Daily Kickoff: Spotted in Baltimore — Mahmoud Abbas | Jewish dads speak up on gun violence | Inside Bibi’s media obsession | Dell’s $100M penthouse


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JI EXCLUSIVE — Mahmoud Abbas spotted in Baltimore: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was sighted on Wednesday in Baltimore, Maryland. According to a source, Abbas is receiving medical treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. An impressive motorcade of Secret Service vehicles were seen parked outside the Four Seasons Hotel in the Harbor East neighborhood of Baltimore. [Pic

Abbas’ Boeing 737 landed at Baltimore–Washington International Airport at 3:00 PM EST after a short flight from White Plains, New York, according to FlightRadar24. [Pic]

Worth noting: On January 14th, during a fiery speech in Ramallah, Abbas declared “Damn your money!” to the United States.

Abbas’ medical treatment in Baltimore may explain the timing of his speech this week at the UN. This past December, Haaretz reported that Abbas received an invitation to visit the White House for the second time in a year after the Trump administration was made aware that the Palestinian president was slated to be in the city for a medical procedure.

Separately in November, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt made a point of visiting Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat after he underwent a lung transplant operation at a hospital in Fairfax, Virginia. Given the recent tension, whether Kushner or Greenblatt will make the short trip up to Baltimore to visit Abbas remains to be seen. According to a White House official there are currently no plans for such a visit. [JewishInsider]

AP INTERVIEW: “Palestinian envoy estranged from White House, still working” by Josh Lederman: “It’s not like I am not speaking to them. My phone is open,” Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador, said in an hour-long interview in his office… No one has called, he said… Zomlot… spends his days at the Palestinians’ red-bricked delegation office along Georgetown’s Wisconsin Ave., sipping thick Turkish coffee with members of Congress, academics, think-tank types and leaders of the Arab and Jewish communities, trying to establishing goodwill among the American people in hopes it will filter up to their leaders… “What’s crucial at this point in time is not to be obsessed about the box we are in. We just need to find a way out of this box,” Zomlot said, adding: “We are boxed — all of us.” [AP]

IGER-BLOOMBERG TICKET? “Spotted: Bob Iger and Michael Bloomberg Dining Quietly in NYC” by Caleb Ecarma: “In a confirmed tip, Mediaite has learned that Walt Disney Company chief executive Bob Iger was spotted dining with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg… at Gabriel’s near the Time Warner building on Columbus Circle in Manhattan.”[Mediaite

DRIVING THE CONVO — Republican leaders, President Donald Trump and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and other elected officials faced intense pressure yesterday from grieving parents and survivors of the Parkland mass shooting last week who demanded clear answers on gun control and school safety questions.

“We’re here because my daughter has no voice. She was murdered last week, and she was taken from us,” Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was among the 17 victims at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, told Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the White House event. “My daughter is in King David cemetery… I want you all to know that. Never, ever will I see my kid. It’s eternity. My beautiful daughter, I’m never going to see again.” [Video]

“Parkland shooting survivor Samuel Zeif to Trump: “How did this not stop after Columbine?”” by Jen Kirby: “No brothers or sisters or family members or anyone should ever have to share those texts with anyone,” he said Wednesday through tears. He and his brother survived, but one of Zeif’s best friends was killed. “That’s why I’m here,” he said. “I lost my best friend; he was practically a brother. I’m here to use my voice, because I know he can’t.” [Vox]

Cary Grubber, father of 15-year-old Justin Gruber who was at the school at the time of the massacre: “In Israel, you have to be 27 years old to have a gun. You’re only allowed one. They tax the guns. You have to go through significant training.” [Pic]  

Fred Guttenberg, the father of 14-year-old Jamie engaged in a heated exchange with Marco Rubio during a televised CNN town hall meeting last night: “I’m a brutally honest person, so I’m just going to say it up front. When I like you, you know it and when I’m pissed at you, you know it. Your comments this week, and those of our President, have been pathetically weak. So, you and I are now eye to eye… Look at me and tell me guns were the factor in the hunting of our kids in this school this week… Senator Rubio, my daughter running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was shot in the back with an assault weapon, the weapon of choice… The fact that you can’t stand with everybody in this building and say that, I’m sorry.” [Video

— “Florida Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat, appeared during the early part of the town hall, one day after the Florida House of Representatives chose not to consider a bill banning the sale of assault weapons… Deutch said early during Wednesday night’s broadcast that when he returns to Washington, he would support a bill that makes assault weapons illegal.” [WashPost]

“An NRA spokeswoman and a Florida sheriff clashed during a raucous discussion on gun violence” by Bryan Logan: “You’re not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less weapons,'” [Sheriff Scott] Israel said, amid raucous cheering and applause… Israel added that officials “need the power to take people out of their homes” under Florida state law if their behaviors indicate that they may be a danger to themselves or others.”[BusinessInsider] • Israeli father of Florida shooting survivor: Arming teachers a grave mistake [JPost]

CHANGE STARTS AT KITCHEN TABLE — Gabby, Serena, and Cole Deutch, siblings from Boca Raton, Florida, and college-aged kids of Rep. Ted Deutch, launched Bake Action Against Gun Violence: “On Purim, we read about Jews who courageously stood up against evil. This Purim, two weeks after 17 students and teachers died in a shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, we will bake Hamantaschen and sell Mishloach Manot baskets to bring the Jewish community together against gun violence. We will donate the proceeds to groups working to end gun violence in America.” [BakeAction]

JARED INSIDER — “Jared Kushner is showing us exactly why anti-nepotism laws exist” by Aaron Blake: “[John] Kelly seems intent upon testing just how much stature Kushner actually has in the White House. Any normal person with the title of senior adviser would seem likely to lose that battle in a heartbeat. But the calculus isn’t so simple with Kushner. If Kushner loses his access to highly classified information, it risks looking like a proxy loss for the president, who has invested so much authority and responsibility in his son-in-law. If Kushner doesn’t, it will look like Trump sided with his family over his chief of staff… The whole thing stands to get pretty messy, and that’s largely thanks to implications that simply wouldn’t exist were it not for Kushner being in Trump’s family.” [WashPost] • Jared Kushner-Qatar Redux: Robert Mueller Enters the Fray [TheIntercept

“An Envoy Who Can Rival ‘North Korea’s Ivanka’” by Mark Landler: On Friday evening, [Ivanka] Trump, 36, is scheduled to have dinner with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, who tried desperately to broker a meeting between Mr. Pence and the North Korean delegation. There are no plans for Ms. Trump to meet with anyone from North Korea during her three-day visit, though an official declined to rule out the possibility.” [NYTimes]

GQ LIST: The 50 Most Powerful People In Trump’s Washington* — *Not including the world’s most stable genius himself! [GQ]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — “Police closing in on Netanyahu” by Ben Caspit: “By Feb. 21 at dawn, even the most ardent Likud supporters knew that the Netanyahu era was over. Now it’s only a matter of time. Netanyahu once dreamed of surpassing Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, as Israel’s longest serving prime minister. That’s not likely to happen now.” [Al-Monitor]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Netanyahu at the conclusion of his address to the Conference of Presidents Mission to Israel: “We’ll meet again next year right here in Jerusalem, the united capital, forever united, of the State of Israel.”

SCENE IN JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with a bipartisan delegation of Senators, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and a delegation from the US House of Representatives, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked the Senators and Representatives for the American support for Israel and welcomed President Trump’s decision to implement the law recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel,” the PMO said in a readout. [Pic]

L to R: Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Netanyahu, Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Cory Gardner (R-CO). [Pic]

“Netanyahu still due to attend Trump meeting amid corruption allegations” by Herb Keinon: “[AIPAC] organizers said that Netanyahu confirmed his participation, and that they have not heard from the Prime Minister’s Office that anything has changed… One official in Jerusalem said it would be hard to imagine Netanyahu would miss the opportunity to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary on the AIPAC central stage in front of some 18,000 cheering people.” [JPost

“Netanyahu’s Long Goodbye” by Anshel Pfeffer: “He may refuse to admit it to himself, but Netanyahu has embarked on his long goodbye. It will be a protracted, slow death by a thousand cuts… It means that his Washington visit next month – to meet U.S. President Donald Trump and speak at the annual AIPAC conference – will be overshadowed by the pall of it being his final trip as prime minister, of so many, to the United States. And while his hosts may pretend nothing has changed, there will be those who choose to stay away rather than be seen in his company.” [Haaretz] • ‘Bibimania’ hits Israel [Al-Monitor]

IPF’s Michael Koplow writes… “The Most Important Meeting Of Netanyahu’s Life: The Trump-Netanyahu conversation may also dictate whether Netanyahu moves toward annexation or decides to call new elections. If Trump does indeed make it clear to Netanyahu that he wants to release his peace plan and have it seriously considered and that Israel is to make no sudden moves in the interim, the only choice Netanyahu will have left is to dissolve the government and hold elections that he portrays as a referendum on potential indictments.” [IsraelPolicyForum]

GALLUP: “Before the latest controversy, slightly more than half of Israelis (52%) in 2017 said they approved of the way Netanyahu was handling his job as prime minister. This is on the high side for his ratings throughout his recent tenure… Three in four Israelis (76%) in 2017 said that corruption is widespread in the country’s government…The fact that more than half of Israelis approve of the job he is doing at a time when a clear majority say government corruption is widespread suggests the situation is not unexpected in the country’s politics.”[Gallup] • 25% of the Israeli Market Is Under Investigation in Myriad of Corruption Cases [TheMarker]

DEEP DIVE — “Benjamin Netanyahu’s Dangerous Obsession With the Media” by Amir Tibon: “Rottem Danon, the editor of Israel’s top weekend news broadcast and an expert on Netanyahu’s complicated history with the Israeli media, told me… that when Netanyahu served as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations in the 1980s, Yediot covered him favorably, praising his command of English and writing about the “admiration” he received from America’s Jewish community. But things changed in the 1990s, when Netanyahu became the leader of the opposition in the Knesset, and went up against then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin…”

“Netanyahu’s frustration boiled over in 1999, after he suffered a humiliating election defeat. “Netanyahu thought that his loss wasn’t a result of policy, credibility or character flaws,” Alon Pinkas, a former senior Israeli diplomat… told me. “He attributed the loss to a comprehensive campaign that Yediot supposedly waged against him. It became an obsession for him.” … “Netanyahu is the son of a historian and has a profound sense of history,” Danon said. “He is well aware of the fact that news coverage constitutes the first draft of history. Perhaps that’s why he’s so obsessed with how the media covers him.”” [TheAtlantic]

“IDF’s Unit 8200 helped Australia thwart attempt to bomb plane” by Yoav Zitun: “Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate’s (MID) Unit 8200 helped Australia thwart an attempt to bomb a commercial plane last year… “Unit 8200 provided exclusive intelligence that led to the thwarting of an airliner bombing by Islamic State (ISIS) at the end of 2017,” an IDF statement said… The MID, together with the Cyber Defense Division in the Computer Service Directorate, also thwarted an Iranian attempt to launch a cyber attack against private and public bodies in Israel.” [YnetBBC]

Israel, US Successfully Test Hetz 3 Exoatmospheric Anti-Missile System: “The Hetz 3 is a system that intercepts ballistic missiles during the space-flight portion of their trajectory, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) carrying nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads.” [SpaceWar]

** Good Thursday 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: Michael Dell Paid a Record $100.47 Million for Manhattan’s One57 Penthouse [WSJ] • Yeltsin Son-in-Law Set to Keep Peace in Billionaire Court Battle [Bloomberg] • The key to disrupting a billion-dollar industry is ‘ignorance,’ says Daniel Schreiber, the founder of Lemonade, SoftBank’s latest multi-million dollar investment darling[BusinessInsider] • UpWest Labs just raised $18 million to bring Israeli founders to the US [TechCrunch India Government Approves Film Coproduction Treaty With Israel [Variety] • Shari Arison Says Talks to Sell Half of Hapoalim Stake End Without Agreement [Haaretz] • Peter Lowy: ‘There is no plan B’ to Westfield takeover [AFR]

MEDIA WATCH — “The Atlantic to expand, adding 100 people” by Sara Fischer: “The Atlantic, one of the oldest print magazines in America, is adding 100 staffers (a 30% staff increase) as a part of a 12-18-month expansion across all divisions, with roughly half of the additions going towards editorial… “I think quality journalism is a scarce commodity these days and I think the discerning readers reward places that are making stories that mean something,” Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor in chief of The Atlantic, said. A spokesperson from The Atlantic says its new majority ownership stake from Emerson Collective, the non-profit owned by Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, has allowed the company to accelerate the expansion.” [AxiosNYTimes]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “US Jewish group withdraws Holocaust video offensive to Poles” by Vanessa Gera: “The [Ruderman Family Foundation] put out the video on Wednesday in reaction to the new Polish law… The provocative use of the term “Polish Holocaust” in the video was seen as hugely offensive to many in Poland… Jonathan Ornstein, director of the Jewish Community Center in Krakow, told the AP that he explained to foundation president Jay Ruderman how troubling the video was and was assured that the video would be removed. Later in the evening the video was gone from YouTube… Michal Dworczyk, an aide to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, described the video as an affront to the thousands of Poles who risked their lives during the war to help Jews.” [AP]

“Half-shekel coin bears profile of Trump” by Shimon Cohen: “Temple organizations have issued a half-shekel coin, the likes of which the Torah mandates every Jewish male must donate to the Temple, with a weight of 9.5 grams in real silver… On the other side is the figure of US President Donald Trump, alongside Cyrus, King of Persia, who made the building of the Second Temple possible. The producers of the coin say that it is in high demand abroad.” [IsraelNationalNews]

“Philadelphia Orchestra prepares for first trip to Israel in almost 30 years” bu Stephen Miller: “The latter part of the trip, which coincides with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s founding, will represent the orchestra’s first visit to Israel since 1992 – the first visit to that country by any American orchestra since 1996 – and Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin’s debut there… The Jewish Federation of Philadelphia helped bring about the Israel portion of the tour, which will also include meetings with musicians, students and government officials… The Israel leg of the tour will also include a “patron tour,” which will be catered by the famed Israeli-born Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov.”[PhillyVoice]

“Cape Town May Dry Up Because of an Aversion to Israel” by Seth M. Siegel: “Cape Town, South Africa, has designated July 9 “Day Zero.” That’s when water taps throughout the city are expected to go dry, marking the culmination of a three-year drought. South African officials aren’t responsible for the lack of rain, but inept management and a devotion to anti-Israel ideology needlessly made the situation worse… If the South Africans are snubbing the Israelis out of solidarity with the Palestinians, they might want to consider this: The Palestinian Authority has worked with Israel on a range of water projects since 1995.” [WSJ]

TRANSITION — New York philanthropist Elie Hirschfeld was appointed as the NY GOP Finance Chair. “Elie brings a superb skill set and deep network that will help lead us to victories up and down the ballot.” State Chairman Ed Cox said in a statement.

TALK OF THE TOWN: “A Clubby French Bistro Ruffles Uptown Social Feathers” by Beth Landman: “When La Goulue, the clubby French restaurant favored by Upper East Side socialites and others in the Black Card set, reopened in January after an eight-year absence, a certain rush was to be expected. Some spoke of its reincarnation in near-messianic terms. “We have been waiting forever for La Goulue to come back,” said Francine LeFrak, a Broadway producer and daughter of Samuel LeFrak, the real estate developer who died in 2003. But its return is also testing loyalties and disrupting the finely calibrated social pecking order of the ZIP code’s wood-paneled canteens.”[NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and a CNN commentator, David Axelrod turns 63… Leader of the Israel’s Labor Party, Avraham “Avi” Gabbay turns 51… Winner of multiple awards and fellowships as a poet, essayist and educator, Gerald Stern turns 93… Psychologist and professor at Columbia, Walter Mischel turns 88… Dutch singer-songwriter especially popular in France, she converted to Judaism and her children live in Israel, Lenny Kuhr turns 68… Former White House Counsel to President Obama, now a partner in the DC office of Perkins Coie LLP, Robert (Bob) Bauer turns 66… President of the New York Yankees, Randy Levine turns 63… Winner of five major golf championships and 24 other LPGA Tour championships, member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, now a golf course architect, Amy Alcott turns 62…

IDF colonel (reserves) who currently serves as a member of the Knesset for the Jewish Home party, Mordechai “Moti” Yogev turns 62… Office and programs coordinator at Cincinnati’s Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, Lisa Shusterman turns 59… Spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid in Glendale, Wisconsin, Rabbi Jacob Herber turns 55… Actress Rachel Dratch turns 52… Israeli soccer player, now a successful Israeli businessman, Haim Michael Revivo turns 46… Miranda May, Associate at The Boston Consulting Group, turns 25…

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