Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Zakheim & Rumsfeld differ on Bibi speech | Kaine 2016? | Apple’s Cook in Israel | Justice Kagan: “If someone’s name is Mel Goldberg…”

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TOP TALKER: “Kerry Reminds Congress That Netanyahu Advised U.S. to Invade Iraq” by Robert Mackey: “Apparently referring to testimony on the Middle East that Mr. Netanyahu delivered to Congress on Sept. 12, 2002, when he was a private citizen, Mr. Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee, “The prime minister, as you will recall, was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush, and we all know what happened with that decision.”

”If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region,” Mr. Netanyahu said then. “And I think that people sitting right next door in Iran, young people, and many others, will say the time of such regimes, of such despots is gone.”… Video of the testimony also shows that Mr. Netanyahu’s longtime adviser, Ron Dermer, sat directly behind him that day.” [NYTimes]

WSJ FRONT PAGE: “U.S., Israel Trade Barbs Over Iran Talks” by Carole Lee, Michael Crittenden, and Nicholas Casey: “U.S. officials are deliberately moving to undercut the Israeli leader’s influence ahead of his controversial speech to Congress next week by casting him as opposing any deal with Iran regardless of the terms… “Sometimes in the life of a nation you have to make hard choices,” said Dore Gold, who has served as an adviser to the prime minister on international affairs. “This is a very tense moment. But Iran is not some agreement about a [West Bank] settlement. This is a life-or-death question for Israel.” [WSJ] See the cover [WSJ]

“Why Israel is fighting Obama’s Iran deal: It comes down to one word: sunset” by Michael Crowley: “Ten years is nothing. It’s tomorrow from our point of view,” said Yaakov Amidror, who served as national security adviser to Netanyahu from 2011 to 2013. “It’s a license for Iran to be a threshold nuclear state.” A former Obama Pentagon and State Department official who met with Israeli officials this week said he heard “resigned acceptance” on some aspects of the nuclear talks. But not on the question of a nuclear deal’s duration.” [Politico] • “Netanyahu: World Powers ‘Have Given Up’ In Iran Nuke Talks” [AP]

SANCTIONS: “In Iran, Middlemen Navigate the Maze of Trade: Sanctions designed to limit access to the nation require deft maneuvering” by Benoit Faucon: “Messrs. Pakzad and Mehran are members of a tightknit community of middlemen, most of them educated abroad, that help Iranian companies navigate the maze of financial and trade restrictions imposed on their country by the U.S. and its allies, who say the Islamic republic is pursuing a nuclear weapon.” [WSJ] • “Kerry: U.S. looking into dissidents’ claims of new Iranian nuke cheating” [WashTimes]

AIPAC: “White House to Send Senior Official to Pro-Israel Conference” by Carol E. Lee:“The White House is trying to differentiate between Mr. Netanyahu’s speech, which they oppose, and the AIPAC conference, which is poised to be the largest gathering of American Jews and supporters of Israel in recent history, with 16,000 expected attendees. The White House’s choice of who to send to address the conference will be a closely watched decision likely to be interpreted as a sign of the value President Barack Obama places on U.S.-Israeli relations… The decision is expected to be announced as early as today. Officials say they are looking to send a senior official and that it’s just a matter of determining who is available.” [WSJ]

UNEXPECTED OP: “Bibi the Bridge Burner” by Dov Zakheim: “As word leaks out that the Obama administration is prepared to agree to a 10 year deal with Iran, after which Tehran could go full bore towards a nuclear capability, one must wonder what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, were thinking when they hatched a plan for the Israeli leader to address a joint session of Congress. Their clear disdain for the Administration blinded them to the reality that no Democrat could vote for additional sanctions once the issue became one of partisan politics. Netanyahu claims otherwise, but his protestations ring ever more hollow with each passing day.” [ForeignPolicy]

Meanwhile, Zakheim’s former boss Donald Rumsfeld tells Israel Hayom that the American administration’s negative focus on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit is an “unfortunate distraction” from the important issue — the Iranian threat. “I find it stunning to see the comments out of the White House on this issue,” he says. It plays into the hands of those people who are not in favor of the relationship [between Israel and the U.S.], who are not in favor of Israel or who are in favor of Iran, and the idea that people are saying what they are saying I find most unfortunate.” [IsraelHayom]

BAD DEAL VS. NO DEAL: “A Bad Iran Deal Is (Much) Worse than No Deal” by Robert Joseph, William Tobey [NationalReview] • “Let’s Make the Deal with Iran” by William Perry, Sean O’Keefe, Adm. James Stavridis, and Joe Reeder [PoliticoMag] • “How not to bomb Iran” by Rob Eshman [JewishJournal]

LAKE & ROGIN: “Trapped Democrats Can’t Decide on Netanyahu Speech” by Josh Rogin and Eli Lake: “We spoke with almost a dozen Democratic Senators Tuesday who said they still haven’t decided. Compounding the pressure on Democrats is that thousands of supporters of Israel will be in Washington and Capitol Hill this weekend for the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is urging members to lobby their representatives to go to the speech.” [BloombergView]

“Why Tim Kaine’s Decision to Skip Netanyahu’s Speech Could Resonate for Years” by Dave Weigel: “Kaine, high up there in the veepstakes, had already taken a lead role in writing a new Authorization of Military Force to define and restrict action in Iraq. He’s now breaking from most of the nervous Democrats and skipping the Netanyahu speech. He’s hardly doing it to angle for 2016, but the party’s left is going to remember this.” [Bloomberg]

DRIVING THE DAY: Over 10,000 conservative activists are gathering today at National Harbor for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Speakers today include Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Sarah Palin, and Bobby Jindal… Drop us a note (editor@jewishinsider.com) if you will be attending… Bloomberg Politics will be broadcasting live coverage all day from CPAC [Bloomberg]

“The Money Behind CPAC” [Bloomberg• “CPAC: 8 things to watch” by James Hohmann [Politico] • “Carly Fiorina Is Getting a CPAC Upgrade” [DailyBeast] • “New format adds twist to CPAC expectations for GOP hopefuls” [WashPost] • “Jeb braces for CPAC” [Politico] • “Trump says he is ‘serious’ about 2016 bid, is hiring staff and delaying TV gig” [WashPost]

2016 WATCH: “Eric Cantor’s top 4 GOP candidates for 2016” by David M. Drucker: “Eric Cantor is re-engaging in national politics just as the Republican 2016 primary is heating up — and it’s hardly by accident. In a field he described as deep with heavyweights, Cantor’s favorites are Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker — and he didn’t rule out endorsing at some point down the road… it was clear that Cantor, who still calls Richmond, Va., home, hasn’t lost the political bug that motivated him to seek elected office and serve as a party leader. During 14 years in Congress, including two years as House Minority whip and four years as House Majority leader, Cantor was among the nation’s most prominent elected Jewish officials.” [WashExaminer] • Also today, Eric Cantor hosts a Richmond, VA, event for Christie…

ROUNDUP: “Hopefuls Hit the Road to Meet With Donors” [NYTimes] • “Foreign governments gave millions to foundation while Clinton was at State Dept.” [WashPost] • “Why Hillary Loves Paul Ryan” [Politico] • “GOP Centrists Look to Jeb Bush” [WSJ]

HAPPENING TONIGHT: At 7PM, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Mike Huckabee will address the NRB International Christian Media Convention at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN. [NRB15]

**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**

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli Unicorn IronSource Raises $105 Million To Buy Startups Ahead of IPO” by Alex Konrad: “When ironSource eventually goes public, it will have to make extra room at the podium for all its founders. The five-year-old Israeli startup already counts eight founders when you included those acquired into the company in past years. As a group, they still own three-quarters of the tech company valued at more than $1 billion. By the time of a possible late-2015 or early 2016 IPO, ironSource expects that group to become much more crowded.”

The app delivery company announced Wed. that it’s closed a $105 million funding round from banks like JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, with billionaire Len Blavatnik now joining the mix through his holding company Access Industries. Access has committed $25 million to round out the round, the bulk of which was raised in Sept.” [Forbes• “The year of the Israeli IPO” by Mor Assia [VentureBeat]

“Apple’s Focus in Israel: Chip Design” by Orr Hirschauge: “Apple’s CEO Tim Cook was in Israel Thursday to visit the company’s new R&D offices north of Tel Aviv. The offices in Herzlyia, and Apple’s R&D center in Haifa, in the country’s north, make Israel Apple’s second largest research and development hub outside of the US. What is Apple looking for in Israel? A possible answer lies in the companies it’s already bought: Anobit Technologies Ltd. and PrimeSense Ltd., two microprocessor chip design firms.” [WSJ] • “Apple’s Cook in Israel Reminds Startup Nation of Education Gap” [Bloomberg]

“How Singapore Became an Entrepreneurial Hub” by Scott Anthony in Harvard Business Review: “Like Israel, Singapore is small, with limited natural resources, which means economic growth requires innovative macroeconomic approaches. Both Singapore and Israel have liberal immigration policies for skilled workers. Both also have mandatory military conscription for males (Israel also has mandatory conscription for females), and as Dan Senor and Saul Singer argue in Start-up Nation, the Israeli military has been a breeding ground of innovation.” [HBR]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “State Closes an Illegal Hotel in Manhattan That Was Hiding in Plain Sight” by Charles V. Bagli: “The owners of the 36-story building, between Madison and Park Avenues, had turned what was supposed to be a condominium into a hotel while taking millions of dollars in tax breaks meant to spur the construction of affordable apartments. On Wednesday, the state attorney general’s office said that it had reached an agreement with the property’s current owner, an affiliate of CIM Group, under which the company, which is based in Los Angeles, would pay $4.4 million — the value of the tax breaks — to a special city fund for building affordable housing.”

Jay Eisenstadt and David Scharf, partners at the real estate firm Esplanade Capital, developed the property in 2007 as a condo, getting a 10-year, 421-a break in return for buying special tax certificates for 22 apartments from a builder of low-income housing in Brooklyn and Queens.” [NYTimes] • “Jury weighing Ira Rennert’s $700 million fate” [NYPost] • “Inside the £36m Tel Aviv penthouse Madonna has her eye on” [DailyMail]

“New Palestinian city has condos, a mall and a sports club — but no water” by Anne-Marie O’Conner: “The billion-dollar, five-year gamble to build a new middle-class Palestinian city on a West Bank mountaintop was just about to welcome its first residents when the Israeli government decided this month to withhold a basic necessity: running water. Before granting water access to the planned city of Rawabi, Israel — which controls the area that the water pipe would run through — wants Palestinian Authority officials to return to an Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee.” [WashPost] • “Banksy’s Newest Work: A Tour Of The Gaza Strip” [BuzzFeed]

SCOTUS: “In a Case of Religious Dress, Justices Explore the Obligations of Employers” by Adam Liptak: “Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on Wednesday warned that “this is going to sound like a joke,” and then posed an unusual question about four hypothetical job applicants. If a Sikh man wears a turban, a Hasidic man wears a hat, a Muslim woman wears a hijab and a Catholic nun wears a habit, must employers recognize that their garb connotes faith — or should they assume, Justice Alito asked, that it is “a fashion statement”?”

In an argument about stereotypes, the justices tried out a few examples. “Suppose,” Justice Kagan asked, “an employer just doesn’t want to hire any Jews, and somebody walks in and his name is Mel Goldberg, and he looks kind of Jewish and the employer doesn’t know he’s Jewish. No absolute certainty, and certainly Mr. Goldberg doesn’t say anything about being Jewish, but the employer just operates on an assumption that he’s Jewish, so no, he doesn’t get the job. Is that a violation?” [NYTimesNPR]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Rabbis given knives, self-defense training after attacks against Jews” [AP]

“Rock, Paper, Scissors of PC Victimology: Muslim > gay, black, > female, and everybody > the Jews” by James Kirchick [TabletMag]

Leonard Lauder at 92Y: “Billionaire Estée Lauder chairman emeritus Leonard Lauder gave off a newlywed glow at the 92nd Street Y Tuesday. He started his conversation with Fern Mallis by sweetly introducing his new wife, artist Judith Glickman, 76, who was sitting in the audience, stating, “I’m a lucky guy.” Lauder also dished out business advice, including hiring more women. Lauder, who said his staff in the field is “96 or 98 percent female,” recalled that an employee once told him that men want to get promoted, but women want to do a good job.” [NYPost]

—Happy Birthday: World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder turns 71 today.

DESSERT: “Bringing Together African-American And Kosher Cuisines: Michael Twitty is a culinary historian who brings together the flavors of his own diverse roots. He’s an African-American who, after a lifelong interest in Jewish culture, converted to Judaism in his early 20s.” [NPR’s Here&Now]

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**