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KAFE KNESSET -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: The tension between the Israeli government and segments of US Jewry continues to drive the conversation, and yesterday Channel 2 sent out a push notification with a dramatic headline that turned out to not be entirely accurate. "American Jews to the PM: shame on you,” it read, citing a new social media video distributed by the Conservative Judaism Movement in an unprecedented attack against Netanyahu. The video, in English, accused Bibi of manipulating the facts about the Kotel agreement. The Israeli Masorti movement said the video was coordinated with the US Conservative Movement - a fact that seemed suspect, considering it was released over Thanksgiving weekend, its English was a bit off, and it didn’t have any logos in it. Later, a senior source in the Conservative Movement in the US denied having anything to do with the video.
The Prime Minister's Office didn't issue any official comment, but Kafe Knesset learned that Netanyahu addressed the issue yesterday at the Likud’s weekly faction meeting. "Some of [US Jewry’s] statements are out of place, because our real intention is to embrace them, to the extent that the limitations of Israeli politics, that are well known to all, allow. This will not change between one government to another government. We're doing our best to cooperate with them. They cannot change what exists here, and we cannot change what is there. There are certain things that we need to accept, and we need to accept one another.” Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
REPORT -- Russian spy chief said to visit Israel for Syria talks briefing: "The director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service reportedly visited Israel on Thursday to brief Israeli security officials following a meeting between the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran on reaching a political solution to the Syrian civil war. While in Israel, Sergey Naryshkin met with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, and National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat, Channel 10 reported Monday The Israeli officials... reiterated to Naryshkin that Israel is not bound by a ceasefire deal in southern Syria The Israeli officials also said Israel would continue to act militarily in order to ensure its security interests.” [ToI; Nana]
Israel's Iron Dome system deployed on ships for first time: “Head of the Weapons Department in the Israeli Navy Col. Ziv Barak said the system will defend Israel's ships and "strategic assets" at sea after the military said it had successfully tested the system in an exercise where "projectiles that simulated existing threats in the region" were intercepted.” [Yahoo]
ON THE HILL -- Senators react to Trump administration’s reversal on closing PLO office -- by Aaron Magid: Supporting the administration's move to keep the PLO's DC office open, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), explained: “There are ways that we have to make the Palestinians understand what they are doing is not helpful in the peace process, but on the other hand, it’s important that we keep the process moving... so having an office here, I accept the administration’s determination that it should remain."
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC): "I really would leave that to the President and Secretary of State. I wouldn’t get into anything that is more in their lanes. I think we do have to make sure that when we move forward with a strategy, we kind of stick with it though."
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): "I would be for closing it unless they change the so-called martyr’s payments and other things, but I would hope the reversal means that the administration’s getting something out of that, that heads us in a better direction."
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE): "There are a lot of things about the Palestinian Authority, its relationship with Hamas and how it conducts itself and who it supports that can subject it to criticism. In general, I think it is constructive for us to keep an open line of communication with the PA. I think it is also important that the Trump administration take a consistent view on things. I suspect sometimes that it confuses our allies when there are abrupt changes in policy like this." [JewishInsider]
DIPLOMACY -- King Abdullah II of Jordan meets Pence, senior administration officials in DC: “Discussions at the meeting [with Vice President Mike Pence] also touched on efforts to achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. His Majesty affirmed the importance of the US administration’s commitment to this issue, calling for intensifying efforts to relaunch serious and effective negotiations based on the two-state solution, the Arab Peace Initiative and international terms of reference His Majesty held separate meetings with US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, Senior Adviser to the US President Jared Kushner and several members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” [JordanTimes]
PIC: “Kushner was pictured alongside Jordan's King Abdullah outside the Jordanian ambassador's residence Monday in Washington.” [DailyMail]
OP-ED: "Kushner Can't Bring Peace to the Middle East" by Dov S. Zakheim, former Under SecDef in the Bush 43 admin: "Israeli reluctance is causing Saudi frustration... Absent an Israeli attack on Hezbollah, there appears to be little incentive for the Saudis to press the wily Palestinian leader, Abu Mazen, to engage in peace talks with Jerusalem. Without the Arabs, led by Saudi Arabia, taking the first step, it is unlikely that Netanyahu would be prepared to provoke his supporters in the settlers’ movement by taking the initiative to start a new round of peace negotiations..." [NationalInterest]
“Top US Jewish leader bargains with Qatar for lives of missing Israelis in Gaza” by Yaakov Katz: “[Malcolm] Hoenlein, the veteran executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was in Qatar a few weeks ago where he met with the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Last week, Prince Mohammed, the Emir’s brother, attended Hoenlein’s daughter’s wedding in New York.” [JPost]
TURTLE BAY TRANSITION? -- “Ivanka for U.N. Ambassador? Why Not?” by Richard Gowan: “Ivanka arguably has three qualities that would make her a good ambassador. The first is, obviously enough, her parentage... In every U.N. bargaining session and appearance before the Security Council, foreign diplomats would be aware that they were dealing with the first daughter. Every Russian or Chinese veto of a U.S. resolution would look like a personal affront to the president Ivanka’s second strength at the U.N. would be more personal: She has the social skills to handle the retail diplomacy that takes up a lot of time in Turtle Bay Lastly...as a veteran of one of the harshest electoral campaigns in U.S. history, we must assume that she has the steel to handle the nasty side of diplomacy.” [PoliticoMag]
HAPPENING TODAY AT 10:30 AM: Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the keynote address at an event - hosted by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon - marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ vote calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel at the Queens Museum, which served as the UN headquarters from 1946 to 1950.
-- Later in the evening, Pence will receive the Hudson Institute's Herman Kahn Award at the institute's annual NYC dinner. Pence will be introduced by Rupert Murdoch. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the recipient of the 2016 Herman Kahn Award.
2018 WATCH -- “Some House Republicans wary of Bannon’s plans for 2018” by Alan Fram: ”[Steve] Bannon will headline a fundraiser next month for Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.” [AP]
HEARD YESTERDAY -- Zeldin on CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer: “There’s a lot about [Bannon’s] background that doesn’t get talked about. He’s gotten a bad rap in a lot of respects. I’ve heard him [being called] a Nazi or a Nazi sympathizer. This is someone who passionately speaks to me about the need to combat the rising BDS movement that is taking place on college campuses, and also abroad; strengthening the relationship with friends like Israel, which included the need to pass the Taylor Force Act or moving the embassy to Jerusalem Maybe he could do a better job of defending himself I agree with him in some respects and I might disagree with him in others.” [Video]
2020 WATCH: “Bernie makes moves pointing to 2020 run” by Gabriel Debenedetti: “After resisting advisers’ pleas to give more foreign policy-oriented speeches during his campaign, Sanders has also now been working with Matt Duss (former president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace) to build a public record on international affairs. That work has entailed more than just his trio of major public speeches on the topic this year [including] a February address to J Street on Trump, Israel and anti-Semitism He has also been meeting with veteran policymakers — including former Obama administration National Security Council Middle East official Robert Malley; and Sarah Chayes, a former special adviser to retired Adm. Mike Mullen... to discuss foreign developments.” [Politico]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Uber's Israeli services halted by court injunction [Reuters] Bryan Goldberg's Bustle Digital Group Eyes More Deals With Revenue On Pace to Rise 50% [WSJ] Israeli cybersecurity firm Illusive gets deal with OakNorth bank [Reuters] Tumblr founder and CEO David Karpis leaving the company after more than a decade [Recode] WeWork to Buy Meetup, the Service for Bringing Hobbyists Together [DealBook]
STARTUP NATION: "Weather tracking tech developer ClimaCell raises $15 million" by Jonathan Shieber: "ClimaCell, a weather forecasting technology that uses wireless networks to create incredibly granular predictions, has raised $15 million to develop new products and expand beyond the U.S. The company was founded by a former Israeli Defense Forces air force pilot, Shimon Elkabetz, who drew on his own weather-related near-death experience to launch the business. On maneuvers in Israel returning from a mission, Elkabetz flew into a foggy cloud-bank that his traffic control tower said should not be there. From that experience, the Harvard Business School graduate began developing ClimaCell’s technology and services." [TechCrunch]
TALK OF THE TOWN: “Synagogue’s Mix of Arts and Religion Helps Shape Jewish Life in Washington” by Noah Weiland: “At a time when young Jews see synagogue affiliations as less of a social obligation, Sixth and I’s nonmembership, ticketed model has given them a way to be spiritually self-structured, to come and go, to pay by the activity “What it is today is really the story of the inordinate amount of change we’re seeing in American Jewish life,” said M. Bruce Lustig, the rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation Young Jews, Rabbi Lustig said, “want to walk to work, to where you buy food, where you pray, where you get intellectually stimulated.” The building, just blocks from a subway hub, is a kind of spiritual middle point in the city, easy to access by bike, train, car or foot" [NYTimes]
"Jewish and Muslim leaders blast de Blasio’s free school lunch plan for not offering kosher, halal foods" by Ben Chapman: "There’s no such thing as a free lunch — at least not for the city’s Muslim and Jewish schoolkids. Religious leaders sent Mayor de Blasio a letter slamming the city’s free universal school lunch plan for not not offering kosher or halal food." [DailyNews]
SPORTS BLINK: "An Iranian Wrestler Throws His Match to Avoid an Israeli" by Thomas Erdbrink: "The Iranian wrestler was cruising through the match, looking like a sure bet to defeat his Russian opponent. But suddenly, as if suffering an injury, he fell to the mat and was thrown around the ring like a rag doll by the surprised Russian. Finally, the match ended and the referee pronounced the Russian the winner. But the Iranian wrestler was not injured. As Iranian news outlets reported on Tuesday, he said his real problem was that his coach had told him to throw the match to avoid facing an Israeli opponent in the next round of the tournament." [NYTimes]
DESSERT: “Kosher taqueria in Jerusalem Kickstarts a campaign" by Jessica Steinberg: "In the history of Jerusalem — and all of Israel, for that matter — there has never been a true, kosher Mexican restaurant, according to Yittie Lawson. Until now. With the help of a recently launched Kickstarter campaign, Lawson, her sister Leah Stoffer, and Stoffer’s husband, native Mexican chef Luis Cruz, plan to open Tacos Luis, a taqueria on Jerusalem’s Shlomzion Hamalka Street." [ToI]
BIRTHDAYS: Songwriter, arranger and composer, winner of two Academy Awards, three Emmys and six Grammys, Randy Newman turns 74... New Orleans attorney and associate professor of trial advocacy at Tulane University Law School, Joel Loeffelholz turns 72... David Letterman's musical director, band leader and sidekick from 1982 to 2015, Paul Shaffer turns 68... Former judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and then Homeland Security Secretary (2005-2009), Michael Chertoff turns 64... Comedian and former host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central (1999-2015), Jon Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz) turns 55... Senior United States Senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet turns 53... Editor on the Washington Post's political enterprise and investigations team, Matea Gold turns 43... Principal at Chamber Hill Strategies after previous stints at the Podesta Group and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Anna Weinstein turns 45... Executive director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, David Nekrutman turns 44... Managing Partner and founder of PR firm, EDGE Partners, Jeremy Wimpfheimer turns 38... Executive Director of Bikkurim, an incubator for Jewish nonprofit organizations, Aliza Mazor... Jude Rabin... Steven Barkin...
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