Daily Kickoff: McConnell’s Iran Dilemma | Anti-Israel flyer circulating around US Senate race | Ben ‘Solomon’ Carson and King Solomon “divide babies”

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SCENE LAST NIGHT: Around 400 members and guests of the Anti-Defamation League gathered at the Mayflower Hotel in D.C. to celebrate and honor Abe Foxman’s 50 years at the organization. Speakers included Bob Schieffer of CBS who joined Abe Foxman in recently announcing his own plans to retire later this year. Schieffer paraphrased Shakespeare to note, “we come here to praise Abe Foxman, not to bury him” and joked that “both of us are still on the right side of the grass.” [Twitter]

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough followed by remarking, “I’m not sure what’s worse, appearing before Schieffer on TV or speaking after him now.” McDonough reiterated that “Abe understands no one should fight hatred in isolation” and told the crowd how Foxman once gave him a three hundred page book that only contained one word: ‘Jew’ – repeated six million times. That book still sits on McDonough’s desk in the West Wing today. McDonough acknowledged that while Abe was always honest and blunt when he disagreed with the White House, he was often the first to replace criticism with credit when it was deserved.” [Twitter]

Leon Wieseltier delivered a powerful speech about how “Abe is a man of principle not of politics” and noted that Foxman is a genius when it comes to controversy because he is a son of Democracy. “Abe has never once ever said anything he doesn’t believe.”

Last but not least, Senator Cory Booker was called up to speak. He began, “Mr. Leon, I am insulted that the ADL would have me come up and speak after you. I’m not saying that because of his brilliant oration, his wisdom and his love of which he spoke of his brother. I am insulted sir, because you have this gift of a beautiful head of hair (laughter). Now it’s obvious to everybody here that my scalp is naked before the world (laughter). [Twitter]

Booker continued “there are no coincidences at all in this world. The fact that we are having this dinner during this week where the Torah portion of the week (laughter)… This big black goy is about to lay some Torah out on y’all… When I first met Abe, he left the room and I said that guy may look, talk and claim to be a Jew but he is a black man in disguise. The brother has deep soul. I want you to know that if Abe could be so soulful, I’m gonna step up here and try to be rabbinical. It’s no accident that this week’s Torah portion is all about Leviticus, it’s actually a double Torah portion… Abe, I know you know this because there’s only four double Torah portions over the year… I’m saying this for the other people here that need to get to a shul… I will now give a d’var Torah tribute about ‘Kidoshim.’ I will do it like no other d’var Torah you have ever heard in your life. I say this all because I do have an honorary degree from Yeshiva University (laughter). That is true.. Politifacts can check it out if they’d like…” [Twitter]

“To my friend Abe, two words that I learned years ago and I can’t find a perfect english translation… but I just want you to know from the bottom of my heart that I love you, I respect you, I learn from you, you inspire me. I simply say these two words to you, ‘Yasher Koach.’

–Referred to twice but not mentioned by name: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Booker mentioned his early days with Chabad in Oxford which was led back then by Rabbi Boteach. Earlier, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough praised Abe Foxman for being the first to call out others in the Jewish community who ‘unfairly attacked a member of the Administration.’

–Spotted: Bob Sugarman, Dennis Ross, Elliott Abrams, Jonathan Greenblatt – taking over for Foxman in July, Stacy Burdett, Matt Nosanchuk, Marissa Brogger, Matt Dorf, Todd Gutnick and David Robbins.

MD SEN EXCLUSIVE: A JI reader sent us the following anti-Israel flyer which was being passed out at a public hearing last night in Prince George’s County at a County Council Budget meeting. “From Baltimore to Jerusalem It’s the Same Game. In 10 years Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin sent 1.2 billion dollars of Maryland Federal taxpayer money to the Apartheid state of Israel to build schools, roads and other infrastructure while saying Maryland doesn’t have the money to help develop our communities.” See the full flyer [JewishInsider]

–Will Elijah Cummings Run For MD Sen?: “The Baltimore unrest occurred as Cummings, 64, has reached a political crossroads, tempted by the prospect of running to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.). A victory in that race could make him only the 10th African American to serve in the U.S. Senate.” [WashPost]

FLA SEN: Likely Senate candidate Alan Grayson met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem yesterday. [MFA] • “Sources: Grayson’s girlfriend wants his House seat” by Kyle Cheney and Marc Caputo: “When reminded about POLITICO’s calls the previous week concerning Grayson’s relationship with Minning, the congressman’s aide said he couldn’t be reached any longer because he was in Israel. Minning, too, is traveling in Israel, according to posts on her Facebook page.” [Politico]

2016 WATCH: “Ben Carson’s and King Solomon” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Carson draw a parallel between his middle name, Solomon, and King Solomon. “When Solomon became the king of Israel, the first deed that brought him great fame and acclaim was when the two women came to him claiming to be the mother of the same baby. What did he advocate? He said, “Divide the baby.” And that’s when I became very well-known, when I divided babies. So I really think the Lord has a sense of humor,” he said. [JP] • “The power players behind Ben Carson’s campaign” by Katie Glueck [Politico]

IRAN BILL ON THE HILL: “Do-or-die time for Iran legislation” by Alexander Bolton: “To buy more time, McConnell pushed off a planned Monday night vote on a separate labor bill to consult with other Republicans. The full conference is expected to talk about the Iran bill at their Tuesday lunch. Yet on the dicey Iran issue, some Republicans predicted McConnell may have no choice but to file cloture to end debate on the Iran measure and avoid voting on amendments that could kill the bill.” [TheHillPoliticoNJ]

Eli Lake: “According to a certain school of thought, all of this is a good thing. Our hardliners, say cheerleaders for the Iran negotiations, empower Iran’s hardliners, who are also wary of a deal. There is definitely a political logic to pinning this “hardliner” label on the senators. The White House can artfully shift the conversation away from the contents of the deal it is negotiating. Instead the debate is framed as the Americans and Iranians who seek peace (moderates) versus those in both nations who want war (hardliners). It’s simple, but deceptive. This tactic understates the power of Iran’s hardliners and dramatically overstates the power of U.S. hardliners.” [BV]

David Crist: “What Obama Should Learn From Reagan’s War With Iran: It’s been nearly 30 years since the U.S. Navy fought Iran in the Persian Gulf. How much longer will that peace last?” [PoliticoMag]

Will Inboden: “Why Can’t the White House See What’s Wrong with the Iran Deal?” [ForeignPolicy]

“Criticism Follows Israeli Aid to Nepal” by Daniel Gordis: “Israeli humanitarian aid, however, is unique in that it invariably evokes cynicism. Some Israelis, though, have had enough and are beginning to push back.” [BloombergView]

“Mondoweiss” is a hate site” by David Bernstein: “Mondweiss is basically one-stop shopping for anti-Israel news. If similar nonsense came from the keyboard of a right-wing Christian like Pat Buchanan, no one would have any trouble identifying the relevant website as a hate site. The fact that this comes from a leftist “as a Jew” (or a “righteous Jew” according to John Mearsheimer’s rather idiosyncratic standard) shouldn’t alter one’s conclusion.” [WashingtonPost]


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BUSINESS BRIEFS: “SLS Beverly Hills Sold by Sam Nazarian’s SBE for $200 Million” [BloombergLATimes] • “Miami Beach design board to review changes to Russell Galbut’s Crescent Heights Wave” [RealDeal] • “For Top 25 Hedge Fund Managers, a Difficult 2014 Still Paid Well” [NYTimes] • “David Einhorn: Pioneer is the ‘motherfracker'” [CNBC] • “Marc Lasry’s Avenue Capital raises money for new energy fund” [Reuters]

“Hillary Clinton adds NYC fundraisers” by Annie Karni: “Clinton is scheduled to hit up three separate fundraising events May 13. She will attend a $2,700-a-ticket fundraiser hosted by financier Steve Rattner, who served as President Barack Obama’s auto industry adviser, and his wife, Maureen White, at their home, a source told POLITICO. That same day, Clinton will attend another $2,700-a-head get-together, hosted by hedge-fund billionaire and Bill Clinton friend Mark Lasry and his wife, Kathy.” [Politico] • “Hillary And Hollywood Money” [Forbes]

President Obama remembers David Goldberg: “David Goldberg embodied the definition of a real leader – someone who was always looking for ways to empower others. He was generous and kind with everybody, and cared less about the limelight than making sure that the people he worked with and loved succeeded in whatever they did. His skills as an entrepreneur created opportunity for many; his love for his family was a joy to behold, and his example as a husband and father was something we could all learn from. We’re heartbroken by him leaving us far too soon – but we celebrate a remarkable legacy. -bo” [Facebook] • First comment is from Mark Zuckerberg: “Thank you for this beautiful tribute.”

“Dave Goldberg’s death points to rise and risks of treadmills in era of smartphones” by Michael E. Miller: “Details on Dave Goldberg’s death are still murky. The entrepreneur and husband of Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg was found bleeding out in a Mexican hotel gym on Friday. He died shortly afterwards at a nearby hospital, but the strange circumstances are only slowly emerging. Despite the darkness surrounding the incident, it is nonetheless shining a spotlight on the contraption at the center of the tech executive’s death: your run-of-the-mill treadmill.” [WashPostNYTimes]

IN HONOR OF MOTHERS DAY: Karen Davidson’s advice to her daughter Elizabeth Reaser, star of the Off-Broadway play “Permission,” opening May 19 — “Wear sunscreen. And work hard, work hard, work hard.” [DailyNews]

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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