Daily Kickoff: Iran deal lobbying intensifies | Sanders: ‘I’m proud to be Jewish’ | Billionaires, religious leaders back NYS private school tax credit

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IRAN TALKS: “As an Iran deal nears, the lobbying, pro and con, intensifies” by Karen DeYoung: “AIPAC is ‘undertaking a major mobilization,’ said an AIPAC official who declined to be named. It has been joined in opposition to the anticipated agreement by the American Jewish Committee and Republican-leaning think tanks and political groups. J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobby, is leading the charge on the other side. Along with other ­proponents, it has enlisted ­high-profile former government officials and produced a blizzard of printed and online material to argue that the deal is good for America.” [WashPost]

“Report: CIA head was in Israel to argue for closure of IAEA nuclear probe of Iran” by Yaakov Lappin: “CIA director John Brennan allegedly came to Israel last week to tell officials that a final nuclear deal with Iran does not have to include a commitment by Tehran to provide access to military bases, or Iranian consent to interview its scientists.” [JPost]

WSJ A1: “Iran Backs Taliban With Cash and Arms” by Margherita Stancati: “Afghan and Western officials say Tehran has quietly increased its supply of weapons, ammunition and funding to the Taliban, and is now recruiting and training their fighters, posing a new threat to Afghanistan’s fragile security… The developing Iran-Taliban alliance represents a new complication in Mr. Obama’s plans for both the Middle East and the future of Afghanistan, where the U.S. has been working to curb the Taliban’s role” [WSJ]

“How the Threat of a Military Option Against Iran Lost Its Coercive Power” by Ray Takeyh and Roger Zakheim: “Policy makers refer to a “credible military option,” but little has been done over the past six years to leverage a military threat to advance our diplomatic objectives. President Obama has made references to President Ronald Reagan to justify negotiating with the ayatollahs, but his team has overseen no defense innovation like Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative that could alter Tehran’s calculus without firing a shot.” [WSJ]

2016 WATCH: “Bernie Sanders: ‘I’m proud to be Jewish'” by Linda Feldmann: “How does Sen. Bernie Sanders’s religious heritage inform his politics? “I’m proud to be Jewish,” the Independent from Vermont – and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination – responded Thursday at a press breakfast hosted by the Monitor. Though, he added, “I’m not particularly religious.” As a child, Sanders said, being Jewish taught him “in a very deep way what politics is about.” “A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932,” the senator said. “He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important.”

–Asked about Diane Rehm: “I like Diane Rehm; she is a good radio interviewer,” he said. “I suspect what happens is her staff gives her a list of questions, and somebody screwed up pretty badly.” [CSMonitor]

Rehm on air yesterday: “Before we end this hour I want to make a correction. On yesterday’s show I raised the issue of dual citizenship with senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. This is an issue that’s come up over the years in American politics. One of our listeners suggested via Facebook that I ask Senator Sanders about internet speculation that he has dual citizenship with Israel, but instead of asking it as a question I stated it as fact, and that was wrong. He does not have dual citizenship. Senator Sanders immediately corrected me. I should have explained to him and to you why I felt this was a relevant question and something he might like to address. I do apologize to Senator Sanders and to you for having made an erroneous statement. However, I am glad to play a role in putting this rumor to rest.” [JewishJournal]

ADL responds: “We still think her apology is not quite adequate. It would be helpful to know why she thought it was a relevant question in the first place.”

NJDC: “Given the facts, it’s not a relevant question. Sadly, it looks like Ms. Rehm, a widely celebrated journalist, is perpetuating the problem instead of being part of the solution.”

“Sorry, Diane, That’s BS” by Josh Marshall: “If you’re interviewing President Obama and you ask him whether Osama bin Laden is his brother or whether he’s conspiring with Iran to destroy America, that’s not just a question. Why not ask an African-American congressman if he’s held up any 7-Elevens recently? People are going to say, rightly, WTF is your problem? It’s not a question, at least not phrased anything like that. You’re dignifying, laundering hate speech. And when you get a flat denial you’re not helping put the rumor to rest. That’s CYA after the fact.” [TPM]

NYPOST: “NPR — which gets a sixth of its budget from taxpayers — has long been a haven of political correctness. But you’d think someone as hard-left as Bernie Sanders would be off-limits, even in the name of anti-Israel conspiracy-mongering. Maybe NPR should change its name to No Proof Required.” [Editorial]

CAMPAIGN FINANCE: “Clinton’s Donor Dominance Not Absolute” by Peter Nicholas and Laura Meckler: “Of 72 top Obama fundraisers from 2012 whose preferences could be learned through interviews, campaign statements or invitations to fundraising events, about three in four back Mrs. Clinton. The rest support someone else, remain undecided or are sitting out the race for personal or other reasons… Andrew Weinstein, one of the top 2012 Obama bundlers, said he backs Mrs. Clinton because “she’s the best chance to preserve the progress that this president has made. She’s the LeBron James of the Democratic field: She’s going to be impossible to beat in a primary in 2016, and very, very formidable in a general election.” [WSJ]

“Inside Hillary’s house-party strategy” by Annie Karni: “Clinton’s gamble is that while collecting relatively small checks from relatively small groups — the maximum is $2,700 per head and the average party attracts about 120 people — she is also harvesting something else: goodwill, in a business sense, among a cohort of early donors whose feeling of personal connection to Clinton and her campaign are expected to pay dividends down the line.” [Politico]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: “Party to welcome Jen Palmieri and Team HRC to NYC, at the Greenwich Village home of Gary Ginsberg and Susanna Aaron. SPOTTED: John Podesta, Christina Reynolds, Kristina Schake, Brian Fallon, Varun Anand, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Kathy Wylde, Jake Siewert, Liz Fine, Mort Zuckerman, Brian Stelter, Jonathan Prince, Howard Wolfson, John Heilemann, Michael Waldman, Joel Johnson, Jennifer Swanson, Christine Anderson, Craig Minassian, Brian Steel, Mike Feldman, Savannah Guthrie, Missy Owens, Richard Socarides, Peter Rose, Amy Chozick.” [Playbook]

PREVIEWING TOMORROW: “Every liberal interest group has pressed the campaign to have Hillary mention their pet issue during a highly-anticipated, official kickoff speech on Roosevelt Island in New York tomorrow… Some Jewish donors want her to express some support for Israel amidst the Iran negotiations. Aides say she won’t take the bait, no matter how much grumbling it causes among the professional left. “It’s a big speech, but it’s not the venue to do a lot of specifics on individual pieces of policy,” said Jennifer Palmieri.” [PowerPostNYTimes]

“Scott Walker Plays Defense on Funding Bucks Arena” by Jordyn Phelps: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is doubling down on his defense of a deal to use $250 million in taxpayer money to build a new arena for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Conservative advocacy groups, including the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, have blasted the proposal as bad for taxpayers. Others point out that the governor is inadvertently helping Hillary Clinton because the Bucks co-owner, Marc Lasry, has been a loyal supporter and donor to the Democratic presidential front-runner.” [ABC NewsTimeMag]

Joe Lieberman, Jon Huntsman announce fall presidential candidate forum: “On Oct. 12, the No Labels will put on a daylong “Problem Solver Convention” in Manchester. Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and former US senator Joe Lieberman will direct the confab. Lieberman ran for president as a Democrat in 2004, and Huntsman ran for president as a Republican in 2012.” [BostonGlobe]

“Jerusalem back in the political spotlight” by Alexandra Jaffe: “Already, Jeb Bush — expected to declare on Monday that he’s seeking the presidency — has made the perennial campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Many of his fellow Republicans, and maybe some Democrats, are likely to follow suit. But when the winning candidate enters the Oval Office, that’s probably one of the first vows to voters to be broken. Steve Rabinowitz, who worked in the Clinton White House, decried the perennial practice of candidates “paying lip-service” to American supporters of Israel by backing the embassy move even as there was slim chance of them actually following through if elected.” [CNN]

Florida Politics: “Former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford recently returned from a tour of Israel, where he met with former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres. A visit to Israel, this country’s foremost ally in the Middle East, will do little to tamp down rumors that Weatherford is also interested in running for the U.S. Senate in 2018. Such exposure to foreign policy would go a long way to frame Weatherford as more than just a local pol from Pasco County. Pictured next to Peres, as he is to the right here, Weatherford looks every part the statesman.” [FP]

TOP TALKER: From Israeli Lt. Col. Peter Lerner — “Today the Military Advocate General announced his decision on one of the most tragic cases of last year’s conflict with Gaza. I believe it is one of the most covered incidents that was reported on by the media, it was the incident of an air force strike on Gaza beach that resulted in the tragic death of four boys, Ahed Atef Bakr, Zakariya Ahed Bakr, Mohammad Ramiz Bakr, and Ismail Mahmoud Bakr.” [Facebook] • Coverage [ReutersWSJBuzzFeedVice]

One Year Later: “Remembering the three teenage boys Eyal, Gilad and Naftali who were kidnapped and murdered one year ago today” by Eliana Rudee [JewishJournal]

“Orange CEO Meets With Netanyahu to Apologize for Remarks” by Jodi Rudoren: “The chief executive of a French telecommunications company made an extraordinary personal pilgrimage to apologize to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Friday after his recent declaration that he wanted to disentangle from an Israeli mobile provider prompted a diplomatic uproar.” [NYTimesAP]

**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**

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Sam Zell to sell Waldorf Astoria to Laurence Geller for record Chicago price” [Crains] • “Hertz group makes largest acquisition in firm’s history” [MSBusiness] • “Nightclub mogul Sam Nazarian lists Bel-Air estate for $33.5 million” [LATimes• “Scott Rothstein Angling For Steep Reduction of Sentence . . . Could be Free in 2020?” [GE] • “A branch of the Elghanayan real-estate family tree is looking to sell an Upper East Side residential portfolio that could go for $400 million” [RealDeal] • Dan Doctoroff teams up with Google for Sidewalk Labs startup [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Mystery suitor emerges in bid to buy Mort Zuckerman’s Daily News” by Keith J. Kelly: “Sources are saying Zuckerman is hoping to sell to another suitor and that serious negotiations are already under way — with someone not named Catsimatidis. Those talks could wrap up in the next few weeks.” [NYPost]

TALK OF THE STATE: “Cuomo Seeks to Link Bills on Rent Regulation and Private School Tax Credits” by Thomas Kaplan: “The education tax credit proposal has become one of the capital’s liveliest policy debates. Religious leaders, including Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, are pushing for the measure. So is an assemblage of wealthy financiers, including…  Bruce Kovner, Ira Rennert, Julian H. Robertson Jr. and Paul E. Singer.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Civic Group Sues to Halt Hudson River Park Backed by Barry Diller” by Charles V. Bagli: “Critics of the billionaire Barry Diller’s plans for 2.4-acre park on a platform over the Hudson River asked a court on Thursday to halt construction of the $130 million project until it undergoes a new environmental review and is approved by the State Legislature.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “US Jewish numbers no longer declining, but demographic worries persist” by Lauren Markoe: ““On the one hand, the numbers are a positive surprise,” said Jonathan Sarna, professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University. “On the other hand, they should not be cause for complacency or undue celebration when you look more closely at them.”.. “Stability is the right term to apply here,” said Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research, who noted that studies use different definitions for who should be counted as a Jew. “Growth would be taking it too far.” [RNS]

“Why does the Jewish world put on conferences?” by Maayan Jaffe: “In one of the larger Jewish-related events of the year, more than 1,500 people… convened for the Jerusalem Post newspaper’s annual conference in New York City on June 7. But why was an Israeli newspaper hosting a conference on American soil, and why does the Jewish world put on conferences to begin with? A conference “is a very powerful way to engage people,” says Rebecca Dinar. Yet in an increasingly digital age, with news and speeches at practically anyone’s fingertips through a simple Web search, are brick-and-mortar conferences likely to remain a staple of the American Jewish immersive experience?” [JNS]

Weekend LongRead: “No Way But Forward: The Extraordinary Life of Richard Bernstein” by Bayla Sheva Brenner: “Richard Bernstein, Michigan’s newly-elected Supreme Court justice, has never let anything stand in his way. As a former Detroit-based powerhouse attorney, he took on airlines, airports, universities, the American Bar Association, and the Department of Transportation in both Detroit and NYC in order to make life easier for individuals with disabilities. He’s run marathons, competed in Ironman triathlons, hosted a radio show and traveled the globe to speak about facing life’s challenges. He should know. He’s blind.” [BelongMag] Page 14

TALK RADIO: “Howard Stern’s Daughter Became Orthodox” by Allison Josephs [JITC]

SPORTS BLINK: “Patriots to receive Super Bowl rings at Robert Kraft’s house Sunday” [CBS] • “Patriots’ Jonathan Kraft met with Israeli soldiers injured in combat last Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The group Brothers for Life visited Boston earlier this week.” [Twitter]  

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Rabbi Levi Shemtov… Josh Kushner turns 30… Jay Schottenstein (yesterday)… Jennifer Rubin (yesterday)… Ben Horowitz turns 49… Laurence Graff turns 77… Leonard Blavatnik turns 58…

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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