Daily Kickoff: Will Trump recognize the Golan before the Israeli elections? | Gantz to address AIPAC | Jake Tapper turns 5-0

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ON THE GOLAN — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said during a tour of the Golan Heights yesterday that he will work with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on legislation to recognize the Golan “as part of the State of Israel now and forever.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who accompanied Graham on the tour, along with Ambassador David Friedman, thanked the senior Republican lawmaker for his support. “The Golan is part of Israel. The Golan must stay part of Israel forever. I think it’s very important that the international community recognize this fact and accept it, and most especially, our great friend the United States,” Netanyahu said. [PicVideo• Watch: Bibi and Graham on the helicopter ride to the Golan [Video]

Speaking to reporters on the conclusion of his trip, 
Graham said that the main purpose of the weekend visit to Israel was “to make a statement that from an American point of view, a safe, secure and prosperous Israel is in our national security interest and Israel cannot be safe, secure and prosperous unless it has the Golan.” 

Graham added that he’s hoping that the administration will be receptive to the idea. “I’ve been told that in the State Department there’s a map that has the Golan as a disputed area. I’d like to urge President Trump to change that map,” he said. “I’m going to go back and tell the president about my visit.” 

Asked if the president could announce such a move before the Israeli election on April 9th — a move that would benefit PM Netanyahu — Graham said: “I don’t know about timing, but I hope he will do it quickly. Everything that we can do we should do, in terms of making statements about Israel. The state of Israel is under siege right now, and I don’t know what’s wrong with coming now versus April 10th.” 

Kevin Bishop, Sen. Graham’s communications director, told Jewish Insider that Graham hopes to pass the legislation “as soon as possible.” [JewishInsider]

Netanyahu rival thinks Trump could recognize Golan Heights to swing Israeli election — by Barak Ravid: 
“Benny Gantz’s aides told me they think Trump could announce U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights during Netanyahu’s visit to the White House two weeks from now. Gantz’s aides told me that if Trump does this, it will give Netanyahu a huge achievement to campaign on.” [Axios]

FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer tells Jewish Insider
“The move itself is long overdue. But Trump should probably wait another four weeks until after election day to avoid injecting White House decisions into the Israeli political process. One month won’t change much, if anything. And this probably does not need to wait until after the coalition is formed.” 

CFR’s Martin Indyk tweets“Not that anyone in Trump or Netanyahu land cares, but for the U.S. to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights would be a direct contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which the United States co-authored, and Israel accepted… Like it or not, the Golan Heights are Syrian territory. Israel cannot give them up now given its legitimate security concerns. But to recognize Israel’s annexation of territory that is not its own is to play with fire for partisan political purposes. No Arab state will accept it.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — PM Netanyahu, responding to questions on Likud TV, suggested that Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid would not get along with President Trump. “They supported the Iran nuclear deal, and they will get along with Trump? Trump, to my joy, believes in the things I believe in. But regardless, they will also have to face a less-sympathetic administration. I stood up for eight years against an administration that wanted to push us towards the 1967 borders and uproot settlements. I withstood pressure that no other prime minister withstood. And therefore, the challenge is not only to face a friendly president, that I have a special relationship with, but the challenge is with a president that you have to tell him the short word: ‘No.’ And I did both.”[Video]

During a press briefing at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Graham also commented on Trump’s remarks about the Democratic Party being ‘anti-Jewish’: “I wouldn’t agree with that. I would say that the Jewish members of the House and Senate, for the most part, have expressed disappointment and disgust with some of the statements coming from younger members of the freshman class of the Democratic House… There are elements within the Democratic Party that are getting more and more hostile toward Israel, and that disturbs me, but I would not say that the party is anti-Jewish.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders deflects when asked about Trump calling Democrats ‘anti-Jewish’ — by Kevin Liptak: “‘Democrats have had a number of opportunities to condemn specific comments and have refused to do that,’ she said. ‘That’s a question you should ask Democrats, what their position is, since they’re unwilling to call this what it is and call it out by name and take action against members who have done things like this.'” [CNNVideo]

— CNN’s Jim Acosta to Sanders: 
“Democrats don’t hate Jewish people. That’s just silly. It’s not true.” [Video]

Ilhan Omar Can’t Break the U.S.-Israel Bond — by Walter Russell Mead: 
“The theory that ‘the Jews’ control American foreign policy by distributing Benjamins to elected officials isn’t a theory only about rich and unscrupulous Jews. It is a theory about stupid gentiles unable to perceive the devious purposes of the hooknosed Master Race. This reflects not just anti-Semitism but contempt for the American people as a whole.” [WSJ]

No one loses a debate over anti-Semitism. Except Jews — by Seth Mandel: 
“Please stop with the predictions that the Jewish vote in 2020 is suddenly up for grabs. Democrats may have thrown Jews who were offended by Omar under the bus, but they’ll file provisional ballots while looking up at the rear axle if they have to. And Republicans who think they don’t play a role in that are fooling themselves. ‘We finally censured Steve King after he won his ninth term’ isn’t the bumper sticker of a party that’s done everything in its power to reach Jewish voters — especially when it’s still led by a president who infamously equivocated on racist, anti-Semitic marchers in Charlottesville.”[WashPost]

J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami, CAIR’s Nihad Awad, Nathan Guttman and professor Deborah Lipstadt discussed how can one criticize the government of Israel, without being antisemitic on NPR’s 1A. [NPR]

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) writes… “Congress missed the point with watered-down resolution on anti-Semitism: 
We had an opportunity to condemn anti-Semitism in strong, specific terms. We had the chance to reassure our Jewish brothers and sisters, in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and amid an overall rise in anti-Jewish attacks, that we will support and defend them… We could have explained that the U.S.-Israel relationship is special, not for nefarious reasons, but because our two countries have shared values, shared security interests, and a deep historical connection… Congress could have done all this, but didn’t.” [OrlandoSentinel]

Cheney roils GOP leadership on anti-Semitism vote — by Melanie Zanona and John Bresnahan: 
“Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was upset last week that the Republican Conference chairwoman, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, along with 22 other Republicans, voted against the anti-hate resolution… Members of leadership typically vote together as a pack. But other members of McCarthy’s leadership team were frustrated that there wasn’t better communication about the GOP’s strategy on the resolution.” [Politico]

LePage suggests Democrats’ money comes mostly from Jews: 
“‘The Jewish people in America have been great supporters of the Democratic Party,’ Former Gov. Paul LePage told WGAN-AM. ‘In fact, that’s where their money comes from for the most part. They should be absolutely insulted for what she’s been saying.’ … LePage said he is ‘skeptical’ that Jewish voters would break away from Democrats. ‘I think what they might do, the fundraising might get hurt a little bit,’ LePage said. ‘But I don’t think they’re going to desert the Democratic Party.'” [APPolitico]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Book Describes Ivanka Trump’s Defense After Charlottesville — by Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman: 
“When Gary D. Cohn was considering resigning as the top White House economic adviser after President Trump blamed ‘both sides’ in a deadly white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Va., his first stop was a meeting with Mr. Trump’s children. In a conversation in August 2017 with Ivanka Trump, Mr. Cohn was shocked by her reaction to his concerns, according to a new book about Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. ‘My dad’s not a racist; he didn’t mean any of it,’ Ms. Trump said… Appearing to channel her father, she added, ‘That’s not what he said.'” [NYTimes• Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were repeatedly rejected when they tried to fly on Air Force planes, so they found a workaround [BusinessInsider]

ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: 
Pro-Israel groups are scheduled to testify in front of the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, advocating how funds in the president’s 2020 budget should be appropriated. AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr will ask the committee to approve $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel while also supporting continued U.S. aid to Egypt and Jordan as nations that contribute to stability in the Middle East — funding outlined in the 2016 U.S.- Israel Memorandum of Understanding. J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami will ask the committee to appropriate a similar amount for aid to Israel, but with an extra almost $600 million to be directed towards Palestinian assistance programs and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). 

Representatives David Kustoff (R-TN) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), both members of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced a bill on Monday that would name and shame Iranian individuals and entities that are getting rich off their proximity to the regime. Called the ‘Stop Corrupt Iranian Oligarchs and Entities Act,’ it mirrors previously passed legislation that identifies corrupt Russian officials for sanctions. “It is unacceptable that the leaders in Iran have continued to accumulate hundreds of millions of dollars of wealth from their positions as their people suffer,” Rep. Kustoff said in a statement. Rep. Gottheimer said, “In recent years, Iran has capitalized on sanctions relief, bankrolling terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, Hamas and military adventurism across the region, while enriching corrupt, regime-connected officials back at home.”

SCENE YESTERDAY — Former Shin Bet head Yaakov Peri and former director of the CIA Mike Morell attended a lunch on Capitol Hill to discuss the ‘new Middle East’ and how enduring threats posed by Iran, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups are further complicated by the involvement of competing world powers — specifically Russia and China. “No doubt that the Russian involvement in Syria is ‘heavy,’ I haven’t got another description,” Peri said. “I wouldn’t trust Putin. I’m not a Bibi follower, but in this case, I’m trusting Bibi more than his counterpart.”

Morell warned against the withdrawal of American troops in Syria as allowing domestic politics to dictate foreign policy. “But the lesson of World War II is, you pay now or you pay a lot more later,” said Morell. “We either pay now and return to our traditional leadership role in the world, or we, again, will be paying a lot more later. I guarantee you.”  

On Netanyahu’s personal attacks against Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, Peri told Jewish Insider, “I’m against personal attacks. Mr. Gantz was appointed by Mr. Netanyahu to be the Chief of Staff and together they have fought the last operation in Gaza [Operation Protective Edge in 2014] and when you read the farewell letter that Mr. Netanyahu wrote to Gantz, you’d be amazed… Now it’s politics… I wouldn’t say that everything is allowed… Personally, I think that Gantz and Kachol Levan [the Blue and White party] will face difficulties to compose a government, but there [is a chance], and I am a supporter of this group.” 

KAFE KNESSET — Gantz Answers Questions From the Public — by Neri Zilber: In his first real engagement with the public, Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White, held a town hall meeting last night at the Be’er Sheva Cultural Hall alongside his running mate Yair Lapid. The event drew about 1,000 supportive local citizens and party activists, with space at a premium inside the cramped hall. Aside from Gantz (finally) answering questions from voters, the most interesting aspect was his interplay with Lapid. Coming out to Israeli pop music, clapping and smiling feverishly, the two casually dressed co-leaders did well playing off one another. Yet it was clear that Lapid was there in a support role — adding much-needed charisma and energy to Gantz’s more rigid delivery. Gantz kicked off the event with highly scripted remarks delivered from a podium, slamming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his looming indictments and calling on him again to resign for the good of the country.”

Gantz Confirms AIPAC Speech: Blue and White confirmed this morning that Gantz will be speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference later this month in Washington. The speech is planned for March 25, and will focus, according to Blue and White, on “rebuild[ing] the relationship with American Jewry and ensur[ing] that Israel will once again enjoy the support of its friends across the spectrum in the United States.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]

Ayman Odeh sets out terms for helping Gantz’s Blue and White defeat Netanyahu — by Adam Rasgon: “’We would be willing to recommend Gantz and Lapid to Rivlin to stop the formation of a right-wing government, but they need to show us they are willing to negotiate peace with the [Ramallah-based] Palestinian leadership, support equality for all citizens including Arabs, increase budgets to the local authorities in Arab villages and cancel the nation-state law,’ Odeh said.” [ToI]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Pompeo, Kushner, Greenblatt discuss Middle East with Jordan king: source — by Steve Holland: 
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House senior advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt discussed Middle East peace prospects with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Monday… The 45-minute meeting took place at the Jordanian ambassador’s residence in Washington.” [Reuters]

2020 WATCH — All eyes on Milwaukee: The 2020 Democratic National Convention is coming to Wisconsin — by Mark Sommerhauser: “Milwaukee will host the Democratic National Convention in 2020… A centerpiece of Milwaukee’s DNC bid is the new Milwaukee Bucks arena, Fiserv Forum, which will host the convention. Milwaukee Bucks vice president Alex Lasry — who along with Barrett and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, helped oversee the city’s bid for the convention — hailed the news. In a statement, Lasry said the convention ‘is an unprecedented opportunity to put Milwaukee on the international stage like never before.'” [Madison]

In a shifting party, Joe Biden maintains strength with South Carolina’s black Democrats… Beto O’Rourke to make first trip to Iowa ahead of possible 2020 run… Is Beto the front-runner or already a flop?… Facebook backtracksafter removing Warren ads calling for Facebook breakup… Larry Hogan, potential Trump primary challenger, is headed to New Hampshire in April… Former House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a lecture Monday in Vero Beach on Monday that he believes there are some Democrats who could beat President Donald Trump next year. 

** Good Tuesday 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Sam Altman plans to build what he is calling a ‘capped-profit’ company that could be a model in Silicon Valley [Recode• Lear Invests in Israel-Based Maniv Mobility Venture Capital Fund [Newswire• Jonah Peretti face pressure from inside BuzzFeed amid concern for the company’s financial future [CJR] • Pam Wasserstein’s New York Media lays off 32 workers [NYPost• New York’s business elite decamps to millennial-friendly Hudson Yards [FinancialTimes] •  NY Lawmakers Support ‘Pied-à-Terre’ Tax on Multimillion-Dollar Second Homes [NYTimes• An oil boom is transforming the eastern Mediterranean — and changing relationships, especially with Israel [LATimes]

SPOTLIGHT — Gov. Ron DeSantis hitches ride to New York on South Florida gambling mogul’s jet; GOP picks up tab — by Steve Bousquet: “Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Feb. 28 excursion to New York — paid for by the Republican Party of Florida — was on a plane owned by Jeffrey Soffer, an Aventura real estate executive who owns the Fontainebleau resort hotel in Miami Beach and the Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach.” [SunSentinel]

A Russian Is Now London’s Richest Man: 
“Mikhail Fridman’s net worth of $15 billion knocked billionaire investor Len Blavatnik from the top of the list, Forbes Russia reported Tuesday. Fridman is one of 55 billionaire Londoners, who have a combined net worth of $226 billion… Forbes Russia named Fridman its businessman of the year in 2017. That year, Buzzfeed published the infamous ‘Trump Dossier,’ accusing the oligarch of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections on President Vladimir Putin’s orders.”[MoscowTimes]

JERUSALEM SCENE —  Global TV executives descend on Jerusalem — by Ami Spiro: “Top-level decision-makers from Netflix, CNN, CBS, Amazon Studios and more took part in interviews and panel discussions during the first day of Keshet INTV’s sixth annual conference at the YMCA in the capital… Academy Award-nominated director Julie Cohen also appeared on a panel Monday to discuss her recent documentary, RBG, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” [JPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN — ‘Cooking is our expression’: the ultra-Orthodox foodies stirring the pot — by Miriam Berger: “Michael Zilbershlag started a new brand, Kosher and Tasty, joining a wave of Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, women in Israel mixing old rules with new Instagram filters as they promote and refine their communities’ traditional food. About once a month Zilbershlag holds catering classes in her home in Hemed, a religious community in central Israel, drawing women from all over the country. While the kitchen is a traditionally acceptable space for women in conservative societies, Zilbershlag and Haredi female food entrepreneurs like her describe their work as a kind of consumer-driven outreach to combat the image of Haredim as anti-modern.” [TheGuardian]

DESSERT — Iconic kosher deli in Amsterdam closes after 62 years — by Cnaan Liphshiz: 
“Amsterdam’s iconic kosher deli Sal Meijer has been shuttered after 62 years because of financial difficulties and a lack of trustworthy kashrut supervisors. The deli closed this month without fanfare, and faithful patrons like Ron Eisenmann of Amsterdam learned about it from reading a sign on the door of the eatery in southern Amsterdam that read ‘Sal Meijer is closed from now on,’ he wrote on Twitter.” [JTA]

BIRTHDAYS: Chief Washington correspondent for CNN and anchor of the Sunday morning program “State of the Union,” Jacob Paul “Jake” Tapperturns 50… Attorney, real estate developer and former president of AIPAC (2014-2015), he is the founder and CEO of R.A. Cohen & Associates, Robert A. Cohen turns 64… Founder and CEO at Miller Strategies, LLC and a principal of the Ryan Advocacy group, he was previously an advisor for Kevin McCarthy and Rick Perry, Jeff Miller… Born in Venezuela, raised in Israel, now residing in New Jersey, Rabbi Yitzchak Abadi turns 86… Sam Cohen turns 86… Photographer, musician and author of 15 children’s books, she is married to Alan Alda since 1957, Arlene Weiss Alda turns 86… Carol Margolis turns 74… Director, producer and screenwriter of movies and television including “The Fast and the Furious” film franchise, Rob Cohen turns 70… Born in Bombay, British sculptor who in 2017 won the $1 million Genesis Prize for “commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and the State of Israel,” Sir Anish Kapoor turns 65…

Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, he is from the Israeli Druze community and serves as Israel’s Minister of Communications, Ayoob Kara turns 64… Lynne Blumenthal turns 61… Director of the Initiative on Holocaust Denial and Antisemitism and Director of Survivor Affairs, both at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Diane Saltzman turns 56… Sportscaster for ESPN since 1993, host of SportsCenter best known for his work broadcasting NHL hockey, Steve Levy turns 54… VP for media affairs at USTelecom – The Broadband Association, he was previously the Democratic communications director for the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Brian T. Weiss turns 43… Iraq Analyst at Tesla Government Inc., Aaron Magid turns 30… Israeli figure skater who won the 2016 World Junior championship, he competed for Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Daniel Samohin turns 21… Chief Marketing Officer at Consensus Systems, better known as ConsenSys, a blockchain software technology company, Amanda Gutterman… Founder of, and designer for, a NYC-based eponymous clothing line that features successful women as its fashion models, Carrie Hammer




Daily Kickoff: Foreign policy hands recall when Benny Gantz worked in Washington | 2020 comes to SXSW | Israeli Mellanox sells for $6.8B

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PROFILE — Calm and Collected: Washington insiders reflect on Benny Gantz’s tenure in D.C. — by JI‘s Laura Kelly and Jacob Kornbluh: Before Benny Gantz entered the tumultuous waters of Israeli politics, he arrived in Washington D.C., to serve as Israel’s military attache from 2007 to 2009, years bookended by two defining military operations and an increase in U.S. financial support for Israel. We spoke with DC officials who worked with Gantz during his time in Washington.

“He’s a good guy in a sense that he makes everybody around him feel good,” Dan Arbell, former deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., told Jewish Insider. “He is very pleasant in his demeanor and very easy going. If necessary, he can bang on a table and call somebody to order.”

Most who’ve worked Gantz respect him for his ability to disagree. “I have seen him angry, but I have never seen him sacrifice good decision making for frustration or anger,” said Mary Beth Long, former assistant secretary of Defense during the Bush and Obama administrations. Long still holds a close, personal friendship with Gantz, notwithstanding differences of opinion they had when they were official counterparts. In one instance, Long recounts how she withheld funding for the Iron Dome Missile Defense system because she didn’t believe it was yet out of its research and development phase. “There were a lot of very, very unhappy Israelis and Americans who thought I was making a bad decision and through all of that, this is where Benny is really different in my sense,” she said. “He’s able to separate out disappointments and not sacrifice and use emotion to blow up the relationship or to impact other aspects of the relationship, which is a little bit rare.”

“First of all he’s a tough soldier, and he’s got a brilliant military mind, but he also has a heart,” said Lt.-Gen. (R) H. Steven Blum, Chief of the National Guard Bureau between 2003-2008, and who worked with Gantz when he was in a number of different official positions, including as military attache. Blum recalled how, in a visit to the Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip, he was struck by the emotion he saw from Gantz when talking with families living under rocket fire. “The man really has empathy and an understanding of the importance of the IDF for the survival and future of Israel.”

Dov Zakheim, former undersecretary of defense during the Bush administration, told Jewish Insider that Gantz comes across as “a very balanced guy. I don’t get the sense that he’s an ideologue at all.” The general brings pragmatism to his leadership style, Mr. Zakheim said, “as opposed to stirring up emotions in Israel which Netanyahu would do, especially about Iran.” This might help him “steer Israel through some very difficult times,” dealing with the existential threats of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinians, thinks Zakheim. “He’s a practical guy. I’ve watched him in Washington and I’ve watched him in Israel. And frankly, I think that the reason he’s doing as well as he’s doing, again, is because the Israeli public looks at him that way.”

When Gantz was Chief of General Staff of the IDF, Martin Indyk says he met with him “a couple of times.” Indyk told JI in an email that he found Gantz “to be [a] highly intelligent, strategic thinker, and a moderate person with great integrity and good judgment.” 

Colin Kahl, who was national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and who worked with Gantz during his time in Washington, also offered a positive reflection of his time spent with three-star general-turned-politician. “I worked with Gantz closely when he was the military attaché in DC,” Mr. Kahl wrote in an email to JI. “He always struck me as a man of great integrity and he was very committed to the US-Israel relationship.” Read the comments in full here [JewishInsider]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Netanyahu-Trump Partnership Is Stronger Than Ever — by David Halbfinger: 
“In both personality and policy, the two actually have so little in common… Mr. Netanyahu is a voracious reader and student of history; Mr. Trump is neither. Mr. Netanyahu, even his critics say, has been a savvy statesman, forging ties with once-hostile nations; Mr. Trump’s iconoclastic, domineering foreign policy has by contrast alienated longstanding American allies around the globe. Yet much as Muddy Waters anticipated Mick Jagger, Mr. Netanyahu was thrilling Israeli audiences with a visceral blend of populism, ethnic resentments and media-bashing fully 20 years before Mr. Trump first took that brand of politics to the big time.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — The Beautiful People vs Bibi — by Neri Zilber: 
Reality TV host and model Rotem Sela made headlines yesterday after taking to Instagram to slam Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev (Likud) for her remarks during an interview on Channel 12 where she repeatedly raised the “threat” of Arab parties taking part in the next government with Blue and White. “What is the problem with the Arabs??? Dear God, there are also Arab citizens in this country. When the hell will someone in this government convey to the public that Israel is a state of all its citizens and that all people were created equal,” Sela wrote. That may have been the end of the story but for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to Sela via his own Instagram account. “Dear Rotem, an important correction: Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the nation-state law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and not anyone else,” Netanyahu wrote.” 

Hollywood star (and Wonder Woman) Gal Gadot and model Shlomit Malka both came out in support of Sela. The Anti-Defamation League took note of the flap and issued a statement calling the anti-Arab rhetoric emanating from the government “deeply troubling.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]

Rivlin: campaign rhetoric regarding Israeli Arabs ‘completely unacceptable — by Herb Keinon: “President Reuven Rivlin used a forum marking the 40th anniversary of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty on Monday to slam what he said was a ‘completely unacceptable conversation regarding Israeli Arab citizens’ taking place during the ‘dizzying’ election campaign.” [JPost]

HEARD AT SXSW — At South by Southwest, presidential hopefuls woo hipsters and techies — by Matt Viser: “The 2020 circus had arrived at the hipster-techie festival that is South by Southwest… For the first time in this presidential campaign, most of the Democratic candidates were gathered in the same place. Over barbecue, craft beer and tacos, they took turns selling their vision for the party, and the United States. Over the course of the weekend, many sat for an hour-long interview.” 

“Howard Schultz used a question about whether he supports abortion rights to say that he does, before turning, unprompted, to religion. ‘The country is ready for a Jewish president. I’m not running as someone who is Jewish, I’m running as an American who happens to be Jewish.'” [WashPost]

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) declined to condemn her House colleague Ilhan Omar 
(D-MN) during a CNN town hall with Dana Bash, after the issue was raised by Beth Gendler, Executive Director of the National Council of Jewish Women in Minnesota:”There are people who have expressed their offense at these statements. I think that what Congresswoman Omar was trying to get at was a deeper issue related to our foreign policy, and I think there’s an important discussion that we have to be able to have openly, even though we may end up disagreeing at the end of it, but we’ve got to be able to have that openness to have the conversation.” 

Bash: But you’re not willing to go as far as saying it’s antisemitic?  

“What I’m saying is, is what she was trying to bring up was something that was a deeper issue. And I don’t believe that her intent was to cause any offense to anyone.” [Video]

In an interview with Kara Swisher, Sen. Amy Klobuchar 
(D-MN) said “she disagreed with Representative Ilhan Omar’s recent comments about American politicians’ support for Israel, ‘because I believe you can be true to your country and advocate for another country, whether it is Israel or Canada or Ethiopia’ — but condemned Mr. Trump for emboldening intolerance, including anti-Semitism, and noted Ms. Omar’s own background as a refugee.”[NYTimesVideo]

2020 WATCH — Back in New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) hopesfor a reprise of 2016… Senate Democrats say they’re increasingly open to getting behind Sanders if he appears the strongest candidate a year from now… Alex Soros met with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on Friday… Beto O’Rourke’s campaign comes to life in a darkened theater, for better and worse… NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said he will make a 2020 decision ‘sooner than later’ during SC visit… De Blasio got snarky about Mike Bloomberg’s decision not to run in 2020… President Trump will kick off a heavy rotation of campaign rallies in battleground states in the coming weeks… 

UPDATE — Following our lead on Friday about the NYTimes article on AIPAC, the JTA’s Ron Kampeas discovered the main ‘activist’ quoted in the story is not associated with AIPAC: “The ‘AIPAC activist’ quoted, Stephen Fiske of Florida, confirmed to me that he has not been associated with the pro-Israel lobbying group for several years… The error is emblematic of the misconceptions that first helped spur the controversy leading up to Ocasio-Cortez’s fundraising pitch… Fiske’s role as the chairman of a pro-Israel political action committee — unaffiliated with AIPAC, which is not a PAC — was the centerpiece of The Times article and seemed to confirm what AIPAC’s critics, including Omar, refer to as its hardball tactics.” [JTA

INBOX — AIPAC emailed activists over the weekend: “It has been a trying few weeks for the pro-Israel community. We’ve been angered and disgusted by claims of dual loyalty and other anti-Semitic statements. But together we are standing tall. We will not be deterred.” 

MAR-A-LAGO SCENE — In a speech to RNC donors at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night, President Trump “raised some eyebrows” by suggesting that the Democrats “hate Jewish people” — Jonathan Swan reports:”Referring to the recent anti-semitism controversies with Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, Trump told the donors: ‘The Democrats hate Jewish people.’ Trump said he didn’t understand how any Jew could vote for a Democrat these days. Trump talked about how much he’d done for Israel… Trump said if he could run to be prime minister of Israel, he’d be at 98% in the polls.” [Axios]

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) fired back at Trump on Friday for calling the Democratic Party an ‘anti-Israel, anti-Jewish party.’ “For the president, who when neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville in front of a synagogue and said ‘burn it down’ and he said ‘both sides’ are to blame, this is a new divisive low,” Schumer wrote in a Facebook post. “His comments show the president is only interested in playing the politics of division and not in fighting anti-Semitism. Mr. President, you have redefined chutzpah.”

Trump’s Claim That Democrats Are an ‘Anti-Jewish Party’ Is Absurd — by Ed Kilgore: “There are 27 Jews currently serving in the U.S. House. Twenty-five of them are Democrats; 2 are Republicans. There are nine Jews in the U.S. Senate. All of them are Democrats.” [NYMagWashPost]

HEARD ON CABLE — Rep. Liz Cheney blasts House Democrats for ‘enabling’ anti-Semitic comments: 
“‘It is absolutely shameful that Nancy Pelosi and Leader Hoyer and the Democratic leaders will not put [Ilhan Omar’s] name in a resolution on the floor and condemn her remarks and remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,’ Rep. Cheney (R-WY) said. ‘Those people who won’t condemn it are enabling it.'” [NBCNewsVideo]

David Frum on CBS’s Face the Nation: “One of the questions that is going to face progressive Democrats is, who here wants to be inside the building making the decisions, and who wants to be outside the building carrying the placards? … I think you can see from the extraordinarily careful and targeted and self-effacing questioning that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did in Cohen hearings versus the unbelievably, undisciplined repeated provocative remarks of Ilhan Omar and the rather sad defenses of her by Democratic leadership ― ‘You have to understand she doesn’t quite know what words mean’. If you don’t know what words mean, Congress may be the wrong line of work for you.”[Video]

TALK OF THE TOWN — In Minnesota, Rep. Ilhan Omar’s comments cause pain and confusion — by Elise Viebeck: “Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said he recently told Omar why many Jews are offended when they are accused of dual loyalty, showing her a picture of a cousin who was killed in action during World War II. About a week later, on Feb. 27, Omar told an audience at a town hall event in Washington, D.C., that accusations of anti-Semitism were meant to silence her criticism of Israel and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. ‘It appalled me,’ Hunegs said. ‘It appalled me because we had had at least a one-way discussion in her presence with the picture of my cousin. You have to ask: Did she understand?'”

“Omar and her staff have sat down with multiple Jewish groups and leaders in recent weeks. But that has not quieted concerns among some critics. ‘Her words and her communications are anti-Semitic,’ said Minnesota state Sen. Ron Latz, a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party… Omar declined multiple interview requests from The Post, and her office declined to answer wide-ranging written questions about her views on Israel and the criticism she has received. Senior aide Jeremy Slevin promised that a forthcoming op-ed piece in an unspecified publication would more fully explain Omar’s views.”[WashPost]

— Latz on NPR’s Weekend Edition: 
“Unfortunately, [Omar] keeps repeating the mistakes. So I’m troubled by what appears to be a pattern reflecting an attitude at least toward Israel, if not toward Jews, and doing so in a way that inflames religious conflict rather than promotes conversation… I tried to have a conversation by reaching out to her. Other members of the Jewish community have done the same… But I’m troubled enough about the pattern that she is displaying that I’ve got a difficult time saying that I’m an ally of hers at this point.” [NPR]

The Ilhan Omar Controversy Is a Turning Point for the Jewish Left — by Sofie Werthan: “Jewish American leftists have emerged as a key source of support for Omar, writing a flurry of op-eds, petitions, and social media posts with the hashtag #IStandWithIlhan… This source of full-throated support of the congresswoman has the potential to shift the national conversation over anti-Semitism and how it operates.” [Slate]

Omar and the Conspiracy Democrats — by Elliot Kaufman: 
“These are all tactics of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party: First, accuse critics of muzzling anti-Israel speech; then, complain about “disproportionate” attention to anti-Semitism; next, change the subject to bigotry from the right; finally, if forced to condemn anti-Semitism, dilute it with a kitchen-sink list of other prejudices.”[WSJ]

Why was Rashida Tlaib following an anti-Semitic Instagram account? — by Dominic Green: 
“The account, ‘Free.Palestine.1948’, belongs to a British Muslim who is an accomplished promoter of extremism. Photos of Benjamin Netanyahu with Adolf Hitler are juxtaposed, and a rat superimposed on the Israeli flag… ‘Free.Palestine.1948’ doesn’t follow Rashida Tlaib, but Rashida Tlaib’s account follows him — or used to follow him. On Friday, Ashley Rae Goldenberg of the Capital Research Center, an ‘investigative think-tank’ in Washington, D.C., publicized Tlaib’s official page on Twitter. On Saturday, the number of accounts that Tlaib follows declined from 1,075 to 1,074, as she unfollowed ‘Free.Palestine.1948.'” [Spectator]

HEARD LAST NIGHT — U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Elan Carr at the American Zionist Movement conference at Park East Synagogue in NYC:”Not only do I get what antisemitism is, but I also want to talk about my boss. The President of the U.S. is absolutely ferocious in his determination to fight for the Jewish people. He is unequivocal, he is unvarnished… Secretary [Mike] Pompeo, my boss, adores the Jewish people. He has devoted himself to protecting the state of Israel and fighting antisemitism everywhere in the world.” 

SPOTTED: Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, Richard Heideman, Phyllis Greenberg Heideman, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Rabbi Joe Potasnik, Herbert Block, Cheryl Fishbein, Alicia Post, Mark Levine, Julius Berman, Jason Koppel, Pinny Ringel, Ezra Friedlander, Elie Abadie, Mindy Stein, Jan Gurevich, and Eve Stieglitz.

JERUSALEM SCENE — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joined U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on a tour of a Hamas terror tunnel on the Gaza border during a visit to Israel on Sunday. “The tunnels have been used by groups like Hamas to smuggle weapons and terrorize Israeli citizens,” Graham wrote on Twitter. [Pic]

Graham met with Netanyahu for breakfast at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem this morning. [PicThe two then took a helicopter ride over the Golan Heights in an effort by Israel to lobby Congress and the administration for U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.  

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — White House working to reassure Evangelicals on Middle East peace plan — by Barak Ravid: “On Thursday a group of Evangelical leaders arrived at the White House for a briefing with Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt… Joel Rosenberg, an author who heads an evangelical foundation and has attended the meetings… [said] he told the other Evangelical leaders in the meetings that Palestinian President Abbas is never going to make a deal, so there is no need to be too worried that Jerusalem is going to be sacrificed. Rosenberg said he stressed to the other Evangelical leaders… ‘If the Saudis, the Egyptian and others can say that this plan is credible it will open the door for, after the Palestinians say no, to talk about how to move forward with Israel.'” [Axios]

Trump’s Mideast envoy meets UN council: 
“Jason Greenblatt met with the UN Security Council on Friday but gave no details of a much-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, diplomats said… The council also discussed, at the request of Kuwait and Indonesia, Israel’s decision to withhold tax transfers from the Palestinian Authority over its payments to prisoners jailed for attacks on Israelis… Diplomats said the United States was a lone voice in defense of Israel at the closed-door council meeting.” [France24]

New Palestinian PM Sworn In As Austerity Announced ― by Neri Zilber: 
The Palestinian Authority announced the swearing in of Mohammed Shtayyeh as prime minister yesterday. An economist by training, Shtayyeh is a Fatah Central Committee member and former peace negotiator known to be close to President Mahmoud Abbas. The Fatah party had grown disenchanted with previous PM Rami Hamdallah, clamoring for one of its own to assume the post. Shtayyeh’s first order of business will be to navigate the announced austerity measures stemming from the PA’s recent refusal to accept all tax transfers from Israel (approximately $200 million a month). [KafeKnesset]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Nvidia to buy Israel’s Mellanox for $6.8 billion in data center push [Reuters• Bank Hapoalim Kicks Off Israel’s Biggest IPO in Nine Years [Bloomberg• Bill Gross: ‘We were looking for every penny we could get’ [FinancialTimes• Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman Unveil New Quibi Content, including a new show from Scooter Braun [DeadlineHollywoodReporter] • Jeff Zucker Says Trump Attempted To Block AT&T Merger, Continues To Call Out ‘State-Run’ Fox News [Deadline• Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Returns Money to Saudi Arabia, Protesting Khashoggi Murder [NYTimes] 

LONG READ — Meet the Group Trying to Change Evangelical Minds About Israel — by Adam Wren: “Todd Deatherage and a team of seven people have led more than 1,500 influential American leaders, millennial evangelicals and megachurch attendees on tours of both sides of the Green Line about six times a year since 2009… The tour groups meet with people around sites on both sides of the conflict, including Jews, Christians, Muslims, settlers, refugees, security experts, business leaders and activists… Telos officials have met with mid-level staffers in Trump’s State Department, and progressive evangelical policy officials such at Matt Duss, Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy adviser, when he was at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. The group made inroads in through the Office of Public Liaison in the Obama administration… Telos receives some of its funding from the George Soros-backed Open Society Foundations.” [PoliticoMag]

Singing in Jerusalem, and harmonizing in Washington — by Peggy Cidor: 
“At AIPAC’s next conference, scheduled to begin Sunday, March 24 in Washington, DC, there will be… a refreshing sound from the courtyards of Jerusalem. ‘Koolulam’ — a social-musical initiative aimed at strengthening the fabric of society, according to its organizers — will broadcast its most recent impromptu concert from Jerusalem in the hope the AIPAC delegates will similarly harmonize together… On Friday at the Tower of David Museum, some 1,000 Israelis and tourists joined with the three conductors to produce the song ‘I’ll be there — Reach out medley and Blue voice.’ Friday’s performance, professionally video-taped, will be repeated in Washington in the hope that the AIPAC delegates will gain a broader appreciation of life in Israel beyond the news headlines.” [JPost]

REPORT — Read Israeli spy firm Black Cube’s secret pitch to clients — by Max de Haldevang: 
“In a pitch email, advisory board member Kirill Parinov says the company uses ‘proven ‘battle hard’ methods’ and ‘utilizes’ its board, which, he notes, has included former Mossad spy chief Efraim Halevy as a member and his late Mossad predecessor Meir Dagan as president. The only two news stories cited in a three-page attachment to the email are from 2013 and 2015—before Black Cube was implicated in a spate of controversial dealings.” [Quartz]

Idolatry at the Western Wall — by Bari Weiss: 
“It is a strange experience to have another person spit on you. To have an ultra-Orthodox teenager look you dead in the eye and mutter ‘shiksa’ or ‘kalba’ — the Hebrew word for bitch — and then decide you deserve a little something more than a slur because he knows you are a liberal Jew. That this happened several times here Friday morning, on International Women’s Day at the Western Wall, tells you a lot about the state of religious liberty in a country that prides itself on being the Middle East’s only free nation.” [NYTimes]

EUROVISION 2019 — Israel Releases Official Eurovision Song Nominee, KobiMarimi’s ‘Home’ — by Aya Chajut and Itay Stern: 
“Israel released Sunday Kobi Marimi’s ‘Home,’ the song that will represent it in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Tel Aviv in May… The song was written and composed by Ohad Shargai and Inbar Weitzman, both previous contenders on Israeli reality shows.” [Haaretz

ACROSS THE POND — Andrew Murray: Hitler ‘is the most-hated because he killed whites’ — by Dominic Kennedy: “Hitler is only seen as the worst figure in history because he killed white people, according to Andrew Murray, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most senior aides. The remarks — made in The Imperial Controversy: Challenging the Empire Apologists, a 2009 book he wrote with the help of Seumas Milne, Mr. Corbyn’s communications director — risk adding to the row about antisemitism… Mr. Murray’s lawyer said that his client had, since the 1970s, opposed antisemitism alongside Jewish communists and Jewish socialists.” [TheTimes]

Brooklyn wants to give ‘Notorious RBG’ a city building for her 86th birthday — by Thomas Tracy: 
“Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will be marking Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 86th birthday on March 15 with a massive party as part of a push to have the Brooklyn municipal building named in her honor. ‘This is definitely a 50 Cent ‘It’s your birthday’ moment,’ Adams said. ‘(Ginsburg) has reached an iconic status equivalent to Serena Williams and Beyoncé’s fame.'” [NYDailyNews]

CAMPUS BEAT — Columbia College Student Council votes down BDS referendum by secret ballot following 4 hours of tense debate — by Emma Buzbee: 
“Following a four-hour meeting that attracted over 150 spectators, saw two student representatives threaten to quit the council, and drew tears from attendees, the Columbia College Student Council shot down a referendum to gauge student support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement via an anonymous vote Sunday night… Sunday’s vote — which council members elected to hold anonymously — failed to meet the two-thirds majority needed to pass the referendum, with 20 council members against, 17 in support, and one abstention from CCSC President Jordan Singer, CC ’19.” [ColumbiaSpectator]

DESSERT — First kosher restaurant set to open in Azerbaijan: “Azerbaijan will soon be home to its first-ever kosher-certified restaurant. The meat restaurant, named ‘7/40,’ will open in May… The restaurant is located in the Nasimi district of Baku, which used to be the city’s Jewish neighborhood. It is located around the corner from Segal’s Chabad synagogue and 500 yards away from the Georgian synagogue.” [JTA]

REMEMBERING — Sidney Sheinberg, a Force Behind Universal and Spielberg, Is Dead at 84 —by Brooks Barnes: 
“Sidney Sheinberg, an irascible Universal Studios executive who discovered and nurtured Steven Spielberg, putting ‘Jaws’ into production and helping to turn Hollywood into a blockbuster-focused business, died on Thursday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif… Under Mr. Sheinberg’s watch, Universal released two more hits from Mr. Spielberg, ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ (1982) and ‘Jurassic Park’ (1993). It was Mr. Sheinberg who handed Mr. Spielberg Thomas Keneally’s novel ‘Schindler’s List,’ which the director turned into his masterpiece of the same title… ‘My heart is broken,’ Mr. Spielberg said in a statement on Friday. ‘For now, let me just say that Sid had a big personality and a tender heart. He was the tallest, most stand-up guy I ever knew.'” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Professor emeritus at Princeton University whose research focused upon the Cairo Geniza and Jewish life in Muslim countries, Mark R. Cohen turns 76… Hermine Warren turns 74… Office administrator at Creative Wealth Management in Islandia, NY, Glenda Kresh turns 67… Culinary writer, television host and novelist. Steven Raichlen turns 66… Composer and conductor specializing in movie scores, since 1984 he has composed the music for nearly 100 feature films, David Louis Newmanturns 65… College physician at the Student Health Center of Stony Brook University, internal medicine specialist, Richard E. Tuckman, MD turns 54… Singer-songwriter who has also worked in film, television, voice-over work and children’s recordings, also promotes an eponymous line of eyeglasses, Lisa Loeb turns 51… Israeli singer-songwriter and pianist who has twice been recognized as Israel’s Singer of the Year, Keren Peles turns 40…

VP for investor relations and communications at Ridgewood Energy, an energy-focused private equity firm, Samuel J. Lissner turns 33… Graduate of Yale Law School, she clerked for Judge Cabranes on the 2nd Circuit and is the co-founder of Headliner Labs, a tech platform in conversational marketing, Dana Stern Gibber... Freelance screenwriter and production manager, Lev Beltserturns 29… Director of the Israel office at Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, Richard Pater… President of JCS International, a global media company, she is a graduate of Harvard Business School, Michal Grayevsky… Graduate of NYU (B.A., cum laude), University of Illinois (M.S. in journalism) and University of North Carolina (Ph.D.), Sharon Polansky… Chief research officer at Survey Monkey, Jon Cohen (h/t Playbook)…




Daily Kickoff: AOC fundraises on NYT’s ‘AIPAC power’ piece | Foxman on Clyburn | 10,000 Israelis have moved to Berlin over past decade

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COVERAGE OF THE COVERAGE — Amidst the hundreds of pieces that proliferated this week surrounding the latest Ilhan Omar controversy, one article in particular struck a nerve in the pro-Israel community: The New York Times’ Congressional correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s story titled Ilhan Omar’s Criticism Raises the Question: Is Aipac Too Powerful?

The thrust of Stolberg’s piece was that, although her language was clumsy, Omar’s concern about AIPAC’s ‘power’ is legitimate. To support her thesis, Stolberg found a local ‘activist’ in South Florida, Steven Fiske, who, according to sources familiar with AIPAC, is not well-known within the national organization. While AIPAC likely encouraged some of its high-profile allies to cooperate with Stolberg, Fiske, to be sure, was not speaking on behalf of the group when he suggested that Democratic freshmen Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “are three people who, in my opinion, will not be around in several years.”

Yet, that was enough for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez to claim in a fundraising pitch emailed to supporters on Thursday, “It’s official – AIPAC is coming after Alexandria, Ilhan and Rashida.”

“The [NYTimes] article read like an opinion piece that was written before it was reported,” complained one activist. In fact, for many individuals in the pro-Israel community we heard from this week, it was difficult for them to stop at just a single appraisal of Stolberg’s story.  

Several questioned why the article retold well-reported tales from AIPAC’s past while all but ignoring the history of dual loyalty accusations and why they are problematic. Others were upset that the article featured an image of the South Florida activist donning phylacteries, something they contend was a ‘cheap ploy’ intended to portray him as something of a religious fanatic. One Twitter user also took the opportunity to complain that the ‘paper of record’ should refer to the group by its uppercase acronym AIPAC, not Aipac.

But more troubling was that the story further exposed Stolberg’s eagerness to play sympathetic defender to the Democratic freshmen whom she’s supposed to be covering objectively. Two weeks ago, Stolberg declared in the lede of an article: “In the 116th Congress, if you’re a Democrat, you’re either a socialist, a baby killer or an anti-Semite. That, at least, is what Republicans want voters to think, as they seek to demonize Democrats well in advance of the 2020 elections by painting them as left-wing crazies who will destroy the American economy, murder newborn babies and turn a blind eye to bigotry against Jews.”

Perhaps an equally appropriate headline for an article could read: Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s recent articles raise the question: Is she too cozy with the new progressive Dems?

How Influential Is AIPAC? Less Than Beer Sellers, Public Accountants, and Toyota ― by Armin Rosen: “Omar’s allegations linger, with The New York Times publishing a story seriously examining Omar’s premise and wondering “Has Aipac—founded more than 50 years ago to ‘strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship’—become too powerful?” In the online edition of the article, the question was positioned directly below an image of a pro-Israel activist in tefillin… In reality, AIPAC is a public affairs committee and not a political action committee; as a result, the group itself donates nothing to candidates or campaigns… For the period between 1998 and 2018, AIPAC didn’t make a dent in the Center for Responsive Politics’ list of the top-spending lobbying groups.” [Tablet]

Jonathan Greenberg, a Senior Fellow at Haym Salomon Center who served as AIPAC’s Midwest political director from 2008 to 2011, tells Jewish Insider: “The piece really is trash. She clearly comes at it from a particular point of view. Omar’s comments have revived the debate on whether or not AIPAC has too much power. I’ve literally, the only places I’ve ever heard that debate go on are in the beaver-swamps of the Jew-hating left and the beaver swamps of the Jew-hating right, and apparently at the New York Times. She’s inventing this debate that’s going on so that she can write this.”

ARGUMENT — AIPAC Conference Was Going to Be All About the Benjamin — Then Ilhan Omar Came Along — by Amir Tibon: “There was a moment when it seemed the ground was shifting beneath Netanyahu’s supporters in the U.S. Jewish community. But now, all of that has changed. The theme of this year’s conference will very likely become unity in the face of anti-Semitism, and Omar, a freshman lawmaker with no legislative achievements, will be the ‘star’ of the show.” [Haaretz

Ilhan Omar Is Hurting the Palestinian Cause — by Hussein Ibish: 
“This plays into the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing the most serious political crisis of his career… Mr. Netanyahu can now mobilize Israelis and American Jews by claiming that they are under attack by Democrats, pushing those constituencies toward himself and his Republican allies. Worse, enmeshing Democrats in a divisive, embarrassing internal struggle is a huge gift to Trump because it deflects attention from the impact of his destructive policies.” [Bloomberg]

DRIVING THE CONVO — House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) drew widespread criticism on Thursday for suggesting that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s experience as Somalian refugee is ‘more personal’ than Jews whose parents lived through the Holocaust. 

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called on Clyburn to “apologize and retract” his statement. “It’s offensive to diminish the suffering of survivors and the continuing pain of Jews today,” the group said on Twitter.

Abe Foxman tells Jewish Insider“There is out there this notion that victims can’t be bigots. How can someone who suffers bigotry be an antisemite and a racist? That’s a nonsense notion. You know, they just can be bigots and sometimes they’re worse bigots than people who haven’t suffered. And so, when you take this notion that someone who suffered bigotry can’t be a bigot, and you add to it ignorance about our tragedy and her tragedy and you conflate it, it becomes an abomination. The problem here is, he’s not any ‘Tom, Dick, and Harry.’ He is a respected member of his community, he’s a respected member of Congress, and he holds a very serious position. And if he is so infected with ignorance and a lack of sensitivity, wow, it’s scary.”

Foxman on how the Democratic leadership handled the Omar situation: “It is very clear in my mind that Nancy Pelosi knows the difference between criticism of Israel and antisemitism. There’s no question in my mind that Steny Hoyer knows the difference. What this is all about is politics, political expediency, and jockeying. All of a sudden, antisemitism has become a political football, and we’ve been held hostage to the political football that’s going on. I don’t think it serves us, the Jewish people. I think for us to be the issue doesn’t help us.“ 

“I believe that the democratic process should work. Each party has the means and the capability of giving perks and promoting or not promoting its members. Each party can make it very clear to its members whether their positions are in sync with the policies of the party or not. And eventually, pretty soon there’ll be a democratic process accounting. Her constituents are going to have to make a decision whether all her antics, her antisemitism served the purposes of her constituents in Minnesota. I’m not sure you achieve it by resolutions in Congress. We need to stop engaging in a hysteria that if there is no Congressional resolution acceptable to us we have lost the Democratic Party on Israel and on anti-Semitism. Three members of Congress even if supported by a few others are not destroying America’s and Democratic support for Israel and for Jews.”

Jim Clyburn’s leadership tested as he defends a colleague accused of anti-Semitism — by Emma Dumain: “Clyburn released a statement later in the day Thursday clarifying he never meant to diminish the legacy of the Holocaust. ‘Every student of history, which I consider myself to be, recognizes the Holocaust as a unique atrocity which resulted in the deaths of six million Jews. It should never be minimized; I never have, and I never will,’ he said. But as the House prepared to adopt the resolution in response to Omar’s rhetoric, many Jewish members were left with bad feelings that the measure singled out hateful speech and actions against minorities of all stripes — a compromise Clyburn helped broker.” [McClatchyDC]

Meghan McCain Breaks Down in Tears Over Ilhan Omar’s ‘Scary’ Israel Comments — by Matt Wilstein: “‘With the rise of antisemitism in this country, is it more important to defend party politics or is it more important to [object to] antisemitism?’ McCain asked on The View. ‘If what Ilhan Omar were saying for the past few weeks were said by a white Republican male, how would you be reacting to it right now?’ … ‘I take this very personally,’ McCain said. ‘I would go so far as to say I probably verge on being a Zionist as well.’ While she doesn’t have Jewish family, she began to tear up as she described former Sen. Joe Lieberman and his wife Hadassah as her family.”[DailyBeastVideo

ON THE HILL — Historic resolution condemning antisemitism and Islamophobia masks unease in Democratic party — by JI‘s Laura Kelly: An historic resolution passed the House of Representatives on Thursday which, on its face, condemns hate and bigotry but did little to mask conflict among Democrats over one members’ failure to recognize antisemitic comments and the pain it caused. The vote passed 407 to 23 in the House, with Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), one of two Jewish Republican member’s of Congress, marking his dissent.

“If a Republican Member was pushing the antisemitism that Rep. Omar keeps peddling, this resolution would name names, and be solely, emphatically focused on anti-Semitism and that member would be removed from their committee assignments,” Rep. Zeldin said on the floor. “The double standard motivating this decision by the Speaker and the moral equivalency filling this watered down text is spineless and disgusting.” [JewishInsider]

HEARD ON THE HOUSE FLOOR — Before the vote, Jewish Democratic lawmakers expressed their disappointment that the antisemitic rhetoric of one member wasn’t elevated as a separate and unique issue of hate and violence. 

“There is too much hatred, too many other people that are targeted and we need to support all of them, but we are having this debate because of the language of one of our colleagues,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in a floor speech earlier in the day. “Language that suggests that Jews like me… that we are not loyal Americans. Why are we unable to singularly condemn antisemitism?” [CSPAN

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), also gave an impassioned speech about how charges of dual loyalty are a personal offense. “I’m a Jewish American woman who served for 20 years in uniform and continue to serve in the United States Congress… Am I to look back on my military career and the sacrifices it meant for my family and remain silent in the face of people questioning my loyalty to our country?” She questioned  in her floor speech.“The recent accusations of dual loyalty call into question the equal footing of Jewish members in elected office and by extension all Jews living in America. I’m proud to vote on this resolution in condemnation of this rhetoric.” 

— “I was very disappointed we weren’t able to have a separate resolution that condemns anti-Semitism,” said House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) during floor debate on the measure. 

The Democrats’ Dilemma — by Tim Alberta: “All of this proved agonizing for Omar’s constituents, particularly those in the Somali community. Her arrival in Congress was meant to bring them legitimacy and representation. Instead, almost immediately, it invited controversy and humiliation. ‘I was shocked. I don’t like her on Twitter,’ Ali Aden tells me. ‘She’s very smart, and I didn’t think she would talk that way. It was an embarrassment for me as a Somali-American, because we do not like extreme left or extreme right. But she will do better. This is new to her—she will learn how to handle it.'” [Politico]

SCOOPLET — Next move: 
Jewish Insider has learned that Sen. Cruz (R-TX) is circulating a clean resolution that just condemns antisemitism. He intends to introduce it early next week. A source familiar with the plan said that “it’s just a condemnation of anti-Semitism. There’s nothing extraneous. The entire thing clocks in at just over a hundred words.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — The wife of Bob Levinson, the longest-held American hostage in Iran, pleaded with President Trump to meet personally and plead her husband’s case, as Saturday marks the 12th anniversary of his kidnapping by the Islamic republic. “He doesn’t know us, he doesn’t understand how difficult it has been for our family because he hasn’t talked to us,” Christine Levinson told a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Thursday. “We need to make sure that everyone in the U.S. government, at the highest level, knows how difficult it is for any family to be away from their loved one and unable to resolve it themselves.” [Pic

2020 WATCH — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand 
(D-NY) became the first 2020 candidate to criticize Omar on Thursday after three presidential candidates, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), issued statements defending the Minnesota representative from criticism. “Those with critical views of Israel, such as Congresswoman Omar, should be able to express their views without employing anti-Semitic tropes about money or influence,” Gillibrand said in a statement

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) avoided addressing the issue when asked about it during a press conference on the Hill. 

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, a possible 2020 candidate, slams Ilhan Omar — by Nolan Hicks: “‘Let me be really clear, suggesting that support for Israel is beholden to a foreign power is absolutely unacceptable — and it’s illogical too,’ de Blasio said at an unrelated press conference at City Hall. ‘I believe strongly in the state of Israel. I don’t feel beholden one bit to a foreign power… There’s a long anti-Semitic tradition associated with that kind of comment.'” [NYPost]

HEARD ON CABLE — ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt criticized the 2020 candidates for defending Omar on CNN’s At This Hour with Kate Bolduan: “I think these presidential candidates are flat out wrong. One more time, there is nothing wrong with criticizing policies in government. We do it at the ADL. The issue here is not about its policies, the issue is prejudice here in America right now. And I would actually go so far as to say that those who suggest we can’t have a conversation about this, they’re the ones stifling our ability to get into a better conversation that recognizes people of all faiths, again, of all walks of life to fully participate in our democratic process.”[Video]

Sanders seizes pro-Omar lane in 2020 — by Marc Caputo and Holly Otterbein: 
“The Vermont senator, the only Jewish candidate in the Democratic primary, embraced the African-American, Muslim congresswoman and called out House Democrats for ‘stifling’ debate about Israel… No other presidential contender came out as quickly — or as forcefully — as Sanders, who laid down a clear line in the crowded Democratic field between those running as true progressives on foreign policy and those who support an existing U.S. policy that tends to favor Israel over Palestine.” [Politico]

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced on Thursday that he will not run for president in 2020 following a tour of early caucus and primary states… New generation of campaign managers brings diversity to 2020 presidential bids… Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), who led a failed attempt to block Nancy Pelosi as speaker, is running to challenge Trump on national security. 

TALK OF THE REGION — Palestinian negotiator calls for boycott of new U.S. embassy unit: “Palestinian official Saeb Erekat issues a statement Thursday calling upon the diplomatic community ‘not to engage in any kind of formal relationship or collaboration’ with the new Palestinian affairs unit, which will take over the responsibilities of the shuttered U.S. consulate in Jerusalem.” [AP]

USAID chief open to fixing law that closed operations in the West Bank and Gaza:
“U.S. Agency for International Development administrator Mark Green said last week that USAID is open to Congress amending the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act… ‘We welcome the chance to continue discussions with you on the future of West Bank/Gaza assistance,’ said Green in a hearing at the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs.”[JNS]

REPORT — Embassy Staffers Say Jared Kushner Shut Them Out of Saudi Meetings — b
y Erin Banco: “Officials and staffers in the U.S. embassy in Riyadh said they were not read in on the details of Jared Kushner’s trip to Saudi Arabia or the meetings he held with members of the country’s royal court last week… The lack of insight into Kushner’s visit to Saudi Arabia has frustrated members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat, who told The Daily Beast that they are actively trying to learn more about the conversations between senior U.S. administration officials and Saudi Arabia.” [DailyBeast]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Jason Greenblatt urges outside parties to support peace plan — and not to undermine it — by Ron Kampeas: 
“‘It really is up to the Israelis and the Palestinians; they’re the ones who will have to live with the consequences of the plan,’ Jason Greenblatt told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview… Greenblatt confirmed that the plan would not see the light of day before the Israeli elections on April 9, but would not set a deadline for how much longer afterward it would come out.”[JTA]

— Trump’s Aides Are Imitating His Aggressive Twitter Diplomacy. The Results Are Mixed — by Mark Landler and Katie Rogers: 
“Jason D. Greenblatt, Mr. Trump’s Middle East envoy, has taken to Twitter dozens of times to debate or chide Palestinian leaders… Mr. Greenblatt’s tweets have done little to repair the rift with the Palestinians or lay the groundwork for his long-anticipated peace plan… Experts on the Middle East said Mr. Greenblatt’s decision to engage on Twitter had merit but was flawed in two respects. First, the Trump administration’s policies have so alienated the Palestinians that it was difficult for Mr. Greenblatt to overcome the hostility… Second, critics said Mr. Greenblatt was not explaining the administration’s policies to a skeptical Palestinian audience.” [NYTimes]

Former Shin Bet director Ami Ayalon, Gilead Sher, former Chief of Staff for Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Israeli entrepreneur Orni Petruschka call on Trump to release the Mideast peace plan ahead of the April 9th election“Israel’s election offers Trump’s Mideast team an opportunity, enhanced by the creation of a merged center-left party which is more amenable to a two-state solution… If Trump’s team presents a balanced plan now, it would become the key policy issue in the election. If it offers Israelis a path to a secure, Jewish, democratic state, a strong majority would support it, and vote accordingly.” [Newsweek]

ROAD TO THE KNESSET — Former TV news anchor set to become first Druze woman in Israel’s parliament — by Rami Ayyub: “Gadeer Mreeh, who is running for the centrist Blue and White party led by former armed forces chief Benny Gantz, is all but guaranteed a seat in the Knesset… ‘I was the first non-Jewish woman to anchor a Hebrew-language news broadcast,’ Mreeh, 34, said from her village of Daliyat al-Karmel, a major population center for the Druze.” [Reuters

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Netanyahu Is Fighting Ghosts — by Yossi Klein Halevi: 
“Netanyahu is running against the ghost of the left. Israeli politics is no longer a contest between right and left but between right and center… It is a measure of just how formidable an opponent Netanyahu remains that it requires no less than three former IDF commanders to try to bring him down—the democratic equivalent of a military coup.” [TheAtlantic]

Alan Dershowitz writes… “Are Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged ‘crimes’ really crimes?: 
Netanyahu is a controversial prime minister, but no one can dispute his strength in defending Israel’s security, or his many achievements over a long tenure. The allegations against him have been spelled out. His fate belongs in the hands of voters, not investigators or the courts.” [LATimes]

** Good Friday 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Kushner Cos. Launching First Miami Project: A $550M Apartment Complex [BisNow• House Democrats may probe Kushner family’s massive New York City real estate deal [Axios• BlackRock CEO Larry Fink Says Modern Monetary Theory Is ‘Garbage’ [Bloomberg• Gett CEO Preparing Employees For IPO [Calcalist• It’s Always Sunny at the Davos of the Private Equity Industry[Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION — Israeli and Palestinian architects and planners seek common ground on innovation, entrepreneurship: “These venture partners are among six architects and urban planners who participated in Our Generation Speaks (OGS), a fellowship program based at Brandeis University. OGS was founded in 2016 by Ohad Elhelo, an Israeli entrepreneur, as a way to bring young Israelis and Palestinians to a neutral space beyond the regional conflict, where the common bond of entrepreneurship could unite them and help build relationships. MITdesignX, a venture accelerator created three years ago in the School of Architecture and Planning, and MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) partnered this year with OGS to focus part of the program on architects and planners.”[MITNews]

Even Israel Is Getting the Trump Treatment on Trade — by Ivan Levingston: “Donald Trump’s drive to reshape global trade won’t spare one of his country’s closest allies and its oldest free-trade partner — Israel. U.S. trade negotiators are traveling to Israel next week for advanced talks to upgrade their agricultural trade pact and reduce barriers for American farm exports to the Middle Eastern country… Changes are expected to include some reduction on agricultural tariffs for American exporters, though negotiators are still discussing what those concessions will look like.” [Bloomberg]

SPOTLIGHT — The Crown Jewels Of Trump’s Fortune Are 2 Skyscrapers He Didn’t Want — And Doesn’t Control — by Dan Alexander and Chase Peterson-Withorn: 
“Since Vornado bought into 1290 Avenue of the Americas and 555 California Street, Steven Roth has invested millions in renovations to squeeze out bigger profits long term. In 2012 and 2013, Vornado put $31 million into upgrading the New York office tower, freshening up the storefronts, elevators and lobby. Those ­changes helped lure new tenants, at higher rates… Rents at 1290 Avenue of the Americas have continued to increase during the past two years, even as the broader midtown market has declined. Forbes estimates the president’s 30% stake is worth $100 million more today than it was when [Trump] took office.” [Forbes]

Out of the shadows: Loyal money man swept into Trump probes — by Bernard Condon: 
“Allen Weisselberg has no Twitter or Facebook account, though he does maintain a LinkedIn page with one ‘connection’ listed — Matthew Calamari, a former bodyguard turned Trump Organization’s chief operating officer. He has bought a few properties over the years besides a home in Wantagh, New York. He has a vacation home in Boynton Beach, Florida, that he purchased 17 years ago for $282,000. He bought two condominiums at Trump-branded buildings in Manhattan but sold them. Weisselberg barely merits a mention in the many Trump biographies, nor in the many written by the man himself. He doesn’t appear in ‘The Art of the Deal,’ for instance… Weisselberg is likely to know the answer to the biggest question since his boss pulled off his surprise election to the presidency: Just how much is Trump worth.” [AP]

TALK OF THE TOWN — Thousands Of Israelis Now Call Berlin Home And Make Their Cultural Mark — by Daniel Estrin: “At least 10,000 Israelis are estimated to have moved to the German capital in the past decade, according to Tal Alon, the Berlin-based editor of the Hebrew-language magazine Spitz… They are helping drive Berlin’s blossoming culinary scene, with several high-end Israeli restaurants in the city including Layla, opened last fall by Tel Aviv celebrity chef Meir Adoni… ‘If somebody would tell me 10 years ago that one day I will live in Germany, I will speak German, and I would think about applying for [a] German passport, I would say they are crazy,’ said Israeli food designer Itay Novik, sitting at a Berlin café with an Israeli friend.”[NPR]

REMEMBERING — Sam Miller, co-chair of Cleveland’s Forest City Enterprises and philanthropist, passed away at 97 — by Henry J. Gomez: “Miller grew up to become one of the country’s most savvy businessmen – a plucky, crackerjack real estate developer who hobnobbed with prime ministers, Pavarotti and a pope. He emerged as a political powerbroker, a reputation bolstered when his backing propelled longshot candidate Michael R. White to three terms as Cleveland’s mayor. His fundraising skills also helped causes close to his Jewish faith and the Catholic Church. His literal rags to riches life ended Thursday. Miller was longtime co-chairman and treasurer of Cleveland’s Forest City Enterprises Inc., the real estate development company he helped build into a national giant.” [Cleveland]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Carmel Limited Edition Cabernet 2014 — by Yitz Applbaum: 
“People often ask me whether Kosher wine is as good as non-Kosher wine. Of course, at the highest level we still have approximately 200 years of missing experience to catch up to the French First Growths. In general, there are many great kosher wines which are competitive with similarly priced wines in the non-kosher world. There was no better time to test this theory than last week when I was invited to a non-kosher dinner in London with some very upper crust folks who drank and ate at the highest levels. The caterer made sure that the kosher meal paralleled the non-kosher meal and that the wine we were served could go toe to toe with the non-kosher wine.”
“The wine they chose for us was the Carmel Limited Edition Cabernet 2014. An elegant, supple, and wide-ranging wine. There is a huge amount of mid-palate fruit.  Well tamed, not overpowering, along the lines of a fresh young Bordeaux. This wine is composed of 65% percent Cabernet, 17% Petit Verdot and the rest a mixture of Merlot and Cab Franc. The juice from each grape varietal was aged separately and then blended and aged again in French oak. This process allowed for a consistent flavor of black currants and Belgium butter from start to finish. This wine is ready to drink now but let it breathe for an hour to give the Petit Verdot grapes time to absorb some oxygen and drink with spicy food.”[CarmelWines]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain (1991-2013), member of the House of Lords, philosopher, scholar and winner of the 2016 Templeton Prize, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks turns 71… Jazz pianist Dick Hyman turns 92… Democratic US Representative for California’s 47th congressional district, Alan Lowenthal turns 78… British television executive and businessman, chairman of the BBC (2004-2006), member of the House of Lords, Baron Michael Grade (family name Winogradsky) turns 76… Former attorney at Seyfarth Shaw who is now the ‘Judaism and Science’ blogger, Roger Price turns 75… Lyricist, singer and philanthropist, Carole Bayer Sager turns 72… Licensed clinical psychologist and director of couple therapy training at the Chicago Center for Family Health, Dr. Mona Fishbane turns 72… Senior Fellow on national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress, Alan Makovsky turns 69… Brenda Krantz turns 69… Former Governor of Virginia (1994-1998) and US Senator (2001-2007), whose mother was from a Sephardic Jewish family in Tunisia, George Allenturns 67… Retired in 2016 after 28 years as the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester NY, Larry Fine turns 67… Managing editor of the WNYC radio program “On the Media” which is syndicated nationwide to over 400 public radio outlets, Brooke Gladstone turns 64… DC-based labor and employment attorney at Bredhoff & Kaiser, he clerked for Justice Brennan at the U.S. Supreme Court (1983-1984), Bruce R. Lerner turns 62… Emmy and Golden Globe award winning actress, best known for her role as a lawyer on the television series “The Practice,” Camryn Manheim turns 58…

Founder and CEO of 32 Advisors, LLC, he was previously President of UBS Investment Bank, Robert Wolf turns 57… Talent acquisition executive at Sageview Consulting, specializing in placements at Jewish federations and non-profits, Colorado Springs resident, Carin Maher turns 56… VP for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, with a Ph.D. in Chinese politics from Stanford University, he was a high-ranking State Department official (2001-2009), Evan A. Feigenbaum turns 50… Albany Reporter for New York’s news channel NY1, covering state politics, Zack Fink turns 46… Member of Congress since 2017 (D-NJ-5), former speechwriter for Bill Clinton, Joshua S. Gottheimer turns 44… Alexis C. Rice turns 41… Principal for corporate communications at PJT CamberView , he was the communications director for NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Eric Louis Sumberg turns 37… Deputy Executive Director and EVP at American Press Institute, Jeff Sonderman turns 37… Director of public policy and advocacy at Washington Nonprofits in Seattle, David Streeter turns 32… Actress and comedian, she is best known as the perky store manager Lily Adams in a three year series of AT&T television commercials, Milana Vayntrub turns 32… Senior digital and marketing associate at Catalist (a voter data service for progressive organizations), Lauren Farber turns 31… Student at Harvard Law School, he was a special assistant to the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, Nathaniel Sobel turns 30… Texas Hold ‘Em enthusiast and author of the forthcoming “A Girl’s Guide to Poker,” she worked in DC for The Israel Project and the ZOA, Amanda Helen Botfeld turns 26… Program analyst at Mathematica Policy Research, Karen Katz… Fellow at Venture For America, a two-year entrepreneurship fellowship, Charleston native, Lexi Chavin

SATURDAY: Mayor of North York, Ontario (1973-1997), then Mayor of Toronto (1998-2003), founder of the Bad Boy Furniture chain, Melvin Douglas “Mel” Lastman turns 86… Co-founder of Sunbeam Television (owner of TV stations in Miami and Boston) and developer of a 400 acre business park in Broward County, Florida, Edmund Ansin turns 83… Professor of sociology and Jewish studies at the University of Toronto (1974-2012, now professor emeritus), best known for his work on German Jewry, Y. Michal Bodemann turns 75… Sag Harbor-based painter, sculptor and printmaker, Eric Fischl turns 71… Radio and television journalist and author who hosts Public Radio International’s popular program, Science Friday, Ira Flatow turns 70… Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law graduate, political journalist and commentator, contributing writer for Vanity Fair, he was previously co-host of CNN’s Crossfire and editor at large for The New Republic, Michael Kinsley turns 68… Moroccan-born member of Knesset (since 1998) now representing the Zionist Union party, previously Minister of Defense (2006-2007) and leader of the Labor Party, Amir Peretz turns 67…  President and CEO of NYC’s flagship public TV station WNET, he was previously the president of NBC News and the executive producer for Dateline NBC, Neal Shapiroturns 61…

CEO of NYC-based Gotham Media, he holds an MA in Russian history from the London School of Economics and a JD from Harvard Law, Gordon Platt turns 57… CEO, chairman and controlling shareholder of Quontic Bank based in New York, Steven Schnall turns 52… Director of Research at Facebook, David I. Ginsberg turns 44… Chief of Staff and Deputy US Trade Representative, Matthew Vogel turns 41… CEO of the Trevor Project, he was a management consultant in the NYC office of McKinsey & Company and a reporter for the Washington Post, Amit Paley turns 37… Co-founder and CEO at ImpactTechNation, he is also a co-founder of Wake-Up Jerusalem (Hitorerut B’Yerushalayim party), he served on the City Council of the Municipality of Jerusalem, Hanan Rubin turns 37… Israeli-born singer, now one-half of the world music duo Shlomit & RebbeSoul, Shlomit Levi turns 36… Communications director for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Alissa “Sadie” Weiner turns 32… CEO at New Orleans-based QED Hospitality, Emery Whalen turns 32… Founding partner of Mothership Strategies, a DC-based firm using digital strategies for organizational fundraising and activism, he was previously at the DCCC, Jacob “Jake” Austin Lipsett turns 26… Israel and antisemitism education coordinator at the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, Marla Topiol turns 26… Private equity and venture capital investor, Howie Fialkov… Stephen Lent... 

SUNDAY: Long Beach, California general surgeon, Leonard M. Lovitch, MD turns 75… Author and publisher of the Phoenix Scottsdale Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook, Michael A. Ross turns 72… Record producer, former co-president of Columbia Records and a co-founder of Def Jam Records, Frederick Jay (“Rick”) Rubin turns 56… Peabody Award-winning financial journalist and market news analyst for CNBC and one of the co-hosts of its morning show “Squawk on the Street,” David Faber turns 55… CEO of the National Honor Society Scholarship Fund, he was previously CEO of DC-based International Lifeline Fund, president of both the Genesis Prize Foundation (2013-2015) and Hillel (2006-2013), Wayne L. Firestone turns 55… Stage, screen and television actor, he is the son of novelist Norman Mailer, Stephen Mailer turns 53… Investigative reporter for The New York Times, Danny Hakim turns 48… Deputy assistant secretary at the US State Department, she was previously a senior policy advisor to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Carrie Filipetti turns 30… News editor of Mishpacha magazine, Binyamin Rose… Chief Executive Officer at Strategy3i Ltd., he was previously at Gaithersburg, MD-based BroadSoft and a consultant to Israeli start-ups, Jeffrey Kahn …

Kafe Knesset for August 24

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bibi-Putin bromance – the aftermath: Before Bibi headed to Putin’s dacha in Sochi, politicians across the political spectrum wished him luck. But now that the meeting is over,…

Netanyahu tells Congress: Remove sunset clause from Iran deal

Thursday, August 24, 2017

WASHINGTON – During a meeting with Republican Congressmen this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the lawmakers to “get rid of the sunset clause” from the 2015…

Kafe Knesset for August 23

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

While Bibi is meeting Putin in Sochi, the US special envoy to Syria, Michael Ratney, is in Jerusalem this week, Kafe Knesset has learned. Ratney will be meeting…

Rep. Smucker Rebukes Palestinian PM for Terror Payments

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

WASHINGTON – Fresh off a trip to Israel with 32 other Republican House Members, Representative Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) slammed Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for justifying payments to…

Kafe Knesset for August 22

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dasvidaniya, Bibi: Netanyahu is preparing for a day trip to Sochi, Russia. There, he will be meeting President Putin tomorrow for the sixth time in the past two…

Kafe Knesset for August 21

Monday, August 21, 2017

Instructions from the top? This Saturday night marked the 39th consecutive week of protests near Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit’s home. The demonstrators continue to call for Netanyahu to…