Daily Kickoff: Will Obama speak at J Street? | Threat of UN action holding up MOU | Next up for Trump: Circumcision ceremony | Wheels up SFO – TLV

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Will President Obama Speak at J Street?” by Jacob Kornbluh: “According to Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat who participated in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations following the Camp David summit in 2000, there’s no doubt that at some point between now and January 2017, Obama will seek to outline his own version of the Bill Clinton parameters before leaving office. One opportunity currently being discussed, according to a half dozen insiders interviewed for this story, is the upcoming J Street National Gala on April 18… J Street spokeswoman Jessica Rosenblum did confirm to Jewish Insider that the group reached out to the White House and eagerly awaits a decision on which administration official will keynote the Gala.”

“Michael Oren told Jewish Insider in a phone interview, “It’s a possibility. I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility.”… Aaron David Miller says there is no way Obama goes to J Street – or unveils anything prior the general election in the fall – that could potentially complicate Hillary Clinton’s White House bid. “Not since 1988 has a two-term president passed party control to a member of the same party,” he asserted. “That’s really important if he could manage to do that. That would mean between now and November trying to do things that don’t embarrass her, giving the Republican’s all kinds of ammunition and make life hard for her. Going to J Street, in my judgment, is just a needless aggravation. I don’t understand what it would achieve.”

“While agreeing that such a speech could complicate matters for Clinton, Pinkas raised the possibility that Obama would outline his vision only once the MOU is signed, minimizing the risk to Clinton. “Once he signs the MOU, which will be worth anything between $3.6 and $4.1 billion annually, he could say ‘I just provided Israel’s security with an enhancement package that will support Israel. I care about Israel’s security. But! Israel must remain a Jewish democracy. I care about Israel losing its character,’” Pinkas explained. “Once he has the MOU in his pockets, you can’t really attack him. It will also make Hillary Clinton’s case easier.” [JewishInsider]

ABOUT THAT MOU… “Threat of US action at Security Council impacting Israel defense aid negotiations” by Michael Wilner: “Politics, not line items, may be complicating negotiations over an historic US defense package to Israel… according to a senior Israeli official, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may let the negotiations continue without conclusion so long as there remains a possibility the Obama administration will support a UN Security Council resolution codifying parameters for a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Netanyahu, the official explained, fears the White House may be seeking to quickly wrap up and sell the MOU as a public display of the president’s commitment to Israel’s security– in order to free him to pursue action at the UN.” [JPost]

HEARD LAST NIGHT: Jeffrey Goldberg, along with the outgoing Editor-in-chief of The Atlantic James Bennet, discussed Goldberg’s latest cover story, ‘The Obama Doctrine’, before a packed house at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in D.C. Goldberg recalled a lunch with the President at the beginning of the interview process where the two were getting a feel for what type of story this would be. Goldberg, in his words, was asking “non-linear questions all over the map” and after about 45 minutes the President tells Goldberg, “you know, this is going to be a very difficult piece to write,” (laughter). “And I said back, since I’m sort of a shmuck (laughter), I’m going to handle the writing part and you focus on running the United States of America (laughter) and that’s the way we’ll divide things up,” Goldberg recalled.

How will history judge Obama’s foreign policy? “Christiane Amanpour asks Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic and author Bernard-Henri Levy how they think history will judge President Obama’s foreign policy.” [CNN]

DRIVING THE DAY: “With ambitions tapered, Obama opens his last nuclear summit” by David Nakamura and Steven Mufson: “Seven years after he envisioned “a world without nuclear weapons” during a high-profile speech in Prague, Obama enters the last of four nuclear summits having proposed deep budget cuts next year on programs to stop nuclear proliferation while leaving intact military spending on a new generation of weapons.” [WashPost]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Hudson Institute hosted a private reception, marking the grand opening of their new Pennsylvania Ave. headquarters, featuring the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe. In brief remarks the Prime Minister praised Hudson for their work and noted how his translator Sunao Takao was once a Hudson intern. In fact, Hudson CEO Ken Weinstein joked in his introduction, “Sunao, we told you way back when that if you stuck with Hudson, you’d be going places.”

Spotted: Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae, Sarah May Stern, Amy Kauffman, Raina Weinstein, Margaret Whitehead, John Engler, Michael Doran, Victoria Coates, Michael and Susan Pillsbury, Tevi Troy, Juleanna Glover, John Walters, Bill Luti, Dan McKivergan, Lewis Libby, Jacob Schlesinger, David Feith, and Craig Kennedy.

IRAN DEAL: “US mulls new rules on dollars to help Iran” by Bradley Klapper and Matthew Lee: “The Obama administration may soon tell foreign governments and banks they can start using the dollar in some instances to facilitate business with Iran, officials told The Associated Press, describing an arcane tweak to U.S. financial rules that could prove significant for Tehran’s sanctions-battered economy.”[AP]

“Senate Foreign Relations chairman angry over U.N. inaction on Iran” by Karoun Demirjian: “The United Nations Security Council’s reluctance to sanction Iran over its ballistic missile program is drawing an angry response from a key member of Congress. That “directly contradicts assurances made by the administration,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in a statement Wednesday. “As many of us feared, now it appears Iran can defy those restrictions with impunity, fearing no pushback from the U.N. Security Council.”” [WashPostStatement]

David Suissa: “We need a resolution against the U.N.” [JewishJournal]

TRUMP IN DC: “Trump to meet with foreign policy team in Washington” by Alex Isenstadt: “Donald Trump will be in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to meet privately with members of his newly established foreign policy team, according to people familiar with his schedule.” [Politico]

“Trump Splits From U.S. Nuclear Policy” by Carol Lee and Paul Sonne: “Donald Trump is making the case that in some instances more nuclear weapons could make the world safer, arguing that countries such as South Korea and Japan may need arsenals to confront threats in their region on their own.” [WSJ]

Joe Cirincione: “Trump’s Nuclear Insanity: With a few casual comments, the GOP frontrunner tossed out the non-proliferation agenda America has pursued for 70 years.” [PoliticoMag]

Shmuel Rosner: “Preparing for a Trump presidency” [JewishJournal

“Trump’s Jewish Giving Rubs Against Tenor Of His Campaign” by Stewart Ain: “Such largesse to Jewish organizations by a non-Jew is “impressive,” according to Jonathan Sarna. “It is precisely because of his Jewish friendship, donations and his record that many have been mystified by the tenor of Mr. Trump’s campaign and seeming insensitivity to minorities and refugees. … There seems to be something of a disconnect between his impressive donations and the values that he now espouses,” he said.” [JewishWeek]

“Next up for Donald Trump? A circumcision ceremony” by Matthew Diebel: “Trump, if he can pull himself away from his crazy campaign schedule, could have a role in the ceremony for young Theodore… However, according to Jewish tradition, he cannot have the role of the “sandek,” the person, often a grandfather, who holds the child while it is being circumcised by a mohel (pronounced like “royal”). That job must go to a practicing Jew, said New York City-based Dr. Emily Blake, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist who now works full-time as a mohel. “So unless he’s going to convert very quickly,” joked Blake, “I don’t think he’ll be doing it. He doesn’t want to lose that Christian vote.”” [USAToday]

“Barney Frank Is Not Impressed by Bernie Sanders” by Isaac Chotiner: “Bernie Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years with little to show for it in terms of his accomplishments and that’s because of the role he stakes out. It is harder to get things done in the American political system than a lot of people realize, and what happens is they blame the people in office for the system. And that’s the same with the Tea Party.” [Slate]

**Good Thursday 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: “Adelson names son-in-law Patrick Dumont as CFO of Las Vegas Sands” [MacauDailyTimes] • “Palm Beach resident who lost millions of investor cash in Rothstein Ponzi scheme faces federal trial” [MiamiHerald] • “Africa-Israel bondholders want immediate cash injection”[Globes] • “Jeff Blau says building on Billionaires’ Row is more like “gambling than investing””[RealDeal• “City lifts stop-work orders against Extell tower” [TheVillager] • “Scrutiny of a Brooklyn project comes after nursing home on Lower East Side targeted for luxury condos” [WSJ• “Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s house in Englewood on market for $3.5M” [NorthJersey

STARTUP NATION: “Wheels up: SF techies get direct flight to Israel” by Ari Levy: “It took the Israelites 40 years in the desert to reach the Holy Land. Silicon Valley techies can now get there in 14 hours. United Airlines 954, the first nonstop flight from San Francisco to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, took off at 8 p.m. Pacific Wednesday. The initial return flight, United 955, leaves Tel Aviv early Friday morning. “Everybody’s very happy about it,” said venture capitalist David Blumberg, whose firm Blumberg Capital has backed more than 30 Israeli start-ups.” [CNBCBusinessInsider]

“Gett ups stakes in battle with Uber with buy out of rival for ‘millions'” by Mark Blunden:“Israel’s Gett today upped the stakes in its battle with Uber by announcing a multi-million-pound buy-out of rival Radio Taxis to become Britain’s biggest black cab app.” [Standard]

HOLLYWOOD: “Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell Unleashed: WME-IMG’s Strategy, IPO Plans, China and the Doubters” by Matthew Belloni: “Fresh from a $5.5 billion valuation and a brash buying spree, the agency’s co-CEOs open up on rival CAA (they’re “freaking out”), Netflix (“a monopoly”?) Ben Affleck’s future as Batman, Trump vs. Hillary, and critics of their $2.4 billion bet on sports and fashion: “They’re all f—ing scared of their own goddamn shadow.”” [HollywoodReporter] • “A Month in the Life of Hollywood Superagents: Models, Premieres and Bro-Hugs With Ben Affleck”[THR]

BIRTHDAYS: Barney Frank turns 76… Tinder co-founder Justin Manteen turns 30… Howie Keenan… David Freedman… Emmy award winning actress Rhea Perlman turns 68… Music producer Herb Alpert, leader of the Tijuana Brass, turns 81… Composer Arthur B. Rubinstein turns 78… Playwright and director Israel Horovitz turns 77… Emmy award winning writer (“24” and Homeland) Howard Gordon turns 55… Footballer for Maccabi Tel Aviv, who also played in the English Premier League, Tal Ben Haim, turns 34… Aryeh Lightstone (yesterday)…

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