Daily Kickoff: Reactions to Iran agreement | Hillary Clinton’s secret Iran man | ‘Poshest Passover’ includes Ted Cruz, Kardashians & Odell Beckham Jr.

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“A Foreign Policy Gamble by Obama at a Moment of Truth” — by Peter Baker: “On the day he took office, President Obama reached out to America’s enemies, offering in his first inaugural address to “extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” More than six years later, he has arrived at a moment of truth in testing that proposition with one of the nation’s most intransigent adversaries… Obama hopes it can be the start of a new era. An Iran that would “rejoin the community of nations,” as he put it Thursday, may have incentive to stop fomenting so much trouble. He has been willing to gamble America’s relationship with Israel and his own presidency on that premise.” [NYTimes]

“For Obama, a ‘mission accomplished’ moment? Not exactly, but still.” by Juliet Eilperin, Greg Jaffe: “President Obama, who for months had been battered, second-guessed and openly defied, had come to the Rose Garden to make his case to the American people… Obama’s closest advisers stood off to his side, in the shade of the White House colonnade, relishing the moment. National security adviser Susan Rice fist-bumped another aide. Some staffers hugged.” [WashPost]

Behind the Scenes: “Concessions Fueled Iran Nuclear Talks” by Jay Solomon and Carol Lee: “The goal of the talks shifted—away from dismantling structures and toward a more complex set of limitations designed to extend the time Iran would need to “break out” and make a dash toward a nuclear weapon… That early yield would set the tone of the negotiations to come, with the U.S. making steady concessions over the course of the talks. But the Iranians also took steps—mothballing thousands of centrifuge machines, expanding the role of U.N. inspectors and diminishing its stockpile of fissile material—that many experts doubted they would.” [WSJ• “Iran’s Twitter Brushback Means Tough Path Ahead For Nuclear Deal” [Bloomberg]

OBAMA – BIBI PHONE CALL: “Mr. Obama signed off Thursday morning around 10 during his daily presidential briefing in the Oval Office. He began calling world leaders, first talking to British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande of France. He also spoke with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, but left a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for later in the day because, a senior administration official said, that conversation “is going to take longer.” [WSJ]

OBAMA’S READOUT: “President Obama called Prime Minister Netanyahu today from Air Force One… The President emphasized that, while nothing is agreed until everything is, the framework represents significant progress towards a lasting, comprehensive solution. He underscored that progress on the nuclear issue in no way diminishes our concerns with respect to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and threats towards Israel… The President told the Prime Minister that he has directed his national security team to increase consultations with the new Israeli government about how we can further strengthen our long-term security cooperation with Israel and remain vigilant in countering Iran’s threats.” [WhiteHouse]

BIBI’S READOUT: “I spoke to President Obama this evening and expressed Israel’s strong opposition to the framework agreement with Iran which poses a grave danger to Israel, the region and the world. A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel… Such a deal would not block Iran’s path to the bomb. It would pave it. It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war. The alternative is standing firm and increasing the pressure on Iran until a better deal is achieved.” [Facebook]

AIPAC: “AIPAC appreciates the hard work and the diplomatic efforts of the Administration to reach an agreement with Iran to end its nuclear weapons program. However, we have concerns that the new framework announced today by the P5+1 could result in a final agreement that will leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state and encourage a nuclear arms race in the Middle East… we believe this framework and any subsequent agreement must come before Congress for review.” [AIPAC]

ADL: “Too Many Unanswered Questions on Iranian Nuclear Deal Require Robust Congressional Review” [ADL] • Conference of Presidents: “Jewish Leaders Call For Safeguards To Assure Full Compliance And Implementation Given Iran’s Past Record” [CoP] • Jewish Federations: “The Jewish Federations of North America Urges Caution and Congressional Review of Any Iran Deal” [JFNA] • WJC/Ronald Lauder: “Key question is: Can we trust Iran?” [WJC]

NEXT STEPS: “Skeptical Senate Puts New Iran Sanctions on Hold” by Eli Lake and Josh Rogin: “Senator Mark Kirk, the Republican co-author of a bill imposing more sanctions against Iran, told us after Obama’s speech that he did not expect a vote on the legislation he wrote with Democrat Robert Menendez before June 30… The delay of the Kirk-Menendez bill doesn’t mean the fight between the White House and Congress over Iran will wait until July — quite the contrary. A bill written by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker that would mandate a Congressional review of any deal is still moving forward.” [BloombergView] • “Obama’s next job: Sell the Iran deal” [PoliticoAP]

Get Smart Quick: “A step-by-step guide to what the Iran agreement actually means” [WashPost] • Full State Department Fact Sheet [Scribd] • Jeffrey Lewis: “A Skeptic’s Guide to the Iran Nuclear Deal” [ForeignPolicy]

Ari Shavit: “On the face of it, the Democratic, liberal President Obama is the opposite of the Republican, conservative President Bush… But the truth is that there is quite a worrying resemblance between the Iraq war project and the Iran peace project. In both cases, intentions are noble. In both cases, ambitions are far-reaching. In both case benign American idealism is completely disconnected from the cruel reality of the Middle East.” [PoliticoMag]

David Ignatius: “A better-than-expected nuclear deal with Iran: Zarif’s characterization of the deal was far different from Kerry’s or Obama’s. But such spin-doctoring is to be expected in any negotiation. This looks like a pretty good deal. I just wish it were signed.” [WashPost]

Washington Post Editorial: “Obama’s Iran deal falls far short of his own goals”: “THE “KEY parameters” for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program released Thursday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration. None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed. Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be “reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact.” [WashPost]

Kerry’s Last Grasp at Greatness — by Tom Keane: “Granted, it may be ambition that drives Kerry forward on the negotiations. The clock is ticking and one senses he has staked his entire career on getting to yes—perhaps, to the worry of many, at the risk of giving too much to the Iranians. Eventually, we and the world will make a judgment. If he succeeds, Kerry will have his legacy. If he fails, the Iranian negotiations will likely be the last in a long line of missed brass rings.” [PoliticoMag]

“Obama can’t ignore human rights abuses in Iran” — by Gregory T. Angelo and Matthew Brooks: “Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s largest coalition of gay Republicans and its allies, and the Republican Jewish Coalition are together insisting that human rights are a component of any nuclear deal with Iran.” [TheHill]

2016 WATCH: “Hillary hails Iran agreement: “I strongly support President Obama and Secretary Kerry’s efforts between now and June to reach a final deal,” Clinton said in a statement. “There is much to do and much more to say in the months ahead, but for now diplomacy deserves a chance to succeed.” [MSNBC] • “Hillary Clinton’s secret Iran man: Jake Sullivan, who helped bring about the nuclear talks, may have to help Clinton defend them in 2016″ [Politico]

Jeb Bush: “The reported details of the Iran deal include significant concessions to a nation whose leaders call for death to America and the destruction of Israel. Iran remains a major destabilizing force in the region, working against American interests.” [RightToRise]

Marco Rubio: “This attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success is just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran. Under this President’s watch, Iran has expanded its influence in the Middle East, sowing instability throughout the region. Iran’s support for terrorism has continued unabated without a serious response from the United States.” [PressRelease]

Scott Walker: “President Obama is telling us to trust him when it comes to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to ignore its chants of “death to America” and its destructive role in the region. But over six years of his failed foreign policy have eroded this trust.” [OAR]

Chemi Shalev: “After the Purim/Haman analogies, many Israelis and Jews around the world will find it easy to couch what seems to be an Iranian-American rapprochement in apocalyptic redemption terms of the Passover Hagaddah: “In every generation they stand up against us to destroy us, but the Holy One, Blessed Be He, redeems us from their hands.” [Haaretz]

TOP TWEET: @JeffreyGoldberg – “I’m preemptively declaring my first seder a nuclear-discussion-free zone. Except that this declaration won’t last five minutes.” [Twitter]

David Suissa: “If I have to choose between a metaphorical discussion of the Four Sons and a political discussion of the four terror states encroaching on Israel, the latter feels way more urgent. So, we’re trapped between two time frames: the urgent versus the timeless. Passover clearly deals with the timeless. If we let our mouths wander into the urgent and the political, how will it inspire our imaginations? How will it help us re-enact the drama of our liberation?… No matter how urgent or important, politics and current events are simply not very inspiring. For inspiration, you can’t compete with the timeless lessons and stories of our tradition. And Passover is the mother lode of timeless lessons.” [JewishJournal]

“At $11,000 a head, this is the poshest Passover in the world” — by Doree Lewak: “Starting Friday, Lerer, who’s an Orthodox Jew, will join 1,000 other movers and shakers at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, Calif. — situated on 172 acres, with a private beach, luxury spa and championship golf course — for the weeklong holiday celebrating the Israelites’ emancipation from slavery… Her dad’s especially excited to meet presidential candidate Ted Cruz, an invited guest, who’s presumably hoping to mix and mingle with deep-pocketed potential campaign donors.” [NYPost]

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Mark Leibovich interviews Tom Cotton: “You sent an open letter, signed by 47 Republican senators, to the Iranian mullahs telling them that Congress could undo any nuclear deal they entered into with President Obama. Did you actually put this in an envelope and send it to Iran? No envelope, no seal. We released it on our website. And since the Ayatollah likes to tweet, we tweeted it at his account. James Baker, a Republican, was critical of your Iran letter. He said, “You can’t conduct foreign policy with 535 secretaries of state.” Well, we only have one president and one secretary of state, but our founding fathers very clearly insisted that Congress play a significant role in foreign policy.” [NYTimesMag]

“Former Rep. Brad Schneider kicked off comeback bid Thursday” by Lynn Sweet: “Schneider, 53, from Deerfield, makes it official as he faces a Democratic primary against Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, also 53. The winner takes on Rep. Bob Dold, R-Ill., who defeated Schneider last November for the north suburban 10th Congressional District seat.” [SunTimes]

“Former Mitt Romney Donors Turn Out For N.J. Gov. Chris Christie” by Heather Haddon:“Billionaire Bruce Kovner convened a meet-and-great for the governor in New York City Wednesday.” [WSJ]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Hotelier Nazarian, Back From Leave, Retakes Company’s Helm” [WSJ• “Mort Zuckerman crushed it. Again” [BizJournal] • “Barnett’s Extell Lower East Side Tower Gets a Hefty Height Reduction” [Curbed] • “Lightstone pays $15M for FiDi air rights” [RealDeal]

STARTUP NATION: “Check Point Snags Israeli Mobile Security Company Lacoon” by Ron Miller: “Check Point Software Technologies announced it has purchased Lacoon Mobile Security today. Lacoon was founded in 2011 and according to Crunchbase, has raised $8M in a single round in October, 2013. If the $80M price tag is correct, investors did pretty well for themselves.” [TechCrunch] • “Inside The Rise Of ‘Meerkat’: How The Israeli App Is Helming Live Mobile Broadcasting” [NoCamels]

“Israeli Transit App Via Raises $27 Million to Deliver $5 Rides on Demand” by Lora Kolodny: “Via Transportation Inc. in New York is the latest to attract funding in the category, with a $27 million Series B round led by Pitango Venture Capital and joined by Hearst Ventures, Ervington Investments and the startup’s earlier backers 83North. The 30-employee startup plans to use the capital for hiring, marketing and expansion of its app and service beyond New York City said co-founder and Chief Executive Daniel Ramot.” [WSJ]

“Report of Missing Israeli in West Bank Proves to Be Hoax” — by Isabel Kershner: “The Israeli military called off extensive searches in the Hebron area of the West Bank late Thursday night after initial reports that an Israeli man had been abducted by Palestinians proved to be a hoax. Niv Asraf, 22, was found in a valley in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, equipped with canned food and a sleeping bag. “The ‘missing’ man and his friends staged a kidnapping,” the police said in a statement.” [NYTimes]

PEW STUDY: “Muslim Population Projected to Nearly Match Christian by 2050: The world’s Islamic population is growing so rapidly that by 2050, the number of Muslims will be nearly equal to the number of Christians across the planet—possibly for the first time in history. The new forecast is part of a sweeping religious-population study released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center that projects significant demographic shifts across the global religious landscape… By 2050, the study says, there will be more Muslims than Jews in the U.S.—though both groups will remain small minorities.” [WSJPew] • Dean Obeidallah: “Next, We Muslims Bring Sharia to Indiana” [DailyBeast]

DESSERT: “Happy Passover, or Not: Gefilte Fish Is Back” by Matt Chaban: “This Passover staple, at once beloved and reviled, was harder to find than the afikomen, thanks largely to the polar vortex. The good news — or bad news, depending on one’s tastes — is that while this winter the haul has been bad, it has not been nearly as bad as last year.” [NYTimes]

“The Last Matzo Factory in Manhattan: Streit’s Prepares to Leave The Lower East Side” [DailyBeast]


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