Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: January 4, 2018

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FILE PHOTO:  White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon in Washington U.S., February 2, 2017
FILE PHOTO: White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon in Washington U.S., February 2, 2017Credit: CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS

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DRIVING THE CONVO: Book Excerpts from Fire and Fury -- "My Year Inside Trump's Insane White House" by Michael Wolff: "Even Donald Trump couldn't say no to his kids. "It's a littleee, littleee complicated " he explained to Priebus about why he needed to give his daughter and son-in-law official jobs. But the effect of their leadership roles was to compound his own boundless inexperience in Washington... By July, Jared and Ivanka... were now engaged in a desperate dance to save themselves, which mostly involved blaming Trump himself. It was all his idea to fire Comey! "The daughter," Bannon declared, "will bring down the father."" [HollywoodReporter]

TOP TAKEAWAYS -- from the excerpt published in New York Mag -- SEEING IS BELIEVING: “Even though the numbers in a few key states had appeared to be changing to Trump’s advantage, neither Conway nor Trump himself nor his son-in-law, Jared Kushner wavered in their certainty: Their unexpected adventure would soon be over. Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be. Conveniently, the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issue." 

FIRST FEMALE & JEWISH POTUS? “Jared and Ivanka had made an earnest deal between themselves: if sometime in the future the time came, she'd be the one to run for president (or the first one of them to take the shot). The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton, it would be Ivanka Trump. Bannon, who had coined the term 'Jarvanka' ... was horrified when the couple's deal was reported to him. 'They didn't say that?' he said. 'Stop. Oh, come on. They didn't actually say that? Please don't tell me that. Oh my God.'"

-- “In the book, Mr. Bannon is quoted as describing Ivanka Trump as “dumb as a brick.” [WSJ

Jake Tapper on CNN's The Lead: "If Donald Trump can be president, why can't Ivanka Trump be president?" 

ANN COULTER AGAIN? -- “Trump had no interest in appointing a strong chief of staff with a deep knowledge of Washington. Among his early choices for the job was Kushner It was Ann Coulter who finally took the president-elect aside. “Nobody is apparently telling you this,” she told him. “But you can’t. You just can’t hire your children.”

-- Flashback: During the presidential campaign, Coulter made comments that were perceived as anti-Semitic. 

PRIORITIES? “In early March, not long before then deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh left, she confronted Kushner with a simple request. “Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on,” she demanded. “What are the three priorities of this White House?” Six weeks into Trump’s presidency, Kushner was wholly without an answer. “Yes,” he said to Walsh. “We should probably have that conversation.” [NYMag]

ON GARY COHN'S MIND: “An April email that, Wolff writes, circulated around the White House "purporting to represent the views of Gary Cohn" takes this to a new level: "It's worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won't read anything - not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better. Kushner is an entitled baby who knows nothing. Bannon is an arrogant prick who thinks he's smarter than he is. Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits. No one will survive the first year but his family. I hate the work, but feel I need to stay because I'm the only person there with a clue what he's doing. The reason so few jobs have been filled is that they only accept people who pass ridiculous purity tests, even for midlevel policy-making jobs where the people will never see the light of day. I am in a constant state of shock and horror."” [CNBC

BANNON’S POLICY IDEAS ON ISRAEL: “Bannon said he’d tried to push John Bolton, the famously hawkish diplomat, for the job as national-security adviser. Bolton was an Ailes favorite, too. “He’s a bomb thrower,” said Ailes. “And a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel? Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. Tillerson just knows oil.” Bannon plunged on with the Trump agenda. “Day one we’re moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s all-in. Sheldon.. is all-in. We know where we’re heading on this Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.” “Where’s Donald on this?” asked [Roger] Ailes “He’s totally onboard.” “How’s the kid?” asked Ailes, referring to Kushner. “He’s my partner,” said Bannon, his tone suggesting that if he felt otherwise, he was nevertheless determined to stay on message." 

-- We asked top Middle East experts whether Bannon's idea of giving Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan was realistic, and whether or not they believe Trump was ever onboard with the idea in the first place? [JewishInsider]

The Wilson Center's Aaron David Miller: "I can see -- minus Netanyahu, who obviously knows that this is a crazy idea -- others buying into that. I can see somebody mentioning that to Trump, and I can see him saying, 'You know? That's an idea worth exploring.' I suspect there were others who were competing for the President's mind, including Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, who probably looked at this idea and said this is really not going to work. This one clearly belongs not just in the America First category, but the Israel First category, but it clearly took a dive." 

The Washington Institute's David Makovsky: "I don't believe that is something that is possible because both the Egyptians and Jordanians have made it clear that they don't want Gaza or the West Bank respectively. Each one feels that they would be viewed as selling out Palestinian nationalism, and it doesn't help them domestically either - they would be blamed for too much compromising. If that was the solution, you know, people would have thought of it long ago. I think these are two non-starters." 

CFR's Elliott Abrams: “I have no idea whether any of what appears in this book is accurate. But I have long believed, and said publicly, that an independent and sovereign Palestinian State is unrealistic and is not actually viable. It would fall onto either Israel or Jordan, and it is much more logical that it should have some relationship with Jordan, which is a Muslim Arab state. It does seem from the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital that the President is taking a realistic perspective, but I can’t say how that affects his view of Palestinian statehood.”

Brookings' Tamara Cofman Wittes: “The idea is delusional. Egypt's current government is far more interested in sealing its territory off from Gaza than in absorbing it. Jordan's King Hussein explicitly gave up any claim to the West Bank in 1988, ceding interest in the territory to the PLO and stating that 'Jordan is not Palestine.' No Arab government is even faintly interested in taking 'the Palestinian problem' off of Israel's hands. As to Trump's being on board, who knows if he was, or if he would be now.”

ZOA's Mort Klein tells us “I agree that it would be good for Egypt to take over Gaza because Egypt is a much more reasonable country than the terrorist regime of Hamas, and in Judea and Samaria, it’s worthwhile considering Jordan controlling the areas that are heavy-populated with Arabs, but not the rest of it. If Egypt and Jordan could end the terrorism, then it’d be something to consider, but at this point, I don’t think there is any solution in sight that could work because the Arabs still do not accept Israel as a Jewish State.”

THE FALLOUT -- Trump disavows Steve Bannon in scorched earth statement -- by Eileen Sullivan, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman: “In a written statement brimming with anger and resentment, Mr. Trump fired back at Bannon, who had made caustic comments about the president and his family to the author of a new book about the Trump White House “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Mr. Trump said in the statement. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”” [NYTimes

-- “The move is likely to hearten congressional Republicans and advisers to President Trump who have wanted the him to distance himself from Bannon. But it remains unclear whether Trump will kick Bannon out forever For months, Trump confidants — from aides such as Kushner... to friends such as Chris Ruddy and Chris Christie — have tried to persuade him to cut ties with Bannon Stephen Miller, the Trump adviser and hard-liner on immigration, has distanced himself from Bannon, even though he was also spotted at a recent party at the Capitol Hill townhouse known as the “Breitbart embassy.”” [WashPost

What Bannon is saying -- by Jill Colvin and Jonathan Lemire:  Bannon vowed on Wednesday to continue his “war” on the Republican establishment and also predicted that, after a cooling-off period, he’d continue to speak with Trump [He] has told associates that he believes Trump has been ill-served by some his closest allies, including his eldest son and Kushner.” [AP]  

SCENE LAST NIGHT: "Nikki Haley hosts reception for countries that backed US on Jerusalem resolution" by Richard Roth and Aileen Graef: "Ambassadors walking into the reception were diplomatic about the "Friends of the US" title for the evening to which many members were not invited. "Well, this is always a privilege, enjoy if you are invited by a fellow ambassador of yours. This is the culture of the UN, so I am very happy to attend, and this is, by the way, the first meeting after New Year's night," said Katalin Bogyay, UN ambassador from Hungary. "I was sent an invitation, and I read on the invitation that the friends of the US are invited. We are very happy to be considered the friends of the US."" [CNN

-- "It’s easy for friends to be with you in the good times, but it’s the friends who are with you during the challenging times that will never be forgotten," Haley said. "Thank you to the 64." [JPost]

TALK OF THE REGION -- “Trump’s Threat to Cut Palestinian Aid Worries Many in Israel” by Isabel Kershner: “For Israelis, too, Mr. Trump’s tweets presented a problem and, inscrutable as a Talmudic text in parts, were left open to some feverish interpretation Even some Israelis who... would eventually like to see the United Nations Relief and Works Agency disappear, expressed reservations about any sudden cut in donations. “Instead of being refugees forever they could build their present and their future,” said Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “But to stop all the money that is going to UNRWA overnight would be devastating.” ... Mr. Trump’s comments were met with silence from the Israeli prime minister’s office and the Foreign Ministry.” [NYTimes

HEARD YESTERDAY -- White House Press Secretary Sarah H. Sanders on Trump’s Jerusalem tweet: "It doesn't affect the negotiations. We still want to continue to have conversations and continue the peace process.  We're still very much committed to that and hope we can continue to push forward in that point." Q: And what is this "[Israel would have had to] pay more" thing? Sanders: " I'd have to check on the details of that. I'm not sure." [Video]

Knesset’s own version of Taylor Force Act stalled -- by Lahav Harkov: "It is “uncomfortable” that the American version of the bill is making progress, but in Israel, it’s stuck, Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern told The Jerusalem Post. Stern introduced the bill in March, based on the Taylor Force Act Stern’s version would deduct the amount of money from the tax and tariff money Israel collects for the PA The bill passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset in June, and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee held two meetings Another meeting is expected to take place behind closed doors next Tuesday, but it is not expected to include a vote, which is necessary for the bill to move to a first reading in the plenum.” [JPost

“Mahmoud Abbas Doesn’t Have a Trump Strategy” by Grant Rumley: “Abbas has quietly shown an unwillingness to let the situation escalate and threaten the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel If the Palestinian national movement is going to change its strategy, it needs a leader with the vision and charisma to navigate this shift. These are all characteristics that do not define Mahmoud Abbas today. As the Palestinian patriarch of the Oslo peace process, Abbas has staked his career on negotiations with Israel as the most viable path toward a Palestinian state.” [FP

IRAN PROTESTS -- "Macron urges dialogue with Iran, rebukes U.S., Israel for bellicose comments" by Jean-Baptiste Vey: “The official line pursued by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are our allies in many ways, is almost one that would lead us to war,” Macron told reporters. The line being taken was “a deliberate strategy for some." [Reuters

“As Iran Erupts in Protest, Tehran Is Notably Quiet” by NYTimes' correspondent Thomas Erdbrink in Tehran: “Others worried about playing into the hands of widely detested Western leaders like President Trump and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. “These people definitely have the right to protest,” Shervin Bashari, 32, said of the Iranian demonstrators, “but I do not want to join something and have Trump and Netanyahu exploit it for their own purposes.”” [NYTimes

Natan Sharansky writes... “The West should stop dithering and show its support for the protesters in Iran: My experiences as a political prisoner and my decades of involvement with democratic dissidents around the world have shown me that all democratic revolutions have some elements in common. It is the drive of ordinary citizens to free themselves from government control over their thought, speech and livelihoods This is why a policy of silence on the part of world leaders is so misguided. What matters to Iranians debating whether to cross this decisive threshold is their knowledge that the free world stands behind them in their moment of truth.” [WashPost

COMING SOON -- “State Department Aims to Soon Name Envoy to Combat Anti-Semitism” by Charles Clark: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is moving to make good on a promise to fill the legally mandated but long-vacant position of special envoy for the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. In a statement to Government Executive on Wednesday, a State Department spokesman said, “The Trump administration considers the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to be a crucial position, and hopes to announce an appointment soon.”” [GovExec

TRANSITION: “Trump picks Preet Bharara’s replacement” by Tina Moore: “Geoffrey Berman will be appointed US attorney for the Southern District of New York pending confirmation by the US Senate within the next 120 days, according to a source familiar with the process Berman is a partner in the law firm of Greenberg Traurig, where Giuliani is also a partner and serves as chairman of its Cybersecurity, Privacy and Crisis Management Practice Berman was a Manhattan federal prosecutor from 1990 to 1994, previously serving three years as an associate under independent counsel Lawrence Walsh during the Iran/Contra scandal.” [NYPost

TALK OF THE TOWN: "Attorney Jesse Gabriel running for Dababneh’s Assembly seat" by Kevin Modesti: "Jesse Gabriel, a Democratic attorney who has been fighting the Trump administration on behalf of young immigrants, has entered the race for Matt Dababneh’s old California Assembly seat representing the west San Fernando Valley... Gabriel, who grew up in the Ventura County community of Oak Park, moved to Encino from Santa Monica in July with his wife, Rachel Rosner, also an attorney... Gabriel serves... on the boards of the L.A. League of Conservation Voters and the Jewish Federation of Greater L.A." [LADailyNews]

Gabriel, a longtime JI reader and self-proclaimed pro-Israel activist, tells us: “I am grateful for the incredible support and encouragement that I've received from the Jewish community. If elected, one of my top priorities in Sacramento will be to help lead the fight against BDS and strengthen the California-Israel relationship."

** Good Thursday 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Forbes to hold Under 30 global summit in Israel in May [ToI]  WeWork banks on a local approach and Powered By We to crack Southeast Asia [TechCrunch] NYTimes' Sam Dolnick on Tapping Technology to Advance the Future of Journalism [NYTimes]  Israel’s GlucoMe gets India contract for diabetes kits [ToI]

STARTUP NATION: “Snap Launches Commercial Operations in Israel” by Meir Orbach: “Ad space on Snapchat will be marketed to local advisers by Tel Aviv-based press agency Teenk Marketing Solutions for Youth Ltd “It was important for us to ensure that advertisers in Israel will have access to our innovative advertising products,” [Assaf] Sagy said Snap’s activity in Israel will focus on increasing local user engagement with Snapchat, establishing commercial collaborations with local companies and expanding user exposure to ads within the app.” [Calcalist]  “Inside the cutting-edge Israeli army intelligence unit that's 'like a start-up company'” [BusinessInsider]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Why Netanyahu needs votes of Israelis living abroad” by Danny Zaken: “The coalition agreements signed by the Likud Party with its government partners in May 2015 include a clause saying that the government will formulate a legislative proposal enabling Israelis who are abroad on Knesset election day to vote The Likud is expected to try and bring the bill to a vote in 2018 One of the arguments cited by left-wing opponents of the law is concern about meddling by Sheldon Adelson Adelson recently took over the sponsorship of the Israeli American Council (IAC)" 

"When asked whether Adelson or his wife, Miriam Adelson, were involved in the contents generated by the IAC for its Israeli membership in the United States, [Shoam] Nicolet replied, “We have never received any guidance on one type of content or another. What interests the council and the Adelsons is the connection of Israelis, regardless of their political views, to the Jewish-Israeli community in America.” He added that the IAC does not take any position on the proposed law.” [Al-Monitor

HOLLYWOOD -- BBC Hit Miniseries ‘McMafia’ Accused of Anti-Jewish ‘Gratuitous Slurs’ -- by Jeremy Fuster: "BBC’s new drama miniseries “McMafia” has received complaints of anti-semitism from Jewish groups in Britain, who claim that the show uses “gratuitous slurs” beyond those used in the Misha Glenny novel that the series adapts from." [TheWrap]

'The Insult' Director Ziad Doueiri Developing Drama on Camp David Accords" by Alex Ritman: "Acclaimed Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri... is working on a project about the Camp David Accords... “There was a lot of dramatic movement in those days; you have Jimmy Carter, a very religious Christian guy, Sadat, a very pious Muslim, and Begin, very Jewish,” says, Doueiri. “You have these three opposing religions and they made it, and it’s the peace treaty that helped – it didn’t fall apart and it’s still holding.” [HollywoodReporter]

“Could This Be The First Good Entebbe Movie?” by Jesse Bernstein: “7 Days In Entebbe, a new movie coming from José Padilha (who directed the excellent Elite Squad) focuses on the oft-overlooked element of the affair, the German Revolutionäre Zellen." [TabletMag]

“'In the Land of Pomegranates': Film Review” by Frank Scheck: “An exchange late in Hava Kohav Beller's documentary illustrates that the ideological gap between Israelis and Palestinians is not going to go away anytime soon. It occurs between two groups of young people from the opposite sides who have traveled to Germany for an annual retreat dubbed "Vacation From War." The idea is that they will live under the same roof and engage in a series of encounters in which they will try to understand the others' perspective.” [HollywoodReporter

“Prickles and a paunch: Israel's overweight hedgehogs go on diet” by Mark Hanrahan: "Ten overweight hedgehogs have had to go on strict diets and exercise regimes after they ate so much on the streets of Israel they struggled to curl up into a ball to fend off predators “A lot of people put cat food on the streets for the stray cats, which is very nice but ... the problem is that there’s other wildlife that eats it,” zookeeper Becka Rifkin told Reuters. One adult male named Sherman was 1.6 kg (3.5 lb) when he arrived at the facility two months ago, almost double the average weight for a hedgehog his age.” [Reuters

PICS OF THE DAY -- Jason Greenblatt at the White House: "Great spending time with some old friends to learn Torah and catch up. It has been a long time." [Pic]  

Joyce Alene "Roy Moore’s Jewish lawyer and me, having a good time at Senator @GDouglasJones‘s swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill." [Pic

REMEMBERING: Israeli novelist, WWII survivor Aharon Appelfeld dies at 85: "Appelfeld was born in Romania before the rise of the Nazis... He later rose to become one of Israel's most prolific Hebrew-language writers even though he only learned the language as a teenager. He wrote dozens of books that were translated into many languages and received the country's top literary awards." [AP]  

Condolences Pour in After Mormon Church Leader's Death: "Rabbi Noam Marans, American Jewish Committee: "President Monson played a key role in deepening Jewish-Mormon relations," he said in a statement. "I'm a great believer that by working together we eliminate the weakness of one standing alone and substitute the strength of many standing together."" [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: English celebrity chef, restaurateur and television star, Rick Stein turns 71... Founder and president of the Alliance for Justice in 1979, a progressive judicial advocacy group, after earlier stints at the EEOC (1973-76) and the ACLU (1976-79), Nan Aron turns 70... CEO since June 2001 of the Federation of American Hospitals, the advocacy organization for investor-owned hospitals, Charles N. ("Chip") Kahn III turns 66... Retired member of Knesset (1999-2017), chairperson of Meretz (5 seats in the current Knesset) since 2012, Zehava Gal-On (born in Vilna, Lithuania as Zehava Schnipitzky) turns 62... Comedian, satirist, actor and New York Times-bestselling author, known for creating "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," Andy Borowitz turns 60... Author of 30 best-selling mystery novels and thrillers, Harlan Coben turns 56... 

Professor of Economics and Strategic Management at UCSD, Yuval Rottenstreich turns 47... Daniel Zaretsky turns 46... Emmy-award winning producer and journalist who oversaw daily production and control room operations of "Morning Joe" and now works on Kasie Hunt's MSNBC program, Ben Mayer turns 34... Center fielder for MLB's Toronto Blue Jays since 2013, Kevin Pillar turns 29... Assistant manager of external affairs in the DC office of the Toy Association, Samantha Slosberg turns 30 (h/t Playbook)... Development associate at the Association of Reform Zionists of America, previously an intern in J Street’s New York office, Alexander Langer... Judah Gavant who is celebrating from Israel where he's staffing a Birthright trip...

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