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HEARD YESTERDAY -- Highlights from our panel at the Jewish Federations General Assembly in D.C. -- RJC’s Matt Brooks on Bannon appointment: “I’ve never met Steve Bannon. I’ve never talked to Steve Bannon. There’s a lot of stuff out there about Bannon that I don’t know, and I look forward to the opportunity to sit down with him with our leadership and get to know him further as we figure out how to work together in the upcoming administration. Let me tell you what I do know about Steve Bannon. The people who have worked with Bannon... said there’s absolutely not an inch of an anti-Semitic bone in Steve Bannon’s body We know that Breitbart has been unabashedly pro-Israel in their writings. We know they have been against the Iran deal. We know that under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart opened an office in Jerusalem. So, that’s what we know, and there’s a lot of stuff out there that, I think, we really need to take a step back and see how this issue works out."
"What we also know is the folks Donald Trump is surrounding himself with. I’ve know Reince Priebus for a decade. He is one of the most decent, honorable people that I know. He will be a phenomenal chief of staff. He’s somebody who’s had terrific relations with the Jewish community, somebody who’s strongly pro-Israel, and somebody that the Jewish community will be able to work very closely with. Despite all of these press releases and comments, the notion that President-elect Donald Trump’s family - who we know are very involved - would knowingly put in somebody who they felt would be anti-Semitic, doesn’t make logical sense.”
Noam Neusner on Trump moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem: “It is more likely than not. He would be more likely than any prior president to move the embassy to Jerusalem because I think he’s likely to look at the fictional and diplomatic myth that surrounds that whole issue and say, ‘You know what, what’s the difference?’ I could see him, as a character issue, say what’s the point of not having it in the nation’s capital?”
Lisa Spies on whether money still matters: “If you look at Trump’s numbers towards the last three weeks, they were down, and then the Ricketts and Adelsons’ super PAC came in, and his numbers went up Another thing to look at is the great job that Lew Eisenberg did as finance chair of the RNC. Eisenberg is very prominent in the Jewish community, he’s been a long time Republican, and he led an effort that almost matched with what the RNC did in 2012... A lot of people in this election, in the beginning, gave to my former boss Jeb Bush, and after that, it didn’t kind of go so well, people kind of stayed out of the presidential election and focused on the House and Senate. But just remember, when you’re looking at the numbers and whether money matters, you’ve got outside super PACs and you have someone - President-elect Trump - who during the primary got at least $500 million free of airtime. So, while people like Jeb and Marco were paying for it, he had free airtime. That’s unprecedented, and I can’t imagine that will ever happen again.”
Jeffrey Berkowitz on the Republican candidates’ failure to expose Trump during the primary: “They didn’t invest in oppo research. Even before Donald Trump was in the race, they did not hire senior oppo research professionals. The research director at the Jeb campaign had 3 years of research experience. That’s a joke. Where was the Access Hollywood tape? Where was the business record? Where were all of the other things? I’m sorry, but this was political malpractice by every single other primary opponent in the campaign, even before Trump was in it. They all had the attitude that somebody else had to beat up someone else so they didn’t need to do it. This cycle was the biggest step back in opposition research that I have seen in the more than 15 years I’ve been involved in presidential politics. They were not ready from day one. They did not take research seriously, and then they were afraid to attack Trump when he got in, and didn’t have the material to do it even if they did. They didn’t have serious research teams that could do it when they could’ve made a difference.”
Tevi Troy on how the election turned out to be the most Jewish election in history: “At the time I made the point (that this was going to be the most Jewish election ever) I actually didn’t realize quite how Jewish the election would be because I did not anticipate that Trump was going to be the nominee at that point. The election was more Jewish than I thought it was going to be, obviously having Jewish relatives of both presidential candidates is really new ground in American politics. But my larger point was that Jews have become much more involved in every aspect of presidential campaigning. I think it speaks to the comfort that the U.S. has given to the Jewish community. I recognize there are some ugly anti-Semitism out there, and even more ugly anti-Israelism out there -- people on both sides of the aisle that are responsible for that, but for the most part, we in America have a happy home here.” A full report on the panel to post soon.
White House Jewish Liaison Chanan Weissman discussed President Obama in a conversation with TOI's Rebecca Shimoni-Stoil: “The President closely identifies with the American Jewish community. Just look at the gestures he has advanced over the past 7 ½ years. The fact that he was the first president in the history of this republic to host a Seder on an annual basis is extraordinary. He identifies with the notion of the exodus. That is something that infuses his outlook. He was the first President in the history of this republic to speak at the Israeli embassy. He was the first President in the history of this republic to bestow a medal of honor on a sitting Israeli President. He was the President to have two Jewish White House chief of staffs. This is why as an Orthodox Jewish person, I strongly believe we are going to miss him. This is a president who identifies with all of us in the room, despite some policy disagreements. It’s extraordinary This is a president who gets the Jewish experience and he understands us, and is something we are proud of.”
“Ginsburg looking forward to Trump’s naming of a ninth justice” by Ron Kampeas: “The associate Supreme Court justice was asked what the immediate impact of a Trump presidency would be. “The most immediate, a vacancy will be filled,” she said. “Eight is not a good number. Perhaps the court will do some work.” Ginsburg told the JFNA her Jewish upbringing helped inform her sympathies for the oppressed. She joked that her parents “got it right” when they settled on a Conservative shul after trying Reform and Orthodox congregations. She got whoops of applause when she said her granddaughter had visited Israel as part of the Taglit-Birthright program for young Jews.” [JTA; Pic]
"Trump will inherit ‘full tool set’ to hammer Iran, says Treasury official" by Michael Wilner:"Adam Szubin, who serves as acting under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department, said he plans to present as many options as possible to his successor on Iran policy. “I’m not going to speak to hypotheticals, and I don’t often get calls from presidents or presidents-elect,” Szubin said in a conversation with Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Yaakov Katz. But “if we get to that time when Iran violates the deal, all hammers have to be available. I want to leave that full tool set available to my successors."" [JPost]
TRANSITION WATCH: “Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton Are Leading Candidates for Next Secretary of State” by Damian Paletta and Jay Solomon: "A final decision could be several weeks away, these people said Mr. Trump’s pick will be integral to his effort to reshape U.S. foreign policy.”[WSJ]
“The Associated Press reported that there was no real competition for the job and that it was Giuliani’s if he wanted it, although another official told the AP that John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, remained in contention for the job Asked about the secretary of state speculation, Mr. Giuliani said that Bolton “would be a very good choice.” But asked if there was anyone better, he replied with a mischievous smile: “Maybe me, I don’t know.”” [CBSNews]
Amb. Norm Eisen: “Rudy x100 times better choice for secretary of state.” [Twitter]
Josh Rogin: "Giuliani was paid advocate for shady Iranian dissident group" [WashPost]
Sen. Rand Paul: "Will Donald Trump betray voters by hiring John Bolton?" [Rare]
"Anti-Defamation League decries Stephen Bannon, while other Jewish groups stay silent" by Julie Zauzmer and Colby Itkowitz: "The differing responses to the Trump presidency have highlighted tensions among Jewish Americans, who find themselves faced with what is perhaps a no-win decision. On the one hand, they fear that if Jews complain too shrilly now, they could be shut out of the decision-making process in the White House for four years. On the other, they fear assenting quietly as the terrifying anti-Semitism of the alt-right bubbles up from the depths of the Internet all the way into the highest seat of power." [WashPost; Politico] Schumer slams Bannon White House appointment [Politico]
Bret Stephens: "In appointing Steve Bannon as top strategist, it might be said that Mr. Trump is balancing the establishment and insurgent forces that supported him. But the significant fact is that Mr. Bannon presided over a website that delighted in calling Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew,” said of Anne Applebaum that “hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned,” and defended the Confederacy as a “patriotic and idealistic cause.” If get-in-line Republican leaders won’t call Mr. Bannon out on this, it falls to the columnists they likely read to do so." [WSJ]
"Notes on the Bannon Appointment" by John Podhoretz: "The key moral problem with Steve Bannon is that as the CEO of Andrew Breitbart’s namesake organization, he is an aider and abetter of foul extremist views, including anti-Semitic ones. He used the site to promote the alt-right, which has retailed anti-Semitism." [CommentaryMag]
Breitbart editor-at-large Joel Pollak on CNN Tonight: "Steve Bannon and I have worked together in close quarters for 4 /12 years and he has always been very sensitive to Jewish comcerns. He is probably the most pro-Israel advisor ever appointed to the White House."
“In Trump's orbit, son-in-law expected to stay a power center” by Julie Pace: “Kushner held no formal role in Trump's campaign, and is said to be undecided on whether he'll join the administration As Kushner walked through the bustling West Wing during Trump's visit last week, he was heard asking Obama aides, "How many of these people stay?" The law does not appear to prevent Kushner from serving as an unpaid adviser. Painter said that arrangement would allow Kushner to both advise Trump and sidestep ethics rules requiring federal employees to comply with conflict of interest laws.” [AP]
EXCLUSIVE: An Open Letter to Jared Kushner From Noa Tishby -- "As a Jew, I am particularly curious about you, Jared Kushner. In addition to using sexism and misogyny, did you notice the anti-Semitism you and your father-in-law allowed to rise back up? Do you know that because of the trolls your campaign encouraged to crawl out of their holes, me and thousand of other Jews added ((()))) to our Twitter handle to proudly declare our Judaism? Did you see this? I doubt that you did not. And when you saw it, and ignored it, did you at least realize how cynically and heartlessly you’re both using hate just to get in power?" [JewishInsider]
"Are Ivanka and Jared Kushner Concocting a House of Cards-Style Game of Their Own?" by Emily Jane Fox: "Ivanka and Kushner are positioned to become the de facto first couple... Ivanka and Jared seem more than willing to step into the role. Certainly there are worse things a Trump administration could do than let the soft-spoken, glamorous kids try on mommy and daddy’s clothes from time to time. But delegating to Ivanka and Jared also means allowing them to use Trump as an instrument to build their own power. Whether he knows it or not, Trump may be incubating a spinoff show within the pilot." [VanityFair]
Ivanka Trump at top of list of Forward 50: “Ivanka carried none of the baggage of the Trump family. Her style of Trump was less gold leaf and loud ties; more pastels and pencil skirts All of which made it hard to believe that Ivanka would stick by her father as his 2016 presidential campaign chose a path of racism, sexism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Ivanka didn’t object to his comments — in fact she’s been nothing but supportive throughout the Trump campaign, remaining loyal, while not indulging in her father’s rhetoric One of her last acts before the election was to pray by the graveside of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Going with her husband after the end of the Sabbath three days before voting closed, Ivanka’s prayers seem to have been answered.” [Forward]
--Also on the list: Jared Kushner, Haim Saban, Evan Spiegel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bernie Sanders, Eric Schneiderman, Sarah Hurwitz, Jonathan Greenblatt, Thomas Friedman, Julia Ioffe and Jeffrey Goldberg [Forward50]
“AIPAC Quietly Removes Two-State Solution From Peace Process Talking Points” by Hayes Brown: “A page on AIPAC’s website about the peace process previously listed the two-state solution as the top talking point on a list of five. At some point since July, the latest version of the page captured on archive.org, the page was edited to remove the reference to the two-state solution. “Our position has not changed on two-state solution,” AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told BuzzFeed News when reached by email. “We continue to support a two-state solution,” he said, referring to the change as part of a routine reorganization of the website.” [BuzzFeed]
“Israeli minister: Trump election is time to 'reset' policies” by Josef Federman: “Speaking to foreign reporters on Monday, Bennett was more cautious, citing an order by Netanyahu for his Cabinet not to talk about the election in public. But he made clear that he will push his own government to rethink its commitment to Palestinian independence. "The combination of the changes in the United States, in Europe and the region provide Israel with a unique opportunity to reset and rethink everything," Bennett said. Though Bennett said he didn't know whether Trump would support that view, he said it's critical that Israel now clearly define its own vision.” [AP]
"Israel’s Right, Cheering Donald Trump’s Win, Renews Calls to Abandon 2-State Solution" by Isabel Kershner: "Amit Segal, a political commentator for Israel’s popular Channel 2 News, said that as long as Bill Clinton and President Obama were in office, Mr. Netanyahu could “disguise his worldview.” The Obama administration’s sharp condemnation of all settlement activity gave Mr. Netanyahu “the ultimate excuse” for not building with abandon in the West Bank, Mr. Segal said in an interview, adding, “I am not sure that the right wing, with its appetite, will be prepared to suffer another few years of that.” [NYTimes] U.S. State Dept.: Deeply Concerned by Israeli Bill That Legalizes West Bank Outposts[Haaretz]
“Hillary’s loss accelerates the Democrats’ turn against Israel” by Seth Mandel: “In the absence of active demonization by” Obama, says one official at a pro-Israel organization, “I think we’re still a cycle or two away from Democrats turning on Israel” full force. But, he notes, the future isn’t bright — and “progressives are lost, of course.”” [NYPost]
"Zachary Rodham comes to terms with Aunt Hillary Clinton’s election defeat" by Ryan Torok: "Two days after the election, Zachary Rodham — a senior at USC and the nephew of the just-defeated Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton — was in the midst of drafting an email to his aunt. But he was having trouble finding the right words. “Hard for me to figure out what to say,” the 21-year-old said... Rodham’s father is Tony Rodham, his mother is Nicole Boxer and his grandmother is retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California. The Jewish student said he is active at the USC Hillel and a member of Sigma Alpha Mu, historically a Jewish fraternity." [JewishJournal]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Congo Awards Payments From Glencore Mine to Kabila’s Friend Dan Gertler [Bloomberg] Starwood Capital's Barry Sternlicht says China knows there's a new sheriff in town in Trump [CNBC] Howard Lorber: President Trump will be ‘much more thoughtful’ than candidate Trump [CNBC] Estee Lauder sharpens millennial focus with Too Faced buy for $1.45 billion [Reuters] Douglas Development Betting Big On Northeast DC [BisNow] Giant hedge fund Elliott Associates has some ideas on how to answer one of the questions of our time [BusinessInsider]
SPOTLIGHT: "Renegade Facebook Employees Form Task Force To Battle Fake News" by Sheera Frenkel: "The group is hoping to challenge the position by CEO Mark Zuckerberg that the platform has no responsibility to address the issue following the election of Donald Trump." [BuzzFeed]
SPORTS BLINK: "Robert Kraft has donated $6 million for the development of the Kraft Family Sports Campus, a multi-purpose sports center located in Emek Ha’Arazim in Jerusalem. This significant contribution by the Jewish owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots is part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the 20th Maccabiah Games, which will be hosted in Jerusalem in July 2017." [JPost]
BOOKS: "Israel’s Founding Novelist" by Adam Kirsch: "It has been half a century since Shmuel Yosef Agnon won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Yet he is one of those laureates for whom the prize has not translated into universal fame... According to Jeffrey Saks—a rabbi and the editor of a new series of editions of Agnon’s work in English, published by Toby Press—this is because Agnon assumed that Hebrew speakers would always be familiar with Judaism: its “rituals, phrases [and] concepts,” as well as with the many strata of the three-thousand-year-old Hebrew literary tradition. But, Saks observes, “this may no longer be the case,” with the result that “Agnon and the other Hebrew classics get whittled away each year from school curricula and chain-store bookshelves.” Many Israelis, in other words, no longer have the religious background necessary to grasp all of Agnon’s meanings, while the highly religious are unlikely to read a writer who, for all his deep roots, is unmistakably ironic, unsettling, and thoroughly modern." [NewYorker]
DESSERT: "Why This Spanish Chef Temporarily Turned Kosher" by Ilan Ben Zion: "Spain is probably one of the last places to look for quality kosher cuisine. That goes double for Michelin star-winning chef Rafael Centeno’s home region of Galicia, where the Atlantic’s bounty of fresh shellfish and fattened swine are staples. His restaurant Maruja Limón on the quayside in Vigo, Spain, is hailed for its adaptation of classic Galician recipes to modern techniques. Authentic Spanish food rarely makes its way to Israeli restaurants, so when Centeno came to Tel Aviv last week to cook at Liliyot, a high-end kosher restaurant, it was a rare meeting of two radically different styles of cuisine." [Munchies.Vice]
BIRTHDAYS: After 18 years as a judge on the Los Angeles County Superior Court, he appeared for 12 seasons and 2,484 episodes of The People's Court, Joseph Wapner turns 97... Biochemist and winner of the Israel Prize in 1957, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (1966-1993), David Sidney Feingold turns 94... Actor best known for his role as Lou Grant in two TV series, former president of the Screen Actors Guild, Ed Asner (born Yitzhak Edward Asner) turns 87... Author of dozens of children's books and young adult fiction, frequent NPR guest, Daniel Pinkwaterturns 75... Pianist and conductor, formerly Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim turns 74... NYC-based consultant for non-profit organizations, previously held senior positions in the NYC government and Board of Education, Perry Davis turns 68... Josh Shein... Republican Jewish Coalition's Alison Borowsky... Stephen Wolff... Executive Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museums of Tolerance, Rabbi Meyer H. May... Political Reporter at Time Magazine, Zeke Miller... Senior Associate at Mission Readiness, a nonpartisan national security organization of over 600 retired admirals and generals, Ben Goodman...
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