Daily Kickoff: Hillary faces scrutiny over Saban & Lasry private jets | Eric Cantor back to school | Avi Weiss Profile | Maryland’s real Jewish Jordan

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SPEECH DRAMA: “Senate Democrats Leave Door Open To Skip Netanyahu Speech: Only one senator — Sen. Ben Cardin — said he’d definitely go” by Jacob Fischler: “Sen. Tim Kaine, who serves on both the Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees and recently traveled to Israel, said it’s “too early” to decide whether he’ll attend or not… “I’m sick about the fact that protocol has been violated, but you know, I’m always eager to hear what he has to say,” Sen. Chris Murphy said. “It’s not something that I have thought about one way or the other.”.. When asked whether he’d attend, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson said he’d “figure that out later.”

SenChris Coons, who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, said, “I’ll be weighing what’s the best thing to do.” “I remain hopeful that his address would be delayed until after their election,” the Delaware Democrat said. SenBen Cardin, a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, was the lone senator who said he would attend no matter what.​ “I’d be more than happy to meet with opposition leaders if they want to meet with us, give them opportunities, etcetera,” Cardin told BuzzFeed News. “But if the Prime Minister of Israel addresses a joint session of Congress, I would be there.”[BuzzFeed]

DIAL-UP DIPLOMACY: “Netanyahu Is Talking to Leading Democrats to Little Effect So Far” by Carl Hulse and Jeremy Peters: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has been reaching out to leading Capitol Hill Democrats to try to ease criticism over his coming address to Congress, but has made little progress. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, said Thursday that Mr. Netanyahu had called him the previous afternoon to explain why he had accepted an invitation to speak to Congress without first notifying the White House. The prime minister said he had also called.. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Charles E. Schumer.”.. “It’s hurting you,” Mr. Reid said he told Mr. Netanyahu. “I said: ‘You have to understand this. I’m not telling you what to do or what not to do, but you have to understand the background here from my perspective.’ ” [NYTimes

From Speaker Boehner’s Office: “Background on Invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu”[Statement]

OBAMA vs. BIBI – A Timeline by Michael Crowley [Politico] • Barak Ravid: “As long as Obama is in the White House, he has no intention of meeting Netanyahu. If reelected, the Israeli PM may find himself abandoned and defenseless in the international arena.” [Haaretz] • “White House downplays criticism of Israeli envoy” [TheHill]

SANCTIONS: “Senate Panel Approves Iran Sanctions Bill” by Deb Riechmann: “A bill that would levy tough new sanctions on Iran if it fails to sign an agreement to curb its nuclear program cleared a Senate committee on Thursday. But lawmakers are holding off on a full Senate vote to see whether diplomatic negotiations yield a deal. Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee voted 18-4 to pass the bill aimed at ramping up economic pressure on Iran starting in July if it doesn’t ink an international deal preventing it from having the capability to develop a nuclear weapon.” [AP]

“Iran vote delayed to avoid influencing Israel’s election, senator says” by Michael  Wilner:“The Republican author of new sanctions legislation on Iran is criticizing his Democratic colleagues for delaying a full floor vote on his bill. Sen. Mark Kirk questioned why his Democratic colleagues seek to delay moving forward with a bill which, he says, adds pressure on Iran at a key moment in negotiations over its nuclear program, without violating any terms of the talks. The delay is “a failed attempt to try and not influence the Israeli election,” Kirk asserted.” [JPost]

—“Kirk: Obama Can’t Stop Iran Sanctions” by Josh Rogin: ““The notion that the Iran sanctions effort can be stopped was killed by the American people at the ballot box when they elected a Republican Senate,” Kirk said. “This is going to move forward in the Senate regardless of what the president’s feelings are on it.” [BV] • “Sen. Kirk blasts British prime minister for lobbying against his Iran sanctions bill” [ChicagoSunTimes]

Cruz Calls for Investigation Into State Dept.-Funded Nonprofit: “Sen. Ted Cruz’s office called for an investigation on Thursday into the State Department’s funding of a nonprofit group that is assisting a campaign aimed at defeating Netanyahu. Nick Muzin, deputy chief of staff for Cruz, said the senator was “very disturbed by the reports that the State Department has funded an organization that’s playing a direct role in trying to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu.” The OneVoice Movement, a U.S.-based nonprofit group that is partnering with the V15 effort to oust Netanyahu in Israel’s March elections, received two grants from the State Department in the past year.” [FreeBeaconPressRelease] • “Likud asks elections panel to bar campaigning by organization affiliated with Obama strategist” [Haaretz]

—State’s Jen Psaki: “The U.S. Government grant to OneVoice Israel was for $233,500. The duration of this grant, as I mentioned yesterday but just to reconfirm, was from September 23rd, 2013 through November 30th, 2014. No payment was made to OneVoice after November 2014. The project was to support efforts to support a two-state solution. The reports that the State Department is funding an anti-Netanyahu lobbying campaign ahead of the Israeli election is an absolutely false report. The reports were stemming from inaccurate reporting – and a lack of reporting, perhaps I should say, on this grant that I’ve given you many details on.” [StateBriefing]

“Here’s what a Hamas training camp for teens looks like” by William Booth: “More than 17,000 fresh-faced teenagers and young men, ages 15 to 21, mustered at a dozen camps over the past week in the Gaza Strip to climb ropes, practice close-order drills and fire Kalashnikov rifles, all of them pledging to defend the coastal enclave and ready to fight the next war against their Zionist enemies… Qassam commanders allowed a Washington Post reporter to enter two camps, but they did not let the newspaper stay more than 30 minutes or take photographs until Thursday’s more scripted graduation.” [WashPost] • “Hunt for Hezbollah Tunnels Goes on, Even as Border Tensions Fade” [NYTimes]

2016 WATCH: “Hillary Clinton Faces Scrutiny for Use of Private Jets” by Jonathan Allen: Hillary Clinton took more than 200 privately chartered flights at taxpayer expense during her eight years in the U.S. Senate, sometimes using the jets of corporations and major campaign donors as she racked up $225,756 in flight costs. Some of the companies whose planes she used included Coca-Cola Co., Citigroup Inc. and Saban Capital Group Inc. The latter firm was founded by longtime Clinton campaign financier Haim Saban, who, along with his wife and their family foundation, contributed between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation through 2013. Last year, Saban told Bloomberg Television that he will spend “as much as needed” to help elect Clinton president in 2016.”

“Clinton turned to friends and donors for help getting from place to place as she campaigned for re-election to the Senate in 2006, and for the presidency in 2007 and 2008. When she criticized President George W. Bush’s use of the powers of the presidency at a women’s leadership forum in Providence, Rhode Island, on April 8, 2006, she flew round trip on Avenue Capital Group’s plane at a cost of $408. The firm, run by Clinton campaign benefactor Marc Lasry, later hired Chelsea Clinton, Hillary’s daughter. Chelsea Clinton worked there until 2013, when she turned her focus to the Clinton Foundation.”[Bloomberg]

ROUNDUP: “Sen, Marco Rubio says Obama administration should support “independent” investigation of Argentine prosecutor’s death” [MiamiHerald] • “Religious Faith to Be Key Piece of Possible Jeb Bush Run” [WSJ] • Peter Beinart: “Scott Walker Isn’t Sorry” [TheAtlantic] • “Lloyd Blankfein, Rob Speyer, and Robert Wolf among co-chairs for Brooklyn national convention committee” [BrooklynEagle• “Bernie Sanders wants to take on ‘billionaire class’ [Politico] • “Potential Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley to visit N.H.” [BostonGlobe] • “Lindsey Graham Forces Foreign Policy On 2016 GOP Field” [TimeMag]

**Good Friday 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: “Dov Charney looks to Jay Schottenstein for Path Back to American Apparel”[WWDFashionistaNYMag] • “Adelson rakes in $3.8B in casino profits” [Guardian] • “Larry Mizel’s M.D.C. Holdings ends 2014 with income down, revenue up” [DenverBiz] • Alan Dershowitz, David Schottenstein, and Robbie Friedman’s Viewabill Helps Companies Monitor Legal Bills in Real Time” [Bloomberg] • “Judge Declares Missing Fort Lauderdale Millionaire Guma Aguiar Dead” [NBC]

REAL ESTATE ROUNDUP: “Real estate investor Sam Boymelgreen triples his money on sale of Windsor Terrace rental building” [DailyNews] • “Larry Gluck hit with $5B lawsuit by disabled tenant”[RealDealNYPost] • “Silverstein pays over $100M for 1K-foot tower launchpad” [Crains] • “Dvir Cohen’s Adam America buys White Castle in E. Williamsburg for $23M” [RealDeal] • “Construction work to ramp up at Ghermezian’s American Dream in 2015, report says” [NJ]

STARTUP NATION: “State of Mind Ventures to raise $50M VC fund: The fund set up by Pinhas Buchris and Yuval Baharav has already invested $4 million in three companies.” [Globes] • “Israel’s Check Point Software profit beats estimates” [Reuters• “Hate long emails? Israeli TL;DR cuts the fluff so you can have a life” [Geektime] • “Only 4% of Israeli Start-Ups Considered Successful by New Study”[INN] • “IBM Israel fetes its ‘children’ on accelerator Graduation Day” [ToI]

JEWISH SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR: “How Adam Braun’s Pencils Of Promise Replaced “Nonprofit” With “For Purpose” [FastCompany]

PROFILE: “Avi Weiss, the rabble-rouser rabbi, takes stock after an activist career” by Lauren Markoe in RNS: “As other Jewish leaders worked diplomatic channels and wrote letters to the editor protesting the establishment of a convent at the Auschwitz concentration camp, Rabbi Avi Weiss donned the striped uniform its inmates had worn during the Holocaust. In 1989, with six others who felt the convent insulted the memory of Auschwitz’s overwhelmingly Jewish victims, Weiss scaled the gates of the building that once housed the Zyklon B poison gas used to kill the Jews, and began to pray. The first consequence of his protest: a severe beating from Polish workers.”

“It’s just one Avi Weiss story being told as news spreads in the Jewish community that after 42 years, he will step down this year as senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, an Orthodox synagogue that, like Weiss, is not often bound by notions of convention. Affectionately known as “The Bayit,” or “home” in Hebrew, the synagogue was Weiss’ base during a career spent agitating — colorfully, controversially and often at great personal risk — wherever he saw the rights of Jews trampled. “Avi is fearless,” said RabbiAbraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jewish civil rights group. “He is someone who has never waited for the establishment, for someone to tell him it was OK to do something.”[RNS] • Weiss in The Washington Post: “Auschwitz is a sacred place of Jewish memory. It’s no place for a Catholic church” [WashPost]

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER OP: “Do we really mean ‘never again’?” in The Washington Post: On the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz, mourning dead Jews is easy. And, forgive me, cheap. Want to truly honor the dead? Show solidarity with the living — Israel and its 6 million Jews. Make “never again” more than an empty phrase. It took Nazi Germany seven years to kill 6 million Jews. It would take a nuclear Iran one day.” [WashPost]

ALAN ELSNER OP: “Israel needs fans, not cheerleaders” in the Jewish Journal: “Whereas cheerleaders do their thing regardless of the success of the team or lack thereof, fans are much more passionately engaged. They want the team to do well — but they do not spare their opinions, thoughts and criticisms when the team is doing badly. Do we need a new quarterback? Is the head coach up to the job? Are we drafting the right players? Do we have the right game plan? This difference between engaged fans and cheerleaders is at the center of a debate within the American-Jewish community between those who would have us play the part of cheerleaders and those who would have us be fans.” [JewishJournal]

TEVI TROY OP: “I Think That I Shall Never See a Jew As Lovely As a Tree” in Commentary:“Every year, in midwinter, synagogue bulletins and Jewish Community Center emails are filled with announcements of organic Sabbath lunches, environmental lectures, and recycling drives. The impetus for this annual unveiling of the green—which, somewhat unusually, takes place across Reform, Conservative, and Modern Orthodox institutions alike—is the commemoration on the Jewish calendar of Tu B’Shvat, classically known as the New Year for Trees.” [Commentary]

TRANSITIONS: “Eric Cantor heads to Harvard” by Trevor Eischen: “Eric Cantor has decided to go back to school. The former Republican House majority leader, who was ousted from leadership and his Virginia 7th congressional seat last year after losing in the GOP primary to current Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), will join Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics as a visiting fellow, the school announced on Thursday.” [PoliticoWSJ]

Stu Loeser & Co Expanding: “Doba Joining New York Communications Firm, But Staying Put In Connecticut” by Sandy Csizmar: “Andrew Doba, formerly Gov. Daniel P. Malloy’s spokesman, is joining a New York communications firm, it was announced Thursday. Doba will join Stu Loeser & Co, a strategic communications firm headquartered in Manhattan, according to a statement released by the company, but he’ll be staying put in Connecticut to expand business here, where the firm now has officesat the Stamford Innovation Center. “I watched with admiration as Doba’s deft storytelling skills and smart strategies helped Governor Malloy lead Connecticut through some rough waters. I’m thrilled that he is now going to help fuel our firm’s strong growth,” said firm founder Stu Loeser in the statement.​”[CourantStatement]

Larry Summers on Academic Freedom and Anti-Semitism: “If zealous minorities no matter how well intentioned are able to hijack the prestige and resources of the Academy in pursuit of objectives that are parochial and bigoted, why should the broader society refrain from seeking to set the Academy’s agenda. The right to say, advocate, or propose anything must always be protected. But it must come with others right or even obligation to call out words and deeds that threaten the community and the values of moral concern and rational inquiry for which it stands.” [Remarks]

NEXT ASPEN?! “Vogue Left Out a Few Things About Skiing in Iran” by Allison P. Davis:“Could Tehran (Yes, Tehran) Be the Next Aspen?” asks Vogue. Vogue’s “new Aspen” exists on a mountain range that has “been rumored to be a locus for missile production under former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”.. And while Vogue does give a brief nod to the politics of the region (ski passes remind visitors that they are “expected to behave according to the principles of the Islamic law”), the magazine omits a crucial principle likely of interest to Vogue readers: In Iran, women can’t ski without a husband, brother, or father as chaperone.” [NYMagVogueWWD]

HOLLYWOOD JEW: “Schmoozing with Mel Brooks, the 88-year-old man” by Danielle Berrin[JewishJournal] • “From Sarnoff to Seinfeld, Harvard lecturer explores Jewish characters intelevision [Post-Gazette]

SPORTS BLINK: “The Jewish Jordan, but for walk-ons” by Dan Steinberg: “The list of collegiate athletes who emerged from the Golda Och Academy is modest, as such things go. The small Jewish day school in West Orange, N.J., once produced a JV basketball player at the University of Pennsylvania, and a high-scoring guard at Division III Ithaca… So when Jacob Susskind decided he was going to forgo his Division III opportunities and attend the University of Maryland, basketball wasn’t part of his decision. “Try out,” his younger brother urged him. “See what happens.”

Nu, and what happened? Susskind went on to spend four seasons as a Maryland walk-on. He became one of Mark Turgeon’s longest-tenured players, traveling to some of college basketball’s most famous venues in both the ACC and the Big Ten. And he gave Maryland’s fan base something “Jewish Jordan” Tamir Goodman never managed: a Member of the Tribe on the Terps bench… Maryland also offered Susskind something he (and his parents) wanted: a sizable Jewish community. He came from a kosher home, went to an orthodox synagogue and spent his entire childhood in a conservative Jewish school; Maryland “allowed me to branch out but still have a place to fall back on, to make my circle a little smaller,” he said.”[WashPost]


That’s all folks; have a great day!
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