Daily Kickoff: Anti-BDS amendment adds to trade bill debate | Iran’s new Shiite group in Gaza | Barnett’s Nordstrom Tower taller than Freedom Tower?

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TOP TALKER: “AIPAC-backed amendments add to trade bill turmoil” by Nahal Toosi: “The trade legislation being debated on Capitol Hill is already highly contentious. Amendments added about Israel are raising the rancor even more. The trade bill amendments aim to discourage foreign governments — in particular European ones — from boycotting, divesting from or putting sanctions on commercial activity linked to Israel and “Israeli-controlled territories.”

“Opponents are… worried about the legislation’s use of the phrase “Israeli-controlled territories.” They argue it’s a veiled reference to Israeli settlements in the West Bank — and that its use is an attempt to use U.S. law to legitimize Israel’s control over disputed land that Palestinians claim for a future state… An AIPAC source, who would not comment on the record, insisted the amendments have nothing to do with settlements.” [Politico]

Alternative Headline: “Anti-Israel Groups Lobby to Derail Anti-BDS Measure” by Adam Kredo: “This is a non-story: a bunch of anti-Israel groups criticizing a pro-Israel amendment,” Roskam said. “While a broad bipartisan, bicameral group of Members of Congress are focused on strengthening the mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel economic relationship, this small handful of outside organizations are more interested in defending destructive efforts to delegitimize Israel.” [FreeBeacon]

Jake Tapper Reports: “Teen beaten by Israeli police meets at White House as he prepares to return to Jerusalem: CNN has learned that White House National Security Council staffers recently took the unusual step of meeting in the West Wing with Tariq Khdeir, the Tampa teenager of Palestinian descent beaten unconscious by Israeli police last summer during a protest in East Jerusalem.The meeting, which took place April 15, came as Tariq and his family preparing to return this summer to visit other relatives in the Shuafat neighborhood of Jerusalem.” [CNN] • “With Small Shifts, Israel Eases Restrictions On Some Palestinians” [NPR]

DRIVING THE DAY: “Netanyahu, Bennett top list of dignitaries attending anti-Semitism global forum” by Sam Sokol: “Jewish communal and organization leaders are set to gather together with Israeli and foreign politicians in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening for the opening of the Foreign Ministry’s biennial Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism. According to the Foreign Ministry, more than 1,000 experts will be in attendance.” [JPostADL] • “Think tank fumes at foreign diplomats for skipping anti-Semitism event” [ToI]

“Israel’s fragile government” by Washington Post Editorial Board: “The right-wing coalition due to take office this week will have a majority of just one vote in the parliament — meaning that any one of the 61 fractious members of the five-party coalition can bring it down at any time. Mr. Netanyahu’s enemies, including those at the White House, have little reason to celebrate this situation. The cabinet that takes office will be among the most illiberal in the country’s history.” [WashPost]

David Brooks: “In the United States, Republicans control both houses of Congress. In Israel, the Likud Party led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled off a surprising win in an election that was at least partly about economic policy. In Britain, the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister David Cameron won a parliamentary majority. What’s going on here?” [NYTimes]

“Can Michael Oren Become the Icon of the Israeli Center?” by Benjamin Kerstein: “Best-selling historian, top-ranking diplomat—and now fledgling politician. As Michael Oren’s career enters a new phase, he shares his views on peace, extremism, and his own place in history.” [TheTower]

2016 WATCH: “Scott Walker Helps Journalists in Wisconsin Cover His Trip to Israel” by Nick Corasaniti: “We wanted to make it an educational focus, not just a media trip,” he told reporters before he left. That meant no reporters, no video cameras, no photographers, nada. Just Mr. Walker, his team and members of the Republican Jewish Coalition. That doesn’t mean they want the news media at home to be left in the dark, however. Mr. Walker has been sharing photographs and updates from his Twitter account. And Matt Brooks, the coalition’s executive director, has been posting pictures of Mr. Walker’s tour on Twitter as well.” [FirstDraft] • Walker visited the Gaza border [Twitter]

Ted Cruz’s Host Mati Weiderpass: “I have many Jewish friends, and Israel, as the cradle of most religions, is near and dear to my heart. Today, there are American politicians who are embracing Iran at the expense of Israel, which has been America’s strongest ally in the Middle East, the most democratic country in the region, and very accepting of the LGBT community. Iran, on the other hand, adorns their bridges and public squares with hanging ropes targeting the necks of anyone suspected of being gay. Should the treatment of gays in the Arab world not be discussed with candidates who oppose same-sex marriage?” [Observer]

“Hamas, beholden to Iran, lets Shiite group operate in Gaza” by Avi Issacharoff: “For the first time, a Shiite Islamist movement has been operating in the Gaza Strip with full Iranian sponsorship, The Times of Israel has learned. The movement is named “A-Sabrin” — from the Arabic word for patience.” [ToI]

“With Plane Delivery, Iran Sanctions Collapsing Already” by Eli Lake: “A Treasury Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the news Monday about the delivery of airplanes to Iran. Some analysts, however, said the transaction showed how the sanctions against Iran were collapsing ahead of the June 30 deadline for a nuclear deal.” [BloombergView]

“Senate Passes Resolution For Release of Americans In Iran” by Deb Riechmann: “The measure, which passed 90-0, calls for Iran to free Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati and Jason Rezaian and cooperate with the U.S. government to locate and return former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who is believed to be missing in Iran.” [AP]

Former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell: “There is deep, deep frustration on the part of our Sunni Arab allies in the Middle East with U.S. policy. They are deeply concerned about Iran and the challenges it poses. To them Iran is a much bigger threat than al Qaeda and ISIS. They’re worried about us from two perspectives. Are we taking Iran as seriously as we should? And are we as focused on Iran’s regional behavior as we are on the nuclear program? The deeper fear they have is that over time the United States sees Iran as a more natural partner than the Sunni Arabs. You see these deep concerns reflected in what they say and do. My view, strongly held, is that we should be helping them push back against the Iranian desire for dominance in the region.” [PoliticoMag] • “White House Denies Obama’s Gulf Overtures Are Unraveling” by Julie Pace [AP]

HAPPENING TODAY: At 7PM, CUNY hosts “Conversations in the Commons with Peter Beinart: The Future of US-Iran Relations featuring two experts with decidedly different perspectives. Michael Doran, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former senior director in the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, and Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council.” [CunyTablet]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: The Manhattan Institute’s 15th annual black tie Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner was held last night at Cipriani 42nd St. in NYC. Honorees included George Kelling, a pioneer of the “broken windows” theory of policing, and Eva Moskowitz, Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools. Moskowitz’s remarks about failing public schools ended in a long standing ovation, which some in the audience interpreted as the opening salvo for a potential 2017 campaign against Mayor Bill de Blasio. Moskowitz joked that the Mayor should spend more time in Iowa so as to lessen the damage he can do to NYC.

Manhattan Institute Chairman Paul Singer emceed, and the event featured remarks by NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton, Jason Riley, Roger Hertog and Manhattan Institute President Lawrence J. Mone. Spotted: Ravenel B. Curry III, Michael and Marilyn Fedak, Dan Loeb, Jay Newman, Adam Meyerson, Dan Senor, Ray Kelly, Bret Schundler, Susan Hertog, Joe Lhota, Betsu McCaughey, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Ken Bialkin, and Tom Wolfe. 


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BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Gary Barnett’s Nordstrom tower is set to beat out 1 World Trade Center as the city’s tallest building” [DailyNewsRealDeal] — “But Gary Barnett, who heads Extell Development, said the developer was absolutely keeping its word about not building higher than 1 WTC” [NYPost] • “Kravis’s KKR Said to Seek Up to $12 Billion for Buyout Fund” [Bloomberg] • “Billionaire Paulson Said to Score Hedge Fund Wins in April” [Bloomberg] • “Why Robert Kraft is Deflategate’s biggest loser” [NYPost] • “Rubenstein’s Carlyle’s Succession Choices Narrow as Cavanagh, Friedman Depart” [Bloomberg] • “Stephen A. Schwarzman Gives $150 Million for Yale Cultural Hub” [NYTimesYaleNews] • “Israeli Celebrity Rabbi Sentenced To Prison For Bribery” [APToI• “Former director of poverty nonprofit gets jail in $9M scam” [NYPostDailyNews] • “This 24-Year-Old Start-up CEO Offers Some Serious Career Inspiration” [Refinery29]

“Len Blavatnik close to buying Israel’s Channel 10” by Lior Averbach: “The RGE Group, owned by British-based billionaire Len BlavatnikAviv Giladi and the Recanati family, could be set to buy Israel’s Channel 10 in the coming few days. Sources close to the potential deal say that RGE will offer controlling shareholder Yosef Maiman and his partner Arnon Milchan an upside clause of about NIS 70 million in addition to the NIS 120 million needed to cover the channel’s debts.” [Globes] • “Israeli PM’s wife accuses media tycoon of behaving like ‘Voldemort'” [Telegraph]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “In Detroit, Jewish Cemetery Survives Within GM Auto Plant” by Jeff Karoub: “Beth Olem Cemetery is like many aging, final resting places, with assorted tombstones in varying condition, sizes and styles, surrounded by a brick wall and iron gate. Yet surrounding it on all sides is an unusual neighbor: a massive automotive plant. The serene, green oasis is enveloped by the steel and concrete structures and grounds of General Motors Co.’s Detroit Hamtramck Plant, which makes Chevrolet Volts, Cadillacs and other cars. To maintain plant security, public access to the cemetery is limited to a couple days a year – typically Sundays nearest to the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Passover – and some special requests.” [AP]

‘First in the South’ — “Courting Jewish students, Charleston college builds kosher dining hall: Renowned for its gracious architecture and signature Southern charm, Charleston is increasingly celebrated as a foodie heaven.The trouble is, in a city whose culinary specialties embrace (and glorify) oysters, she-crab soup, and shrimp and grits, the burgeoning restaurant scene is nearly off limits to those who keep kosher. But things are set to improve for the kosher-observant later this year, when the College of Charleston opens a $1 million kosher vegetarian dining hall.” [JTA]

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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