Daily Kickoff: Bibi won’t visit D.C. this month; Amb. Ayalon says trip still possible | White House may back U.N. resolution on Israel | New Pew Poll

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TOP TALKER: Mike Bloomberg writes… “I believe I could win a number of diverse states — but not enough to win the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency… As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience… I love our country too much to play a role in electing a candidate who would weaken our unity and darken our future — and so I will not enter the race for president of the United States.” [BloombergView]

Howard Wolfson provided the NYTimes with a rough cut of an ad that would have been used in a Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign [Video]

Running Mate Scoop: “Mr. Bloomberg held extensive talks with Michael G. Mullen, the retired admiral and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about forming an independent ticket. Lawyers for Mr. Bloomberg had completed the process of vetting Mr. Mullen, and all that remained was for Mr. Bloomberg to ask formally that Mr. Mullen serve as his running mate.” [NYTimes]

JI reader Michael Granoff emailed immediately following the announcement: “The news that Mayor Bloomberg has decided not to run for President is not only disappointing – it is devastating. And it is made more so by his faulty logic… While he is correct that he would win enough electoral votes to throw it to the House — why would he think House Republicans would feel beholden to the Republican nominee if it is Trump (or even Cruz). This would be especially true if it was Bloomberg who captured a plurality of popular votes – which I believe was entirely plausible.  What’s more though, his voice in the campaign would remind Americans that the model of a successful businessman-politician does not have to be that of a crass narcissist and, even more importantly, that competent governing need not be polarizing. America is not only the poorer for his decision – its very essence may be at risk as a result.”

A Bloomberg advisor responded to Granoff’s note by telling us: “If you believe that most House Republicans in most states are willing to end their own careers after putting an extremely pro-choice President who is also a global leader combatting climate change into office, and also putting his Supreme Court nominees into contention, then…”

Steven Schoenfeld of BlueStar Investors emailed us: “I’m quite disappointed that Mayor Bloomberg has decided not to run. His proven entrepreneurial, business and government executive skills and strong philanthropic record is exactly what we need in a President. While he’s likely correct that he faced long odds to win the White House, his candidacy could have created a legacy of a durable, moderate third party which so many Americans yearn for.”

Jill Smith, friend of the former NYC Mayor: “The decision is a disappointing one, but realistic. Bloomberg would likely have drawn from voters more inclined to vote for the Democratic candidate than the Republican nominee. Bloomberg does not want to risk being the culprit who handed America a right wing idealogue as President. Bloomberg is, mainly, a smart compassionate pragmatist. Not an idealogue. He does not want America to suffer a Trump or Cruz Presidency. He would have been great, but the time is not right and the stakes are too high.”

Prominent NY Attorney Avi Schick: “Mike Bloomberg would have brought sanity and pragmatism to a Presidential race that currently has neither. The candor of his explanation for not getting into the race is a reminder of why many hoped he would run. As Mayor, Mike demonstrated that an ideology of excellence can succeed in politics, and that the center can be a potent political force. While he will not be President, people will continue to view Mike Bloomberg  as their most trusted arbiter of politicians and policies.” [JewishInsider]

Michael Tabacinic tweets: “Well sh**… I’m still writing @MikeBloomberg on my ballot.” [Twitter]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Netanyahu Cancels DC Trip, AIPAC Appearance” by Jacob Kornbluh: “According to the Channel 10′s Moav Vardi, Netanyahu was not able to arrange a meeting with President Barack Obama ahead of his upcoming trip to Cuba on March 21 and 22.” [JewishInsider]

Ned Price, National Security Council spokesman, said that two weeks ago Netanyahu was offered a meeting with Obama on March 18. “We were looking forward to hosting the bilateral meeting, and we were surprised to first learn via media reports that the Prime Minister, rather than accept our invitation, opted to cancel his visit,” he said. “Reports that we were not able to accommodate the Prime Minister’s schedule are false.”

“Israeli officials said that no snub was intended. In a statement, the prime minister’s office said that Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador, had told Mr. Obama’s team on Friday that while Mr. Netanyahu appreciated the offer for a meeting, there was “a good chance that the prime minister would not be coming to Washington.”” [NYTimes]

Barak Ravid reports: “According to sources in the prime minister’s bureau, another reason for the cancellation was the political atmosphere in the United States in the midst of the presidential primaries. Sources in Netanyahu’s office said that presidential candidates from both parties were set to attend the AIPAC conference and had requested meetings with Netanyahu, something that could create the impression of intervention by the prime minister in support of one or another candidate. “We wanted to prevent such a situation,” the source said.” [Haaretz]

HOW IT PLAYED: “Netanyahu Calls Off Washington Visit, and Fingers Point” [NYTimes] • “Israel’s Netanyahu declines offer to meet with Obama: White House” [Reuters] • “US ‘surprised’ after Netanyahu declines invite” [AFP] • “White House Says Netanyahu Rejected Offer To Meet With Obama” [ForeignPolicy]

Former Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon spoke to JI’s Jacob Kornbluh yesterday: “Just today, I spoke to the Prime Minister’s office – before the news broke out – and they were not conclusive about it. I think that the decision will be made only after the meeting with Vice President Biden because the aim, as I see, is to conclude the MOU. Israel deserves now the better side of the second stage in the Iran deal, which is a compensation in upgrading Israel’s defense capabilities and deterrence capabilities – the only way to keep stability in the Middle East. Unfortunately, there is a dispute about the amount of military assistance. I hope that the U.S. administration will be willing to give now what they were willing to give before the deal was signed. So, I believe this will be explored during the Vice President’s visit and hopefully, based on a positive conclusion, then we may see the Prime Minister travel to Washington and meet with the President to sign the MOU.”

Related? “White House Working on Renewed Mideast Peace Push” by Carol Lee and Rory Jones: “The White House is working on plans for reviving long-stalled Middle East negotiations before President Barack Obama leaves office, including a possible United Nations Security Council resolution that would outline steps toward a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, according to senior U.S. officials… The strongest element on the list of options under consideration would be U.S. support for a Security Council resolution calling on both sides to compromise on key issues, something Israel had opposed and Washington has repeatedly vetoed in the past.” [WSJ]

“Trudeau Says His Government Willing To Criticize Canada’s ‘Friend’ Israel” by Ryan Maloney: “Israel is a friend, Israel is an ally, Israel is a country that has values and an approach on many, many issues that are very much aligned with Canadians values,” Trudeau said. “But, at the same time… we won’t hesitate from talking about unhelpful steps like the continued illegal settlements. We will point that out. We will continue to engage in a forthright and open way because that’s what people expect of Canada.” Trudeau suggested that true friendship does not mean unequivocal support.” [HuffPostCanada]

Roger Cohen: “An Anti-Semitism of the Left” [NYTimes]

“Colorado moves toward opposing boycott of Israel” by James Anderson: “The bill before the state Senate directs Colorado’s public employee pension fund to divest from foreign companies participating in the boycott. Only two Senate votes are needed to send the measure to Gov. John Hickenlooper. A scheduled vote on Monday was postponed. The House already passed the bill.” [DenverPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “D.C. Republicans extend primary hours so Sabbath-observant Jews can vote” by Julie Zauzmer: “Patrick Mara, executive director of the D.C. Republican Party, said the party will keep the polls open until 9 p.m., late enough to wait until the Sabbath ends after dark and then head to the polls. “We don’t want to exclude anyone who can’t, obviously, vote for religious reasons,” Mara said. “We’ve tried to be as accommodating as possible.”” [WashPostWashExaminer]

“At Secretive Meeting, Tech CEOs And Top Republicans Commiserate, Plot To Stop Trump” by Ryan Grim, Nick Baumann: “Billionaires, tech CEOs and top members of the Republican establishment flew to a private island resort off the coast of Georgia this weekend for the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum, according to sources familiar with the secretive gathering. The main topic at the closed-to-the-press confab? How to stop Republican front-runner Donald Trump.” [HuffPost]

Trump continues right pledge at rallies — by Ben Schreckinger: “Trump first asked his supporters to pledge their allegiance at a weekend rally in Orlando. But the length of Saturday’s oath made it difficult for attendees to repeat it after Trump. The candidate had adjusted by Monday, when he had supporters raise their right hands and repeat a shorter oath.” [Politico]

Abe Foxman: “Trump’s ‘raise your hand’ gambit was deliberate, Nazi-style ‘fascist gesture’” [ToI]

Rubio announces National Security Team — Members include: Elliott Abrams, Keith Alexander, Michael Chertoff, Eliot Cohen, Norm Coleman, Paula Dobriansky, Eric Edelman, Aaron Friedberg, Kim Holmes, Robert Joseph, Jon Kyl, John Lehman, Michael Mukasey, Andrew Natsios, Dan Senor, Kristen Silverberg, Jim Talent, and Dov Zakheim. [JI]

Dov Zakheim tells us: “As you can see from the list, these are all senior people who are deeply concerned about national security… Cruz, for example, for years, was one of the leading budget hawks when it came to defense. Mr. Kasich’s record on defense, really isn’t much better, if you actually look at where he stood during the Reagan years when I was in the Reagan Administration. He was no friend of the defense budget, and he was no supporter of defense increases. And so, when you actually look at who the alternatives to Mr. Rubio are, there is really no one — Mr. Trump you can forget about anyways, you know — but the other two simply don’t have the same record of consistent commitment to a strong defense posture and a strong national security posture than Mr. Rubio does. That’s why you are seeing people who care about national defense gravitating for him. I would also add that not all or most are neocons. This is a canard that is being used over and over again against anybody who wants to have a stronger national defense.”

**Good Tuesday 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: “Matthew Bronfman Eyeing Bid to Buy Clal Insurance” [Haaretz] • “16-year-old entrepreneur, Benjamin Stern, who landed a $100,000 ‘Shark Tank’ deal shares lessons he’s learned from Mark Cuban” [BusinessInsider• “New York firm proposes twin towers on downtown Miami site” [RealDealNextMiami] • “Philip Han Climbs Ladder at Saban Capital” [CPExecutive] • “Beny Alagem wants to combine two condo projects near the Waldorf Astoria Hotel” [RealDealLA]

SPOTLIGHT: “A New York Developer Embraces a Mission to Help the Mentally Ill” by Theresa Agovino: “Four years ago, at the suggestion of a prosecutor, Francis Greenburger began searching for a secure place as an alternative to prison for his severely mentally ill son who had been convicted of arson. “He’d sent me on a fool’s errand. None existed,” said Mr. Greenburger, whose company, Time Equities Inc., has been a major player in New York real estate for nearly a half-century. The developer’s failed quest propelled him to establish the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice, an advocacy organization.” [WSJ]

“Jewish Trump brothers invest millions in math studies in Israel” by Sever Plocker: “Brothers Eddie and Jules Trump… assets’ worth estimated at many billions of dollars. Immeasurably higher than that orange-haired New York real estate mogul who rises and falls, rises and falls, the former reality star and the present star of the Republican primaries – Donald Trump. Donald Trump took legal actions against Eddie and Jules Trump in the past, trying to force them to drop their family name from the name of the corporation they own (“The Trump Group,” which is not the same as Donald’s “Trump Organization”). In 2011, the Jewish-American Trump family donated $150 million to improve the quality of math teaching in Israeli schools.” [YNetNews]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli Intelligence Veterans to Help Arabs Join Startup Nation” by Inbal Orpaz: “Last Thursday, the Economy and Industry Ministry – in partnership with the Arab Economic Development Authority in the Prime Minister’s Office – launched a program in the northern Arab town of Nazareth to promote the opening of startups by Israeli Arabs.” [Haaretz]

OUT TODAY: New Pew Poll on Israelis — “Nearly 70 years after the establishment of the modern State of Israel, its Jewish population remains united behind the idea that Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people and a necessary refuge from rising anti-Semitism around the globe. But alongside these sources of unity, a major new survey by Pew Research Center also finds deep divisions in Israeli society – not only between Israeli Jews and the country’s Arab minority, but also among the religious subgroups that make up Israeli Jewry.” [Pew]

Shmuel Rosner: “Pew’s Israel study presents: Expel this, do not marry that, disagree with all others”[JewishJournal]

BIRTHDAYS: Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks turns 68… Former Chairman of the BBC and now a member of the U.K.’s House of Lords, Michael Grade, turns 76… Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) turns 75 (h/t Politico Playbook)… Nathaniel Sobel… Alexis Rice…

** Market downturn? Israel VC is thriving: On CNN, Jon Medved, Founder & CEO of OurCrowd, explained to Richard Quest why tech investment in 2016 makes sense. OurCrowd is a world-leading equity-based crowdfunding platform, built for accredited investors to provide venture capital funding for Israeli and  global startups. Accredited investors can make minimum investments of $10,000 per company. Watch the interview [OurCrowd] **

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