Daily Kickoff: Saudis promise to match Iran’s nuclear capability | Bush 43 gave Sheldon a painting | Jewish Amtrak fatalities include CEO & Navy Cadet

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DRIVING THE DAY: “Obama aides downplay expectations for summit with Arab leaders” by Christi Parsons and Paul Richter: “President Obama’s team is carefully ratcheting down expectations for his summit with Persian Gulf leaders Thursday as the three crown princes, two emirs and one deputy prime minister coming to the U.S. make it abundantly clear that they will not be neatly managed… Unlike past summits, traditionally aimed at reassurance, this one will involve “less hand-holding and more tough talk,” said Jeremy Shapiro, a former Obama administration official.” [LATimes]

“Israel: Go Ahead and Give the Gulfies Guns” by John Hudson: “According to an official with AIPAC — the most powerful pro-Israel lobbying organization in the U.S. — the group is not trying to lobby Congress to block arms deals with the Gulf. The Israeli government has also refrained from weighing in, according to Hill staffers who maintain routine contacts with the Israelis… “The Israelis have cared less about the deals happening this week because there’s a feeling in Israel that they now have an undeclared ally in the GCC against Iran,” said David Ottaway.” [ForeignPolicy]

“Saudi Arabia Promises to Match Iran in Nuclear Capability” by David E. Sanger: “When President Obama began making the case for a deal with Iran that would delay its ability to assemble an atomic weapon, his first argument was that a nuclear-armed Iran would set off a “free-for-all” of proliferation in the Arab world… Now, as he gathered Arab leaders over dinner at the White House on Wednesday  and prepared to meet with them at Camp David on Thursday, he faced a perverse consequence: Saudi Arabia and many of the smaller Arab states are now vowing to match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is permitted to retain.” [NYTimes]

IRAN TALKS: Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is in Vienna, Austria to take part in the next round of the EU-coordinated P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran.

TOP TALKER: “Vatican to Recognize Palestinian State in New Treaty” by Jodi Rudoren and Diaa Hadid: “The Vatican announced Wednesday that it would soon sign a treaty that includes recognition of the “state of Palestine,” lending significant symbolic weight to an intensifying Palestinian push for international support for sovereignty that bypasses the paralyzed negotiations with Israel.”

“Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, said he wished the Vatican could at least have waited until after the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate, a church declaration that, among other things, absolved Jews of guilt for Jesus’ death. “Why not let us all savor that spiritual achievement? Why muck it up with politics?” asked Mr. Halevi. “On the one hand, the Catholic Church has made profound progress in its theology toward the Jewish people and toward the Jewish return home. On the other hand, there’s this deep insensitivity here to the fears of Israelis that a solution will be imposed on us that could undermine our ability to defend ourselves in a radically unstable Middle East.” [NYTimes]

Conference of Presidents leaders Bob Sugarman and Malcolm Hoenlein: “We believe that this action by the Vatican, like similar moves by other countries, serves to undermine the prospects for peace, which can only be achieved by direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The prospect for such negotiations is diminished by this action.”

Abe Foxman: “We appreciate that the Vatican’s basic intention is to promote Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, but believe that this diplomatic recognition will be unhelpful to that end, and instead only bolster the Palestinian strategy of seeking statehood through international fora and not through recognition, reconciliation and negotiation with Israel. ” [ADL]

AJC’s David Harris: “Meanwhile, the West Bank is ruled by the Palestinian Authority, whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, just marked the tenth anniversary of what was meant to be a four-year term, and Gaza is governed by Hamas, a terrorist organization. What and where exactly is the ‘State of Palestine’ today?” [AJC]

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: “Every time an entity recognizes the non-existent State of Palestine, the prospect of a constructive peace process between Israel and the Palestinians becomes more distant.” [PressRelease] • “Israel hawks to Pope Francis: Stay out of politics” [Politico]

“Actually, the Vatican Recognized Palestine in 2012—Not Today” by Yair Rosenberg: “But some media outlets, beginning with the AP, wrote otherwise” [TabletMag]

On This Day In… 1948: “The state of Israel was proclaimed as British rule in Palestine came to an end” [AP]

2016 WATCH: Marco Rubio at CFR on two state solution: “I don’t think the conditions exist for that today. That’s the ideal outcome but the conditions for a two-state solution at this moment do not exist. There’s no unity in the Palestinian government, no responsible leadership, they teach their children that it’s a glorious thing to kill Jews, they mismanaged the current system of government, and they’ve rejected not one but two very generous Israeli offers for peace. Most we can hope for in the short term is that the Palestinian Authority can provide a level of stability in that territory so that they will be allowed to grow their economy and their prosperity and ultimately the conditions will rise up with new leadership that will allow something like that to happen.”

Rubio on his support for Israel: “My interest in Israel is not about people that will support me politically. It’s a longstanding belief and it’s based on two principles. The first is a moral one. Israel was created as a homeland for the Jewish people in the aftermath of the Holocaust so never again would there not be somewhere on earth where the Jewish people could seek refuge or live in peace especially facing persecution. The other is this… it is the only free enterprise, democratic, pro-American country in the middle east. If we had more such countries my speech would be a lot shorter.” [CFR Video

Peter Beinart: “.@marcorubio ties justification for Israel’s existence to Holocaust… Just what Bibi slammed Obama for saying in Cairo” [Twitter] • Beinart, Bradley Smith, Chris Lehane on Presidential Sugar Daddies [KCRW]

“Larry Ellison to host fundraiser for Rubio” by Tarini Parti: “Ellison will host a fundraiser for the Florida Republican’s White House bid at his mansion in Woodside, Calif., on June 9. The software giant executive’s support could mean millions for Rubio and outside groups supporting him. Ellison contributed $3 million to the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future in 2012.” [Politico]

Josh Mandel endorses Rubio: “I originally got to know Marco through hours of windshield time criss-crossing Ohio, discussing family, football and foreign policy. I was impressed by his strategic and decisive approach to the complicated foreign policy challenges… Marco has proven that he will lead when popular and, more importantly, when not. He will never neglect our allies such as Israel, and will never ignore our enemies such as radical Islam.” [DailyCaller]

“Brother’s Past Proves Tricky for Jeb Bush” by Maggie Haberman and Michael Barbaro: “In recent weeks, as he strove to soothe supporters of Israel who questioned his commitment in closed-door meetings, Jeb Bush used his brother’s record on Israel as evidence of his own reliability — and went on to describe his brother as the person he listens to the most on Mideast issues. While the former president is said to be in touch with Jeb Bush’s campaign from time to time, the two brothers do not speak frequently… Yet even as Mr. Bush seeks to present a forward-looking vision, he can count on having to answer questions about — if not answer for — his brother’s two terms in office.” [NYTimes]

“Sheldon Adelson Receives a George W. Bush Original Painting” by Maggie Haberman: “The former president-turned-amateur painter proudly gave Mr. Adelson one of his works of art in late April, during his appearance as the keynote speaker at a Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas. The painting was of Mr. Adelson’s Singapore casino and hotel, the Marina Bay Sands, an aide to the mogul confirmed.” [FirstDraft]

“Rand Paul tees off on Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio” by Manu Raju: “Rand Paul ramped up his criticism of Jeb Bush’s remarks on Iraq, rebuking the former Florida governor Wednesday for an “incredibly fumbled answer” over the 2003 military invasion. He then took a swing at Marco Rubio for being on the “wrong side of history” by supporting foreign aid. While foreign aid is a fraction of the overall federal budget, Paul has long seized on the matter to rail against U.S. budget priorities. At times, it’s put him in an awkward spot, particularly on aid to Israel. But he took a shot at Rubio when asked about the matter Wednesday.” [Politico]

Ohio Gov. and potential presidential candidate John Kasich said he doesn’t need to go to other countries to learn about foreign policy like some candidates — again, a contrast without naming names. [Dispatch]

“Scott Walker’s media strategy in Israel is genius: Hide in plain sight” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “The Walker team – probably wisely – fears the Middle Eastern minefield. Walker has already demonstrated some issues with the Hebrew language with his infamous wishing a supporter “Molotov” instead of “Mazel Tov”… But thanks to the miracle of the Internet and social media – the Walker team appears to have perfected a formula in which they don’t have to choose – they can have their cake and eat it too, publicizing Walker’s visit to Israel, controlling the message and yet dispensing with all of that pesky scrutiny by reporters.” [HaaretzAP]

“Bolton to announce 2016 plans” by Ben Schreckinger: “John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations, will announce Thursday around noon whether he will run for president. Bolton plans to reveal his intentions in a video to be posted to Facebook and will then hold a conference call with media, according to a spokesman for John Bolton PAC.” [Politico]

“O’Malley to announce presidential plans on May 30” by Ken Thomas: “Martin O’Malley plans to announce his presidential intentions on May 30 in Baltimore, a move that could present another Democratic challenger to Hillary Rodham Clinton. The former Maryland governor will hold a conference call with top supporters on Thursday night to discuss his plans for the announcement in his adopted hometown, where he served as mayor, an O’Malley aide said Thursday.” [AP]

“Manhattan Moguls Embrace Hillary Clinton” by Jennifer Epstein: “On Wednesday, Clinton was hosted by two big names from finance and one from the entertainment industry—Marc LasrySteve Rattner and L.A. Reid. Marc Lasry, co-founder of the $13.3 billion investment firm Avenue Capital Group LLC, told Bloomberg he was expecting as many as 150 people to gather at his Upper East Side townhouse Wednesday night. “My friends will be coming,” said Lasry, who’s also a co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. Among those expected: York Capital Management president Jeff Weber; Paul Weiss private funds group co-head Marco Masotti, and Blair Effron, co-founder of advisory firm Centerview Partners.”

“I think she will best represent this country and do what’s right for everybody so therefore I will do whatever I can to help her,” said Lasry. “It’s nothing more complicated than that.” After completing her three-fundraiser tour of Manhattan, Hillary will have appeared at 16 such events that have been confirmed by her campaign. At each, crowds have usually hovered around 100 but have gotten as large as the close to 500 people who gathered last Thursday on Power Rangers creator Haim Saban‘s Beverly Hills lawn.” [Bloomberg; MSNBC] • Lasry posted a picture from last night of him with Clinton. Caption: “Love Hillary” [JewishInsider]

FLA SEN: “Alan Grayson erupts as Senate bid looms” by Marc Caputo and Elena Schneider: “As he faces the pressures of a potential Senate bid in the nation’s biggest swing state, Florida Rep. Alan Grayson has hurled angry expletives at reporters and described his likely rival in crude terms during a tense conversation with the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. For all of his outbursts, Grayson has been inventive with his slurs. On Wednesday, he bizarrely accused one reporter of being a “s—-ing robot” — a phrase that’s sure to become part of his legacy of incendiary remarks.” [Politico]

“Anti-BDS bill advances in Illinois state legislature: A House committee passed a bill Wednesday steering state investment away from companies considered hostile toward Israel. Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, is the House sponsor of Senate Bill 1761, which would create the Illinois Investment Policy Board. The board would create a list of companies that maintain questionable positions on international politics, including openly boycotting Israel. If the bill becomes law, the pension system and the Illinois State Board of Investment would not be allowed to invest in companies that boycott Israel or ones that have friendly relations with countries like Sudan and Iran. The committee passed the bill by a 10-0 vote.”[SJRJNS]

HAPPENING TODAY: At 11am, the Heritage Foundation and Jim DeMint host Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer for the Jesse Helms Lecture Series which highlights foreign policies that Senator Helms championed throughout his years in office. Of particular concern to Senator Helms was maintaining and strengthening the close relationship between America and Israel. [LiveStream]

At 12:30pm, ABC’s Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl presides over a conversation with Eric Cantor to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing U.S. global leadership, specifically U.S. foreign policy and its implications for the 2016 presidential election. [Livestream]


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TRAGIC: “Amtrak Train Derailed Going 106 M.P.H. on Sharp Curve; at Least 7 Killed” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Jad Mouawad and Emma G. Fitzsimmons: “As the search for survivors — or perhaps more victims — continued, the names of the dead began to trickle out. They included Justin Zemser, 20, a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy; Jim Gaines, 48, a video software architect from Plainsboro, N.J., who worked for The Associated Press; Rachel Jacobs, the chief executive of ApprenNet, an education technology company in Philadelphia; and Abid Gilani, a senior vice president of Wells Fargo.” [NYTimes]

“Jewish Start-Up CEO Rachel Jacobs Killed in Amtrak Tragedy” by Jesse Lempel: “Rachel Jacobs, a CEO and Jewish community activist, was reportedly killed in the deadly crash of an Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia, family and friends said. “This is an unthinkable tragedy,” the Jacobs family said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Rachel was a wonderful mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend.” [Forward]

“Jewish Navy cadet among 7 killed in Amtrak crash” by Rebecca Shimoni Stoil:“Justin Zemser, 20, who was vice president of the academy’s Jewish Midshipmen Club and a wide receiver of the school’s sprint football team, was on his way home to the Far Rockaway section of Queens when the train derailed.” [ToI] • “When he would call his uncle, Richard would tease him: “Am I talking to the first Jewish president of the United States?” They’d laugh, but it wasn’t entirely a joke. What his nephew wanted, he made happen. Zemser had recently taken his first trip to Israel with a Jewish group from the Academy. In a video posted on YouTube, midshipmen are seen joyfully exploring the country, splashing in waterfalls, stepping through ancient stone arches, spreading Dead Sea mud on themselves and singing by firelight.” [WashPost]

WAIT-TIME: “Ingeborg Rapoport to Become Oldest Recipient of Doctorate After Nazi Injustice is Righted” by James Graff: “Ingeborg Rapoport was 25 when she wrote her doctoral thesis, but she had to wait until Wednesday to defend it before an academic committee—77 years later.” [WSJ]

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Leon Black will pay Caesars executives $81M in deferred pay” [NYPost] • “Melanie Pearlman named president of Mizel Institute” [DenverPost• “Bill Ackman buying Ford building on far West Side for HQ” [NYPost] • “Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel sells Times Square building for $295m” [Globes] • “The Fat Jew’s guide to modern marketing” by Caroline Bottger [DigiDay• Robert Soros in the NYPost [PageSix] • “Uber just gave David Plouffe’s job to a top Google exec” [WashPost]

“Living the High Life? Extell Aspires to Build Most Expensive Tower Ever Sold” by Eliot Brown: “Extell Development, the company behind the Manhattan super-luxury condo tower One57 is gearing up for an even bigger and bolder tower. In filings written in Hebrew on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange – where Extell issued about $300 million in debt – Extell said it hopes for the building to produce total sales of a whopping $4.4 billion.” [WSJ]

STARTUP NATION: “This Israeli ad blocking company has the potential to tear a hole right through the mobile web” by Lara O’Reilly: “A new Israeli start-up called Shine claims to have backing from the major wireless carriers, which could seriously threaten the mobile advertising industry. For mobile carriers, ads can actually be a hindrance. Roi Carthy, chief marketing officer at Shine, told Business Insider that the standard app or website pings an antenna up to 50 times a minute — it’s called background signaling. Bandwidth is one of the most expensive pieces of infrastructure for a telecommunications company to operate.” [BusinessInsider]

“ClickSoftware Technologies, an Israeli workplace management software firm with its North American headquarters in Burlington, will be acquired by a private equity firm for $438 million.”[BizJournals]

BOOK REVIEW: “Ari Gold has a new advice book, and it’s full of gems” by Doree Lewak: “Out Tuesday, “The Gold Standard: Rules to Rule By” is penned in the smarmy agent’s imitable voice — and is heavy on the satire. In the tome, the Chicago-bred working-class kid — who clawed his way up from the mailroom to the corner office — lays out his unambiguous life philosophy: “My name isn’t Ari Bronze. It isn’t Ari Silver. It’s Ari motherf – – king Gold. And like the Highlander, there can be only one.”[NYPost]

“Jack Abramoff shows orange really is the new black” by Kate Glassman Bennett: “Today in “Where Are They Now?” we find Jack Abramoff, the former bigwig lobbyist whose infamous 2008 conviction on corruption charges landed him a 43-month prison sentence. Abramoff isn’t on the cellblock these days, he’s on the auction block, putting himself up for bid to raise money for Temple Ner Simcha, a synagogue in Los Angeles. The lot, posted on auction site charitybuzz, invites the winning bidder to join Abramoff for lunch to “spend private time with one of the great Washington insiders, and get a glimpse into the real world of politics from a man who has seen it from all sides.” [Politico]

DESSERT: “27 in Miami Beach” by Ondine Cohane: “Elad Zvi, an owner, conceived of 27 as a place to capitalize on the region’s ethnic diaspora. “We wanted a restaurant that reflected Miami and the people who live here, from the Latin American community to the Jewish,” he said. “My partner is Colombian and I am from Israel and we wanted to have that sense of eating at home.” [NYTimes]

FILM: “The 5-Year-Old Poet” by Michael Nordine: “It took Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s ‘Policeman’ a full three years to graduate from the international festival circuit to a stateside theatrical release. One can only hope that his sophomore effort, The Kindergarten Teacher, will have a quicker transition. Centered on a teacher in Tel Aviv who becomes fixated on a poetically inclined 5-year-old student, Lapid’s latest film trades the intense violence of his procedural thriller for a more restrained story, albeit one that hums with just as much inner tumult.” [Ozy]

BIRTHDAYS: Mark Zuckerberg turns 31… Orna Grumberg turns 63…

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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