Daily Kickoff: After re-emergence of ‘Campaign Trump’ at CPAC, what if Trump asks to speak at AIPAC? | Yeshiva University advances to NCAA tournament


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DRIVING THE CONVO — What if Trump asks to speak at AIPAC? — by Jacob Kornbluh: After a year in which the White House recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and began the process of relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, the AIPAC gathering will likely feature long and loud standing ovations for the Trump administration. The question on the minds of several observers is whether the President himself prefers to be the one delivering the applause lines. Vice President Mike Pence, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and U.S. Ambassador David Friedman have already confirmed their participation.

“It’s not out of the question that Trump could decide in the last minute to show up at AIPAC and take personal credit for the Jerusalem decision,” Shalom Lipner, a nonresident senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, suggested. Just this past Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Trump described how he resisted pressure to delay his promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem. “You know, every President campaigned on, ‘We’re going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.’ … and then they never pulled it off,” the President said during an off-the-cuff portion of his remarks. “And I now know why because when I put the word out that I may do it… I was hit by more countries and more pressure and more people calling, begging me, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.’ I said, ‘We have to do it. ‘It’s the right thing to do… We have to do it.’ And I did it.”

Trump has told confidants he wants to spend lots of time campaigning this year. “He may or may not come. It just depends a lot on his schedule. It depends a lot on his mood. It depends a lot on what Mr. Mueller is doing that day with his investigation,” Dov Zakheim, former Under Secretary of Defense in President George W. Bush’s administration, told Jewish Insider. “I mean there are just too many variables. I think that the announcement that they’re going to move the Embassy in May, that alone is enough to get him a standing ovation.”

“In terms of how Democrats will react to that, it seems to me that that issue is almost closed,” Zakheim said. “Netanyahu, whatever he may say, has in practice aligned himself so closely with the Republicans that it’s no longer an issue, and the Democrats simply do not see Israel in terms that they support. Every time Netanyahu has made stakes more difficult to Democrats to support him, he closely aligns with Trump.”

In 2016, the morning after Trump addressed AIPAC for the first time, AIPAC leaders rebuked some of his partisan remarks against then President Obama. “Last evening, something occurred which has the potential to drive us apart, to divide us. We say, unequivocally, that we do not countenance ad hominem attacks, and we take great offense against those that are levied against the President of the United States of America from our stage,” AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus declared.

“Given the tendency of Trump administration officials to deliberately play partisan politics, AIPAC leadership will doubtless be petrified that Trump could ignite some storm that gets push-back from the audience,” Lipner asserted. “This President doesn’t take kindly to criticism, and how he might respond to a ‘mutiny’ among Israel’s supporters is an open and ominous question.”

“Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is supported by most Democrats because it’s the truth and a reflection of reality,” explained former Congressman Robert Wexler, now President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. “President Trump would gain bipartisan support if moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem was apart of a comprehensive US plan to implement a negotiated two state solution. Absent such an American commitment, Zionists seeking to preserve a Jewish majority and democratic Israel are suspicious of the President’s direction. That is the dynamic that AIPAC is faced with.” [JewishInsider]

Elliott Abrams tells us: “In principle it’s always good for AIPAC to have a president speak. People in both parties recognize that.”

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — “An Israeli Premier Hounded by Corruption Probes Spoke at AIPAC Before. It Didn’t Get Him Very Far” by Amir Tibon: “A former Netanyahu aide… believes “this is going to be a critical trip” for the Prime Minister… “He needs to remind Israelis why he claims to be the only person who can lead them at this time. And that’s what the AIPAC speech will be focused on.” … [Ehud] Olmert’s 2008 visit didn’t help him shift the conversation in Israel for more than 72 hours… It remains to be seen if Netanyahu will enjoy more success in utilizing his U.S. visit to change the focus of Israel’s main news broadcasts.” [Haaretz]

Netanyahu says Trump is ‘worthy of all praise’ for Jerusalem move: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says “he’s convinced, it’s only a matter of time” before other countries follow Washington’s lead and move their embassies to Jerusalem. He says he will “personally thank” US President Donald Trump for the embassy relocation… during his trip to Washington next week. The US president is “worthy of all praise” for the move, Netanyahu says at the weekly Likud faction meeting.” [ToI]

“A Quiet Jerusalem Neighborhood Gets a U.S. Embassy, and a Spotlight” by Isabel Kershner: “Life in Arnona seemed to be continuing quietly Sunday morning… A fellow driving instructor, Ovadia Tamir… said that while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is mired in corruption investigations, might get a political lift from the embassy move, no one else was benefiting. “This will only help Netanyahu, nobody else,” Mr. Tamir said…”[NYTimes

“Palestinians fear political instability in Israel” by Uri Savir: “The Palestinian leadership suspects that Netanyahu will opt for a major expansion of settlements in the West Bank… Ramallah also fears that Netanyahu will generate new cycles of violence against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and that he will order a so-called preventive strike in Lebanon against Hezbollah. Netanyahu could also say out loud that he rejects a US peace initiative… A senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official brushed off these Palestinian observations as a mixture of Palestinian paranoia and propaganda.” [Al-Monitor• Netanyahu warns ‘disproportionate’ settlement growth would anger Trump [ToI]

Bret Stephens writes… “Don’t Count Bibi Out — Yet: The Likud rank-and-file remain loyal to their leader. His coalition partners may detest him, but for now they see greater political advantage in a wounded prime minister than in a fresh one. Besides, Bibi has been, for Israelis, a pretty good prime minister… There’s a long Jewish history of this. For all of his flaws, few have done it as well as Bibi, which is why he has endured, and will probably continue to do so.” [NYTimes]

DRIVING THE DAY — “Russia sets stage for U.N. veto of western bid to call out Iran” by Michelle Nichols: “Russia has laid the groundwork for a likely veto on Monday of a British, U.S. and French bid for the United Nations Security Council to call out Iran over its weapons falling into the hands of Yemen’s Houthi group. The 15-member Security Council has to renew its targeted sanctions on Yemen on Monday. Russia has proposed a rival resolution that would simply extend the mandate of the regime for one year and not mention Iran.” [Reuters]

IRAN DEAL — “Rewrite Iran Deal? Europeans Offer a Different Solution: A New Chapter” by Mark Landler, David Sanger and Gardiner Harris: “The State Department is trying to win European support for strict new terms that would essentially be presented to Iran as a fait accompli, with the threat of renewed sanctions if it fails to comply… The trans-Atlantic talks, which are being led by a low-key State Department official, Brian H. Hook, are fraught with risks — not least that Mr. Trump may reject whatever the Europeans offer him… “The supplemental deal is a diplomatic device that is being used to allow the Europeans to declare victory,” said Mark Dubowitz, a leading critic of the Iran deal who is nevertheless open to the idea. “They can say they were able to keep the deal, remain steadfast to their commitment not to renegotiate it, but also to satisfy the U.S. and their own concerns that the length of the deal was too short,” said Mr. Dubowitz.” [NYTimes]

PALACE INTRIGUE — “Top Justice Dept. official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushner’s security clearance” by Carol D. Leonnig, Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey: “[Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein] alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner… [John] Kelly has told associates that he is uncomfortable with Kushner’s uncertain security clearance status and his unique role as both a family member and staffer… He has said he would not be upset if the president’s son-in-law and his wife, Ivanka Trump, left their positions as full-time employees. On Friday, Trump said he would defer the question of Kushner’s access to his chief of staff.” [WashPost]

— “Kelly does not plan to recommend to the president that he grant Kushner a waiver, but he is unlikely to resign if Trump ultimately decides to do so.”[Politico]

“Ivanka Trump: Arming teachers an option that ‘needs to be discussed’” by Phil McCausland: “Ivanka Trump said in an exclusive interview with NBC News on Sunday that her father’s suggestion of arming teachers is an option worth discussing… “I think that having a teacher who is armed who cares deeply about her students or his students and who is capable and qualified to bear arms is not a bad idea, but it is an idea that needs to be discussed,” Trump said.” [NBCNews]

INSIDE THE ADMIN — “Mnuchin Relishes His Star Turn in Cabinet and Trump’s Favor” by Saleha Mohsin: “[Steve] Mnuchin was instantly recognizable as he rode the Acela express early Thursday from Washington to Philadelphia. Getting on and off the train, carrying his own luggage and Tom Ford-label suit bag, passengers knew who had just walked by — not because of his time financing Hollywood movies behind the scenes, but in front of the cameras as Trump’s chief economic adviser and cabinet member… Mnuchin is making conspicuous use of commercial transportation these days, after early missteps tainted him with a reputation for taxpayer-funded luxury.” [Bloomberg

PROFILE — “The New York Congressman Who Could Lead an Impeachment Charge Against Trump” by Susan Glasser: “Jerry Nadler is still figuring it out. “My view of impeachment is to be very careful about impeachment,” he told me. Since succeeding [John] Conyers in the House Judiciary Committee post, he’s been raising his profile, appearing as a talking head on MSNBC and CNN, attacking Trump, and talking as though the President is a genuine menace to the nation. But that doesn’t mean Nadler is ready to call for impeachment, at least not yet… Nadler comes from a safely Democratic district and has never had a competitive race since he first won his seat, in a special election, in 1992. But political calculation dominated our conversations about whether and how the impeachment of Trump could proceed.” [NewYorker]

2018 WATCH: “California Democrats decline to endorse Feinstein” by David Siders and Carla Marinucci: “Riven by conflict between progressive and more moderate forces at the state party’s annual convention here, delegates favored [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein’s progressive rival, state Senate leader Kevin de León, over Feinstein by a vote of 54 percent to 37 percent… Neither candidate reached the 60 percent threshold required to receive the party endorsement for 2018.” [PoliticoWashPost]

“The Wild Illinois Governors’ Race Shows Why the Midterms Remain Unpredictable” by Ed Kilgore: “Initially this race looked like a war of big wallets between incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic billionaire (and brother of former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker) J.B. Pritzker. If they make it to the general election, the contest could eclipse the famous Jerry Brown/Meg Whitman 2010 California gubernatorial race as the most expensive in history. But both are now encountering serious intra-party challenges…” [NYMag]

2020 WATCH — “As 2020 Democratic primary warms up, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti stakes early claim to South Carolina” by Jamie Lovegrove: “A full two years before the 2020 South Carolina Democratic presidential race, Garcetti’s journey more than 2,300 miles from home marked a surprisingly early exploration of a campaign in the early-primary state. But Democratic insiders commended Garcetti for getting a head start… On the stump, Garcetti is light on policy specifics and heavy on the type of hope-and-change rhetoric that launched a little-known Illinois senator with an unusual name to the presidency in 2008… As a Mexican-American Jew, he proudly touts his own immigrant ancestry…” [PostandCourier]

** Good Monday 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: Weinstein Co. is set to file for bankruptcy after sale talks collapse [LATimes] • WhatsApp Co-Founder Puts $50M Into Signal To Supercharge Encrypted Messaging [Wired• Kremlin following Nornickel ownership dispute, won’t intervene [Reuters]

SPOTLIGHT — “Tech Envisions the Ultimate Start-Up: An Entire City” by Emily Badger: “Of the techno-urbanists, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs seems to be closest to actually creating something. The company, run out of New York City by the former deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff, concluded after a year of study that it needed a not-quite-blank slate to truly innovate… “The smart city movement as a whole has been disappointing in part because it is hard to get stuff done in a traditional urban environment,” Mr. Doctoroff said. “On the other hand, if you’re completely disrespectful of the urbanist tradition, I don’t think it’s particularly replicable. And it’s probably pretty naïve.”” [NYTimes]

“Sacred Jerusalem church shuttered in dispute with Israeli authorities” by Ruth Eglash: “The doors of Jerusalem’s sacred Church of the Holy Sepulchre were shuttered Sunday… after the Jerusalem municipality took steps to collect taxes on church properties in the city… The site’s closure is also a response to proposed legislation that could block the churches from making commercial deals with investors on land they leased long-term to the Israeli government nearly 70 years ago… They said that the step breached agreements and international obligations by Israel toward the church and that it “seems as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem.”” [WashPost]

CONSTRUCTIVE FRAMING? A delegation of American Jewish leaders, closely aligned with Agudath Israel of America, is on a two-day mission to Israel making the Orthodox Jewish case on the Kotel deal and conversion bill to Israeli leaders. The group met today with Members of the Knesset and are expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to “dispel the myth that American Jewry is represented by the Reform and Conservative movements,” according to a press release of the group Am Echad.

REPORT — Miri Regev wants to take Israel’s 70th celebrations to the Big Apple: “According to Hadashot television news, Regev is considering an international celebration of Israel’s Independence Day to take place in New York under the auspices of the Israeli government. The events marking the day may include the screening of a short film about Israel on the jumbo television screens at Times Square scheduled to coincide with the Big Apple’s annual Celebrate Israel Parade. The Culture Ministry is also considering a glittering gala event at a luxury hotel in Manhattan that would host diplomats and delegations from around the world.” [ToI]

COMING SOON — “Here’s When Netflix Is Dropping ‘Fauda’ Season 2” by Itay Hod: “The second season, which premiered in Israel on New Year’s Eve, will be storming Netflix on Thursday, May 24, at midnight PT in all countries where the streaming service is available… “ [TheWrap]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Florida shooting survivors travel to Jewish summit in Brooklyn” by Gina Daidone and Emily Saul: “Three students who survived the Florida school massacre joined about 2,500 other Jewish teens for an annual Chabad youth summit in Brooklyn on Sunday — prompting everyone there to make mitzvah pledges in memory of those killed. “I’m going to light some candles for my friend Gina, and I’m going to make challah [bread] every week,” said 14-year-old Lauren Berg.” [NYPost]

SPORTS BLINK: “College president denies nixing hiring over Jewish heritage” by Michael Kunzelman: “[Joshua] Bonadona’s lawsuit says he applied for a job as defensive backs coach and was interviewed last May by [Louisiana College president Rick] Brewer and head football coach Justin Charles. The suit claims Charles later told Bonadona that Brewer refused to approve his hiring because of what Brewer called his “Jewish blood.” … Bonadona, a 28-year-old graduate of Louisiana College, was born into a Jewish family but converted to Christianity during his time as a student and kicker on the school’s football team.” [AP]

PIC OF THE DAY — The Yeshiva University men’s basketball team celebrated its first-ever Skyline Conference championship at the Purchase College Gymnasium yesterday. As a result, the Maccabees earned their first bid into the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament in program history. [Pic

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN BROOKLYN — Sholom Rubashkin expressed his appreciation to Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) for taking a leadership role in advocating for his commutation, and pleaded for immediate action on the administration’s prison reform initiative at a community appreciation event in Crown Heights. [PicVideo]

REMEMBERING: Amy Spiro tweets… “The Netanyahu family dog Kaia has died after an illness. She was the star of several mini family scandals, after she bit an MK, and after Yair left her dog poop unscooped, angering neighbors.”[Twitter]

BIRTHDAYS: Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Tablet Magazine, Alana Newhouse… Professor Emeritus of sociology and Jewish studies at Rutgers University, Chaim Waxman turns 77… President of the World Jewish Congress since 2007, Ronald Lauder turns 74… Chantal Reuss turns 72… Singer and songwriter, Michael Bolton turns 65… Baltimore community activist, Julie Applebaum turns 61… Member of Knesset for the Likud party, he also serves as Regional Cooperation Minister, Yitzhak “Tzachi” Hanegbiturns 61… United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey (2009-2017), now a faculty member of Seton Hall Law School, Paul J. Fishman turns 61… Jonathan Sporn turns 60… Director of digital research at Lake Research Partners and SVP of digital strategies at turner4D, Alan Rosenblatt, Ph.D. turns 56 (h/ts Playbook)… Chief Planning Officer of the Paramus-based Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, Lisa Harris Glass turns 52… Motivational speaker, focused on anti-bullying, Jon Pritikin turns 45… Brett Kaufman turns 24…


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