Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: November 29, 2017

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 15, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 15, 2017. Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

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DRIVING THE CONVO: Mere days before a December 1st deadline, Vice President Mike Pence assured the pro-Israel community yesterday that President Donald Trump is "actively considering" moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “While for the past 20 years, Congress and successive administrations have expressed a willingness to move our embassy, as we speak, President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Pence said at an event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the historic United Nations vote on the establishment of the Jewish state. The event was hosted by Israel's UN Mission in Queens. [Video]

HOW IT PLAYED: "Pence drew whoops and applause... when he contrasted the Trump administration stance on the embassy to that of past U.S. administrations... The commemoration placed Pence before an enthusiastic crowd that included Trump backer Ronald Lauder and other prominent conservative Jewish New Yorkers. Lauder reminded the crowd that he has known Trump, a native New Yorker, for decades." [WashPost]

Lauder: "I believe that at this moment in time, and against all odds, a two-state solution is quite possible." [Pic]

The Vice President later met privately with Lauder, as well as with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Ira Rennert, and the Tikvah Fund's Roger Hertog "to discuss his upcoming trip to Israel," according to the VP's office. 

At the Queens event, Pence also addressed Trump's refusal to certify Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal: "As we speak, our administration is working closely with leaders in Congress to craft legislation that will overcome the Iran nuclear deal’s most glaring failures.  And while this process is still underway, today I can assure you, under President Trump, the United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon." 

"Kerry: Israel, Egypt pushed US before deal to ‘bomb Iran’" by Josh Lederman: "Former Secretary of State John Kerry says both Israel and Egypt pushed the United States to “bomb Iran” before the 2015 nuclear deal was struck... Kerry... said kings and foreign presidents told the U.S. that bombing was the only language Iran would understand... Kerry said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “genuinely agitating toward action.”" [AP]

-- Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and Deputy Minister in the PMO: Kerry “has a particularly acrimonious and sometimes obsessive place for us [Israel], and for the prime minister. He also thinks that the Iran nuclear deal was a historic diplomatic achievement. I personally feel that it was the collapse of American credibility in the Middle East and a significant danger to our future and the future of our children." [JPost]

"Senior Fatah official: Iran is top sponsor of Palestinian division" by Adam Rasgon: “The first sponsor of the division is Iran,” [Azzam] al-Ahmad, the primary Fatah official in charge of discussing reconciliation with Hamas, said in an interview." [JPost]  Hamas's weapons may block path to Palestinian unity [DailyMail]

ON THE HILL: Could US aid to PA be cut off regardless of Taylor Force Act? -- by Aaron Magid: Since November 17, significant attention has been fixed on a 2015 Congressional law that calls for the shuttering of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) diplomatic mission following Palestinian leadership support for International Criminal Court (ICC) cases against Israelis. At the same time, a separate provision in the 2015 legislation, out of the eye of many Washington DC policy makers, could have an equally strong impact on US-Palestinian ties. Enforcing the 2015 law could have a similar outcome to the Taylor Force Act that would slash US assistance to Ramallah if the Palestinian Authority continues to pay families of terrorists. 

What the law says: “None of the funds appropriated under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ in this Act may be made available for assistance for the PA if after the date of enactment of this Act the Palestinians initiate an ICC judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation.”

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): "U.S. assistance to the Palestinians should have been cut off years ago when Abu Mazen acceded to the Rome Statute and the ICC began its preliminary work on Israel. In fact, there have been countless instances over the years in which the Palestinians have triggered numerous provisions of U.S. law that should have ceased any assistance to the West Bank and Gaza. We should have never even gotten to this point.” 

Elliott Abrams: “Depending on the exact language used by Abbas and the exact circumstances in the ICC, one can argue that application of this provision may be premature. It seems that, as with the closing of the PLO office, the administration is seeking to delay full implementation of these provisions so as to allow time for other initiatives it may have in mind.” [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: "Mike Flynn’s Promotion of Nuclear-Plant Project Went Deep Into the White House" by Christopher Stewart and Rob Barry: "At issue was a proposal to build dozens of nuclear reactors, billed by its backers as a “Marshall Plan for the Middle East.” Before joining the White House, Mr. Flynn... had advised some of the U.S. companies involved in the plan in his capacity as a consultant... In early January, Mr. Flynn talked favorably about the proposed deal with Mr. Trump’s friend, real-estate magnate Thomas Barrack Jr.... Mr. Flynn suggested to Mr. Barrack that he talk with one of the project’s backers. The suggestion kicked off a series of conversations between Mr. Barrack, who was interested in broader change in the Middle East and has extensive business contacts in the region, and Mr. Flynn’s former colleagues, as well as [Jared] Kushner..."

"Mr. Flynn arrived at his National Security Council job with a group of people who felt the Obama administration had been too soft on Iran. They believed the nuclear-power plan, which envisioned building and operating dozens of nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East, would strengthen Iran’s rivals... After Mr. Flynn was ousted, [Retired Army Col. Derek] Harvey pushed NSC colleagues to continue working on the nuclear plan. The private-sector group still promotes the deal and holds weekly meetings." [WSJ]

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Professor Alan Dershowitz discussed the Mueller investigation on Fox News: "They should be in court challenging what Mueller has been doing. He is going so far beyond any possible scope of his investigation. For example, there were reports ... that they were investigating whether or not Jared Kushner tried to get the United States to change its policy toward Israel — the resolution condemning Israel for occupying the Western Wall, the holiest place in Judaism. Let's assume that Jared Kushner did that. He should be praised for it. There is nothing criminal about that. What is Mueller doing investigating whether or not somebody during the transition was trying to influence American foreign policy to the benefit of the American people?" [Lifezette]

COMING ATTRACTION -- @IsaacDovere: "In between defending Bob Menendez and Jared Kushner, Abbe Lowell will moderate a mock trial based on Twelfth Night at @ShakespeareinDC Dec. 11. On the judges panel: Merrick Garland." [Twitter

MEDIA WATCH: "Why Trump's Attack on the Time Warner Merger Is Dangerous for the Press" by Julia Ioffe: "I have seen this play out so many times before—in Russia, that scary place portrayed as one with no press freedom and dead journalists stacked like cords of wood. After years of outcry and bad press for the Kremlin every time a Russian journalist met a grisly end, Putin figured out a better way to keep the press in line: economics." [TheAtlantic]

** Good Wednesday 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 **

SCENE LAST NIGHT: The Hudson Institute held their annual Herman Kahn Award Dinner at the Essex House in NYC. The event honored Vice President Mike Pence who was introduced by past Hudson honoree Rupert Murdoch. Spotted: Walter Stern, Sarah May Stern, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Israel's Intelligence and Transportation Minister Israel Katz, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, Hadassah Lieberman, Hart Hasten, Rob Saliterman, Ken Weinstein, Bill Luti, Josh Landes, Harry Zieve Cohen, Noah Pollak, Scooter Libby, Stephen Baldwin. 

Elsewhere, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank awarded prizes to three former Israeli ambassadors to the United Nations, Dr. Dore Gold, Ron Prosor and Danny Gillerman, at a ceremony held in New York on Tuesday. 

"Discovering A Sense Of Belonging: Abigail Pogrebin... came to Jewish tradition late in the game, but she’s found a richly rewarding home" by Sandee Brawarsky: "After she married Skokie, Illinois, native David Shapiro, [Pogrebin] felt powerfully at their son’s bris that she wanted to know more about the religion they were now passing on — that was a moment of reckoning. At around the same time, she began conducting interviews for her book “Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish” (Broadway Books), which features profiles of 62 American Jewish luminaries in theater, law, journalism and other fields, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Dustin Hoffman and Nora Ephron, talking about their Jewish identity... When her interview subjects would express ambivalence about Jewish tradition and observance, or tell her that “Judaism just doesn’t do it” for them, she felt that many had rejected something they hadn’t completely explored." [JewishWeek

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Jealous names Susan Turnbull, a former vice chair of the DNC, as his running mate” by By Ovetta Wiggins: “Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous has chosen Susan W. Turnbull as his running mate in the crowded June 26 primary He said he selected Turnbull because the two share a commitment to bringing people from diverse backgrounds together to address the major problems facing the state Turnbull has strong ties to the Jewish community in Montgomery, a population that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has heavily courted over the last year. She has held leadership positions with Jewish Women International and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.” [WashPost]

SCENE YESTERDAY: The American Zionist Movement (AZM) and the World Zionist Organization (WZO) convened a symposium to highlight the connection between Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism. Panelists included WZO's Yaakov Hagoel, AZM's Richard Heideman, WJC's Betty Ehrenberg, Former Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Ira Forman, Yossie Hollander, ADL's Kenneth Jacobson, and Dr. Charles Small, Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism and Policy. SPOTTED: WZO's Eli Cohen, Herbert Block, Sarrae Crane, Eugene Lekakh, Mindy Stein, Liz Berney, Rabbi Gideon Shloush, Michael Laufer, and Alicia Post. 

DESSERT -- Fuhgeddaboudit Food: Main House BBQ: "Main House BBQ on Strickland Avenue is a unique concept to the mostly Jewish community it serves. In fact, it may be the only kosher barbecue restaurant in the area... It has incorporated eastern European recipes with classic southern comfort food. Side dishes include Shmaltzy mashed potatoes with caramelized onions or the Sloppy Yosef sandwich— a mound of burnt ends brisket topped with BBQ sauce, pickles and coleslaw." [BrooklynNews12]

BIRTHDAYS: Heiress of the UK's Tesco supermarket empire started by her father (Sir Jack Cohen), philanthropist and former Lord Mayor of Westminster, Dame Shirley Porter turns 87... Lou Loomis turns 71... One-half the reknowned film-making team of the Coen Brothers, Joel David Coen turns 63... Consul General of Israel in New York since August 2016, following seven years as Chairman of the Yesha Council, Dani Dayan turns 62... Comedian, actor, television host and, since 2010, a judge on NBC's America's Got Talent, Howie Mandel turns 62... Rabbi and author, currently serving as the president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL), Rabbi Irwin Kula turns 60... Mayor of Chicago since 2011, previously member of Congress (2003-2009) then White House Chief of Staff (2009-2010), Rahm Emanuel turns 58... CEO of the Georgetown Business Improvement District, a graduate of MIT with a Masters degree in city planning, Joseph Sternlieb turns 57... Andrea Glick turns 57... 

Foreign policy and public diplomacy advisor to seven consecutive Israeli Prime Ministers (1990-2016), now a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings Institution, Shalom Lipner turns 52... San Francisco based math teacher and editor of the Ferenstein Wire, a syndicated publication on tech, health and politics, Greg Ferenstein turns 35... Chanoch Ben Yaacov... Louise Rothschild... Abigail Langer (h/ts Playbook)...

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