Daily Kickoff: Trump is mad at the Israeli government…. Jules Trump that is | How Kushner got the UK to thwart the Obama admin | Wolf Blitzer BDay

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SPOTLIGHT: “Another Trump hopes Israel can make ammonia great again” by Shoshanna Solomon: “Trump is mad at the Israeli government. Not Donald Trump, the president of the United States. The other Trump — Jules Trump, a 73-year-old South African-born US citizen and real estate tycoon who holds a controlling stake in the Israeli fertilizer maker Haifa Chemicals. He is no relation to Donald, but the real estate tycoon who is now US commander-in-chief did sue the “other” Trump to stop him from using the name. “Trump never won,” Jules Trump said with a chuckle, sitting on the couch in a Tel Aviv hotel suite last week. “I still operate under the name Trump. Our relationship with him now is fine.” But, to get back to Israel, Jules Trump, who with his brother Eddie owns a controlling stake in Haifa Chemicals, has a huge problem.”

“An Israeli court has ordered that a huge ammonia tank on the bay be emptied by April 1 following concerns that damage to the storage facility could endanger the lives of tens of thousands of people in Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city. The tank stores the compound that Haifa Chemicals and others use in their production lines. Haifa Chemicals is the main consumer of the imported ammonia, which it uses to make potassium nitrate, a fertilizer used by farmers in Israel and globally to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables… Last year, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to target Haifa’s ammonia facilities with rockets in the next conflict with Israel… The report warned that if ruptured, the vast ammonia storage tank would suffocate 16,000 victims under a toxic cloud.” [ToI]

FIRST LOOK: “Jared Kushner Struck Out in His First Foray Into Middle East Diplomacy — But Trump’s son-in-law succeeded in coaxing the U.K., America’s closest ally, into thwarting the Obama administration” by Colum Lynch: “Shortly before the Dec. 23 vote on Israeli settlements… Kushner contacted Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to the United States… to push back the vote on the resolution until after the inauguration… Britain rebuffed Kushner’s appeal… “He gave the Brits a tough time because of their vote on the settlements resolution,” said a senior Western diplomat. On Dec. 30, May delivered an extraordinary rebuke of Secretary Kerry… Kushner was said to be simmering over May’s remarks, which failed to fundamentally alter London’s views on the virtues of the settlements resolution. One diplomat suggested the statement may not have put enough daylight between Britain and the Obama administration. “Or maybe he’s just always angry,” the diplomat said.”

Trump’s advisors were alarmed by French plans to host a high-level Middle East meeting the next week in Paris, which would have reinforced international opposition to settlements. Johnson declined to go to Paris, sending a lower level British official in his place. British officials subsequently blocked the adoption of European Union statements in Brussels and the U.N. Security Council endorsing the Paris communique, which had reinforced international denunciation of Israel’s settlements.”

“Thomas Barrack Jr., a Lebanese-American fundraiser and advisor to Trump, praised Kushner’s role in trying to block the settlements resolution. His “instinct of sensing a moment in time in which this president might put his fingerprints on a peaceful solution to decades-old issues was timely and appropriate,” he said.” [ForeignPolicy]

Netanyahu: ‘Significant Progress’ in Talks With Trump Administration on Curbed Settlement Activity — by Barak Ravid: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesdayto journalists before he left China for Israel that there has been “significant progress” in recent talks between U.S. and Israeli negotiators in recent days regarding curbed settlement construction. Netanyahu noted that talks have not ended despite the recent progress, which he will be updated on upon his return.” [Haaretz] • Netanyahu: Building in East Jerusalem is non-negotiable [ToI]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Michael Ratney’s role in the peace process: “He is following this issue very closely from his perch in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. This is a team effort. We’re going to continue to look at the way forward and we’re analyzing. Much of what Mr. Greenblatt did in the region last week, as we’ve said, was geared towards listening to perspectives on both sides of this or on all sides of this issue and trying from that to find ways of commonality, common goals, and try to set the environment we believe is necessary to begin a peace process.”

“Defense Minister warns of EU diplomatic ‘assault’ against Israel by end of the year” by Dana Somberg: “[Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman] also made references to the relatively new American administration, saying Israel could ill-afford to disrupt relations with US President Donald Trump. “We do not have an option to quarrel with the Trump government … we had eight difficult years with [former US president Barack] Obama and now there is a Republican administration – the Senate, Congress and of course the White House lead by a sympathetic Republican president.” [JPost]

“Former Ambassador Dennis Ross: Trump will face Middle East test” by Michael Reschke: “Trump was highly critical of the Obama-era deal, but it seems clear he’s not planning to walk away from it. “That’s the smart thing to do,” Ross said… The focus should be on Iran and its bad behavior, Ross said, but if the U.S. pulls out, the focus would shift. “We become the issue,” he said.” [HeraldTimes]

“Trump’s secret plan against ISIS? A lot like Obama’s” by Aaron David Miller and Jason M. Brodsky: “On ISIS, President Trump is operating within the parameters set by his predecessor. Redux on the fact that the Trump White House has decided to retain President Obama’s special presidential envoy, Brett McGurk, so he will continue to be the point man for the US in countering ISIS. Now removing the caps on the number of US forces deployed to these battlefields is a change. Still, if reports are accurate, President Trump’s much-promised “secret plan” to defeat ISIS looks very similar to the Obama playbook, albeit with increased tempo.” [CNN]

“Calling On a Few Good Men” by Thomas Friedman: “Trump inherited a “daunting inbox” in foreign policy, but unfortunately “he is making it much worse,” said Richard Haass… Without an urgent course correction, added Haass, we could end up “not with America first, but with America alone. If you say and do nothing when the nation’s leader smears his predecessor — and then maintains his fantasy as fact — not only will he never have the credibility to call on any other country to uphold the highest standards for rule of law, democracy and human rights, but neither will all of you.” [NYTimes]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Carbon tax debate exposed rift among Trump’s aides” by Josh Dawsey, Annie Karni and Andrew Restuccia: “After Zeke Emanuel, one of the Affordable Care Act’s architects, came to the White House for a meeting with Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Monday, conservatives and some White House aides were displeased, including Bannon… The strategist skipped the meeting, even though other top White House officials attended. “Why would he be in here?” one adviser said of Emanuel. “We are trying to pass a new law, not promote theirs.” “That is why the Hill thinks Cohn is not conducive to getting any legislation passed,” one White House official said, when asked about the meeting, accusing Cohn of orchestrating the meeting.” [Politico

“Why Letting Go, for Trump, Is No Small or Simple Task” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “One of the only other people whom Mr. Trump views as a peer is his top economic adviser, Gary Cohn… In a recent meeting in the Oval Office, Mr. Cohn was speaking when Mr. Trump interrupted him. “Let me finish,’’ Mr. Cohn interjected, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction. Mr. Trump, unaccustomed to ceding the floor, let him make his point.” [NYTimes

“As Ivanka Trump’s White House role expands, her company is sued for unfair competition” by Matea Gold: “Norman Eisen, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama, said he expects other such suits to crop up. “None of them is a layup, but I do think the courts are going to take them seriously,” he said, adding, “I do believe that the Trump family businesses are engaged in unfair competition. The ways in which the whole Trump family uses the White House and the presidency as the world’s greatest infomercial does strike me as unfair.”” [WashPost] • How first daughter Ivanka Trump’s role at the White House has grown [ABCNews]

Maggie Haberman:“Apparently the office Ivanka is taking has been held aside for her since Trump took office, per two people briefed.” [Twitter

“Trump pushes policy on Alan Dershowitz during Mar-a-Lago visit” by Oli Coleman: “When Trump arrived, “He walked over to us and he started schmoozing,” Dershowitz said. “He said, ‘If I can get you to vote for me in 2020, that’ll be the real accomplishment because you’ve probably never voted for a Republican.’ It’ll be very uphill, but I have an open mind.” … Trump returned to the table soon after. “He picked the subjects. I didn’t have an agenda, but he had an agenda,” Dershowitz said. “He said, ‘I want to talk about this, this and that,’ and talked about six subjects or something,” including the travel ban, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Israel, “wiretaps” and “leaks.”” [NYPost]

IRAN DEAL — White House Adviser Says Will Honor Iran Nuclear Deal, Ensure Iran Complies: “Christopher Ford, the White House National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, told a conference in Washington on March 21 that the U.S. administration accepted the deal despite repeated criticism by Trump. “Until otherwise decided, the United States will adhere to the Iran nuclear deal and ensure that Iran also does,” Ford told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.” [RFE]  Trump administration to review goal of world without nuclear weapons: aide [Reuters

TEHRAN WATCH: “Rouhani, the Deceiver” by John Hannah and Saeed Ghasseminejad: “For the Trump administration, that means at a minimum taking action to demonstrate to the Islamic Republic’s two most powerful political actors, the Supreme Leader and the IRGC, that their Rouhani ruse is up. His diplomatic fan dance has effectively shielded their expanding aggression from renewed Western political, economic, and military pressure. The Trump team should make clear that that game is now over.” [FP]

“Family of C.I.A. Consultant Sues Iran Over His Disappearance” by Barry Meier: “The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Washington on behalf of the wife of the missing man, Robert A. Levinson, and their seven children. The action is seeking unspecified damages from Iran for its alleged role in, among other things, inflicting emotional distress on the family of Mr. Levinson.” [NYTimes

ON THE HILL — Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican who has already voted against one Trump nominee, told Jewish Insider yesterday that she is “inclined to support” David Friedman to be US Ambassador to Israel. In a brief interview on Tuesday, Collins explained, “I called Joe (Lieberman) to find out his views and he (Lieberman) speaks very highly of him (Friedman). That certainly is a good endorsement… I’m inclined to support him.” [JewishInsider]

“Evoking Holocaust, Lawmakers Demand ‘Never Again’ for Syria” — by JI’s Aaron Magid: When displaying the photos of “Caesar” — the codename of a Syrian military defector who smuggled out of the country over 28,000 images of torture and death in Assad prisons — Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee explained, “When you see the images of the Holocaust in the 1940s and the images of Syria in the 21st century, one can just get chilled to think that what has humanity learned all these years? We used to think things couldn’t happen here or any place else and now we see, we were really wrong.”

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (D-CA) recalled his father who took photos of the Dachau Concentration Camp after it was liberated in 1945. “When high school students would hear his lecture, they would ask why was the world so asleep to Hitler’s concentration camps? He would explain there was very little visual evidence at that time until those camps were liberated,” the California lawmaker noted. “That’s why he (Caeser) ran that risk so that the visual evidence would be right here in front of us. So, what is our excuse?” [JewishInsider]

“GOP Takes Up Russia-Aligned Attack On Soros” by Isaac Arnsdorf, Andrew Hanna and Kenneth Vogel: “So far, the Republican lobbying against Soros’s efforts in Macedonia has not resulted in much. But the involvement of several high-profile Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, is raising eyebrows within the U.S. foreign policy community, who see the baleful influence of Moscow making inroads on Capitol Hill… Russia’s state-controlled English-language websites rushed to trumpet [Sen. Mike] Lee’s and [Rep. Chris] Smith’s letters, holding them up as proof that the U.S. is guilty of exactly what it accuses Russia of doing in 2016 — interfering in another country’s politics.” [Politico]

“Democratic Donors Gather in D.C. to Plot the Resistance” by Lachlan Marka: “Donors in attendance will include Michael Vachon, a top aide to billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros; health care technology mogul Paul Egerman; Dallas philanthropist Naomi Aberly; Susan Sandler, the daughter of subprime mortgage pioneer Herb Sandler; and Ian Simmons, the husband of Hyatt hotel fortune heiress Liesel Pritzker Simmons.” [DailyBeast]

“George Soros-aligned group weighs funding anti-Trump activists” by Fredreka Schouten: “Ezra Levin, a former congressional aide who helped start Indivisible with his wife, Leah Greenberg, and other ex-Capitol Hill staffers, said the group is “is very much led on the ground” by activists who are determined to take action against Trump and is not under the sway of any one donor or group. Levin said the group has received more than 10,000 donations totaling more than $500,000 since last January through ActBlue… “We’re certainly not looking for anybody to own it by providing like some kind of enormous amount,” he said. “That’s not our model.”” [USAToday]

SPECIAL ELECTION WATCH: “Ossoff aims for knockout blow in Georgia special election ” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein: “Democrat Jon Ossoff has transformed the race for suburban Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District, and his soaring donations and groundswell of support from energized Democrats have fast painted a shiny target on his back as he scrambles to flip Tom Price’s ruby-red turf. Just about every candidate in the crowded April 18 special election to represent the district, which spans from east Cobb County to north DeKalb County, has assailed the 30-year-old former congressional aide. And Republicans determined to keep a GOP stronghold are readying more attacks. But even Ossoff’s Republican adversaries marvel about his campaign’s field operations and the more than $3 million he’s raised in 10 weeks – and worry about their own fractured field of 11 GOP candidates battling each other for their own slice of the electorate.” [AJC] h/t Playbook

Background: “Ossoff is indeed a white guy, though he is not from Scotland. His father is a Jew of Russian-Lithuanian descent who owns a specialist publishing company, and his mother is an Australian immigrant and management consultant who co-founded a nonprofit aimed at electing women—of either party—to political office in Georgia. “Our name was probably truncated at Ellis Island,” Ossoff told me. “From something like Ossoffsky.” [NewYorker] • Campaign ad: ‘Jon Ossoff: The Truth Strikes Back’ [McClatchyDC

** Good Wednesday 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: Intel now employs 10,000 people in Israel [Bloomberg] • Patrick Drahi’s Altice snaps up advertising platform Teads [FT] • How Jessica Lessin used her reporting chops to build The Information [Digiday] • Nazarian family sells Century penthouse for $15.2M [TRD] • Hedge fund Millennium hires portfolio manager from Steve Cohen’s firm [Reuters]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Jared Kushner’s White House Role Complicates Skyscraper Deal” by Peter Grant: “After reports of the talks surfaced last week, Anbang said in statement that they weren’t correct. The company… might decide whether or not to stay or go as early as this week, people familiar with the matter said. “Contrary to recent reports, Anbang has no investment in 666 Fifth Avenue,” said an Anbang spokesman in an email. “Any suggestion that Anbang has signed a contract or made any kind of financial commitment is inaccurate.” A collapse of the Anbang talks, which began last July, wouldn’t necessarily doom the elder Mr. Kushner’s dream. Mr. Kushner believes he could raise the necessary equity from investors other than Anbang, according to people involved with negotiations.” [WSJ

“Guardian Ditches Move To Kushner Building After Newsroom Revolt” by Steven Perlberg: “The plan to move rankled The Guardian’s reporters, who feared their sources might not have full confidence that they could communicate securely with journalists in the new office. Reporters wondered openly whether the next Edward Snowden would feel safe leaking to The Guardian if it was headquartered in a building linked to the president’s son-in-law, according to one source… A spokesperson for Guardian US said that the company changed plans when it learned of Kushner’s ties to the building.” [BuzzFeed]

“Magerman: How ‘instant billionaires’ threaten America” by Joseph N. DiStefano: “David Magerman, the Penn Valley computer scientist, was suspended from hedge fund Renaissance Technologies after challenging co-CEO Robert Mercer’s patronage of Breitbart News, Donald Trump, and Breitbart boss-turned-Trump adviser Steve Bannon… His status at the firm remains unresolved. I asked Magerman about what he calls the “Instant Billionaire” phenomenon — the role people with big fortunes like his Renaissance bosses play in shaping America… Magerman: “Imagine Bill Gates (Microsoft’s founder, now a philanthropist) running the government. He’s done very healthy things with his money. Solving health problems in Africa. Addressing water pollution. I think that’s an unusual success story. But what if I don’t like democracy — I’ll go out and buy authoritarianism? That’s not a good thing… A lot of this kind of wealth can go to very idiosyncratic projects. And not necessarily be good. When you are that wealthy, you can make a platform to drown out everyone else’s voice.”” [Philly

“The original plan for the Mall of America was bananas” by Tracy Mumford: “As MPR News reporter Stephen Smith detailed at the time, the plans called for a 12-story roller coaster… landscaped gardens, an 18-hole golf course, an ice rink, night clubs, theaters and a giant indoor lake filled with exotic sea life that you could tour in a submarine. According to Nader Ghermezian, one of the family members behind the Triple Five Corporation, it would be the world’s largest indoor lake. At 360 feet wide, with six-foot-high waves, visitors would be able to surf and water ski on it. “Can you imagine, in January, you walk out of your house and you come and do surfing? This is what we’re proposing for you today,” Ghermezian said in 1985.” [MPR

RICH FAMILY LAUNCHES GOFUNDME EFFORT — The family of Seth Rich, a DNC staffer whose July murder remains unsolved, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise money to continue efforts to solve the case. The family is seeking $200,000 it says to “give the family independence in helping to direct the investigation as a direct response to ongoing conspiracy theories and a lack of credible evidence that has surfaced in the case.” [Gofundme]

“Lawyer for Family of Sergei Magnitsky, Dead Russian Whistle-Blower, Is Seriously Injured” by Andrew Higgins: “Russian news organizations said the lawyer, Nikolai Gorokhov, fell while helping movers carry a hot tub up to his fourth-floor apartment… The financier, William F. Browder, said Mr. Gorokhov was to appear in a Moscow court on Wednesday to appeal on behalf of Mr. Magnitsky’s mother for an investigation into new evidence relating to the fraud scheme first exposed by Mr. Magnitsky.” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Rolling Stone Turns 50…. and Bucks Print Media Trends to Become Debt Free” by RealClear Life: “According to Bloomberg, the magazine will finally be debt-free for the first time in the last decade, after parent company Wenner Media’s recent sale of Us Weekly for $100 million… Also, the company has its sights set on the future with 26-year-old Gus Wenner, founder/publisher Jann Wenner’s son, heading up Rolling Stone digital. Though largely inexperienced in the ways of media, some in the company see him as just what the company needs to reach a new, lucrative millennial audience. “ [RCL]

“NY Times’ Maggie Haberman on Secret to Covering Trump White House: Her Tabloid Experience” by Brian Flood: ““In terms of covering him over the last two years, I mean, I knew him,” Haberman said. “One of the things that I think is very important to the president is a sense of a familiar… I do think the fact that he knows me from a previous life has helped in terms of an ongoing relationship with him.” … Haberman’s father, Clyde Haberman, was a longtime New York Times reporter, often stationed overseas and away for most of her childhood. However, a career in journalism wasn’t among the topics of conversation when Haberman traveled to visit him abroad… Haberman was interested in writing, but wanted to land at a magazine as opposed to following in her father’s footsteps. After failing to find exactly what she was looking for, Haberman started her professional career at the New York Post in 1996 and never looked back… “I think he is very proud of me,” she said.” [TheWrap]

“Met Opera Auditions Yield a Young Star: Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen” by Zachary Woolfe: “At just 23, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, a baby-faced countertenor from Brooklyn, already possesses a remarkable gift for intimate communication in a vast hall, combined with a voice of velvety gentleness — surprisingly penetrating given the tenderness of its texture — and a taste for adventure. In a competition that hews toward the standards, Mr. Cohen chose a harrowing aria from Jonathan Dove’s 1998 opera “Flight,” based on the true story of an Iranian refugee stranded for years in a Paris airport. While most young performers in the National Council Auditions concentrate simply on nailing their high notes, Mr. Cohen — his diction superb, his acting alert without overplaying — provided an eloquent reflection on a current international crisis.” [NYTimes]  

BIRTHDAYS: CNN’s lead anchor, and longtime JI reader, Wolf Blitzer turns 69… Professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia and founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation, E.D. Hirsch turns 89… Mad Magazine’s caricaturist for over 50 years, Mort Drucker turns 88… Composer and lyricist, winner of eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, an Academy Award and a Pulitzer Prize, Stephen Sondheim turns 87… Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, William Shatner turns 86… Born in Iran, came to the US as a teen, elected to the Beverly Hills city council in 2003, elected Mayor of Beverly Hills in 2007 and 2010 (each time for a one-year term), Jamshid “Jimmy” Delshad turns 77… Dentist, born in Tel Aviv, raised in NYC and practicing in Norwalk, CT, Murray Bruckel, DDS turns 72… Academy Award-winning screenwriter, his work includes “Forrest Gump” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Eric Roth turns 72… Israeli viola player and teacher, she has performed as soloist with many orchestras world-wide, Rivka Golani turns 71…

Manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund (1992-1996) then started his own highly successful hedge fund, current owner of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and arena football’s Tampa Bay Storm, Jeffrey N. Vinik turns 58… Popular musical entertainer in the Orthodox Jewish community, Avraham Shabsi Friedman, better known by his stage name, Avraham Fried turns 58… Former corporate secretary, EVP and general counsel at Hertz Corporation until 12-2014, J. Jeffrey Zimmerman turns 58… Senior director for CEO Communications at PepsiCo, former Obama speechwriter (2009-2011), a Fulbright scholar who earned an M.A. at the London School of Economics, Adam Perecman Frankel turns 36… Creator and director of the Yehi Ohr program at Jewish Community Services of South Florida, Zisa Levin… MLB first baseman now in the LA Dodgers organization, has played for the Mets, Pirates, Athletics and Yankees, he starred for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Isaac Benjamin “Ike” Davis turns 30… NYC correspondent for Haaretz, contributing editor of The Forward and author, Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Managing director of Mercury Public Affairs focused on government relations, public affairs and politics in NYC, Jonathan Greenspun… Editor of the English language edition of Haaretz, Charlotte Hallé… CEO of BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre), previously spokesman for the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, James Sorene… Brooklyn, NY resident who is a general assignment reporter for DNAinfo, Ben Fractenberg… News reporter and editor at The Daily Signal, a publication of The Heritage Foundation, where he covers foreign policy, immigration and criminal justice issues, Josh Siegel… EVP of public affairs at the Federation of American Hospitals, representing the investor-owned hospital industry, Jeff E. Cohen (h/ts Playbook)… Beatrice Stein… Mike Orkin

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