Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: What Trump told Dershowitz to tell Bibi | How Jared ‘exfoliates’ old friends | Beinart on dangers of blaming Trump for anti-Semitism

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PRESIDENT-IN-LAW: “How to lose friends and ‘exfoliate’ people — Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is caught between 2 worlds, and his friends are cutting ties” by Alyson Shontell: “The hope was that with Jared, there at least was someone who was smart and thoughtful and potentially doing the right things behind the scenes,” one person who previously worked with Kushner told Business Insider. But people “hate him right now,” the person continued. “Not just him as a person so much but what he stands for and the fact that he hasn’t been able to use his position to do anything meaningful for what we stand for.” Another person, who attended Kushner’s wedding in 2009, agreed that former acquaintances were “seething.” … Kushner’s allies have two responses… He isn’t the president. And look harder. A source familiar with Kushner’s White House role says he did not go to Washington to focus on some of the more controversial Trump policies, like healthcare or the ban on immigration… As one Kushner defender put it: “If you’re doing well in politics, only 45% of people hate you.” [BusinessInsider

“White House Sends Jared Kushner To Meet With Top Senators On Improving The Criminal Justice System” by Emma Loop: “Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, has been dispatched by the White House to discuss criminal justice reform issues with key senators, BuzzFeed News has learned. Kushner met with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin on Capitol Hill Thursday.” [BuzzFeed]

“Christie: Putting Jared Kushner’s father in prison is ‘ancient history’” by Brent Johnson: “That stuff is ancient history,” the New Jersey governor said during a television interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It’s over 12 years ago. Jared and I have worked incredibly well on this issue and, by the way, on a whole bunch of other issues during the campaign… And Jared and I get along just great.” [NJAdvance]

“Ivanka Trump, Shifting Plans, Will Become a Federal Employee” by Maggie Haberman and Rachel Abrams: “Ms. Trump’s title will be assistant to the president… “We are pleased that Ivanka Trump has chosen to take this step in her unprecedented role as first daughter and in support of the president,” a spokeswoman for the president said in an email… Ms. Trump’s lawyer, Jamie S. Gorelick, said that her decision stemmed from “her commitment to compliance with federal ethics standards and her openness to opposing points of view.” … People close to Ms. Trump said her official title would not mean a discernible shift from the unofficial influence she has exercised with her father… In a telephone interview, Mr. Eisen was more critical of Ms. Trump’s role. He described it as “a lot of nepotism.”” [NYTimes]

“Trump’s Personal Lawyer Wants to Grab Republicans by the Wallet” by Lachlan Markay: “Three weeks after becoming a Republican (and five months after his boss won the presidency), Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s private attorney and spokesman, will join the Republican National Committee’s finance leadership team… Other Trump loyalists are also among the additions to the RNC’s fundraising team. The list includes Elliott Broidy…” [DailyBeast]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Arab leaders ready to work with Trump on Mideast peace deal” by Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh: “Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the summit signaled the Arab world is willing to engage with the Trump administration in efforts to negotiate a two-state deal… The summit’s closing statement said “peace is a strategic option” for Arab states… The statement urged countries around the world not to move their diplomatic missions in Israel to Jerusalem – another signal to Trump.” [AP

“Trump Asked Alan Dershowitz to Tell Netanyahu Peace With Palestinians Possible Today” by Barak Ravid: “An Israeli source who asked not to be named said that in a phone call to the Prime Minister last week, Dershowitz delivered Trump’s message that he is eager for a peace… “The President told me he loves Israel and likes Netanyahu and said a few times he wants to get a deal between Israel and the Palestinians,” Dershowitz added… “The President told me he thinks Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants to get a deal with Israel and that he [Trump] thinks that the time is ripe for a deal and that it is possible.” Dershowitz refused to confirm that he had called Netanyahu.” [Haaretz

“In Jerusalem, Trump special envoy asks rabbi for peacemaking advice” by Times of Israel: “Jason Greenblatt arrived in Jerusalem from Amman… In the capital for less than an hour, Greenblatt attended a gathering of ultra-Orthodox Jews celebrating the beginning of the Passover vacation in the International Conference Center… Greenblatt can be seen asking an elderly rabbi in Hebrew for advice in tackling “this task,” presumably referring to his efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The rabbi responded by saying that a person who intends to do so will have divine assistance.” [ToI; Pic] • “In Donald Trump, Israeli Settlers See A Message From God” [HuffPost

SEND-OFF — Yesterday at the White House, Vice President Mike Pence swore in David Friedman as the 20th U.S. ambassador to Israel. [Pic] “One of the clearest signs of the President’s commitment to the State of Israel and to its people is in his choice of David Friedman as America’s Ambassador to Israel,” said Pence, with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Jared Kushner in the audience. ”David, you literally were born for this job.”

In his remarks, Friedman noted that the fact that he was the first Ambassador nominated by President Donald Trump speaks volumes “about how highly the Trump-Pence administration prioritizes our unbreakable bond” with Israel. He added that he’s been deeply inspired by the leadership of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “and I look forward to working with him to promote peace and stability within the Middle East.” [YouTube] • Friedman family with Trump in the Oval Office [Pic

— WH Press Secretary at daily press briefing: “The President is glad that Ambassador Friedman will be officially on board as we strive for a lasting peace in the Middle East. Mr. Friedman’s strong relationships in Israel will be a tremendous asset to the President in furthering that mission.”

CONTRARIAN TAKE: “Trump’s Israel ambassador is the right person at the right time” by Orly Azoulay: “If [David Friedman], the settlers’ own flesh and blood, is capable of changing direction, his words will carry more weight when he comes to the settlements and says that they have to give up because there is no other solution apart from two states… From now on, Friedman will be [Trump’s] mouthpiece, and there is no better person to bring the news to the settlers, as he is one of them. If he has undergone a dramatic change, he may succeed in changing some of them, too. Suddenly, his appointment seems like a brilliant idea.” [Ynet

ON THE HILL — “Meet the Democrats who declined to sign the two state letter” — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Freshman Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) told Jewish Insider that he did not back the initiative because there were so few Republicans — only Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC) and Jimmy Duncan (R-TN) — who co-signed on the measure. “Israel must be a bipartisan issue. There is nothing partisan about America’s support for Israel,” he asserted. “I will not sign a partisan letter.”
Veteran Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA) offered an alternative reason for declining to back the measure. “The premise of the letter is to put pressure on Israel so why would we want to put pressure on Israel?” he explained. “This was not a letter written, in my view, to support Israel. Where is the corresponding letter to put pressure on the other side?” Vargas asked.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) declined to sign as she refuses to write a letter addressed to President Trump or meet with the real estate mogul turned Commander in Chief.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), one of the Congressman who introduced the letter along with David Price (D-NC), told Jewish Insider, “There are 191 of us who chose to make a statement reaffirming the two state solution as the only path to peace in the Middle East. In today’s era, that is a pretty profound statement. Our leader (Pelosi) said that is our position.” When asked about Gottheimer’s statement that the initiative could be interpreted as a partisan letter, Connolly responded. “I’m sorry does he belong to a caucus? Ah, so he’s partisan. Oh, please.” [JewishInsider]

Dan Shapiro tweets: “I’m between puzzled and bemused by the current avoidance of the term 2 State Solution to describe the goal of US diplomacy w/Israel and Palestinians. US & Israeli govt statements reflect this. Presumably, it’s a way to bridge divides, whether partisan, or internal in the US & Israeli govts… Some similar tones at the AIPAC conf this week, amid AIPAC’s genuinely admirable effort to maintain a bipartisan flavor at a tough moment… What’s puzzling is that I don’t think anyone buys it. When they say “negotiated, lasting, agreed IS-Pal peace”, what else could it mean? That reality is definitely at the heart of Jason Greenblatt’s pretty impressive diplomatic debut: regional approach, limit settlements… I could be wrong. If this is a smarter way to get to the same outcome, the “deal” that Trump wants to strike, I’d be delighted.” [Twitter]  

Shapiro’s latest: “All Signals Point Once Again to War in Gaza” [BloombergView]

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on whether he was looking for harsher sanctions against Iran than the current bipartisan bill: “Obviously, it would have been very different if we wanted to do it in a partisan way,” Rubio told Jewish Insider. “We are trying to construct something that can pass. As long as it makes things better, that is what we are going to try to do around here. In order to achieve results, you are going to have to accommodate other points of view. The product that is out there is certainly better than the status quo, but if there is an opportunity to make it stronger, we will certainly explore that.” 

UN Goes Blue and White —Yesterday, some 3000 people filled the hallways of the United Nations headquarters in New York to take part in the 2nd annual “Ambassadors Against BDS” conference hosted by Israel’s UN Mission, the World Jewish Congress, and other organizations. “You can let them (BDS supporters) know that the United States has Israel’s back,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the crowd at the opening session held in the General Assembly Hall. Following stand up comedy by Jewish comedian Elon Gold, the crowd held up paper Israeli flags and posed for a giant selfie. [Pic]

KAFE KNESSET — The never-ending IBC crisis is finally over — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: “After five days of intense negotiations, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon reached an understanding this morning on the future of Israeli public broadcasting. According to the new plan, the Israel Broadcast Corporation will go on the air by the 15th of May, meaning there will be a two-week delay, but it will go the on air. But, and this is a big but, the IBC news department will undergo substantial changes and will actually be closed and reopened. The IBC managers Eldad Koblantz and Gil Omer will still keep their jobs, but they will not have anything to do with the news department, and a new chief news manager and news editor will be appointed instead.

It is what Israelis call a “Mapai” compromise – in which both sides had to give in and both sides can try and present it as a victory. Netanyahu didn’t close the IBC as he wished, but he did achieve greater control over the news department, and will probably make sure that Geula Even, wife of his rival Gideon Saar, does not become the chief news anchor. Kahlon, for his part, lived up to his word that the IBC will go on air, but he gave in to Netanyahu’s power grab in the news department.

Peace between Kahlon and Netanyahu gives the coalition some breathing room but not necessarily for long. Many politicians believe that the IBC crisis was just an excuse, and that Bibi has decided to call early elections because of his police investigations. According to that theory, Netanyahu found out that he will have trouble rallying support for early elections over the IBC, and is likely to find another reason to break up the Coalition soon. “We are living on borrowed time,” a senior Coalition source told Kafe Knesset. “The tensions between all of the partners are so high that it’s just a matter of time.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

** 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: Freight marketplace Freightos secures $25 million in funding from GE Ventures [Tech.eu] • 500 Startups launches a short marketing ramp-up bootcamp for startups in Israel [TechCrunch] • Chetrit, Somerset seeking $500M loan for Bronx megaproject [TheRealDeal]

“Why Texas Ag Chief Sid Miller signed a deal with disputed Israeli settlements” by Jim Malewitz: “Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, the cowboy hat-wearing Republican who often draws attention for posting controversial messages on social media, made a bold geopolitical statement during an international trip he wrapped up Wednesday: He opened up trade relations with a group of Israeli settlements in the West Bank that neither the United States nor the United Nations legally recognizes.” [TexasTribune]

“How Trump Adviser Stephen Miller Divided a Santa Monica Synagogue” by Scott Johnson: “He never strongly identified as a Jewish person,” says Charles Gould, a comedian with numerous TV credits… Miller’s positions on refugees irk some Jewish thought leaders, who think his views could do lasting harm to America and the Jewish community. His own great-grandparents settled with other immigrants in Pennsylvania… By all accounts, Miller’s family has felt pressure because of his career arc. One current Santa Monica Synagogue congregant says a few friends have stopped talking to the Millers. A neighbor, also Jewish, is leaning toward posting lawn signs that will read “Refugees and Immigrants Welcome Here,” “No Muslim Ban,” “No Border Wall” and “Our Communities Stand Tall.” “We’ll try to get as many of these on the block as we can,” the neighbor says. “Maybe the Millers will get the message.” [THR]

“Who is Julia Hahn? The unlikely rise of Steve Bannon’s right-hand woman” by Ben Terris: “When Hahn joined the White House, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard told The Post that she would “make Bannon look moderate” by comparison. Yet her former liberal friends are desperately seeking a silver lining. “I feel better having her in the room than not,” said Poeter, her old college roommate. “The Julia I knew was not a demagogue.”” [WashPost]

“The Dangers of Blaming Trump for Anti-Semitism” by Peter Beinart: “Many critics have a narrative in their heads: That Trump and his supporters think and do bigoted things. It did not come out of nowhere… Still, narratives can explain too much. Trump is like the kid in class who perpetually misbehaves. Liberals—especially Jewish liberals—risk becoming the teacher who sees graffiti written on a locker and sends him to the principal without carefully checking the handwriting. It’s become commonplace to hear Jewish liberals claim that Trump has given “license and permission to anti-Semites” and thus “opened the floodgates” for anti-Semitic attacks. But have the floodgates really opened?” [TheAtlantic]

“‘Unreal when it targets you’: Faceless trolls attack online” by Michael Kunzelman: “One morning near the end of her long-shot congressional campaign, 25-year-old Erin Schrode rolled over in bed, reflexively checked her cellphone — and burst into tears… Schrode, a Democrat and activist who would come in third in the June primary in her Northern California district, had become the latest target of The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website known for orchestrating internet trolling campaigns.” [AP]

“Soros-Funded University Pledges to Fight Hungarian Crackdown” by Zoltan Simon and Andras Gergely: “In a showdown with Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Central European University, established by Soros in 1991, said a bill submitted to parliament by Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog targets the school “directly” and must be withdrawn… “The bill is a threat to our continued existence in Hungary,” Michael Ignatieff, the president of CEU, told reporters in Budapest on Wednesday… “This isn’t targeted at CEU or against Mr. Soros,” [Education Ministry State Secretary Laszlo] Palkovics said. Palkovics said Hungary would support the signing of a bilateral accord with the U.S. to ensure CEU’s continued activity. Trump has accused Hungarian-born Soros, a major Democratic Party donor, of being part of a “global power structure” that has “robbed” the working class.” [Bloomberg]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Jew born in Pakistan first in decades to be allowed to declare his faith” by Hollie McKay: “Fischel — his chosen Yiddish name — was born Faisal Benkhald in the Pakistani city of Karachi to a Jewish mother and Muslim father, the fourth of five children… Two years ago, the 29-year-old embarked on the bold road of officially changing his religious status from Muslim to Jew with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)… On Tuesday, after three years of frustration, Benkhald got word that his ID card, which he has yet to actually receive, was approved. “It feels like shackles have been removed from me and I feel a great sense of liberty now,” he said. While Pakistan now has only one citizen who has registered as a Jew, there are said to be hundreds of Jews living anonymously in the country.” [FoxNews]

LongRead: “The High Price of Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Life” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: “It’s hard to talk about O.T.D.ers as a group, because like the rest of us, like ultra-Orthodox people, too, they are individuals. No two people who practice religion do it exactly the same way, despite how much it seems to the secular world that they rally around sameness; and no one who leaves it leaves the same way, either.” [NYTimesMag]

TRANSITIONS — The Atlantic names Rosie Gray as White House correspondent and Trump critic Eliot Cohen as Contributing Editor. “Rosie Gray has been assigned as White House correspondent, a role she takes on just three months after joining The Atlantic as a staff writer covering politics. The Atlantic’s editors have also announced that Eliot A. Cohen, who served as Counselor of the Department of State under George W. Bush, will become a contributing editor.” [TheAtlantic]

Ira Forman, former special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism at the State Department, will be joining Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service’s Center for Jewish Civilization as a distinguished visiting professor to discuss rising anti-Semitism in the fall of 2017. [SFS]

BIRTHDAYS: Meteorologist, science and health reporter, who was on television in NYC for five decades, Frank Field turns 94… Russian chess grandmaster, three times Soviet women’s chess champion (1954, 1958, 1959), emeritus professor at the University of Tartu in Estonia, Larissa Volpert turns 91… Musician, music executive and businessman, was chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Charles Koppelman turns 77… Harvard Professor of Economics and winner of the Israel Prize in 1991, Elhanan Helpman turns 71… Film and television director, Michael Stephen Lehmann turns 60… Comedian, actor, television personality, screenwriter, author and musician, Paul Reiser turns 60… Actor best known for his role as Steve Sanders on the television series “Beverly Hills, 90210” (1990-2000), Ian Ziering turns 53… Tel Aviv-born actress, appears on television and film in both Israel and the US, Mili Avital turns 45… Award-winning Mexican-American chef, television personality, cookbook author and food writer, winner of two Emmy Awards for her PBS television series “Pati’s Mexican Table,” Pati Jinich turns 45… Treasurer of Oakland County, Michigan, having been elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016, Andy Meisner turns 44… Iranian-born LA-based actress, best known for her roles in “Crash” and the “Saw” franchise, also as the mother of the inspirational amputee Ezra Frech, Bahar Soomekh turns 42… Robert J. Saferstein turns 34… Professional baseball infielder for MLB’s Houston Astros, Alex Bregman turns 23… Foreign policy and national security reporter at the Huffington Post, Jessica Schulberg… Feature writer for Haaretz, Danna Harman… Ft. Lauderdale resident, Lois Goldberg… Boca Raton resident, Janot Grant David… Cherry Hill, NJ’s Zelda Greenberg… Aryeh Lightstone

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