Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Senate Dems ask for Bibi meeting | ROTUS Profile: Leah Katz-Hernandez | Israeli tour guide Huckabee | Bibi’s bro off-Broadway | Peanuts

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TOP TALKER: “Jury Finds Palestinian Authority, PLO Liable for Terrorist Attacks in Israel a Decade Ago” by Nicole Hong: “A federal jury in New York on Monday found the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization liable for supporting six terrorist attacks in Israel more than a decade ago and ordered the groups to pay $218.5 million to the American victims’ families. The verdict ended a long legal fight to hold the PA and the PLO responsible for six terrorist acts in which Americans were killed or injured.” [WSJNYTimes]

“The $655.5 Million Question: Will a massive verdict against the Palestinian Authority open the floodgates for new suits against terrorist groups and their alleged sponsors?” by Colum Lynch: “For Alan Bauer, an American citizen wounded along with his 7-year-old boy nearly 13 years ago by a Palestinian suicide bomber, the trek to justice took nearly 13 long years. On Monday, Feb. 23, a New York jury awarded Bauer and nine other plaintiffs $218.5 million in compensatory damages, to be paid by the financially strapped Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The award is expected to swell to a whopping $655.5 million because a U.S. terrorism law requires the tripling of terrorism awards.”

“Monday’s ruling marks the culmination of an 11-year-long legal case spearheaded by the Israel Law Center, or Shurat HaDin, a nonprofit whose lawsuits often align with Israeli government priorities. For more than a decade, the Israeli legal group has sought to wield the power of lawsuits to undercut the financing for anti-Israeli militant groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the founder of Shurat HaDin, said cutting off funding for extremist groups is vital to any push to prevent new attacks. “Money is like oxygen for terrorism,” she said. “If you can stop the flow of money you can stop the flow of terrorism.” [ForeignPolicy]

IRAN TALKS: “Historic US-Iran nuclear deal could be taking shape” by George Jahn and Bradley Klapper: “Edging toward a historic compromise, the U.S. and Iran reported progress Monday on a deal that would clamp down on Tehran’s nuclear activities for at least 10 years but then slowly ease restrictions on programs that could be used to make atomic arms. Officials said there were still obstacles to overcome before a March 31 deadline, and any deal will face harsh opposition in both countries. It also would be sure to further strain already-tense U.S. relations with Israel, whose leaders oppose any agreement that doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear ambitions.” [AP]

By phasing in a gradual easing of limits on Iran’s production, Mr. Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, who joined the negotiations for the first time, aim to extend the length of a potential deal. American officials said they would insist that Iran face hard constraints for “at least a double-digit number of years.”… Mr. Moniz dealt directly with Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, who joined Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, at the talks here. Mr. Salehi was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology decades ago, when Mr. Moniz was a young professor there.” [NYTimes]

“If you’re going to do all of this and then just end up with a 10-year agreement, you just really haven’t accomplished near what people had hoped,” said Sen. Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee… On Monday, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel considers the negotiations “totally unsatisfactory” because it would allow Iran to be “extremely close” to a “dangerous breakout program.” [WSJ]

—David Horovitz Op: “It goes without saying that this weekend’s developments in Geneva have only bolstered Netanyahu’s determination to sound the alarm before Congress next Tuesday. It’s also still clearer today why the Obama administration has been so anxious to query his motives and seek to discredit his concerns. I headlined my February 9 op-ed “Who to believe on Iran: Obama or Netanyahu?” I think we know now.” [ToI]

—Lake & Rogin: “For anyone hoping a nuclear deal with Iran might stop the Tehran government from destabilizing the Middle East or free its political prisoners, the Obama administration has some bad news: It’s just an arms control agreement. As details of a proposed pact leaked out of the Geneva talks Monday, administration officials told us they will ask the world to judge any final nuclear agreement on the technical aspects only, not on whether the deal will spur Iranian reform.” [BV]

—Fred Hiatt Op: “Such a deal might be defensible on the grounds that it is better than any alternative, given that most experts believe a military “solution” would be at best temporary and possibly counterproductive. But making that kind of lesser-evil defense would be challenging in any circumstances. Three conditions will make it particularly hard for Obama to persuade Congress and the nation to accept his assurances in this case: the suspicious, poisonous partisanship of the moment here, with Israeli politics mixed in; worries that he wants a deal too much; and the record of his past assurances.” [WashPost]

“Leaked cables show Netanyahu’s Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad: Binyamin Netanyahu’s dramatic declaration to world leaders in 2012 that Iran was about a year away from making a nuclear bomb was contradicted by his own secret service, according to a top-secret Mossad document. It is part of a cache of hundreds of dossiers, files and cables from the world’s major intelligence services – one of the biggest spy leaks in recent times.” [TheGuardian] • “Mossad cables hardly contradict Netanyahu on Iran” [ToI]

—@BarakRavid: “I am sorry – but the Mossad document published by @guardian & @AJENews does not contradict Netanyahu at all. No story what so ever” [Twitter]

U.S. Senate Democrats Invite Netanyahu to meeting during visit: “Two senior U.S. Senate Democrats invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators during his upcoming visit to Washington, warning that making U.S.-Israeli relations a partisan political issue could have “lasting repercussions.” Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein extended the invitation “to maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress,” according to a letter to the Israeli leader seen by Reuters.” [Reuters]

—Alan Dershowitz Op: “As a liberal Democrat who twice campaigned for President Barack Obama, I am appalled that some Democratic members of Congress are planning to boycott the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 3 to a joint session of Congress. At bottom, this controversy is not mainly about protocol and politics—it is about the constitutional system of checks and balances and the separation of powers.” [WSJ]

“Herzog to foreign press today: I have informed AIPAC that I will not be going to the conference. I speak from Israel” [Twitter]

2016 WATCH: “Mike Huckabee, tour guide in the Holy Land” by William Booth: “Whether or not Mike Huckabee becomes president of the United States, the nation of Israel — and especially Israel’s hard-line right wing — have few more devoted fans than the former Arkansas governor, evangelical pastor and gung-ho tour guide to the Holy Land. The man is just nuts about Israel. Huckabee has been a regular visitor to Israel for 42 years, he says. Some years, he comes three or four times. Among the many hats that Huckabee wears, the hat he has worn the longest is leader of the “Israel Experience With Mike Huckabee.” Though busy preparing for another run for the White House, Huckabee is currently shepherding his flock of 253 paying guests around Israel for 10 days.”

“The Israel Experience tour focuses on the sacred, but there’s plenty of the political. On past trips, Huckabee and his guests have met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. They get an earful in evening lectures, too. On this trip, they’ve heard from speakers such as the philanthropist and venture capitalist Kenneth Abramowitz, president of American Friends of Likud… and Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, who explained to the group, according to Huckabee, that there’s really no such thing as the “Palestinians.” [WashPost]

HAPPENING TODAY: Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise Super PAC will hold a fundraiser at Tampa’s Grand Hyatt hosted by, among others, Mel and Brent Sembler. Cost of attendance is $1,000 compared to the $100,000 price of admission at Jeb’s recent fundraisers in NYC and Chicago… Marco Rubio speaks at Politics and Eggs in New Hampshire… Hillary Clinton will be interviewed by Re/code’s Kara Swisher at the Lead On Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women…

“Jeb Bush Looms Large For Marco Rubio In 2016: The New York Times surveyed the six top contributors — as provided by the Center for Responsive Politics — to Mr. Rubio’s campaign committee, leadership PAC or both over his career. The Times found that three — including Norman Braman, a car dealership billionaire and philanthropist — planned to support him, but that a fourth was with Mr. Bush. The other two did not return repeated calls for comment.” [NYTimes]

“In Silicon Valley, can Hillary harness excitement like Obama 8 years ago?” [WashPost] • “How Scott Walker Thinks About The Media” [BuzzFeed] • “Foreign Policy Concerns Shape GOP’s Early Focus for 2016” [NYTimes]

**Good Tuesday 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**

STARTUP NATION: Billion Dollar Club – Israel’s IronSource: “The crew that founded IronSource—including three brothers and two former F-16 fighter pilots—still worked out of cafes even when generating annual revenue of $10 million. Its original customers were part of Israel’s bustling adware industry—a host of companies that draw most their revenue from affiliation agreements with online search providers. Many of these companies have been accused of being major sources of so called PUP, or potentially unwanted programs. Such programs, many of which users wouldn’t recall ever installing, may change a computer’s settings, activate pop-up ads or do worse damage. IronSource’s competitors like iBario Ltd. and Somoto Inc. hail from the same Israeli ecosystem… Having tapped J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley as bankers, IronSource is expected to file for an IPO in the U.S. this year.” [WSJ] • “Israel establishes cyberdefense authority to fight rise in digital attacks” [CSMonitor]

“ARKIA Israeli Airlines orders 4 new Airbus aircrafts: ARKIA Israeli Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus for up to four A330-900neo aircraft. The commitment makes ARKIA the first Airbus widebody customer in Israel and the first customer for the type in the region… Nir Dagan, ARKIA President and Chief Executive Officer, said “Thanks to the proven reliability and fuel efficiency of the A330 family, the A330neo will also ensure that our majority shareholders, the Nakash brothers and Jordache Enterprises, are super happy.” [FTN]

“Israel Denies Flooding of Gaza: “Opening the levees to the canal has led to the flooding of several Palestinian homes, and we had to quickly evacuate the afflicted citizens,” the Gaza Ministry of Interior said in a statement… “These claims, I don’t know who started them, but they are completely false,” a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Palestinian Territories (COGAT) told VICE News. “There are no dams in the southern part of Israel so we couldn’t open any dams because there aren’t any. I don’t know how these rumors got around.” [ViceNews]

—@Yair_Rosenberg: “In which The Daily Mall creates a contiguous Palestinian state by moving the West Bank into Gaza” [Twitter]

HOLLYWOOD: “Sultan not making Jewish pals” by Cindy Adams: “Sultan of Brunei — may his tribe decrease — can afford to lose a few bucks and bar mitzvahs. However, imposing his tough Sharia Muslim law isn’t endearing him to Jewishcentric moviemakers. The Beverly Hills Hotel has now experienced such an exodus that roaches won’t even stay there overnight. Result? He’s spending $10 mil a year subsidizing the underearning employees in this and his many underpopulated hotels — here and abroad. Figuring the antipathy will eventually tamp down, he refuses to close the places. So, besides salaries, His Bruneiness has even sprung for some estimated gratuities they might’ve earned.” [NYPost]

PROFILE: “White House staffer Leah Katz-Hernandez is a pioneer on the reception desk” by Pablo Manriquez: “In the West Wing of the White House, Leah Katz-Hernandez communicates with the first couple in a way that few others, even the president’s most trusted advisers, ever do. Katz-Hernandez, who is deaf, is the new receptionist of the United States, or what those in Washington like to abbreviate as ROTUS (a play on POTUS – president of the United States). She grew bicoastal, raised by a Jewish mother and a Mexican-American father in Connecticut, frequently visiting her father’s family in California.” [FoxNews]

Netanyahu’s brother making off-Broadway debut: “Dr. Iddo Netanyahu’s 2007 play, “A Happy End” — about a Jewish couple deciding whether to leave Germany in 1932 — will hit New York City for the first time Friday. Netanyahu, 63, a physician, historian and playwright, believes human nature is flawed, as people tend to ignore warning signs.” [NYPost]

LOCAL HEADLINE: “EXCLUSIVE: Cab driver yelled about ‘death to Jews’ in crazy taxi ride, and then cops made passenger pay the fare, says suit” [DailyNews]

DESSERT: “Early Exposure To Peanuts Helps Prevent Allergies In Kids” by Marilynn Marchione: “Researchers at King’s College London started this study after noticing far higher rates of peanut allergies among Jewish children in London who were not given peanut-based foods in infancy compared to others in Israel who were. The study involved more than 600 children ages 4 months to 11 months old in England… Half of each group was assigned to avoid peanuts and the other half was told to consume them each week, usually as peanut butter or a snack called Bamba, a peanut-flavored puff.” [APWSJ]

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Former Sen. Joe Lieberman turns 73… WhatsApp founder Jan Koum turns 39…

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**