Daily Kickoff: Lindsey Graham lobbies Bibi to sign MOU with Obama | Suissa’s dinner with Ted Cruz | Generation-defying choice for Orthodox millennials

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Netanyahu Seeking to Close U.S. Aid Deal Before Obama Leaves Office” by Barak Ravid: “During the meeting, Sen. Lindsey Graham told Netanyahu that signing the deal before Obama left office would be the right thing to do. Graham, one of the party’s senior senators, told Netanyahu that many members of Congress view the amounts proposed by the White House during the negotiations as being within the bounds of what is possible given current budgetary limitations. He also warned that postponing a deal until the next president takes office in January might have negative consequences for Israel, given the current American political reality and the uncertainty over the outcome of the presidential race.”

Netanyahu told the visiting congressmen that one of the reasons he wants to close the aid deal with Obama relates to how Americans will view Israel over the next decade. Signing a deal with Obama, a Democrat, he explained, would send the message for many years to come that Israel is not a subject of political controversy in America and in fact has bipartisan support.” [Haaretz]

Netanyahu revives bid to appoint spokesman who called Obama anti-Semitic: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday he remains determined to appoint Ron Baratz as his spokesman, five months after he raised hackles in Israel and the US with the controversial pick.” [ToI]

IRAN DEAL: “U.S. Moves to Give Iran Limited Access to Dollars” by Jay Solomon: “The Obama administration is preparing to give Iran limited access to U.S. dollars as part of looser sanctions on Tehran, according to congressional staff members and a former American official briefed on the plans.” [WSJ]

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer: “I want to make clear my concerns that the Administration had indicated that there would be no further concessions beyond those specifically negotiated and briefed to Congress. I do not support granting Iran any new relief without a corresponding concession. We lose leverage otherwise, and Iran receives something for free.” [Statement]

Rep. Peter Roskam: “Don’t Be So Quick to Do Business With Iran: The U.S. Congress will use all the tools at its disposal to name and shame those who pursue profit at the expense of innocent lives.” [WSJ]

Welcome to Twitter — Ambassador @NormEisen: “Read @J_Insider and @mikeallen first thing every day (except Shabbat!)” [Twitter]

STATE OF THE RACE: “My dinner with Ted Cruz” by David Suissa: “All candidates love to create the impression that they will win. At a private dinner in Los Angeles Wednesday night, Cruz was no different. He knew just what to say to make the case that he’s on a winning track. He wasn’t cocky about his chances. He spoke in terms of probabilities. He sees a low probability that Trump will have the required number of delegates to win the nomination outright. He threw out enough data on past history, demographics and polling to suggest a much higher probability that we will see a contested convention in Cleveland in July. That prospect makes his eyes light up, because he’s confident he will win a second round vote and take the nomination.” [JewishJournal]

Flashback to March 6, 2016 – Cruz on CBS Face the Nation: “If you want to beat [Trump], you have to beat him at the ballot box. Any time you hear people talking about a brokered convention, I think that is the fevered talk of the Washington establishment. The Washington establishment is in a panic. They’re confused. They don’t understand what’s happening.” [CBSNews]

“Sanders discusses his upbringing in a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn” by Melissa Russo: “I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, I have lived in Israel, I’m a strong defender of Israel,” he told NBC 4. “But let me also say this, I think we cannot continue to ignore the needs of the Palestinian people and I would hope very much that I could move us forward in what has been so intractable over the years, bringing Palestinians, bringing Israelis together, bringing peace finally to the Middle East.” [NBCNewYork]

Dispatch from the trail — by Jacob Kornbluh: “Last night Bernie Sanders addressed a crowd of almost 10,000 in St. Mary’s Park. Sanders touted his Brooklyn roots and detailed what he called “very real differences” with Hillary Clinton on foreign policy (the Iraq war vote), trade deals and Wall Street regulation. “I am very proud that I was born here in New York City, and that my wife was born in Brooklyn, New York,” Sanders started his 45-minute-long speech. “My father came to this country at the age of 17, from Poland, without a nickel in his pocket. We lived in a three-and-a-half room rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn. So I learned a little bit about what it means to grow up in a family that has no money, and I also learned a little bit about the immigrant experience.” [JewishInsider]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Money can’t buy love for Sumner Redstone” [JewishJournal• “Argentina’s Senate Allows Payment to Bondholders” [DealBook• “Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra charged with corruption” [FinancialTimes] • “Stewart Butterfield’s remarkable journey from log cabin to Slack CEO” [AFR

LongRead: “What Happened When Venture Capitalists Took Over the Golden State Warriors” by Bruce Schoenfeld: “It was still dark one morning early this year when Joe Lacob, the majority owner of the Golden State Warriors, drove his Mercedes station wagon through the Stanford University campus. He parked near the business school, then walked down a sidewalk through a drizzle to meet a group of Silicon Valley executives. The ex-C.E.O. of OpenTable, now a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, was coming. So were a founder of the online-learning start-up Curious and a managing director of Vanguard Ventures. On another morning, they all might have met at a charity event or a TED Talk. But it was a Tuesday, and that meant basketball.” [NYTimesMag]

SPOTLIGHT: “Businessman and Dictator Face Off as Congo Lurches Toward Abyss” by Jeffrey Gettleman: “Sitting in his palatial living room amid lots of marble and white leather, Moïse Katumbi gives off an unmistakable air of being content with his place in the world… Of 80 million Congolese, analysts say, Mr. Katumbi is best positioned to be Congo’s next president if the election is fair… Katumbi’s father was a Jewish refugee from Rhodes known as Nissim the Handsome, and his mother was a Congolese woman from the Bemba ethnic group. Both were initially shunned by their communities while they pursued their romance.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Why Orthodox Judaism Is Appealing to So Many Millennials” by Emma Green: “On a typical Friday night in Houston, many young people are out drinking at bars or curled up watching Netflix, grateful to be done with the obligations of the workweek. But in a few Houston homes, Jews in their 20s and 30s have opted to fill these evenings with a different kind of obligation: strictly observing Shabbat, or the Jewish Sabbath. This means no texting, no music, no use of electronics, no driving, no meeting last-minute deadlines, no carrying objects outside of a few hundred square yards. It is a choice to embrace ritual over leisure, a sacrifice of freedom in behavior, diet, and dress for an ancient set of rules. On its face, this seems like a generation-defying choice.” [TheAtlantic]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Jew in the City hosted their fourth annual JITC All Star Evening at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park, NYC. This year’s honorees include American Pharoah owner Ahmed Zayat, UK’s Minister of Pensions and member of the House of Lords Baroness Ros Altmann, Ambassador Norm Eisen, Modern Family producer Ilana Wernick, Madison Square Garden Company’s Executive VP Lawrence Burian, MIT physicist Jeremy England, Sarah Chloe Jewelry founder Zahava Reissman, WSJ business reporter Gregory Zuckerman, Columbia University treasurer Gail Hoffman, and Kids Kicking Cancer creator Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg.

HIGHLIGHTS: Former Sen. Joe Lieberman appeared via video to let everyone know, “I’m Joe Lieberman and I approve of Jew in the City… I also approve of Jews in the suburbs and rural areas too (laughter).” Sports exec Lawrence Burian joked “you can be an all star, you just can’t pitch on Shabbos.” Joanne Zayat related how “when we know we’re going to a horse race, I bring my Shabbos on the road. From wine to gefilte fish, to desserts, to candles, to Saturday morning bagels and schmear where we have the press so they can experience Shabbos mornings with the Zayats… I think it’s good cause we’ve brought a different flavor to the old bluegrass world of the Kentuckians.”

The WSJ’s Gregory Zuckerman explained how he had spent an entire year writing about Bill Gross from Pimco. “There were two days of Rosh Hashanah into Shabbos, I read in my own paper on Shabbos morning about how Bill Gross had suddenly quit his firm and that was my story! I felt horrible that I let my colleagues down and they were ok about it, and did fine on their own. People were tweeting how it was a little like Sandy Koufax so I felt bad personally but it was nice that a positive message was sent.”

Producer Ilana Wernick recounted her years working on The King of Queens. “So we went bowling one night, the writers along with Kevin James, the star of the show. They ordered kosher pizza and they come to deliver and the manager of the bowling alley says I can’t let those in cause we have our own pizza here. Kevin says ‘well one of the people with us keeps kosher and can’t eat your food.’ The manager responds ‘well, I’ll charge you double.’ So Kevin says, ‘charge me double, charge me triple, I’m loaded!’ (laughter) and it was the coolest moment of my life.”

Ambassador Norm Eisen recalled how he had a very enjoyable law practice and “then a friend of mine from law school decided to run for president. His name is Barack Obama. The President asked me if I would be willing to go back to serve as U.S. Ambassador in the country from which my mother had emigrated to the United States. It was incredibly powerful for me and my family to come back to Prague where the Nazi invaders had devastated my family. The house where the U.S. Ambassador lives in Prague was built by a Jewish family, occupied by the Germans in WWII, so we returned to that house and put mezuzahs on the doors, made the kitchen kosher. Every time I ate a kosher lamb chop there, I would say ‘take that Hitler!’ (laughter)”

DESSERT: “Holy Grill food truck is a taste of Israel in downtown L.A.” by Jenn Harris: “If you’ve walked through the streets of Jerusalem, as some of us have, holding warm laffa bread wrapped around shawarma — the entire sandwich laced with chili sauce — then one meal at the Holy Grill in Los Angeles can bring you straight back to Israel. The Holy Grill is a certified glatt kosher food truck located in a parking lot on 15th Street, in the middle of the downtown L.A. garment district, just north of the 10 Freeway.” [LATimes]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Film and TV director Barry Sonnenfeld turns 63… Physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Claude Cohen-Tannoudji turns 83… Author of children’s books Mark Shulman turns 54… Lawyer, turned political thriller novelist Brad Meltzer turns 46… Ronald Lippman… Olympian, concentration camp survivor and professor at Ben Gurion University Shaul Paul Ladany turns 80… Film director David Frankel turns 57… Nathan Guttman… Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson… Singer Craig Taubman…

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