Daily Kickoff: Corker Bill Battle | Rand to meet with Jewish leaders in NYC today | POTUS: “Boehner has already invited Bibi to speak at my funeral”

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IRAN BILL BATTLE: “Republicans push Senate Dems toward hard votes on Iran” by Jordain Carney: “Sen. Marco Rubio, together with Sen. Mark Kirk wants to include in the Corker-Cardin agreement a requirement that President Obama must certify that Iran’s leaders publicly accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. It is highly unlikely that Iran’s leaders would make such a declaration. And other key Republicans suggested that, even if Tehran did so, they would not accept the sincerity of the announcement.“What if they said ‘Yeah, I recognize Israel?’ I don’t trust them,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said. “Those words mean nothing to me.”… “Anyone that monkeys with this bill will run into a buzz saw,” Graham said.” [TheHillPolitico]

“It’s important that this stay bipartisan,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “We should not intermingle emotional amendments with this bill. I’m appealing to people, ‘Don’t throw this bill in a ditch.’ ”… “It’s a pretty good bill as it is,” Mr. Corker said in an interview. Fighting over amendments “is what we do around here, right?” he said with a grin.” [NYTimes]

“Aipac vs. Pro-Israel Republicans” by Eli Lake and Josh Rogin: “Senate staff members tell us that since Monday, senior Aipac lobbyists and board members have had face-to-face meetings and phone calls with leading senators to try to dissuade lawmakers from voting for the Republican amendments. But that is an awkward place to be for the largest pro-Israel lobby in Washington.” [BloombergViewReuters]

TOP-OP: “Iran Won’t Give Up on Its Revolution” by Soner Cagaptay, James F. Jeffrey and Mehdi Khalaji: “The announcement last month of a preliminary agreement between the United States and Iran has led some to believe that Tehran will now enter the international system as a responsible actor. But such optimism ignores the fact that Iran’s current government still bears the imprint of a long imperial history and longstanding Persian regional ambitions.” [NYTimes] • “Kerry, Iran’s Zarif to meet today in New York” [Reuters]

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS… “Hedging Presidential Bets in Vegas” by Julie Bykowicz at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Spring Meeting: “Inside a conference room Friday night at the Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip, top boosters for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker mingled with some of his biggest potential donors, including New York property attorney Phil Rosen and Todd Ricketts, part-owner of the Chicago Cubs. About the same time, Jeb “Jebby” Bush Jr., son of another man considering a 2016 presidential bid, socialized with young fundraisers like Jay Zeidman, son of prominent Houston fundraiser Fred Zeidman, at the casino’s Public House bar and restaurant.”

“Andy Abboud, Adelson’s top political adviser, on who his boss will support: “It’s still wide open as far as who he’ll support. There are no puffs of smoke coming from the Venetian just yet.” [Bloomberg]

HOW IT PLAYED: “Republican Contenders Reach Out to Sheldon Adelson, Palms Up” by Jason Horowitz [NYTimes] • “Angst about Iran deal at GOP Jewish meeting” [AP] • “GOP 2016 contenders denounce Iranian nuclear framework deal” [WashPost] • “In Las Vegas, GOP candidates court Jewish donors by supporting Israel” [LATimes]

TOP TALKER: “George W. Bush Bashes Obama on Middle East” by Josh Rogin: “In a closed-door meeting with Jewish Donors Saturday night, former President George W. Bush delivered his harshest public criticisms to date against his successor on foreign policy, saying that President Barack Obama is being naïve about Iran and the pending nuclear deal and losing the war against the Islamic State.” [Bloomberg] • ‘W’ plans to stay off 2016 campaign trail [WashPostPolitico]

“Mr. Bush also appeared to add a little humor in the post-presidency. He told how President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia made fun of his small dog, Barney, by telling the American president, “You want to see a real dog?” Mr. Putin called over his large dog, which the Russian leader apparently described as larger and more powerful. Mr. Bush recounted that he later told the same story to the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, who he said replied, “You’re lucky all he did was show you his dog.” [NYTimes]

IOWA + ISRAEL: “Israel is more of a litmus test than ever before for evangelicals” by James Hohmann: “There was a booth called “Iowans for Israel” near the entrance to the sanctuary, where attendees could get free lapel pins that show the Israeli and Iowa flags crossed over each other. A man in the audience waved an Israeli flag every time a candidate said anything good about the country. “How can it be that our president shows more respect for the Ayatollah in Iran than our allies in Israel?” Rubio asked to loud cheers. Walker brought the crowd to its feed when he brought up Israel near the end of his speech. “We need a president who recognizes that Israel is an ally and starts treating it like one,” he said.” [PoliticoNationalJournal]

HAPPENING TODAY: At 12pm, New Jersey bundler Rich Roberts hosts a lunchtime meeting between Rand Paul and Jewish community leaders at the Torah Umesorah headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, to discuss education policy. [JPFirstDraft] • “Rand who? GOP hawks look past Paul” [Politico]

DAILY BEAST HEADLINE: “Why Are Two Wealthy Gay Men Hosting a Benefit for Ted Cruz? Israel. The LGBT community is threatening boycotts and canceling benefits. The hidden reason is the GOP’s Israel strategy.” [DailyBeast]

“Whose Hillary Fundraiser Is It? Organizers of Haim Saban and Casey Wasserman’s May 7th Event Minimize Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Role” [Deadline]

LongRead: “The Virtual Candidate” by Ryan Lizza: “Elizabeth Warren isn’t running, but she’s Hillary Clinton’s biggest Democratic threat.” [NewYorker]

SCENE YESTERDAY: Around 100 people attended the Economic Prosperity for Peace conference held yesterday at Harvard Business School. The conference, organized by HBS students, was meant to explore how the private sector can play a role in building and promoting economic prosperity and regional stability for Arabs and Israelis alike. Speakers included Sir Ronald Cohen, Yadin Kaufmann, Lawrence Summers, Erel Margalit, Maryam Faghihimani and Josh Hantman. According to two JI readers who shared details of the event, Summers told the crowd that “political negotiation and economic cooperation are like two legs walking towards peace. You can give me an Olympic sprinter’s right leg but if you give me Larry Summers’ left leg then we aren’t going to get very far.”

TRANSITIONS: About three weeks ago Josh Hantman, most recently a senior advisor to Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer, transitioned to the private sector by taking a position with Cynergy Investments Ltd as Director of Corporate Affairs. Prior to working at the Israeli embassy in D.C., Hantman, a graduate of both Harvard and Oxford, served in the Israeli army and worked for then Minister of Defense Ehud Barak and with Dermer and Mark Regev in the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Lipman joins Lone Soldier Center” by Gil Hoffman: “Former Yesh Atid MK Rabbi Dov Lipman will serve as the director of government and international affairs for the Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin and the Families of Lone Soldiers, the organizations announced Sunday. Lipman was not reelected to the Knesset in the March 17 election, when he was 17th on Yesh Atid’s list of candidates, which won 11 seats.” [JPost]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: The RAC held their Plenary of the Consultation on Conscience last night at the Crystal City DoubleTree celebrating Rabbi David Saperstein’s 40 years of leadership. Spotted: Rabbis Rick Jacobs, Steve Gutow, Jonah Pesner, Jack Moline; former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Rachel Laser, Jay Ruderman, William Daroff, Barbara Weinstein, Richard Foltin, Lynne Landsberg, Matt Dorf, Nancy Kaufman, and the NAACP’s Hilary O. Shelton. [YouTube]

PRESIDENT OBAMA AT WHCD: “Anyway, being President is never easy. I still have to fix a broken immigration system, issue veto threats, negotiate with Iran—all while finding time to pray five times a day. (Laughter.) Which is strenuous. (Laughter and applause.) And it is no wonder that people keep pointing out how the presidency has aged me. I look so old, John Boehner has already invited Netanyahu to speak at my funeral. (Laughter and applause.)” [TranscriptYouTube]

–SNL’s Cecily Strong: “Our relationship [with Israel] will be better in the next administration, just as soon as Israel makes a generous donation to the Clinton Foundation.” [CSPAN]


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BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Izzy Englander’s Millennium Hedge Fund, Quant Trader Plan Venture” by Juliet Chung: “The roughly $28.5 billion firm and Igor Tulchinsky are forming a joint venture that will allow the Belarussian trader to accept outside money and use a wider range of trading strategies, said people familiar with the matter, showing the value of star traders and the lengths firms are going to in order to keep them happy. The joint venture is expected to launch by the end of 2015 and marks the first time Millennium founder Israel “Izzy” Englander is creating a business with one of his portfolio managers.” [WSJ] • “Lindsay Rosenwald’s Coronado Biosciences Changes Its Name to Fortress Biotech” [CNN]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Push for Buses on Sabbath Sets Off Debate in Israel” by Jodi Rudoren: “As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries to stitch together a new governing coalition that is expected to be made up of rightist and religious parties, a continuing struggle over Israeli identity is in the balance… Controversy over public transportation predates Israel’s establishment in 1948 — Tel Aviv once banned horse-drawn carriages from its main street on Saturdays — but recent efforts to change the status quo, in which buses are idle in all but a few places, have met stiff opposition.” [NYTimes]

“Israel’s New Besties” by Nathan Siegel: “The move is indicative of more than a budding friendship — it’s a telling sign of Israel’s quickly growing, but not well-publicized, relationship between India and a host of nations throughout Asia… Not only does Israel trade in sectors such as agricultural tech, pharmaceuticals and military equipment with its Asian partners, including Muslim-majority nations like Indonesia, trade with the continent is now about $600 million more than it is with the U.S.” [Ozy]

HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ Recap — by Farad Manjoo: “As usual, “Silicon Valley” is gleeful about ripping off real-life story lines of the Valley… Gavin Belson, Hooli’s chief, compares the treatment of tech billionaires to that of the Jews in Nazi Germany. His speech is almost a word-for-word copy of a letter that Tom Perkins, one of the founders of the vaunted venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, wrote to The Wall Street Journal last year. Perkins wanted to “call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.’” Perkins later awkwardly apologized for his comments.”

“Belson, here, adds that you “could argue that billionaires are actually treated worse, and we didn’t even do anything wrong.” Later, in an effort to make amends, he tells a group of Jewish leaders that he’s building a Hooli replica of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial “right next to the bike shop.” It’s a beautifully shallow gesture; in other words, it’s perfect.” [NYTimesVulture]

BIRTHDAYS: Sen. Cory Booker turns 46… Aki Avni turns 48…

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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