Daily Kickoff: Trump ‘not picky on details’ for Middle East peace | Jewish leaders spotted at the White House | David Brooks ties the knot
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DRIVING THE DAY — President Trump will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office at around noon. The two leaders will then deliver statements to reporters in the Roosevelt Room, followed by a working lunch in the Cabinet Room.
“Trump seeks steps from Abbas to promote peace with Israel” by Matthew Lee: “President Donald Trump will press Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails, according to U.S. officials… Other actions include a Palestinian end to anti-Israel rhetoric and incitement of violence… Trump will also use their meeting to recommit the United States to helping the Palestinians improve their economic conditions, said the U.S. officials… They said Trump will reiterate his belief that Israeli settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians does not advance peace prospects.” [AP; Haaretz]
“G.O.P. Pressures Trump to Take Tough Stance With Mahmoud Abbas” by Peter Baker:”A host of Republican senators are lobbying Mr. Trump to use his meeting with Mr. Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, to demand the cessation of financial payments to the families of Palestinians who commit violence against Israelis or Americans. The senators have introduced legislation to cut off American aid if the Palestinians refuse. The Palestinian Authority spends about $315 million a year to distribute cash and benefits to 36,000 families, according to Sander Gerber, a New York hedge fund executive and fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who has studied the issue and brought his research to American lawmakers.” [NYTimes]
Bill Kristol: “Kudos to Sander Gerber and others who’ve brought issue of Palestinian rewards for terrorism front and center” [Twitter]
“Palestinians think Trump can make a deal” by William Booth: “Jibril Rajoub, a top Palestinian official and a leader of the dominant Fatah political party, told The Washington Post on Monday: “We are very optimistic. I was in the States recently, and I was told this conflict is a priority issue for President Trump and he is serious to engage and have the ultimate deal.”” [WashPost] • Palestinians for Trump: ‘He Might Be the One’ [PoliticoMag]
“Palestinian adviser: Abbas hopeful about Trump meeting” by Ian Lee: “The difference with President Trump is that he himself and the White House is engaged. It’s not the State Department,” said Mohammed Shtayyeh, Fatah Central Committee member and presidential adviser. “We now feel that the file itself is in the White House, which gives a very serious political weight for any American initiative because it’s the American President’s reputation at stake… Greenblatt is an envoy of the White House, all others were envoys of the State Department.” [CNN]
“On Middle East peace, Trump wants to get to yes — and figure out the details later” by Brian Bennett and Tracy Wilkinson: “More than three months into his presidency, Trump is fixated on delivering a Middle East peace deal, a person close to the White House said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. But when it comes to what an eventual solution should look like, Trump has told close advisors that he’s not picky about the details, or even the broad outlines.” [LATimes]
Later today: J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami will meet with Abbas following the PA President’s meeting at the White House. Unclear if it will be a private meeting or whether Ben-Ami is just attending a reception for Abbas in DC. A J Street source tells us, “We’re waiting to see if President Trump will talk openly about support for the two-state solution as the end goal of negotiations. Without that commitment, Abbas doesn’t get the credibility that he needs with his own people, and it’s hard to see how this effort would go anywhere.”
LATEST UPDATE ON JERUSALEM EMBASSY — Vice President Mike Pence, celebrating Israel’s 69th Independence Day at a White House reception yesterday, said that “as we speak” the President is “giving serious consideration to moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Addressing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process amid growing “momentum” and the understanding that Israel will be required to undertake compromises, the Vice President assured the Jewish leaders, “President Donald Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel, not now – not ever. Today, America’s support for Israel’s security is at record levels.” [JewishInsider]
Ambassador Ron Dermer to Jason Greenblatt: “Jason, I think you will agree with me that we have spent far too much time together over these last few months. You are only working on trying to make peace to the Middle East. How hard can that be? Why all these meetings? Just, let’s get one with this. But seriously, Jason, it is not every day that you meet someone in such a high-profile position who is such a mensch.” [CSPAN; Transcript]
SPOTTED: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Jared Kushner, WH advisors Yael Lempert, Victoria Coates and Sebastian Gorka, Pence Advisor Tom Rose, Senators Orrin Hatch and Ted Cruz; Reps. Lee Zeldin, Pete King, Tom Reed, Trent Franks, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Ted Deutch and Brad Schneider; RJC’s Matt Brooks, WJC’s Ron Lauder, Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein, URJ’s Rabbi Rick Jacobs, USCJ’s Rabbi Steven Wernick, AIPAC’s Howard Kohn, Lillian Pinkus and Rob Bassin, ZOA’s Mort Klein, OU’s Allen Fagin and Nathan Diament, Agudath Israel’s Abba Cohen, Shmuley Boteach, Phil Rosen, Marc Goldman, Rhoda Dermer, Yarden Golan, George Klein, Stephen Greenberg, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Tevi Troy, Gary Bauer, Erick Stakelbeck, Steve Schneier, Jeff Ballabon, Noah Pollak, and Josh Katzen.
Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) tells us… “I thought VP Pence’s comments were especially poignant. I know nobody who loves Israel more than Mike Pence: for the same reasons that I do. It’s just a new day. Donald Trump has been more openly committed to Israel than any President that I have seen in a long time. It is a very different White House than it was under Barack Obama.”
Pastor John Hagee of CUFI to JI’s Aaron Magid: “David Friedman is going to be, I think, an Ambassador of historic proportions. I think he will be there when the embassy is moved. He is going to be there as the voice of the President of the United States. He’s been a friend of the President for many years. Never have we had an Ambassador in Israel that had the connection to the President that this man is going to have. The people of Israel to know that when David Friedman speaks, they are hearing from the White House. It was a great day to be there.”
Q: What about Trump’s campaign promise of moving Embassy to Jerusalem?
Hagee: “Keep the faith brother, it’s going to happen. I’m confident. Let’s wait until June 1and we’ll see where we are. I think the embassy is going to move.”
VIRAL: “Bannon’s secret to-do list accidentally tweeted out by Rabbi” by Mark Moore: “Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a Jewish writer, visited the White House on Tuesday to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day and posted photos of him posing with Bannon in front of a white board containing a laundry list of campaign promises. Boteach, who has written for Breitbart News, the website Bannon used to run before joining the Trump campaign, called the White House strategist “a great, stalwart friend of the Jewish State” in his tweet.” [NYPost; Esquire]
HEARD LAST NIGHT — National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster addressed President Trump’s effort to bring peace to the Middle East at Ambassador Ron Dermer’s annual Independence Day celebration held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in DC. “The President is not a super-patient man. I don’t think we can wait 70 years” Mcmaster said, speaking of the extraordinary achievements of the Jewish state after the Holocaust. “Some people have described him as disruptive. They’re right. And this is good – good because we can no longer afford to invest in policies that do not advance the interests and values of the United States and our allies… This is a moment of opportunity. The question is will we be able to take advantage of this moment. Here we are in 2017 and the first day of the 70th year of the great Israeli state, we are presented with arduous circumstances that may allow us to solve what some have regarded as intractable problems.” [JewishInsider]
MENU: St. Peter’s fish, roasted corn slaw salad, potato latkes, and tomato relish were served to the hundreds of guests. The open bar was jam packed throughout the evening. [Pic]
Alice Tan Ridley, the famous contestant from America’s Got Talent sang a moving rendition of the National Anthem with Ninet Tayeb leading Yerushalayim Shel Zahav to the packed crowd.
SPOTTED: Ambassador David Friedman, Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Reps. Eliot Engel, Ted Deutch, Jacky Rosen, Brad Wenstrup, Donald Norcross, Tom Suozzi and Trent Franks; Jason Greenblatt, Sebastian Gorka, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Malcolm Hoenlein, Alan Dershowitz, ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt, Elliott Abrams, David Makovsky, Michael Makosky, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Ziad Asali, William and Heidi Krizer Daroff, Mort Klein, Tevi Troy, Nick Muzin, Richard Foltin, Oren Kessler, Ken Abramowitz, David Lobl, Steve Rabinowitz, Aaron Keyak, Shmuley Boteach, Ezra Friedlander, Jonathan Baron, Dan Mariaschin, Howard Goller, Eli Lake, Jeff Ballabon, John Hudson, Morrie Amitay, and Greta Van Susteren..
“Friedman’s first stop in Israel is the Kotel” by Michael Wilner: “The new US ambassador to Israel will make the Western Wall his first official stop when he arrives at his post on May 14… Senior State Department officials confirmed the ambassador would travel to Israel in ten days, but declined to comment on where he will be taking residence.” [JPost]
TRUMP TEAM — Inbox:”President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to designate Eli H. Miller as Acting United States Director of the Asian Development Bank, and Acting United States Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, until the positions are filled by appointment or subsequent designation. Mr. Miller currently is the Chief of Staff at the Department of the Treasury. Prior to his current position, he served as Chief Operating Officer (Finance) for the Donald. J. Trump for President Campaign.”
“Putin’s Disappointing Phone Call With Trump” by Julia Ioffe: “After three phone calls and an infinite amount of hope for a Trump-Putin detente dashed against the rocks of American politics, all that Trump and Putin could agree on, according to the readouts provided from each side, was that the war in Syria is bad and that maybe a personal meeting this summer would be good. But even that part about the meeting, it turned out, was just in the Kremlin’s account of the presidential phone call. The White House made no mention of any agreement to meet… In Moscow, hope of Trump ushering in a new era of Russian-American harmony has evaporated… Trump, in the view of the Russian elite, has had his hands tied by the Russia hawks on both sides of the aisle.” [TheAtlantic]
“White House aims for Thursday signing of religious liberty executive order” by Timothy Alberta and Shane Goldmacher: “President Donald Trump has invited conservative leaders to the White House on Thursday for what they expect will be the ceremonial signing of a long-awaited—and highly controversial—executive order on religious liberty… Thursday is the National Day of Prayer, and the White House was already planning to celebrate the occasion with faith leaders… The original draft order, which would have established broad exemptions for people and groups to claim religious objections under virtually any circumstance, was leaked to The Nation on Feb. 1—the handiwork, many conservatives believed, of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who have sought to project themselves as friendly to the LGBT community.” [Politico]
AT 12PM TODAY: Rabbi Richard Boruch Rabinowitz, Executive Director AISH International, will be the guest chaplain of the House of Representatives and will deliver the opening prayer marking Jewish Heritage Month [CSPAN]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israeli Hotel Tech Startup Fornova Secures $17 Million in New Funding [Skift] • Michael Milken invented the modern junk bond, went to prison, and then became one of the most respected people on Wall Street [BusinessInsider] • The symbolic life of Leonard Litwin [TheRealDeal] • How a ‘brash [Jewish] Jersey boy’ grew 2 businesses to tens of millions in revenue and became a social media super star [BusinessInsider] • Fruchthandler’s FBE buying four-building portfolio for $50M [RealDeal] • Wall Street Execs Have Stopped Taking the President of the United States Seriously [VanityFair]
SCENE & HEARD AT THE MILKEN GLOBAL CONFERENCE — Katie Couric telling us, “I’m not exactly sure why, but I read Jewish Insider and I kinda like it. It’s good!” … Lowell Milken, Chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, introduced Jeb Bush, the 43rd governor of Florida, as the panelist to his “far left.” Not missing a beat, Bush replied “Not that far left.” [Pic] (h/t Jewish Journal’s Ryan Torok)… Jeb Bush stopping in the halls to say hi to Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper… Trump confidant Tom Barrack explaining to attendees why he prefers to not take a formal role with the Trump administration and instead remain a friend on the outside… Bloomberg Beta’s Roy Bahat discussing employment in the age of robots [Pic] … Eric Cantor on a panel talking about the political divide in America [Pic] … Moderating the panel, Chuck Todd explaining that “big data is actually bad for politics because it’s now about finding new voters instead of persuading existing ones” [Pic] … Neera Tanden was skeptical that the divide would get better pointing to the fact that Trump did not pivot in the general election and instead focused on firing up his base… YRF Darca and its Chairman Marc Rowan hosted an evening reception for Milken attendees on the rooftop of the Montage Beverly Hills hotel to spread the word about the Darca network of schools in Israel that help improve social mobility for high school students in lower income communities [Pic]…
SPOTTED: In the lobby of the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday afternoon, Herbert Simon (second from left), owner of the Indiana Pacers, schmoozing with pollster and political consultant Frank Luntz (far right). They were on their way to a panel titled “Commissioners of Sport: Agile Leadership in a Competitive World.” Photo by Ryan Torok [Pic]
HAPPENING TODAY — 10am PDT: Richard Sandler, JFNA Chair and Executive Vice President of the Milken Family Foundation, hosts a session on “Things That Will Blow Your Mind.” From the preview — “Imagine the possibilities if advances in neuroscience and engineering enabled doctors to peer into the brain with a tool that uses light to manipulate neurons to repair defects or heal injuries. What if there was a wearable device that allowed you to see inside your body with the detail of a high-resolution camera or MRI scanner? Finally, how about a tiny chip that could be implanted in the brain to minimize neurological damage caused by strokes, Alzheimer’s or concussions? In this session, three visionaries will talk about the remarkable things they’re up to — and it’ll blow your mind.” [Livestream]
SPOTLIGHT: “How Glencore AG became a giant in the global agriculture trade” by Eric Reguly: “Like Glencore itself, Glencore AG owes its existence to Marc Rich, the infamous Swiss commodities trader who became America’s most wanted fugitive before his pardon by Bill Clinton on his last day in the White House in January, 2001. Mr. Rich had formed Richco Grain in 1980 and tacked on the international assets of Granaria, a Dutch grain trader, a year later. Exploiting Mr. Rich’s superb Middle East connections, it became a near-exclusive supplier of barley to Saudi Arabia. But trading alone is a risky business. If you lack the infrastructure along the value chain – silos, ports, ships, rail cars, processing and refining plants – you end up paying middlemen all along the way, robbing you of profit at every turn. So in the mid-1990s, after Mr. Rich had sold control of Glencore to his managers, who included Mr. Glasenberg, Glencore AG got into the infrastructure game. “We didn’t want to have to buy commodities from our competitors so we became a logistics business to enable us to buy directly from the farmer,” Mr. Mahoney says. “It’s the chain that makes the money.” [Globe&Mail]
SARTORIAL: “A Facebook Exec’s Guide to Dressing Like a Grown-up in Silicon Valley” by Jacob Gallagher: “At Facebook, Matt Jacobson sticks out like an errant line of code. “You won’t see anybody else with a tie,” said Mr. Jacobson, the company’s head of market development. In the middle of Silicon Valley’s sea of notoriously dressed-down coders, he’s the man in the three-button Kiton suit and Alden monk straps. “When I joined the company almost 12 years ago, I just made a decision that I’m too old to wear ironic T-shirts,” said Mr. Jacobson, 56, of his typically tailored uniform.” [WSJ]
KAFE KNESSET — Opposition has had enough of the IBC drama — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Did you think we were done with the drama over public broadcasting in Israel? Well, it has started up again. Tomorrow, the Knesset is supposed to hold an afternoon debate and vote on the bill enacting part of Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s compromise to restructure the nascent Israel Broadcast Corporation’s news division. But tomorrow is also the last weekday of the Knesset’s Pesach recess – a/k/a the MKs’ break from the Knesset – and the opposition has had enough of these recess meetings. Opposition parties sent a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein demanding that the meeting wait until Monday, when they will be back to work anyway, and he rebuffed them. So today, Zionist Union faction chairwoman Merav Michaeli announced that the opposition will be boycotting tomorrow’s debate. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
WEEKEND WEDDING: “New York Times columnist David Brooks weds his former researcher Anne Snyder” by Emily Heil: “Knot, tied: New York Times columnist David Brooks wed Anne Snyder, his former research assistant, on Sunday. The couple’s relationship sort-of went public in an inauspicious way — Politico noted in a wink-wink 2015 piece that the conservative columnist had devoted an outsized amount of verbiage in the acknowledgements of his book “The Road to Character” to Snyder, who is 23 years his junior. But all’s well that ends with bells, and Atlantic Media owner David Bradley and his wife, Katherine Bradley, threw a rehearsal luncheon for the couple on Saturday, we’re told (that poolside tent saw a lot of activity this weekend), followed by a Sunday ceremony at the Arboretum.” [WashPost; Pic] h/t Playbook
BIRTHDAYS: Southern California-area philanthropist, writer and activist promoting wellness, founder of the New Americans Museum in San Diego, Deborah Shainman Szekely turns 95… Physicist and Nobel Laureate, professor at University of Texas at Austin, Steven Weinberg turns 84… Founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, a Florida-based timeshare firm, the construction of his 90,000-square-foot home in Florida was the subject the 2012 documentary film “The Queen of Versailles,” David A. Siegel turns 82… Pioneer in late night televison advertising for his company Ronco, inventor and marketing personality, known for the phrase, “But wait, there’s more!” Ronald M. “Ron” Popei turns 82… Senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Ely Karmon, Ph.D. turns 76… US Senator from Oregon since 1996, previously served in the House of Representatives (1981-1996), Ron Wyden (original family name was Weidenreich) turns 68… Partner at Jones Day (previously at Patton Boggs), represents political parties, campaigns, candidates, governors and members of Congress on election law matters, Benjamin L. Ginsberg turns 65…
Chair and CEO of Mondelez International, a multinational food and beverage company (including Oreo, Nabisco and Cadbury) with $30 billion in annual sales and 100,000 employees, Irene Rosenfeld turns 64… Real estate attorney, a partner in the Chicago office of DLA Piper, Mark D. Yura turns 64… Veteran of 13 NHL seasons, who in 2005 sat out a hockey game to observe Yom Kippur, now an assistant coach for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, Jeff Halpern turns 64… Partner at Burton Kamins Advocacy since 2013, previously at Prime Policy Group (2010-2013), Deputy COS at the RNC (2009-2010) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, Scott A. Kamins turns 42… Educated at the Hebrew Academy of San Francisco, played as a defensive lineman in the NFL from 2004 until 2011 (Chargers, Cowboys and Dolphins), Igor Olshansky turns 35… Director of SKDKnickerbocker’s Executive Communications practice, previously a senior speechwriter to President Obama and chief speechwriter to Secretary Kerry, graduate of CESJDS, Stephen Krupin… EVP for Program Development and Management at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Susan Steinmetz (h/ts Playbook)…
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