Daily Kickoff: Trump Tower Baku’s ties with Iranian Revolutionary Guard | MK Glick’s 30 State Solution | Israel wins again at World Baseball Classic

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HEARD IN JERUSALEM: “Jeff Zucker on Donald Trump, Fake News, CNN’s ‘Golden Age’” by Debra Kamin: “Zucker, who is in Jerusalem this week for the media-centric INTV conference at the city’s historic YMCA, told attendees that Trump’s declarations of fake news and his labeling of journalists as “enemies of the people” has helped usher in a golden age for CNN… In a friendly hour-long back-and-forth, Zucker and [Channel 2 News anchor Yonit] Levi discussed CNN’s coverage of the election… and also — in an anecdote that drew laughter and gasps from the crowd — the true story of how Zucker himself played a critical role in launching the television career of the current leader of the Free World when, as president of NBC Universal, he ordered “The Apprentice” with Trump as host….”

“Mark Burnett brought [‘The Apprentice’] in as a package. It was pitched to us as ‘Survivor’ in a different jungle, the jungle of the boardroom,” Zucker said. “I had lived in New York for all my adult life but I was working in Los Angeles, and as a New Yorker I really understood the appeal of Donald Trump, in terms of his ability to create publicity, his ability to create a big commotion.” He jumped on the pitch. “So you are the man who made Donald Trump a television star?” asked Levi, to which Zucker simply said, “Well, I am the man who greenlit ‘The Apprentice.’” Zucker has always understood Trump’s appeal, he told the crowd, which is why CNN gave the real estate mogul-turned president so much coverage early on in the presidential campaign. “Once he decided to run, knowing him and knowing his charisma and his ability to attract attention, I think we understood earlier than most other news organizations that he should be taken seriously,” Zucker said.” [Variety; HollywoodReporter]

Zucker took the stage after a ‘blistering speech’ from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan about the international media’s biased reporting toward Israel’s ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. According to Peter Lerner of the IDF Spokespersons Unit, Zucker said that there are always two sides of the conflict, but Israel is much more than the conflict. [JPost; Twitter]

Spotted at Yad Vashem‏: “Jeff Zucker President of CNN Worldwide in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Names during his recent visit.” [Pic

HEARD IN DC: “Anti-Trump sentiment may turn against Israel, Ya’alon warns” by Eric Cortellessa: “I’m afraid of the fact that Israel is identified nowadays more with the Republicans,” [former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon] said Monday during a lecture at American University’s Center for Israel Studies. “Anti-Trump sentiments are becoming anti-Israel sentiments. This is my fear.” [ToI]

BUZZ FROM BERLIN: “Trump a new test for German-Israeli ‘special relationship'” by Noah Barkin: “The extent of the strains between Germany and Israel was underscored last month when Merkel canceled a summit with Netanyahu that was due to take place in Jerusalem in May… “Netanyahu does not listen to us and the situation may only get worse with Trump,” said one senior German official… In Israel, an official… argued that Berlin’s main gripe was with Trump. “Germany is really angry with Trump, but they can’t afford to express it or take him on directly because he’s too strong,” the official said.” [Reuters]

“Tillerson pushes back on White House’s proposed cuts to State Department and USAID” by Josh Rogin: “The memo says that Tillerson… “is deeply concerned about the timing and the size of the reductions… We intend to make the strongest argument possible in our appeal that the Department needs this additional funding to ensure the United States remains active, engaged and influential throughout the world and that any changes to our mission or way or doing business occur in the context of the National Security Strategy.” … The White House’s proposal would shift almost all foreign military financing grants to loans, except for the security assistance committed to Israel, the memo states.” [WashPost]

“Bipartisan Support Behind Campaign Urging Trump Not to Cut anti-Semitism Envoy” by Amir Tibon: “A draft of the bipartisan letter… states that: “[A]s Members of Congress who care deeply about anti-Semitism at home and abroad, we urge you to maintain and prioritize the appointment of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.”” [Haaretz

“Floridian Congressman Touts U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem, Tours Potential Sites” by Eylon Aslan-Levy: “According to Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Florida)—the chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security who led a two-day delegation to Israel over the weekend—President Trump is likely to announce in June that the U.S. Embassy in Israel will relocate to Jerusalem… The Congressman said the “most ready” location for relocating the embassy is the U.S. Consular Section in Talpiyot because it’s already “very well-guarded.” … Also under consideration are the Diplomat Hotel, inside that former no-man’s land, and “partial leased land” in Jerusalem, presumed to refer to an empty plot on Hebron Road. The congressional delegation is also considering using the U.S. Consulate in West Jerusalem, which serves as the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority.” [Tablet

Introducing Lahav Harkov, the new contributor to Kafe Knesset. Lahav is the Jerusalem Post’s parliamentary reporter, and will be joining Tal Shalev in giving JI readers a glimpse into what’s driving the conversation among Israeli political leaders each day.

KAFE KNESSET — Trump interrupted Israeli police questioning Bibi — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Trump provided Netanyahu with a pleasant respite by dialing him during the five-hour police interrogation at Bibi’s residence last night. Bibi’s aides said it was a surprise call from the White House and that the main focus was Iran. Meanwhile, during the probe, Netanyahu was reportedly confronted with new and surprising information gathered from Arnon Milchan in recent days. According to sources close to the investigation, Milchan’s most recent testimony was dramatic and substantial. The police are still trying to reach Aussie billionaire James Packer, who, according to a new Ha’aretz exposé funded 25% of the alleged gifts from Milchan to the Netanyahu family. To date, the authorities have not been able to interview Packer.

According to other press reports, the police are hoping to question Sheldon Adelson, as well. Meanwhile, Yair Lapid is not waiting for the investigation to be concluded and Lapid is already preparing for the the next election. Lapid convened a special press conference today during which he introduced seven new members of his party – mayors from around the country. Lapid has invested a lot of effort in rallying support outside of the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem metropolitan areas and the local leaders – previously aligned with the Likud and Labor – pledged their support for Lapid, who explained the timing of the announcement with a clear-cut statement that “we are in election-year mode.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Israel’s opposition: A camp with a backpack” by Shmuel Rosner: “Labor is not just a party, it used to be a representative of a certain political camp. It used to be the main vehicle of political identity for Israel’s left of center. Its uncertain future is testimony to the fact that Israel’s left-of-center camp is not just having problems winning elections, it is having problems deciding what it is, what ideology it wants to pursue, what party can represent it, what type of leadership it needs. Israel’s left of center is drifting, its voters moving like nomads from one party to the other. They used to have a home: The Labor Party. They now have a backpack. Constantly on the move in search of a political miracle.” [JewishJournal]

INTERVIEW – Member of Knesset Yehuda Glick (Likud) spoke to JI’s Jacob Kornbluh at the Knesset yesterday about the possible relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem: “It can be done gradually. I don’t think that it should be done at once. Today, there is a Consulate in West Jerusalem. You don’t have to move the embassy there in one day. But for instance, why don’t you have the Ambassador come there once a month? The Jerusalem Consulate, currently, doesn’t work through Tel Aviv. They work through Amman (Jordan). They don’t have any connections. They can’t even send a fax from the Jerusalem office to the Tel Aviv office. The first thing should be done is to make contact between the two since they represent the same country. There should be an office at the Jerusalem Consulate where the ambassador comes and sits there once a month.”

“Instead of Trump issuing a waiver on June 1st like they have been doing automatically every six months, let him waive the Jerusalem Embassy Act but say that the U.S. has begun the process of relocating the embassy. Say that it’s happening. There’s no way he’s giving up his promise. I am not here to tell Trump what to do, and I am not going to sit with him with a timer and say, ‘Come on, you promised. Let’s go.’ You know, we have to remember, he doesn’t take orders from me and not from Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Glick’s 30-states solution as an alternative to the two-state solution: “You implement Israeli sovereignty all over Judea and Samaria and you give the Palestinians all human rights, full political rights, and you do it in a smart way that prevents them from becoming a majority. I believe that the whole Israeli system should change to a federal system. Just like you have 50 states in America, Israel should have 30 states – 20 of them Jewish and 10 of them non-Jewish (1 Beduin, 1 Druze, 3 Arab Israelis and 5 Palestinian Israelis) – and each regional state should be able to develop its uniqueness on its own. The Palestinians will be able to have their own state and together they will be part of Israel’s federal government. That way we preserve the Jewish majority and you give them to live their own life, just like New York, Texas and Utah.”

HAPPENING TODAY ON THE HILL — The Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing this morning to discuss the nomination of Rod Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney General. After Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation of the Trump Administration’s alleged ties with Russia, Rosenstein would play a central role in the proceedings, if confirmed. The session is expected to be tense as Democrats will question the U.S. Attorney from Maryland over whether he would support appointing a special prosecutor to examine Moscow’s involvement. “I will use every tool available to block this nomination if Rod Rosenstein fails to commit to appoint a special prosecutor,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Maryland Democratic Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen will introduce the Deputy Attorney General nominee. GOP Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will chair the session and he is expected to express reservations about the necessity of a special prosecutor. [CSPAN]

“Senators decry ‘accelerating’ anti-Semitic threats in bipartisan plea” by Elana Schor: “At least 97 senators will align Tuesday morning in a rare moment of bipartisanship to ask that the Trump administration offer help to Jewish Community Centers and other Jewish institutions facing a sharp rise in security threats this year… The senators not yet signing onto the letter — spearheaded by Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — as of yet were Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.).” [Politico] • Update: Sen. Paul (R-KY) has now signed on, bringing it to 98 senators [Twitter]

“David Friedman unfit to be ambassador to Israel” by Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “Friedman’s positions are so extreme that he tried to walk them back at his confirmation hearing. However, pandering for votes doesn’t negate a lifetime of radical views. If confirmed, I seriously doubt he would push for a two-state solution after so forcefully denouncing it in the past… Even more frightening, I feel his confirmation would only fan the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” [SFChronicle

TAYLOR FORCE ACT: “Palestinian Authority must stop rewarding acts of terrorism” by Amos Yadlin and Moshe Yaalon: “Israel should not refrain from acting against these policies [of PA payments to terrorists and their families] simply because doing so entails risks. Firstly, a failure to respond to PA support for terrorists due to fear of institutional collapse sends the message that Israel seeks to keep the PA alive at any cost… If the PA were to collapse in response to Israeli pressure, which is far from certain, the consequences would be significant though manageable. President Donald Trump, who has expressed disdain for foreign aid, disgust at Islamic terrorism and staunch support of Israel will likely come out in favor of cutting off US taxpayer support to the PA.” [JPost]

“It’s a date: South Carolina’s Sen. Lindsey Graham to lunch with President Trump on Tuesday” by Emma Dumain: “This likely marks the very first time Graham and Trump have sat down together, for any length of time, face to face. It will be just the two of them… On Monday, Graham spoke favorably of the revised White House executive order banning travel to the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries.” [PostandCourier] 

“All Trump has to do is sound presidential to get everything he wants. Instead, he logs on to Twitter” by Jonah Goldberg: “And since Trump’s most loyal fans will celebrate anything he does, there’s no need to pander to them with the greatest hits anymore. In short, there is no downside and all manner of upside for Trump to play the part of a somewhat sober, serious, responsible president — even one with an ambitious populist-outsider agenda. Naturally, Trump opted for Plan B. Step 1: Destroy all hope on Twitter.” [LATimes]

LongRead: “Donald Trump’s Worst Deal” by Adam Davidson: “The Azerbaijanis behind the (Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku) project were close relatives of Ziya Mammadov, the Transportation Minister and one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful oligarchs… Ivanka Trump was the most senior Trump Organization official on the Baku project. In October, 2014, she visited the city to tour the site and offer advice… The Mammadov family… has been financially entangled with an Iranian family tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps… In 2008, the year that the tower was announced, Ziya Mammadov, in his role as Transportation Minister, awarded a series of multimillion-dollar contracts to Azarpassillo, an Iranian construction company… The available evidence strongly suggests that Ziya Mammadov conspired with an agent of the Revolutionary Guard to make overpriced deals that would enrich them both while allowing them to flout prohibitions against money laundering and to circumvent sanctions against Iran… The Baku deal appears to be the second time that the Trump Organization has turned a blind eye to U.S. efforts to sanction Iran.” [NewYorker

“Iran Nuclear Deal Could Be Gateway for Terrorism Legal Claims” by Charlie Savage: “Over the last two decades, since Congress carved out a terrorism case exception to the general rule that people cannot use American courts to sue foreign governments, victims of attacks have racked up more than $50 billion in default judgments against Iran… In the first case of its kind, a group of attack victims — including estates of people who were killed — who won one of the default judgments against Iran has gone to a European court to try to enforce it. A judge in Luxembourg has quietly put a freeze on $1.6 billion in assets belonging to Iran’s central bank, according to people familiar with the case.” [NYTimes] • Iran launched 2 ballistic missiles, US officials say [FoxNews

TALK OF THE TOWN: “N.Y. pols push increased penalties for cemetery vandals amid rise in anti-Semitic incidents” by Edgar Sandoval and Reuven Blau: ““There has been a rise of anti-Semitic hate crimes in our country,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney told reporters gathered inside her Upper East Side office… Maloney said she’s considering expanding the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, which protects foreign cemeteries, into U.S. territory… Maloney also wants to expand anti-Semitism prevention programs and penalties for desecrators.” [NYDailyNews

“De Blasio to visit Staten Island JCC Tuesday after bomb threats” by Anna Sanders: “De Blasio and Police Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill will both go to the Manor Road JCC for a “private meeting” and “VIP town hall” to discuss anti-Semitic crimes in the city… The Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island arranged the 10:30 a.m. event.” [SILive

** Good Tuesday 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: Raiders’ Las Vegas stadium effort to be backed by Bank of America: The Raiders had been seeking a new partner for the proposed $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium after casino magnate Sheldon Adelson withdrew a $650 million pledge last month [10News] • Isaac Chetrit sues would-be buyer of Garment District office building for allegedly backing out [TRD

MEDIA WATCH: “‘Notoriously difficult’: Inside the unraveling of the Thrillist-JackThreads marriage of content and commerce” by Lucia Moses: “Few media executives have been more enthusiastic about the idea of melding content and commerce than Thrillist Media Group founder and publishing scion Ben Lerer… Back in 2010, Thrillist bought flash-sale site JackThreads for a skimpy $10 million, and Lerer gushed that it was a “win-win,” a “spectacular” company with “lots of potential.” But ultimately, Thrillist had to concede what Refinery29 did earlier, in 2013: that the e-commerce business is a low-margin grind, and content and commerce were hard to mix organizationally. In 2015, Thrillist spun off JackThreads into a standalone business.” [Digiday]

“Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks & Meryl Streep Team For Pentagon Papers Drama ‘The Post’” by Mike Fleming Jr: “A timely film about the vital role of the press in keeping government honest is coming together with a powerhouse cast. Steven Spielberg just said yes to direct Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in The Post… The film is a drama about the Washington Post’s role in exposing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and how the Post’s editor Ben Bradlee and publisher Kay Graham challenged the federal government over their right to publish them.” [Deadline]

“Stony-faced Ivanka talks on her cell phone as she is driven out of her D.C. home in a chauffeured SUV while cheery Jared sets off for another day at the White House after weekend at Mar-a-Lago” by Jennifer Smith: “Ivanka Trump failed to raise a smile as she was driven out of her Washington D.C. home on Monday after a weekend with her family in Palm Beach. The First Daughter wore a steely expression as she chatted on her phone in the backseat of a chauffeured SUV. Earlier, her cheerier husband Jared Kushner emerged from the house ready for another day at work.” [DailyMail

“Twitter suspends former KKK leader’s account” by Kyle Feldscher: “David Duke’s Twitter account was temporarily suspended on Monday, according to the social media site. Duke’s Twitter page was inaccessible Monday afternoon during the suspension, the reason for which was not immediately clear.” [DCExaminer

SPORTS BLINK — Israel wins at World Baseball Classic again: “Ryan Lavarnway hit a two-run homer in the third inning and Nate Freiman added a three-run shot in the ninth to help Israel beat Taiwan 15-7 Tuesday and improve to 2-0 in the World Baseball Classic. After beating Pool A host South Korea and Taiwan in its first two games, Israel would clinch a spot in the second round with a win over the Netherlands on Wednesday.” [USAToday]

“NYC’s Kosher Le Marais Steakhouse—What’s Not to Like?” by John Mariani: “After saying that Le Marais is a kosher steakhouse and noting that it serves no dairy products or shellfish and must close on Friday evenings and Saturdays, I have said all I need to about its differences from a non-kosher steakhouse. And that was the guiding principle when a non-Jewish Portuguese named José Meirelles took the advice of his lawyers to open a kosher steakhouse (he was already partner at the non-kosher Les Halles bistro). After first sourcing some of the finest beef available, Meirelles went out and hired an Irish-American chef named Mark Hennessey.” [HuffPost

BIRTHDAYS: Nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Times since 1984, author and social observer, Suzanne Bregman Fields, Ph.D. turns 81… Biologist, president of the California Institute of Technology (1997-2006) and 1975 Nobel laureate in Medicine, David Baltimore turns 79… Bureau chief for the AP in Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, London and Tokyo, president of the National Press Club in 2014, since 2005 a journalism educator at George Washington University, Myron Belkind turns 77… Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company from 1984 – 2005, Michael Eisner turns 75… Retired media executive who was a member of the first co-ed class at Yale University in 1969, Ruth Barbara Jarmul turns 68… Vice-Chairman and general trust counsel of Fiduciary Trust International, Gail Ehrlich Cohen turns 61… Academy Award winning actress, Rachel Weisz turns 47… Brooklyn-based political consultant and attorney focused on media relations, formerly director of intergovernmental affairs for Senator Schumer, Michael Tobman turns 44…

Award-winning freelance journalist, author and adjunct professor at Philip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland, Anne Farris Rosen… Senior publicist in the media relations group at MSNBC, Rachel Zuckerman… Assistant News Director for DC’s NBC4 News, adjunct professor of journalism at American U, Matt Glassman… Staff writer for U.S. News & World Report covering law enforcement, criminal justice, STEM and healthcare, Alan Neuhauser… Democratic political strategist, SVP at TruBlu Politics, Lewis H. Cohen (h/ts Playbook)… Jake Hirth… Sasha Ahuva Farahi… Yaakov Spira

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