Daily Kickoff: Deadline Day Delay | “Support for Palestinian state hits two-decade low in U.S.” | ADL’s Abe Foxman: “Let’s not prejudge Trevor Noah”

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TOP TALKER: “As Nuclear Talks Drag on, U.S. and Iran Find It Harder to Hear Each Other” by David E. Sanger: “We are all about quantifiables: how many centrifuges can spin, how much plutonium can come out of the Arak reactor, how much uranium you can have on hand,” one senior American official… “They are all about symbolism, about avoiding the optics of backing down,” the official said, even if it means engaging in expensive, inefficient nuclear enrichment activity that makes little economic or strategic sense.” [NYTimes] • “Despite progress, Iran nuclear talks hit impasse on details” [Reuters]

“Six days of living in a gilded cage” by Jo Biddle: “As prisons go, the famed Beau-Rivage hotel nestled on the Swiss side of Lake Geneva with breath-taking views over the snow-capped French Alps must count as one of the world’s most luxurious. But after six days and nights of living within the confines of its magnificent 19th century frescos and marbled columns, even top diplomats were beginning to go a bit stir crazy… “Don’t you guys have a life?” top US diplomat John Kerry joked with journalists who mobbed him as he left a dinner.” [AFP]

“Why the busted Iran deadline matters” by Michael Crowley and Sarah Wheaton: “The failure of nuclear talks with Iran to produce an agreement by midnight Tuesday has no practical effect — but it leaves the Obama administration with a public relations black eye, and new charges that Iran has the upper hand in the talks.” [Politico• “Iran’s power rises, with or without deal” [CNN]

“The Price of Obama’s Iran Muddle” by Edward-Isaac Dovere: “The broader narrative of instability in the region is already problematic, the White House knows, and failing to get an agreement after all this buildup would make that worse. They also know that it’ll be hard to claim a win even if they somehow squeak out a deal that Obama considers a good one. Any excitement will be drowned out by all other instability in the region and by the people in Congress and around the world who will attack any agreement… Obama does need a win on Iran, Burns said, but a win isn’t necessarily an agreement. Among the other options would be using the failed talks to persuade the Europeans to join in new, stricter sanctions.” [Politico]

Eli Lake: “Iran’s Charmer in Chief Wins Again: Now is the time to praise Javad Zarif. Whatever you might think of Iran’s foreign minister, he knows how to bargain. One of his greatest assets is plausible deniability — he says he doesn’t actually know all of the details of his country’s nuclear program, and there is no reason to disbelieve him. The Islamic revolutionaries make war and build nuclear weapons, while the diplomats can say they are seeking peace.”

“This diplomatic advantage is perhaps best explained by a long-forgotten episode from the early 2000s. Malcolm Hoenlein remembers pressing Zarif about the case of eight Iranian Jews from Shiraz who had gone missing in 1994.  “He has charm,” Hoenlein told me. “He was gracious. He invited us to his home.” But at the end of the day, Zarif’s personal qualities masked an inability to help the Jewish leaders find the men, who ranged in age from 15 to 36. “He kept promising us on the missing young people, but we never ended up getting any information,” Hoenlein told me… Last year, the Israeli government made public a report that its intelligence service, the Mossad, had learned the missing boys were captured, jailed and murdered by Iranian authorities.” [BloombergView]

Dennis Ross: “It is noteworthy that the agreement that the administration will now try to finalize with the Iranians by June 30 does not reflect the objective we had hoped to achieve for much of President Barack Obama’s first term… Assuming an agreement is finalized by June 30, the administration may well be right that this was the best one possible—and that it is better than the other alternatives. That, of course, does not make it a good agreement.” [PoliticoMag]

“Israel Reading Next Steps to Counter Any Iran Nuclear Deal” by Nicholas Casey: “Yossi Kuperwasser, a former head of Israel’s military intelligence research, said Israel in the weeks ahead would lobby for the strictest possible terms as the expected framework is fleshed out…

—Michael Oren: “Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington and now a member of Israel’s parliament, said the long-term effects of an agreement would be a loss of trust by Israel and its neighbors in the U.S. “There will be a greater tendency to address challenges in the region within the region, rather than calling on the U.S.,” he said. “It is a sea change. It will compel us to revisit some of our long-held assumptions and think seriously about how to defend ourselves in the future.” [WSJ]

Video: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and House Speaker John Boehner’s press conference today in Israel [YouTube]

“Support for Palestinian state hits two-decade low in U.S.” by Aaron Blake: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s waffling on the idea of a Palestinian state comes as the idea is less popular in the United States than it has been in at least two decades. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that the idea of establishing a new Palestinian state alongside Israel in the Middle East is more divisive than at any point in the past 20 years, as a long period of generally bipartisan support for the concept has passed.” [WashPost]

“International Court Welcomes Palestinians As 123rd Member” by Mike Corder: “The Palestinian Authority became a member of the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, saying it wanted “justice not vengeance” for alleged Israeli war crimes. Joining the court is part of a broader effort by the Palestinians to put international pressure on Israel and comes at a time when the chances of resuming negotiations on Palestinian statehood are seen as slim.” [AP]

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen emails… “By joining the ICC, Abu Mazen has again chosen to undermine the peace process with Israel. Congress has been clear in its intent that all US assistance to the PA should be suspended since Abu Mazen is pursuing this destructive path at the ICC. The Obama administration must stop enabling Abu Mazen’s unilateral actions outside direct negotiations with the Israelis and cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority as required under US law.”

“The U.N.’s War on Israel” by Ron Prosor: “The United Nations is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. It was intended to be a temple of peace, but this once great global body has been overrun by the repressive regimes that violate human rights and undermine international security… The problem with the United Nations is that the leaders of many of its member states do not rule with the consent of the governed. Instead, they use the body as a forum to deflect attention from their own ruthless rule. In so doing, they turn a stage for courageous statecraft into a tragic theater of the absurd.” [NYTimes]

“Does Israel Really Have a Thermonuclear Weapon?” by Jeffrey Lewis: “And did the Pentagon really just declassify a document admitting knowledge of this?” [ForeignPolicy]

TRANSITIONS: “Top White House Official Moving to the Council on Foreign Relations” by David Francis: “Philip Gordon, a veteran member of the Obama administration who has worked at the highest rungs of the White House on the most pressing foreign policy issues of the day, is joining the Council on Foreign Relations as a senior fellow.” [ForeignPolicy]

“Obama and Black-Jewish Relations” by Jason L. Riley: “The long road from marching side by side at Selma to today, when the White House is openly clashing with Israel.” [WSJ]

DRIVING THE DAY: “Federal Charges Against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez May Come Wednesday, Staffers Preparing Statements of Support” by Jonathan Dienst and Brian Thompson: “I’ll say the same thing that I said two weeks ago when there was a different press report and that is that I have always acted appropriately and legally,” Menendez said… One source told NBC 4 New York there will be a “considerable” number of statements, some ghostwritten, from politicians and organizations expressing support for Menendez as soon as the indictments are handed down.” [NBCNYPolitico]

NV SEN: “Former U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley said her phone has been “ringing off the hook” since Harry Reid, 75, announced Friday that he would retire rather than run for a sixth Senate term. But she said she’s happy in her current job as CEO and senior provost of Touro University Nevada and Touro University California. “Over the last several days I have received many calls and inquiries regarding Senator Reid’s retirement and whether or not I have any plans to run for the United States Senate,” she said in a statement. “The answer to that is no.” [ReviewJournal]

HAPPENING TODAY – Think Tank Row: Tevi Troy appears on CSPAN’s Washington Journal today [CSPAN]… At 10am, Brookings hosts a panel on “Deal or no deal? Negotiating with Iran” featuring Robert Einhorn, Suzanne Maloney, and William Galston [Brookings]… At 12:30pm, the Washington Institute hosts a panel on “Making Sense of Chaos in the Middle East” with James Jeffrey, Dennis Ross, Robert Satloff, and Michael Singh [WI]… John Bolton discusses “Is Iran the new North Korea? Lessons from the Agreed Framework” [AEI]

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Indiana and the defining divisions in American politics” by Dan Balz: “The debate over the Indiana law is the latest manifestation of long-standing tensions in a country undergoing rapid demographic and cultural changes. The clash between defenders of religious liberty and opponents of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation highlights the chasm that now exists within the population.” [WashPost]

David Brooks: “In the Jewish community, conservative Jews are generally polite toward Orthodox Jews who wouldn’t use their cutlery. Men are generally polite to Orthodox women who would prefer not to shake their hands. In the larger community, this respectful politeness works best. The movement to champion gay rights is now in a position where it can afford to offer this respect, at a point where steady pressure works better than compulsion. It’s always easier to take an absolutist position. But, in a clash of values like the one between religious pluralism and equality, that absolutism is neither pragmatic, virtuous nor true.” [NYTimes]

STARTUP NATION: “Mobile Payment Startup MyCheck Raises $5M From Santander’s Innoventures Fund” by Steve O’Hear: “Israeli MyCheck, another startup that wants to make it easy to pay your restaurant bill using your mobile phone, has closed a $5 million Series B. However, perhaps more noteworthy is the company’s new backer: the Spanish bank Santander via its recently launched Santander Innoventures Fund.” [TechCrunch] • Adam Singolda’s Taboola Inks Exclusive Agreement With Bloomberg [NewsWire]

Campus Beat: “Michigan CSG votes against divestment resolution: After more than four hours of discussion and public comments, the University’s Central Student Government voted to reject a resolution calling for the creation of an ad hoc committee to investigate the University’s investments in companies that allegedly facilitate human rights violations against Palestinians.” [MichiganDaily]

Comedy Central Statement — “Comedy Central stands with Trevor Noah”: “Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included. To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central.” [CC]

Abe Foxman Op: “No doubt the comments he made on Twitter were inexcusable. There is no reasonable excuse for a comedian who tweets that, “Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man,” for cheap laughs… But for us, the question is not necessarily what is in someone’s past, but how they will conduct themselves going forward. It is not realistic to insist that comedians not make jokes at all about different ethnic and racial groups. The question is how do they go about doing it in a way that does not speak to classic stereotypes about different groups? And how does one do it without offending the sensibilities of Comedy Central’s large, diverse and uniquely American audience?” [TimeMag]

DESSERT: @Yair_Rosenberg imagines the scene at Obama’s seder this year: “If you think your seder is going to be awkward this year, just imagine what the Obama seder is going to be like. “If only Bibi had come to Congress but not also won reelection, it would have been enough” “Uh Mr President, you sure those are the words?” OBAMA: Hey guys, this year I put together my own haggada. Isn’t it neat? GUEST: Wait, is that Bibi as the wicked son? OBAMA: Maybe. “Why is tonight different from all other nights? On all other nights, I try to get the Israelites to leave. Tonight, they actually want to.”

“OBAMA: Now we break the middle matza to symbolize the necessity of a 2-state solution. Then we hide one half so the other doesn’t attack it. JAY CARNEY: Well Sasha, I appreciate your four questions, but — SASHA OBAMA: Why do we even invite him to the seder? OBAMA: And then Moses said to Pharaoh, “this slavery thing really isn’t in your best interest so why don’t we negotiate a win-win solution?” OBAMA: Next year in West Jerusalem! *awkward silence* OBAMA: Oh, don’t be that way.” [Twitter]


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