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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: "Bannon a No Show At ZOA Dinner" by Jacob Kornbluh:"ZOA president Mort Klein told Jewish Insider that he was not sure why Bannon did not show up. Klein insisted that he was not the one who invited the controversial Chairman of Breitbart News, but that Bannon called up and asked to attend the dinner. "We don't have to have everybody here," Klein said. He noted that two of Trump's campaign advisors, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, attended the event... Alexandra Preate, a spokeswoman for Bannon, told Jewish Insider that Bannon "wanted to attend" but was with Trump in Bedminster until 10:00 pm "with cabinet selection and transition work."" [JewishInsider]
John Podhoretz: "He learned there were a lot of Jews there"[Twitter]
Spotted at the ZOA: Bernie Marcus, David Friedman, Jason Greenblatt, Naftali Bennett, Rep. Ed Royce, Amir Sagie, Andrew Gross, Joe Borelli, Christopher Ruddy, Noah Pollak, Nick Muzin, Melissa Jane Kronfeld, Ami Eden, David Efune, Avi Posnick, Jill Colvin, Sam Nunberg, Andrew Getraer, Debra Nussbaum Cohen, Greg Menken, Warren Cohen, Ben Sales, and Eve Stiglitz.
Steve Bannon to the WSJ's Kimberley Strassel: “Anti-Semitic? Breitbart is the most pro-Israel site in the United States of America. I have Breitbart Jerusalem, which I have Aaron Klein run with about 10 reporters there. We’ve been leaders in stopping this BDS movement”—meaning boycott, divestment and sanctions—“in the United States; we’re a leader in the reporting of young Jewish students being harassed on American campuses; we’ve been a leader on reporting on the terrible plight of the Jews in Europe.” [WSJ]
"Ringside With Steve Bannon at Trump Tower" by Michael Wolff: "I'm not a white nationalist, I'm a nationalist. I'm an economic nationalist," he tells me... I'm the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Ship yards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement." [HollywoodReporter]
Dershowitz Scolds ZOA For ‘Flapping’ Over Trump’s Victory: "[Dershowitz] drew loud boos from the crowd when he reminded them that Clinton won the popular vote and that 150,00 votes reallocated differently in Pennsylvania and Florida would’ve produced a different electoral college result. “One thing we cannot accept is, we put Israel’s fate in the hands of an election system,” he said. “We must always make sure that both parties and candidates for both parties support Israel so we will not be in a situation where one party loses the election, it would be bad for Israel.” “The Zionist Organization of America should not take sides on Israeli domestic politics or on American domestic politics,” Dershowitz said, criticizing the crowd’s “flapping” for Donald Trump’s victory." [JewishInsider; DailyBeast]
Dershowitz tells us: "What I don't like is when you come to an event and it becomes a political rally for one political candidate rather than another. I would hope that an organization like ZOA if Hillary Clinton would have won the election, would be just as welcoming to her because that's what bipartisanship really connotes. And the fact that I was booed when I made a statement of fact that nobody can dispute, showed me at least the mindset of some of the people in the audience... We have problems of both sides of the Jewish community. I think it's much harder for the Jewish community to come together with J Street. I think J Street has done much more damage to pro-Israel advocacy than any other group in America. I think it's fraudulent if they describe themselves as pro-Israel. They are not. They serve as a sounding board for anti-Israel people."
On moving the embassy to Jerusalem: "It's an aspiration and I think it should be achieved, but I am worried that Saudi support for Israel would diminish. I think one has to think hard about the costs and benefits. Israel is now having very good relations not only with the Saudis but also with the Emirates, and that should not be endangered. I think it should be done ultimately with the agreement of the Saudis, and I think that could be made to happen by smart negotiations."
"Christie re-emerges after his falling out with Trump. But is he back on the inside?" by Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa: "Christie’s camp speculates that Kushner might have been the driving force in banishing the New Jersey governor... “I don’t know if that was all because of Jared. It’s hard to explain it any other way,” one Christie associate said. Trump advisers, however, insist that Kushner played no role in the decision to hand over the management of the transition to Pence. They say the problem was Christie’s own performance." [WashPost; YahooNews]
“The In-Law in the Trump Inner Circle: Jared Kushner’s Steadying Hand” by Jonathan Mahler and Maggie Haberman: “In the chaos that often seems to surround Mr. Trump — the churn of advisers, the Twitter wars with reporters, the daily uncertainty over who is making decisions — Mr. Kushner has emerged as the closest thing to a steadying influence, injecting optimism, playing down controversies and reinforcing Mr. Trump’s perceptions, worldview and instincts Both of Mr. Trump’s most senior advisers, Mr. Priebus, his new chief of staff, and Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, seek Mr. Kushner’s advice routinely (In deference to Mr. Kushner, the transition team delayed announcing the two men’s appointment until after the Jewish Sabbath last weekend.) When Mr. Bannon was recently accused of anti-Semitism and of promoting white supremacist views and conspiracy theories, Mr. Kushner reassured the Trump team. He called Mr. Bannon a man of character and said the widespread criticism was a smear.”
-- "He also brokered important meetings for Mr. Trump, including his sit-down with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, which Mr. Kushner arranged with Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States. “He’s a cool customer,” Mr. Dermer said of Mr. Kushner.” [NYTimes]
“The Story Behind Jared Kushner’s Curious Acceptance into Harvard” by Daniel Golden:“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,’’ a former official at the Frisch school in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA [grade point average] did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought, for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.’’[TheGuardian]
Eli Lake: "Trump's National Security Picks Want to Air Obama's Iran Secrets" [BloombergView]
"Trump, Though Critical of Nuclear Deal, Could Offer Opportunities for Iran" by Thomas Erdbrink: "Mr. Trump also presents new opportunities for Iran, many analysts say. While he has criticized the nuclear deal, he has also said that the United States should stop backing rebels in Syria and focus on the Islamic State militant group — effectively shifting its support to Iran’s ally in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad." [NYTimes]
Iran transfers its surplus heavy water to Oman: "The late Sunday report quotes Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying "In view of the progress of talks with several foreign firms and countries to purchase heavy water, some quantities of Iran's surplus production has been transferred to Oman."" [AP]
"Obama Seeks to Fortify Iran Nuclear Deal" by Carol Lee and Jay Solomon: "Action under consideration to buttress the pact includes steps to provide licenses for more American businesses to enter the Iranian market and the lifting of additional U.S. sanctions. The effort to shore up the agreement was under way before the election and is not aimed at boxing in Mr. Trump, who opposes the deal, the officials said... Administration officials said they haven’t yet begun conversations on the Iran deal with the officials Mr. Trump has deployed across the government to facilitate his transition into office." [WSJ]
“Iran deal foe Schumer not ready to scrap it” by Elana Schor: “Schumer, who infuriated liberal groups by opposing the Iran pact last year, told POLITICO on Friday that while he remains “skeptical” of the agreement, “it would be wrong to repeal it now I’m willing to try. I think the jury’s still out, and I’m willing to wait another year or two,” Schumer said in an interview Schumer did not close the door to working with Trump and the GOP on strengthening sanctions against Iran that were not related to the terms of the nuclear deal.” [Politico] Netanyahu to urge Trump to 'tighten noose' on Iran, not scrap nuke deal [JPost]
“Kissinger: Trump has no baggage” by Mallory Shelbourne: “This president-elect, it’s the most unique that I have experienced in one respect. He has absolutely no baggage,” Kissinger told CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” “He has no obligation to any particular group because he has become president on the basis of his own strategy I think we should give him an opportunity to develop the positive objectives that he may have and to discuss those,” he said. “And we’ve gone through too many decades of tearing incumbent administrations apart. And it may happen again, but it shouldn’t begin that way.” [TheHill]
TRANSITION WATCH: “Ari Emanuel Meets With Donald Trump, But Not for a Cabinet Position” by Alex Stedman: “Despite some speculation, the meeting was not in regards to a potential cabinet position for Hollywood big-wig Emanuel, a source tells Variety. Rather, Emanuel simply wanted to meet with Trump to address some concerns, and provide his point-of-view to Trump as he forms his new administration Trump introduced Emanuel as “the king of Hollywood” at his clubhouse, and told reporters that appointments “could very well happen” on Sunday.” [Variety; CNNMoney]
"Trump Said to Discuss Treasury Post With Blackstone’s Gray" by Hui-Yong Yu: "Gray, 46, a billionaire who oversees real estate at the world’s biggest manager of alternative assets, is a Democrat who financially supported Hillary Clinton during the campaign. He’s one of a number of business executive to be considered for the role by Trump’s transition team, joining a list that includes Trump campaign finance manager Steven Mnuchin; David McCormick, the president of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates; and billionaire Wilbur Ross." [Bloomberg]
“Trump’s top Pentagon pick said settlements were creating ‘apartheid’” by Eric Cortellessa:“In July 2013, shortly after leaving his post running CENTCOM, Mattis said the current situation in Israeli was “unsustainable” and that settlements were obstructing the possibility of a two-state outcome between Israelis and Palestinians. “The current situation is unsustainable,” Mattis told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during a panel discussion at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado “We’ve got to get there, and the chances for it are starting to ebb because of the settlements, and where they’re at, they’re going to make it impossible to maintain the two-state option"
"If I’m in Jerusalem and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east and there’s 10,000 Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid,” he said. In that same conversation, Mattis told Blitzer that the US paid a price for its support of Israel and the perception of bias it broadcasts to the rest of the Arab world. “I paid a military security price every day as the commander of CENTCOM because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel,” he said.” [ToI]
Incoming Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions to Israel’s Channel 10 in September: "Trump is prepared to do what is necessary to protect Israel and our allies, but we're not going to enroll ourselves in trillion dollar efforts in remaking countries.” [Nana10]
“Dem Rep would 'love' Mitt Romney as Secretary of State” by Jessie Hellmann: "In this new world, I would love Mitt Romney at the State Department. I think he would be a consummate diplomat. I think he could come up to speed on foreign policy issues but I think it's a total head fake," [Rep. Adam] Schiff said on CNN's State of the Union. "I think this is Donald Trump still being the entertainer, still running a show where he wants to build suspense.” [TheHill]
OVER THE WEEKEND -- “Mike Huckabee DENIES he'll be ambassador to Israel after Trump transition official said he had the job and would move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem” by David Martosko: “Huckabee denied on Friday night that President-elect Trump has asked him to serve as America's ambassador to Israel. ‘Media buzz that I was named Amb to Israel is NOT true,' Huckabee tweeted Friday night. 'Was never discussed with PE Trump; slot probably not picked until State Dept in place.' Huckabee was reacting to a presidential transition official who told the Daily Mail that he would be headed to the Holy Land as America's top diplomat in the Jewish state. And, the official had said, Huckabee's first order of business as the tip of Trump's spear in the region would be moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem... DailyMail's source, a person with direct knowledge of recommendations made by the transition executive committee, said Friday night that the information he provided was accurate at the time, leaving open the possibility that the Huckabee-Trump meeting changed the president-elect's thinking.” [DailyMail]
Aaron David Miller on Trump’s search for a Sec. of State: “Secretaries of state can help shape circumstances. But momentous changes are usually set into motion by events beyond a diplomat’s control. Had there been no 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Mr. Kissinger could not have done his shuttle diplomacy; had Anwar Sadat not visited Jerusalem, Jimmy Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance would not have produced an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty; had Saddam Hussein not invaded Kuwait, there would have been no Baker postwar diplomacy. One hopes the U.S. has the right person in the job if and when those opportunities come along.” [WSJ]
“Alt-right celebrates Trump’s election at D.C. meeting” by Katie Glueck: “The meeting attendees — an overwhelmingly white and male audience... though one was spotted wearing a yarmulke — gathered in the atrium were an engaged group, often booing journalists asking questions Tila Tequila, a reality TV personality who was listed by event organizers as a guest, posted a picture of herself on Twitter engaged in a Nazi-style salute. “Seig [sic] heil!” the tweet read. Back in the room, some applauded when the Daily Stormer, the neo-Nazi website, was mentioned.” [Politico; NYTimes]
"Foes pile on Ellison in DNC chair fight" by Daniel Strauss: "On the heels of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s troubled tenure as DNC chief, the issue of whether Ellison will commit full-time to the job poses a threat to his candidacy — even as he enjoys significant support in his bid to become DNC chairman. The Minnesota congressman and Bernie Sanders ally is facing growing resistance to the idea of electing another party chairman who is a sitting member of Congress." [Politico]
Amb. Norm Eisen: "Must have full time DNC chair, the task now is too big for any sitting elected (though Barack Obama could take over on Jan 21!)" [Twitter]
**Good Monday 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 email@example.com
BUSINESS BRIEFS: Trump reached out to Kravis about Treasury secretary job [NYPost] Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff: ‘Without Twitter, you wouldn’t have President-elect Trump’ [Recode] Trump Adviser John Paulson Takes Stake in China Ride-Sharing Company [DealBook] The incredible tale of Mark Cuban, Chandler Parsons and the friendship that threatened the Mavericks [ESPN]
Spotted on Saturday Night Live: "So, where did SNL get the Jewish National Fund etz tree of life award on the wall of last nite's Trump skit?" -- Nathan Diament [Twitter]
TALK OF THE TOWN: "Even Israel says this Jewish settlement is illegal. Now comes the showdown" by William Booth: "Nachum Schwartz is living his dream in a trailer on a windy hill, raising his children and a flock of sheep, as one of the chosen ones. This is the land of Abraham, he said, the biblical home of the Jews, and nobody is going to kick his family off their mountaintop... Now his dreams may be shoveled aside by Israeli bulldozers. In a remarkable rebuke, Israel’s supreme court has ruled that the Amona settlement is illegal, built on land that belongs to Schwartz’s Palestinian neighbors." [WashPost]
"Infighting clouds upcoming Palestinian leadership gathering" by Mohammed Daraghmeh:"The violence, much of it directed at a Fatah leadership seen as corrupt and out of touch, comes as the movement prepares to hold an overdue leadership conference at the end of the month and reflects a combustible power struggle between the faction's aging leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, and exiled rival Mohammed Dahlan, a former top aide who has the backing of some gunmen and disaffected Fatah activists... Each side is believed to be pumping funds to supporters, among them armed men, in a bid to buy loyalty. Palestinian officials have accused Dahlan, who receives financial support from the United Arab Emirates, of purposely fomenting chaos to pressure Abbas." [AP]
Bernard Avishai: "For any Israeli who lived through the “mahapach,” the electoral “upending” of 1977, which brought Menachem Begin’s Likud party to power, Donald Trump’s victory seems dreadfully familiar. It is not simply that America’s most benighted voters—people from the entitled, stressed majority, people living in what has been euphemistically called the “periphery”—turned a protest vote into an unlikely victory for an extremist leader. It is that this protest seems permanent, aimed not at a party or candidate but at the establishment, while the voters themselves seem so fierce in their resentment that they stand to become a permanent fixture of a rightist bloc. During the Obama Administration, Likud became an ally of the Republicans. Now it seems a model for them." [NewYorker]
LongRead: "Michael Chabon on His New Book, Why Bob Dylan Deserves the Nobel Prize, and President Trump’s America" by Boris Kachka: "Moonglow, inspired in part by his grandfather’s deathbed anecdotes, is Chabon’s speculative history of his own family. What if his grandfather had ratted out Wernher von Braun, the Nazi rocket designer turned engineer of the American moon landing? What if his grandmother was a Holocaust-haunted actress stalked by an imaginary “Skinless Horse”? Chabon, 53, spoke to New York about how much memoir needs to be in a memoir and saying a reluctant good-bye to President Obama.
"Wasn’t the knock on The Yiddish Policemen’s Union that no one who didn’t know Yiddish would want to read it? It’s always only Jews who have ever said to me, “Isn’t this book too Jewish?” It’s very similar to when I wrote my first book and people in Pittsburgh were the only ones who said to me, ‘Why would you wanna set a book in Pittsburgh?’" [NewYorkMag]
BIRTHDAYS: British entrepreneur and philanthropist, Baron Harold Stanley Kalms turns 85... Founder, Chairman and CEO of Men's Wearhouse (1973-2013), currently holding these same positions at Generation Tux, an online tuxedo rental platform, George Zimmer turns 68... Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Motion Picture Group, Thomas Rothman turns 62... CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jonathan Greenblatt turns 45... Political Director of ABC News, Rick Klein turns 40... Danielle Monosson turns 40... Reporter at Bloomberg News, Max Abelson turns 32... VP of Wealth Management at the San Francisco office of Taylor Frigon Capital Management and serves on AIPAC’s National Council, Jonathan Wornick... Judy Brilliant... Ruth Shapiro... Julie Shuer... Yoel Lefkowitz, community outreach coordinator at the Office of the Public Advocate for New York City (yesterday)...
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