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2020 WATCH: "Trump courts donors with eye on 2020" by Shane Goldmacher, Kenneth P. Vogel and Darren Samuelsohn: "On Thursday evening, Trump's Education Secretary Betsy De Vos made a personal appearance at a Washington gathering of mega-donors organized by a political operation fronted by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer and his allies. Perhaps no single contributor embodies Trump’s turnabout as much as Singer... in the days after Trump’s stunning victory, after some staff-level smoothing, a phone call from the president-elect to Singer was arranged. Singer congratulated Trump on his victory; Trump suggested they should meet. Later, Singer wrote a $5,000 check to Trump’s transition team and then a $1 million check to his inaugural committee, according to someone familiar with the transactions. After the inauguration, Singer reached out for that meeting."
"Trump was hanging out in the Oval Office with a handful of his top advisers in mid-February, prepping for his first solo press conference as president, when Singer arrived, according to three people familiar with the visit. “Bring him in!” Trump bellowed. Singer was directed to a seat beside Trump’s desk, where he got to listen as senior aides tossed Trump a handful of murder-board-style questions. Then, after everyone else shuffled out, Singer stayed for a one-on-one meeting. They discussed economic policy, according to a person briefed on the conversation. Singer, whose representatives declined to comment, is just one of many GOP donors who have been the subject of entreaties from Trump and his closest confidants —and the charm offensive appears to be paying dividends." [Politico]
THE THORN IN SHELDON'S SIDE: "The Hunt for the Mysterious Big Winner at Las Vegas Mogul’s New China Casino" by Ese Erheriene: "A mysterious gambler whose winning streak was blamed by Las Vegas Sands Corp. for denting profit at its newest property in Macau is proving elusive. “One particular customer, she wins every day and she’s doing very well and she affected the numbers,” Sands Chief Operating Officer Robert Goldstein said on a January call with U.S. investors... Sands China, the local subsidiary of Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, posted a 2.5% fall in revenue and a 16% drop in net profit last year from a year earlier." [WSJ]
"Trump Takes on The Blob: Washington’s foreign policy elites are used to battling America’s adversaries. Now they have a new common enemy: the president" by Susan Glasser: "Tillerson was even rebuffed in picking his own deputy. He wanted Elliott Abrams, often criticized by parts of The Blob as a neocon who strongly backed the Iraq War, but Trump refused, in an embarrassing public rebuke. In private, Abrams told others he was sure some Trump advisers had confused him with Eliot Cohen, a leading conservative anti-Trumper who had issued a stirring public denunciation of the administration. The Resistance didn’t seem like so much of a joke anymore. “That’s one of the dilemmas in terms of their relationship with The Blob,” the former Obama official said. “They need us to advise them how to actually do things, and, when locked out, they do things incompetently, exposing themselves. Then if they do consult us, then they worry about the leaks and conspiracies.” [PoliticoMag]
"Top Trump Advisers Are Split on Paris Agreement on Climate Change" by Coral Davenport: "The White House is fiercely divided over President Trump’s campaign promise to “cancel” the Paris agreement, the 2015 accord that binds nearly every country to curb global warming, with more moderate voices maintaining that he should stick with the agreement despite his campaign pledge. Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, is pressing the president to officially pull the United States from the landmark accord... he is clashing with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, who fear the move could have broad and damaging diplomatic ramifications." [NYTimes]
"Kushner and Flynn Met With Russian Envoy in December, White House Says" by Michael Schmidt, Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo: "Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador... The New Yorker reported this week that Mr. Kushner had met with Mr. Kislyak at Trump Tower in December. Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, said.... “Jared has had meetings with many other foreign countries and representatives — as many as two dozen other foreign countries’ leaders and representatives.” The Trump Tower meeting lasted 20 minutes, and Mr. Kushner has not met since with Mr. Kislyak, Ms. Hicks said." [NYTimes]
"GOP operatives concede Trump’s Russia trouble won’t go away" by Katie Glueck: "“There are so many breadcrumb trails leading from the Trump campaign to Russia and back that the story will remain a persistent problem for the Republican Party until a credible investigation completes its work and the pertinent details of the Russia-Trump campaign relationship are put before the public,” warned Gabriel Schoenfeld, a former senior adviser to Mitt Romney and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute." [McClatchyDC]
ON THE HILL -- Top Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee expressed reservations about supporting the Taylor Force Act that was introduced earlier this week by Senator Lindsey Graham. Ranking Democratic Member Ben Cardin told Jewish Insider, “I generally don’t support an approach that could jeopardize needed assistance for stability in the West Bank.” When asked if he backed Graham’s legislation, Republican Committee Chairman Bob Corker replied, “I think there is probably a more targeted way of dealing with that issue." [JewishInsider]
“Top Democrat Inclined to Support Trump's Pick for Israel Ambassador” by Jenna Lifhits: "I'm inclined to be supportive," New Jersey senator Bob Menendez told TWS. "I'm reviewing his answers to questions for the record, and when I finish all of that I will make a final decision." [TWS] Last month, ahead of the confirmation hearing, Menendez appeared to show some willingness to back Friedman. “My private meeting with him indicates someone who is different than some of those public comments,” he said. [JewishInsider]
Congressman Brad Sherman gives Trump a 'C' on his Israel policy. "Not the 'C' you thought I was going to give him. 'C' for confused," Sherman told JI's Aaron Magid yesterday. "He doesn't know whether he is for a two-state solution. He doesn't know if he wants to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Given the incredible detail and nuance of your readers, they should understand the man in the Oval Office does not approach things with that level of specificity or nuance. He just says he loves Israel and he wants peace. If you had to have two vague statements, those would be two good ones."
VIEW OF JERUSALEM: Israeli Opposition Leader MK Isaac Herzog, on a conference call hosted by the Israel Policy Forum yesterday, told Jewish Insider that he will not take up another offer by Netanyahu to join his government if Trump pursues his regional peace plan. “I am not rushing to political conclusions of this sort because I have been there. I don’t feel that Netanyahu has any capabilities of doing anything. I think that he’s fully controlled by Naftali Bennett (head of the right-wing Bayit Yehudi Party). It’s been shown time and again. And therefore I won’t give the government any possible political support.”
TOP TALKER: "Missouri man arrested, charged with threats against Jewish facilities" by Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky: "Authorities investigating recent threats against Jewish institutions across the country arrested a suspect Friday morning, officials said. The FBI arrested a suspect — Juan Thompson, 31 — on Friday morning in St. Louis, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York... Thompson made news a year ago when he was fired by the online magazine The Intercept for a variety of ethical breaches including using fabricated quotes. Authorities said he made the threats as part of an attempt to harass an ex-girlfriend." [STLtoday; WashPost]
Abe Foxman spoke to Jewish Insider this week about adopting a new approach to the new phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the U.S. "We have to fight it from the outside and the inside,” Foxman, former ADL National Director and Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, asserted. “The outside is to get the political, moral, religious, and civic leadership, to condemn it and making it unacceptable. And number two is law enforcement. Law enforcement needs to take it seriously - to utilize all law enforcement techniques and institutions to combat it. And when you arrest a culprit, to make sure that the punishment is serious and not just a slap on the wrist." According to Foxman, it's not the job of President Trump to come up with a plan. "His job is to condemn it and speak out. I don't think it's his job, though he has to fight prejudice, period."
-- Foxman further cautioned Jewish American organizations not to exaggerate the threat. "Our responsibility is to make sure that while we take it seriously, it doesn't intimidate Jews from wanting to be Jews," Foxman stressed." Because, God forbid if we make it more of a threat than it is, the result will be that Jews will not want to be Jewish." [JewishInsider]
“In politely devastating critique, Israeli negotiator skewers Kerry for dooming peace talks" by Raphael Ahren: “Veteran Israeli peace negotiator Michael Herzog writes that Kerry “definitely does not deserve the slander directed at him by some Israelis,” but nonetheless highlights Kerry’s over-confidence and lack of sensitivity, says Kerry caused confusion from the start, cites instances where Kerry misrepresented Israel’s positions to the Palestinians, and suggests the US team led by the former secretary might have deliberately misled the parties For instance, the former secretary of state misinformed Ramallah about Israel’s firm opposition to releasing Palestinian security prisoners, one of the key misunderstandings that led to the talks’ breakdown, according to Herzog.” [ToI] Read Herzog's story [TheAmericanInterest]
UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba writes in today's Wall Street Journal... "When the Iranian nuclear deal took effect more than a year ago, there were high hopes that it would set Tehran on a new course of responsible engagement in world affairs. Instead, the country has chosen increased conflict and aggression. The Trump administration’s early move to impose new sanctions on Iran was a measured reaction—long overdue and welcomed by all of America’s friends in the region... Further violence can be avoided. Iran could suspend its missile tests and its support for violent proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas and Al Hashd al Shaabi, Shiite militias in Iraq. It could end its sectarianism and its destabilizing actions in the Arab World. Tehran’s leaders must ask themselves: Do we want to be part of the solution or remain the region’s biggest problem?" [WSJ]
--View from Tehran: "Arab Nations Face Stark Choice: Israel or Iran" by Mehran Haghirian, an Iranian Graduate Student at American University [Newsweek]
JI reader Scott Shay emails us... “Most Jewish endowments effectively boycott investments in Israel. While opposing BDS in making grants, the investment committees generally follow the advice of their investment consultants, who, as a class, next to always find a reason not to invest in Israel. Worse yet, because of general practice of indexing, most Jewish endowments have investments in places like Qatar, the UAE and Pakistan rather than Israel. Boards of Jewish organizations need to get involved and recognize that Jewish values should not evaporate at the door of the investment committee. Just from a pure economic perspective, the Israeli economy has substantially outperformed the economies of avowed enemies of Israel where they are invested.” ... See Shay's latest piece on the topic [JewishWeek]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Glencore paid $100m to Dan Gertler in Congo deals [TheTelegraph] Hedge Fund Titans Face What Comes Next as They Pass Certain Age [Bloomberg] Ronald Perelman's Scientific Games reports narrower quarterly loss [LVRJ] American Eagle CEO Jay Schottenstein developing prototype jeans store [BizJournals] Interview with Bob Cohen; President & CEO, R.A. Cohen & Associates, Inc [LinkedIn]
SPOTLIGHT: "Why Is YouTube Punishing People Who Translate and Expose Anti-Semitism on Its Platform?" by Yair Rosenberg: "Essentially, the service was unable to distinguish between journalism that aimed to expose violent incitement and bigotry, and the real thing. Last week, YouTube denied Aslan-Levy’s appeal, in which he explained he was a reporter acting to inform the public. This decision was all the more curious given that YouTube continues to allow many other Hamas music videos—posted by their sympathizers and garnering hundreds of thousands of views—to remain on the site unmolested. But while the site’s conduct in this instance may seem strange, it was not an isolated incident. For years, YouTube has been taking down videos that translate and expose anti-Semitism and punishing those who post them." [TabletMag]
PROFILE: "Palestinian-Israeli covers the world in viral one-minute videos" by Luke Baker: "A year ago, Nuseir Yassin, a 24-year-old Harvard graduate, was living in New York city, working for a successful hi-tech company and earning $120,000 a year. Despite it all, he couldn't escape the feeling that life was passing him by. So for the past 328 days, he has been traveling the world - from Nigeria to Myanmar, the Philippines to Mount Fuji - making daily one-minute videos that shine a light on the people, places and passions he comes across: good, bad and in-between. The style and format - quick cuts, an engaging delivery and snappy subtitles - have helped make the videos go viral: at last count, his Nas Daily page on Facebook had 500,000 likes and some of his mini-films have earned 25 million views." [Reuters]
"Banksy's art in a new West Bank hotel features the world's 'worst view'" by AP: "A Palestinian guesthouse packed with artwork of the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy unveiled itself Friday in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, with a sneak peek of what the owner sarcastically called the "hotel with the worst view in the world." Wisam Salsaa, 42, said the nine-room establishment named "The Walled Off Hotel" will officially open March 11, but he offered a handful of reporters a tour of the hotel looking directly at the West Bank separation barrier erected by Israel to ward off potential Palestinian attackers... The highlight is Room 3, known as "Banksy's Room," where guests sleep in a king-size bed underneath Banksy's artwork showing a Palestinian and an Israeli in a pillow fight." [LATimes]
"Israeli architect couple use concrete blocks to build themselves a home among fruit trees" by Eleanor Gibson: "Architects Tamar Jacobs and Oshri Yaniv have built their own home on the Israeli coast, with its roof lifted up above concrete-block walls to offer glimpses of the sky. The co-founders of Israeli firm Jacobs-Yaniv Architects, who have two children together, designed the 200 square-metre house for a plot of land in Herzliya – a city on the Mediterranean coast, north of Tel Aviv." [Dezeen]
SPORTS BLINK: “In a Newton front yard, Sandy Koufax stands tall” by Stan Grossfeld: “This story really begins in 1958 [Robert] Gaynor was a multi-sport student-athlete at Belmont Hill. There was a high school football game scheduled on Yom Kippur... “The football captain that year was Jewish and went to the athletic director and asked if he could reschedule it,” says Gaynor. “And the AD said he couldn’t do it. The game was played, and the football captain played. “I was the football captain.” Gaynor always wished he’d been more outspoken about his beliefs. “When you are at a school that’s predominantly non-Jewish,” he says, “you always feel kind of quiet about it.” Years later, when Koufax famously sat out Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur, Gaynor felt both proud and conflicted “I always resented the fact that I didn’t stand up for my principles. I regretted it. I didn’t have the courage.”” [BostonGlobe]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Australian billionaire residential property developer, colloquially known as "High-Rise Harry," builder of almost 60,000 residential units, Harry Triguboff turns 84... Professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, author of 27 books and the former co-editor of Dissent magazine, Michael Walzer turns 82... Researcher in Yiddish language at Sweeden's Lund University's Centre for Languages and Literature, Henrik Lewis-Guttermann turns 68... Best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of financiers and politicians, Ron Chernow turns 68... Baltimore-born NPR personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show "This American Life," Ira Jeffrey Glass turns 58... Dean of Pace University School of Law since 2014, previously chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, David Yassky turns 53... Co-founder and co-president of Clarity Capital, an investment management firm based in NYC and Tel Aviv, also chair, co-founder and trustee of NYC-based giving circle, the Natan Fund, David Steinhardt turns 48... Anat Hakim turns 48... Founder and CEO of Bunk1, using technology to allow parents to have a window into their children's summer camp experience, Ari Ackerman turns 46... Steven Kantor...
SATURDAY: Tennis player who in 1951 won both the Australian and Wimbledon men's singles championships and was ranked World No.1, the first ever Jewish athelete to appear on the cover of Time Magazine, Dick Savitt turns 90... Composer and conductor, founder and initial conductor in 1950 of the US Army's Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra, on the Julliard faculty, Samuel Adler turns 89... Former New York Times correspondent, President of the Council of Foreign Relations and Pentagon and State Department official, Leslie H. Gelb turns 80... Broadcast journalist and author, best known as a correspondent for the ABC news magazine "20/20," Lynn Sherr turns 75... British promoter of rock concerts, charity concerts and television broadcasts, Harvey Goldsmith turns 71... Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and a former City Council member for the Upper East Side, both in NYC, Eva Moskowitz turns 53... Director of Public Policy and Best Practices for the International Council of Shopping Centers, graduate of CESJDS, Northeastern U (B.Sc.) and USC (M.A.), Abigail Goldstein "Abby" Jagoda turns 32... Brazilian entrepreneur and software engineer who co-founded Instagram in 2010, sold to Facebook in 2012, Michel "Mike" Krieger turns 31... Israeli-born basketball player who starred at Wichita State (2006-2008), played for the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans, now playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Gal Mekel turns 29... Evan Presser...
SUNDAY: Israeli-American psychologist, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work with Amos Tversky on the psychology of decision-making, Daniel Kahneman turns 83... Managing Partner of Los Angeles law firm, Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP, Mark Edelstein turns 72... President of Los Angeles PR firm Robin Gerber & Associates, Robin Gerber Carnesale turns 71... Jerusalem City Councilman and co-founder of Wake-Up Jerusalem, a social-political movement in Israel for young adults, Hanan Rubin... President and founder of West End Strategy Team, Matt Dorf... Communications Director for Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Daniel Schwarz... Donald Newman... Mike Reinis...
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