Daily Kickoff: Congress crafting Iran sanctions for AIPAC week | Israelis grumble about US official | Ivanka joins West Wing | Rabbi Lookstein BDay

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TOP TALKER: “Billionaire-Backed Jewish Settlement Emerges as New Battleground” by Jonathan Ferziger: “As U.S. policy frowned on settlement construction, money kept flowing to Beit El from billionaires abroad. Among the top contributors are American Eagle Outfitters Inc. Chief Executive Jay Schottenstein, Duty-Free Americas Inc. President Leon Falic, Jordache Jeans founder Joe Nakash and Renco Metals Inc.’s Ira Rennert… Inside the settlement, [David] Friedman’s name is everywhere, starting in the study hall where a brass plaque identifies his father, Rabbi Morris Friedman, as one of the founding trustees. Then there is the Rabbi Morris Friedman Center for Computer Sciences, the Friedman Faculty House and the Friedman fitness center at the settlement’s pre-army academy… Ultimately, said Gilead Sher, a former Israeli peace negotiator, the settlers in Beit El are likely be disappointed in Trump who will “bow to reality” and work toward a two-state solution that keeps Israel and the Palestinians from hurting each other. “We’re looking for a divorce, not a real estate deal,” he said.” [Bloomberg

“Top Palestinian official: Trump committed to two states” by Aron Heller: “Jibril Rajoub told foreign reporters that President Donald Trump made clear to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a recent phone call that he was his “strategic partner” in making a “real and serious” peace between Israelis and Palestinians… Rajoub, a former West Bank security chief, said Trump’s “America First” slogan also indicated that he would be less prone to supporting Israel by default. “I have to understand that it means he is not in the pocket,” he said.” [AP

REPORT — Israeli officials have increased their criticism of Yael Lempert who accompanied Trump advisor Jason Greenblatt on his visit to Israel — by Ariel Kahana: “According to Israeli sources, Lempert “strained the atmosphere.” Diplomatic sources revealed that Lampert tried to prevent a meeting between Greenblatt and the heads of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, and only counter-pressure from Netanyahu’s office eventually led to Greenblatt holding the meeting. They added that it was evident that Greenblatt himself had come to listen, as he has said in public, but Lempert’s influence was on display, and not in a positive way.”

“Among other things, Greenblatt repeated statements that were heard many times during the Obama administration – that Israel is the stronger side in the conflict and therefore there are expected to first take conciliatory measures towards the Palestinian Authority. Israel concluded that this argument, and the human rights issues raised by Greenblatt, echoed similar comments made in the past by Lempert, who holds similar views to those of J Street.” [NRG-Hebrew; Twitter]

–Worth Noting: Sheldon Adelson purchased the NRG website in 2014 for 17 million shekels ($4.86 million).

“The Liquidator From Washington Comes Calling on Netanyahu” by Aluf Benn: “Into this morass stepped Trump, with his demand for a settlement freeze and renewed negotiations with the Palestinians about a “deal.” Netanyahu can’t stave off the current president with the help of Congress the way he did with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama; he is totally dependent on Trump. Thus he would rather avoid conflict with the White House and risk elections, after which he can form a coalition that would be less confrontational toward Trump.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — The Crisis Is Still On — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Political crises in Israel tend to be hectic and chaotic, but they usually last somewhere between 24 and 48 hours. The current coalition crisis over the Israeli Broadcasting Authority vs. the Israeli Broadcast Corporation is now entering its fourth day. The crisis is not likely to be resolved until Thursday when Netanyahu returns from his visit to China… In Israel, Netanyahu’s surrogates – Likud minister Yariv Levin, who’s filling in as Prime Minister in Netanyahu’s absence, and Shlomo “Momo” Filber, director of the Communication Ministry – are attempting to bridge the differences between Netanyahu and Finance Minister Kahlon, but in Beijing, so far, it appears there is no room for compromise. Levin and Filber are trying to work out a creative solution that would merge the IBC and the existing IBA – whatever it takes to bring the sides closer.

The Geula factor: The IBC crisis, by the way, already has a new name – “the Geula Crisis” – named for the chief anchor on the new channel, Geula Even. Even’s appointment was announced yesterday, in the midst of the mediation attempts. Yedioth Aharanoth coined the term Geula Crisis this morning with a widespread front-page headline and photo of Even. Even, aside from being a gifted and talented journalist also happens to be married to Netanyahu’s rival, former Likud minister Gideon Saar, considered one of the biggest enemies on Balfour Street. The appointment is widely considered one of the reasons Netanyahu’s aides dismissed reports about a settlement last night, and clarified that Bibi still insists that the IBC will not go on the air. But Kahlon also didn’t like the timing of the announcement, and is fuming at IBC directors for breaking the news while he is trying to save the channel. So the only way out of this mess seems to be a one-on-one meeting between Netanyahu and Kahlon and that cannot even occur for a few more days.

A source close to Netanyahu tells Kafe Knesset: “All the mediators running around right now are just the prelude. Bibi and Moshe have to settle this between themselves.”

A senior minister summed up the political game: “Netanyahu and Kahlon are in a zero sum game right now. One of them will end this crisis as a loser, because the IBC will either go on air, or not. If Kahlon caves he will lose all credibility and will be the joke of the Knesset. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has climbed up a very high tree – so this is basically a game of chicken.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Congress races to craft Iran sanctions bills ahead of AIPAC conference” by Julian Pecquet: “Rep. Eliott Engel, D-N.Y., told Al-Monitor last week he has “confidence” he can hammer something out with Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif. “We’re still negotiating it, and like everything I do with the chairman I’m hopeful we’ll have a meeting of the minds,” Engel said… Meanwhile in the Senate, Democrats have yet to coalesce around a single vision that can get the backing of Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn. The top Democrat on the panel, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., is insisting that any sanctions bill preserve President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement, while his more hawkish colleague Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is publicly signaling that he’s ready to make the necessary concessions to get a deal done… The internal congressional politics have left AIPAC lobbyists discreetly pushing both parties to compromise and avoid a repeat of the highly partisan Iran deal debate of 2015.” [Al-Monitor

Trump once again criticized the Iran nuclear deal — by AP’s Vivian Salama and Robert Burns: “In brief remarks in the presence of reporters during al-Abadi’s White House visit, Trump raised his frequently stated objections to the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor… “One of the things I did ask is, ‘Why did President Obama sign that agreement with Iran?’ because nobody has been able to figure that one out,” Trump said. “But maybe someday we’ll be able to figure that one out.”” [AP

“Backing UN moves and Iran deal, China shows Netanyahu it’s not (only) about the money” by Raphael Ahren: “Premier Li has expressed that China does not have its own interest in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. We’d like to see the issue properly solved in line with the UN resolution and international consensus,” Deng Li, the director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of West Asian and North African Affairs, told reporters… Deng said that the two premiers also discussed the Iran nuclear deal… “China’s position has always been clear. That is, we need to strictly implement the JCPOA,” he said… “And the starting point of this implementation is to safeguard the nonproliferation system and world peace. Also, the JCPOA will be very conducive for regional and international peace.” [ToI

“Israel, U.S. Trying to Persuade Western Countries to Oppose Five anti-Israel UN Resolutions” by Barak Ravid: “Israel contacted the Trump administration and asked to coordinate activity in Geneva and other capitals around the world against the resolutions. A request to this effect was also transferred to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who undertook to help. Israel’s permanent envoy to the UN and other international institutions in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, has been working in recent days with American representatives to influence Germany, Britain and other countries, hoping to persuade them to oppose the resolutions or abstain.” [Haaretz]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Ivanka Trump set to get West Wing office as role expands” by Annie Karni: “The powerful first daughter has secured her own office on the West Wing’s second floor — a space next to senior adviser Dina Powell, who was recently promoted to a position on the National Security Council. She is also in the process of obtaining a security clearance, and is set to receive government-issued communications devices this week… except she is not being sworn in, will hold no official position, and is not pocketing a salary, her attorney said. Ivanka Trump’s role, according to her attorney Jamie Gorelick, will be to serve as the president’s “eyes and ears” while providing broad-ranging advice.” [Politico

“Despite a Trust, Ivanka Trump Still Wields Power Over Her Brand” by Rachel Abrams: “Even if Ms. Trump is trying to tread carefully, her trust raises questions about how effectively a voluntary arrangement can minimize conflicts, said Norman L. Eisen, the chief White House ethics adviser under President Barack Obama. “There’s no enforcement,” he said. “If this is voluntary, what if she voluntarily decides not to do it?” … Mr. Eisen praised the appointment of Ms. [Jamie] Gorelick as an ethics adviser… “Whatever questions I and others may have about the arrangement,” Mr. Eisen said, “I think it speaks well of Ivanka and of the process that has been set up to manage the conflicts that the trustees’ monitor is one of the most prominent Democratic lawyers in the country.”” [NYTimes

“Ivanka Trump enjoys some mother-daughter time on the slopes in Aspen” by Chris Spargo: “Ivanka and the children could not leave until after sundown on Saturday as the family observes Shabbat.” [DailyMail

Another Trump MOT… “Eric and Lara Trump Expecting Their First Baby” by Gilliam Telling: “Eric Trump and his wife Lara are expecting their first child this September—and they’re having a boy… The couple, who dated for six years before marrying at Mar-A-Lago in 2014, note that their pregnancy was starting to become a hard secret to contain: “Eric’s dad was so excited,” says Lara, “that we were worried he’d blurt it out at a press conference.”” [People

** 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: Gas Talks With Turkey May Wrap Up in Summer, Says Israel Energy Minister [Bloomberg] • For Every Mobileye, 600 Israeli Start-ups Crash [Haaretz] • Is there a new wave of Ponzi schemes coming? There’s a possibility [MiamiHerald] • Israel’s tallest planned building approved [Globes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Tech’s Biggest Consumer Is Not Who You Think It Is” by Jessica Abo: “Does the thought of using tech for your business want to make you swipe left? Jessica Naziri, the CEO and founder of TechSesh wants to change that. When the former Los Angeles Times technology reporter started covering tech for her job, she discovered most of the people reviewing gadgets designed for women were men. Named as one of the most influential women in technology, the former journalist turned entrepreneur is empowering women in technical fields. Her reviews give women a voice in an industry that needs to know “pink is not a strategy.”” [Entrepreneur]

“Good Schools Aren’t the Secret to Israel’s High-Tech Boom” by Naftali Bennett: “Unlike quiet Western libraries, the Jewish beit midrash—house of study—is a buzzing beehive of learning. Since the Talmud is one of the most complex legal codes ever gathered, the idea of a verdict is almost irrelevant to those studying. Students engage in debate for the sake of debate. They analyze issues from all directions, finding different solutions. Multiple answers to a single question are common. Like the Talmud itself—which isn’t the written law but a gathering of protocols—the learning process, not the result, is valued.” [WSJ

“Tim Samuels’ Sleepover: Inside the Israeli Hospital” by BBC Radio 4: “On the children’s ward, a mother who has brought her son for treatment describes how her trip to Israel must remain a secret – or she fears she could be killed when they return. On the Syrian border, Tim sees two badly wounded fighters smuggled into Israel by the IDF as they are rushed to Ziv for emergency attention. In the hospital – staffed by Jewish, Muslim and Druze medics – the doctors talk about the psychological toll of treating the war wounded. A hospital social worker describes waking up repeatedly through the night at home to check that his young son wasn’t injured. The doctors at Ziv say they hope their work is at least a sliver of humanity in a dark region.” [BBC]

TRANSITIONS — Rabbi David Saperstein Joins URJ and RAC as Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy: “President Rabbi Rick Jacobs announced today that Rabbi David Saperstein will return to the URJ senior staff as Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy. He will assume this new position as of April 1, 2017.”

Josh Lipsky, an Obama White House and State Department alum, is heading to the International Monetary Fund, where he will serve as speechwriter and advisor to IMF chief Christine Lagarde. In January, Lipsky finished a tour at State working as special advisor to Rick Stengel, who was under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. h/t Playbook

“Trump immigration lawyer on travel ban: ‘What happens to Muslims can happen to Jews'” by Danielle Ziri: “As an observant Jew, [Michael] Wildes added he believes the Jewish community has a responsibility to stand up for marginalized people. “We are historically people of the passport and we need to make sure that we get this right,” he told the Post. “What happens to a Muslim can happen to a Jew and we have to take our responsibility to our biblical cousins very seriously.” Michael Wildes’ brother, Rabbi Mark Wildes added that the travel ban is “complicated from a religious perspective.”” [JPost]

“This Jewish Photographer Documented a Nazi-Controlled Ghetto” by Clyde Haberman: “More than 200 of his photos, along with dozens of related objects are part of an exhibition, “Memory Unearthed: The Lodz ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross,” that will open March 25 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston… Not all of his images were grim. There are pictures of birthday parties, of a young woman smiling in a garden, of a little girl on a swing, of a couple kissing… Still, some things are eternal. One photo in the exhibition is particularly striking. It is also, appropriately, the last image in a book of Mr. Ross’s work that the Ontario gallery published with Yale University Press in 2015. It shows a man standing atop the rubble of a destroyed synagogue in Lodz. He is carrying a Torah scroll that he had managed to save from the ruins.” [NYTimes]

“Israel’s Rich Culinary Legacy Revealed in a New Film” by Front Burner: “In the new feature-length documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” the chef Michael Solomonov travels from one end of Israel to the other sampling food and talking to cooks in a narrative style reminiscent of Anthony Bourdain. After watching this film, one has to conclude that with more than 100 nationalities living within the country’s borders, an Israeli cuisine resists easy definition… While exploring the food mosaic, the film also points out the simmering tension between Arabic and Israeli cooking. Who can claim ownership of falafel, shakshuka or chopped salad?” [NYTimes

“How to make the best Israeli pita bread: ingredients, method and tips” by Samantha Gross: “There are lots of Middle Eastern restaurants in the capital, but for Israeli-born chef Eran Tibi, none of them the embodied the cuisine of his homeland. Earlier this year, Tibi brought his version of Tel Aviv-style eating to London, when he opened Bala Baya in Southwark. “London is the perfect blend of cultures where people are curious, adventurous and expect excellence,” he says. “It’s a fantastic way to challenge myself and the team.” [EveningStandard]

BIRTHDAYS: Yale Law School graduate in 1954, who in 1978 became the first woman appointed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, Ellen Ash Peters turns 87… Rabbi emeritus of Manhattan’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun (active 1958-2015) and principal of the Ramaz School (1966-2015), Rabbi Haskel Lookstein turns 85… Co-founder of Wynnefield Capital Management, on the Board of Directors of S.A.R. Academy in Riverdale, NY, Joshua H. Landes turns 55… Harvard professor, biochemist, physicist, molecular biology pioneer and winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Walter Gilbert turns 85… Scholar of Jewish mysticism and founding dean of the non-denominational rabbinical program at the Hebrew College in Boston where he still teaches, Arthur Green turns 76… First Jewish member of the US House of Representatives from New Hampshire (2007-2011), later on the boards of the ADL and NJDC, Paul Hodes turns 66… Acting Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, previously Israel’s ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem turns 58…

Award-winning film, stage and television actor and singer whose roles include the title role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and the adult voice of Simba in Disney’s The Lion King trilogy, Matthew Broderick turns 55… Hedge fund manager, philanthropist and chairman of the board of the New York City Opera, Roy Niederhoffer turns 51… Senior editor of the National Review, syndicated columnist, author and commentator, Jonah Jacob Goldberg turns 48… James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef from Miami who is known for her culinary skills as an expert in Latin-style flavors of cooking, Michelle Bernstein turns 47… Digital marketing guru and president and founder of Bully Pulpit Interactive, Andrew Bleeker turns 32… Student activist at Miami University of Ohio, worked in the Office of Community Engagement at the Democratic National Committee, Addison Caruso turns 21… Samuel Gross

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