Daily Kickoff: Obama unlikely to visit Iran | Zarif says ‘never again’ resonates with Iranians too | Trump terrifies world leaders | Zac Posen Profile

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FIRST LOOK: “How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk” by Mark Landler: “There’s no doubt that Hillary Clinton’s more muscular brand of American foreign policy is better matched to 2016 than it was to 2008,” said Jake Sullivan, her top policy adviser at the State Department, who plays the same role in her campaign… It’s an open question how well Clinton’s hawkish instincts match the country’s mood. Americans are weary of war and remain suspicious of foreign entanglements. And yet, after the retrenchment of the Obama years, there is polling evidence that they are equally dissatisfied with a portrait of their country as a spent force, managing its decline amid a world of rising powers like China, resurgent empires like Vladimir Putin’s Russia and lethal new forces like the Islamic State.” [NYTimesMag]

DRIVING THE DAY: “Obama starts talks with Gulf leaders aimed at easing strains” by Roberta Rampton: “U.S. President Barack Obama and Gulf Arab leaders started talks in Riyadh on Thursday at a summit aimed at forging joint action on perceived security threats from Iran and Islamic State, and at ironing out strains in their old alliance.” [ReutersWashPost]

Jeffrey Goldberg tweets: “Prediction: Barack Obama will not remember [today] as the most gratifying day of his presidency” [Twitter]

“White House: Obama unlikely to visit Iran” by Nick Gass: “President Barack Obama is unlikely to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran before leaving office, one of the president’s top national security aides said Thursday. “I think the trip to Cuba was probably enough in terms of, you know, breaking a longstanding taboo,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters at a news briefing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.” [Politico]

Mohammad Javad Zarif: “Why Iran is building up its defenses: The words “never again” resonate with Iranians, too.” [WashPost]

“Never Mind the Missile Tests. Iran Just Wants to Get Along” by Eli Lake: “”Never again” is of course most associated with preventing another Holocaust against the Jews. It is the title of Martin Gilbert’s history of that crime. Zarif is the front man of a regime that not only threatens to wipe out the world’s only Jewish state, but also actively denies the Holocaust. In June, Iran will host a competition where it will give a $50,000 award to the cartoonist who best mocks the Nazi genocide. An earlier winner of the contest was a cartoon that depicted Hitler and Anne Frank in bed with the fuhrer saying, “Put that in your diary.” This is the Iran that Zarif complains is unfairly demonized in the West.” [BloombergView]

Michael Pregent: “While Tehran continues to sow anti-American terrorism across the Middle East, Riyadh holds the key to regional stability. This is not the time to back away from the House of Saud.” [ForeignPolicy]

“Fight over Iran’s access to dollars takes partisan turn” by Julian Pecquet: “A number of Democrats — including Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. — have also raised concerns, but many are wary of signing on to any bills that could be seen as seeking to undermine the president’s signature international achievement. Republicans “are going to be much more anxious to shoot down everything the administration does,” Rep. Eliot Engel told Al-Monitor. “I’m less anxious to do that. But I am anxious to hold Iran’s feet to the fire, as we were promised we would be allowed to do if the JCPOA passed.””[AlMonitor]

“A Win for Terror Victims in Iranian Funds Case” by Jacob Gershman: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a law passed by Congress that gives terrorism victims an explicit right to collect about $2 billion in frozen funds tied to Iran’s central bank.” [WSJReuters]

“Hamas praises Jerusalem bus bomber as ‘martyr’” by AP: “The Islamic militant group Hamas is praising a Palestinian as a “martyr” for carrying out a bus bombing that injured about 20 people in Jerusalem this week.” [WashPost]

Gen. Amnon Reshef: “Two Hundred Israeli Generals: In Fighting Violence, Military Means Alone Will Not Do” [Newsweek]

The Most In-Your-Face Political Ad Ever For the Israeli Left Just Dropped: “With a Trumpian message, Israeli mogul turned politician Erel Margalit has joined the race to lead the Labor party and remake the Israeli left” [TabletMagHaaretz]

ALSO TODAY: “Netanyahu Seeks Putin’s Assurance Over Syria in Moscow Visit” by Jonathan Ferziger: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads to Moscow looking for a commitment that Russia’s reduction of its military forces in Syria won’t let the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and other militias strengthen their forces on his country’s northern frontier.” [Bloomberg]

–Earlier this week: “Top Jewish Leader Ron Lauder Thanks Putin for Fighting anti-Semitism” [Haaretz]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump terrifies world leaders: And Obama’s reassurances aren’t calming them down” by Edward-Isaac Dovere and Bryan Bender:“According to more than two dozen U.S. and foreign-government officials, Trump has become the starting point for what feels like every government-to-government interaction. In meetings, private dinners and phone calls, world leaders are urgently seeking explanations from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Trade Representative Michael Froman on down.”

“Representatives of Arab governments have, so far, seemed the calmest, still largely laughing off Trump and dismissing his chances. The Israelis are walking their own weird tightrope: Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has been perennially at odds with the Obama administration, but with the prime minister condemning the Muslim ban proposal and ducking a meeting on what was supposed to be a Trump tour of the Holy Land in December — all while his U.S. ambassador and confidant, Ron Dermer, consulted with the candidate’s son-in-law, who was writing Trump’s speech to AIPAC last month.” [Politico]

“How Silicon Valley Created Donald Trump: And can they stop him?” by Nick Bilton:“Stopping Trump has become a fixation for Silicon Valley—an industry that holds itself responsible for changing the world and making it a better place. At Facebook’s recent F8 developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg paused during his discussion about drones and A.P.I.s in order to rebuke Trump’s demonic statements on immigration. “Most of my friends think he’s a f***ing idiot,” a venture capitalist said onstage at a recent tech conference. Stopping Trump was one of the main topics at a secret meeting with billionaires, tech C.E.O.s (including Tim Cook, Elon Musk, and Larry Page), and top members of the Republican establishment in March. And it’s the topic du jour anytime I speak to entrepreneurs, bloggers, or V.C.s up North.” [VanityFair]

Anti-Trump PAC raised $8.4 million in March: “The group, led by Mitt Romney alumna Katie Packer and joined by former Jeb Bush spokesman Tim Miller, raised $2 million from Wisconsin shipper Richard Uihlein, $1.7 million from investor Michael Vlock (who’s married to Hyatt heiress Karen Pritzker), and $1 million apiece from asset manager Cliff Asness and Arkansas investment banker Warren Stephens. Previous benefactors Marlene Ricketts, the Chicago Cubs owner, and Paul Singer, the hedge fund billionaire, each gave another $500,000. Smaller donors included Harlen Crow, Bruce Kovner and William Oberndorf ($250,000 each).” [Politico]

“GOP donors not enthusiastic about Trump in Nov. election” by Jonathan Swan: “Trump has insulted most of the contributors and fundraisers in the country,” said Mel Sembler. “It’s very hard to stroke a $10,000 check when the candidate is saying ‘I don’t take money from these big donors,’ ” Lisa Spies says… Trump controversially told the audience — which contained many of the GOP’s top Jewish donors — that “you’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money.” Said Sembler: “You know what my reaction was? That’s another check I don’t have to write. And I’m not writing any checks for you.” [TheHill]

SPOTTED: Ted Cruz’s Chief of Staff Paul Teller at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station boarding Amtrak back to D.C.

“Cruz’s high spending rate intensifies his need to find new donors” by Matea Gold and Anu Narayanswamy: “In March, four of the groups — Trusted Leadership PAC, Stand for Truth, Keep the Promise I and Keep the Promise III — together raised $8 million. Of that, $2 million came from Robert Mercer, who had previously given $11.5 million to the pro-Cruz effort. Another $1 million came from Chicago-based shipping magnate Richard Uihlein, who had already given $1 million.” [WashPost] • “Cruz earns $250k at NORPAC fundraiser” [NJJN]

Matea Gold: “Ghost corp Children of Israel LLC surfaces again, giving another $150k to pro-Cruz Stand for Truth.” [Twitter]

“Haim and Cheryl Saban Give Additional $2 Million to Pro-Clinton SuperPAC” by Ted Johnson: “According the Federal Election Commission reports, the Sabans made their contributions on March 16. Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg have each given $1 million to Priorities, and Katzenberg has been lining up donors to the group. Director J.J. Abrams and his wife each gave $500,000.” [Yahoo• “Sanders outraises Clinton for third month in a row” [Politico]

CNN’s Dan Merica: “Sarah Bard, Hillary Clinton’s director of Jewish outreach, will headline a fundraiser in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 17” [Twitter]

**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: “How DailyWorth CEO Amanda Steinberg Is Helping Women Shrink The Wealth Gap” [FastCompany] • “Kushner brothers, Compass ranked among top tech money magnets” [REWeekly• “Judge Denies Request in Redstone Lawsuit: Sumner Redstone’s granddaughter won’t be permitted to join his former companion as a petitioner in lawsuit” [WSJ• “Jewish family makes claims to prized Passover manuscript” [AP]

STARTUP NATION: “Sequoia has backed an Israeli fraud prevention startup that’s chasing a $200 billion industry” by Sam Shead: “Sequoia, one of the most reputable venture capital companies in the world, has backed an Israeli startup called Forter in a $32 million (£22 million) funding round that brings total investment in the business up to $50 million (£34 million).” [BusinessInsider]

CAMPUS BEAT: “BDS Move At NYU Tears Apart Student Union” by Hannah Dreyfus: “A new BDS initiative at NYU is calling for the university to close its program at Tel Aviv University, a measure far more extreme than any urged in previous petitions.” [JewishWeek]

HOLLYWOOD: “Having a Mentor Is So Important: On Brett Ratner’s Instagram” by Naomi Fry: “It’s something of a given to say that Instagram is where we now build our personal mythologies… Still, there’s something so ingenuous, so little-brotherish, about the way Ratner positions himself vis-à-vis these older men; something so poignant about his fandom, his excitement at sitting at their table, to smoke and drink and talk shop with them; something so honest about his awareness of his own relative goofiness. He’s no Superman, he’s #SuperRat, a self-deprecating play on his surname, and something so exposed in its desire to be included among their ranks. As I scroll through picture after picture, I find myself — maybe against my better judgment? — disarmed of my critical faculties. All I want is for Brett to be included! And really, isn’t that what we all want?” [NYTimesMag]

PROFILE: “Zac Posen Is Ready for His Close-Up” by Anjali Mullany: “It’s not easy to catch the fashion world off guard. But when Zac Posen announced two years ago that he was signing on as the creative director of women’s wear at Brooks Brothers, one of America’s oldest retailers, he raised more than a few well-groomed eyebrows.” [FastCompany]

SPORTS BLINK: “LeBron coach castoff could be perfect fit for Knicks’ triangle” by Marc Berman: “Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt, who has been holed up in Atlanta, has told confidants he believes there’s “some interest” from the Knicks in him for their head-coaching job. The Israeli coaching legend is expected to get an interview, partly based on his close friendship with Knicks general manager Steve Mills, but also because of his history of “adaptability,’’ after having coached all over the globe.”[NYPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Former Reagan Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein turns 72… Comedienne, screenwriter, film director and actress, Elaine May (born Elaine Iva Berlin), turns 84… UCSB mathematician, Michael Hartley Freedman, an early winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, turns 65… Voice actress Shayna Bracha Fox turns 32… Audra Marie Cohen, once the top ranked collegiate female tennis player in the US, turns 30… British chemist and professor of chemistry at the University of Cambridge, Sir Alan Roy Fersht, turns 73…

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