Daily Kickoff: Biden pledges delivery of new warplanes to Israel | Jeb talks Baker | ‘The next Darwin wears a kippah’ | Remembering Warren Weinstein

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SCENE LAST NIGHT: Over 500 hundred guests of the Israeli Embassy gathered last night at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in D.C. for an Israel Independence Day celebration. The crowd, which included many Jewish leaders and uniformed military attachés, heard from Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer. Dermer’s chief of staff Jordana Cutler served as MC for the evening. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was spotted coming out from backstage, minutes before Biden’s speech, to grab a few kosher potato puffs off the buffet.

Dermer, addressing Biden, noted “that America and Israel are more than friends and allies – we are family – Mishpacha. Now all families have disagreements. Mr. Vice President, I don’t know how it works in Catholic families, but I can tell you that in Jewish families, disagreements can get pretty heated. But what helps us overcome those disagreements is the understanding that what unites us is far more important than what divides us.” [Transcript]

Biden had a bit of a different recipe to overcoming such disagreements. Biden told the crowd, “the dream of every Irish Catholic father is for his daughter to marry a Jewish surgeon and mine did… So I figured it out, the one way to end arguments is to marry.” Watch the entire speech [CSPAN]

HOW IT PLAYED: “Biden Strikes a Softer Tone at Israel Independence Event” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis [NYTimes] • “Joe Biden shores up U.S.-Israel ties, says Iran deal isn’t a ‘grand bargain'” [CNN] • “Biden, seeking to ease U.S.-Israel strains, pledges delivery of new warplanes” [Reuters] • “Downplaying Rift, Biden Defends Obama’s Support For Israel” [AP]

SPOTTED: Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer, Rep. Ed Royce, Rep. Eliot Engel, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Nathan Diament — also celebrating his birthday, Matt Nosanchuk, William and Heidi Daroff, Jonathan Greenblatt, Tevi Troy, Amb. Norm Eisen, Rabbi Levi and Nechama Shemtov, Howard Kohr, Richard Fishman, Jeff Mendelsohn, Steve Rabinowitz, Aaron Keyak, Edwin Black, Shai Franklin, Sol and Esther Werdiger, Josh Hantman, David Makovsky, Suzanne Pollak, Steve Rakitt, Lesley Weiss, Noa Meir, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Daphne Price, Virginia State Rep. Eileen Filler-Corn, Matt Dorf, Dan Mariaschin, Mark Levin, Jacob Baime, Ken Abramowitz, Liran Bainvol, Mira Resnick…

HEARD YESTERDAY: “Jeb Bush distances himself from James Baker” by MJ Lee:“According to the two sources in the room, Bush — in a light-hearted tone — remarked that people like Baker and George Shultz, secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan, were over 85 years old, drawing some laughter from the audience… At Thursday’s event, Bush also said that he disagreed with some of the conclusions in Baker’s J Street speech. Bush added that he believed that Baker’s remarks weren’t anti-Israel and that Baker is a supporter and friend of the country.” [CNN] • Alternative headline: “In NYC, Jeb Bush Defends Association With Baker” [JP]

TWEET: @JebBush: “Was so impressed w/the students @RamazSchool. Glad I had an opportunity to speak to them on Israel Independence Day” [Twitter]

HEARD AT RAMAZ: “Jeb Bush Blasts Obama for ‘Very Naive’ Iran Deal” by Alana Goodman: “There’s some belief [in the Obama administration] that the Ayatollahs will just go quietly into the night,” said Bush during a closed-door question-and-answer session with high school students at the Ramaz School in Manhattan. “It’s hard for me to imagine that, because while we were negotiating, [the Iranian regime] continued with the ‘Death to America’ rallies every weekend,” he said. “While we were negotiating it, the Supreme Leader sends out a five point power point presentation calling for the annihilation of Israel.” [FreeBeacon]

“In fundraising, Jeb is on defense” by Eli Stokols: “For a time, it looked like Bush would steamroll the GOP field with a cash-flush juggernaut… But that was before New York hedge fund magnate Robert Mercer pledged more than $15 million to Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio gained the full-fleged support of Miami billionaire Norman Braman and became the front-runner to win casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s backing.” [Politico]

TOP TWEET: Nevada political expert Jon Ralston: “By the way, if anyone thinks Sheldon Adelson has made a final decision in April 2015 who to load up on for president, you don’t know SGA.” [Twitter]

“Ted Cruz Is Guest of Two Gay Businessman At Pro-Israel Fundraiser” by Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Reisner and Kalman Sporn, who advises Mr. Cruz’s Middle East team and served as the moderator for the evening, said the senator told the group that marriage should be left up to the states. The evening focused primarily on foreign policy, including a discussion of gay rights in Israel versus the rest of the Middle East, and opposition to President Obama… Mr. Reisner said the event for Mr. Cruz was set up with Sam Domb, Mr. Sporn and Mr. Cruz’s adviser Nick Muzin.” [NYTimes• AIPAC Board Member Kevin Pailet hosted a fundraiser for Cruz in Dallas last night [Twitter]

“Hillary Clinton Heading To Hollywood On May 7 For Dinner At Haim Saban’s House” by Dominic Patten: “Hillary Clinton will be double dipping in Hollywood’s cash register on May 7 with a lunch at Steven Bochco’s and a dinner at Haim Saban’s, co-hosted by Casey Wasserman. Tickets to both shindigs are $2,700 each according to those organizing the events.” [Deadline] • “Sam Gores and Haim Saban Share a Hole-in-One Friendship” [Variety]

MD SEN: “Bulk of Donna Edwards’ campaign money from out of state” by John Fritze: “Edwards has received attention for one top-name donor,  Barbra Streisand, who gave $2,600… Perhaps the most interesting name on Van Hollen’s donor list was Judy Gross, wife of Alan Gross — the former Marylander who was imprisoned in Cuba for five years.” [BaltimoreSun]

SPOTTED LAST NIGHT: Former New York Governor George Pataki “enjoying the short rib tacos” at Reserve Cut at the Setai in Wall St. [Twitter]

HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND: “This year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, explained” by Hunter Schwarz: “The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is Saturday, with festivities starting Thursday and lasting all weekend. The annual funniest/glitziest/most over-done night in Washington will be full of self-deprecating laughs and selfies with celebrities. Here’s what we know about it so far.” [WashPost]

“GOP presidential hopefuls line up in Vegas” by Carla Marinucci: “The Republican Jewish Coalition at the Venetian Hotel & Casino will draw a VIP crowd that includes GOP presidential hopefuls Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, along with former President George W. Bush, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. They’ll all be there at the invitation — and to seek the blessing — of conservative billionaire mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who dispensed $100 million to campaigns during the 2012 election cycle.” [SanFranChronicle]

Meanwhile, at 2PM today, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Nevada Dem Chair Roberta Lange, and National Jewish Democratic Council Chairman Greg Rosenbaum will hold a press call to discuss the Republican Jewish Coalition’s gathering this weekend.


**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**

RISING STAR: “The Man Who May One-Up Darwin” by Meghan Walsh: “His name is Jeremy England, and at 33, he’s already being called the next Charles Darwin. Say what? The Harvard grad and Rhodes scholar speaks quickly, his voice rising a few pitches in tone, his long-fingered hands making sudden jerks when he’s excited. He’s skinny, with a long face, scraggly beard and carelessly groomed mop of sandy brown hair — what you might expect from a theoretical physicist. But then there’s the street-style Adidas on his feet and the kippah atop his head. And the fact that this scientist also talks a lot about God.” [Ozy]

TOP TALKER: “Al Qaeda hostage, American Warren Weinstein, killed in operation” by Catherine E. Shoichet and Ashley Fantz: “His wife said she was still searching for answers Thursday after U.S. officials revealed the 73-year-old American aid worker had been accidentally killed in a U.S. drone strike targeting al Qaeda… There could be no starker contrast between these two selfless men and their al Qaeda captors,” Obama said Thursday. “Warren’s work benefited people across faiths. Meanwhile, al Qaeda boasted to the world that it held Warren citing his Jewish faith.” [CNN]

“Warren Weinstein: A Gracious Host, Immersed in Pakistani Life” by Austin Ramzy: “A former Peace Corps volunteer, Warren, 73, dedicated his life to development work in Africa and South Asia. He saw himself as a peaceful alternative to American influence at a time when United States power is more commonly projected with troops and weapons like the drone that accidentally killed him… He visited me a while later in Hong Kong, where I was working. He told me he was happy to be in a place where he could visit a synagogue and openly practice his Jewish faith.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Judge Lets Rhode Island Intervene In Oldest Synagogue Suit” by Michelle R. Smith: “A federal judge has allowed the state of Rhode Island to intervene in a fight over the future of the nation’s oldest synagogue… Leaders of New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel sued in 2012, saying it owns the Rhode Island synagogue and bells. They also want to evict the Newport congregation from Touro, which is a National Historic Site that attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year.” [AP] • “Confessions of a Synagogue-Hopper” by Lou Weiss [WSJ]

“Inside Gene Freidman’s Super Secret Taxi Bailout Meeting” by Ken Kurson: “The Observer has been reporting on a secret meeting scheduled by taxi kingpin Evgeny “Gene” Freidman to meet with bankers who finance the buying of medallions that enable yellow cabs to pick up street hails. The business is under assault from Uber and other ride-sharing apps, which Mr. Freidman accuse of skirting the voluminous regulations that he and other medallion owners are forced to follow.” [Observer]

SPORTS BLINK: “Pope gets special treatment from NFL, Jets owner doesn’t” by John DeMarzo: “The pope did influence the NFL schedule,” NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz joked. “My name may be Katz, but I wasn’t taking any chances.” The Jets’ own religion-themed scheduling request received less divine intervention. With Rosh Hashanah set to begin at sundown on Sept. 13 — the first Sunday of the NFL season — the Jets asked the league to open on the road, so as not to force the team’s Jewish fans to miss the game or risk being on their way home from the game when sunset occurs at 7:09 p.m. The league did not acquiesce, scheduling the Jets to host the Browns. However, the league proved it wasn’t totally inflexible: They gave the Jets a 1:00 start, meaning most observers of the Jewish New Year should make it home from the Meadowlands by sundown.” [NYPost]

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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