Daily Kickoff: Reid to retire, Schumer starts making calls | The Economist: “Unhappy Jewish America” | Response to Lena Dunham’s ‘Dog or Jewish BF?’

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The Economist: “Unhappy Jewish America: A traditionally Democratic voter bloc frets about Barack Obama and Israel: This is an unhappy time for Jewish-Americans, and that is unusual. No other Jewish community is as visible and successful, outside Israel… American Jews feel forced to choose between competing loyalties… These are anxious times. Jews have rarely had to choose between their American and Jewish identities: that has been one secret of America’s success. They do not want to start now.” [Economist]

RJC’s Matt Brooks responds to Rep. Steve Israel’s op-ed that we linked to yesterday [PoliticoMag]. In an email to Jewish Insider, Brooks told us.. “Rather than attack Republicans, Congressman Israel should address the real issue here and focus his pique on the White House which has caused this rupture in the relationship. There is a reason why Democrats have been losing support among Jewish voters to the GOP in 5 of the last 6 national elections and why Republicans have gone from 11% to 32% of the vote. I’m happy to debate Congressman Israel any time or any place of his choosing and let’s address these issues out in the open.”

“Advocacy Groups Seek New Marketing Strategy After Israeli Vote” by Nathan Guttman: “A sense of alienation shared by many Democrats could, some activists fear, trickle into the relationship between the two countries, making it harder to count on congressional Democrats’ almost automatic support for Israeli-related legislation… A Democratic source familiar with the thinking of party congressional leaders argued that this fear was misplaced. Outreach efforts to Democrats, led by the AIPAC and by the Israeli Embassy, are already underway in an attempt to ease tensions and smooth the way for future cooperation.” [Forward]

—“The Congressional Black Caucus is gone,” a Democratic congressional aide told Newsweek, referring to its support for Israel under Netanyahu.” [Newsweek]

WashPost Style: “Jeremy Ben-Ami, winning a place at the table for J Street” by Ben Terris:“I have to speak carefully when I talk about them, because even though I’m mostly with them, I have a lot of clients who aren’t, so it’s awkward for me,” said Steve Rabinowitz. “But whatever you think of them, there’s no doubt they’ve gotten themselves to the table.”… “If there’s a problem, it’s that sometimes it feels like the organization is too much Jeremy,” said Rabinowitz, who used to do PR work for J Street. It’s a common joke, and critique, that the “J” stands for Jeremy. “He’s built up the organization and is influencing the debate, but the group doesn’t have that deep a bench.” [WashPost]

Report: “Paris Saying ‘Non’ to U.S. Control of Peace Process” by Colum Lynch: “The Obama administration is willing to anger Israel by letting the U.N. get more active in peace talks with Palestinians. But it may be Paris, not Washington, that ends up in the lead.” [ForeignPolicy]

TOP TALKER: “Obama’s Mideast ‘free fall'” by Michael Crowley: “We’re in a goddamn free fall here,” said James Jeffrey, who served as Obama’s ambassador to Iraq and was a top national security aide in the George W. Bush White House… “The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what every one agrees is the biggest threat to the region,” the State Department official said.” [Politico]

IRAN TALKS: “Iran may run centrifuges at fortified site” by George Jahn and Matthew Lee:“The U.S. is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker… The trade-off would allow Iran to run several hundred of the devices at its Fordo facility, although the Iranians would not be allowed to do work that could lead to an atomic bomb and the site would be subject to international inspections… In return, Iran would be required to scale back the number of centrifuges it runs at its Natanz facility and accept other restrictions on nuclear-related work.” [AP]

Sen. Robert Menendez reacts to AP report: “If today’s news report from Lausanne is true, we are not inching closer to Iran’s negotiating position, but leaping toward it with both feet… My fear is that we are no longer guided by the principle that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal,’ but instead we are negotiating ‘any deal for a deal’s sake’… A good deal won’t leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state.” [ForeignRelations]

“Timing of potential indictment leak could spur surge of donations to Menendez legal defense fund” by Herb Jackson: “The majority of people I’ve spoken with feel he’s getting a bad rap, that the prosecution has political overtones to it,” said Ben Chouake, president of Englewood Cliffs-based NORPAC… “On this particular matter, even Republicans will be supporting Bob Menendez.”… Lionel Kaplan, a lawyer from Princeton who is a former president of AIPAC, said that from what he’s read about the charges “it doesn’t seem like there’s any there there.” [NorthJersey]

“Senate agrees to disagree with Iran vote” by Burgess Everett: “All 100 senators voted for a proposal from Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) intended to show that Congress will punish Iran if it breaks any nuclear agreement, including the current interim one or a permanent one that the Obama administration is presently negotiating.” [Politico]

“Iran Nuclear Deal May Be Done by Next Week, U.S. Official Says” by Michael R. Gordon: “In the Obama administration’s most hopeful prognosis on its talks with Iran, a senior State Department official said Wednesday that it was possible to conclude a new accord on that nation’s nuclear program by early next week.” [NYTimes]

“Rouhani writes Obama as Iran talks enter endgame” by Laura Rozen: “I can confirm that a letter from President Rouhani to President Obama was passed to the US negotiating team in Lausanne,” Bernadette Meehan, the spokesperson for the National Security Council, told Al-Monitor in an emailed statement.” [AlMonitor]

“Why Iran’s Supreme Leader Wants a Nuclear Deal” by Trita Parsi: “For the first time since the Iranian Revolution, Iran can strike a deal with the West that would sustain and even recognize its independence from Western demands. Such a deal would also mark the first time in almost 200 years in which Iran negotiated with world powers over a major conflict—and didn’t lose.” [TheAtlantic]

“What George Washington Would Have Said About Netanyahu” by Mark Perry [PoliticoMag]

“How Saudis Took the Lead in Yemen” by Eli Lake and Josh Rogin: “The Saudi Arabian-led intervention into Yemen’s civil war Thursday was remarkable for both the size of the coalition involved and the speed with which the plan coalesced. The U.S., which withdrew its last special operations forces from Yemen over the weekend, had only a brief warning that Saudi airpower was about to be unleashed.” [BloombergView• “Saudi Ambassador to U.S. won’t rule out building nukes” [CNN]

DRIVING THE DAY: “Harry Reid Says He Won’t Seek Re-Election” by Carl Hulse: “Senator Harry Reid, the tough tactician who has led Senate Democrats since 2005, will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to a three-decade congressional career that culminated with his push of President Obama’s ambitious agenda against fierce Republican resistance. “I want to be able to go out at the top of my game,” said Mr. Reid, who used a sports metaphor about athletes who try to hang on too long. “I don’t want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter.” [NYTimes]

—Eyes on Schumer, Durbin: “Likely replacements for senate minority leader include Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. A top Democrat on the Hill tells CNN that Senator Schumer intends to start making calls later Friday morning to some of his fellow Democratic senators, trying to begin the process of succeeding Reid.” [CNN]

“Rahm Emanuel floats naming Chicago airport after Barack Obama” by Adam Lerner: “Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel, currently fighting for his political life in a heated run-off campaign, floated the idea Wednesday of naming an airport after the Windy City’s favorite son: President Barack Obama… “We have an airport, two of them, you know, Midway Airport, O’Hare Airport,” Emanuel said. “[Obama and Brazier] are people who have been transformative in the city of Chicago. But we have airports named after battleships.” [Politico]

**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: “Roman Abramovich in Israel for business talks” [Globes] • “Wilfs pledge $19.5M more to stadium” [ESPN] • “Pritzkers donate $3.5 million to U of C Law School” [Crains] • “Och-Ziff’s Levin Got $9 Million After $119 Million Grant” [Bloomberg• “Treetop withdraws $30 million issuance on Tel Aviv Stock Exchange” [RealDeal] • “Billionaire Blavatnik Pays $77.5 Million for NYC Co-Op” [Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION: “Amid the explosive growth of Israel’s technology and startup scene, Silicon Valley shouldn’t feel threatened. But the rest of the world should, according to Jonathan Medved, founder & CEO of OurCrowd, an Israel-based venture capital firm. ‘There’s a duopoly: Israel and Silicon Valley and everyone else is eating our dust,’ Medved said. He also comments on the meltup in technology stocks in recent months and explains why he doesn’t fear another tech bubble, similar to the one back in 2000.” [TheStreet]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Lena Dunham Equated Jews to Dogs & That’s Not OK” by Jordana Horn: “You know, because apparently Jews are a group you can make fun of and it is deemed kinda intellectual and funny to do so. If you take issue with what I’m saying, then do me a favor and imagine this same essay entitled, “Dog or Black Boyfriend? A Quiz.” Much easier to imagine that essay running in a Ku Klux Klan newsletter than The New Yorker, am I right? But somehow, a piece like this running in The New Yorker in 2015 is supposed to be OK with us.” [Kveller]

Heard the other night: “Like Stephen Colbert before him, Aasif Mandvi may have gotten a little too real last night at the 2015 Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner. But also like Colbert, the Daily Show correspondent pressed forward, making jokes about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress (“It took a black president to make Republicans finally wish for a Jewish one.”)” [Mediaite]

DESSERT: “The Facts and Fallacies of Kosher Wine” by Lettie Teague: “The biggest misunderstanding about kosher wine isn’t that it’s sweet but that it’s somehow “different” from other wines. “Kosher wine is made in precisely the same way as ‘regular’ wine,” said Mr. Buchsbaum over lunch this week at Reserve Cut in the Setai Hotel on Broad Street… The other big fallacy that Mr. Buchsbaum straightened out was that most Israeli wines are kosher. That was a misconception that I held myself. Another important development has been the increased sophisticated of kosher-observant drinkers.” [WSJ

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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