Daily Kickoff: Kerry meets Hollywood to talk ISIS | Head of Adelson-backed EMET endorses Cruz | Ike Perlmutter profile | Gefilte Fish in Buenos Aires

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TOP TALKER: “U.S. Had Cyberattack Plan if Iran Nuclear Dispute Led to Conflict” by David Sanger and Mark Mazzetti: “In the early years of the Obama administration, the United States developed an elaborate plan for a cyberattack on Iran in case the diplomatic effort to limit its nuclear program failed and led to a military conflict, according to a coming documentary film and interviews with military and intelligence officials involved in the effort… It is unclear the degree to which American and Israeli intelligence agencies may have collaborated on the program.” [NYTimes]

Sounding like a U.S. presidential candidate — “Merkel: Germany won’t normalize ties with Iran unless it recognizes Israel” [ToI]

“Iran ‘Foreign Legion’ Leads Battle in Syria’s North” by Sam Dagher: “Hezbollah along with members of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard unit and thousands of Iran-funded and trained Shiite fighters from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere are leading the current ground assault in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, pressing an offensive just before a cease-fire is supposed to take hold to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid and the start of peace negotiations.” [WSJ]

“Is the U.S. Supporting Mass Extermination In Syria?” by Amir Tibon: “In a small border town on the way to Europe, Syrian refugees tell stories that the world is determined not to hear.” [TabletMag] • Lee Smith: “Samantha Power wrote the book on how the U.S. government ignores and legitimates genocides. Or was it a handbook?” [TabletMag]

“John Kerry Meets With Hollywood Studio Chiefs to Discuss ISIS” by Ted Johnson:“Secretary of State John Kerry met with the heads of major studios on Tuesday to talk about how to counter the ISIS narrative. Kerry tweeted a photo of his meeting with Jeff Shell, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group; MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd; Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara; DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg; 20th Century Fox Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos; 20th Century Fox Co-Chair Stacey Snider; Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Motion Picture Production; Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley; Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group; Universal Pictures President Jimmy Horowitz; Amblin Partners CEO Michael Wright; and NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer.” [Variety]

On The Ground: “Jerusalem’s ancient Damascus Gate is at the heart of a modern wave of violence” by William Booth and Ruth Eglash: “On Tuesday, a watchful Israeli sniper was perched in one of the gate’s stone turrets, swiveling his scoped rifle, as Israeli border police milled about the entrance, warily eyeing the passersby, a mix of Palestinian hipsters in the latest jeans, doing some shopping for their moms, and elderly Jewish rabbis with long gray side curls who were escorted through the gate by private security guards in flak jackets. The tourists and pilgrims still come, but for locals, Damascus Gate is now a hot zone to be avoided.” [WashPost]

Peter Beinart: “How to Stop Israel’s ‘Delegitimization’ Among American Progressives: The struggle for Israel’s legitimacy and the struggle for Israel’s democracy are one and the same. Any organization that fights for the former without fighting for the latter is wasting its time.” [Haaretz]

2016 WATCH — Jeb in South Carolina: Obama “has broken this relationship because of bad feelings? I mean, come on, man! The president of the United States doesn’t like the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister — you know, they have a personal problem. We better overcome that problem. If you are dealing with the United States, if you are the president of the United States, your feelings can’t get hurt. I laugh at it because presidents have always had bad relationships with their counterparts in countries where we have strong alliances. You don’t jeopardize that alliance because you’ve got a bad relationship.”[JewishInsider]

“Cruz Highlights Iron Dome Funding in National Security Address” by Jacob Kornbluh:“Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz hailed the success of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system in intercepting rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza as he unveiled his plan to rebuild the U.S. military on Tuesday. This statement came despite Cruz voting against the annual National Defense Authorization Act, a comprehensive defense budget authority bill that helps fund missile-defense programs like the Iron Dome. The Texas Senator highlighted the success of the Iron Dome, funded in large part by the U.S. Congress, as he also called for greater collaboration with the Jordanian, Egyptian and Israeli militaries, and to partner with them on the war against terror.” [JIPolitico]

Rubio’s Rebuttal: “Today, he wasn’t telling the truth when he gave a defense speech arguing about how he is going to increase the military. Ted Cruz has been weak on national defense. The only budget he ever voted for was a budget authored by Rand Paul that bragged about reducing defense spending. He has voted against every defense authorization bill he has ever voted on. So I think he is trying to cover for that with some of these things but people see through it.” [YouTube]

FIRST LOOK — Cruz Campaign Intends To Roll Out Another Jewish Endorsement Later Today: “Endowment for Middle East Truth President & Founder Sarah Stern endorses Senator Cruz: “I have worked with many congressional and Senate offices for many years, and there is no stronger advocate for Israel and the Jewish people than Senator Cruz. We have worked closely on bringing justice to victims of Iranian and Palestinian terror, and stopping the Iran nuclear deal. Speaking as an individual, I cannot wait to work with President Cruz and turn our country around.”

Cruz’s statement: “Having worked closely with Sarah and EMET, we are proud to earn her support. Leaders of the Jewish and pro-Israel community are coming together to elect a president who is willing to tackle special interests in both parties in order to stand unapologetically with Israel.”

ADELSON ANGLE: “Head of Adelson-Backed EMET Endorses Cruz” [JewishInsider

LongRead: “Sheldon Adelson Bets It All” by Matt Isaacs in the March/April issue of Mother Jones. [MotherJones]

–Over 230 retweets yesterday for our coverage of NORPAC’s President Dr. Ben Chouake endorsing Cruz, courtesy of Texas Tribune reporter Patrick Svitek. [Twitter]

DONOR PROFILE: “Meet the Reclusive Israeli Marvel Mogul Who Loves Marco Rubio and Donald Trump” by Asawin Suebsaeng: “One of the most feared and secretive men in Hollywood—routinely described by employees and observers as a “tyrant”—is throwing a lot of cash behind Marco Rubio. He’s also a huge fan of his dear friend and fellow billionaire, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, the 73-year-old “mystery mogul,” philanthropist, and CEO of Marvel Entertainment, is a uniquely powerful force in the movie business.”

“A veteran of the Israeli Army, he has long been rumored to have fought in the Six-Day War in 1967, and reportedly emigrated from Israel to the U.S. with just $250 to start a new life… Dworkin calls Perlmutter “the most tight, close-to-the-vest person I’ve ever met,” and someone who almost surely loathes the press his recent political contributions have received. “He didn’t have any children, and he did tell me once that he would leave everything to Israel when he died,” Dworkin said.” [DailyBeast]

“Interview: Sanders’ brother shares political odyssey” by Jill Lawless: “These are exciting times for Larry Sanders, a stalwart Green Party campaigner in Oxford, England. He’s just been appointed to a new job as his party’s national spokesman on health. And he’s helping out his little brother Bernie with a small electoral campaign on the other side of the Atlantic. He says the brothers’ politics are rooted in the post-war Brooklyn where they grew up, the children of “staunch New Dealer” parents. Their father, Eli, was a Polish Jew who came to the United States when he was 17, their mother Dorothy the New York-born child of eastern European Jewish immigrants.”

“Sanders said that growing up, the brothers were conscious of the shadow of the Holocaust, “because we knew we’d lost relatives, and the consequence of that was that politics was very serious. Lots of kids grow up thinking it’s just game-playing.”He said their early values were simple ones learned in public school and Hebrew school: The Declaration of Independence’s assertion that “all men are created equal,” the Torah’s exhortation to be kind to “the stranger among you.” [AP]

SPOTTED on the trail — from Mic’s Celeste Katz: “A little pre-Bernie Sanders rally schmoozing in South Carolina” [Twitter]

END OF A BROMANCE? — “Cory Booker Scrubs Mentor Shmuley From His Memoir” by Paul Miller: “With more than six pages acknowledging people to whom the senator is “indebted,” Rabbi Shmuley Boteach stands out as a glaring omission. He’s entirely unmentioned in the book… When a reporter brought the omission to Mr. Boteach’s attention, the rabbi wasn’t surprised the senator did not acknowledge his impact on Booker’s life, explaining, “It’s no secret that our relationship has become very strained, as I was shocked that Cory voted for the Iran deal.” Since September, Boteach has publicly voiced his disappointment with Booker.” [Observer]

**Good Wednesday 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: “John Paulson’s Bad Timing and Other Highlights From 13F Filings” — Mentions include: Carl Icahn, David Einhorn, Paul Singer, Eric Mindich, David Tepper, Seth Klarman, Bill Ackman, and Dan Loeb. [Bloomberg] • “Billionaire Mark Cuban Says Billionaire Bloomberg Should Run for President Against Billionaire Trump” [CNBC] • “Hedge Fund Manager Joshua Young Puts Profile on Social Media, Lures $20 Million” [Bloomberg] • “Israeli website-building company Wix just became Manchester City FC’s latest sponsor” [BusinessInsider• “Fosun’s $460 Million Deal to Buy Israeli Insurance Company Fails” [Bloomberg

From Politico Influence: “ODD COUPLE: Washington loves strange unions. Elliott Management has enlisted international consultant Albright Stonebridge Group on the hedge fund’s feud with Samsung. Elliott, of course, is run by Republican megadonor Paul Singer who’s backing Marco Rubio, and Albright Stonebridge is led by Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s secretary of state who is now a fierce surrogate for Hillary Clinton. Elliott and Albright Stonebridge also collaborated on the Argentine debt crisis. Carlos Gutierrez, the former commerce secretary who is Albright’s co-chair at the firm, has been working with Elliott Management for the past two years on a range of projects, including Samsung, sources tell PI.” [Politico]

SPOTLIGHT: “The Intriguing Math That Turns Manhattan Properties Into Shekels” by Gabrielle Coppola: “In Israel, U.S. property developers pay 5 or 6 percent interest on debt that in the U.S. would cost them twice that, according to Israeli bond buyers. Because the U.S. government’s credit rating is higher than Israel’s, the bonds get better grades, too. So what’s considered junk stateside can become investment grade in Israel, where there’s plenty of demand for the debt from funds flush with pensioners’ cash.” [Bloomberg]

TV CRITIC: “Bernie Madoff Pans ‘Absurd’ Mini-Series in Email From Prison to NBC News” by Corky Ziemaszko: “I’m sure it is fruitless to enumerate the numerous fiction and absurd mischaracterization (sic) in the ABC movie,” he wrote. “However I have never been one to turn the other cheek. I will just cover those incidents that have drawn queries.” [NBCNews]

DESSERT: “Gefilte Fish and Gumbo in Buenos Aires” by Paola Singer: “On a recent Friday night, a small group stood outside Mishiguene in Buenos Aires, chatting and sipping digestifs after an opulent 12-course tasting menu. Mishiguene has caused quite a stir in the local dining scene, and not just because of its festive Fridays. When it opened in late 2014, it generated significant buzz as the first restaurant in Argentina to offer modern Jewish cuisine, which translates into a creative menu that draws inspiration from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Most popular Israeli basketball player of all time, Miki Berkovich, turns 62… Israel’s Minister of the Interior and leader of the Shas party, Aryeh Deri, turns 57… Brian Cohen, Executive Director of the Columbia/Barnard Hillel… Betsy Fischer Martin…

** Iron Dome developer completes $20M raise: mPrest, the company behind Israel’s Iron Dome command and control technology, completed a $20 million Series A round of funding led by GE Ventures and OurCrowd, a world-leading equity-based crowdfunding platform. OurCrowd is a startup investing platform built for accredited investors to provide venture capital funding for Israeli and global startups. Membership in the community is vetted and offered only to people who meet the stringent accreditation criteria. Learn more at [OurCrowd] **

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