Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: ADL vs. J Street | “How Congress Became the Fall Guy for Obama’s Iran Deal” | Apple CEO Tim Cook to Israel | Yoni Appelbaum Profile

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TOP TALKER: “ADL Calls J Street Campaign Against Israeli Prime Minister “Inflammatory and Repugnant” — Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement: “At the height of the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled speech to Congress, J Street’s petition campaign that attempts to distance itself and American Jews from Israel’s duly elected prime minister is inflammatory and repugnant and exacerbates an already heated and politicized moment for U.S. Israel relations at a critical juncture in the West’s negotiations with Iran. Let’s remember what is at stake: Preventing extremist Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel’s very existence.  In that goal, Mr. Netanyahu surely does represent not only Israelis but American Jews as well.” [PressRelease]

—Yesterday, we sat down with the ADL’s Abe Foxman in his New York City office to discuss Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress, his concerns about J Street’s ‘campaign against the Prime Minister’ and the ADL’s upcoming leadership transition. Interview forthcoming.

“J Street Astonished by Foxman Statement” — “J Street is astonished and taken aback by today’s intemperate statement by the Anti-Defamation League’s National Director, Abraham H. Foxman, which attacks our organization for challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent assertion that he speaks for all Jews in his hardline position on Iran… If there has been “inflammatory and repugnant” speech on this issue, it has come from right-wing groups such as the Zionist Organization of America, which has compared opponents of the speech to appeasers of Hitler during the 1930s. This wins no mention in Foxman’s statement.” [JStreet]

Peter Beinart Op: “Bibi’s real American victims are the people who appear publicly to be his friends: The leaders of groups like AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee. Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress is simply the latest example. He’s destroying the old American Jewish establishment and building a new one in its place… Liberal American Jews are increasingly critical of the illiberalism of Israeli policy. And the American Jews who support Israeli policy increasingly support an illiberal agenda inside the United States. This, in part, is Bibi’s American legacy. He’s strengthening the American Jewish right and the American Jewish left. His victims are the people who made their living somewhere in between.” [Haaretz] • Nathan Guttman: “The biggest casualties may be the normally omnipotent pro-Israel lobby and its allies in the Jewish community, who have seen their credibility and political power severely shaken.” [Forward]

YouGov Poll: “Americans think that it was a breach of protocol for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress, but they still want members of Congress to attend his speech, a HuffPost/YouGov poll finds.” [HuffPost]

BIDEN TRAVELS — At least he gets to go somewhere warm: “Where will Biden be on March 3 when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel addresses Congress? Mr. Biden’s office has said he will be out of the country but has not said where, raising suspicions that he is simply skipping a speech that many here in Washington consider a snub of the White House. As it turns out, Mr. Biden is expected to be in Central America working on border and immigration issues.” [FirstDraft]

But Guess Who Will Be In Town… Hillary Clinton in D.C. on same day as Bibi speech:“Clinton’s spokesman did not respond to a question about whether the two plan to meet, but the convergence of the prime minister and former secretary of state brings together two of the most talked-about figures in politics, at a crucial time for both of them.” [Politico] • “ECI Urges Hillary to Attend Israeli PM Speech to Congress” [CFI— “Hillary met with London Mayor Boris Johnson yesterday”[BBC]

TOP TWEET: Rep. Charles Rangel – @CBRangel: “Bibi: If you have a problem with our POTUS’s foreign policy meet me at AIPAC but not on the House floor.” See Rangel’s attached photo [Twitter]

ROUNDUP: “Bibi Speech Has Some New York Congressmen Seeing Red” [CBS] • “Most Jews in Congress to attend Bibi speech” [JPost] • Constantly Updated WHIP List of Who’s Attending, Who’s Not[TheHill]

David Suissa Op: “Let’s put aside all the hysterics about politics and protocol and how Bibi has ticked off Obama. As sobering as those things may be, they pale in comparison to the strategic issue of how Obama deals with the Iranian nuclear threat. If he’s about to sign an agreement that many experts agree is a bad one, don’t we deserve a national debate?” [JewishJournal] • Liel Leibovitz: “The ‘New York Times’ Violates My Protocol” [TabletMag]

IRAN TALKS: “Senate aims to set up vote on Iran deal by month’s end” by Julian Pecquet:“Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., hopes to have his committee vote on legislation giving Congress a say over a nuclear deal with Iran in the next few weeks. Corker is seeking a vote right after next week’s recess, potentially setting up one more congressional showdown with the Barack Obama administration over Iran. The White House has vowed to veto any legislation that would force an up-or-down vote on a final deal.” [AlMonitor]

“How Congress Became the Fall Guy for Obama’s Iran Deal” by John Hannah: “One of the more astounding features of the current controversy over the Iran nuclear negotiations is the extent to which Congress is being set up to take the blame if the talks go south. A Senate proposal to impose new sanctions on Iran — mind you, if and only if the parties fail to reach a comprehensive deal by a July deadline that they themselves set; and if and only if President Obama decides not to exercise his waiver authority because he’s unable to certify that progress is being made — has somehow become a mortal threat to world peace.” [ForeignPolicy]

OPS: Mort Zuckerman – “Rolling back the Iranian threat” [DailyNews] • Roger Cohen – “Curtail Iran and Win: As a deadline nears for a possible deal with Iran on its nuclear program, discussion is being clouded by false debate. A curtailment camp that sees a viable avenue to ring-fencing limited Iranian enrichment so that the country cannot acquire a bomb confronts a dismantlement camp that believes any deal is bad and every Iranian centrifuge must go. The Obama administration officials leading the talks are committed curtailers… The dismantlers, who believe a deal would be disastrous, are led by Benjamin Netanyahu with strong support in the Republican-controlled Congress​.” [NYTimes]

REPORT: “Secret Iranian unit fueling Mideast bloodshed with illicit arms shipments” by Jennifer Griffin: “Unit 190, a secret arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force made up of about two-dozen employees, has for years smuggled arms to these conflict zones. After an extensiveinvestigation tracing the land, air and sea routes used by the Quds Force to move weapons to Hezbollah, Hamas and now the Houthis in Yemen, Fox News has also learned from western intelligence sources the name of the Iranian man who is a key player in Unit 190: Behnam Shahariyari, born in 1968 in Ardabil, northwest Iran. According to western intelligence sources, Shahariyari runs a network of straw companies — which skirt sanctions packing RPG’s, night-vision equipment and long-range rockets in powdered milk, cement and spare vehicle parts.” [FoxNews]

TRANSITIONS: “Secretary of State John Kerry’s longtime aide and chief of staff David Wade to step down” [BostonGlobe] • “Ash Carter’s Team Taking Shape” [DefenseNews]

CBS News correspondent Bob Simon, 1941-2015: “Bob Simon, the longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent and legendary CBS News foreign reporter died suddenly tonight in a car accident in New York City. The award-winning newsman was 73. “It’s a terrible loss for all of us at CBS News,” 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager said in a statement. “It is such a tragedy made worse because we lost him in a car accident, a man who has escaped more difficult situations than almost any journalist in modern times.” [CBS]

From 1991: “CBS Newsman Bob Simon Tells of Ordeal As Captured Jew” — in JTA Archives:“CBS News correspondent Bob Simon was worried that his Jewishness might cost him his life during the six weeks he and three colleagues were prisoners of the Iraqis while the Persian Gulf war raged. “I thought my number was up when they started accusing me of being a member of Mossad,” the Israeli intelligence service, said Simon, who is normally based in Tel Aviv. He said his captors “kept shouting ‘Yehudi, Yehudi’ at me.” [JTA]

2016 WATCH: Mitt Romney to headline Republican Jewish Coalition dinner in Las Vegas:“Romney will be the keynote speaker at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s April meeting at the request of the organization’s benefactor, Sheldon Adelson. Other confirmed speakers include former PresidentGeorge W. Bush, House Speaker John Boehner and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who would surely love Adelson’s financial backing should he get into the GOP presidential race. Romney will speak on the first night of the gathering, which is traditionally a private event at Adelson’s private residence.” [AP;WashExaminer] • LongRead: “The One-Man Las Vegas Presidential Primary” [TimeMag]

**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: “N.J. judge rejects Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s request in libel case”[NJ] • “David Rubenstein’s Carlyle Group sees rise of sovereign wealth fund investment, decline in pensions” [BizJournal] • “David Tepper: Market will survive in spite of Greece” [CNBC] • Tomer Kagan and Liron Shapira’s Quixey gets nearly $60M from Alibaba, SoftBank, Goldman Sachs, Eric Schmidt, and George Soros [SiliconValleyJournel]

STARTUP NATION: “Bronfmans are back in Israel after nine years, this time as technology investors” by Michael Rochvarger: “After a nine-year absence, the Montreal-based private investment firm Claridge, the investment vehicle of the Charles Bronfman family, is returning to Israel — this time as a technology investor. Now controlled by Stephen Bronfman, Charles’ son and a Montreal resident, Claridge will be investing in Israel with Canadian investment manager Caisse through a joint venture called Claridge CDPQ Israel, Claridge and Caisse said Wednesday. They will be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the technology and innovation sectors.” [HaaretzGlobes] • “IBM adoptsIsraeli solution to save ‘lost’ electricity” [ToI] • “Apple CEO Tim Cook to visit Israel next week” [Globes] • “Microsoft buys Israeli digital pen maker N-trig” [Reuters]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Josh Kushner, founder of Thrive Capital and Oscar Health, spoke to a group of Tamid at NYU students last evening at the Bronfman Center. Kushner discussed the various startups he’s involved with — including Spotify, Warby Parker, Instacart and Instagram — and shared some of the lessons he’s learned over the years in the start-up sphere. Among them, “Everyone is insecure. Insecurity is the greatest driver of innovation.” He told the group, “One of the things you learn fairly quickly is that everything is broken. Nothing is perfect and nothing will be.”

Asked about his involvement in the Israeli startup scene, Kusher noted that “while they’re accomplishing some amazing things, you really have to be there on the ground to do well. We’re not there yet, but maybe one day.” Aside from ‘terrible’ taxi drivers, Kushner related that he’s had good experiences in Israel including during his gap year spent at Yeshivat Reishit. “Although they might call me ‘off-the-derech’ [path] now, Kushner joked. “But this is probably the first audience where I could say the word ‘yeshiva’ and anyone would understand what I mean.”

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “Ariel Nelson and Lane Gerson’s Jack Erwin Startup Sells Handmade Men’s Shoes For Less Than $200” by Molly Mulshine: “Ariel Nelson and Lane Gerson became aware of the issue one afternoon while walking through in SoHo in May 2012. They wondered, “Why can’t we find a way to make a shoe that’s timeless and well-made for $100 and sell it for $200?” Mr. Gerson recalled. “That would be great.” So, they did. And since then, they have raised more than $11 million in venture capital, have grown 300% from quarter to quarter since their October 2013 launch, and opened a brick-and-mortar store in Tribeca.” [Observer]

PHILANTHROPY: “Wilf Family Foundation Announces $5M Hospital Gift: The owners of the Minnesota Vikings announced a major foray into Minnesota philanthropy Wednesday, a Wilf Family Center at the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. The children’s hospital gift represents the Wilfs’ largest single donation in Minnesota. Vikings co-owner Zygi Wilf said he expected his family’s charitable giving in Minnesota to grow. The Vikings have made considerable financial contributions in Minnesota, said Mark Wilf, adding, “This is just a continuation.” The Wilf Family Foundation was created in 1964 by Joseph and Elizabeth Wilf, Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the United States in the 1950s. Over the years, it has given away more than $200 million, mainly to medical, educational and Jewish causes, the Wilfs said.” [StarTribune]

David Axelrod Interview — by Amy Chozick in the New York Times Magazine: “Has President Obama read the book? I shared it with him after it was printed because I didn’t want to put him in the position, or me in the position, of negotiating or discussing elements of it. You wrote that he had a hard time with media coverage and would get hung up on some of it. Is that still true? Look, every president says, “I never read that stuff,” and no president is telling the truth when they say that. It’s only human to be aware of what’s being written and said about you and to be less than happy when you feel like you’re not being treated fairly.”

“During his campaign for the U.S. Senate, Obama thought that your famous “Yes we can” line was corny. How did you convince him? Michelle just happened to come by for the first ad shoot, and that was the ad that closed with the line “Yes we can.” He read through the script once, and after the first take he said, “Gee, is that too corny?” I explained why I thought it was a great tagline, and he turned to Michelle and said, “What do you think?” She just slowly shook her head from side to side and said, “Not corny.” Thank God she was there that day.” [NYTimesMag]

YONI APPELBAUM PROFILE: “From Grad School to ‘The Atlantic'” by David M. Perry:“Anyone who writes articles on the web knows the maxim: “Don’t read the comments.” Fortunately for Yoni Appelbaum, a recent Ph.D. in history from Brandeis University, the well-known writer Ta-Nehisi Coates routinely ignores that rule. A few years ago, while Appelbaum was supposed to be writing his dissertation, he spent far too much time participating in the lively comment section moderated by Coates at The Atlantic. Coates featured some of Appelbaum’s comments, then invited him to write essays. Appelbaum soon became a correspondent for the magazine. In January, he was announced as the new senior editor for politics.” [Chronicle]

Brian Williams’ punishment: Does it fit the crime? — by Uriel Heilman: ““Six months is shocking,” said Stu Loeser, a former spokesman for New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. “I think it surprised everyone. It’s attention getting. It shows that Brian Williams’ NBC bosses take this seriously. This is a big deal. This is not stepping down for two weeks, this is not taking a vacation.”… “What he did wrong was he didn’t make himself available for aggressive interviews, where people could really see his angst, the pain, his remorse, the regret,” Steve Rabinowitz said. “They should have called Letterman or gone on a competitor’s air or done an interview with the media critic for The New York Times.”[JewishJournal]

BEHIND THE SCENES: “Within NBC, an intense debate over whether to fire Brian Williams” by Manuel Roig-Franzia, Scott Higham and Paul Farhi: “Senior NBC officials seriously considered firing anchor Brian Williams because he lied to his viewers about riding in a military helicopter hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during the Iraq war, according to a top network official… Internally, Williams, 55, was fighting hard to preserve his reputation and his job. He was calling people at all hours, looking for some kind of an escape route, according to a top network official. “They were clinging to the, ‘Gee I just conflated my facts here’ story,” the network official said.” [WashPost]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Durban university students seek to expel Jews: The student representative council at the Durban University of Technology in South Africa urged the institution’s management to expel its Jewish students, especially those who don’t support the Palestinian cause.” [ToI;DailyNews]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “City Hall proposes warning about danger of Orthodox Jewish circumcision rite” by Reuven Blau: “The de Blasio administration wants to swap the signed consent rule for a controversial Jewish circumcision ritual for a verbal warning to parents, sources said Wednesday. But the plan is on hold because a group of rabbis opposes forcing the circumcisers, or mohels, to tell parents of the potential health risks involved with oral suction, according to a source briefed on the situation. The centuries-old, ultra-Orthodox practice associated with the bris is known as metzizah b’peh.” [DailyNews]

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak turns 73.

That’s all folks; have a great day!
**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**

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