Daily Kickoff: SXSW Edition | Rich Roberts details ‘disingenuous’ donor call to stop Trump | Trump, Hillary to headline AIPAC | Shari Redstone profile

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Ed note: Today’s Daily Kickoff was crafted in Austin, Texas, where we’re covering SXSW this week. 

SXSW Highlights: Friday night, approximately 300 Members of the Tribe gathered at the Austin Hilton for #OpenShabbat, an annual dinner organized by Mordechai and Chana Lightstone. Attendees included Chairman of NY Angels Brian Cohen, Singer Foundation’s Carrie Filipetti, A.J Jacobs — author of My Year of Living Biblically, Glide’s Chaim Haas, Harry Medved, Alex Swieca, Nathaniel Malka, Ron Heidt, Jeremy Banon… On Saturday night, the Israeli Consulate hosted a VIP reception to congratulate Israeli filmmakers — including Mr. Gaga’s Tomer Heymann and Princess Shaw — and interactive companies at SXSW. Yossi Vardi, the ‘godfather’ of Israel’s hi-tech industry, represented the Israeli startup scene in an otherwise film-heavy crowd.

Best SXSW Descriptions — courtesy of BuzzFeed’s John Stanton: “Basically Davos but for people who buy expensive Chuck Taylor’s and wear cardigans.” • “Basically Aspen Ideas but for people who ride those dumb hoverboards at work” [Twitter]

TOP QUOTE: “The only way ‘President Trump’ makes sense to me is if you put ‘Condo Association’ before it” — Nell Scovell on a panel with Jon Favreau and Jon Hones titled “How To Stop Speaking in BullSh**.” [Twitter

TOP TALKER: “Michelle Fields, Ben Shapiro Resign From Breitbart” by Rosie Gray and McKay Coppins: “Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and editor-at-large Ben Shapiro are resigning from the company over the site’s handling of Donald Trump’s campaign manager’s alleged assault on Fields.”[BuzzFeed] • “Breitbart Editor Joel Pollak Reached Out To Former Trump Staffer About Speechwriting Job” [BuzzFeed]

Breitbart Headline: “Jackie Mason On Trump: ‘Israel Is His Favorite Thing’” [Breitbart]

“Donald Trump’s Tampa Office Is an Unlikely Melting Pot” by David Barstow: “Mireya Linsky, born to a Jewish family in Cuba, came to the United States as a refugee at age 5. Her family lived in public housing here for several years and sometimes relied on assistance from Catholic Charities. She has spent the past 33 years working for the Hillsborough County School District. So Mrs. Linsky, 55, understands that some may see certain contradictions in the fact that she is now spending several nights a week volunteering here at Donald J. Trump’s campaign office.” [NYTimes]

“Why Some Hasidic Jews Are Loving Donald Trump’s Campaign” by Olivia Becker: “Jacob Kornbluh, a political reporter for the news site Jewish Insider, says that there is “no question support for Trump is widespread” within the Hasidic community. The majority of Hasidic voters he’s spoken to have said they plan on supporting Trump, although Kornbluh says that he has also found support for Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz within the community. But for the average Hasidic voter, says Kornbluh, “Trump is their guy.” [ViceNews]

Dan Senor Slams Trump’s Israel Policies as Extension of Obama’s: Against the backdrop of global threats and the BDS movement, “the question is does America want a president — do Republicans want to nominate a president who’s effectively going to extend the last seven and a half years in its approach to Israel,” Senor said during a press conference with Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio at Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday. [JewishInsider] • Senor tweets: “My boys head off to school wearing their Marco Rubio kippot.” [Twitter]

“At Trump Rally in Florida, Jewish Supporters Insist GOP Frontrunner Is a Friend of Israel” by Rachel Delia Benaim: “Jews and pro-Israel advocates, among the 6,000 attendees at the Donald Trump rally on Sunday evening here, were adamant that his previously stated “neutral” stance on the Israeli Palestinian conflict is merely a facade… According to a recent poll, 61 percent of Israelis consider him a friend of Israel as well. Annie Wasserman, owner of Meshugga Kennels in Northern New Jersey, chalks that up to his Jewish daughter, Ivanka… she explained her belief that if someone has an Orthodox Jewish child, “they must have some sense of what’s good for Israel.” [Haaretz]

Aaron David Miller: “Does Trump have skills to handle Israeli-Palestinian issue?” [CNN]

Dr. Rich Roberts of Lakewood, NJ, wrote Sunday to JI’s Jared Sichel about his dismay with Republicans’ strategy to stop Donald Trump. Roberts, one of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s major donors until he dropped out in September, said he has since remained undecided, but has donated to the campaigns of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and to the since-suspended campaigns of Chris Christie and Rand Paul. He told JI he was on the March 1st conference call (likely the one related to Our Principles PAC, originally reported by the New York Times), which included top Republican operatives and major donors. Excerpts from Roberts’ email:

“After that call, I sent an email to one of the billionaires telling him that I was surprised by the “disingenuous” discussion that I had heard. He forwarded my email to another billionaire who sent me an angry, biting reply. However, the reply that I received was also irrational and factually faulty and seemed to take offense to my use of the word “disingenuous”. (Maybe I am the only guy who will tell billionaires that they are wrong.) I sent a reply demonstrating the irrationality of the email that I had received and that seemed to end the discussion among billionaires.”

“I was dismayed to hear that the themes of their intended ads were charges against Trump that he had already effectively publicly refuted. On the call one of the themes that they were planning to hit Trump with is that he is not really a successful businessman but he declared bankruptcy many times. In my email about the call, I cited this as being ‘disingenuous’ because Trump had already stated that out of 150 of his companies four had declared bankruptcy. The scathing email that I received in reply asked me to consider a statement such as “I went out with hundreds of girls and only raped four.” I replied that “…comparing bankruptcy to rape is not legitimate. One is legal and the other is a crime. One is financial and the other is a grotesque violation of a person.”

“The reason why I am writing about this issue, two weeks after the initial call, is that it is clear that there is an anti-Trump smear-campaign that is being waged broadly across the media that has grown to a fevered pitch in an attempt to hit Trump with a tidal wave just before the critical votes on Tuesday, especially in Florida. Pundits keep claiming that Trump is destroying the Republican party but it is they who are destroying the Republican party by trying to deny the groundswell of grassroots voters their overwhelming choice.”

“Whether the chorus of attacks on Trump are just a haphazard coinciding of forces from the Left, Republican establishment, and pundits who promote their self-importance by taking positions of extreme projections and hyperbole, or if there is a more sinister coordination by a core of self-interested Republican billionaires and establishment politicians, I do not know. But I am very sure that the tsunami of smears against Trump, at this moment, are disingenuous.”

TWITTER CONVO — John Podhoretz on Trump: “the Sabbatai Zevi of the GOP–false messiah who becomes a Democrat” • TV Producer David Simon replies: “Hah. Shabbatai Zevi as apt reference in GOP race? I buy it for Trump. Trouble is Cruz isn’t exactly the Vilna Gaon.” • Ariel Rokem: “More of a chelmenitsky, really.” • David Simon: “If all the GOP hopefuls actually corresponded to Ashkenazim, the entire town of Chelm would have been denuded of its rabbinate.” [Twitter]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton to headline AIPAC conference” by Theodore Schleifer: “Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are now scheduled to address the conference hosted by AIPAC, the leading pro-Israel lobby in Washington, from March 20 to March 22, the organization said Friday. AIPAC did not specify the dates on which the candidates will speak.” [CNNJI]

“Iran missile tests reignite sanctions fight” by Kristina Wong: “Republicans, and many Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, are calling for a strong response, after Iran test-fired ballistic missiles twice last week, in defiance of international law. Lawmakers are particularly incensed over the second day of testing, when Iran reportedly fired missiles with the words “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth” written in Hebrew.” [TheHill] • “Israel demands world powers punish Iran for missile tests” [AP]

“Malcolm Hoenlein interview with John Catsimatidis on AM970 regarding Iran’s missile tests: “These are missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. And the target is not Israel. The target is the United States – because they don’t need a ballistic missile to hit Israel … Their goal is to destroy America, and we’d better believe it, listen to what they, and take it seriously.” [JI]

“Clinton says foreign leaders want to endorse her to stop Trump” by Jonathan Swan: “I am already receiving messages from leaders,” Clinton told an Ohio audience at a Democratic candidate town hall on Sunday night. “I’m having foreign leaders ask if they can endorse me to stop Donald Trump.” [TheHill] • Robert Wexler: “Nobody matches Clinton on foreign policy skill” [SunSentinel]

Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-FL22) tells us: “My expectation is that Hillary will win by a very large margin. She’s very well known here in FL. We have many New Yorkers that know her who are here either in the winter or they’ve moved here and knew her as Senator. She’s very admired.. Folks who are concerned about foreign affairs, there’s no question that Hillary comes with the experience that surpasses anybody – Democrat or Republican – running.”

“Rubio’s top Ohio surrogate ignored push to switch to Kasich” by Kyle Cheney: “Records kept by Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County show Mandel voted in-person at 3:06 p.m. on Friday, about three hours after the Rubio campaign nudged its supporters toward Kasich. A spokesman confirmed he cast that ballot for Rubio.” [Politico]

“Bernie throws Rahm Emanuel under the bus” by Gabriel Debenedetti: “The Vermont senator’s campaign has begun unleashing stinging attacks on the former Bill Clinton and Barack Obama White House aide — who has become a lightning rod for criticism from African-Americans and progressives in his two terms in City Hall — with the aim of painting him as a close political ally of Hillary Clinton.” [PoliticoWashPost]

**Good Monday 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: “Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle Raises $11.5 Million in Funding Led by Saban Capital Group” [NewsWire] • “Orthodox Jews Set Sights on N.J. Town and Angry Residents Resist” [Bloomberg] • “The tragic end of Sagamore Hotel owner Martin Taplin’s life” [RealDeal• “Aby Rosen debuts Soho lounge” [PageSix]

SPOTLIGHT: “Shari Redstone Prepares for Battle to Control a Media Empire” by Emily Steel: “Petite, with coiffed blond hair, sharp blue eyes and a cautious smile, Ms. Redstone is the picture of a doting grandmother. Beneath that cheery exterior, though, is a tenacious woman at the center of a battle over her family’s fortune as well as the fate of two of the world’s largest media companies, Viacom and CBS. “My life is really good,” Ms. Redstone, 61, said during a rare interview recently. “It is a dream life,” she said, “except for the part that is not a dream life.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Catholic Memorial students chant anti-Jewish taunt at game” by Evan Allen: “The chanting started with a rude taunt: Newton North High School students cheering for their basketball team Friday night shouted, “Where are your girls?” to the fans of Catholic Memorial School, an all-boys school. But the response from the Catholic Memorial fans to their opponents, many of whom are Jewish, left the Newton North crowd horrified and upset: “You killed Jesus!” shouted about 50 to 75 Catholic Memorial students. “You killed Jesus!” The Newton North students fell silent, their faces registering surprise and anger.” [BostonGlobeWashPostCSMonitor]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “112-year-old Auschwitz survivor is officially the world’s oldest man” by Megan Specia: “Israel Kristal, a 112-year-old Israeli man who survived the Holocaust, was named the oldest man in the world by Guinness World Records on Friday. His life has been a difficult journey that played out over some of Europe’s darkest days. Kristal was a child in Poland when World War I rattled the nation, and a young man when Germany invaded his home country, ordering his family into a ghetto.” [Mashable]

“Home-Town Boy” by Rebecca Mead: “It is the first time a New York institution has celebrated the work of Mizrahi. “I’m Jewish: I get an exhibit at the Jewish Museum,” he said. “They were smart, and they decided, like Jews, to call me.” Mizrahi is himself something of a New York institution—the personification of what has been characterized in this election cycle as “New York values.” [NewYorker]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Israeli-American Council’s gala in L.A. draws 1,100, raises $17 million: The IAC held its eighth annual gala last night at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. One of the largest and fastest growing young Jewish groups in the U.S., the IAC didn’t bring in quite as much money last night as it did at last year’s gala ($23.4 million), but then again $10 million of last year’s haul was for the purchase of a property in the San Fernando Valley for use as an Israeli-American community center. Comedian and T.V. host Howie Mandel, who emceed the evening, joked that he had trouble explaining to his friends why he had to decline their dinner invitations. “They don’t understand!” Mandel said. “It’s hard to tell them I’m raising money for Jews.”

Spotted: Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. Congressmen Ed Royce, Ted Lieu, and Tony Cardenas, IAC national chair Adam Milstein, IAC co-founder and the evening’s honoree Shawn Evenhaim, video messages from Benjamin Netanyahu and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

BIRTHDAYS: Jerry Greenfield, one half of the eponymous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, turns 65… Steven Hefter… Eliezer Barak… Actor, writer, producer, director, comedian and television host, Billy Crystal, turns 68… Rabbi Dr. Uri Herscher, founder and President of Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles (h/t Eshman)…

** Startup Nation to bring equity crowdfunding to Asia: Last week, Jerusalem-based OurCrowd, a world-leading equity crowdfunding platform, announced its partnership with UOB, the Singapore-based banking institution. Together, they are partnering to bring startup investing to Southeast Asia and beyond, highlighting Israeli startups in their initial offering to investors. Read more [OurCrowd] **

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