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    Friday, June 1, 2018

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  • Dems accuse Trump admin of ‘effort to poli...

    Monday, May 28, 2018

    In a letter sent to U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Monday, and obtained by Jewish Insider, Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee criticized the…

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  • Interview with Sen. Dean Heller

    Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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  • After delay, State Dept. begins implementing Tay...

    Monday, May 7, 2018

    The State Department submitted its first report to Congress regarding the criteria Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will use to determine what U.S. assistance directly benefits the Palestinian…

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  • Yossi Klein Halevi on tragedy of Left-Right Jewi...

    Wednesday, May 2, 2018

    PODCAST PLAYBACK — In a conversation released this morning, Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and his new book Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor on The Atlantic Interview podcast…

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  • Charles Bronfman Prize to honor David Lubell, fo...

    Monday, April 30, 2018

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  • Anti-Semitism in Trump’s America – &...

    Thursday, April 12, 2018

    New York Times journalist Jonathan Weisman recently ignited a firestorm of controversy for writing that the American-Jewish establishment is too preoccupied with Israel and ignores anti-Semitism at home….

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  • CoJo Travels to Israel

    Wednesday, April 11, 2018

    NEW YORK — NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, also known as CoJo, is heading a week-long mission to Israel next week to participate in Israel’s 70th-anniversary celebration. Other members…

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  • Sen Graham: Taylor Force Act now added to omnibu...

    Wednesday, March 21, 2018

     The Senate is expected to pass the Taylor Force Act as part of the $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill this week, according to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who introduced the legislation last year….

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  • Interview with Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi

    Wednesday, March 14, 2018

    Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) discussed his relationship with the Jewish community in Illinois and his position on Israel in an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh following an event in NYC on Monday. “Both…

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Daily Kickoff: Report — David Friedman scolds Israeli MKs for requesting U.S. recognition of Golan | Pardon for Milken? | Provocative Miami deli

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FIRST LOOK — Leonard Bernstein Through His Daughter’s Eyes — by David Denby: “Jamie Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein’s firstborn daughter, has written a memoir of her family, a family that her overwhelming dad—loving, inspired, and sometimes insufferable—dominated for decades… “Famous Father Girl: A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein” is… a story of encompassing family love, Jewish-American style, with all its glories and corrosions…”

“Bernstein, one might say, liberated the Jewish body from the constraints felt by the immigrant generation, including his father, Sam, who relinquished his severe, stiff-collar demeanor only when celebrating the High Holidays with the Boston Hasidim. For Lenny, every day was a High Holiday. Most of the audience and his collaborators got used to his turbo-mobile style, or found it beautiful, even thrilling.” [NewYorker]

CHANGING THE TIDE — British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urgedthe UN Human Rights Council to reform its treatment of Israel ahead of a possible U.S withdrawal from the 47-member council. “We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace, and unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7,” Johnson said during the opening of the 38th council session. Johnson added that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”

Diplomats from the United States mission in Geneva attended the start of the session, but diplomats have told The Associated Press that a U.S. withdrawal from the 47-member council could come as early as Tuesday.

U.K. organizing international meeting to discuss Trump’s Mideast peace plan — by Barak Ravid: “The U.K is organizing a meeting of Foreign Ministers from the main European powers and leading Arab states with President Trump’s peace team, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt… The aim of the meeting will be to present parameters the European and Arab countries expect to see in the Trump administration peace plan in order for them to support it.” [Axios

DRIVING THE WEEK — Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt will travel to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia this week to discuss the “next stages of the peace effort” and “get some ideas from players in the region about some remaining questions the White House peace team has,” according to a NSC spokesperson. The U.S. peace negotiating team will also discuss the situation in Gaza, and reportedly ask Gulf states to invest up to $1 billion in Gaza’s economy. Kushner, Greenblatt and Ambassador Nikki Haley met on Friday with UN secretary-general António Guterres in New York to discuss the Administration’s peace efforts, the Gaza situation, and recent UN moves.

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — Trump Envoys’ Middle East Trip ‘Waste of Time,’ Palestinians Say — by Fadwa Hodali: “Peace proposals that ignore “the resolutions of the Arab summits, resolutions of the UN Security Council, and international legitimacy, primarily the approval of the Palestinian people and the president’s signature, will be doomed to failure,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said in a statement.” [Bloomberg]

— Palestinian Authority leader under pressure to ‘end Trump boycott’ — by Daniel Siryoti: “Palestinian officials told Israel Hayom Sunday that officials in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan, as well as top officials in the Palestinian Authority itself, are pressuring Abbas to meet with the American envoys.” [IsraelHayom]

Amid Trump’s Mideast push, an abandoned building reminds Palestinians of past failures — by F. Brinley Bruton and Lawahez Jabari: “Pigeons inhabit the main hall of what should have been a Palestinian parliament… Tough weeds choke the driveway leading to the building’s entrance and mounds of ruined desk chairs sit in piles in the underground parking lot. This shell, in the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis, was built after the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords had raised hopes that Palestinians would soon have an independent state alongside Israel. Today, the hulking monument to dashed dreams has gained renewed significance amid rumors that Abu Dis will be the Palestinian capital envisioned in President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [NBCNews]

TOP TALKER — Trump ambassador blocks scrutiny of Israel” by Nahal Toosi: “Last October, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, emailed State Department colleagues with a firm message: Don’t second-guess the Israeli military… In the email to colleagues, he rejected the idea that his embassy needed to enhance its scrutiny of military aid, saying he did “not believe we should extend the new [guidelines] to Israel at this time.” “Israel is a democracy whose army does not engage in gross violations of human rights,” Friedman wrote…” [Politico]

US envoy scolds Israeli MKs for demanding US recognition of Golan — report — by Stuart Winer: “According to a Hebrew-language report from the Kan public broadcaster on Sunday, Friedman met recently with some MKs and admonished them over the public call for a change in US policy vis-a-vis the Golan Heights… In private conversations, Friedman allegedly told the politicians that, instead of being grateful after the US recognized Jerusalem and made the momentous move of its embassy to the city, the Israelis immediately asked for more, displaying what he termed “ingratitude.” [ToI

THE DAILY KUSHNER — A Financier’s Profit-Minded Mission to Open a Channel Between Kushner and North Korea — by Mark Mazzetti and Mark Landler: “An American financier approached the Trump administration last summer with an unusual proposition: The North Korean government wanted to talk to Jared Kushner… The financier, Gabriel Schulze, explained that a top North Korean official was seeking a back channel to explore a meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un… As a member of the president’s family, officials in Pyongyang judged, Mr. Kushner would have the ear of his father-in-law… Mr. Kushner did not play a direct role in back-channel negotiations with North Korean officials… He instead notified Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director at the time, about Mr. Schulze’s outreach and requested that the agency be in charge of the discussions.” [NYTimes

New details from Emily Jane Fox’s upcoming book titled ‘Born Trump’ — by Annie Karni: “Charles Kushner is portrayed as simultaneously controlling and loving to his family. Part of how Charles Kushner maintains control over his children and grandchildren, Fox writes, is by showering them with his wealth. Jared Kushner’s parents have purchased multimillion-dollar apartments in Manhattan for each of their grandchildren, she writes. For now, the apartments sit in a trust called “Kinderlach,” the Yiddish word for “children.” Fox writes that Ivanka Trump also refers to Seryl and Charles as “mom” and “dad” — a detail that is unlikely to go unnoticed by or to please her actual father.” [Politico]

REPORT — Yair Netanyahu allegedly behind PM’s Mexico tweet — by Eli Senyor: “The prime minister’s son Yair Netanyahu is apparently the one responsible for the controversial tweet from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s account in support of US President Donald Trump’s plans to build a border wall with Mexico in order to stop illegal immigration… According to testimonies gathered by the police, the contentious tweet was posted despite opposition from the prime minister’s advisors. Among those who opposed the tweet were Netanyahu’s former foreign policy adviser Dr. Jonathan Schachter and current chief of staff Yoav Horowitz.” [Ynet] 

TALK OF THE REGION — Prince William visit ends royal ‘boycott’ of Israel — by Anshel Pfeffer: “Officially, Israel is treating the visit “with great enthusiasm”, but even before he arrives there have been gripes in the Israeli media about the official wording of his itinerary… It refers to the Old City of Jerusalem as being part of the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” … Last-minute talks are underway on the possibility that the prince will pay a visit to the Jewish holy site of the Western, or Wailing, Wall… Israelis are keen to see Prince William there as well, as a tacit recognition of their historical connection to the site where the Jewish temple of Jerusalem stood 2,000 years ago.” [TheTimes]

Elliott Abrams writes… “The British Foreign Office Uses a Royal Visit to Israel to Stir Ill Will: To call a visit to the Old City instead a visit to “Occupied Palestinian territory” is deeply and probably intentionally offensive—and plain wrong… The visit by Prince William has been damaged by the Foreign Office, but it is still a step forward after 70 years of refusals to make an official visit at all. One hopes that during the prince’s visit to Israel, someone . . . will tell him what was the fate of east Jerusalem before Israel conquered it in 1967: no access at all for Jews, no protection for Jewish holy sites, [and] vast destruction of Jewish holy and historic locations.” [MosaicMag

TALK AT THE UN — In new report, UN secretary-general warns of new Gaza war — by Barak Ravid: “A new report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres set to be published later this week sounds the alarm about the harsh humanitarian crisis in Gaza and warns of a new war between Israel and Hamas. The report was a byproduct of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 on the Israeli settlements which passed on December 2016… United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley… put pressure on Guterres not to publish a report as the resolution demands. She succeeded in preventing its publication for 17 months, but after pressure from France and other members of the Security Council, Guterres decided to publish the document.” [Axios]

CNN reporter given Islamic Jihad terror tunnel tour: “We use them as a shield against heavy missiles fired by F-35 and F-16 aircraft, as well as helicopters, so that our fighters can move and play their role to defend the Palestinian people” one Islamic Jihad member, Abu Abdallah, tells CNN, with his face covered… The reporter is then blindfolded before being driven on to the next site of his tour. Standing beside a mortar launching system, [Ian] Lee is briefed by Abdallah.” [YnetVideo]

TRUMP VS. SCHUMER — President Trump attacked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a tweet yesterday over Schumer’s criticism of the Singapore summit last week: “Thank you Chuck, but are you sure you got that right? No more nuclear testing or rockets flying all over the place, blew up launch sites. Hostages already back, hero remains coming home & much more!”

HEARD YESTERDAY — Chuck Schumer responded to Trump in an interview on the Cats Roundtable radio program: “I opposed the Iran agreement because I thought it wasn’t strong enough. Well, it seems that what we’re doing with North Korea is even weaker than what Obama did with Iran, so far. The beginnings are not auspicious, I would say.”

Schumer on Trump’s Iran deal exit: “I opposed the deal. I didn’t think it was strong enough. I thought the inspection regime was weak. I certainly want to see a stronger one in North Korea than the one that was proposed in Iran, where we depended on the European nations before we could inspect any new places. And I don’t trust the Europeans, particularly when it comes to Israel… It would have been far more better if we had all of our allies with us, and we had leverage over them but we didn’t use it.” [CatsRoundtable]

Israel Forms Team With U.S. to Enforce Iran Sanctions — by Avi Waksman: “The United States has formed a joint team with Israel to enforce economic sanctions against Tehran… An agreement forming the team was reached by officials in Washington with Shai Babad, the Israeli Finance Ministry’s director general, and Eran Nitzan, Israel’s economic attache in Washington.” [Haaretz]

Israel says indicts ex-cabinet minister over alleged spying for Iran — by Jeffrey Heller: “In a statement, the Shin Bet said Gonen Segev, who served as energy minister in the mid-1990s and had been living in Nigeria, “was recruited by Iranian intelligence and served as an agent.” He was arrested during a visit to Equatorial Guinea in May and extradited to Israel, where he was indicted on Friday.” [Reuters

Ex-IDF intel chief: Trump moves will bring Israel closer to war — by Yonah Jeremy Bob: “Speaking at a Tel Aviv University conference on national security and cyber issues, [former IDF intelligence chief Amos] Yadlin said the North Korea summit will push Iran to renew its uranium enrichment and eventually pursue a nuclear bomb.”

“Sitting on a panel with Yadlin, former US Senator Joseph Lieberman was asked what he would advise if Iran tried to break out toward a nuclear bomb. He said, “The sanctions are working so far.” … “Iran didn’t expect Trump to pull out,” Lieberman said. “They thought it was a campaign promise… It is not impossible that there could be an uprising against the regime. I think that is the ultimate answer.” However, he added, “If Iran tries breaking out of the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty], I really cannot predict what the president would do.” Lieberman said he would recommend “taking military action or letting Israel do it.” [JPost]

Michael Doran and Peter Rough write… “Time to Make Up After Fighting Over Iran: Europe is deluded to interpret the withdrawal as a fit of Trumpian caprice… Mr. Trump should now make it an urgent priority to dispel this image. Specifically, he should unite his top echelon of officials—[James] Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Energy Secretary Rick Perry —in a diplomatic offensive to defend the U.S. position to their European counterparts… The U.S. must also remind the Europeans that if economic sanctions and diplomacy don’t curb Iran’s behavior, the only alternative is military action. That cannot be Europe’s preference—and no one can make that argument more persuasively than Mr. Mattis, whom some have taken to calling “Moderate Dog.”” [WSJ]

DRIVING THE CONVO — Former CIA Chief Compares Trump’s Border Policies to Nazi Germany: “Former CIA and NSA chief Michael Hayden on Saturday compared President Trump’s immigration policies to that of Nazi Germany in an ominous Twitter post. “Other governments have separated mothers and children,” Harden wrote next to a black-and-white photo of Auschwitz. Hayden has joined a growing chorus of criticism over the policy of separating migrant families at the border.” [DailyBeast]

Norm Eisen tweets“That is like what was said to my mother and her family when they were separated by the authorities—at Auschwitz.”

Abe Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, emails us… “The current atrocity stands on its own and we don’t need to analogize it to the separation of families at a death camp in order to understand the pain inflicted by the current policy on families.”

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — “Slow-moving White House communications shakeup sinks morale” by Nancy Cook: “One of the few to have benefited from the restructuring is Julia Hahn, a protégé of former White House strategist Steve Bannon. Hahn has temporarily taken over the communications portfolio of recently departed aide Kelly Sadler and now sends out talking points and messages to White House allies… Hahn was installed in this new temporary role through the nudging of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, to make sure White House allies are receiving talking points and statistics on immigration that line up with the hard-line approach he and the president have decided to take.” [Politico

2020 WATCH — Cory Booker eyes 2020 while crisscrossing the country for the midterms — by Eric Bradner: “In the year-and-a-half since President Donald Trump was elected, Booker has spent about half his weekends on the road, visiting most states where a Democratic senator is facing a tough re-election fight… In an interview aboard the Acela, Booker says he’ll make a decision about whether to run for president at the end of this year. “I’m not going to play coy. I’m sure after the midterm elections, I’ll give it a look,” Booker said…” [CNN

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Kushner Cos.’ Indebted Manhattan Tower May Get $700 Million Injection From Brookfield [Bloomberg] • US targets Israeli businessman Dan Gertler with fresh sanctions [FinancialTimes] • Glencore to Resume Payments to Sanctioned Billionaire Gertler [WSJ] Michael Cohen’s In-Laws Look to Sell Units in Trump World Tower Building[Bloomberg] • El Al to launch flight school in the US, moving away from Israel Air Force [JPost] • Waze founder now offers app to navigate VAT refund process [ToI]

MEDIA WATCH: “Katie Couric Lines Up Video Series for ‘theSkimm’ Backed by P&G” by Keach Hagey: “Katie Couric Media, which over the past year has produced things like Ms. Couric’s podcast and a documentary series that aired on the on the National Geographic Channel, is expanding with funding from roughly a dozen investors… Ms. Couric and her husband, John Molner, are the controlling investors.” [WSJ]

SPOTLIGHT — Larry Silverstein Flees the ‘Old Fogeys’ of Midtown — by Stefanos Chen: “Why, after 33 years of living in a Park Avenue high rise, has New York developer Larry A. Silverstein decided to leave Midtown for Lower Manhattan? “It was full of old fogeys,” Mr. Silverstein, 87, said recently about his longtime home… “I felt it was a wonderful opportunity to come down to an area we had just finished, with a population that is all young,” said Mr. Silverstein… Last month, he and his wife, Klara, moved into an 80th-floor penthouse at 30 Park Place, an 82-story limestone tower completed by Silverstein Properties in 2016… “In the beginning, people thought we were crazy,” Mrs. Silverstein said about their move… But it has brought them closer to their daughter, Lisa Silverstein, an executive vice president at Silverstein Properties, who lives in the tower with her family. It has also meant a much shorter commute for Mr. Silverstein, who is spry at 87.” [NYTimes

Trump Insiders Seek Pardon for ‘Junk Bond King’ Michael Milken — by Greg Farrell, Katherine Burton and John Gittelsohn: “Some of President Donald Trump’s closest confidants have urged him to pardon Michael Milken, the 1980s “junk bond king” who has unsuccessfully sought for decades to reverse his securities fraud conviction… The idea of a Milken pardon is being supported by Anthony Scaramucci… Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; and Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner… Another advocate is Rudy Giuliani… Although it’s unclear where Milken, 71, may fall on any priority list, he can count many advocates in Trump’s circle. His annual Milken Institute Global Conference, known as Davos of the West, attracts U.S. cabinet members… former presidents and prime ministers.” [Bloomberg

CONFERENCE CIRCUIT: I Went To A Conference Full of Conservatives Who Hated My Guts — And Told Me So — by Scaachi Koul: “While US conservatives have Breitbart, Canadian conservatives have the Rebel, which publishes stories like “Islam and the Left working in tandem: How did we get here?” and “VICE debunked: Conservatives ARE hotter!” The Rebel positions itself as just slightly out of the mainstream. Its writers rarely engage directly in blatant racism or white supremacy — partially because founder Ezra Levant is Jewish, and many of the Rebel’s supporters are pro-Israel…” [BuzzFeed

A New Movement Rises to Take Back Higher Education: On Friday, Heterodox Academy hosted its first annual Open Mind Conference, sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Lubetzky Family Foundation, Dan Loeb, Cliff and Lauren Asness, The Paul E. Singer Foundation, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Speakers included UChicago President Robert Zimmer, the NYT’s Bari Weiss, former University of California President Mark Yudof, Hillel’s Tamara Mann Tweel, and more.

Emily Esfahani Smith writes… “As encouraging as these initiatives are, there’s a more fundamental shift that needs to take place—a rethinking of identity politics. Rather than promoting a “common-enemy identity politics” that admonishes white people and others with “privilege,” [Jonathan] Haidt said Friday, professors and administrators should embrace a “common-humanity identity politics.” Isn’t that what liberal education is all about?” [WSJ]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Massachusetts High School Apologizes After Nazi Quote Is Printed in Yearbook — by Mihir Zaveri: “A Massachusetts high school student captioned his senior photo in the school’s yearbook with a quote generally attributed to the Nazi leaders Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler, the school’s principal said in an apologetic letter to parents this week. Hundreds of copies of the yearbook had been printed and distributed to students at Andover High School in Massachusetts before the school became aware of the problem and stopped selling the yearbook. The school is now offering to replace the page or cover the quote up with a sticker… It’s not Andover High School’s first brush with anti-Semitism this past school year. In December, several swastikas were found carved into desks, including some in classes with Jewish teachers.” [NYTimes]

Cuomo Affixes Mezuzah Gifted by Yeshivah to Governor’s Mansion — by Yochonon Donn: “Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted a picture on Friday of the light green mezuzah gifted to him by students of the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR) when he was there on Wednesday to present one of the first security grant checks…” [Hamodia]

Bret Stephens writes… “Charles Krauthammer’s Democratic Vocation: If the great theme of his work is the defense of what we proudly used to call Western civilization, the great theme of his life is the cultivation of a civilized mind. With every commentary, he taught us how such a mind worked. Charles’s parting letter is, appropriately, about gratitude. “I am grateful,” he writes, “to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.” Not so small, Charles. To those who read, watched, knew, or felt they knew you… you showed what it means to be a man of independent mind and sound judgment, up for the defense of the things we hold dearest, the things that matter.” [NYTimes]

DESSERT — This Deli Serves Aggressively Un-Kosher Food in Miami’s Most Jewish Neighborhood — by Zachary Fagenson: “Some stopped in to voice their displeasure. “I had a woman come in the very first couple of weeks screaming at me that I should be kosher,” he said. Others have been more diplomatic. “Sometimes they’re super polite—it’s like they’re Canadian,” Marcus said. And some competing restaurant owners, like Jason Ansellem, whose family’s nearby Harbour Bistro deals in kosher charcuterie including beef-based prosciutto and bacon, said Marcus pushes them to keep up with more current cooking.” [Munchies]

BIRTHDAYS: Former assistant to President Trump, a principal of the Baltimore-based Cordish Companies real estate and gaming empire, Reed Sanders Cordish turns 44… Talent manager and music industry mogul, he owns two record labels and represents musical artists including Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, Scott Samuel “Scooter” Braun turns 37… Chicago-based attorney, author of a treatise on real estate law, he served as an Alderman on the Chicago City Council (1975-1979), Solomon Gutstein turns 84… Lake Worth, Florida resident, Shlomo Nezer turns 71… Croatian entrepreneur, previously the Minister of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship in the Croatian Government (1995-1997), Davor Stern turns 71… Rabbi at Temple Isaiah and the JCC in Palm Springs, CA, previously in congregations in Israel and Stockholm, Rabbi David James Lazar turns 61… Rebecca Diamond

Best-selling author and journalist, through 2017 she was Chief Content Officer of Gannett and Editor in Chief of USA Today, she was previously WSJ’s Deputy Managing Editor, Joanne Lipman… Executive of the William Pears Group, a large UK real estate firm founded by his father and grandfather, Trevor Steven Pears (family name was Schleicher) turns 54… Television producer and writer, best known for his work on The Mindy Project, Speechless and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, he is currently under an overall deal with ABC Studios, Jeremy Bronson turns 38… Baseball pitcher, a first round pick of the NY Yankees in 2008, he pitched for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and during the qualifier round in 2016, Jeremy Bleich turns 31… Law clerk in the US District Court, Eastern District of New York, Esther Lifshitzturns 31… Rachel Hazan




Daily Kickoff: US expected to withdraw from UN Human Rights Council | Natalie Portman on former friend Jared Kushner | The Herring Trade War of 1877

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TALK AT THE UN: “Talks with the United States over how to reform the main U.N. rights body have failed to meet Washington’s demands, activists and diplomats say, suggesting that the Trump administration will quit the Geneva forum whose session opens on Monday. A U.S. source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the withdrawal appeared to be “imminent.” … Diplomats said it could also lead to Israel being even more isolated in the Human Rights Council.” [Reuters]

Classified Israeli report raises doubts over Trump-Kim summit — by Barak Ravid: “A classified report from Israel’s foreign ministry raises doubts over President Trump’s optimistic statements about his summit with Kim Jong-un… Trump’s readiness to accept Kim’s demand to halt U.S. military exercises with South Korea is a retreat by the U.S. and an acceptance of China’s “freeze-for-freeze” approach. The Israeli foreign ministry analysts note that the U.S. had previously rejected the Chinese position. “Regardless of the smiles in the summit many in Japan, South Korea and the U.S. Congress doubt that North Korea is sincere in its intentions. Our assessment is that regardless of President Trump’s statements about quick changes that are expected in North Korean policy, the road [to] real and substantive change, if it ever happens, will be long and slow.” [Axios]

Former Ambassador Marc Ginsberg emails us… “Ironic that on the heels of his meeting with Trump, Kim Jong Un’s next appearance on the world stage will be to welcome Syria’s Bashar al Assad. Kim has pumped chemical weapons, missile tech, and North Korean workers into Syria, and North Korea was largely responsible for the construction of the Syrian nuke reactor destroyed by Israel in Operation “Outside the Box” in 2007. If Trump wants to contain Syria’s chemical weapons program, a good place to start is in Pyongyang.”

Dov Zakheim writes… “Kim looks the winner in round one: The current understanding between Kim and Trump may not be a complete American giveaway either, as some critics are asserting. Yet, as the joint communiqué makes abundantly clear, Trump has yielded far more than he will ever acknowledge. The self-proclaimed master of the art of the deal may have concluded in the first few minutes of his meeting with Kim that the outcome would be successful. What is less obvious is who actually came away with the greater success.” [TheHill]

Derek Chollet writes… “Singapore Was Just the First Episode of Trump’s North Korea Show: Coming attractions include the diplomatic play with Iran… Remember that Trump didn’t just want to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, but to pull out of the whole of the Middle East, and what better way to do that than to make peace with Iran? Sure, leaders in the Gulf and Israel would be apoplectic. But they have to know that in Trump’s world, there are never any friends, only business associates who can be jettisoned for higher profits.” [ForeignPolicy]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH: Trump team fears ‘dead on arrival’ Mideast peace plan — by Michael Wilner: “White House officials have not yet settled on that time frame and may delay its rollout into the fall or even beyond… “You can’t put something out where everybody says, ah, this is dead on arrival,” [a WH] official said… “And the same exact document that may be dead on arrival on a Monday might not be dead on arrival on a Thursday.”

“Israeli sources tell the Post that the peace team appears at times in disagreement over the timing of the launch, claiming that Friedman once successfully lobbied Trump for a delay and continues to advocate for a protracted rollout… Friedman denied that he wants to delay the launch up to a year and dismissed accusations of friction within the team… “We are close friends, the three of us, that have known each other for two decades,” Friedman told the Post. “We’ve also known the president for almost two decades. We’re completely loyal to him and the agenda of reaching a peace agreement– maybe that’s unique in Washington.” [JPost]

Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry and a Middle East expert at the Center for a New American Security, tweets“Fresh off the Singapore confab, there are reports that Trump’s next big foreign policy splash will be the release of an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan… This would be a terrible mistake on so many levels… The plan will be dead on arrival because the Palestinians have refused to talk to the administration for the past 6 months since the Jerusalem embassy announcement. How can you be the mediator if one side won’t even talk to you?”

Trump’s Israel-Palestine deal targets Saudi alliance, not peace — by Akiva Eldar: “The prevailing view among Israeli and Palestinian officials… is that the Trump administration views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a mere hurdle on the way to forging a strategic US-Israeli-Arab alliance against Iran and its proxies. According to these officials… US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman… has ascertained that the deal… would be tailored to fit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… In this situation, Israel and Saudi Arabia would welcome the US plan and urge the Palestinians to resume negotiations with Israel based on the new blueprint. The Palestinians would flatly reject the plan… The Saudis would blame the Palestinians for the collapse of the deal and would renounce the 2002 Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative that conditions normalization of Arab ties with Israel on its withdrawal from the occupied territories.” [Al-Monitor]

Putin and Netanyahu agree to coordinate on Syria — by Maria Kiseleva: “Russia’s President Vladimir Putin agreed to strengthen coordination on Syria with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call, the Kremlin said… They discussed joint efforts to ensure security in the area of the Syrian-Israeli border, Kremlin said.” [USNews]

Russia breaks from pack, holds national day reception in Jerusalem — by Herb Keinon: “The annual Russia Day celebration put on by the Russian embassy took on added significance on Thursday because it was held in Jerusalem, the first national day to be held in the capital by any country in recent memory. “I am delighted to be here,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… said in the picturesque Sergei Courtyard in Jerusalem. “I am honored to celebrate Russia Day here with you in Jerusalem, and I predict we will celebrate many, many more Russia Days in Jerusalem,” he said.” [JPostVideo]

JARED INSIDER — Kushner basks in glow of winning World Cup bid — by Annie Karni: “[Jared] Kushner has been telling associates he is thrilled about the U.S. winning its joint bid with Canada and Mexico to host the World Cup in 2026 — in part because he sees it as a legitimate diplomatic win that he can claim some credit for. “He’s very pumped,” said one person familiar with his thinking. “First time I’ve heard him genuinely happy in over a year.” Indeed, Team Jared was quick to point to the World Cup as a victory for the son-in-law, who’s built strong relationships with many of the major players in the Middle East who in turn cast votes for the winning bid — as well as with partners Canada and Mexico.” [Politico]

2026 World Cup could help Robert Kraft score soccer stadium in Boston — by Sean Philip Cotter and Dan Atkinson: “Bob Kraft and the New England Revolution moved the ball up the field in their quest to boost soccer and build momentum for a stadium in downtown Boston with yesterday’s FIFA announcement that the 2026 World Cup will be held in North America… Kraft was part of the three-nation team that won the 2026 bid.”[BostonHerald]

Trump tweets this morning: “Thank you for all of the compliments on getting the World Cup to come to the U.S.A., Mexico and Canada. I worked hard on this, along with a Great Team of talented people. We never fail, and it will be a great World Cup! A special thanks to Bob Kraft for excellent advice.”

Natalie Portman’s biting comments about former friend Jared Kushner — by George Back: “Kushner and Portman attended Harvard together. He wasn’t the best student, Portman claims, but they were friends. In fact, they were good enough friends that Portman attended Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s wedding. As Colbert pushed Portman to discuss her friendship with Kushner, the Oscar winner said, “There’s not a lot funny to say about someone you were friends with becoming a supervillain.” [Yahoo]

BREAKING — Cohen signals openness to cooperating with federal investigators — by Kara Scannell: “Michael Cohen has indicated to family and friends he is willing to cooperate with federal investigators to alleviate the pressure on himself and his family… Cohen has expressed anger with the treatment he has gotten from the President, who has minimized his relationship with Cohen, and comments from the President’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani… The treatment has left him feeling isolated and more open to cooperating… Asked by reporters Friday if he was worried about Cohen cooperating, Trump said, “I did nothing wrong, nothing wrong.” He also said he hasn’t spoken with Cohen “in a long time,” adding, “I always liked Michael and he’s a good person.” [CNN]

2018 WATCH — That Bernie Sanders CIA Guy Running for Congress From Woodstock — by Armin Rosen: “[Jeff] Beals moved over to the State Department in 2002. A fluent Arabic speaker—something that would make him a rarity in all of American electoral politics—he was the political officer in the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem in charge of keeping tabs on the Palestinian political scene from 2002 to 2004… Beals wouldn’t speak in much detail about what policies he would advocate in Congress—he passed on endorsing or opposing cuts to military aid to Israel, for instance. But he believes peace is possible… Beals is married to a Palestinian woman from Nazareth he met when he was based in Jerusalem, and has two young children. He is, perhaps, one of the only people to spend their formative years in the Israeli-Palestinian cauldron and come out of it feeling better about the human race… While still in his early 20s, he traveled through central Europe to write a book about his family’s Holocaust history.” [Tablet]

Maloney all smiles with diplomat who likened drug war to ‘Final Solution’ — by Carl Campanile: “Rep. Carolyn Maloney… posted a photo on Facebook of her schmoozing at the recent Philippine Independence Day parade with the Philippine’s Representative to the UN, Teodoro Locsin… Locsin caused a stir when he tweeted: “I believe that the Drug Menace is so big it needs a FINAL SOLUTION like the Nazis adopted.” [NYPost]

Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families — by Julie Zauzmer and Keith McMillan: “Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday used a Bible verse to defend his department’s policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border from Mexico, suggesting that God supports the government in separating immigrant parents from their children. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Ind…”[WashPost]

— A day after hosting Jeff Sessions at the Orthodox Union annual mission to DC, OU President Moishe Bane released a statementcriticizing the Trump Administration’s border enforcement policies: “As an Orthodox Jewish organization whose values are anchored in those of the Torah and Jewish history, we are deeply concerned about any steps taken that affect families and the parent/child relationship. The family is viewed by the Torah as a sacred institution and fundamental building block of society… Thus, we believe that immigration, asylum and border security policies must also be fashioned and implemented in a manner that takes all steps possible to keep parents and children united.”

** 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: Facebook policy and communications head Elliot Schrage will step down after a decade [Recode] • Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp has hired Subject Matter to lobby on “issues related to opioids.”[PoliticoInfluence• Naty Saidoff to Buy Shari Arison’s Company for $310m [Haaretz] • Glencore Tests U.S. Sanctions Resolve With Dan Gertler Payments [Bloomberg] • CEO of Restoration Hardware Gary Friedman was inspired by Warren Buffett during the home design giant’s turnaround [CNBC] • Gary Vaynerchuk is launching a new men’s media brand about the collision of entrepreneurship and pop culture [BusinessInsider]

MEDIA WATCH — Will AT&T Be Able to Handle HBO? — by John Koblin: “Will these telecommunications executives be able to put up with the producers, directors and stars whose work gave the network 29 Emmys last year? And on the personal level, how will the relationship go between Richard Plepler, the smooth-talking, perpetually tanned chief executive of HBO, and the man who would be his new boss, Randall Stephenson, a former national chairman of the Boy Scouts of America? The two executives seem as different from each other as the companies they run.” [NYTimes]

Top suitors vying for former Time magazines — by Keith Kelly: “Ari Emanuel’s William Morris Endeavor is said to be in the game to buy Sports Illustrated, one of four former Time Inc. titles that the current owner Meredith is auctioning off. Mark Shapiro, WME president and a onetime executive vice president and programming director at ESPN, is said to be driving the deal…”[NYPost]

Facebook’s New Political Algorithms Increase Tension With Publishers — by Ben Sisario: “Mark Thompson, the chief executive of The New York Times Company, accused Facebook of unintentionally “supporting the enemies of quality journalism” by using algorithms that can mischaracterize news as partisan political content. Mr. Thompson was speaking at a panel discussion in New York, which also included Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships… Ms. Brown cited the importance of safeguarding elections and said the problems with political ads were “something we are deeply concerned about. We hear you.” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK — Nationals owner Ted Lerner, 92, to cede control of club to his son, Mark — by Barry Svrluga: “Ted Lerner, the Washington real estate magnate who became the owner of the Washington Nationals a dozen years ago, will cede control of the club to his son, Mark… The move was approved unanimously by baseball’s 29 other owners, who were meeting this week at the league’s offices in New York… Since the Lerners bought the Nationals from MLB for $450 million in 2006, there had been no clear path of succession should Ted Lerner, now 92, step aside… Though Mark Lerner said his father would still have input, the family is preparing for a full transition.” [WashPost]

A Literal U.S.-Canada Trade War Over Herring — by David Singerman: “Today, America and Canada fight over dairy and aluminum. In the late 19th century, they fought over frozen herring—and these trade wars meant real violence… In December 1877, the first of more than two dozen Gloucester ships had arrived in Fortune Bay, in the island’s southeast. But the herring kept the fleet waiting: By Saturday, January 5th, there were still no fish in the bay. On the 6th, the herring appeared at last, and the Americans, eager to bring the first cargoes back to New England, began to lay their seines. Witnesses on board the ships testified later that over two hundred Newfoundlanders “gathered on the beach and demanded that the seines be taken up, giving a pretext that it was unlawful to fish on the Sabbath.” This crowd then began, the Gloucester shipowner John Pew attested in a petition to the Treasury, “a war-like demonstration.” They overpowered the crews, tore up Pew’s seines, and liberated all the herring.” [TheAtlantic] • The Atlantic’s David Graham tweets: YUM! KIPPER WAR

“My Wife Hated the Idea of Marriage, But That Didn’t Stop Her from Proposing to Me” — by Dan Schwerin, former speechwriter for Hillary Clinton: “Growing up as the daughter of a right-wing rabbi in an Orthodox Jewish community in Southern California, YJ (short for Yael Julie) had chafed at the expectation that a woman’s highest ambition should be to get married as soon as possible and immediately start having babies. When her high school friends found husbands at age seventeen and applied to small Jewish colleges, she charted a different path. Her resistance never faded. In her mid-30s, a fully secular Ivy League–educated lawyer and State Department diplomat, she still felt a fierce need to assert her independence. She even hated going to weddings. The idea of having her own was out of the question.” [Vogue]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Swedish author and psychologist, a survivor of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, Hédi Fried turns 94… British billionaire, knighted in 1989, Baron David Alliance turns 86… Co-founder with his father and brothers in 1961 of Canadian radio and television conglomerate Astral Media, he was president and CEO from 1996 until its $3.3 billion sale to Bell Canada in 2013, Ian Greenberg turns 76… Gerald S. Adler turns 76… Former president of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Phoenix, Stuart C. Turgel turns 70… Former president of the National Rifle Association (2005-2007) where she has served on the board since 1992, Sandra S. (Sandy) Froman turns 69… Billionaire, vice president of the Eurasian Jewish Congress, he has rebuilt a synagogue and a community center in Estonia, Alexander Bronstein Ph.D. turns 64… President and CEO of the public relations firm Edelman, founded by his father Daniel Edelman in 1952, Richard Winston Edelman turns 64… Born and educated in NYC, he moved to Warsaw in 2000 and became Chief Rabbi of Poland in 2004, Rabbi Michael Schudrich turns 63… Rabbi of Congregation Beth Abraham in Bergenfield, NJ, Yaakov Neuburger turns 63… Beverly Hills-based attorney at Harder LLP specializing in entertainment, intellectual property and litigation, he is a former board member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jeffrey I. Abrams turns 51… Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and deputy managing editor at The New York Times where he manages the NYT’s digital platforms, Clifford J. Levy turns 51… CNN’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash (born Dana Ruth Schwartz) turns 47… News and finance reporter at both CNN and CBS simultaneously, Bianna Golodrygaturns 40… Former director of speechwriting for Hillary Clinton, he was also the principal collaborator on HRC’s two memoirs (published in 2014 and 2017), Daniel Baum Schwerin turns 36… NYC-based public affairs manager for DC and regional communications at Google, Rebecca Michelle Ginsberg Rutkoff turns 33 (h/t Playbook)… Director of American Values at the Paul E. Singer Foundation, Joel Winton… Director of Board Relations at Birthright Israel Foundation, Jaclyn “Jackie” Saxe Soleimani… Digital journalist and producer for ABC News, daughter of Max Weinberg (longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band), Ali S. Weinberg Rogin… Elli Sweet… Jimmy Ritter

SATURDAY: Former Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, Elaine Bloom turns 81… Former Mayor of Portland, Governor of Oregon and later a member of Jimmy Carter’s cabinet, Neil Goldschmidt turns 78… Brigadier-General (retired) in the IDF, then a member of Knesset (1992-1999), since 2007 he is chairman of Ha’aguda Lema’an Hachayal, a non-profit IDF veterans group, Avigdor Kahalani turns 74… Chairman of AG International Law, Allan Gerson turns 73… Graduate and later Dean of Yeshiva College, US ambassador to Egypt (1997-2001) for President Bill Clinton, and US ambassador to Israel (2001-2005) for President George W Bush, Daniel C. Kurtzer turns 69… Rickey Wolosky Palkovitzturns 69… Chief investigative correspondent at Yahoo! News, Michael Isikoffturns 66… Overland Park, KS resident, Matthew Elyachar turns 58… Managing director and founder in 2008 of NYC-based Marathon Strategies, Philip Keith (“Phil”) Singer turns 43… Israeli investigative journalist, Ronen Bergman turns 46…

SUNDAY: Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs in the Carter administration, now a UN Special Representative, Matthew Nimetzturns 79… Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, professor at Georgetown and UC Berkeley, he is married to retired Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellin, George Akerlof turns 78… Elected in 2015 as a member of the Knesset for the Zionist Union party, Eitan Broshi turns 68… Commissioner and then Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (2004-2013), now a partner at the law firm of Davis Polk, Jonathan David (“Jon”) Leibowitzturns 60… Fashion designer, daughter of Reva Schapira, Tory Burch turns 52… Rabbi Yakov Meir Nagen (born Genack) turns 51… Principal in the Chicago office of Civitas Public Affairs Group, David Elliot Horwich turns 42… VP for the Economic Program at Third Way, Gabriel Aron (“Gabe”) Horwitz turns 42… Director of government affairs for the Conservation Lands Foundation, David Eric Feinman turns 39… Rabbi of the Elmora Hills Minyan in Union County, NJ, Rabbi Michael Bleicher turns 34… College football reporter for The All-American, Nicole Auerbach turns 29… Member of the United States Ski Team’s alpine skiing program, Jared Goldberg turns 27… Shortstop in the Colorado Rockies organization, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Scott Burcham turns 25… Editor-in-Chief for the international news channel i24News bureau in Washington, Mounira Al Hmoud… Michael Warner… Michael Freund




Daily Kickoff: Sessions upset with Kushner’s pardon push | WeWork raising again | CNN’s Jeff Zucker extended through 2020 | UJA honors Troy Carter

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SPOTLIGHT: “Madoff Trustee Reaches $280 Million Accord With Merkin Funds” by Erik Larson: “Almost a decade after Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme collapsed, the trustee unwinding his fraud struck another settlement with one of the con man’s earliest investors — a $280 million deal with the hedge-fund operator and philanthropist J. Ezra Merkin. The accord, announced Wednesday, allows the 65-year-old Merkin to avoid what would have been the first major trial in a lawsuit by the trustee since the unraveling of Madoff’s fraud in 2008 wiped out $17.5 billion in principal for thousands of investors.”

“Yeshiva University, a modern Orthodox Jewish institution, invested with Madoff through Merkin and lost about $100 million. Madoff and Merkin both sat on the school’s board… Merkin has said he was simply another a victim of a sophisticated scam. Under the agreement terms, the Merkin entities, which lost hundreds of millions of dollars in Madoff’s firm, will get a belated claim in the bankruptcy case… But the deal requires Merkin to use those funds to finance his settlement and to distribute the remaining money to Ascot investors who are ineligible to get money from the trustee because they weren’t direct Madoff customers.” [BloombergWSJ]

DEEP DIVE — How the King of New York Kosher Restaurants Helped Qatar Win Over American Jewish Leaders — by Hannah Dreyfus and Dan Friedman: “In the fall of 2017… [Joseph] Allaham approached Dershowitz… at a Sabbath service at the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan to invite him to Qatar… Last month, Muzin filed a report with the Justice Department noting that the Qatari embassy had paid his firm $204,000 in December 2017 and January 2018 for “travel reimbursement.” … Dershowitz returned to Qatar in early March 2018 to present a lecture on the law and the media at the Northwestern University Qatar campus. The speech was sponsored by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, an organization controlled by the family of Qatar’s emir… In an interview with Mother Jones, Dershowitz would not say if he was paid for the lecture. Dershowitz says his airfare was covered, but “I have no idea who paid.”

“Malcolm Hoenlein visited Qatar in December on an Allaham-arranged trip. He says he was there for one day and met Emir al-Thani. He also met separately with other officials, including the head of Al Jazeera… Allaham has known Hoenlein since at least 2010, when he helped arrange a meeting between Hoenlein and Syrian President Bashar Assad. Last year, Allaham attended Hoenlein’s daughter’s wedding. As his guest, Allaham brought a younger brother of Qatar’s emir. Hoenlein says this member of the Qatari ruling family did not give his daughter a gift.” [MotherJones]

— Qatar’s Efforts to Influence American Jews Continue to Unravel — by Armin Rosen: “In the statement… sent to Tablet, Allaham claims as much: “The Broidy case and ending my work for Qatar are not related. I had planned for a while on announcing my resignation this Friday. The Broidy case sped up faster than a lot of people thought, so it’s a coincidence the two things are happening in the same week.” But it’s just as possible that there are more revelations on tap about Allaham’s work with Qatar—and about Muzin’s. For instance, phone records revealed during the discovery process showed over 1,000  calls between Allaham and [Mort] Klein’s numbers during a year-long period ending in mid-May; phone records also show 36 calls between Muzin’s number and Klein’s home phone number, along with roughly 100 calls and texts between the two men’s cell phones over a 9-month period ending in May.”[Tablet]

WHITE HOUSE DEPARTURES — Kris Bauman, who was President Trump’s point person on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the National Security Council, is leaving the White House on Friday, Politico Playbook reportedyesterday, citing to two sources familiar with the move. Bauman was General (Ret.) John R. Allen’s Chief of Staff when Allen served in the Obama administration as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Defense on Middle East Security. He joined the administration in May 2017, replacing Yael Lempert, who left to work at the State Department. ZOA’s Mort Klein opposed his appointment, labeling him pro-Hamas.

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Trump’s Mideast peace plan won’t have pro-Israel bias, U.S. officials say — by Barak Ravid: “Senior U.S. officials involved in drafting President Trump’s Middle East peace plan pushed back on claims from Palestinian leadership… that the plan will be biased in favor of Israel. One official told me… “If we wanted to draft a ‘Bibi plan’ that is not fair, balanced, realistic and appropriate we could have done that 17 months ago. I don’t think characterizing it as a ‘Bibi plan’ is a fair characterization of our plan. There will be parts of the plan both sides are going to not like.” … One senior official told me: “Look what happened two days ago in North Korea. Things change and we have long term view of this.” [Axios

— Top U.S. Officials: Peace Plan Will Be Basis for Talks, Not ‘Take It or Leave It’ Document — by Amir Tibon: “The current administration is considering making its peace plan available to the public, but only after its final version is shared with the leaders in the region. “We want the public to know what is in it, at the right time, because the public needs to support it, not just the leaders,” said one official.”

“When asked if it is possible that following his summit with Kim [Jong Un], Trump will lose interest in an Israeli-Palestinian deal since he no longer needs a foreign policy achievement to present to the American public, one official used a metaphor from Trump’s real estate career to explain why he’s convinced that that’s not going to happen. “The president built Trump Tower, and then what did he do after that? He went and he built another five Trump Towers,” the official said. “He didn’t just stop with one.” [Haaretz

Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman addressed an Orthodox Union delegation at the White House but, according to two sources, warned the group at the outset not to ask them about the peace plan. [Pic]

Vice President Pence spoke to the Southern Baptist Convention — recap by Julie Zauzmer: “Pence drew the most sustained ovations when he mentioned the Trump administration’s action of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and when he described Trump as “the most pro-life president in American history,” two extremely popular issues among evangelicals.” [WashPostVideo]  

Chemi Shalev writes… “The Secret of Israel’s Trumpmania? He’s One of Our Own: The U.S. President speaks the blunt “dugri” that Israelis cherish. He abhors convention, thrives on provocations, detests political correctness, ignores human rights, mocks liberals and leftists, torments immigrants and trashes the media on a daily basis. Even the fact that he has isolated America in the Western world speaks in his favor: Welcome to the club, Israelis would say.” [Haaretz]

TURTLE BAY — UN Assembly blames Israel for Gaza violence, but not Hamas — by Edith Lederer: “The U.N. General Assembly approved a Palestinian-backed resolution Wednesday blaming Israel for violence in Gaza after narrowly rejecting a U.S. demand to add a condemnation of attacks on Israel by Gaza’s Hamas rulers… The U.S. motion was approved on 62-58 vote, with 42 abstentions. But General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak declared that under an assembly rule, a two-thirds majority was needed so the amendment failed. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley appealed, citing another rule that says only a majority vote was required. After a short break, Lajcak then put the U.S. appeal to a vote. The U.S. narrowly lost that vote 66-73 with 26 abstentions. Finally, the assembly voted on the original Palestinian-backed resolution, approving it 120-8 with 45 abstentions.” [AP]

— “Loud applause greeted the outcome of the vote posted on a digital board in the cavernous General Assembly chamber.” [NYTimes]

Robert Satloff tweets“Silver lining in ⁦UN⁩ vote critiquing Israel: 62 countries, a plurality, voted with USG on amendment to condemn Hamas. Small but important step in right direction.”

INSIDE THE ADMIN — The Silence of John Bolton — by Rosie Gray: “The secretary of state is supposed to be the nation’s chief diplomat and top foreign-policy adviser to the President,” former Bush administration national-security official Elliott Abrams said in an email. “This is what people like Kissinger, Jim Baker, George Shultz, and Condi Rice were and what it seems Pompeo is now. The system works best this way, with the national-security adviser an inside player making sure that all relevant perspectives get to the president and that his decisions are implemented. Bolton appears to be playing exactly that role, to the surprise of some of his critics. If we now enter long and complex negotiations with NK over denuclearization, several agencies (State, DOD, CIA, DIA, and more) will have to be involved and that coordinating job is why we have an NSC. So it seems to me so far so good for Bolton.” [TheAtlantic]

JARED INSIDER — Sessions Fumes as Kushner Pushes Pardons — by Gabriel Sherman: “[Jared] Kushner’s absence from the G7 and Singapore summits is being discussed and parsed by Trump advisers. “He’s staying out of everything,” one administration official told me… Talk of Kushner returning to New York has quieted. “Jared is winning,” a former West Wing staffer said. But instead of trying to fix problems around the globe, Kushner has refocused on a much narrower agenda… aggressively lobbying his father-in-law to pardon more people. It’s part of Kushner’s strategy to repair his reputational damage with liberals.”

“In recent months, Kushner has cultivated a close relationship with CNN host and criminal-justice reform advocate Van Jones. “Jared is obsessed with Van,” one Trump adviser said. Kushner invited Jones to the White House multiple times and the two communicate frequently… The Kushner-Jones alliance has infuriated some Republican members of the administration, especially Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “He hate, hate, hates it,” a person close to Sessions said…. Sources say Trump may even like that Sessions is outraged because Trump is looking for anything that will get Sessions to quit.” [VanityFair]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Sessions backs Supreme Court decision in favor of Christian baker — by Candice Norwood: “Speaking at the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center’s annual Leadership Mission in Washington, Attorney General Jeff Sessions characterized an increasingly hostile environment for people with religious convictions. He then commended the Supreme Court’s decision to support Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. “There is no need for the power of government — no need for the state’s power — to be arrayed against an individual who is honestly attempting to live out — to freely exercise — his sincere religious beliefs,” Sessions told the gathering of the Advocacy Center… During his address on Wednesday, he announced… the Justice Department had filed a lawsuit against Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, for violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act [by preventing] an Orthodox Jewish congregation from expanding into a larger synagogue.” [Politico] • Watch the speech [CSPAN]

PIC: The OU’s Nathan Diament presented Sessions with a plaque from Deuteronomy 16:20: “Justice, Justice shall you pursue.” [Pic]

— OU President Mark Bane explained the verse: “Why does it repeat ‘Justice’ twice? Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa (in Poland) offered the following comment. The Bible repeats the word ‘Justice’ twice to teach us that, of course, we must pursue justice but not only must we pursue justice to its end but we must pursue it through a just means… Our prayer to you is that God will bless you and your colleagues at the department with the wisdom to serve America through the pursuit of justice and through the means of justice.”[Video

Earlier in the day, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told the group at a luncheon on Capitol Hill that he’s proud the Taylor Force Act passed [Pic]

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN DC: The Simon Wiesenthal Center hosted a private screening for their new documentary film on Shimon Peres, Never Stop Dreaming: The Life and Legacy of Shimon Peres, at the Kennedy Center. The two hour film, narrated by George Clooney, features interviews with three former Presidents. Last night’s event was chaired by Norm Brownstein and Howard Friedman. [Pic]

Attendees included Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Rep. Ken Buck, Rep. Jim Himes, Rep. Bobby Rush, Larry Mizel, Dawn Arnall, Chemi Peres, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Rabbi Meyer May, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Marvin Feuer, Avi Jorisch, Tara Brown, Ari Mittleman, Alex Friedman, Amy Rotenberg, Mark Rotenberg, Rabbi Stewart Weinblatt, Simcha Weinblatt, Ezra Friedlander, Corey Meyer, Logan Tessler.

TOP TALKER — Michael Cohen, Trump’s Fixer, Parting With Lawyers as Federal — by Alan Feuer, William Rashbaum and Maggie Haberman: “Prosecutors conducting the inquiry have not yet approached Mr. Cohen to seek his cooperation… But as the investigation continues, and with Mr. Cohen’s legal team in flux, the pressure on him to cooperate with the government may well intensify… The dispute between Mr. Cohen and his lawyers involves the payment of his legal bills, part of which are being financed by the Trump family.”

“One person with knowledge of the legal staffing change said Mr. Trump’s camp was “very displeased” with the way the Cohen investigation had so far been conducted… But the president has also indicated to allies that he is worried that if he pushes Mr. Cohen away too hard, it could increase the likelihood that Mr. Cohen will offer information to the government.” [NYTimesWSJ

2018 WATCH — How Corey Stewart Could Endanger Other Virginia Republicans — by Michael Tackett and Trip Gabriel: “The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party’s campaign arm, said it would not support Mr. Stewart, who lags far behind Mr. Kaine in fund-raising and has a history of cozying up to white supremacists and anti-Semites… The real worry for national Republicans — and the hope for Democrats — is that Mr. Stewart’s nomination may cost some incumbent Republicans in Virginia their seats in Congress.” [NYTimes] • GOP Senate candidate Kelli Ward disavows anti-Semite Paul Nehlen [CNN

Rep. Steve King retweeted a neo-Nazi, and doesn’t seem sorry about it — by Zack Beauchamp: “On Monday, Iowa Rep. Steve King made headlines for retweeting a British neo-Nazi, Mark Collett… It’s been more than a day now and King has neither deleted his tweet nor apologized for signal-boosting an anti-Semite.” [Vox]

Trump’s departed — sometimes disgraced — staff hit the campaign trail — by Anita Kumar And Katie Glueck: “[Sebastian] Gorka… is slated to rally and raise money with [Sean] Spicer on behalf of Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York on June 28. “I will support anyone who is a fighter, fed up with the domination of RINOs, and who wants to Make America Great Again,” Gorka said in an email.” [McClatchyDC]

** Good Thursday 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: WeWork Is Raising Funds at $35 Billion Valuation, SoftBank Executive Says [Bloomberg] • Ivan Glasenberg’s Glencore writes off $7 billion of debt to end legal battle in Congo[SydneyMorningHerald] • Two Cybersecurity Companies with Links to Israel Placed on U.S. Blacklist [Calcalist] • Real estate mogul Sam Zell made another offensive comment about women recently, source says [Politico] • Brad Pitt’s Israeli MIT crush still going strong with billionaire hedge funder Bill Ackman [NYPost]

MEDIA WATCH — Jeff Zucker Renews at CNN Through the 2020 Election — by Joe Pompeo: “I’ve learned that the veteran broadcast executive, who has served as president of Time Warner’s cable news channel since 2013, signed a new deal several months ago that will keep him at CNN through the 2020 election… Zucker’s future at CNN has been one of the biggest question marks hanging over journalists at the network ever since they began bracing for life under AT&T many months ago.” [VanityFair] • AT&T’s Time Warner Prize—A Load of Hollywood Headaches [WSJ]

REPORT: “As the world pays tribute to Anthony Bourdain days after his death, the culinary star was cremated in France on Wednesday, a source tells PEOPLE. His ashes will be flown back to the United States on Friday, the source adds.” [PeopleMag]

My Dinner With Drake — by Amos Barshad: “It was for Heeb magazine, a spiky publication that imagined itself as the home for discerning, self-effacing Jewish hipsters… The ensuing reader comments were appropriately on-brand for the Heeb readership. Like: “I really do hope he follows his mom’s desire and marries a nice Jewish girl—and I really hope that girl is me!” and “I’m a Black Jewish Canadian mom with a beautiful son of my own. Drake’s story is a 1-in-a-billion fairytale. If he continues to be proud of who he is, the success will always follow.” We know now how the story goes. He did not marry that one Jewish girl. But he did succeed and succeed and succeed until—at some point, maybe around a half-a-decade ago—he became totemic.” [Pitchfork

Spotify’s Troy Carter Receives UJA Music Visionary Award, Minus Fellow Honoree Daniel Ek — by Jem Aswad: “If there’s one single event in the music industry year besides the Grammys that draws more top-flight executives than any other, it’s the United Jewish Appeal’s luncheon, which raises money for the organization and honors a different executive or executives with its Music Visionary of the Year accolade. This year, the honorees were Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Troy Carter… Musical entertainment was provided by R&B singer H.E.R. and Grammy-nominee Leon Bridges, and NBA legend Julius “Dr. J” Erving and iconic soul singer Patti LaBelle — both of whom have known Carter since his childhood in Philadelphia — paid homage to him.”[Variety]

What’s So Funny About Orthodox Judaism? This Comic Has One Answer — by Jason Zinoman: “At the Theater Center in Times Square… a slickly funny stand-up show, “Strictly Unorthodox,” presents a more culturally marginal Jewish perspective. An ultra-Orthodox Jew from England, Ashley Blaker has built an act about the rituals of an insular, deeply traditional community that treats much of modern culture and society with suspicion… This is pitched to a mainstream audience, but his live set also caters to an observant Jewish audience, and appealing to both is the challenge of his show. Mr. Blaker, a producer at the BBC whose credits include “Little Britain,” jokes that he might be the only person who works in television who doesn’t own one… He does not perform during the Sabbath, and in an effort to accommodate religious audiences who do not want to sit next to a member of the opposite sex, some of his performances feature seating segregated by gender.” [NYTimes]

TOP PICS — John Mulaney, a stand-up comedian and a writer on Saturday Night Live, shared a picture of Benjamin Netanyahu working out at the hotel gym while in Paris last week [Pic

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted AIPAC Board Chair Lillian Pinkus and a leadership delegation in Berlin this week [Pic

HEARD YESTERDAY — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Magen David Yeshivah in Brooklyn, New York: “New York is proud of its relationship with the Jewish community. We celebrate our relationship with the Jewish community… And we stand shoulder to shoulder with the state of Israel always and forever. And whenever there’s a question of, who is the ally to Israel? New York will stand up and say, it starts with us.” [Video]

At the event, hosted by the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, Cuomo announced a $5.8 million award for nonprofit schools, daycare centers and cultural museums in Brooklyn through the state’s new $25 million Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program. Cuomo called the OU’s Allen Fagin a ‘mensch’ and joked, “In Italian, we would call Allen a mensch. He is, yes, it was Italian first, a mensch.” He also poked fun at his younger brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, at an earlier event at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway in Long Island: “I have three sisters, two of three sisters married Jewish men. One married an Irish man. None married an Italian. I don’t know why none of my sisters married an Italian. I have a theory, because I have a younger brother named Chris, who I think was not a good role model as an Italian.”

Cuomo tells Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh: “I am one hundred percent supportive of the Jewish community. I always have been and I always will be. My father [Mario Cuomo] was before me. As governor, I have been a stronger supporter of Israel than any governor in the history of the State of New York. I don’t want to get into a competition with my father on who is a stronger supporter of Israel, but I will take a tie with my father, and that will never change.”

DESSERT — Smokey Joe’s Joins Expanding Array of Kosher Foods at ShopRite — by Bracha Schwartz: “Joe Godin was back in his element, serving samples of his special cornbread and onion jam at the new and expanded kosher food section of ShopRite in Englewood on Sunday, June 11. Since his restaurant Smokey Joe’s in Teaneck closed in 2016, Godin has focused on his catering business. Now he’s branching out with a line of packaged fresh products exclusively for ShopRite.” [NJJewishLink]

BIRTHDAYS: 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump turns 72… Civil rights activist with the NAACP in the US and for Peace Now when she lived in Ashkelon (1972-1983), June Shagaloff Alexander turns 90… Retired Soviet nuclear scientist, now writing from Skokie on Jewish intellectual spirituality, Vladimir Minkov Ph.D. turns 85… Member of Knesset (1988-2003) and twice Israel’s Minister of Finance, Mayor of Arad for twenty years and son-in-law of former Israeli prime minister Levi Eshkol, Avraham (“Beiga”) Shochat turns 82… Senior Vice President for Synagogue and Rabbinic Initiatives at the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles, Dr. Beryl Geber turns 81… Former French UN Ambassador (2000-2002), French Ambassador to the USA (2002-2007), then diplomatic advisor to former French Presidents Chirac and Sarkozy (2007-2012), Jean-David Levitte turns 72… Writer, critic, philosopher and magazine editor, Leon Wieseltier turns 66… Russian-born billionaire and philanthropist, now a UK resident, Leonard “Len” Blavatnik turns 61…

Principal at M+R Strategic Services, a consulting firm for non-profits with 130 employees, William Benjamin (“Bill”) Wasserman turns 59… Head of News Partnerships at Facebook, previously an Emmy Award-winning television news anchor on NBC (2003-2007) and CNN (2008-2010), Campbell Brown turns 50… Global communications executive at Nike, previously an official at USAID, Daniel M. Gaynor turns 37… NYC-based businessman, living in the US since 2003, he is the son of Russian oligarch and former political prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Pavel Khodorkovsky turns 33… New Leadership Network Director at AIPAC, Lilly Rapson turns 27… Freelance writer specializing in European and Israeli politics, Liam Hoare… Joanna Lerner… Julia Cohen, a reporting fellow at the Daily Caller News Foundation… Dan Schwerin, former director of speechwriting for Hillary Clinton (h/ts Playbook)…

Rand Paul aide reads Trump letter at Jewish wedding

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

President Donald Trump sent a personal letter congratulating a Jewish bride and groom on Tuesday. Shlomo Segal and Devorah Ganz were married last night at Ateres Chynka hall…

Kafe Knesset for December 18

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hate to say I told you so: Right-wing Twitter broke out in calls of “I told you so” this morning following the Politico story on Obama, Hezbollah and…

House committee advances Jordan MOU amidst rare Congressional critique of Amman

Friday, December 15, 2017

WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed legislation that would re-authorize a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen U.S. defense ties with Jordan….

Lawmakers on Abbas’ cancellation of Pence meeting

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

WASHINGTON – After President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed the White House on Sunday that it would be canceling…

Kafe Knesset for December 6

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Jerusalem is holding its breath: Excitement is building ahead of the Presidential address on Jerusalem this evening, but the Israeli PM is waiting to see what exactly will…

Kafe Knesset for December 4

Monday, December 4, 2017

Embassy watch: While the PMO is still keeping its distance from the explosive Jerusalem Embassy move or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, some of Bibi’s senior ministers…