Daily Kickoff: Biden to attend Dermer’s Yom Ha’atzmaut event | Gary Gensler to Hillary | Ehud Barak on Bibi | Stewart Butterfield’s Slack valuation

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TOP TALKER: Ambassador Ron Dermer posts on Facebook — “I am honored to host Vice President Biden at Israel’s Independence Day event in Washington, D.C. on April 23rd. I look forward to having the opportunity to express Israel’s appreciation for the support that the Obama Administration has given to Israel over the past six years and to reaffirm the great friendship between Israel and the United States.” [Facebook]

Paging Haaretz… Ron Kampeas: “If Dermer was ever an unofficial persona non grata for keeping secret from the White House Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to address Congress, those days are over. The second-highest official in the land is giving Dermer his blessing.” [JTA] • Haaretz wrote just yesterday — “Obama’s advisers are ignoring Ambassador Ron Dermer, a persona non grata at the White House. Opening a new leaf in Netanyahu and Obama’s relations requires letting Dermer go.” [Haaretz]

Happening Today: Amb. Dermer to speak at JNF breakfast in Denver: “The Israeli Ambassador will be the keynote speaker at the Annual JNF Breakfast this morning at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, CO. Dermer is expected to give insight into the Israeli elections in March. The event is likely to be the most successful breakfast yet, bringing in over 800 guests.” [BoulderJewishNews]

SCENE: The Hudson Institute hosted a luncheon at the University Club in New York City yesterday. The featured speaker was Bill Kristol, a Hudson intern in the 1970s who Ken Weinstein, President of Hudson, joked back then was “shy and low-key until Herman Kahn got to him”… Kristol, during his off-the-record talk, discussed the 2016 Presidential field, voter demographics and some of the key foreign policy challenges facing the U.S.  Spotted: Wally Stern, Laurence Leeds, Jeffrey Berenson, Ken Bialkin, Sarah May Stern, Ed Cox, Bruce Gelb, Walter Russell Mead, Marty Gross, Joshua Landes, William Luti, Adam Lowe and Nick Gallagher.

SCENE WEDNESDAY NIGHT: “Dan Senor and Campbell Brown hosted a book party for David Brooks at their TriBeca apartment to celebrate the release of “The Road to Character.”  SPOTTED: Chris Anderson, Warren Bass, Tina Brown, Gail Collins, Katie Couric, Harry Evans, Bruce Feiler, Anand Giridharadas, Seth Godin, Maggie Haberman, Mark Halperin, Roger Hertog, Shavar Jeffries, Joel Klein, Jay Lefkowitz, Susan Mercandetti, Blair Miller, John Podhoretz, David Remnick, Samantha Power, Charlie Rose, Gary Rosen, Paul Singer, Jacob Weisberg, Fareed Zakaria.” [Playbook

2016 WATCH: “Hillary Hires Former Wall Street Cop Gary Gensler as Campaign CFO” by Phil Mattingly: “For Clinton, who has been fighting her left flank’s concern that she is too cozy with Wall Street, Gensler is a notable hire. He became known as someone with sharp elbows —even during his negotiations within the Obama administration—in his push for tighter regulation.” [Bloomberg]

“Gensler was born in Baltimore, Maryland, one of five children of Jane (née Tilles) and Sam Gensler. Gensler attended Pikesville Senior High School, graduating in 1975. Gensler has been active in Democratic politics, having served as treasurer of the Maryland Democratic Party for two years, and holding several senior roles on the Maryland campaigns of U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and Gov. Martin O’Malley. During the 2008 presidential campaign cycle, Gensler served as a senior advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and later advised the Obama campaign. [Wikipedia]

Ben White: “The Gensler hire is kind of a genius move by the Clinton campaign to ease the angst of left and hard core Wall Street reformers. Bankers will hate it but that’s not a bad thing for the campaign. The key will be whether Gensler actually has a significant voice within the Clinton operation. Because if he doesn’t, chances are he will let people know about it in ways that Brooklyn might not like.” [MorningMoney]

HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND: “With every major Republican presidential hopeful descending on New Hampshire this weekend for the state’s first candidate forum, attention will turn for the moment from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s entry into the campaign to the fluid Republican race. Few of New Hampshire’s influential Republican activists will commit to a candidate based solely on what they see at the two-day gathering in Nashua. But the audition there offers a chance for one of the 19 prospects expected to attend to break out of the pack in a state where there is no clear favorite.” [NYTimes]

“Why is Lindsey Graham considering a presidential run?” by Jon Ward: “Graham is very seriously thinking about running for the Republican presidential nomination, even though, in the age of television, he appears to have a less- than-zero chance of cracking the top five — maybe even the top 10 — in the GOP field… So why is Graham doing this? Maybe it’s just that he, like his close friend Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.), yearns to be where the action is, in the fight, making a contribution… “Yeah, this is sort of what I do when I’m bored,” Graham joked at one point.” [Yahoo]

“Schumer may shatter fundraising records” by Alexander Bolton: “The New York Democrat has developed a reputation as a tenacious money magnet who doesn’t take no for an answer. When handed a $25,000 check, he’s been known to respond, “You can do a little better than that.” He’s asked donors to send him contributions by courier to quash any possible excuses about a “check in the mail.” Schumer is constantly looking for new donors, and will even badger Republicans for cash. Sources say he has multiple cellphones, and he’s seen regularly in the Capitol with one attached to his ear.” [TheHill]

“Hacked Sony emails reveal Cuomo fund-raising details” by Conor Skelding, Laura Nahmias and Bill Mahoney: “Are you going to the fundraiser for Cuomo this Thursday?” Jonathan Soros wrote. “If so, you could do a great service to the campaign finance efforts in NY (and therefore nationally) with just a few words when you see him. Specifically, if you were to say something like: ‘I saw that you’re taking a more aggressive posture in getting public financing passed in New York; I think that’s great.’ It would probably make a substantial impression on him that donors across the country have taken notice.” [CapitalNewYork] • “Latino Leaders Frustrated At George Soros‘ Democracy Aliiance’s Plan To Fund 35 Groups, Zero Latino Groups” [BuzzFeed]

Jeb’s ‘Advisor’ James A. Baker III: “The Nuclear Deal With Iran Needs Work—Lots of It: Only after we have the necessary support from the P5+1 should we resume our discussions with Iran. And then, only after the Iranians have been told in no uncertain terms that we have reasonable specific demands they must meet. Let Iran and the world know what those demands are. If Iran balks at such an arrangement, then it will be that country’s fault that the talks broke down. On the other hand, if the U.S. is viewed as cratering the deal because of insufficient domestic support, it will be much easier for our P5+1 partners to diminish or drop sanctions against Iran.” [WSJ]

“Obama Could Ease Many Iranian Sanctions Without Congress” by Deb Reichmann: “If Congress rejected a final agreement, Obama could take unilateral actions… The president could suspend some existing U.S. sanctions with his waiver authority. He could issue new orders to permit financial transactions that otherwise are banned under current law. And he could simply take certain Iranians and entities, including nearly two dozen Iranian banks, off U.S. target lists, meaning they no longer would be subject to sanctions.” [AP]

“Inside Obama’s Meeting With Jewish Leaders: What he said, what they said, and what America is now saying to the world about exterminationist anti-Semitism” by Lee Smith:“So maybe the legacy of Rabbi Stephen Wise was on the mind of American Jewish leaders Monday when President Barack Obama called them to a meeting at the White House. It being Holocaust Remembrance Week, who wants to be remembered as the contemporary version of Wise, who chose to protect his relationship with Roosevelt rather than criticize a president who did nothing to save European Jews from extermination? “It was one of the tensest meetings I can ever remember,” said one participant.” [TabletMag]

Ehud Barak on Benjamin Netanyahu for Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People: “I knew Bibi, decades ago, as a soldier and young officer under my command facing real fire. He was determined, effective and focused. Character does not change. Chickensh-t he is not. But over time, while thoughtful and an avid reader of history, he developed a mind-set at once pessimistic, passive and anxious. Benjamin Netanyahu seems to avoid any initiative. Some say it’s all about surviving in power. I think he is more complex and nuanced.” [TimeMag]

Peter Beinart: “Israel no longer unites American Jews. But exploring Judaism could: If I had a few million dollars… I’d bring left- and right-wing American Jews together — with a skilled moderator — to discuss the weekly Torah portion. I wouldn’t do so because I believe studying Torah can help U.S. Jews talk more constructively about Israel. I’d do so to help American Jews talk constructively about something other than Israel.”

“If American Jewish leaders had invested more seriously in Jewish literacy when Israel was still a unifying force, Israel’s growing divisiveness would not be so threatening today. But it’s not too late. In my own life, I’ve been privileged to build close friendships with people who disdain my views on Israel. What sustains these friendships? It’s seeing people week after week, year after year, in synagogue, at Shabbat tables, when a child is born or a parent dies. It’s a common language grounded in Jewish ritual, Jewish tradition and Jewish texts.” [Haaretz]

TOP OP — “Why I require FBI agents to visit the Holocaust Museum” by James Comey, Director of the FBI: (This commentary is adapted from a speech given Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner.) “The Holocaust was the most horrific display in world history of inhumanity. But it was also the most horrific display in world history of our humanity, of our capacity for evil and for moral surrender… That is the reason I require every new FBI special agent and intelligence analyst to go to the Holocaust Museum. Naturally, I want them to learn about abuse of authority on a breathtaking scale. But I want them to confront something more painful and more dangerous: I want them to see humanity and what we are capable of.” [WashPost]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Mort Zuckerman’s Daily News in second-round talks with Dolan, Catsimatidis” by Joe Pompeo: “The sale of Mort Zuckerman’s Daily News appears to be advancing as the paper meets with its suitors. In recent days, according to sources familiar with the matter, at the offices of the financial advisory firm Lazard, which is handling the sale, there have been meetings between representatives of the News and the potential buyers, which include John Catsimatidis, the supermarket magnate, and James Dolan, who runs Cablevision, Madison Square Garden and Newsday.” [CapitalNewYork]

REAL ESTATE ROUNDUP: “Calloway REIT to Buy SmartCentres Retail from Developer Mitchell Goldhar for $950 Million” [WSJ] • Adam Neumann’s WeWork takes a second large space at Aby Rosen & Jared Kushner’s Dumbo Heights [RealDeal] • “Billionaire Soffers could spend $17M to upgrade airport facilities” [SFBJ] • “Safra sues Eddie Sitt for late mortgage payment” [RealDeal] • “Heritage’s Toby Moskovitz battles with partner on projects” [RealDeal]

“Waze Is Driving Into City Hall” by Neal Ungerleider: “In just a few year, Waze has gone from a small Israeli startup to one of the world’s most successful app makers. Sure, the startup’s acquisition by Google had a big part to play in that, but their biggest success was designing a navigation app based primarily on the give-and-take of crowdsourcing. Now the company is embarking on a similarly ambitious plan: making their product essential to government.” [FastCompany]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “David Tisch’s Swipe-to-buy app Spring raises $25 million to become the first big mobile shopping mall” by Alyson Shontell: “Launched last August by Tisch, his brother Alan, Ara Katz, and former Googler Octavian Costache, Spring currently works with 750 brands, like Michael Kors, to put their entire catalogs in one buying-friendly, visual heavy app.” [BusinessInsiderForbesFortune]

TALK OF THE VALLEY: “Stewart Butterfield’s Slack valuation jumps to $2.8B with $160M funding” by Cromwell Schubarth: “Slack confirmed on Thursday that it raised $160 million in new funding at a valuation of about $2.8 billion. The new round comes less than six months after the San Francisco team chat app developer raised $120 million at a valuation of about $1.1 billion. The funny thing is that when it raised the money last fall, co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield said he didn’t really need the money then.” [BizJournals]

“Is Slack Really Worth $2.8 Billion? A Conversation With Stewart Butterfield” by Farhad Manjoo: “Q: I’m surprised that you’re raising money, because last time we talked you said that you had enough money. A: “It’s pretty straightforward. I’ve been in this industry for 20 years. This is the best time to raise money ever. And as a fiduciary, I think it would be almost imprudent for me not to accept $160 million bucks for 5-ish percent of the company when it’s offered on favorable terms. We don’t have an immediate use for that money. But it increases the value of our stock and can allow potential employees to take our offers, and it reinforces the perception for our larger customers that we’ll be around for the long haul.”

“Q: But is it a great thing for the world? You’re getting a whole bunch of money you don’t really need that you probably won’t use. What is the use of giving you $160 million that you’re just going to keep in the bank for a rainy day? A: Eventually, we will find a use for it, at least I hope we do. Now, as opposed to this money being used to house the homeless or feed starving children — but that’s not where this money would otherwise go. This is investment capital. One could certainly make the argument that investment capital has inflated out of proportion to the rest of the economy. But it’s not like if they hadn’t given the money to us, they would have given to a homeless person instead.” [Bits]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “They Speak Hebrew And Keep Kosher: The Left-Behind Ethiopian Jews” by Gregory Warner: “For Jews around the world, having one Christian ancestor would not disqualify them from becoming an Israeli citizen. Israel’s founding Law of Return decrees that a person can immigrate to Israel if he or she has one Jewish grandparent, on either side. Gezi has that. But Gezi and his family are a special case, because they’re descended from a group of Ethiopians whose Jewish ancestors converted to Christianity under pressure in the 19th century. They’re called the Falash Mura. They secretly practiced Judaism but were not allowed to emigrate with the other Ethiopian Jews until a hard-won political compromise a decade ago.” [NPR]

LongRead: “War, Auschwitz, And The Tragic Tale Of Germany’s Jewish Soccer Hero” by Brian Blickenstaff: “By World War I, they’d rank among Germany’s greatest ever sportsmen—and they’d return from that war as heroes both on and off the soccer field. But by World War II, Hirsch and Fuchs would be almost completely forgotten, their accomplishments erased, their lives discarded. Fuchs and Hirsch were, respectively, the first and second Jewish players to ever represent the German national team. There have never been any others. Fuchs would escape the Holocaust. Hirsch would not. For years after his death, it was almost like he never existed at all.” [ViceSports]


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