Daily Kickoff: Spotted at Trump’s Israel Museum speech | Dems & R’s switch on Jerusalem | Kushner’s other real estate empire | Norm Brownstein BDay

JI_logoCP2

Have our people email your people. Share this sign up link with your friends

TRUMP IN ISRAEL — Top 5 tweets: 1. Aaron David Miller: “In knowing working with Netanyahu for decades, never — and I mean never– have I seen him so relaxed in presence of a US president.” 2. Maggie Haberman: “Pooler extraordinaire Annie Karni notes that Netanyahu has repeatedly called Trump “Donald,” which I’ve only heard a few people do over years.” 3. Steven Portnoy‏: “US press traveling w/Trump to Abbas’s palace were advised by WH staff to remove creds displaying Israeli flag, pooler Mike Memoli reports.” 4. Yair Rosenberg: “Oh man, watch Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer (on right couch) react when Trump says—in Israel—”We just got back from the Middle East.” [Video] 5. Tal Shalev: “Jared Kushner and Amb. Dermer, sharing a moment” [Pic]

KEY MOMENT: In Jerusalem, Trump solemnly remembers Holocaust victims [AP] • Trump’s message in Yad Vashem guestbook: “It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends – so amazing + will never forget.” [Pic]

FAREWELL ADDRESS: “Trump: Israelis and Palestinians are ‘ready to reach for peace’” by Annie Karni: “In a brief speech at the Israel Museum, President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he feels confident, after two days of meetings, that the lsraelis and the Palestinians are eager for a peace deal… But it is unclear if either side actually shares Trump’s confidence… Trump received a standing ovation from the audience — which included Republican mega donor Sheldon Adelson — when he proclaimed: “Iran’s leaders routinely call for Israel’s destruction. Not with Donald J. Trump. Believe me.”” [Politico

HIGHLIGHTS — “My administration will always stand with Israel… Under my administration, you see the difference. Big, big beautiful difference… Iran calls for the destruction of Israel. Not with Donald J. Trump, believe me… Jerusalem is a sacred city. The ties of the Jewish people to this holy land are ancient and eternal… I can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace. I can tell you that my good friend Benjamin wants peace… My good friend Benjamin loves people.”

SPOTTED at the Israel Museum: Sheldon Adelson, Malcolm Hoenlein, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, RJC’s Matt Brooks and Norm Coleman, AIPAC’s Cameron Brown, Facebook’s Jordana Cutler, Rivka Kidron, GOP Israel’s Marc Zell, Shmuley Boteach, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, Richard Heideman, David Hager, Dr. Joseph Frager, KamaTech’s Moshe Friedman, United Hatzalah’s Eli Beer, and Boaz Bismuth.

TAKEAWAYS — Aaron David Miller: “If President Trump wanted to demonstrate his stunningly pro-Israeli credentials to pave the way for pressing Netanyahu for concessions down the road, this trip couldn’t have gone any better.”

Elliott Abrams tells us: “The President’s belief that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace appears to be based on statements made to him by Mahmoud Abbas. But actions by the PLO speak louder than words. The previous Israeli offers of peace were rejected, the glorification of terror continues, and payments to terrorists continue to be made. The idea that an Israeli-Palestinian peace would lead to peace in the region is certainly not new, but it is just not correct. The problems in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, for example, would not be affected by an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, nor would it slow down the Iranian nuclear program. It was encouraging to see the President state flatly that he would prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Last night, Trump had dinner with the Netanyahus, and the Prime Minister and his wife Sarah were the talk of the town after they made some awkward comments. “Thanks to you, we had a budget to paint the walls,” Bibi said as the Trumps signed the guest book at the Prime Minister’s residence. “The whole house was painted for you!” Sarah said, beaming. Soon after, Yair Netanyahu was introduced to the First Couple. Netanyahu pointed out that Yair looks like Sarah, but their other son, Avner, who was not present, looks more like him. Yair told the Trumps that he feels for Barron, because he was about the same age when his father first became prime minister. Dinner that night was prepared by celebrity chef Moshe Segev, who made sliders – perhaps to remind Trump of his favorite food, meatloaf – among other dishes. Entertainment was provided by singer-actress Shiri Maimon, most recently the star of “Evita” in Israel’s national theater, Habima. Maimon chose to belt out “New York, New York,” because she heard that Trump likes Sinatra. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

–Boaz Bismuth pointed out: “As I have seen at White House dinners, at Netanyahu’s dinner it was reported that no wine will be served. Trump has been anti-alcohol for years due to a family tragedy involving his brother.” [Twitter]

LET’S TALK ABOUT PEACE — “Trump Comes to Israel Citing a Palestinian Deal as Crucial” by Peter Baker and Ian Fisher: “Mr. Trump sought to showcase his friendship with Mr. Netanyahu as the two shared dinner with their wives and called each other “Donald” and “Bibi,” the prime minister’s nickname. But neither publicly cited any concrete steps in pursuing a peace agreement. Mr. Trump did not formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as some Israeli officials hoped he would do… Nor for that matter did he publicly press Israel to curb settlement construction in the West Bank as Palestinians hoped. Mr. Netanyahu offered nothing more than a few modest gestures like extending the hours at the border crossing between the West Bank and Jordan.” [NYTimes] Rosie Gray reports from Jerusalem: Trump Goes After ‘the Ultimate Deal’ [TheAtlantic]

“In Israel, Trump Makes the Word ‘Peace’ Great Again” by Barak Ravid: “An Israeli official who attended one of the meetings with the U.S. president noted that the latter is focused on the issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace, and isn’t budging a millimeter from the message he has reiterated.” [Haaretz] • If Kushner has a Mideast peace plan, it’s a secret so far [Reuters]

“Why Trump’s Western Wall Visit Is Actually Bad News for the Israeli Right” by Anshel Pfeffer: “He has made three mini-speeches since arriving in Israel and hasn’t mentioned the word “Jerusalem” in one of them. He was warned not to do so by his advisers, and that’s it… So why did Trump visit the Wall anyway? Who knows why he does anything. Maybe it was a paternal gesture to his daughter Ivanka, the convert to Judaism. Probably he assumes that a photograph by the most visible symbol of Judaism could help him back home with Jewish and evangelical voters if he runs for reelection in 2020. Maybe it’s because he loves big buildings and has been gripped recently with a special passion for walls.” [Haaretz

NO, LET’S TALK ABOUT INTELLIGENCE — Bibi Changes the News Narrative, Perhaps Intentionally — by Jacob Kornbluh: A story that has caused headaches for the Trump administration in recent weeks was brought to life during the President’s first overseas trip. Perhaps uncoincidentally, this shift of attention away from the White House’s push for a renewed peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians could have been just what Netanyahu was hoping for. As Trump and Netanyahu wrapped up their opening statements ahead of a bilateral meeting at the King David Hotel, Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev called out a question to the two leaders asking if there was concern about the Israeli intelligence that Trump shared with the Russians in the Oval Office. Trump appeared to ignore the question and starting walking away but Netanyahu decided to answer it. “The intelligence cooperation is terrific,” he said.

At that point, Trump appeared anxious to respond and engage the cameras. “Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name Israel,” Trump insisted. “Never mentioned during that conversation…” Within minutes, Twitter and Cable News immediately picked up on the brief off-script moment as a leading news item. [JewishInsider

Former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro tells us… “President Trump risked stepping on his own narrative of strong support for Israel and restarting peace talks with his ‘I didn’t say the word Israel’ moment. From afar, it seems to have lit up Washington and the US press corps, giving new life to the Trump-Russia story. But here in Israel, it made a much smaller splash. Judging by the Channel 2 news broadcast, on which I served as a commentator, it rated a minor footnote to a visit in which the President’s diplomatic initiative and visit to the Kotel were dominating the coverage. That can pose a risk for the traveling White House staff, if they focus only on the good news from the road, and lose sight of a fire burning back home. Regardless, the President is likely to leave Israel with the well-deserved sense that the visit was a success.”

OR LET’S DISCUSS IRAN — Trump promises Israel Iran will never have nuclear weapons: “Speaking in Jerusalem, [President Trump] said Iran had negotiated a “fantastic deal” with his predecessor, Barack Obama, winning “a lifeline and prosperity”. But “instead of saying thank you”, the Iranians were backing terrorism, he said… “Iran will never have nuclear weapons, that I can tell you,” Mr Trump told Mr Netanyahu.” [BBC] • Trump, Netanyahu Cast Iran as Common Enemy [WSJ]

“Trump goes on Iran-bashing tour” by Laura Rozen: “I think there is a benefit to reassuring our Sunni partners and to pushing back on Iran for some of its behavior, especially given how anxious they were after the nuclear deal, and how much they … were irrationally angry at Obama,” [Ilan] Goldenberg, with CNAS, told Al-Monitor… “But there is a balance to be struck here. The right approach involves both pressure and engagement. And you also want to leave open channels to have a dialogue. And you don’t want to go so far as to become part of the conflict. And in some areas, [Trump administration officials] are trending dangerously close to that.” [Al-Monitor

OR BOTH… “Trump Bets Sunni Fears of Iran Can Win Israeli-Palestinian Peace” by Margaret Talev and David Wainer: “With appearances in Riyadh and Jerusalem, [Trump] has observed repeatedly that the threat posed by Iran is pushing Arab Gulf states and Israel closer together. He believes that realignment could create conditions for long-abandoned peace talks to resume… One idea floated is for increased commercial ties and Israeli overflight rights through Saudi Arabia in exchange for Israeli concessions toward the Palestinians and a freeze of settlement construction, according to an Israeli government official.” [Bloomberg]

“Why Trump’s flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel is such a big deal” by Adam Taylor: “Netanyahu is sometimes forced to make lengthy detours to avoid the airspace of Muslim-majority nations that do not have relations with Israel: In February, his flight from Singapore to Sydney added on four more hours and more than 1,000 miles to avoid Indonesian airspace… Trump is hoping that a renewed focus on a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians can help end the animosity between Israel and its Arab neighbors. For both Israelis and Arab states, a peace deal would carry the possibility of full diplomatic relations — with direct flights and any resulting deeper economic ties part of the appeal for both.” [WashPost

MAYBE THINGS ARE CHANGING — “Dubai and Saudi Arabia Among 104 Nations Producing Kosher Certified Products” [OUNews]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “There’s No Such Thing As Bad News For Trump’s Israeli Fans. Literally” by Miriam Berger: “Niran Dishi doesn’t know anyone who doesn’t love Donald Trump. Since he first saw Trump debating Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on television during the campaign last year “all of my friends and all of my family love him,” he said… Dishi still reads Israel’s leading newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, but now prefers its main competitor, Yisrael Hayom, a free daily funded by Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul, GOP fundraiser… “What matters in the world today is not policy, it’s identity,” Amit Segal, a reporter for Israel’s Channel 2, told BuzzFeed News. “And people see Donald Trump as an extension of the right-wing in Israel because he’s anti-media and anti-elite.” Boaz Bismuth, Yisrael Hayom’s editor-in-chief, insists he’s just reporting what he sees…  These days he’s famous as Israel’s biggest Trump fan.” [BuzzFeed]

“Israelis angry at Trump’s failure to move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem as promised” by Franco Ordonez: “For the record, we recognize Washington, D.C.,” said Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. who now serves as deputy minister for diplomacy in the Netanyahu government… Oren… said Trump had lost credibility with some Israelis who believed him when he promised during his campaign for the presidency to move the embassy… “If it had been a one-off and he said it one time,” Oren said, the promise could be forgotten. “But he said it several times. It was a staggering campaign promise.” [McClatchyDC]

“Ivanka ‘Yael’ touches Jewish hearts with tears at the Kotel” by Lahav Harkov: “Likely unaware of being filmed, Ivanka touched the ancient stones and shed tears… And while nothing will get all the detractors to come around, it seemed like Ivanka struck a chord. Even hardened Israeli pundits called her “Ivanka, a member of our people,” applauding her for the quiet moment.” [JPost] • Ivanka Trump Mistakenly Identifies the Western Wall as Judaism’s ‘Holiest Site’ [Tablet]

VIEW FROM BETHLEHEM: “In Bethlehem, Palestinians Confident Trump’s One-hour Visit ‘Won’t Change Anything'” by Noga Tarnopolsky: “[Rami] Zayed, the pharmacist, used a metaphor to describe his views. “Asking about Trump’s visit is like a joke question,” he said. “It’s like in medicine: a placebo. We just take it to feel that ‘I took medicine,’ but in fact nothing has changed.” [Haaretz

ON THE HILL — Democrats and Republicans flip roles on Western Wall — by Aaron Magid: On Capitol Hill, Members of Congress switched their traditional roles on this sensitive issue of Jerusalem’s status when responding to comments from Trump administration officials who were asked if the Western Wall is part of Israel. Sec. Tillerson told reporters on Air Force One the other day that “The wall is part of Jerusalem” without elaborating. “I think they’re being sensitive. Much like, what I would be sensitive. They are in the midst of some very interesting times and are being wise with what they want to weigh in and how they want to handle things,” Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) told Jewish Insider. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) refused to criticize comments made by Rex Tillerson and H.E. McMaster regarding the Western Wall. “I don’t know their reasons for not being able to answer, so I can’t comment on that,” Carter noted.

Democrats, however, critiqued the administration for this policy decision. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) emphasized that she “very much” believed that the Kotel is part of Israel. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) said, “I recognize that the Western Wall is part of Israel. I think most members of the House do.” [JewishInsider]

SPECIAL ELECTION WATCH: “Iran Deal Divides Ossoff, Handel” by Atlanta Jewish Times: “The 6th District rivals appeared separately at the monthly breakfast meeting of Jewish War Veterans Post 112 in Dunwoody… [Karen] Handel, a Republican, said Iran was the only nation to benefit from the deal the Obama administration and its international partners negotiated with Iran in 2015… “We should strictly and uncompromisingly monitor Iran’s compliance” through International Atomic Energy Agency inspections and U.S. intelligence capabilities, Democrat [Jon] Ossoff said. “If Iran in any way violates the agreement, we should immediately impose harsh sanctions to punish the government of Iran.” [AtlantaJewishTimes]

“At a synagogue, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart blames anti-Semitism on the left” by Moriah Balingit: “Republican gubernatorial candidate Corey A. Stewart told an audience at a Northern Virginia synagogue Sunday night that he blames the political left for rising anti-Semitism, stunning many in the audience who felt Stewart excused bigotry coming from his own supporters. “Today most of the anti-Semitic bigotry is not coming from the right. It’s coming from the left. We have to face it,” said Stewart, prompting a collective gasp and incredulous laughter from the crowd of about 400 at Temple Rodef Shalom in Fairfax County. “What about Keith Ellison from Minnesota?” Stewart said, referring to the Democratic congressman who has been criticized by some for his earlier support for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Audience members shouted back, “What about Trump?” [WashPost]

2020 WATCH: “Eric Garcetti isn’t running for president (wink, wink)” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “He’s 46, just been re-elected to a second term with 81 percent of the vote, half-Mexican (he speaks Spanish fluently) and half-Jewish (he’s an active member of a very progressive L.A. synagogue), a Rhodes scholar and former Navy intelligence reserve officer. Hillary Clinton thought he was handsome, and that helped keep him in play in the consideration to be her running mate, though he didn’t make it to the finalist round, people familiar with those conversations told me. His deflection on 2020 lasted about 20 seconds… “I’m not focused on it, but the sky’s the limit in terms of what we need to be able to imagine for this country,” Garcetti said.” [Politico]

** 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 **

SPOTLIGHT: “Jared Kushner’s Other Real Estate Empire: Baltimore-area renters complain about a property owner they say is a neglectful and litigious. Few know their landlord is the president’s son-in-law” by Alex MacGillis: “When Americans were introduced last year to Ivanka Trump’s husband and the nation’s prospective son-in-law in chief, it was as the preternaturally poised, Harvard-educated scion of a real estate empire whose glittering ambitions resembled Donald Trump’s own. But the Kushners’ empire, like Trump’s, was underwritten by years of dealing in much more modestly ambitioned properties. Jared’s grandfather Joseph Kushner, a Holocaust survivor from Belarus, over his lifetime built a small construction company in New Jersey into a real estate venture that owned and managed some 4,000 low-rise units concentrated in the suburbs of Newark.”

“Amid the high-profile Manhattan and Brooklyn purchases, in 2011, Kushner Companies, with Jared now more firmly in command, pulled together a deal that looked much more like something from the firm’s humble past than from its high-rolling present. That June, the company and its equity partners bought 4,681 units of what are known in real estate jargon as “distress-ridden, Class B” apartment complexes: units whose prices fell somewhere in the middle of the market, typically of a certain age and wear, whose owners were in financial difficulty. Kushner’s largest concentration of multifamily units is in the Baltimore area, where the company controls 15 complexes in all — which, if you assume three residents per unit, could be home to more than 20,000 people…” [NYTimesMag]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Ghermezian’s American Dream Meadowlands: what’s next after getting $1.6B in private financing secured” by John Brennan: “Anyone who has seen me in the last four years and asked me “Is American Dream Meadowlands ever going to open?” (which is almost everyone) as well as Meadowlands Matters readers has gotten the same answer: If Triple Five sells the $1.15 billion in bonds, its eventual opening is a foregone conclusion.” … The institutional investors put their money in escrow over the weekend only because Triple Five has proven to their satisfaction that it has gotten similar commitments from “the big boy” bond buyers to fund that side of the equation. So the likelihood of this project coming to fruition has increased substantially, as noted by New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority President Wayne Hasenbalg on Monday.” [NorthJersey]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli startup Windward enters marine insurance” by Idan Rabi: “Founded in 2011 by CEO Ami Daniel and VP product Matan Peled, Windward has raised $22.5 million to date from the Aleph fund, Chinese billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizon Ventures fund, former US CIA director David Petraeus, Start-Up Nation author Dan Senor, former Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer, and others. Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is an advisor in the company, although he has not invested in it. Sources inform “Globes” that Windward has raised substantial additional amounts in recent months, but the identity of the investors was not disclosed.” [Globes]

“Amid complicated relations with U.S., Turkey hires longtime Trump lobbyist Brian Ballard” by Marc Caputo: “President Donald Trump’s longtime Florida lobbyist, Brian Ballard, has expanded his practice globally and just signed a $1.5 million contract with the government of Turkey, which will be represented by the firm’s new big hire, former Florida Congressman Robert Wexler. Ballard Partners’ Turkey contract, inked Friday, comes on the heels of two other international clients signed by the firm: A March 6$900,000 contract with the Dominican Republic and an April 1 $240,000 contract with the Socialist Party of Albania, the ruling party in the Balkan nation.” [Politico]

“Israeli Settlers Weren’t Always So Religious—They Were Once Secular Hippies” by Emma Green: “According to new research by Sara Yael Hirschhorn, a lecturer at Oxford University, about 60,000 out of the 400,000 settlers currently living in the West Bank are American—roughly 15 percent. In a new book about this group, City on a Hilltop, Hirschhorn writes that the Americans who came to Israel in the 1960s and ’70s defy today’s common stereotypes about settlers. Instead of being ultra-religious and conservative, “these new arrivals were usually young, single, highly educated, upwardly mobile, and traditional but not necessarily Orthodox in their religious practice, voted for Democratic Party candidates, and were politically supportive of and active in … the civil-rights movement and the anti-Vietnam War struggle.”” [TheAtlantic]

MEDIA WATCH: “Fox News staffers ‘disgusted’ at network’s promotion of Seth Rich conspiracy theory” by Oliver Darcy: “Multiple Fox News employees told CNN that Hannity… and others were hurting the credibility of the outlet by continuing to advance the [Seth Rich] theory, for which there is no real evidence. “It is disappointing because it drags the rest of us down,” said a senior Fox News employee, who asked how Fox News leadership could continue to allow Hannity to spread an unproven theory on the network. Another Fox News employee said he feels that Hannity isn’t letting go of the Rich story because he wants to “distract from any and all Trump scandals.” “ [CNNMoney]

DESSERT: “Assuage any Donald angst with the #Trumpburger” by Jessica Steinberg: “With President Trump in town, snarling up traffic and wreaking havoc for Jerusalem residents through Tuesday, the folks at Crave, the Mahane Yehuda restaurant known for its groovy gourmet street food, decided to assuage customer tensions with the Trumpburger… “It’s made from steak, ketchup and the Mexican wall,” quipped James Oppenheim… Topping the restaurant’s whole wheat buns (“perfect for squeezing”) is Mexican guacamole — representing the US/Mexico border wall that Trump wants to put in place — well-done steak sliders (“perfect for little hands”), pickled (im)peaches (alluding to Washington impeachment talk) and topped with crispy stalks of orange sweet potato (hair), for the president’s quizzically-colored pate and signature coloring. The burger, available only this week, costs NIS 69 and so far, it’s going over well with customers, said Oppenheim.” [ToI]

BIRTHDAYS: Founding member and chairman of Denver-based law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, super-lobbyist, long-time proponent of the US-Israel relationship and national board member of AIPAC, and House of Cards cameo star, Norman Brownstein turns 74… Businessman, attorney and philanthropist, he acquired and rebuilt the iconic restaurant in Miami Beach, The Forge, Alvin Malnik turns 84… Member of Congress from Washington State (1985-1993), State Department official (2002-2006), taught at Yale, GWU and English at a yeshiva high school in Mercer Island, Washington, John Ripin Miller turns 79… British fashion retailer and promoter of tennis in Israel, he is the founder, chairman and CEO of three international clothing lines including the French Connection, Great Plains and Toast brands, Stephen Marks turns 71… Israeli businessman with holdings in real estate, construction, energy, hotels and media, Ofer Nimrodi turns 6-0… President of Newton, MA-based Liberty Companies, a real estate development and management firm, he is a long-time Boston Jewish community leader, Andrew M. Cable turns 6-0 (h/t Abigail)… Best-selling author and journalist, whose works include “Tuesdays with Morrie,” Mitch Albom turns 59…

Israeli-born entrepreneur, author and former academic, now serving as the president and executive director of the Irvine, California-based Ayn Rand Institute, Yaron Brook turns 56… Vancouver, British Columbia-native, former ski instructor, ordained by HUC-JIR in 1998, now rabbi of the Community Synagogue of Rye (NY), Daniel B. Gropper turns 49… Film and television director, Nanette Burstein turns 47… Prominent NYC matrimonial law attorney, daughter of TV journalist Jeff Greenfield, Casey Greenfield turns 44… Israeli educator and politician, she is a member of the Knesset for the centrist Kulanu party since 2015, Yifat Shasha-Biton turns 44… Professional golfer on the LPGA Tour, she turned pro at age 17 and is the youngest-ever winner of a modern LPGA major championship (the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship), Morgan Pressel turns 29… Professional boxer, winner of the California Golden Gloves Championship in 2010, known as “Kid Yamaka” (a phonetic spelling of “yarmulke”), Zachary Wohlman turns 29… Senior associate in social media engagement at United Airlines, Andrea Hiller turns 23… Stephanie Liss

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]


Comments are closed.