Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Attended ‘Klinghoffer’ Last Night | Congress, State Dept. React To Sanger’s Report | Bibi Birthday

CIRCUMVENTING CONGRESS: Yesterday, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed his disappointment at reports that the Obama Administration is seeking to avoid Congress with any final negotiated agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. One of the most contentious issues is the possibility of scaling back Iranian sanctions, most of which passed both houses of Congress nearly unanimously. Many believe this will result understandably in a Congress upset not at each other for a change, but at the unilateral actions of the Obama administration. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen quipped via twitter that “POTUS says he’ll circumvent #Congress on #Iran #nuke deal. I authored toughest #sanctions laws, will work against unilateral action by Admin.” “Iran has still not implemented all the nuclear transparency measures it had agreed to carry out by late August, the head of the UN atomic energy agency said on Monday, suggesting little headway in an inquiry into suspected bomb research.” [Foreign AffairsNY TimesTweetYNet]

STATE DEPT ON IRANIAN SANCTIONS : The State Department on Monday sought to make a distinction between suspending and ending sanctions – the latter of which would require Congressional approval and the former of which would not. “On sanctions,” said the State Department official, “we have made absolutely clear publicly in testimony and in private discussions on the Hill that in the first instance, we would look to suspend sanctions. And then only if and after Iran has upheld its end of the arrangement would we look to lift or terminate sanctions…It’s obviously way too early, I think, to speculate on which sanctions would require legislative versus executive action to suspend or to lift. But suffice to say, if we get a comprehensive agreement, it is absolutely true that the sanctions regime we put in place cannot be undone without congressional action…There are many, many sanctions on the books. But the notion that we are somehow trying to avoid congressional input and consultation is, I think, just preposterous.” [State DepartmentVideo]

NETANYAHU PUSHING FOR EARLY ELECTIONS: “According to senior political sources, Netanyahu has hatched out a two-pronged plan to retain power both within his Likud party and over a new government. In the first stage, Netanyahu will call primary elections in the Likud – despite fierce opposition from within the party. Meanwhile, coalition officials say, Netanyahu will lay the groundwork for his next coalition which he hopes to establish by the end of May together with Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party and the ultra-Orthodox factions, currently in the opposition. In the meantime, the center-left bloc are scrambling to unify and find a viable alternative to Netanyahu, hoping to block him from attaining the Knesset seats he need to form the next government.” [YNet]

KLINGHOFFER OPENS AMID RALLY IN PROTEST : The large rally to protest the opening of John Adams’ opera “The Death of Klinghoffer” at the Met yesterday was attended by Jewish leaders, community members, and current and former elected officials like former Governor David A. Paterson (D-NY) and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani , as well as Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Peter T. King (R-NY). NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio was troubled by the protests, noting that “the American way is to respect freedom of speech. Simple as that.” Mayor Giuliani had a different opinion, saying that “The Met, and those who decide to go see this production, have every right to do so, and it would be hypocritical and anti-American for us to interfere with that and to stop that,” he said at the rally. “They have that right. But we also have a right, just as strong and just as compelling, to point out the historical inaccuracy and the historical damage this contributed to.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg attended the opera, Met officials said. [NY TimesPhoto]

Lieberman’s plan to bolster Israel on world stage in 2015: Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s newly released 8-page plan to bolster Israel’s image abroad includes strengthening the US-Israel relationship through “Full coordination…between the two countries regarding the Iranian issue, the future of the peace process, the need for a multilateral approach in the UN, rather than the unilateral approach of the Palestinians against Israel, demilitarization of Gaza, and dealing with regional threats.” The report also noted the importance of strengthening regional alliances and fighting the rising tide of anti-Semitism. [YNet]

Daily Beast’s Dynamic Duo Departs… for Bloomberg?: “Daily Beast reporters Eli Lake and Josh Rogin are leaving the news and culture site and expected to join Bloomberg View, according to sources familiar with the move… Lake and Rogin routinely shared bylines on national security and foreign policy stories, so the dual departure leaves an immediate hole in that coverage area for the Daily Beast.” [HuffPost]

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Rabbi Marvin Hier: ‘U.S. is Rewarding These Perpetrators’: The founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Marvin Hier, is outraged at payments to Nazi war crime suspects. The US government “does not say whether or how it might end benefit payments” at this time. [NBCTimes of Israel]

START-UP NATION: Blender launches peer-to-peer lending in Israel [Globes] •  Ondigo Launches In Battlefield With A Magic Automated Mobile CRM Tool [Tech Crunch] •  Waze cofounder: ‘fall in love with the problem, not the solution’ [Wired] •

Deval Patrick tries to boost ties with West Bank tech leaders: For many Americans, the words West Bank evoke political conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis, not a sophisticated high-tech community. In that light, a group of Palestinian high-tech entrepreneurs met with local companies and Governor Deval Patrick this month to help change that region’s reputation here, and to form ties with the state’s technology community. Harvard Business School hosted the meeting of Patrick and executives from eight Palestinian technology companies, who also visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Cambridge office of search engine company Google Inc., and local venture capitalists. They then visited the technology industry hub in California’s Silicon Valley. Murad Tahboub, a partner, founder, and managing director of Asal Technologies, a software development company in Ramallah, said American companies desperate for technically trained workers should look to the Palestinian territories. “Our wealth is our human beings,’’ said Tahboub. “We have in a very small area, similar to Boston, 13 universities in the West Bank and Gaza.’’ [Boston Globe]

Abbas son, magazine face off in court : ” A federal appeals court gave no sign Monday it’s prepared to revisit a libel lawsuit that one of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ sons brought against Foreign Policy magazine. After about 35 minutes of arguments before three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, it was less clear whether businessman Yasser Abbas would succeed in fending off a demand from the magazine that he pay the attorneys’ fees racked up in defending against the suit. The younger Abbas sued in 2012 over an article Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies published in Foreign Policy titled “The Brothers Abbas: Are the sons of the Palestinian president growing rich off their father’s system?” A federal judge tossed out the suit last year, ruling that questions Schanzer posed in the piece didn’t amount to the kind of factual allegations that could be libelous.” [Politico]

The feud that’s shaking gallery walls: Ronald O. Perelman slides into a chair in his office surrounded by proof of his “wall power”: an Andy Warhol print, a Roy Lichtenstein landscape and one of Cy Twombly’s giant squiggle paintings. Mr. Perelman has collected art for as long as he’s been collecting companies. His trove of postwar and contemporary work, amassed over more than 30 years and spread among his Manhattan townhouse, East Hampton estate and 257-foot yacht, is estimated to be worth more than $1 billion. Today, however, he wants to exhibit a different side of the art world. Through a lawsuit against his former friend and art dealer Larry Gagosian, Mr. Perelman has set out to expose what he calls the “dirty” side of the glamorous, opaque, $60-billion business of buying and selling high-end art.” [NBC]

BOOK REVIEW — Gina Nahai on her new novel, ‘The Luminous Heart of Jonah S.’: Spanning 40 years, “The Luminous Heart of Jonah S.” tells the story of an Iranian-Jewish family and their lives in Iran and then the United States. Identity, a mystery and a family fortune hang in the balance of a book that combines magical realism with the real world of the close-knit Iranian-Jewish community. Author Gina Nahai, who lives in Los Angeles, is an award-winning writer and lecturer at USC’s Master of Professional Writing Program. Nahai reads from her novel Tuesday at Diesel Bookstore in Brentwood and on Thursday will be interviewed by Robert Scheer at Writers Bloc at an event at the Goethe Institute. [LA Times]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: Jackson Connor profiles the ‘Jewish Tinder’ Jswipe and its 28 year-old founder David Yarus in Motherboard. Quick quote – “In an age where religion, race and old world values feel less and less important to young Americans of all denominations, many millennial Jews still seem to care deeply about dating inside their own culture.” [Motherboard/Vice]

Brooklyn’s oldest kosher fast food joint, Kosher Delight, closes after 35 years: “Brooklyn’s oldest kosher fast food joint, Kosher Delight, served its last corned beef sandwich last week but plans to open a healthier eatery in the same Midwood neighborhood. “We want to keep our customers healthier so they come back for longer,” said Kosher Delight employee Aaron, who declined to give his last name. The two-floored restaurant with fast food fare and a large seating area upstairs was a landmark on Ave. J since it opened in 1979.” [NY Daily News]

DESSERT: A New Food Truck with Israeli & Middle Eastern Fare Hits the Streets of Boston Today. [BostInno]

BIRTHDAYS: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turns 65

That’s all folks; have a great day!
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