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QUOTE OF THE DAY -- “Being Jewish has given me a foundation for everything I am and everything I hope to be" -- Mark Cuban [Twitter]
KEY MOMENTS from AIPAC's Police Conference -- U.S Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley received a hero's welcome before a packed Verizon Center arena. A long standing ovation and whistles greeted her appearance onstage, where she discussed her determination to change the UN’s behavior towards Israel in a conversation moderated by Dan Senor. “Never again do what we saw with Resolution 2334 and make anyone question our support for Israel,” Haley declared. “Everyone at the United Nations is scared to talk to me about 2334.”
Highlights: "For anyone who says you can't get anything done at the U.N., they need to know there is a new sheriff in town.. I wear heels. It's not for a fashion statement. It's because if I see something wrong, we're going to kick them every single time We said the days of Israel-bashing are over And I think what you're seeing is, they're all backing up a little bit. The Israel-bashing is not as loud... Until the Palestinian Authority comes to the table, until the UN responds the way they’re supposed to, there are no freebies for the Palestinian Authority anymore."
Senor to Haley: "I think this crowd would be thrilled to hear you for hours, days, weeks, months.” [YouTube]
Other speakers quickly figured out that by simply mentioning Nikki Haley's name they were guaranteed a standing ovation...
OVERHEARD: "Too bad she's not collecting campaign donations these days..."
"Nikki Haley, personable, serious, and the undisputed star of AIPAC’s conference" by David Horovitz: “That was the next president of the United States,” said a man watching alongside me as Haley left the stage to a huge standing ovation The standing ovation continued for so long that Haley, having finally sat down after acknowledging every section of the crowd, was forced to stand right back up again, and eventually to motion the audience to take their seats." [ToI]
Question on the mind of attendees: 2020 or 2024?
“Nikki Haley, Rock Star to the Jews and Their Knight in Shining Armor” by Chemi Shalev: “Haley stood tall as the only Jewish hero in town Haley may soon find out that she is overestimating the American sway over the UN and its ability to impose its will on the organization But until that happens, Haley certainly seems to be one of Trump’s more successful appointments, if not the best of the all.” [Haaretz]
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer this morning: "We cannot let the UN impose terms on negotiations with the Palestinians, ever. The United States should have vetoed resolution 2334 in December and it should never, ever use the UN as a forum to put pressure on Israel for any kind of agreement."
From Politico Playbook: "Spotted: An AIPAC attendee giving former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) his iPad back after Israel had accidentally forgotten his device at the hotel bar at the Marriott Marquis ... "
“At annual US-Israel event, a new warmth but old differences” by Josh Lederman: “Israeli leaders hoping President Donald Trump would be a rubber stamp for the Jewish state are hearing plenty of reassuring rhetoric at this week's annual gathering for the "unbreakable" alliance. Missing from the agenda: Concrete steps advancing the Israeli government's top priorities. The Iran nuclear deal, so despised by Israel, is solidly in place. The U.S. Embassy is no closer to moving to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government wants. As it has under past presidents, Washington is still telling Israel to slow settlement construction.” [AP] Lawmakers Back Measures to Protect Israel by Punishing Iran [AP]
"Netanyahu and Trump Skip AIPAC Meeting" by Mark Landler: "Mr. Netanyahu, several experts said, wants to talk to Mr. Trump about how best to confront Iran. But the administration’s policy toward Iran is still taking shape, making it less fruitful for the Israeli leader to come to Washington for a face-to-face meeting with the president... For Aipac, the ascension of Mr. Trump is a mixed blessing. His close alliance with Mr. Netanyahu and his hard line on Iran will resonate with the group’s rank and file, after years of tension caused by Mr. Obama’s clashes with Mr. Netanyahu... On the other hand, the Trump administration reinforces what some longtime observers of the group say is a structural problem for AIPAC: an erosion of support among Democrats and a perception that backing Israel has become predominantly a Republican preoccupation." [NYTimes]
“Israel’s ambassador breathes a sigh of relief” by Jennifer Rubin: “As was stressed over and over by [Ron] Dermer and others at AIPAC, Israel ironically has become once again a remarkably bipartisan issue — with Republicans eager to show they can be better friends to Israel and Democrats eager to shed the anti-Israel bent of the Obama team.” [WashPost]
Rabbi David Wolpe emails us “The great struggle of AIPAC this year is to hold both ends, right and left, together. Not to succumb to the demonization of the other side that afflicts American politics. It is not easy: As the Yiddish saying has it, Jews are like other people, only more so.”
“U.S. Jewish Leaders Warn Israel Against Close Embrace of Trump” by Amir Tibon and Barak Ravid: “No fewer than five senior officials in centrist American Jewish organizations that are known for their unequivocal support of Israel told Haaretz that they personally had conveyed messages of this nature to officials in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, to the Prime Minister’s Office and to the Foreign Ministry A senior Foreign Ministry official... confirmed the messages, telling Haaretz that they had come from both representatives of Jewish organizations identified with the Democratic Party and from representatives of Jewish groups affiliated with the Republican Party and with the right.” [Haaretz]
ALTERNATIVE GATHERING -- Several blocks away from the Washington Convention Center, over 200 people celebrated 50 years of rejuvenation in Judea and Samaria at The Loft over Sushi, Hummus, Halva, and wine, with the participation of senior Israeli cabinet ministers and settler leaders. “For us, Judea and Samaria is Israel,” Minister of Construction Yoav Galant declared. “We will never go back to the ‘67 borders. Never,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who is from the Likud Party. “We definitely have an American administration that is open minded to think about new solutions We are a half million now, "We need to go to a million settlers in Judea and Samaria. And we are going to celebrate, hopefully, with an American embassy in Jerusalem." Several attendees expressed their disappointment that AIPAC chose not to mark 50 years to the 1967 war at this year’s Policy Conference.
KAFE KNESSET -- Bennett trolling Netanyahu from DC -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: While his party’s activists are working to dethrone him, Bennett is engaging in some A+ twitter trolling during his trip to the US with a series of tweets Netanyahu probably won’t like. Earlier this week, Bennett and Trump special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, tweeted each other’s praises. Yesterday, Bennett tweeted a photo of himself taking a selfie with Tzipi Livni, saying that it’s a sign of peace in the Middle East. Finally, last night, Bennett tweeted a picture of himself with Buji Herzog, all smiles on the tarmac, with the caption “Love in the Sky” – the Hebrew title of the movie “Top Gun.” Is Bennett riding into the Danger Zone? Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
“Spicer slams 'immediate jump' to blame right for hate crimes” by Ben Kamisar: “There has been a rush to judgment in a lot of other cases when it comes to, in particular, the anti-Semitic discussion, where people have jumped to conclusions about denouncing people on the right," Spicer said during the White House’s daily press briefing. "In that particular case, we saw the president was right and this rush to judgment by a lot of folks on the left was wrong and none of them have been held to account on that. That’s something that equally needs to be called out, when people are charging something of someone that is not true." [TheHill]
Abe Foxman emails us “Trump certainly deserves thanks for his attention and efforts on the anti-Semitic incidents, as well as an apology from some in the American Jewish Community.”
ON THE HILL -- Representatives David Kustoff (R-TN) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA) introduced legislation yesterday to strengthen penalties for bomb threats against religious centers.
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Nunes admits meeting with source of Trump surveillance documents on White House grounds” by Karoun Demirjian, Greg Miller and Philip Rucker: “The development coincided with the disclosure that Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, had privately met in December with the chief executive of a Russian bank being targeted by U.S. sanctions and that Kushner has agreed to discuss such contacts with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Trump administration officials sought to play down the significance of both developments, describing Kushner’s contacts as inconsequential and refusing to answer questions about the Nunes visit. “I’m not going to get into who he met with or why he met with them,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Spicer defended Kushner’s meetings, saying that he was the “official primary point of contact” with foreign governments and officials during the campaign and transition period.” [WashPost]
“Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's ever-growing spheres of influence” by Betsy Klein: “Trump and Kushner have also been notably absent during some of Trump's most tumultuous moments. The Orthodox Jewish couple is not able to work or use technology from sundown Friday to Saturdays, the timing of some of Trump's most controversial tweets and actions.” [CNN]
"Democrat Adam Schiff, probing Trump-Putin ties, has gone up against Russia (and Stephen Colbert) before" by Olivier Knox: "In 2009, he introduced the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act, named after the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan. His only co-sponsor in the House of Representatives? Then-congressman Mike Pence. The measure became law in 2010... Schiff jokes that he’s gotten good mileage from the fact that his wife’s name is Eve. “Yep, Adam and Eve,” he said. Early in their relationship, they went to a used car dealership together. The “typically enthusiastic” salesman introduced himself. But when he heard his prospective buyers give their names, Schiff recalled, “He said, ‘I don’t have time for this,’ and basically turned around and walked away.”" [YahooNews]
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HEARD THE OTHER NIGHT: "Mark Cuban talks sports, technology and heritage at Adelson charity gala" by Brooke Wanser: "Away from the crowd at the beginning of the event, Cuban and Sheldon Adelson exchanged stories about their similar experiences as young entrepreneurs. Attendees participated in a silent auction and cocktail hour, followed by dinner and a question-and-answer session with Cuban.Students at the Adelson Educational Campus, along with parents and teachers, wrote and asked many of the questions. Asked about his Jewish heritage, Cuban responded positively. “Being Jewish has given me a foundation for everything I am and everything I hope to be,” he said." [ReviewJournal]
2020 WATCH: "Fame, Fortune and an Itch to Run for Office" by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin: "This group includes the Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz, who has sought to raise his profile and has a cadre of people around him with experience in politics and journalism. Aides to Mr. Schultz are trying to schedule a meeting between him and Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who pioneered an earlier, more costly and tightly controlled model for moguls to jump into politics. Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner and gleeful Trump troll, gladly engaged on his own political ambitions via email, even praising Mr. Trump for recognizing that the nature of communications in campaigns had changed. (Though when asked directly if he was thinking of running for president, Mr. Cuban sounded more like a politician: “Nice try,” he wrote, adding a smiley face.)" [NYTimes]
STARTUP NATION: "Israeli companies are going to set up a Latin American cyber-defense center: A group of Israeli companies led by state-owned defence contractor Israel Aerospace Industry (IAI) has won a deal worth tens of millions of dollars to establish a national cyber centre in an unnamed Latin American country." [BusinessInsider]
IRAN DEAL: “Foreign Investors Flock to Iran as U.S. Firms Watch on the Sidelines” by Asa Fitch and Benoit Faucon: “Two of the world’s biggest auto makers, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., have steered clear of Iran since the nuclear accord. A Ford spokeswoman said the company was complying with U.S. law and didn’t have any business with Iran. GM is focusing “on other markets, and other opportunities,” spokesman Tony Cervone said U.S. companies usually need special permission from the Treasury Department to do business with Iran Large international banks remain reluctant to re-establish links with Iran despite the nuclear deal. That reluctance has made transfers of money into and out of Iran a challenge.” [WSJ]
TOP TALKER: "Iran, Gulf Monarchies Seek to Ease Tension" by Margherita Stancati and Asa Fitch: "Iran and the Gulf states, whose contest for power in the Middle East has been tipping toward open confrontation, are quietly trying to repair the damaged relationship as the U.S. takes a more confrontational stance toward Tehran. Now, even as public rhetoric remains strident, signs of a tentative rapprochement have surfaced in recent low-profile meetings between Iranian and Gulf officials, including a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Kuwait and Oman, and a recent agreement between Riyadh and Tehran to allow Iranians to join this year’s hajj pilgrimage to the Saudi city of Mecca." [WSJ]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Turk in Iran Sanctions Case Adds Rudy Giuliani to Legal Team” by Benjamin Weiser and Maggie Haberman: “Reza Zarrab, a prominent Turkish gold trader who has been jailed in New York on charges of violating the United States sanctions on Iran, has added Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, to his legal team Just last month, Mr. Giuliani and another prominent lawyer, Michael B. Mukasey, traveled to meet with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as part of their efforts on behalf of Mr. Zarrab Mr. Zarrab’s lead lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, responded in a letter to the judge, saying no hearing was necessary because no lawyers from either firm “will have any involvement in the trial preparation or trial in this case, and neither Mr. Giuliani nor Mr. Mukasey intends to file a notice of appearance before your honor.” Adding to the intrigue surrounding the Zarrab case is the fact that Mr. Giuliani has recommended Mr. Mukasey’s son, Marc L. Mukasey, a fellow lawyer at Greenberg Traurig, to Mr. Trump to become the next United States attorney in Manhattan, according to two people briefed on the discussions.” [NYTimes]
"Chuck Schumer ‘Loses Cool’ With Trump Supporters In Restaurant 'Scene'" by Tom Sykes: "Perhaps Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer should remember the old adage not to discuss politics or religion at mealtimes. And especially not in fancy restaurants. Schumer allegedly ‘caused a scene’ at smart Upper East Side Manhattan restaurant, Sette Mezzo, when, according to Page Six, he began “yelling” at a connected Trump supporter that the president is “a liar.”" [DailyBeast; NYPost]
DESSERT: "In Brooklyn’s Kosher Pizza War, Modern Tastes Battle Ancient Law" by Corey Kilgannon: "Two pizza restaurant owners, both orthodox Jews, have become entangled in an only-in-Brooklyn lawsuit, not in an august courthouse, but in an obscure hall of justice known as the Rabbinical Court of Borough Park... At the center of the battle are not prices or sauce recipes, but cryptic interpretations of holy law set down in ancient Aramaic thousands of years ago... Like many rabbinical courts, the Borough Park panel is set up like a simple civil courtroom, akin to a traffic court in that it has no gallery, bailiffs or court reporter... In the pizza case, the rabbis took the unusual step of visiting the restaurants, using an Uber car to drive them there. “These are not people who hang around restaurants, but they got into the nuances of the different ovens and atmosphere,” Mr. Branover said. “They really did their homework.” [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Professor emeritus of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics, Jerome Isaac Friedman turns 87... Billionaire, investor and philanthropist, chairman and CEO of the Hartz Group and Hartz Mountain Corporation, a leading seller of pet supplies, Leonard N. Stern turns 79... Expert on the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, supporter of women's health issues and wife of former US Senator and VP-candidate Joe Lieberman, Hadassah Lieberman turns 69... Iranian-born billionaire, CEO of Los Angeles-based toy company MGA Entertainment, Isaac Larian turns 63... Member of the Knesset since 2006, leader of the Israeli Labor Party (2011-2013), previously a journalist, author of three books and media commentator, Shelly Yachimovich turns 57... CEO of the American Health Policy Institute, senior White House aide in the George W. Bush administration (2005-2007), Deputy HHS Secretary (2007-2009), Tevi Troy turns 50... Film producer, entertainment executive and director of movies, music videos, and television programs, Brett Ratner turns 48... Author of six best-selling novels including in 2003 "The Devil Wears Prada" based upon the author's time as an assistant to Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Lauren Weisberger turns 40... MLB outfielder, who has played for the Boston Red Sox in 2010 and 2012 and for the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and 2016, now a free agent, Ryan Kalish turns 29... Glenview, Illinois native, Genie Kutchins... Tarzana, California native, Marlene R. Bane... Gus Kayak... Dr. Ivan Hronsky...
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