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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “For Trump and Netanyahu, a Budding Symbiotic Relationship” by Mark Landler: “Mr. Trump’s conveniently timed call was a not-so-subtle reminder to Israel’s attorney general that indicting Mr. Netanyahu could harm Israel’s national security at a dangerous time “It appears that President Trump is prepared to go a long way to help Prime Minister Netanyahu with his domestic difficulties and that Netanyahu, in return, is willing to provide a kosher seal of approval for a president who was slow to condemn anti-Semitism,” said Martin S. Indyk American and Israeli officials insist they did not coordinate Mr. Trump’s call for political effect. White House officials said Mr. Trump told aides on Monday morning he wanted to speak to Mr. Netanyahu.”
“So far, experts said, Mr. Netanyahu had benefited more from the relationship than Mr. Trump. “Solving today’s problems probably helps Bibi more than Trump in the short term,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer “But in the larger picture of how Israel is viewed in Washington, it probably helps Trump as well.” [NYTimes]
“Defense Minister Lieberman Tells Pence: I Expect to See U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Soon” by Amir Tibon: “According to an official statement, Lieberman told Pence during the meeting that he “expects to see the U.S. Embassy [in Israel] at its new location in Jerusalem soon" and thanked Pence and the Trump administration for supporting Israel. "We have true friends in the White House," Lieberman said after the meeting. He added that "the United States under President Donald Trump is a true partner of Israel's in facing the different challenges in the region, first among them the Iranian issue." Also on Tuesday, Lieberman met with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.” [Haaretz]
Sebastian Gorka tweets: "The REAL West Wing: you walk into the lobby and there's VP Pence with Dr Kissinger surrounded by scouts and cadets!" [Pic] Gorka didn't mention Lieberman who is with Pence in the photo
Dan Shapiro writes: “It's a challenging time to be an ally visiting Washington. The ramp-up phase of any new Admin is difficult, even in best of conditions. The lack of articulated policies and empowered personnel can leave foreign delegations frustrated and without the clarity they seek Under Trump, the challenge is clearly harder: no Deputies named, no UnderSecs, Asst Secs... Lots of other value in Lieberman's trip: personal ties, coord on missile defense, joint training, cyber, Israel's QME, Gaza, Lebanon. But when Bibi asks him what is US policy on Iran & Syria, I bet he goes with his sardonic "Ha Kol Gan Eden" - Everything is paradise.” [Twitter]
KAFE KNESSET -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: While media outlets were swamped with leaks from Bibi’s fourth investigation, the Prime Minister along with his wife Sarah continued their Bibi-tours yesterday, this time encouraging domestic tourism with a visit to the southern city of Eilat. Netanyahu spent the day signing housing agreements with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, pledging to double Eilat’s size and economy.
The Knesset erupted in debate today over the controversial Muezzin Bill, which limits the use of outdoor loudspeakers by houses of worship to daytime only. The bill passed a preliminary vote. The main target of the bill, proposed by MKs from Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beytenu, is the crack-of-dawn call to prayer from mosques. Bayit Yehudi MK Motti Yogev said he proposed the bill after receiving complaints from both Jews and Muslims about the muezzin’s call. However, Likud MK Yehudah Glick and Zionist Union’s Zouheir Bahloul have commenced a bipartisan and interfaith campaign to reach agreements on the matter through a dialogue and not legislation. Glick rebelled against the coalition, absenting himself from the vote. The bipartisan efforts may be in vain, however, since Netanyahu has thrown his support behind the bill – some say at the behest of his son Yair, who can reportedly hear the mosques in Jisr az-Zarqa from the family’s home in Caesarea.
Tzipi Livni and Ayelet Shaked are the top female candidates for the premiership these days, according to a Walla! news poll published today for International Women’s Day. Livni has run for the job in the past, but lost to Netanyahu in the 2009 elections. Justice Minister Shaked, number two in the Jewish Home party, has recently stated that she sees herself as future PM candidate as well. However, Shaked rushed to avoid getting in trouble with her party’s leader, Naftali Bennett, saying she was talking about the distant future and that she believes Bennett will be the next PM after Netanyahu. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
“Israel's travel ban: Boycott supporters to be turned away” by Oren Liebermann: "Every country has the right to determine who enters its borders," said Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan, speaking at conference on Tuesday. "The law adopted yesterday to prevent the entrance of BDS activists into Israel is another step in our struggle against those who seek to delegitimize Israel while hiding behind the language of human rights." [CNN]
Kenneth Bob, president of Ameinu, which describes itself as a progressive Zionist organization in New York, told Foreign Policy: “Israel should never take actions that reinforce the Far Left’s claim that Israel and its supporters use the power of the state to violate the freedom of speech of their opponents.” [ForeignPolicy]
HEARD ON CHARLIE ROSE: NYU professor Jonathan Haidt and NYT's Frank Bruni discussing the state of the debate regarding Israel on college campuses with guest moderator Dan Senor, stepping in for Charlie on the eponymous PBS show:
Senor: “When I was on college campus, I was active in the Israel debate - the Israel debate and the peace process. Let's take the students today on campus, they say the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) debate about boycotting Israel - getting campuses to boycott Israel - it's no longer just between those who support one policy on Israel and those who oppose one policy on Israel, which it was when I was going to college. Now those who are hostile to Israel, or U.S. policy towards Israel, are joined by almost like a coalition of all these different factions who know nothing about the issue but they all lock arms.”
Haidt: “The key to the new morality is a method of looking at society and looking in terms of power and privilege. So, the old idea of education is - come to campus, we're going to teach you lots of perspectives that you can use What's happening now is some students - only in a few departments - are learning only one perspective to look at everything. And so you start, this is a good kind of identity politics which is, you know, if black people being denied rights, that's right for the right. That's the good kind. There's a bad kind which is to train students, train young people, to say, let's divide everybody up by their race and gender and other categories. We will find a moral merit based on their level of privileges is bad and victimhood is good. Now, let's look at everything through this lens. The Palestinians are the victims. So, therefore they are the good and the Jews, the Israelis are the bad. This is one totalizing perspective. All social problems get reduced to the simple framework. I think we're doing them a disservice. I think we're actually making students less wise.”
Bruni: "You mentioned Israel... I think if you're an Israel supporter, you probably bite your tongue more than you shout out... and you shouldn't have to do that." Conversation is from 19:34 to 22:08 in the video [CharlieRose]
FOGGY PRESSER: “State Department’s resumed briefing strives for normal” by Nahal Toosi: “Associated Press diplomatic writer Matthew Lee was, as usual, called on first... Lee asked for details about a Trump administration plan to review financial assistance for the Palestinians. “As always, you’ve stumped me right out of the box,” Toner replied. “I don’t have a status update on that assistance.” One topic where it was clear that the new administration has a more hard-edged view than the one before it was that of Iran. Just months ago, Toner—a career Foreign Service officer—was defending President Barack Obama’s engagement with Iran on a nuclear deal. On Tuesday, he repeatedly berated Iran in striking terms for its “bad behavior” in the Middle East.” [Politico]
“No news at the State Department” by Josh Rogin: “On policies that the president has spoken out on, Toner was much more comfortable giving details — by repeating what the president has said. For example, Toner articulated U.S. policy on Israeli settlement activity by referring to the president’s news conference. President Trump “said he would like to see Israel hold back on settlement activity, and we are in discussions with Israel as to what that would look like,” Toner said. But when asked how the administration intends to get from that statement to an actual peace process, Toner returned to form. “We are working closely with the White House on evaluating where we stand,” he said. “At this point we are still at a stage where we are looking at the situation and formulating next steps.”” [WashPost] Trump’s State Department Discovers That Press Briefings Aren’t Deadly [FP]
"New Palestinian Envoy to U.S. Welcomes Trump's Desire for an 'Ultimate' Peace Deal" by Mark Leftly: "Speaking to media in Ramallah minutes before he was sworn in as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)'s chief representative in Washington on Tuesday, Dr Husam Zomlot said he had faith Trump would listen to both sides in any negotiations. "There are sufficient signs he [Trump] is after the ultimate deal. My task is to explain we're the ultimate power, that we have done sufficient investment to be the launchpad for that deal," he said. "If President Trump seeks the ultimate deal, he needs to know we're the ultimate partners. There will be no deal without us." [TimeMag]
TOP TALKER: “Calls for more security as new threats made against Jewish centers” by Ray Sanchez and David Shortell: “"This is not 'normal,'" Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League said in a statement, "We will not be deterred or intimidated. These threats (are) in addition to threats to at least six JCCs and three day schools in Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, Florida, Maryland and Toronto." New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O'Neil on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders at a JCC on Staten Island to discuss the anti-Semitic incidents throughout the city Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday directed the state police to coordinate with federal and local law enforcement to investigate bomb threats against New York Jewish community centers in Rochester and Syracuse and the Anti-Defamation League headquarters in Manhattan.” [CNN; CBSNews]
“Alluding to Trump, de Blasio calls for vigilance against spike in anti-Semitic crimes” by Azi Paybarah: “We understand what’s happened around the country in the last few months,” said [Mayor Bill] de Blasio, standing in the lobby of the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island... “We’ve never seen a concentrated threat against the Jewish community.” The mayor recalled hearing stories of World War II from his parents When asked what he would like to see from Washington in light of these anti-Semitic incidents, the mayor replied, “In a moment like this, everyone should speak up The more condemnation, the better.” [Politico] De Blasio and Cuomo United Amid Wave of Anti-Semitic Threats [NYTimes]
ON THE HILL -- All 100 Senators have signed a letter urging the Trump Administration to take action in response to the rash of anonymous bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers (JCC’s), Jewish Day Schools, synagogues and Jewish institutions. In a bipartisan letter directed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director James Comey, the senators stressed the importance of these centers within their communities, and offers suggestions for deterring the threats of violence.
Two Democratic Senators spoke out yesterday against David Friedman’s nomination as U.S. Ambassador to Israel ahead of Thursday's confirmation vote. “At this moment, I do not intend to support his nomination.” Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told JI’s Aaron Magid. “His record clearly indicates that he is not in the bipartisan tradition of seeking out the two state solution. He is much more an advocate for some kind of one state solution. I think his views are so far out of the bipartisan mainstream.”
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) shared a similar viewpoint with Jewish Insider. “I’m deeply concerned about his nomination. His past comments have been pretty incendiary, and I don’t think he would help with any type of movement towards reconciliation and a two state solution,” she noted. [JewishInsider]
"Israeli ambassador hopeful spurns J Street" by Burgess Everett: "In a letter to Friedman, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said that Friedman must meet with him before he is confirmed to prove that he willing to engage with advocacy groups that disagree with his brand of conservative politics... "We understand that during this process you have committed to senators that you are willing to meet with with pro-Israel organizations whose views you do not share, and with J Street specifically," Ben Ami wrote this week in a letter obtained by POLITICO... "Accordingly, I am requesting a meeting with you to take place before the final vote on your confirmation."" [Politico] In Letter to Top Senator, WJC Head Lauder Defends Trump’s Pick to Serve as Next US Envoy to Israel, Blasts Criticism as ‘Beyond Outrageous’ [Algemeiner]
TRUMP TEAM: President Trump announced yesterday the nomination of Jeffrey A. Rosen as Deputy Secretary for Department of Transportation. Rosen, a senior partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, was General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Management and Budget from 2006 through 2009, and from 2003 through 2006, he served as General Counsel at the Department of Transportation.
Tevi Troy tells us: “Rosen is a great pick to be Secretary Chao's deputy at the Department of Transportation. He is a smart and strategic policy maker. He knows the Department well from his previous sojourn there, but also has high-level OMB experience, which will be essential in his new role. As I know from long conversations and work with him, Jeff has given a lot of thought to the regulatory state and how to best reform it to the benefit of all Americans. He will have a lot of opportunities to work on this in the new position. The only bad thing I can say about Jeff is that he's a Red Sox fan, but I try not to hold it against him.”
“The Trump loyalist roiling network green rooms” by Annie Karni: “On all three cable news networks, according to more than half a dozen interviews with TV insiders and contributors, [Boris] Epshteyn has earned a reputation as someone who is combative and sometimes difficult to work with, even when he arrives at studios as a guest of a network. He has offended people in green rooms with comments they have interpreted as racially insensitive and demeaning Despite his critics, Epshteyn’s political profile has quickly risen, thanks to his early allegiance to the president And in Trump’s world, loyalty and ubiquity on television count for a lot. “He goes on TV and he defends Donald Trump,” said one former campaign aide. “That carries a lot of weight.”” [Politico]
“The Adult in the Room” by Michael Warren: "[Gary] Cohn is also uniquely positioned to have influence with Trump because of his closeness to Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and another senior adviser Cohn likely isn't at the White House for his political views, or even for his policy recommendations. As his Goldman Sachs associate says, "He's a take-charge guy, but in a crisis moment, he's also the calmest one in the room." For an administration that's bound to face a lot of crises—as indeed it already has—Cohn may be a real asset.” [TWS]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Why some airlines remove Israel from their online route maps [TheEconomist] Apollo Seeks $20 Billion by May for New Buyout Fund [Bloomberg] Barry Sternlicht: Trump was a hot topic at my dinner with Goldman's Blankfein and other bigwigs [CNBC] Will Ivanka Trump's Brand Be Even Bigger Without Ivanka? (It's Complicated) [Refinery29; CNN] Jersey City fighting $2.7M court award over Journal Square property [JerseyJournal] David Lichtenstein's Lightstone Group has struck a deal with Noah Tepperberg's Tao Group that brings the nightlife brand on board to host the restaurants and bars at the upcoming Marriott Moxy Hotel [RealDeal; NYPost]
SPOTLIGHT: "Questions About Loyalty to Trump Stall Mnuchin's Treasury Picks" by Robert Schmidt and Saleha Mohsin: "As Mnuchin waited for the Senate to act on his own nomination, he spent much of his time interviewing people for his team. Others who sat in on the interviews were Eli Miller and Shannon McGahn, both of whom now work at the Treasury in non-Senate confirmed jobs. Miller, who worked on Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign before joining Trump, is Mnuchin’s chief of staff." [Bloomberg]
“'Javanka' Is the Perfect Celebrity Nickname for Our Strange Era” by Benjamin Freed: “Javanka goes out to dinner and becomes fodder for gossip mongers. Javanka also works in the White House, wielding considerable power not just over foreign and domestic affairs, but over the behavior of a short-tempered, paranoid, conspiracy-prone President who may one day dismiss or demote all his other aides. But he will never abandon Javanka. Better to use the name sparingly, but always with its potency in mind.” [Washingtonian]
“Disowning Ivanka: The Art World Stares Down the First Daughter” by Nate Freeman: “Hours after Clinton conceded on the night of November 8, the gathering that would come to form the core of Halt Action Group—[Alison] Gingeras and [Alissa] Bennett as well as artist Jonathan Horowitz, psychoanalyst Jamieson Webster, and curator Ariella Wolens—met for a hush-hush meeting at an art space in lower Manhattan to discuss how the art world should fight back during the age of Trump. They fixated quickly on Ivanka. “The most urgent thing was to get organized and not allow for a normalization of the Trump administration,” Gingeras said later, with the group’s formative Instagram action already implemented. “And that was before he named any administration picks. It didn’t make sense to continue angry marches The Dear Ivanka conceit came out of these conversations.”” [ArtNews]
“German Foundation to Help Jewish Heirs in Search for Nazi Looted Art” by Colin Moynihan: “The project, called the Mosse Art Research Initiative, will be partly funded by the German Lost Art Foundation, which was formed in 2015 by the federal and state governments in Germany to find and identify cultural artifacts seized by the Nazi regime. Officials at the Lost Art Foundation said that this was the first time they had financed an initiative to track down a set of works that had belonged to a particular family... The Mosse Art Restitution Project, which was created by the Mosse heirs several years ago to search for the art, will share in financing the new partnership, and 11 museums and archives in Germany have agreed to cooperate.” [NYTimes]
“Joan Rivers's Bone China Seder Plate Is Being Auctioned. You Know You Want It!” by Rachel Shukert: “According to the New York Times, it has been acquired by Jonathan Greenstein, the operator of the premier (and self-proclaimed only) auction house in the United States dealing exclusively with the appraisal and sale of antique Judaica. The item will go on the block April 24, six days after the end of Passover this year, but who’s counting? The bone China plate itself is blue and white Spode, very nice and unchipped, and dating back to the 1980’s Greenstein said, “This one is worth about $5000 because it belonged to her.”” [Tablet]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Gloria Steinem is inaugural speaker at Senesh School series” by Paula Katinas: “With the support of philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, Senesh is launching the speaker series to highlight the connection between timeless Jewish values and modern professional accomplishments Steinem’s lifetime of campaigning for gender equality and human rights epitomizes the connection between Jewish values and accomplishments, according to a statement issued by officials at Senesh. The new series, called Conversations@Senesh, will feature leaders from all areas of public life whose careers embody the school’s values.” [BrooklynEagle]
"Mark Zuckerberg Named 2017 Commencement Speaker" by Leah Yared: "Zuckerberg, who is 32, is the youngest Commencement speaker selected in recent history. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg implored graduates to follow their “intuition” at last year’s ceremony... But Zuckerberg is neither the first Harvard dropout nor first tech billionaire to speak at Harvard’s graduation exercises: Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft, spoke at Commencement in 2007." [TheCrimson]
MEDIA WATCH: “Trump Grants Oval Office Meeting to TMZ Founder” by Michael Grynbaum: “Mr. Trump, in a meeting last Wednesday that went unmentioned on his public schedule, spent about an hour in the Oval Office chatting with Harvey Levin, the tabloid emperor The TMZ chieftain interviewed Mr. Trump for a Fox News special, “Objectified: Donald Trump,” that aired last fall. Mr. Levin, according to two people with direct knowledge of the visit, broached the possibility of Mr. Trump sitting for another interview.” [NYTimes]
SPORTS BLINK -- Israel advances to 2nd round of World Baseball Classic: "The Netherlands’ 6-5 defeat of Taiwan means Israel’s baseball team qualiies for Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo on Sunday. Team Israel will face The Netherlands tomorrow to determine group placement in Pool A." [ToI; ESPN] Sam Fuld In Familiar Role with Team Israel [FanSided]
DESSERT: “7th Annual Houston Kosher Chili Cookoff” by Liz Lopez: “34 local organizations and businesses participated in the competition with unique kosher chili recipes to benefit the seven local Jewish Day Schools and the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center’s Meals on Wheels Program. The Houston Jewish community enjoyed live music from local bands, The Danny Gavin Band and Houston’s Young Kletzmer Band, an obstacle course, balloon artists and face painting while getting to sample some of Houston’s best kosher chili.” [Houstonia]
BIRTHDAYS: Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain (1991-2013), member of the House of Lords, philosopher, scholar and winner of the 2016 Templeton Prize, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks turns 69... Former Governor of Virginia (1994-1998) and US Senator (2001-2007), whose mother was from a Sephardic Jewish family in Tunisia, George Allen turns 65... Jazz pianist, composer, organist, arranger and music director, Dick Hyman turns 90... Democratic US Representative for California's 47th congressional district since 2013, Alan Lowenthal turns 76... British television executive and businessman, chairman of the BBC (2004-2006), member of the House of Lords, Michael Grade (family name Winogradsky) turns 74... Graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, attorney at Seyfarth Shaw and now the 'Judaism and Science' blogger, Roger Price turns 73... Lyricist, singer, songwriter, painter and philanthropist, Carole Bayer Sager turns 70... Founder and CEO of 32 Advisors, LLC (advising on infrastructure) and chairman and co-founder of Measure (practical uses of drones), previously President of UBS Investment Bank, Robert Wolf turns 55... Vice chairman of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, with a Ph.D. in Chinese politics from Stanford University, high-ranking State Department official (2001-2009), Evan A. Feigenbaum turns 48...
Albany Reporter for New York's news channel NY1, covering state politics, including Governor Cuomo and the New York State legislature, Zack Fink turns 44... Harvard Law grad, member of Congress since 2017 (D-NJ:5), former speechwriter for Bill Clinton, Joshua S. Gottheimer turns 42... DC-based labor and employment attorney at Bredhoff & Kaiser, clerked for Justice Brennan at the U.S. Supreme Court (1983-1984), Bruce R. Lerner... Licensed clinical psychologist and director of couple therapy training at the Chicago Center for Family Health, Dr. Mona Fishbane... Talent acquisition executive at Sageview Consulting, specializing in placements at Jewish federations and non-profits, Colorado Springs resident, Carin Maher... Senior Fellow on national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress, Alan Makovsky... Manager of Public Policy at the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership of The Forbes Funds, previously press secretary at NJDC, David Streeter...
Retired in 2016 after 28 years as the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester NY, Larry Fine... Program analyst at Mathematica Policy Research, Karen Katz... Research associate at The Israel Project, a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, Amanda Botfeld... Senior digital and marketing associate at Catalist (a voter data service for progressive organizations), Lauren Farber... Special assistant to the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, Nathaniel Sobel... Brenda Krantz... Lexi Chavin... Jeff Sonderman... Alexis Rice...
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