Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Rice, Power to AIPAC | Ballabon at CPAC | Henry Samueli Profile | Zuckerman looking to sell Daily News | Oren’s Kevin Spacey impression

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REPORT: “AIPAC objects to Netanyahu’s Congress address” by Ben Caspit: “This is AIPAC’s Day of Atonement,” one of the heads of the organization told me in a private conversation after the invitation was publicized. “This is the lowest point we have ever reached.” In the first few days after the announcement, AIPAC heads were in shock. They could barely digest what had happened. Since then, over the subsequent weeks, they have been trying to patch things up… AIPAC prepared a detailed presentation that was given to Netanyahu with all the negative repercussions they believe would result from the controversial invitation to Congress and the cumulative damage.”

“On Feb. 25 behind closed doors, one of the heads of AIPAC said, to paraphrase: All the things we warned him of, are materializing. We foresaw the domino effect that took place, the boycott by more and more Democratic Congress members, the significant deterioration in relations with Democratic legislators, the talks about boycotting the AIPAC convention (that is also being held at the beginning of March) by the administration. We protested, we warned. And who wasn’t impressed? Netanyahu. He’s coming.” [AlMonitor] • “Israel’s Top Security Officials Are Against Netanyahu Speaking To Congress” [BuzzFeed]

TOP TALKER: “Susan Rice, Samantha Power To Address AIPAC Meeting” by Matthew Lee: “In a move that may ease — or exacerbate — spiraling tensions with Israel over a potential Iran nuclear deal, the White House has decided against snubbing America’s leading pro-Israel lobby and will send President Barack Obama’s national security adviser and U.N. ambassador to address its annual policy conference… Rice and Power will stress the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and the administration’s commitment to Israel’s security, according to American officials. But, they will also make the administration’s case for the ongoing negotiations with Iran before an audience of more than 16,000 pro-Israel activists that is likely to be hostile to the talks.” [APFPPressRelease]

“AIPAC Mobilizing Members To Pressure Democrats To Attend Netanyahu Speech” by Rosie Gray: “A message from board member Jeffrey Snyder was sent to AIPAC activists Thursday morning in an email obtained by BuzzFeed News. It calls on them to contact the offices of two Democratic members — Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Gerry Connolly — who have not publicly said whether they will attend Netanyahu’s speech.” [BuzzFeed] • Cory Booker to attend [JLNJ]

Sen. Chuck Schumer on Morning Joe today regarding Bibi’s visit… “All the politics are far less important than two things, the U.S.-Israel relationship and preventing a nuclear Iran.” On the actual Iran deal, Schumer said he’d have to “wait and see what’s actually in it.”

“The Israeli embassy tweet that annoyed the White House” by Barak Ravid: “The embassy tweeted a fake New York Times front page, dated March 31, 2025, “reporting” how Iran had hoodwinked the world on the nuclear deal. This is 10 years after the date on which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the framework agreement will be signed.” [Haaretz]

Chemi Shalev Op: “Republicans love Netanyahu because he is tough, conservative and suspicious of Muslims – but mainly because he is so good at sticking it to the President.” [Haaretz]

Charles Krauthammer Op: “The fatal flaw in the Iran deal” in the Washington Post: “True, there are no good choices, but Obama’s prospective deal is the worst possible. Not only does Iran get a clear path to the bomb but it gets sanctions lifted, all pressure removed and international legitimacy. There is a third choice. If you are not stopping Iran’s program, don’t give away the store. Keep the pressure, keep the sanctions. Indeed, increase them.” [WashPost]

CPAC RECAP: “Hawks fly high at CPAC” by Ben Schrechinger: “Carly Fiorina, the only woman mulling a White House run on the GOP side, drew hearty applause when she discussed the controversy over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress. “I know Bibi Netanyahu,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO declared. “As I sat in his office five years ago, he spoke then of the dangers posed by Iran. He travels here next week not to offend our president, but to warn the American people that our president’s insistence on a deal with Iran at all costs is a danger to the world.” Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, whose flirtation with 2016 had plenty of visible support in the convention hall, also struck that theme. “Let’s not turn our back on Israel,” he said. “Let’s listen to Netanyahu and what he has to say.” [Politico]

TED CRUZ LINE: “There’s not a single Democrat here. It’s almost like CPAC invited Benjamin Netanyahu to speak.”

Cruz later told Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin and John Heilemann on ‘With All Due Respect’ that, “there are a lot of independents and democrats in this country that are worried when the President of the United States expresses hostility and antagonism to the nation of Israel. We need a president that stands with Israel. We need a president that stands up to ISIS, up to Iran… Those are issues that unite us.” [WADR]

BALLABON ON US-ISRAEL: Well-known Jewish conservative activist Jeff Ballabon spoke yesterday to a crowded room at a CPAC breakout session titled “US-Israel: Does the Special Relationship Still Exist?” Ballabon urged CPAC attendees not to consider Israel a Jewish issue since, according to him, many Jews themselves don’t consider it one. Ballabon highlighted a recent J Street poll that shows Israel is not even one of the top five issues most Jewish voters care about. “If AIPAC was the pro-Israel organization then it would be 95% Christian,” Ballabon argued at one point during the 40 minute session. He acknowledged that while AIPAC’s work has been successful at getting more Jews excited about supporting Israel, “the cost of Jewish support is pushing back on the policies that we don’t agree with.” He continued, “enough of this bipartisan nonsense. Israel’s position with the left has been downhill since Oslow. The real base of support is here at CPAC. Pro-Israel platitudes don’t mean anything, they are cheap. I care about policies. Who cares if Bill Clinton is pro-Israel at heart? It’s his policies that should matter.”

—Notable line: “Asked by an attendee which organization he’s representing, Ballabon responded “none… there are no Jewish organizations advocating this argument… yet.” Pictures of the packed crowd [Twitter] • Ballabon Op: “Time to be honest about Israel” [WashTimes]

Speakers at CPAC today include Newt Gingrich, Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Rand Paul, Reince Priebus, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, Wayne LaPierre, Jeb Bush, Herb London, Eli Gold, Gov. Mike Pence.

HAPPENING TONIGHT: “Young Jewish Conservatives Fourth Annual Shabbat Event at CPAC” [Eventbrite]

2016 WATCH: “Jeb Bush interview with Israel Hayom: Obama’s behavior toward Israel is ‘completely inappropriate'” by Boaz Bismuth: “I think the administration is making a mistake to disparage the prime minister. I’m sure he’ll be respectful of our president. He has every right to speak to Congress about the direct threats that a bad deal with Iran would bring to the United States, to the world and of course to Israel. Many will welcome him because he is a strong supporter and ally of the United States and we should treat him with respect.” [IsraelHayom]

“Bush Campaign’s Demand for Fidelity Ruffles Some Republican Rivals” [NYTimes] • “Amanda Renteria Top Contender To Become Hillary Clinton’s National Political Director” [BuzzFeed] • “Rival Christie and Walker Find Fortunes Reversed” [NYTimes— Behind the scenes pic of Jonathan Martin attempting to interview Walker [Twitter]

LONGFORM ON BEN CARSON: “The Evangelist: Long before Ben Carson was a champion to social conservatives and an anathema to liberals, he was a legendary neurosurgeon and an icon of black triumph. Will his turn to politics destroy his legacy?” [BuzzFeed] • “The Sixth-Most Admired Man In America” [NYMag]

HE’S BACK: “The resurrection of Eric Cantor” by Anna Palmer and Tarini Parti: “Eight months ago, Eric Cantor was forced out of office amid charges that he had lost touch with his Virginia constituents, derailing the political career of the man who was in line to be the first Jewish speaker of the House. Now he’s back. At a reception Tuesday night celebrating the D.C. office opening of his investment banking firm, it was like he had never left House Republican leadership.” [Politico]

ISRAELEX: In honor of season three of House of Cards, Michael Oren released his Kevin Spacey impression for a campaign ad [YouTube]

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HENRY SAMUELI PROFILE: “The man who connects” by Shlomit Lan: “Chip giant Broadcom’s slogan “connecting everything” is a fairly accurate description of the company’s founder, Henry Samueli. The R&D man, who has 75 registered patents to his name, is also a big believer in alternative medicine who takes a Chinese herb whenever he has a headache. He maintains a balanced rationalism, but when his hockey team, the Anaheim Ducks, is in the playoffs, he will grow his beard like any other die-hard fan, to bring them good luck.

“He has enough money to join Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s “Giving Pledge,” to donate half of his wealth to charity in his lifetime (“A lot of this comes from Jewish culture, and the idea of tzedakah, charity,” he says), and yet he still gets up every morning, and has for 24 years, and goes to his CTO office, with the same enthusiasm and sparkle in his eye… Samueli was born in Buffalo, New York, to Holocaust survivors from Krakow, Poland.” [Globes]

“Mort Zuckerman exploring sale of Daily News: “In a Thursday email to staff, Zuckerman said he hadn’t been considering an imminent sale of the paper, which he acquired in 1993, but that his thinking changed after receiving an approach several weeks ago. “I have not come to this decision easily,” Zuckerman wrote. “But I believe the immense hard work in turning the business around in an extremely challenging period for the industry, has put the Daily News in as strong a position than it has ever been, particularly online.” [CapitalNY] • Potential buyers include… “Ronald Perelman, Jay Penske, Ron Burkle, Ricketts family, Jared Kushner…” [NYPost]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Robert F.X. Sillerman seeks to take SFK Entertainment private” [NewsdayNYPost] • “Carlyle’s 3 Founders Got $800M Haul in 2014” [NYTimes] • “Lev Leviev’s Africa-Israel issues profit warning” [Globes] • “Iran Behind Cyber-Attack on Adelson’s Sands Corp., Clapper says”[Bloomberg]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Pew Study On Religion Finds Increased Harassment Of Jews” by Tom Gjelten: “Jews. Each year since 2007, when Pew began these surveys, the targeting of Jews around the world has gotten worse. European Jews, in particular, encounter intolerance, says Peter Henne, the lead Pew researcher on the report. “There’s a pretty marked harassment of Jews in Europe,” he says. “They’re harassed in 76 percent of countries in Europe, which is higher than the number of countries in which they’re harassed in other regions.” [NPR] • “5 European Jews on the Wave of Anti-Semitic Attacks, and What It Means for Their Future” [NYMag] • “Lawmakers Demand Swastikas Be Removed From California House” [AP]

“Jaw Dropping” by Josh Marshall: “Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich died today of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Schweich was considered a leading candidate to run for governor. Now… Tony Messenger, has come forward to say that in the days leading up to Schweich’s suicide he had confided to Messenger that he was planning to reveal that the head of the state Republican party was leading a whispering campaign suggesting that Schweich was in fact a Jew. According to Messenger’s just published column, Schweich had Jewish heritage but was in fact an Episcopalian.” [TPM] • “The state GOP chairman denied doing so in an interview later Thursday.” [AP]

CITY & STATE WINNER: “David Zweibel – Sometimes candidate’s forums succeed where court cases don’t—just ask the head of Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella group for ultra-Orthodox communities. Agudath and others filed a lawsuit challenging the requirement in New York City that parents sign consent forms before having infants undergo a traditional circumcision procedure known to pose a herpes transmission risk. As courts weighed the matter, de Blasio committed to reforming the city’s approach while campaigning for mayor. This week, he followed through on that promise and dropped the waivers.” [City&State]

Good Journalism: “Tapping into the power of a digital community requires shedding some of the work habits of a traditional reporter. Today’s journalists can’t just gather facts and quotes and dispense them to the public; they must actively seek out their audience and create opportunities for interaction. “If you don’t hear from your readers, the tendency is to have a very insular notion of your beat,” Gilgoff said. “If you open it up, there are a zillion angles that wouldn’t have otherwise” come to light… Like a good pastor, rabbi, or imam, Gilgoff had convened a vibrant community, and the congregation kept coming back.” [NiemanLab]

Bad Journalism: “American Jewish Press Association asserts that Federation control of Jewish newspapers has had a dampening effect on the reporting of issues of significance to Jewish communities in the US” [JPost]

HOLLYWOOD: “Katy Perry Visits Auschwitz” [TabletMag]

DESSERT: “Making a Big Deal Over the Purim Spiel: The Jewish Museum’s annual Purim Ball” by Marshall Heyman: “One of the best things about the Jewish Museum’s annual Purim Ball is, really, how often do you get to go to a Purim ball? This year’s gathering, the 29th annual, took place on Wednesday at the Park Avenue Armory, which had been decorated glitteringly like the night sky by David Stark… The Purim Spiel on Wednesday was done by the New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz, whom Ms. Gould described as the “Larry David of the art world.” [WSJBloomberg]

“Streit’s, Making Matzo One Last Time on Lower East Side” by Sophia Hollander: “The men stood wrapping boxes with pink paper, creating what looked like a pile of presents. In truth, it was an act of desperation. The bundling machine in the 90-year-old Streit’s matzo factory had broken, one more piece of machinery acting its cranky age. The packaging snafu evoked the charm and futility of the factory, the latest Lower East Side stalwart to announce its departure. This Sunday will mark the final day of Passover baking at the factory, housed in four converted tenement buildings since 1925.” [WSJ]

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Bruce Kovner turns 70… Chelsea Clinton turns 35…

That’s all folks; have a great day!
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