Daily Kickoff: JI readers react to Avigdor Lieberman news | When Bill Clinton was asked to re-enact the Rabin Arafat handshake | Hillel Gala Scene

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LongRead: “Bill Clinton’s Big Moment: His Health, His Battle Plan for Trump, and What He’ll Do if Hillary Wins” by Jason Zengerle: “On a cool spring morning, the 42nd president, almost 16 years removed from the White House, was standing on the blacktop outside a school in a blighted section of Oakland… I watched one especially assertive student wade into the scrum and stride up to the former president. “Hi, my name’s Emma,” she said, and then explained that she had a question about the Middle East. Clinton’s smile dimmed a bit, as if he were bracing for something. But Emma, it turned out, wasn’t there for a debate—just a photo, albeit of a certain kind. “There’s a really cool picture of you standing behind Rabin and Arafat,” she said, referring to the famous shot of Clinton pushing the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to shake on the Oslo Accords in 1993, “and I was wondering, Could my boyfriend and I re-create that picture with you?”

“For a moment there, Clinton seemed almost let down, as if, having readied himself to consider the intractable dilemmas of the world, he was reduced to a prop—a wax figure in a historical re-enactment. Quickly, however, his grin returned as they struck the pose. Though Emma and her boyfriend didn’t ask for one, he proffered a memory, shoehorned into a joke: “It was a lot harder to convince Rabin and Arafat to shake hands than it was to convince you two.”” [GQ]

TOP TALKER: “Benjamin Netanyahu Seeks Ultranationalists for Coalition in Israel” by Isabel Kershner: “In a sharp turnaround, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought on Wednesday to bring the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party into his governing coalition by offering to name its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, defense minister, according to politicians across Israel’s political map. Just hours before meeting Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Netanyahu seemed to have been closing in on a coalition agreement with Isaac Herzog. By contrast, Mr. Lieberman is known as a blunt-talking, polarizing figure.” [NYTimes]

Yochi Dreazen: “5 Things You Need to Know About Israel’s New Putin-Loving Defense Minister” [ForeignPolicy]

JI READERS REACT — Dov Zakheim: “What is interesting is not only that Lieberman is defense minister, but that Bogie Ya’alon is not. Ya’alon has had an excellent relationship with Ash Carter, as well as–and this will surprise many people–Chuck Hagel. Lieberman’s closest ties are with Moscow. Indeed, in contrast to the welcome mat that Vladimir Putin extends to him, he has been virtually persona non grata as far as the Obama Administration is concerned. Clearly, given the mutual admiration of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, Lieberman would be very welcome in a Trump Administration Pentagon. Whether that would be the case if Hillary Clinton is elected is quite another matter. Lieberman’s ties to a Clinton-appointed defense secretary could more closely resemble the brittle relationship between Ariel Sharon and Caspar Weinberger. Maybe Ash Carter, who is the ultimate gentleman, will invite Lieberman to the Pentagon. But if he does, the White House will surely gnash its teeth until Lieberman heads back to Tel Aviv.”

Aaron David Miller: “If this works out, Netanyahu will have a bullet-proof coalition to take him through the next year or so w/o fear of being pressured by the US; Herzog or his own right-wing. He sends a powerful message to the IDF that he won’t brook dissent; steels himself against any pressure from the French, the Europeans, or Washington on the peace process; and now has a comfortable majority which could conceivably carry him through 2018 when he would become the longest governing PM since David Ben Gurion. The price he pays for coalition stability — or so-called peace at home — is likely a continued deterioration of Israel’s image and credibility abroad and handing the most sensitive portfolio in the government to an ideologue and rival whom Netanyahu recently described as not even qualified to be a military analyst.”

Dan Arbell: “The purpose of the move was not about U.S.-Israel affairs. It’s a much more domestic-oriented move… It allows him to have the coalition based on his natural inclination, which is a right of center agenda – a tougher stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, also signaling that settlement activity continues.”

Alon Pinkas: “The Defense Ministry is a strong, entrenched and almost self-functioning system, so the transition will be smooth. Obviously, this is an extremely right-wing government and the addition of Mr. Lieberman makes no substantive difference.”

BACKSTORY: “How Tony Blair and Egypt’s Sissi Tried to Push Zionist Union Into Netanyahu’s Coalition” by Barak Ravid: “A list of international figures led by Tony Blair were behind a failed move designed to legitimize the addition of the Zionist Union to the Israeli ruling coalition, a move practically unprecedented in terms of massive international intervention in Israeli politics. Two sources in the Israeli political system say that Blair is the one who pushed and encouraged Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi’s speech on Tuesday in which he called on Israeli political parties to agree on the need to advance the framework for peace with the Palestinians.” [Haaretz]

“French Plan for Middle East Peace Talks Hits a Familiar Snag” by Isabel Kershner: “Israel has been trying to turn the Americans off the French plan. Dore Gold, the director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a close aide to Mr. Netanyahu, said the conference that France was trying to convene would “provide a new escape route for Abbas to avoid direct talks with Israel.” Though France and Israel are allies, Mr. Gold said, “there is a disconnect on this issue.” Speaking to reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah this week, Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian prime minister, said, “Our previous experiences directly negotiating with the current right-wing Israeli government were ineffective and redundant.”” [NYTimes]

INTERFERENCE: “US intelligence: Foreign hackers spying on campaigns” by Deb Riechmann: “The New York billionaire probably has the largest “attack surface” of the candidates, said John Dickson of the Denim Group, a San Antonio developer of secure software. “If it’s the Bernie Sanders campaign, it’s probably one website. If it’s Donald Trump, it’s his entire empire.” Dickson and other experts said they weren’t privy to any incidents of foreign hacking of the campaigns. But as the political conventions and general election near, they worry about a well-timed, sophisticated attack by a government to help a candidate. “Think of the Chinese. Think of the Iranians. They have the intelligence capabilities, obviously, and maybe even the desire to disrupt elections,” Dickson said.” [AP]

“Trump meets with Henry Kissinger” by Kristina Wong: “The meeting, which took place at Kissinger’s home, came as Trump seeks support from members of the Republican establishment and to shore up his foreign policy credentials. Last week, Trump met with former Secretary of State James Baker.” [TheHillVideo] • “Trump brought son-in-law Jared Kushner to Kissinger meeting” [Twitter

“Hillary and Henry: Clinton’s Relationship With Kissinger” by Meghan Keneally: “Clinton and Kissinger’s ties extend beyond politics: The two are so friendly that when Clinton was set to present a fashion industry award to designer Oscar de la Renta, the event was re-arranged so that both Clinton and de la Renta were able to attend Kissinger’s 90th birthday party in New York.” [ABCNews]

“How Donald Trump won over big donors” by Sara Murray and Theodore Schleifer: “Trump announced a pair of joint fundraising agreements with the RNC late Tuesday. And three veteran GOP financiers — Ron Weiser, a prominent fundraiser who previously directed cash to anti-Trump groups, Ray Washburne, a Dallas-based bundler who led fundraising for Chris Christie, and Elliott Broidy, a California venture capitalist — will be the vice chairs for the new joint victory fund, multiple sources familiar with the plan tell CNN… Ken Abramowitz, a Republican fundraiser who was promoted as a prominent Trump backer by one of the super PACs, the Committee for American Sovereignty, said things are only getting started. “I’m just in the first inning, trying to meet the key people.”” [CNN]

Maggie Haberman: “Mel Sembler also set to play role, per source” [Twitter]

Flashback to April: “Trump has insulted most of the contributors and fundraisers in the country,” said Mel Sembler… Sembler, who writes six-figure checks to super-PACs, recalls watching Trump speak at a Republican Jewish Coalition event in December. 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]

“Sanders Slams Adelson For Supporting Trump” by Jacob Kornbluh: “Sanders on Tuesday warned that the country “is going to slip into an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires control our political and economic life” after GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson announced his support of Donald Trump for president. “Here is something that is even crazier. A guy named Sheldon Adelson—also one of the wealthiest people in America—a billionaire who is prepared to contribute huge sums of money to another billionaire named Donald Trump,” Sanders told the crowd, who booed in return. “The American people are sick and tired of billionaires running our economy and our political life.” [JewishInsider]

“Bernie Sanders, Eyeing Convention, Willing to Harm Hillary Clinton in the Homestretch” by Patrick Healy, Yamiche Alcindor and Jeremy Peters: “Defiant and determined to transform the Democratic Party, Senator Bernie Sanders is opening a two-month phase of his presidential campaign aimed at inflicting a heavy blow on Hillary Clinton in California and amassing enough leverage to advance his agenda at the convention in July — or even wrest the nomination from her.” [NYT]

Peter Beinart: “Future Democratic Presidential Candidates Will Be Tougher on Israel” [Haaretz]

Robert Kagan: “This is how fascism comes to America” [WashPost]

**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: “Israel’s $27 Billion Drug Problem Leaves Stocks Near Bear Market” [Bloomberg] • “Mayo Clinic launches initiative to invest in Israeli medical tech” [JPost] • “Lloyd Blankfein finally finds a buyer for Hamptons mansion” [NYPost] • “For American-Jewish businessman Leon Falic, investing in Israel is just good sense” [JPost] • “Vikings owner Mark Wilf linked to $7 million townhouse buy in Palm Beach” [PBDailyNews]

SPOTLIGHT: “Jason Hirschhorn’s personal network made him rich. Then it saved his life” by Eric Johnson: “From an early age, Jason Hirschhorn knew how to rally a crowd. While in high school, he worked as a club promoter in New York City; one night, he got 7,000 teenagers into a venue that charged $10 a head — and he had negotiated that he would receive half of the door sales. “I walked out of the club with a garbage bag of $35,000,” Hirschhorn said on the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka. That was just the start; he sold his first startup to Viacom for tens of millions of dollars, a “life-changing amount of money,” and embarked on a career that brought him to MTV, Sling Media and MySpace, all the while building strong connections throughout the media industry.” [ReCode]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Approximately 400 guests packed the Pierre hotel’s grand ballroom in New York City last night for Hillel International’s annual Renaissance Gala, celebrating Jewish communal leaders and Hillel friends Daniel A. Burack, Mark G. Yudof and Rhoda Weisman. The event raised more than $2 million for Hillel.

Spotted: Hillel CEO Eric Fingerhut, University of Vermont President Tom Sullivan, Malcolm Hoenlein, YU President Richard Joel & Esther Joel, David Shapira, Jan Aronson, Tina & Steven Price, Jill & Bob Smith, Abby Joseph & David Cohen, Dana Raucher, Wayne Firestone, Shapira Foundation’s Josh Donner, Lynn Schusterman, Schusterman Foundation’s Lisa Eisen, Sandy Cardin, David Rittberg, Jim Joseph’s Chip Edelsberg, Morris Offit, OU’s Allen Fagin, Dave Felsenthal, Hillel’s Tim Cohen, Yitz & Blu Greenberg, UJA’s Hindy Poupko, Sam Schear, Hillel’s Sheila Katz, OneTable’s Aliza Kline, Yitz & Hilda Applbaum, Birthright’s Shira Hutt, Columbia Hillel’s Brian Cohen, JFN’s Andrés Spokoiny, Tom Blumberg, Avodah’s Cheryl Cook, Jessica Abo, and Hillel’s Abi Dauber Sterne.

“Jonathan Tisch honors his mom at gala” by Ian Mohr: “Jonathan Tisch paid tribute to his mom, Joan Tisch, at the 92Y Spring Gala, sources said… The Loews exec recalled how Joan began volunteering at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in 1986 before becoming a prominent AIDS advocate. But at one time, others at the org apparently didn’t know Joan’s famous last name. When a copy machine broke and GMHC brass didn’t know where they’d get the $450 needed to replace it, Joan pulled out a checkbook. But she was asked, “How do we know it won’t bounce?” Joan, with her husband, later donated millions for a new building.” [PageSix]

“Nelson Peltz throws reported $2M bar mitzvah for his twin sons” by Richard Johnson:“One of the most lavish bar mitzvah celebrations ever was held at the Pierre hotel on Saturday night when activist/investor Nelson Peltz honored his twin sons, Zachary and Gregory. The hundreds of guests — including Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan — marveled at the stilt-walkers, two bands, five singers, hockey rink, basketball hoop and video games.” [NYPost]

Lipa Schmeltzer: “Fulfilling a Promise to President Obama: Last Hanukkah I promised the President and First Lady a gold and silver yarmulke. This is my journey to make good on it.” [TabletMag]

DESSERT: “Why Is Pork Disappearing From Tel Aviv Restaurants?” by Libby Sperling: “Chef restaurants like Raphael, Catit and Messa are not kosher, but there are no pork dishes there either. As chef Meir Adoni of Catit explains: “The way I understand it, there’s no place for it in the Israeli culinary scene.” “We used to be the biggest pork restaurant in Tel Aviv,” says Nir Weiman, chef and owner of Mel & Michelle. “But over time, more and more diners were telling us that although they enjoyed their meal, they wouldn’t be coming back. When asked why, the answer was always the same: ‘Because there’s pork in the kitchen.’” He says that Jewish tourists from France, Russia and America also call before coming to inquire if the restaurant serves pork.” [Haaretz]

BIRTHDAYS: Bend the Arc CEO Stosh Cotler… Chief Rabbi of Russia and close friend to Putin, Rabbi Berel Lazar of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, turns 52… Harvey D. Harman turns 60… Aleph VC Founder Michael Eisenberg (yesterday)…

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