THE CONVERSATION CONTINUES — Michael Koplow writes... “Jewish Insider now reports that Sen. Rand Paul is expected to try and limit the amount of aid to Israel under the MOU legislation. AIPAC, CUFI, and other lobbying groups are naturally trying to get Paul to relent given the importance of support for Israel as a critical military ally of the U.S. But the real story here, which is not evident from the headlines, is not about Paul’s stance on Israel but about his stance toward the Palestinians, and demonstrates why the general lack of public forthrightness from the pro-Israel community regarding the Palestinians is hurting Israel in tangible ways."
"If you are Rand Paul, a staunchly conservative Republican senator, it is not surprising that you view the Palestinian Authority as Israel’s mortal enemy, or that you view security assistance to the Palestinians as eroding Israel’s security. The discourse in the pro-Israel community, and particularly on the right, supports that point of view. In that telling, all Palestinians reject Israel’s right to exist, the Palestinian Authority is a terrorist organization led by terrorist mastermind Mahmoud Abbas."
"Those with a more nuanced understanding, including nearly all mainstream American Jewish organizations and the Israeli government, know this narrative is a caricature. Sophisticated observers know that not only is the PA not carrying out terrorist attacks – although it is certainly abetting them through its martyrs fund – but that it is a vital and cooperative security partner of Israel... But in the current environment… where many American politicians and Jewish groups do not want to be caught on the record as defending aid to the Palestinians in any way while the Trump administration wages diplomatic war on Abbas, the caricatured narrative spreads unopposed like wildfire."
"And thus you have Paul making the critical error of thinking that eliminating security assistance to the PA will somehow benefit Israel’s security, and insisting that doing so will create the conditions in which Israel will need less security assistance rather than more. In fact, eliminating the relatively paltry $35 million in security assistance to the PA security forces will end up costing Israel orders of magnitude more if the result is that the PA security apparatus disappears or stops its coordination with Israel, forcing Israel to assume the enormous costs of policing the entire West Bank.” [IsraelPolicyForum]
Sander Gerber, architect of the Taylor Force Act, emails: "Koplow is right that many of the leading pro-Israel organizations avoid an honest assessment of the Palestinian Authority and he raises what was the critical stumbling block to the Taylor Force Act: the benefit of security cooperation with Israel. There is a diversity of opinions. But Generals Bogie Yaalon and Amos Yadlin, amongst Israel’s very most respected senior military strategists, concluded that Israel should no longer allow herself to be blackmailed by the PA."
"And the Knesset overwhelming passed the Stern/Dichter Law, two more highly respected security leaders, to drastically cut money transfers to the PA — without allowing for a security waiver. Thus, says the Israeli government: PA security assistance is great, but there should be zero tolerance for Pay-for-Slay. Besides limited security assistance, the PA continues to institutionally radicalize its population to officially hate and kill Israelis (as well as Palestinians who sell land to Jews). Polls show that the Palestinians distrust the PA, for good reason, the rampant self-dealing corruption is inimical to peace for the Palestinian people. An open conversation about the PA must evaluate whether the PA itself is a barrier to peace."
TOP TALKER — CNN fired political commentator Marc Lamont Hill on Thursday following comments he made a day earlier at the United Nations about Israel and his call for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.” Hill's remarks coincided with a special weeklong CNN series on the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe.
Hill attempted to push back against criticism of his remarks: “I do not support anti-Semitism, killing Jewish people, or any of the other things attributed to my speech. I have spent my life fighting these things.”
CNN's decision to fire Hill drew mixed reactions. Israeli officials and Jewish organizations welcomed the move, but some conservatives said the network's statement didn't go far enough. In a statement, ZOA's Mort Klein said he was "disappointed" that CNN didn't announce the reason for Hill’s termination. "In light of recent alarming, hateful violent attacks on Jews... it is vital for major national news outlets such as CNN to make it clear that calling for violence against Jews is beyond repugnant, wholly unacceptable and intolerable," Klein said.
Glenn Greenwald writes: "Hill’s firing from CNN is a major victory for the growing so-called “online call-out culture” in which people who express controversial political views are not merely critiqued but demonized online and then formally and institutionally punished after a mob consolidates in outrage... Some on the pro-Israel right who agitated for Hill’s firing have previously mocked what they call “outrage culture,” in which people are fired for controversial comments."
In his piece, Greenwald references Daniella Greenbaum Davis, the former Business Insider columnist who resigned after the site deleted her column defending actress Scarlett Johansson's role as a transgender man.
In an email this morning, Greenbaum Davis tells us: "I’m very much of two minds about Marc Lamont Hill and the recent brouhaha in which he finds himself embroiled. Two things are clear to me. The first is that Hill is an anti-Semite who badly hides his Jew-hatred behind the veil of a progressively-inspired criticism of certain Israeli policies. The second is that nothing has changed about his views in the last week. CNN knew exactly what views and perspectives and beliefs they were showcasing when they chose to put him on the air."
"I might cheer Hill’s downfall in another situation if I truly believed we were putting his asinine and morally repugnant views to bed. But I can’t cheer at the thought of yet another victim of the Twitter outrage machine. To be perfectly clear: people have the right to be outraged at his remarks, and outraged that CNN deemed them so worthy of highlighting."
"But, and this is the big but, we can’t defeat bad speech or bad ideas by trying to regulate or silence them out of existence. The only way to defeat bad thoughts is with good ones. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. I would have much preferred for CNN to invite Hill to explain the full-range of his ideas in a debate against an articulate and passionate Zionist. And, I would have much preferred that if CNN did decide they could no longer, in good conscience, put Hill on the air, that they would make that decision freely and on their own. Editorial decisions should not be made by people on Twitter."
Rep.-elect Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) jumps in and tweets: "Calling out the oppressive policies in Israel, advocating for Palestinians to be respected, and for Israelis and Palestinians alike to have peace and freedom is not anti-Semitic. CNN, we all have a right to speak up about injustice any and everywhere."
DRIVING THE DAY — Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, pleads guilty to lying to Congress about Moscow project — by Rosalind S. Helderman: “President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Thursday in New York to lying to Congress about a Moscow real estate project that Trump and his company pursued at the same time he was running for president.” [WashPost] The Trump Organization Planned To Give Vladimir Putin The $50 Million Penthouse In Trump Tower Moscow [Buzzfeed]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT — Sheryl Sandberg Is Said to Have Asked Facebook Staff to Research George Soros — by Nicholas Confessore and Matthew Rosenberg: "Sheryl Sandberg asked Facebook’s communications staff to research George Soros’s financial interests in the wake of his high-profile attacks on tech companies... at the World Economic Forum... Ms. Sandberg — who was at the forum, but was not present for Mr. Soros’s speech, according to a person who attended it — requested an examination into why Mr. Soros had criticized the tech companies and whether he stood to gain financially from the attacks... In a statement, Facebook said that the company had already begun researching Mr. Soros when Ms. Sandberg made her request."
"In a private meeting on Thursday, Ms. Sandberg again distanced herself from Definers and its research into Mr. Soros, according to Rashad Robinson, head of the racial-justice group Color of Change, which was named in a Definers memo about Mr. Soros. Mr. Robinson said that while meeting with Ms. Sandberg, she denied hiring Definers or directing the firm’s research." [NYTimes; BuzzFeed]
Dylan Byers writes in his Byers Market newsletter: "Neither the Times or BuzzFeed report showed that Sandberg had ordered Facebook's opposition research on Soros. Nor did her emails contradict her earlier statements, in which she claimed ignorance of Facebook's decision to hire an opposition research firm. All last night's reporting showed was that Sandberg wanted to know if there was any financial motive for a high-profile investor's attacks on her company."
"Nevertheless, the revelation fit very neatly into the new conventional wisdom about Facebook, which casts Mark Zuckerberg as the hapless and helpless chief executive and Sandberg as the duplicitous and malevolent deputy who seeks to undermine the company's critics while refusing to come to terms with its deep, structural problems (of which she is a part). In the end, the evidence may show that Sandberg is indeed such a person. But that evidence wasn't in last night's reporting, and the verve with which some news organizations trumpeted the harmless revelation suggests there is a not-exactly-dispassionate thirst among some reporters to take Sandberg down."
— Sandberg’s co-author Adam Grant defends her character on Facebook: “The Sheryl I know speaks out against injustice. Most people first came to know Sheryl as the author of Lean In, but what’s often overlooked is that she went out on a limb to write it… The Sheryl I know doesn’t ignore criticism. She acknowledges her shortcomings and works to overcome them… The Sheryl I know cares deeply about people... You can object to how Facebook has handled a series of crises. You can object to the decisions that Sheryl has made. But when I see strangers vilifying her character, I have to object.”
APOLOGY DEPT. — U.S. agency apologizes to George Soros after broadcast called him ‘multimillionaire Jew’ — by Felicia Sonmez: "In letters sent earlier this month, John F. Lansing, chief executive and director of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, voiced his personal apologies to Soros and OSF president Patrick Gaspard for the program, which he said had “made several false and negative assertions” about the billionaire philanthropist and had furthered “age-old tropes against the Jewish community.” “It was based on extremely poor and unprofessional journalism, and it was utterly offensive in its anti-Semitism and clear bias,” Lansing wrote in the letter to Soros." [WashPost]
HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND — Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer are expected to address the annual conference of the Israeli American Council at the Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood in South Florida.
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Trump labor secretary out of running for attorney general after Miami Herald report — by Anita Kumar: “Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is out of the running to be President Donald Trump’s attorney general following a Miami Herald report that he oversaw a sweetheart deal to allow Jeffrey Epstein to serve only 13 months in a county jail… Chris Christie recently spoke to Jared Kushner at the White House. If Christie is to be chosen, Kushner must agree, the sources said.” [McClatchyDC]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — As graft investigations wrap up, Netanyahu replaces defense team: "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is replacing his defense team in three graft investigations…” [ToI]
2020 WATCH — For 2020 Democrats, There’s a Lot of ‘Thinking About It’ — by Matt Flegenheimer: “It is a political season for double negatives: Almost no one is running for president now, but many, many people are not not running. And several have settled on a helpful construction to explain themselves: “We’re thinking." ... A book tour presents an excuse to travel the country and introduce likely campaign themes in interviews without explicitly campaigning. [NYTimes] Warren, Bloomberg, Steyer, Booker and Gabbard among latest 2020ers making moves [NBCNews]
NEW TO DC — Not president, not yet a senator: Romney is starting over — by Laurie Kellman and Steve Peoples: “Retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan and others said they’re looking for Romney to seek a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to help build back relationships that Trump’s “America first” policy may have eroded.” [AP]
- CNN Contributor Fired for Endorsing 'Palestine From the River to the Sea'
- A Month After Pittsburgh Tragedy, No Sign of Bold Steps by Trump to Fight anti-Semitism
- Jews Thrived on Insulting Each Other. Now Toxic Discourse Is Tearing Them Apart, Tablet Editor Says
** Good Friday 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Steve Cohen's Point72 Is Exploring Raising Venture Fund [Bloomberg] Mic Network Sold to Bustle for About $5 Million [WSJ] Israeli-founded Lemonade insurance startup sets its sight on Europe [ToI] Legal Threat Looms Over Israeli Cyber Firm Accused of Helping Saudi Spies [Gizmodo] San Francisco official proposes stripping Mark Zuckerberg's name from a hospital [CNBC]
TRANSITION — RenTec Partner Who Criticized Mercer Joins Venture Capital Firm — by Simone Foxman: "David Magerman, who left Renaissance Technologies last year in a dispute with Robert Mercer over politics, is turning his talents from trading to venture capital. He joined Differential Venture Partners as a managing partner this month... Magerman met a lawyer for Differential while on a trip to Israel to learn about its startup community and to visit his son, who’s pursuing religious studies there. “I basically went halfway around the world to meet someone who lives a short driving distance from my house,” he said with a laugh, referring to co-managing partner Alex Katz, who’s also based in the Philadelphia suburbs." [Bloomberg]
TALK OF THE TOWN — Sidewalk Labs’ Grand Vision Meets Reality in Toronto — by Cory Weinberg: "Sidewalk Labs executives were full of ambition two years ago when they pitched their parent company, Alphabet, more than 600 pages of plans for building a city neighborhood from scratch... Dan Doctoroff, Sidewalk Labs’ chief executive, acknowledged in an interview that the project has been refined from the initial 2016 plan, but generally has remained consistent... While Mr. Doctoroff allowed that perceptions of big tech have changed, he defended Sidewalk’s plans for handling personal information, saying the company always intended to have privacy protections in the district. “People went on the attack without listening to what we were saying or giving us the time to wrestle with a complicated issue,” he said... Mr. Doctoroff said this week the project would make money from some limited real estate development and an increase in land value... “Our role is to create conditions so others can be successful,” he said." [TheInformation]
TALK OF OUR NATION — Anti-Semitism, hatred of minorities 'corrupts society,' says Israeli President — by Oren Libermann: "Anti-Semitism and the hatred of minorities "corrupts society," Israeli President Reuven Rivlin warned in an exclusive interview with CNN. "For us, it is clear as daylight. Anti-Semitism is a presence in society that corrupts society itself," said Rivlin. "We try to explain to the whole world that if you don't fight against anti-Semitism, it will hit your societies. There are stereotypes present in societies that create a lack of understanding; treatment of minorities which is not humane or moral will corrupt societies." [CNN]
Bari Weiss writes… “Europe’s Jew Hatred, and Ours: For reasons historic, aesthetic and political, we Jews are most attuned to the anti-Semitism of the far right — and we find the most sympathy among our progressive allies when these are our attackers. But when Jews point out the other two kinds, we are often dismissed as sensitive or hysterical, or as mistaking legitimate criticism of Israel for something darker. This is nonsense. The same was said of the Jews in Europe when they sounded the alarm bells. Look where they are now.” [NYTimes]
Hate crimes in Canada jump 47 percent in 2017 — by Anna Mehler Paperny: “Hate crimes in Canada increased 47 percent in 2017, primarily targeting Muslims, Jews and black people, according to figures released by the country’s statistical agency on Thursday… The spike mirrors an increase in hate crimes south of the border in the United States, where they rose in 2017 for the third consecutive year, according to the FBI." [Reuters]
MAZEL TOV — Quentin Tarantino Marries Girlfriend Daniella Pick in Private Wedding Ceremony — by Mike Vulpo: "Hollywood director and his longtime girlfriend Daniella Pick became husband and wife Wednesday night after a romantic wedding ceremony... A source told E! News, "The ceremony was inside in front of a small group of family and friends including Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and Eli Roth." [ENews]
“A photo by Michael Silva... showed a flower-laden huppah as well as a bottle of wine, a kiddush cup and a tallit at the wedding site. A photo posted by Harel on Instagram showed the couple at one point being lifted on two chairs by wedding guests – a tradition at Jewish nuptials... The director donned a kippa for the event, which was overseen by a Reform rabbi.” [JPost]
Tiffany Trump’s wealthy new boyfriend grew up in Nigeria — by Emily Smith: "A source said Tiffany met London-based Michael Boulos, whose family is of Lebanese origin, on vacation in Mykonos, Greece, this summer. Things have been going so well that law student Trump — who split from Ross Mechanic in the spring — even brought Boulos to the Trumps’ Mar-a-Lago for Thanksgiving.” [PageSix]
DESSERT — Going beyond the niche at a kosher steakhouse — by Cara Eisenpress: "The high-end fare brings in a crowd of tourists and employees, but not all diners fall into owner Albert Allaham's original target demographic: kosher-keeping Financial District workers looking to impress clients. "Before Reserve Cut, a group of 10 businesspeople with one who's kosher would go to a nonkosher restaurant," he said. "Now they come in here, and then they want to come back again for a date." ... Reserve Cut is one of only about a half-dozen kosher eateries where the bill would ring up to more than $70 per person, says Elan Kornblum... The growing clientele is one reason Reserve Cut will gross more than $10 million this year, Allaham said, a 10% increase from last year." [CrainsNewYork]
WINE OF THE WEEK — Marciano Estate Terra Gratia 2016 Cabernet — by Yitz Applbaum: "I have been known to drop in on friends, open their refrigerators and find a pleasant surprise of steak or pâté from the previous evening. The other night I had one of the greatest drop-in experiences ever, as I was greeted by a just-opened bottle of the Marciano Estate Terra Gratia 2016 Cabernet. This is a transformational wine for the Kosher wine industry, in that it is a top-tier Napa Valley wine with a select few barrels made kosher. Its brilliance of palate and range of taste will astound those who get to taste a bottle of this wine."
"The wine is made predominantly from Cabernet grapes with some surprisingly dominant Cab Franc in the blend. The taste profile is quite traditional for a Napa Cab, but the blueberry flavors are so vivid that they seemingly transport you to the field where the grapes were picked. This wine is a full mouth experience which creeps its way over your whole being. It tastes as if a lot of new oak touched this wine with some hints of used oak to give it a distinct maturity, even though it is still a young wine. This wine will last a very long time and should be had with great friends." [MarcianoEstate]
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY — SVP for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America, William Daroff turns 5-0. "I am pleased to be spending the night of my fiftieth birthday at ADL's Communities Overcoming Extremism summit in St. Louis," Daroff told Jewish Insider last night. "Beyond the merit of working to combat extremism, it's great to be in the Central Time Zone - so that I have an extra hour in my forties. On my birthday, I plan to have a wonderful vegan Shabbat dinner with family, and then we will dine at a couple of Greater Washington's finest vegan restaurants over the weekend."
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, David Mamet turns 71... Actor, tenor and comedian, best known for his work on the Showtime series "Homeland" (2011-2017), Mandel Bruce "Mandy" Patinkin turns 66... Former US Treasury Secretary (1999-2001) and then President of Harvard University (2001-2006), Larry Summers turns 64... Historian and author of nine books, mostly focused on the US presidency, Michael Beschloss turns 63... National security correspondent for Reuters, previously at McClatchy, Jonathan S. Landay turns 63... Award-winning author, journalist, and co-founder of Berkeleyside, a news site about Berkeley, California, Frances Dinkelspiel turns 59...
Actor, comedian and filmmaker, he has written, starred in, directed or produced more than 50 films, Ben Stiller turns 53... Reporter and editor at The New York Times since 1998 including four years as the Times' Jerusalem bureau chief, she now serves as associate managing editor for Audience, Jodi Rudoren turns 48... Executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, Gilad Kariv turns 45... Former reality television star, now legally known as Tziporah Atarah Malkah, formerly Kate Fischer, turns 45... Founding Director at the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab, Courtney Mizel... National African American Constituency Director at AIPAC, Darius Jones... CNN reporter covering the Special Counsel investigation and law enforcement, she was previously a Wall Street Journal reporter, Erica Orden turns 38... Steve Albert...
SATURDAY: Israeli-born co-CEO and Board member at Oracle Corporation, Safra A. Catz turns 57... Emmy Award-winning stand-up comedian, actress, producer and writer, Sarah Silverman turns 48... Actor Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg) turns 83... NYC-based real estate mogul, he owned the New York Post (1988-1993), served as chair of NYC's MTA (2001-2007) and is a noted car collector, Peter Kalikow turns 76... Executive producer of over 200 shows with more than 15,000 hours of television over a long career, David E. Salzman turns 75... Singer, songwriter, actress, comedian and film producer, Bette Midler turns 73... Comedian, actor and voice actor best known for his starring role in the animated sitcom "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist," Jonathan Katz turns 72... Former director of Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and New York City (1995-2016), Rabbi Daniel Landes turns 68... British playwright, director and scriptwriter who has won many awards for his work on the stage, film and television, Stephen Poliakoff turns 66...
Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Cambridge, Raymond E. Goldstein turns 57... Partner in the DC office of Brunswick Group, he was previously at Blue Shield of California and in the White House Press Office under President Clinton, David Seldin turns 51... Brett Lieberman turns 50... Foreign editor of Vox and the author of a book on military suicides, he is the former managing editor for news at Foreign Policy, Yochi J. Dreazen turns 42... Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director, comedian, producer, writer and actor whose work includes SNL Digital Shorts, Akiva Schaffer turns 41... Former chief communications officer at Oath (the Verizon subsidiary combining AOL and Yahoo), her previous stints include the NFL, Rupert Murdoch and Mike Bloomberg, Natalie Ravitz turns 39... Political editor and author of the weekly "Against the Grain" column in the National Journal, Josh Kraushaar turns 37... Assistant director of development at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, Shira Sacks turns 29... Becky Weissman... Legislative aide to Sen. Ted Cruz, David Milstein... Joan Craig-Bailey...
SUNDAY: UC Berkeley Emeritus History Professor, Pulitzer Prize winner, Leon Litwack turns 89... Moroccan-born drummer who switched to a career in contemporary Jewish music, Isaac Bitton turns 71... EVP and Media Director at Rubenstein Communications, Nancy Haberman turns 71... French historian, professor at University of Paris 13 and author of 30 books on the history of North Africa, Benjamin Stora turns 68... Partner in the Madison, Wisconsin law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, she is a class action and labor law attorney, Sarah Siskind turns 66... Joseph Schlaiser turns 60... Emmy Award-winning actress, Rena Sofer turns 50... Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Bucknell University, she was awarded a Ph.D. at Penn State University in 2017 and was formerly a White House staffer (2001-2005), Eleanor L. Schiff turns 42... Member of the Knesset since 2009 for the Likud party, she serves as Israel's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2015, Tzipi Hotovely turns 40... Sephardi-Portuguese actress best known for playing Special Agent Kensi Blye in CBS's "NCIS Los Angeles," Daniela Ruah turns 35... Account executive in Los Angeles for The Real Deal, Lanna Solnit...