. Bush to the board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, died Jan. 29. He was 69. “I am a liberal Democrat,” Etra told the Jewish Journal in 2003. “When the president (Bush) and I talk politics, we disagree, but we both agree on Israel.” Bush and his wife, Laura, attended the Etras’ wedding at Shaarei Tefila in 1985." [JewishJournal]

TALK OF OUR NATION: "How A Jewish Woman’s Poem Helped Make The Statue Of Liberty What It Is Today" by Rachel Wilkerson Miller: "But that gift didn’t include the pedestal on which she would stand. So, Americans held fundraisers — including theatrical performances, prizefights, and art auctions — to pay for the pedestal. Emma Lazarus, a 34-year-old Jewish-American author living in New York City, wrote a poem called “The New Colossus” for one such auction in 1883." [BuzzFeed]

SCENE LAST NIGHT -- in DC: JI readers Simone Friedman and Ted Frank hosted a book party at the Equinox Restaurant honoring Naomi Schaefer Riley and her latest book The New Trail of Tears: How Washington is Destroying American Indians. As one attendee pointed out, although Naomi is not an American Indian, she is a member of the Tribe. SPOTTED: EJF Capital's Manny Friedman, Aviv Foundation's Chani Laufer, Ileane Rosenthal of the Rales Foundation, the Bresler Foundation's Phyllis & Sid Bresler, PW Communications' Chief Amanda Bresler, Robin Weinberg of the Tikkun Olam Women's Foundation, Aaron Applbaum, Jim Copland, CityBridge Foundation's Katherine Bradley, Cato's Walter Olson, Nina Rees, and the Milken Institute's Meghan Murphy. [Pic; BookSite]

BIRTHDAYS: Scion of a leading rabbinic family in pre-WW2 Poland, former Assistant US Solicitor General, now a private attorney with an active Supreme Court practice focused on religious liberty issues, Nathan Lewin turns 81... Baltimore-born, classical music composer as well as acclaimed movie score composer, Philip Glass turns 80... Associate professor emeritus of Talmud and rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary, chairman of the Joint Bet Din of the Conservative Movement, Mayer Elya Rabinowitz turns 78... Classical cellist, born in Hadera, Israel, moved to Toronto at 6 years old, debut in Carnegie Hall in 1982, Ofra Harnoy turns 52... Host of NPR's game show "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!," playwright, screenwriter, actor and marathon runner, Peter Sagal turns 52... Canadian-born businessman, best known for founding American Apparel, where he served as the CEO from 1989 until 2014, Dov Charney turns 48... CEO of Atlas Obscura, an online magazine devoted to discovery and exploration, previously editor of online magazine Slate (2008-2014), David Plotz turns 47... Film producer and founder of Annapurna Pictures, three of her movies have been nominated for Academy Awards as Best Picture, daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison, Megan Ellison turns 31... MassChallenge Israel Program Manager, formerly Social Secretary for Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer and 'Social Queen of Israeli diplomacy in DC,' Clara Scheinmann turns 26... Grant Silow... Daniel Oppenheim... Chief Rabbi of Norway while also serving as a member of Knesset (1999-2009), former Israeli Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs, Michael Melchior turns 63...

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