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HAPPENING THURSDAY: "Warren Buffett to encourage investing in Israel bonds" by Jonathan Stempel: "Billionaire investor Warren Buffett will travel to New York this week to help Israel sell government bonds... Development Corporation for Israel, which underwrites the bonds in the United States and is commonly known as Israel Bonds, said Buffett will meet privately on Thursday with U.S., Canadian, Mexican and Brazilian investors who have each signaled plans to buy between $1 million and $5 million of the bonds... The event will include a luncheon with Larry Silverstein, who helped found Silverstein Properties and is the developer of the One World Trade Center site in Manhattan. Buffett owns $5 million of Israeli bonds in his personal portfolio, Israel Bonds said." [Reuters]
CLERGY SURVEY: “Your Rabbi? Probably a Democrat. Your Baptist Pastor? Probably a Republican. Your Priest? Who Knows” by Kevin Quealy: “Like their congregants, religious leaders have sharply divided themselves along political lines. Leaders and congregants of Unitarian and African Methodist Episcopal churches are overwhelmingly Democratic, as are those of Reform and Conservative Jewish synagogues. Those of several Evangelical and Baptist churches are overwhelmingly Republican. If religious denominations were states, almost all of them would be considered “Safely Democratic” or “Safely Republican,” with relatively few swing states “They’re like members of Congress,” [researcher Eitan] Hersh said. “They have constituents, but they’re also expected to lead.”” [NYTimes]
The findings: 82% of Reform rabbis and 71% of Conservative rabbis are registered Democrats. Among Orthodox rabbis, 39% identify as Democrats and 25% Republicans. [FullResults]
TOP TALKER: “Mattis Quietly Keeps Distance From Trump’s Most Divisive Moves” by Helene Cooper. Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt: “At a time when other military brass in the Trump administration — retired and active duty — have shed their cloaks of political neutrality, [Defense Secretary Jim] Mattis has avoided publicly backing the president’s most divisive moves. “For him to do his job, he has to be apolitical,” said Dov S. Zakheim, the Pentagon’s top financial officer in the first term of President George W. Bush Mr. Zakheim contrasted the relative reticence of Mr. Mattis with the support of Mr. Trump on partisan issues by the other generals in the administration — John F. Kelly and Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster." [NYTimes]
ON THE HILL -- The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs announced last night a bipartisan deal that would advance a floor vote on the Iran sanctions bill. The amendment -- attached to the bill imposing new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic-missile testing, support of terrorism and human-rights violations -- maintains and substantially expands sanctions against Russia in response to its violation of the territorial integrity of the Ukraine and Crimea, continued aggression in Syria, and interference in the 2016 election. The deal would also give Congress at least 30 days to review and block President Trump from lifting or easing Russia sanctions. A procedural vote is expected Wednesday.
FDD's Mark Dubowitz emails us... "Heartening to see broad bipartisan support for targeting two of the most severe threats to the security of the United States and our Middle Eastern and European allies. In particular, Iranian and Russian complicity in the Syria slaughter created a jihadist Chernobyl which fueled the rise of ISIS, terror attacks in Europe and the U.S., and an Iranian and ISIS threat on Israel's Syrian border."
ANOTHER AMENDMENT: "John Cornyn amendment targets Iran's largest airline" by Susan Ferrechio: "Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn plans to introduce an amendment... [that] would require Homeland Security to list airports where Mahan Air operates and come up with increased security measures for Americans traveling to those airports. Mahan Air, Cornyn said "is a conduit for personnel, weapons, and a violent ideology throughout the region."" [WashExaminer]
IRAN DEAL: “Iran says Trump administration will end up abiding by nuclear deal” by Gwladys Fouche: "Unfortunately the behavior from the new administration in Washington is not very promising," [Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad] Zarif told reporters "We believe that at the end of the day they will find it necessary to abide by the deal. I believe the U.S. administration will find it in the interest of the United States, as well as the interest of international peace and security, to live up to its commitments." [Reuters]
HAPPENING TODAY: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be testifying this morning at 10:00 AM before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss the Trump administration's 2018 budget proposal. This will be Tillerson's first Congressional testimony since he assumed his post. One can likely expect tough questions from Democrats about how the State Department will be prioritizing foreign assistance and human rights programs in their yearly spending, especially given aid cuts to key US allies such as Jordan and Morocco. He will also be appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday. During Tillerson's confirmation hearing, Senator Marco Rubio asked pointed questions about the US relationship with Russia, which will likely be a prominent theme in today's session. [Livestream]
JI INTERVIEW -- Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) discussed his service in Afghanistan, his work in Congress, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in a wide-ranging interview with JI's Aaron Magid. Banks was first elected to serve in the Indiana State Senate in 2010, and upon military deployment to Afghanistan in September 2014 he took a leave of absence. His wife Amanda temporarily took over for him in the state legislature. Banks even managed to win an election campaign while serving in Afghanistan and was sworn in to the new term while deployed overseas. He then decided to run for Congress. "While I was deployed, my predecessor (Marlin Stutzman) announced that he was running for the Senate," Banks recalled. "So, I came home, walked off the plane and immediately became a candidate. It struck me that my experience in Afghanistan was unique and that I am the most recently deployed member of Congress and that valuable experience could lend itself a great deal of credibility to what I do here."
Banks on Trump's Mideast peace push: “We are a long way off from drawing any conclusions. So far, I have been pleased with the rhetoric of the campaign to his early leadership in his administration: the attention that he has provided Israel by visiting, and Netanyahu very graciously has shown support for President Trump and his interactions. That goes a long way in telling me that this president is fulfilling a pro-Israel agenda that he campaigned on... In my experience serving in Afghanistan to serving in Congress believe fundamentally that the stronger that Israel is the better off America is and Israel is securing peace in that region so I believe anything America can do to further support a strong Israel is the greatest deterrent to those who aren’t acting in the best interest of America and creating havoc in that part of the world.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]
"Friend Says Trump Is Considering Firing Mueller as Special Counsel" by Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman: "A longtime friend of President Trump said on Monday that Mr. Trump was considering whether to fire Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating possible ties between the president’s campaign and Russian officials... Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, scoffed at the idea that the president might fire Mr. Mueller. “If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller,” Mr. Schiff said in a tweet. “Don’t waste our time.”" [NYTimes] ‘Jared Kushner could take it over’: Anderson Cooper skewers rumor Trump may fire special counsel Mueller [RawStory]
“Historian Sarna warns of anti-Semitic backlash in US if Kushner indicted” by Amanda Borschel-Dan: “We ought to be prepared for that eventuality. Somebody ought to be writing a memo,” said [Prof. Jonathan] Sarna. “If [Jared] Kushner is indicted, we need to be prepared The people who will make hay of Mr. Kushner always knew that there was a Jewish conspiracy — even before there was such a thing. But smart Jewish leaders need to be forward looking,” Sarna told The Times of Israel.” [ToI]
"Trump insider pursuing bid for FBI building contract, raising questions of conflict of interest" by Matthew Mosk: "Vornado Realty Trust, a giant New York real estate firm whose founder and chairman, Steven Roth, is a longtime friend of and occasional adviser to Trump, is one of three finalists for the rights to develop a new FBI headquarters and campus in the Washington, D.C., region... Through business partnerships with both the Trump Organization and the Kushner Co., Roth’s firm has a level of financial co-dependence with the first family... Through a spokesman, Kushner told ABC News he will work hard to avoid any conflict between his White House work and his family business. “Jared takes the ethics rules very seriously and would never compromise himself or the administration,” a White House official told ABC News." [ABCNews; NYDailyNews]
VIRAL VIDEO: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer yesterday mocked President Trump’s first cabinet meeting, in which he oddly sought praise from his cabinet secretaries. “I just thought we’d go ’round the room.” Schumer turns to some of his aides seated around a conference table in a video posted on Twitter. “Your tone was perfect,” says one staffer about a Sunday morning television appearance. “Michelle, how’d my hair look coming out of the gym this morning?” Schumer asks another staffer. “You have great hair. Nobody has better hair than you,” she replies. A third staffer interrupts, “Before we go any further, I just want to say thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda.” The video ends with Schumer banging his hand on the table and bursting out in laughter. [Video]
"Trump Reportedly Told Russia About Israeli Hack of ISIS; Republicans Don't Care" by Jeremy Stahl: "Republicans in Congress have shown little interest in investigating the episode. I spoke with Rep. Darrell Issa—a member of the House Oversight Committee... and the congressman told me that the matter was "settled." ... "No, it’s not a settled matter and no our committee has not gotten any information and our committee hasn't looked into this or anything else," Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a member of the judiciary committee from New York, told me on Tuesday... "The Republicans are stonewalling... We don't know what the secret information was. We've heard reports in the press, but we don't know that for a fact and we ought to.”" [Slate]
Israeli cabinet minister Israel Katz on Army Radio: “I can say that under the directives of President Trump, the intelligence ties between Israel and the US have been deepened and expanded, and there is definitely cooperation.” [INN]
"Why The Striking Taxi Drivers at Ben Gurion Airport Are Right" by Michael Eisenberg: "If you have flown into Ben Gurion airport recently or been reading any Israeli newspaper, you know that it is impossible to get out of the airport without arranging road transportation in advance or by taking the train (which does not go to Jerusalem). Ever since Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz broke the monopoly of the Hadar-Lod Taxi company and reduced their fares by 12%, the still-extant cab monopoly has been on strikeon and off. Why did Katz do this when the solution of just bringing in Lyft, Didi, Uber or Gett is so obvious? Because like all politicians he does not want to give up control. He does not want to let the free market work. He wants to issue a tender and set the prices so the cabbies are beholden to him (many are Likud voters)." [Medium]
"If you support Israel, you can't support more arms sales to Saudi Arabia" -- by Sen. Rand Paul: "The United States must also take into full consideration whether providing more arms to Saudi Arabia is beneficial to our ally in the region – Israel. It would seem counterproductive to provide weapons that might someday be used against Israel. If the past is any indication, any time we sell weapons to an adversary of Israel, the Israelis are forced to purchase more and newer weapons which only escalates an arms race in the Middle East." [FoxNews]
** Good Tuesday 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: Patrick Drahi's Altice IPO pricing values U.S. business at up to $22 billion [Reuters] Sunset on 57th Street: The end of an era for the asset management industry [InstInvestor] Meet the man who is replacing Uber’s second in command: David Richter [Recode] David Rhodes, Ari Emanuel fight prompted Scott Pelley’s ‘Evening News’ exit [NYPost] Ivanka Trump Brand Ended Deal With Japanese Firm Over Government Ties [NYTimes]
SILICON WADI: "Despite conflicts, Mideast research center to launch in fall" by Karin Laub: "A top-notch research center that brought together Iran, Israel and other Mideast antagonists is launching operations this fall in hopes of boosting scientific discovery with the help of a powerful microscope and opening a window to a better future for a region beset by war, boycotts and closed borders... Israel's Science Ministry reported a growing interest in the project among Israeli scientists. During a visit to SESAME last week, physicists and engineers, among them an Iranian, an Egyptian and a Palestinian, were working quietly on the beam lines." [AP]
PROFILE: "How a 36-year-old Wall Street prodigy saved Burger King" by Hayley Peterson: "Daniel Schwartz had spent a decade working his way up the corporate ladder on Wall Street when he decided to test his skills in a different trade: cooking burgers and cleaning toilets at a Burger King restaurant in Miami... The investment-banking analyst turned private-equity whiz kid had just been named CEO of the fast-food chain, the second-biggest burger company in the world... At 32, he was one of the youngest major restaurant CEOs in history... Last year, the company's total sales had grown to $18.2 billion and it opened 735 new Burger King restaurants worldwide." [BI]
"The e-mail, workout and sleep habits of highly successful billionaire Mark Cuban" by Catherine Clifford: "Tech billionaire Mark Cuban says he conducts business almost exclusively via email. To be constantly connected, he carries two phones: one Android, one iPhone. "With access, I'm always available; I can always communicate," says Cuban... In a recent episode of The Thrive Global Podcast, host Arianna Huffington asked Cuban if the constant flood of unanswered emails ever leaves him feeling overwhelmed. "I guess I go through so many emails, I've kind of become immune to that," says Cuban. He checks emails whenever he has an extra minute... "If I'm sleeping six, seven hours and working out one hour, there's another 16 hours that I have access to my phone," he says." [CNBC]
TALK OF OUR NATION: "Einstein letters on God, McCarthy, Israel go up for auction" by Ilan Ben Zion: “A collection of letters written by Albert Einstein is set to go to auction next week... They were sent to quantum physicist David Bohm, a colleague who fled the United States for Brazil in 1951 after refusing to testify about his links to the Communist Party to the House Un-American Activities Committee Einstein said the foreseeable future didn't portend a "more reasonable political attitude" in the United States One idea that came up was relocating to Israel... But despite Einstein's ties to Israel's Hebrew University, he believed the country offered limited opportunities. Einstein himself declined an offer in 1952 to become Israel's president "Israel is intellectually active and interesting but has very narrow possibilities," the Nobel laureate wrote. "And to go there with the intention to leave on the first occasion would be regrettable."" [AP]
TALK OF THE TOWN: "Investment banker killed by bus becomes first Citi Bike fatality" by Tina Moore, Kevin Sheehan and Natalie Musumeci: "A Manhattan investment banker and former Israeli army staff sergeant became the Big Apple’s first Citi Bike fatality Monday morning when he was hit by a bus. Dan Hanegby, 36, of Brooklyn Heights was riding on West 26th Street near Eighth Avenue in between a coach bus and a parked car when he lost control of the bike and fell to the ground... Hanegby, a married father of two who worked as a director of the investment banking division for Credit Suisse Group, was then struck by the bus, sources said." [NYPost]
DESSERT: "The latest trend I loathe in restaurants: No space between tables" by Tom Sietsema: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard things that I’m not supposed to hear,” says frequent restaurant-goer Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition. “Not state secrets,” he says, but not information fellow diners would share publicly about, say, campaign missteps or awful bosses." [WashPost] h/t Howard Mortman
BIRTHDAYS: Retired Israeli general, diplomat and politician, he served at various times as Israel's ambassador to Tanzania, Guatemala and El Salvador, Yitzhak Pundak turns 104... Engineer and computer scientist, professor at UCLA, he played an influential role in the development of the ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet, Leonard Kleinrock turns 83... London-born, now living in Gstaad, Switzerland, billionaire founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff turns 79... Senior advisor for George Soros's Open Society Institute, he served in the Johnson, Nixon and Clinton administrations, winner of a 1985 MacArthur genius fellowship, Morton Halperin turns 79... Chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer & Co. (1983-1997), Chancellor of Brown University (1998 to 2007) and CEO of Source of Hope Foundation, Stephen Robert turns 77... Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from New York since 1992, Jerrold Lewis "Jerry" Nadler turns 70... Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel since 2004, he was previously Attorney General of Israel (1997-2004), Elyakim Rubinstein turns 70... Assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of retina surgery at Franklin Square Hospital, Michael J. Elman, MD turns 62... National political correspondent for National Public Radio, also a contributor at the Fox News Channel, Mara Liasson turns 62...
Tech entrepreneur and co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Benjamin Abraham "Ben" Horowitz turns 51... Internet entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Overtime, a digital sports platform, he was previously the Head of Digital at William Morris Endeavor, Daniel Porter turns 51... Founder and CEO of NYC-based JDS Development Group, a high-rise residential development firm active in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Miami, Michael Stern turns 38... Actor, the son of Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving, Max Samuel Spielberg turns 32... Film and television actress, she starred in the CBS sitcom "Two Broke Girls" (2011-2017), Katherine Litwack, known professionally as Kat Dennings, turns 31... Founder and CEO of NYC-based ChangeUp Media LLC, a media consulting and publication services firm, Benjamin H. Weingarten turns 29... Professional football player who fasts on Yom Kippur, he won the 2010 Outland Trophy (as the best collegiate interior lineman), a first round NFL draft pick, played for 4 seasons in the NFL (2011-2014), Gabe Carimi turns 29... Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council at the University of Virginia while studying for her Masters in Public Policy, AIPAC intern, Samantha Magnes turns 22...
CORRECTION: Rabbi Levi Shemtov turned 49 yesterday not 57.
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