Daily Kickoff: Bibi, Baker, Bush | NYTimes invests in Israel’s Keywee | Google’s new CFO: Ruth Porat | New White House Digital Chief: Jason Goldman

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TOP TALKER: “Rebukes From White House Risk Buoying Netanyahu” by Jodi Rudoren: “Many Israelis have been astonished by the unrelenting White House criticism that has helped sink relations between Washington and Jerusalem to a nadir not seen for more than 25 years. Even some who mainly blame Mr. Netanyahu for antagonizing President Obama over the last six years now see the scales flipped… Israeli analysts are now suggesting that Mr. Obama and his aides might be overplaying their hand, inviting a backlash of sympathy for Mr. Netanyahu, and that they may not have clearly defined what they expected to gain diplomatically by continuing to pressure the Israeli leader.” [NYTimes]

“Obama: Remarks dim prospects for Palestinian state” by Karen DeYoung: “What we can’t do is pretend there’s a possibility of something that’s not there,” Obama said during a news conference with visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. “For the sake of our own credibility, I guess we have to be honest about this.” “Afterwards, he pointed out that he didn’t say ‘never,’ but there would be a series of conditions,” Obama said of explanatory remarks Netanyahu has made since the elections. “But, of course, the conditions were such that they would be impossible to meet anytime soon.” [WashPostPolitico]

Diaspora Dispatch: “Jewish establishment sounds alarm as White House rhetoric intensifies” by Michael Wilner: “After years of defending their support for US President Barack Obama and his White House, Washington’s pro-Israel establishment now fears the train of US-Israel relations is “running off the tracks,” in the words of one source… “As someone who was critical of several steps by [Netanyahu] during the campaign leading up to his reelection, I am even more troubled by statements now coming out of the White House,” said Abe Foxman, longtime national director of the Anti-Defamation League.” [JPost]

OPS — WSJ Editorial: “Obama’s Israel Tantrum: You’ll have to forgive President Obama. The leader of the free world is still having difficulty accepting that the Israeli people get to choose their own prime minister, never mind his preferences.” [WSJ] • Chemi Shalev: “Genuine outrage or cynical strategy?” [Haaretz] • Haviv Rettig Gur: “Pyrrhic victories for both Netanyahu and Obama” [ToI] • Bret Stephens: “The Orwellian Obama Presidency” [WSJ]

Congress is cool with Israel finding out information about an Iran deal: “I don’t look at Israel or any nation directly affected by the Iranian program wanting deeply to know what’s going on in the negotiations—I just don’t look at that as spying,” Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, said… “There’s no non-pejorative way to use the word ‘spying.’ That is a pejorative accusation. That’s not the phrase I would use to describe what I read… they care deeply about the negotiation, as they should, they’re getting information about it, and they have an opinion about it,” Kaine said.” [DailyBeast]

IRAN TALKS: “In Nuclear Talks, Iran Seeks to Avoid Specific” by David E. Sanger and Michael R. Gordon: “Over the past few weeks, Iran has increasingly resisted any kind of formal “framework” agreement at this stage in the negotiations, preferring a more general statement of “understanding” followed by a final accord in June, according to Western diplomats involved in the talks. Should that position hold — one of the many unknowns of the coming days — the United States and its five negotiating partners may find themselves in the uncomfortable position of describing the accord as they understand it while the Iranians go home to offer their own version.” [NYTimes]

Thomas Friedman: “I can think of many good reasons to go ahead with the nuclear deal with Iran, and I can think of just as many reasons not to. So, if you’re confused, let me see if I can confuse you even more.” [NYTimes]

“Why Do Americans Hate Negotiating With Their Enemies” by Dominic Tierney: “Six countries are talking to Iran. But only in the U.S. are the nuclear talks deeply controversial… The answer has to do with the country’s combination of power and moralism.” [TheAtlantic

“Could Iran attack U.S. troops in Iraq?” by Michael Crowley: “As negotiations on a possible nuclear deal approach a March 31 deadline, U.S. officials are increasingly alarmed about Iran’s expanding military presence in Iraq — and the threat it may pose to American soldiers in the country.” [Politico]

2016 WATCH: “U.S. rift with Israel roils the 2016 presidential field” by Anne Gearan and Ed O’Keefe: “As Obama sought to do Tuesday, candidate Clinton will no doubt stress the ongoing strength of U.S. support for Israel despite policy differences with its leader. In the short term, she will probably try to avoid criticizing Netanyahu directly, according to analysts and Democrats involved in outreach to Jewish voters.” [WashPost]

Jeb Bush Op: “On Israel and Iran, President Obama Mistakes Friends and Foe” [NationalReview] • Marco Rubio: “The White House should be pushing back against Tehran’s aggression. So why is Obama coddling the mullahs?” [ForeignPolicy] • “Rick Perry Says He’s More of a ‘Netanyahu Guy’ Than an ‘Obama Guy'” [Bloomberg]

Fred Zeidman on Baker: “Fred Zeidman, a Houston businessman and Republican fundraiser who is close with the Bush family, said there is a misconception about Baker’s role in the Bush campaign. “Baker is not a key adviser to Jeb Bush; he has about a dozen policy advisers, all of whom are strong supporters of Israel,” Zeidman told JNS.org. “An adviser means that you call him when you are trying to understand something. We all greatly respect Secretary Baker, even if we disagree with him on things.” [JNS] • “Jeb Bush ‘disagrees’ with James Baker’s position on Israel” [Politico]

“Why J Street loves Jim Baker” by Ron Kampeas: “J Street’s youthful activists delivered a big chunk of conference time to James Baker, an octogenarian known for cursing out their parents. It would be facile to chalk up the admiration for Baker to short political memories, or to mere pranksterism — a tweaking of the Jewish establishment by inviting its bugbear, a supposed icon of heartland American hostility to the Jews, to be a keynote speaker. There are, in fact, two substantive reasons for J Street to cultivate Jim Baker: One readily on display Monday evening, and one that didn’t get mentioned.” [JTA] • JTA changed the headline from — “Why J Street hearts Jim ‘F— the Jews’ Baker”

“U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois apologized for referring to a one-time political rival as an “Orthodox Jew” in casting him as a threat to liberal interests. “It was correctly noted that my description of my 2010 opponent in the congressional race irrelevantly noted that in addition to being a Tea Party Republican, he is an Orthodox Jew,” she said in a statement Tuesday, referring to her address Monday to J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group.” [JTA] • Orthodox Union statement [OU]

SCENE ON THE HILL: “Jewish leaders question US inaction on European anti-Semitism” by Marisa Schultz: “Where is the United States?” Ronald Lauder asked a congressional panel Tuesday. “Why isn’t the United States leading the world in this crisis?” Lauder, the former ambassador to Austria under President Ronald Reagan, called out US leaders for skipping a unity march following the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store in Paris.” [NYPost]

Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism: “Today, U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Nita Lowey (NY-17), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Kay Granger (TX-12), Steve Israel (NY-03), Peter Roskam (IL-06), and Ted Deutch (FL-21) announced the launch of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism in the House of Representatives. Together, these Members will serve as co-Chairs of the Taskforce in the 114th Congress and spearhead initiatives aimed at addressing the alarming rise of anti-Semitism around the world.”

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STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “Kushner Brothers Combine Real Estate and Technology: Jared and Joshua Kushner have charted separate careers for years, one as a real estate developer, the other as a technology venture capitalist. But the brothers have teamed up for a new company that combines their two expertises. The Kushner brothers, scions of a New York area real estate dynasty, have founded Cadre, a start-up that aims to make it easier for select clients like family offices and endowments to invest in real estate using technology.” [DealBookRealDeal]

SCENE YESTERDAY: Landmark Ventures’ annual Israel Dealmakers Summit convened yesterday in New York City. Speakers included… Nir Erez, founder of public transportation app Moovit, who explained how there are 7 billion people yet only 900 million cars. Erez told the crowd that Moovit will be operational on the Apple Watch. Moovit, based 10 miles south of Tel Aviv in Ness Ziona, is experimenting with several potential revenue streams including selling bus and train tickets through the app in Poland and destination-based advertisements. Although, Erez joked that “we raised so much money, we don’t need to make money.”

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times Company, was the final speaker to address the conference yesterday. He discussed how it is currently both a time of dissolution and amazing growth in the journalism industry. “I was in the Middle East last week and was able to read the NYTimes immediately on my device”… Asked what infrastructure will protect the NYTimes’ franchise, Sulzberger responded that “the quality of our journalism is what protects us.” On a potential new deal with Facebook, Sulzberger explained that, “it can no longer be just a ‘you come to us’ mentality… We have to come to you… Some of it may be enticing people just enough that they will start paying for it.. Or we could always find out where your kids go to school and and we say pay up,” he joked.

Sulzberger also confirmed the NYTimes’ investment in Israeli startup Keywee but called the announcement at an Israeli business event a ‘coincidence.’ “Keywee Gets $9.1M From Eric Schmidt, NYTimes For Its AI Approach To Content Marketing” by Ingrid Lunde: “Keywee — a content marketing startup founded in Israel and operating in NYC that uses natural language processing, machine learning and social graphs to match stories with users — is today opening its doors for business with $9.1 million in funding from a notable group of strategic and financial investors. Led by Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and Israel’s Marker LLC, The New York Times Company and the accelerator UpWest Labs are also chipping in.” [TechCrunch]

“Wall Street investors back iAngels, an Israeli startup crowdfunding platform” by Ben Fischer: “iAngels itself becomes the 15th company to use the platform, announcing a $2.25 million seed round with backing from prominent New York financiers. Leading the round is Millhouse Capital, the vehicle of Russian billionaire and Manhattan mansion-builder Roman AbramovichBoaz Weinstein, founder of the hedge fund Saba Capital Management, and Marc Lasry, cofounder and CEO of Avenue Capital Group, have also joined in.” [BizJournal]

TRANSITIONS: “Meet Ruth Porat, Google’s new CFO” by Anthony Weiss: “Porat’s career leap to the Mountain View, Calif., tech giant, starting on May 26, also means that she is moving back home to the Bay Area, where she grew up, and a brief look at her family history reveals that the forces that led them to end up in northern California were nothing less than the defining events of 20th century Jewish history: the Holocaust, and the foundation of the state of Israel.” [JTA]

“President Barack Obama will name.. Jason Goldman, a Silicon Valley veteran, to become the White House’s first-ever chief digital officer. Goldman’s résumé includes Google, Medium, and Twitter, where he worked directly with co-founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone, serving as the first “head of product,” supervising managers, designers, an experts in user research and corporate marketing to develop effective outreach strategies. Goldman, who worked on a two-week engagement project for the White House last month, will report directly to chief of staff Denis McDonough.” [Politico] • @Goldman: “Chicken tikka ma’challah. MAKE IT HAPPEN!” [Twitter]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Harvey Weinstein was honored at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s annual National Tribute Dinner last night at the Beverly Hilton. Jeffrey Katzenberg of Dreamworks said “Harvey has a reputation as a tough guy but I know him as the really nice Jewish boy. A lot of Jewish guys start businesses but how many name them after their parents?” Actor Christoph Waltz introduced Harvey with clips from Miramax’s upcoming Woman in Gold. Harvey Weinstein broke from his prepared remarks to talk about his father Max’s exploits as a cargo plane pilot in World War II stationed in Cairo. He said Max recalled after the war leaving the supply depots unlocked and turning the other way as members of the Hagana, Israel’s pre-state militia, helped themselves to the contents.

—Spotted: NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer, Larry and Carol Mizel, Michael and Lori Milken, Vivi Nevo, and Michael Chow [HollywoodReporter]

TOP TWEET: @Gil_Hoffman — “America’s First Couple visiting Jerusalem next month. No, of course not @BarackObama & @FLOTUS. @KimKardashian & @kanyewest are coming here.” [Twitter]

LongRead: “Becoming Moses” by Matthew Fishbane: “In the spring of 1997, shortly after Israel pulled out of its settlements in Hebron, Michael Freund was working at the communications bureau of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… One day, a secretary handed Freund a beat-up orange envelope, addressed to the Prime Minster of Israel. Freund opened it. The letter inside had been sent by the leadership of a community in Manipur, in Northeast India, which claimed to be a lost tribe of the biblical people of Israel… “I read it,” Freund says, “and I thought it was completely nuts.” Then, without really knowing why, he did something crazier. He answered the letter. What follows is the story of what he became as a result.” [TabletMag]

New Book — “Blair’s Cash Lust Driven by Clinton Envy”: “For the past eight years, Blair has worked as a Middle East peace envoy representing the U.S., Europe, Russia, and the United Nations, but a book examining his approach to the role claims he only spends three days a month at his Jerusalem offices in between lucrative trips to undemocratic foreign capitals where he is able to command vast fees for dispensing advice.” [DailyBeast]

DESSERT: “The Dairy, the kosher casual restaurant from mega-philanthropist David Magerman, is now open. The Dairy will be serving breakfast — think egg sandwiches, omelets and oatmeal — and a combined lunch and dinner menu featuring appetizers, pastas and pizza. The restaurant will also be offering a number of “grab-and-go” options like salads and sandwiches. In a nod to the family demographic, there is also a children’s menu.” [ExponentPhilly]

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Naftali Bennett turns 43… Aaron David Miller turns 66… Norman Goldberg…

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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