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Daily Kickoff: “Mr. Trump is also frustrated with Mr. Kushner” | Purim at the White House | AIPAC official previews conference | YU’s big game today

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28 DAYS OF FEBRUARY — “‘Jared has faded’: Inside the 28 days of tumult that left Kushner badly diminished” by Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey: “They were the ascendant young couples of the Trump White House: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and Rob Porter and Hope Hicks. They enjoyed rarefied access to the president and special privileges in the West Wing. Glamorous and well-connected, they had an air of power and invincibility. They even double-dated once. But an unlikely cascade of events — set in motion by paparazzi photos of Porter and Hicks published Feb. 1 in a British tabloid — crashed down on Kushner this week. The shortest month of the year delivered 28 days of tumult that many inside and outside the White House say could mark the fall of the House of Kushner.”

“Once the prince of Trump’s Washington, Kushner is now stripped of his access to the nation’s deepest secrets, isolated and badly weakened inside the administration, under scrutiny for his mixing of business and government work and facing the possibility of grave legal peril in the Russia probe… One senior White House official described Kushner as looking “really beaten down” this past week, though the official said he remains “a smooth operator” even if the outside world no longer sees him as “the main artery to the president.”[WashPost

HEADLINE DEPT: “The White House chief calligrapher has a higher clearance than Jared Kushner” [CNN]

PALACE INTRIGUE — “Trump’s Chaos Theory for the Oval Office Is Taking Its Toll” by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman: “The dysfunction was on vivid display on Thursday in the president’s introduction of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The previous day, Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary D. Cohn, warned the chief of staff, John F. Kelly, that he might resign if the president went ahead with the plan… Trump’s children, meanwhile, have grown exasperated with Mr. Kelly, seeing him as a hurdle to their father’s success and as antagonistic to their continued presence…”

“Yet Mr. Trump is also frustrated with Mr. Kushner, whom he now views as a liability because of his legal entanglements… and the publicity over having his security clearance downgraded… In private conversations, the president vacillates between sounding regretful that Mr. Kushner is taking arrows and annoyed that he is another problem to deal with… Aides also noted that Mr. Trump has told the couple that they should keep serving in their roles, even as he has privately asked Mr. Kelly for his help in moving them out.” [NYTimes]

“Destroying Jared Kushner: a five-part play” by Jim VandeHei:“Rupert Murdoch, the master of Fox and the Wall Street Journal, has advised Kushner for years. They are allies, friends, mentor and mentee. There was nothing friendly about the lead editorial in Murdoch’s paper politely suggesting the “knives are out” and it’s time for Jared to skip town… One thing Jared and Trump have in common: they read Maggie Haberman and the New York Times. Nothing says family love and I’ve-got-your-back like this: “Mr. Trump is also frustrated with Mr. Kushner…”” [Axios]

“Is Jared Kushner’s Leap To Power A Jewish Success Story — Or A Tragedy?” by Peter Beinart: “Kushner exposes the gap between the way many American Jews still see ourselves—as scrappy, embattled outsiders—and the reality of our cultural and class position in America in 2018. We have reached the point in our history when even an absurdly unqualified, wildly ignorant, Jew can be among the most powerful people in the United States. That’s an achievement, and a tragedy, at the same time.” [Forward]

“Kushner’s Family Business Received Loans After White House Meetings” by Jesse Drucker, Kate Kelly and Ben Protess: “Joshua Harris, a founder of Apollo Global Management, was advising Trump administration officials on infrastructure policy. During that period, he met on multiple occasions with Jared Kushner… Among other things, the two men discussed a possible White House job for Mr. Harris. The job never materialized, but in November, Apollo lent $184 million to Mr. Kushner’s family real estate firm, Kushner Companies… An Apollo spokesman, Charles V. Zehren, said Mr. Harris was not involved in the decision to loan money to Kushner Companies. He said the loan “went through the firm’s standard approval process.” [NYTimes] • Jared Kushner’s Real-Estate Firm Sought Money Directly From Qatar Government Weeks Before Blockade [TheIntercept]

“FBI counterintel investigating Ivanka Trump business deal” by Sara Murray, Shimon Prokupecz and Kara Scannell: “The FBI has been looking into the negotiations and financing surrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver… The scrutiny could be a hurdle for the first daughter as she tries to obtain a full security clearance in her role as adviser to President Donald Trump… Because Ivanka Trump and Kushner are married, concerns that arise during one partner’s security clearance investigation could stall or block both of them from receiving a full clearance.” [CNN]

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — at Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s Megillah Reading on Purim Night: Per a tipster, Rabbi Sender Geisinsky of Chabad Bethesda read the Megillah. Notable attendees included Facebook’s Joel Kaplan, RJC’s Matt Brooks, VA Sec. David Shulkin, White House advisor Jason Greenblatt, Elliott Abrams, Aaron David Miller, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Tom Rose, Jason Isaacson, Ann Lewis & Myron Sponder, William & Heidi Daroff, Mark & Julie Levin, Richard & Phyllis Heideman, Boris Epshteyn, FDD’s Cliff May, Mark Dubowitz, Jeanie Milbauer, Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, Jeremy Diamond.

HEARD AT THE WHITE HOUSE: Approximately 50 Jewish staffers listened to the reading of the Megillah in the Secretary of War Suite at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The reading was arranged by Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the Executive Vice President of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), who also organized readings on Capitol Hill, at the Israeli Embassy and AIPAC HQ. [Video]

AIPAC POLICY CONFERENCE PREVIEW — Thousands of pro-Israel activists are expected to make their way to DC to attend AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference, officially kicking off on Sunday morning at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Speakers at the general plenary sessions include: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Tuesday morning), Vice President Mike Pence, Ambassador Nikki Haley, Ambassador David Friedman, Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Tom Cotton (R-AR); House majority and minority leaders Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), whips Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), Israeli Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog, Labor Chair Avi Gabbay, and outgoing Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.

According to an AIPAC official, the conference will focus on three major legislative agenda items. The first is is to have congressional involvement and buy-in to the MOU (memorandum of understanding) by passing a five-year authorization, and taking in consideration the growing threat of Iran and their expansion to Syria for additional security assistance. The second item will be imposing additional sanctions on the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, (IRGC) and on entities and businesses that they own and have an investment in. The third item will the Israel Anti-Boycott Act that also addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council’s database on companies that have investments in Israel and the West Bank.

The AIPAC official on the Taylor Force Act legislation: “The legislation is a priority for us and we continue to work for its passage – it will certainly be discussed with our delegates during the conference.”

On AIPAC’s bipartisan approach: “We would arguably say that this is the greatest bipartisan gathering in American public life… The bipartisanship transcends, it goes from administration to administration. Bipartisanship is part of our DNA because that’s the way you get things done in Washington. AIPAC is looking for the long term, all the time. It’s unique at a time of polarization. That’s why we believe it’s very fundamental to have the long-term commitment that Israel is not turned into a partisan issue, and that’s going to be reflected on the stage, and at every reception. We are an oasis of bipartisanship in a sea of polarization right now.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan is the only congressional leader who will not speak at this year’s AIPAC gathering. Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong confirmed to Jewish Insider that the Republican leader will not have a speaking role and noted that the House Speaker keynoted the prior two years in a row.

AARON DAVID MILLER PREVIEWS BIBI’S U.S. VISIT: “How Netanyahu Will Use Trump to Save His Hide: Bibi will likely invite Trump to the embassy opening, and the President might even accept. (Barack Obama went to Cuba, remember?)… In Trump, Netanyahu is likely to find an unusually kindred spirit. Under pressure from assertive police investigators; pressed by an attorney general weighing the possibility of indictments, and hounded by the media, Trump is going to give Netanyahu a port in the storm. As for the substance of the visit—what to do about Iran, Syria and the fate of Trump’s mysterious peace plan—all of that can wait… Bibi’s Indispensability Show is all that counts—and if there is anything that binds these two leaders, it is that they both know how to put on one hell of a performance.” [Politico]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Police probe Netanyahu in corruption case ahead of D.C. visit: “Israeli police were questioning Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife as part of an investigation into a corruption case involving the country’s telecom giant on Friday, casting a shadow on the prime minister’s upcoming visit to Washington.” [CBSNewsHaaretz• Netanyahu’s Case 4000 takes center stage [Al-Monitor

TRUMP TRAIN (STATION)? — Daily Beast political editor Sam Stein asked Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Morning Joe earlier today:There was a news report late last year that the train station near the Western Wall was going to be named after Donald Trump. Is that actually happening? Barkat: “It’s too early, but we would like to recognize President Trump, and commend him and thank him for what he has done, for the fact that he’s moving the embassy and the recognition, the deep recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people.” Stein: So you’ll name the train station after him? Barkat: “We will seriously consider this; it’s a process, but we’ll seriously consider it.” [Video]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert on the Trump peace plan: “We have not released our plan. When it is ready to be released, the White House will go ahead and put that out. And some are trying to not only prejudge it but to try to draw conclusions about what is in that plan.” Q: Is the Secretary of State involved in this process? Nauert: “Yes, the Secretary of State has been involved in meetings and conversations about this entire process.”

ON THE HILL — “Taylor Force’s family, West Point classmates plead with senators: Stop ‘Pay for Slay'” – by Eric Shawn: “Although Taylor’s family and friends met with eight Senators from both sides of aisle, some were not ready to go on the record about the meetings and how they will vote… After a long exhausting day walking from office to office, the group remained hopeful. “Every bit of energy we’ve dedicated, it’s totally worth it,” said Stuart [Force]. Robbi Force said that the presence of the whole group, with Taylor’s West Point pals, made “a big difference.” Now they will wait for the pending Senate action.” [FoxNews]

Sen. Chuck Schumer in a statement after meeting with the Forces: “I am a strong supporter of the Taylor Force Act… As I told the Force family, I will do everything in my power to make sure Congress enacts this bill.”

REPORT — “Israel concerned by lack of U.S. action to counter Iran in Syria” by Barak Ravid: “Israeli internal security minister Gilad Erdan… used his speech at the gathering of the conference of presidents… to convey a message to the Trump administration on the issue. “Friends let me be direct. There is a need for greater American involvement in making sure that Iran doesn’t turn Syria into a puppet state… If the US chooses not to be a major player in shaping the future of Syria then others will — and trust me it won’t be the democratically elected representatives of the Syrian people.”” [Axios]

TOP TALKER: “Malcolm Hoenlein stepping aside as Conference of Presidents chief” by Ron Kampeas: “Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is stepping aside after more than three decades. An email from the current conference chairman, Stephen Greenberg, said Hoenlein… was timing the move to coincide with the search for a new chairman… He will remain with the conference in an as yet undetermined capacity… In an interview, Hoenlein said the process could take a year.” [JTA

“Greenberg sent a second internal memo on Wednesday insisting that Hoenlein was “not stepping down,” and that the transition process would take “one to two years.”” [Forward]

B’nai B’rith CEO and Executive Vice President Dan Mariaschin tells us… “Malcolm’s imprint on the Jewish community here and abroad is immense. He’s written the definitive book on how public diplomacy and pro-Israel advocacy intersect, and in the process, has won the respect and admiration of a succession of U.S. administrations and international political figures for over three decades. Malcolm’s special feeling for the Jewish people has made him both an effective and passionate spokesman. He will continue to be a powerful, and needed voice, going forward.”

AJC’s CEO David Harris said in an emailed statement: “Malcolm Hoenlein’s dedication, talent, Rolodex, and energy are legendary, even as he’s had one of the more difficult jobs in balancing the often wide-ranging interests and views in the Conference of Presidents. Fortunately, he’s not entirely leaving the CoP, so his political and diplomatic skills will continue to benefit our collective efforts.”

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Steve Schwarzman Collects $787 Million in ’17 to Rule Over Wall Street [Bloomberg• Bill Ackman Surrenders in His Five-Year War Against Herbalife [WSJ] • Carl Icahn Says Epic Herbalife Battle With Ackman Was ‘a Good Fight’ [Bloomberg] • Expert Reveals Why Israel Crypto Ruling Could Spark a Bitcoin Boom [Inverse] • Hedge fund billionaire David Einhorn’s bad start to the year has gotten worse [BusinessInsider] • How Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal Disrupts His Daily Routine [NYT] • Featured speaker Mark Cuban cancels his scheduled appearance at SXSW [DallasNews]

SPOTLIGHT — “Trump Ally Was in Talks to Earn Millions in Effort to End 1MDB Probe in U.S.” by Tom Wright: “In emails dated during the past year, Elliott Broidy, a venture capitalist and a longtime Republican donor, and his wife, Robin Rosenzweig, an attorney, discuss setting up a consulting contract with Jho Low, the Malaysian businessman at the center of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. scandal, which brought scrutiny to the country’s prime minister, Najib Razak… In one draft, there is a proposal that includes a $75 million fee if the Justice Department quickly drops its investigation… The emails also appear to show Mr. Broidy prepared talking points for Malaysia’s prime minister ahead of a 2017 visit to Washington that included a meeting with Mr. Trump and other officials… Mr. Broidy was a vice chairman for the Trump campaign’s joint fund with the Republican Party during the 2016 campaign…” [WSJ]

STARTUP NATION — Israeli app will show you the behind-the-scenes of the Olympics: “The Israeli start-up Applicaster will develop international applications through which behind-the-scenes stories of the Olympic Games will be explored, as part of an agreement recently signed with the Olympic Channel… This app will allow viewers around the world access to stories and people who make the Olympic Games a world-class event. “ [Ynet]

TALK OF THE NATION: “Poland and Israel in Tense Talks Over Law Likened to Holocaust Denial” by Isabel Kershner and Joanna Berendt: On Thursday, Israeli and Polish diplomats met for more than three hours in what the Israeli Foreign Ministry described as “candid and open dialogue,” although the talks were inconclusive… At the start of the talks, [Yuval] Rotem told the Polish team — led by the deputy foreign minister, Bartosz Cichocki — that it was “no secret” that the legislation was “a matter of concern to Israel and to the Jewish people worldwide.” … After the closed-door talks, the ministry said it was especially concerned about “the criminalization clause, which constitutes an obstacle to the study of the truth and to open historical debate.”” [NYTimes] • Poland attempts damage control over Holocaust speech law [Axios]

“Israel’s battle between religious and secular Jews escalates with ban on Saturday shopping” by Ruth Eglash: “The truth is the Haredim don’t really care about Tel Aviv. They have accepted it is a liberal, secular city. But if this law is successfully enforced in Ashdod, then other cities will follow,” [Israel Cohen] said. At the Big Fashion Mall, however, shoppers and shopkeepers alike were troubled by attempts to close the place on Shabbat. “Oy vey if that happens,” said Arin Matias, a 24-year-old student working in an upscale deli packed with shoppers. “I study all week. The only day I have to work is on Saturday. How will I be able to pay for school?”” [WashPost]

COMING SOON — Prince William makes history with first royal visit to Israel this summer: “Prince William will make the first official visit by a member of the British royal family to Israel and the Palestinian territories… Kensington Palace said the trip “has been welcomed by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “this is a historic visit, the first of its kind.” He said William, who is second in line to the British throne, “will be received here with great affection.”” [USAToday]

HOLLYWOOD — “Ben Platt Lands First Film Lead Post ‘Dear Evan Hansen'” by Justin Kroll: “Following his Tony award-winning performance in the Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen,” Ben Platt has found his next feature film, signing on to star in Black Label Media’s “Love & Oatmeal.” “Camp X-Ray” director Peter Sattler is helming the project with Steve Waverly penning the script…” [Variety]

MEDIA WATCH: “Kushner-allied editor joins forces with Bridgegate mastermind” by Dana Rubenstein and Ryan Hutchins: “Ken Kurson, the former editor of Jared Kushner’s Observer who helped draft Donald Trump’s 2016 AIPAC speech, has joined forces with David Wildstein, the mastermind of the Bridgegate scandal, to relaunch a news site Wildstein created six months into his court-ordered probation… The company has no apparent web presence yet. But Kurson described himself as its majority investor. The company, he said, owns two sites, Modern Consensus, which covers cryptocurrency, and New Jersey Globe.” [Politico]

“The Instagram Stars Hiding Their Famous, Muslim-Hating Mom, Pamela Geller” by Taylor Lorenz: “Claudia, Jackie, Olivia, and Margo Oshry are a group of sisters in New York living the millennial dream… obsessively retweeting each other, posting photos of themselves while talking about the importance of family… But there is one family member in particular who is conspicuously absent from the Oshry sisters’ social-media posts: their mother… Pamela Geller… Family photos including their mother have been stripped from their Instagrams… The Oshry sisters Snapchat from Geller’s apartment, yet never allow her to appear in the background.” [DailyBeast] • Instagram’s Girl With No Job, Claudia Oshry, Show Canceled by Verizon’s Oath After Anti-Muslim Tweets Surface [Variety

TRANSITION — Yoni Appelbaum, The Atlantic’s politics editor, will move into a new role as editor of the publication’s forthcoming Ideas section, Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg announced in a memo to staff yesterday. “It is impossible to think about what the past two years might have been like for us had we not had Yoni steering the ship,” Goldberg wrote. “He is a superlative editor with an excellent sense of story and context, he is relentlessly entrepreneurial (he loves scoops more than any historian in the history of historians), and he’s fox-quick when it comes to landing the crucial piece that explains to the world the story behind the story.”

SPORTS BLINK — “After Fasting and Before the Sabbath, Yeshiva Debuts in N.C.A.A. Tournament” by Rick Rojas: “Yeshiva, with a record of 18-10, will face York College of Pennsylvania on Friday. The winner will play again on Saturday evening. (If Yeshiva wins, the game will be pushed back to 8:30 p.m., after the Sabbath has ended.)…  One notable difference are the skullcaps that some of the players wear as they play… “It’s actually funny to see if a yarmulke falls off on the court and an opposing player picks it up,” said Joe Bednarsh, the university’s director of athletics and recreation… “Is it a holy object? Like, do I put it down gently? Do I fling it to the bench?”” [NYTimes] • Watch the game at 1PM EST [Livestream]

MAZELS — “Robert Kraft’s much younger girlfriend secretly had a baby” by Emily Smith: “There was speculation about Patriots owner Bob Kraft after his much younger girlfriend Ricki Noel Lander secretly had a baby — but he’s confirmed that the child is not his. Kraft, via a spokesman, told us, “Last fall, Ricki Noel Lander became the proud mother of a beautiful, healthy baby. While Robert Kraft is not the biological father, he is thrilled with Ricki’s blessing of having a healthy child. With respect to her family’s privacy, we will not be commenting any further.” [NYPostBostonGlobe]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYHolocaust survivor, he is the co-founder of one of the largest real estate development companies in Southern California, philanthropist Max Webb turns 101… Restaurateur, lawyer, financier and former owner of Braniff International Airlines, Jeffrey Chodorow turns 68… Comedian, actress and writer, she was part of the original cast of NBC’s Saturday Night Live (1975-1980), Laraine Newmanturns 66… Former US Senator from Wisconsin (1993-2011), failed to win the seat back in a spirited election race in 2016, Russ Feingold turns 65… Anesthesiologist in Skokie, Illinois who graduated from Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, Samuel M. Parnass, M.D. turns 61… VP of marketing and operations at West End Strategy Team and adjunct faculty at Georgetown Law, Daphne Lazar Price turns 45… Culture reporter for the New York Times who writes frequently about film, television and comedy, David L. Itzkoff turns 42… Deputy chief of staff for Representative Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Yuri Beckelman turns 36… Israeli television and radio newscaster and host, she completed medical school in 2017, Hila Chaya Korach turns 34… Senior coordinating producer at talent agency William Morris Endeavor – International Management Group, Sally Rosen… Editor and Director of Communications at Twin Cities, Minnesota’s TC Jewfolk (a Jewish news, events and culture online media hub), Lonny Goldsmith… Donni Lurman

SATURDAYAustralian residential property developer, colloquially known as “High-Rise Harry,” builder of almost 60,000 residential units, Harry Triguboff turns 85… Professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, author of 27 books and the former co-editor of Dissent magazine, Michael Walzer turns 83… Researcher in Yiddish language at Sweden’s Lund University’s Centre for Languages and Literature, Henrik Lewis-Guttermann turns 69… Best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of financiers and politicians, Ron Chernow turns 69… Baltimore-born NPR personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show “This American Life,” Ira Jeffrey Glass turns 59… Dean of Pace University School of Law since 2014, previously chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, David Yassky turns 54… Co-founder and co-president of Clarity Capital, an investment management firm based in NYC and Tel Aviv, also chair, co-founder and trustee of NYC-based giving circle, the Natan Fund, David Steinhardt turns 49… SVP and general counsel to Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans, Anat Hakim turns 49… Founder of Bunk1, a provider of parent-engagement software for summer camps, he is a co-owner of the Miami Marlins as a member of the Derek Jeter investment group, Ari Ackerman turns 47… Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and an adjunct professor of law at NYU, she clerked for Supreme Court Justice Scalia (2012-2013), Danielle R. Sassoon… Steven Kantor… Deputy Press Secretary for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Freddi Goldstein

SUNDAYTennis player who in 1951 won both the Australian and Wimbledon men’s singles championships and was ranked World No.1, the first ever Jewish athlete to appear on the cover of Time Magazine, Dick Savitt turns 91… Composer and conductor, founder and initial conductor in 1950 of the US Army’s Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra, on the Julliard faculty, Samuel Adler turns 90… Former New York Times correspondent and Pentagon and State Department official, he is president emeritus of the Council of Foreign Relations, Leslie H. Gelb turns 81… Broadcast journalist and author, best known as a correspondent for the ABC news magazine “20/20,” Lynn Sherrturns 76… British promoter of rock concerts, charity concerts and television broadcasts, Harvey Goldsmith turns 72… Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and a former City Council member for the Upper East Side, Eva Moskowitz turns 54… President of the New England Patriots, Jonathan Kraft turns 54… Member of the New York City Council since 2014, he was previously a New York State Assemblyman (2007-2012), Rory I. Lancman turns 49… Evan L. Presser turns 48… Staff writer for The New York Times Magazine and a senior research fellow at Yale Law School, Emily Bazelon turns 47… Second youngest member of the current Knesset, a member of the Likud party, Sharren Haskel turns 34… Director of Public Policy and Best Practices for the International Council of Shopping Centers, Abigail Goldstein “Abby” Jagoda turns 33… Brazilian entrepreneur and software engineer who co-founded Instagram in 2010, sold to Facebook in 2012, Michel “Mike” Krieger turns 32… Singer, music producer and composer, Aryeh Kunstler turns 32… Israeli-born basketball player who starred at Wichita State (2006-2008), played for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans, now playing in the Liga ACB (the top Spanish league), Gal Mekel turns 30…

Feb
28

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Daily Kickoff: AIPAC’s delicate balance | Howard Schultz says no to 2020 | Brutal news cycle for Kushner | The team behind the Mueller Risk Index

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Ed note: In celebration of the holiday of Purim, there will be no Daily Kickoff tomorrow. Happy Purim! 

THE DAILY KUSHNER — “Kushner Cos. in Talks to Buy Remaining Stake in 666 Fifth Ave.” by Peter Grant: “Kushner, formerly held by Jared Kushner, is in talks to buy the 49.5% stake in the 39-story tower from Vornado Realty Trust… The Kushner talks with Vornado could still fall apart. Vornado could opt to sell its stake to a third party, or the two partners could cut a deal under which they would put the entire office building up for sale… If Vornado sells its stake, the most obvious buyer would be Kushner, because others might be reluctant to get involved in one of most closely scrutinized buildings in the world. Also, Charles Kushner might be willing to pay more because he knows the building so well.” [WSJ]

“Kushner’s overseas contacts raise concerns as foreign officials seek leverage” by Shane Harris, Carol Leonnig, Greg Jaffe and Josh Dawsey: “Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience… Among those nations discussing ways to influence Kushner to their advantage were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico…” [WashPost]

TOP TALKER — “Jared Kushner’s Security Clearance Downgraded” by Michael Shear and Katie Rogers: “Jared Kushner… has been stripped of his top-secret security clearance after months of delays in completing his background check… was reduced to the level of secret and his official portfolio inside the West Wing, especially with regard to his globe-trotting foreign affairs work on behalf of President Trump, is expected to be sharply reduced.” [NYTimesPolitico]

HOW IT PLAYED — “Kushner’s security downgrade will hinder but not halt his Mideast peace role” by Jeremy Diamond: “”The intelligence was not a big factor when it came to doing the negotiations themselves,” said Dennis Ross… “The fact that he is the son-in-law of the President gives him a lot of cachet in the region,” Martin Indyk said. “I have no doubt that he can still do his job — and of course his aides will have access.” … Elliott Abrams said in an email he believes Kushner “will be fully capable of continuing to oversee American involvement in the peace process” because his secret-level clearance will allow him “to see 100% of the diplomatic reporting.” … Aaron David Miller said he worried that Kushner’s diminished access to classified information will put him at a disadvantage in speaking with Israeli and Arab officials with the latest classified intelligence… “In any negotiation, the devil’s going to be in the details at the end of the day. The President doesn’t need to know all those details, but your negotiator does because the other parties do know them,” said Daniel Kurtzer.” [CNN]

Norman Eisen, former White House ethics czar, emails us… “Kushner may claim that he can do his job with a downgraded security clearance but, having worked in the White House and in diplomacy, that is false. He will be hampered in his work, and it is also embarrassing and weakens his hand. He will have to get up and leave some meetings where certain documents or information needs to be discussed, or cannot even attend them. For all those reasons, I believe it will shorten his tenure, and so Ivanka’s as well.”

Axios quotes a White House official: “Javanka and Kelly are locked in a death match. Two enter. Only one survives.” [Axios]

“Colbert Gleefully Mocks Kushner Downgrade: “How Will He Fix the Middle East Now?!”” by Laura Bradley: “As Stephen Colbert opened The Late Show Monday night, his audience cheered at the news that… Jared Kushner had lost his top-secret security clearance… Colbert feigned dismay at his audience’s reaction. “What is wrong with you people?!” he scolded. “How will he fix the Middle East now?! He was so close to starting!” … Trevor Noah pointed out on The Daily Show, “Kushner will have to learn about the nation’s most sensitive secrets just like the rest of us—wait for Trump to tweet them out.”” [VanityFair]

“Josh Raffel leaving White House” by Jonathan Swan: “Raffel has been telling friends and colleagues including Jared and Ivanka over the past two months of his plans. He has told them he has to deal with family obligations back in New York and will return to the private sector… Raffel’s final day will be sometime over the next two months.” – See statements by Ivanka Trump, Jason Greenblatt, and Gary Cohn [Axios]

WHY IT MATTERS: “Raffel… had become a point person internally for some of the most sensitive matters, as well as the Middle East peace process. He functions as a spokesman for assistant to the president Ivanka Trump and Kushner… but his portfolio is far more expansive, including foreign and domestic policies and day-to-day crisis management… The announcement of Raffel’s exit… is likely to prompt speculation about Kushner’s status within the White House.” [WashPost]

— “The news that Jared Kushner had lost his high-level security clearance, on Tuesday… is precisely the sort of story that Josh Raffel knew how to spin.”[VanityFair]

2020 WATCH — “Trump’s 2020 Campaign Announcement Had a Very Trumpian Rollout” by Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman: “Another part of Mr. Trump’s announcement — that Brad Parscale, his 2016 campaign digital director, would be elevated to campaign manager — signaled a more complicated political maneuver on behalf of the president’s family, and specifically Jared Kushner… Mr. Kushner was close to Mr. Parscale during the 2016 campaign, and putting him in an expanded role was widely seen as a power play by the president’s son-in-law. It was first breathlessly reported by the Drudge Report… Matt Drudge, the website’s proprietor, is in frequent contact with Mr. Kushner.” [NYTimes

TRANSITION — On the first day in his new role as campaign manager, Brad Parscale announced the appointment of Michael Glassner as the Chief Operating Officer of the 2020 campaign. Glassner previously served as the Executive Director of the campaign committee since early 2017 and had several roles in the 2016 campaign. Glassner also previously worked at AIPAC as the group’s Southwest Regional Political Director.

HEARD YESTERDAY — “Starbucks founder says he’s not running for president” by Dan Primack: “Starbucks founder and executive chairman Howard Schultz this morning batted down speculation that he plans to run for president, in an interview on Fox Business Network… FBN’s Maria Bartiromo: Are you going to run for president in 2020, Howard? Schultz: “No I’m not – here we are sitting at Starbucks because of my day job as executive chairman on the heels of opening the most successful Starbucks store in our history in China, now we’re opening reserve stores. I’m trying to do everything I can to benefit our shareholders as executive chairman and I think as a private citizen…” [Axios]

REPORT — U.S. team coming to Israel next week to begin embassy movement plans: “The delegation is expected to address all the legal barriers of the process, as well as to tour the area of the proposed embassy… In addition, Israel’s Hadashot News reported that the Americans asked the Jerusalem municipality for a larger area in the capital rather than the proposed ‘Diplomat’ hotel, but the municipality explained that there are no such land reserves.” [JerusalemOnlineMako• Nikki Haley praises Honduras for supporting Jerusalem embassy move [ToI]

Abe Foxman, who suggested the gradual relocation of the embassy back in 2016, tells us… “Whether Trump took my advice or not, the gradual approach makes sense. The world and moderate Arab countries will gradually accommodate. It also shows that President Trump is serious in seeking progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”

“Trump peace plan could recognize Palestinian state – report” by Khaled Abu Toameh: “The Trump administration’s plan for peace… may include US and international recognition of a Palestinian state and acceptance of East Jerusalem as its capital, the London-based Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported… The plan… calls for placing the Old City of Jerusalem under “international protection.” The report quoted “knowledgeable Arab diplomatic sources” in Paris as saying that the US is planning to present its plan in the framework of an international conference that would be held in one of the Arab capitals, most likely Cairo, with Israelis in attendance.” [ToI]

INTERVIEW — “Israel’s justice minister Ayelet Shaked explains why Trump is good for her West Bank plan” by Ruth Eglash: “Today, Israeli sovereignty in Area C and a confederation in area A and B with Jordan looks like a bizarre option to the international community, but this is something we will continue to talk about and explain. I believe that in three years from now, the international community will understand this is the right solution.” QDoes this idea look even more possible now that President Trump is in the White House? A: “Of course. With the Obama administration, this issue was more difficult. The White House is [now] more open, and I think Trump is a very brave president. He thinks outside the box and is not tied to the State Department’s old paradigms.” [WashPost]

THE CONVO AROUND TOWN — “What is AIPAC’s role in the age of Trump?” by Ron Kampeas: “Trump, on the one hand, has delivered on much of AIPAC’s agenda… At the same time, much of the Jewish community reviles Trump for his perceived bigotries and postures on a range of issues… His approval ratings among Jewish voters remain bargain-basement low — 28 percent according to Gallup in January. That was after Trump had announced the embassy move and made clear his positions on the other issues that AIPAC favors. AIPAC also has always claimed to speak for the American Jewish community on matters relating to Israel. But can the center hold when its delegates are so deeply divided — sometimes against themselves?”

“It’s a real delicate balance,” said Neal Sher, who helmed AIPAC as executive director for a period in the mid-1990s before Howard Kohr assumed the post he still holds… “The conference this year, they’re going to be going nuts, it’s going to be like Trump at CPAC,” Sher said… “That’s going to be a problem when you look at Jewish demographics,” he said… “The impact of Jews in politics is mostly in campaign contributions,” said Steve Rosen, a former AIPAC foreign policy chief… “If the future of AIPAC depends on becoming an organization of donors, that means looking to the Orthodox over time, who also happen to be more conservative politically.” [JTA]

FLASHBACK — RELEVANT TO TRUMP-BIBI ERA? From Connie Bruck’s 2014 story in the New Yorker… “In 1999, Ehud Barak, also of the Labor Party, became Prime Minister, and, as Rabin had, he grew friendly with [President Bill] Clinton. “AIPAC flourishes when there is tension between Israel and the U.S., because then they have a role to play,” Gadi Baltiansky, who was Barak’s press spokesman, told me. “But the relations between Rabin and Clinton, and then Barak and Clinton, were so good that AIPAC was not needed. Barak gave them courtesy meetings. He just didn’t see them as real players.” [NewYorker]

ON THE HILL — Following a trip to Israel and the Middle East last week, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) called yesterday for an increase in defense aid to Israel above the $38 billion limit in the 10-year MOU (memorandum of understanding), citing recent tension and Iran’s action in Syria. In a gaggle with reporters, Graham argued that provisions in the agreement phasing out an arrangement in which Israel could spend U.S. funds on its own defense industry and the provision of just $500 million in missile defense funding were “short-sighted.”

During the 2016 election, Ambassador David Friedman — then serving as an advisor to the Trump campaign — told Jewish Insider that the United States “will not be limited in its support for Israel by the terms of the MOU.”

“Lindsey Graham Warns Iran Is Testing Trump and Israel Is Preparing for War” by Steven Dennis and Roxana Tiron: “Southern Lebanon is where the next war is coming… They’ve told us in no uncertain terms that if this threat continues — they keep making rockets that can hit the airport and do a lot of damage to the state of Israel — they are going to have to go in,” Graham said… “They (Iran and Hezbollah) are testing Trump,” Graham said… Graham said the major request from Israel in a meeting with that country’s leaders was “ammunition, ammunition, ammunition” and for diplomatic support if Israel strikes civilian targets in Lebanon where it believes Hezbollah is located.” [Bloomberg

Sen. Coons“It was abundantly clear in our briefings [in Israel] in their view that the administration is not doing enough to push back on Iran, both specifically in Syria and in the region.” [WashExaminer]

“New satellite photos show Iran establishing another base in Syria” by Jennifer Griffin: “Exclusive satellite images from ImageSat International obtained by Fox News show what is believed to be the new Iranian base, eight miles northwest of Damascus, operated by the Quds Force.” [FoxNews] • Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman casts doubt on ‘new’ Iranian base in Syria [ToI]

“Top U.S. General: Iranian Regional Meddling Has Increased Since Nuclear Deal” by Jenna Lifhits: “What it took 20 years for Iran to do in Lebanon with the Lebanese Hezbollah, they’re attempting to do in about five years with the Houthis in Yemen,” General Joseph Votel told lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee… Asked whether Iran has reduced, maintained, or enhanced its investment in their proxy forces since the birth of the nuclear deal, Votel said, “I would characterize it as an enhanced investment in their proxies and partners.” [WeeklyStandard]

“The Rise of the World’s New Emperors—with America’s Help” by Robin Wright: “This weekend, China announced it is abolishing term limits, enabling President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely. Next month, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will compete in farcical Presidential elections without meaningful opponents because they have been arrested, banished, or intimidated into silence. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has consolidated power… After seven years of war, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has reclaimed physical control over most of his country and reëstablished his draconian political dominance… The United States shares a big chunk of the blame, according to career diplomats as well as both Republicans and Democrats who have helped craft American foreign policy for decades.” [NewYorker]

David Horovitz writes… “The weakening of Israeli democracy: Israel has always rightly touted its unique place as the Middle East’s only democracy… The nature of the suspicions against the prime minister and his alleged efforts to cement himself in power, the intervention in and (partly self-)compromising of our media, the sullying of our legislature, the efforts to weaken our already overstretched and troubled police force, and the discrediting of our judiciary, including by its own hand — these all suggest that the weakening process is well underway.” [ToI]

2018 WATCH — “Sheldon Adelson, wife to donate millions to GOP hopefuls” by Brian Schwartz: “Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, are on the verge of spending millions of dollars on Republican causes for the upcoming elections… “They’ll be engaged,” a source close to the Adelson’s said. “They just haven’t gotten engaged yet this cycle. It’s going to be like any other cycle. This year we are just waiting to see where the needs will be.”” [FoxBusiness]

“Pritzker’s $171,000-a-Day Campaign Costs Him in Illinois Race” by John McCormick: “In his run for Illinois governor, billionaire J.B. Pritzker is investing an average of about $171,000 a day from his fortune to try to win a job that pays $177,412 a year and comes with major headaches… Rivals are pointing to his fortune to suggest the Hyatt hotel heir is out of touch with average voters. One opponent, State Senator Daniel Biss, has created an online calculator that pictures Pritzker in a tuxedo and asks visitors to enter their salary to see how quickly his team would spend that amount.” [Bloomberg]

** Good Wednesday 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: After a London Cab Ride, Comcast’s Brian Roberts Set His Sights on Sky [WSJ Dina Powell, a Former Trump Adviser, Returns to Goldman Sachs [Axios] • Israel’s Bezeq names Yaakov Paz as acting CEO during police probe [Reuters] • Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital raises $290M in Tel Aviv [RealDeal• Chemi Peres on the growing technology sector in Israel [FoxBusiness] • With conspiracy-peddling sites under the microscope, Adam Singolda’s Taboola yanks its content ads off Infowars [Digiday] • Amazon is buying Jamie Siminoff’s Ring, a business that was once rejected on ‘Shark Tank’ [CNBC]

STARTUP NATION — “Framingham cybersecurity startup with Israeli roots raises $18M” by Kelly O’Brien: “CyberX, a security company that focuses on protecting industrial networks, has raised an $18 million Series B round led by Silicon Valley-based Norwest Venture Partners. CyberX is one of many cybersecurity companies in the Boston area with Israeli roots. Omer Schneider and Nir Giller, two former members of the Israeli intelligence forces founded the company in 2013.” [Bizjournals]

“Meet the Mueller Risk Index, Wall Street’s newest fear gauge” by Matt Egan: “GeoQuant, a New York start-up that analyzes political risk in real time, launched a first-of-its kind gauge on Tuesday to measure the risk to the Trump administration from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe… Currently, the Mueller Risk Index is sitting at its highest level since GeoQuant began tracking on March 2… “It’s been creeping up,” said Mark Rosenberg, a political economist who co-founded and leads GeoQuant… GeoQuant is backed by $4 million of seed funding from two venture capital firms: Israel-based Aleph Venture Capital and XL Innovate, a Silicon Valley fund that invests in products for insurers.” [CNNMoneyBloomberg]

“The Parkland Teens Fighting For Gun Control Have The Backing Of These Huge Organizing Groups” by Mary Ann Georgantopoulos and Brianna Sacks: “Everytown for Gun Safety — bankrolled mostly by Michael Bloomberg — recently secured a $1 million donation from entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad.” [Buzzfeed]

Shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz had swastikas on ammunition magazines: “Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz had swastikas ammunition magazines he brought into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, a federal law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation told CBS News… Cruz had 180 rounds of ammunition left.” [CBSNews]

Addressing new report of dramatic rise in anti-Semitism, ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt tells Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh: “It’s hard to draw distinct parallels between the current state of our political discourse and prior moments in recent history. I’ve only been here for a couple of years, but my veteran staff tell us they’ve never really seen a time like this, ever. That being said, it is worth noting that for more than 20 years anti-Semitic incidents have basically been on the decline. Suddenly they start to spike in the last two years. That is what the data tells us… Public figures have a responsibility to say when there are acts of hate committed. Whether it’s against the Jewish community or other communities for that matter. Whether it is the PTA president, or a university president, or a company president, or the president of the United States, people in positions of authority have an obligation to use that authority to represent our shared values of diversity and respect and tolerance.”

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Women in Jewish fundraising say harassment is pervasive” by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “A closed Facebook group urging women to share their experiences is called #GamAni, the Hebrew translation of #MeToo. It currently has 590 members… Several people interviewed noted that unlike the Hollywood and media scandals, the accusers in the nonprofit world have neither the fame nor the professional security to put their names forward. Rather than “out” accused sexual abusers, a growing number of female professional leaders and funders are taking a different tack: directing time and money to changing organizational culture. A preliminary group of 30 funders, organization heads and abuse experts met in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 29. Lisa Eisen, vice president of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, organized the group. ” [JTA]

SPORTS BLINK: “Maccabees soaking up spotlight after earning 1st NCAA berth” by Zach Braziller: “[Yeshiva’s] Coach Elliot Steinmetz’s phone hasn’t stopped buzzing since. Alums from decades ago have reached out to him. Athletic director Joe Bednarsh has heard from people in Thailand, South Africa, Argentina, Israel, and England. Television stations have come by campus for stories. Mayor Bill de Blasio has asked the Maccabees to stop by City Hall on Wednesday. Fans have attended practices like they’re playoff games… “We do it because we love the sport, we love playing and we love playing for each other,” said [Simcha] Halpert.” [NYPost]

PIC OF THE DAY — Actor Ben Platt, dressed up as an employee at Russ and Daughter in New York, enjoys a slice of lox: “When you get fired for eating the merchandise.” [Pic]

BIRTHDAYS: Counsel in the NYC office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a former New York State Assemblyman (1957-1962) and New York state judge (1970-1993), Bentley Kassal turns 101… Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1972, Professor of Science at Brown University since 1958, Leon Cooper turns 88… Professor emeritus of Mathematics at the University of California, San Diego, Linda Preiss Rothschild turns 73… Screen, stage and televison actress and singer, Ilene Susan Graff turns 69… Former State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism during the Obama administration, Ira Niles Forman turns 66… NYTimes op-ed columnist and 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, author of more than 20 books, Paul Krugman turns 65… Professor of medicine and chairman of the Center for Human Nutrition and Obesity and Gerontology at Washington University in St. Louis, and brother of ZOA president Morton Klein, Samuel Klein, MD turns 65… Stand-up comedian, actor and voice actor, Gilbert Gottfried turns 63… Self-described as “America’s most notorious lobbyist,” at the center of an investigation that led to 21 convictions, Jack Abramoff turns 59… Editor-in-chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Andrew Silow-Carroll turns 57… Jerusalem-born businessman and philanthropist, worked as a NYC taxi driver after completing his IDF service, started and sold several companies in the automotive field, Mordechai (Moti) Kahana turns 50… Deputy director general for international affairs of all local governments in Israel, she formerly served as advisor for Shimon Peres, Ruth Wasserman Lande turns 42… Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, first elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017, Steven Fulop turns 41… Commercial and constitutional litigator in the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins, he is vice chair of the LA branch of the American Constitution Society, Adam Sieff turns 29… Risk assurance associate in the Boston office of PwC, Li-dor David turns 28 (h/ts Playbook)… Executive Director of the Montreal chapter of ORT, Emmanuel Kalles… Samantha Friedman

FEB 29TH BDAYS: President of the Global Markets Institute at Goldman Sachs where she was the long-time Chief Investment Strategist, Board Chair at Jewish Theological Seminary (2009-2015), Abby Joseph Cohen turns 66… Member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, Paul D. Rosenthal turns 58… Former US Supreme Court law clerk and now UCLA law professor, Eugene Volokh turns 50…

THURSDAY BDAYS: Hollywood executive, CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, Chairman of Dick Clark Productions, and a co-owner of both the LA Dodgers and Golden State Warriors, Peter Guber turns 76… Film and television actor, best known for his role as James T. West in the 1965-69 television series “The Wild Wild West,” Robert Conrad (born Conrad Robert Falk) turns 83… Painter, sculptor, filmmaker and author, his illustrations have appeared over 500 times on the covers of various national publications including Time and Newsweek, Robert Grossman turns 78… Real estate developer, was part owner of MLB’s Kansas City Royals (1983-1991) and three sports franchises in Memphis, Tulane’s basketball arena is named in his honor, Avron B. Fogelman turns 78… Professor emeritus of Jewish Studies at Los Angeles Valley College and the editor of “Shofar,” a peer-reviewed academic journal of Jewish Studies, Zev Garber turns 77… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, he is a son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Ze’ev Binyamin (“Benny”) Begin turns 75… Librarian at the Anti-Defamation League’s NYC HQ, Marianne Benjamin turns 74… Israeli historian, author and journalist, Tom Segev turns 73… Cantor at the Jewish Community Center of Paramus, Congregation Beth Tikvah, Sam Weiss turns 68… Adam E. Beren turns 57… Director of Major Gifts at Baltimore’s Kennedy Krieger Institute, Dara Schapiro Schnee turns 47… Chief Strategy Officer for Bend the Arc, a Jewish Partnership for Justice, Jonathan Lipman turns 41… Member of the US national soccer team since 2004, played in England for 14 years and in 2017 joined Major League Soccer’s Orlando City, Jonathan Spector turns 32… VP of Special Projects at ASAPP, a NYC-based software technology company,Joshua Lachter turns 31… Harvard Law School student who was on the Surrogates and Strategy team in the Hillary Clinton campaign, Hannah Klainturns 27… Kevin Golden

Feb
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Daily Kickoff: 100 Senators urge Homeland Security to add Israel to Global Entry | Brooks on a generation emerging | When Golda Meir met Billy Graham

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NEXT GEN — Joe Lieberman’s granddaughter makes Aliyah: “Nesya Lieberman, the granddaughter of former United States Senator Joe Lieberman, made Aliyah today from Atlanta, Georgia through Nefesh B’Nefesh… The 20-year-old will be attending Ulpan at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu upon her arrival to improve her Hebrew skills in preparation of beginning a year volunteering for National Service.” [IsraelNationalNews]

David Brooks writes… “A Generation Emerging From the Wreckage: I’ve been going around to campuses asking undergraduate and graduate students how they see the world… I came away from these conversations thinking that one big challenge for this generation is determining how to take good things that are happening on the local level and translate them to the national level, where the problems are. I was also struck by pervasive but subtle hunger for a change in the emotional tenor of life… Again and again, students expressed a hunger for social and emotional bonding, for a shift from guilt and accusation toward empathy… It’s not that the students are hopeless. They are dedicating their lives to social change. It’s just that they have trouble naming institutions that work.” [NYTimes

TOP TALKER — “Democrats marshal a strike force to counter Trump on national security in 2018, 2020 elections” by Anne Gearan: “Called ‘National Security Action,’ the group is more expressly political than many Democratic-leaning think tanks and policy shops, but it will not endorse candidates or make political donations, Ben Rhodes and others said… “We’re a temporary organization. Our hope is to be out of business in three years,” Rhodes said. Co-founder Jake Sullivan, a former adviser to Clinton during her 2016 campaign and earlier as secretary of state, said the group will also advise Democrats in congressional oversight of Trump… “There was a need for connective tissue,” said former senior State Department official Wendy Sherman. “It’s connecting all the progressive groups and citizens that are very concerned about America’s place in the world, about our leadership in the world and that are very concerned about the institutions that ensure the rule of law in the world and our security and prosperity.” [WashPost]

NEW DIPLOMATIC FRONT — “US opens tough Saudi nuke talks, in shadow of Iran deal” by Matt Lee and Josh Lederman: “Energy Secretary Rick Perry will lead an interagency U.S. delegation to talks with the Saudis in London on Friday… as the Arab powerhouse explores a civilian nuclear energy program, possibly without restrictions on uranium enrichment… The Saudis have indicated they might accept such curbs if a separate nuclear deal with its arch-foe Iran is tightened…” [AP]

“Europeans Dig In Against New Iran Sanctions Risking Nuclear Deal” by Nick Wadhams: “There is no problem that you can think of with Iran that would not be to the power of 100 worse if this was a nuclear-armed country,” David O’Sullivan, the European Union’s ambassador to the U.S., said Monday in a meeting with editors and reporters at Bloomberg’s Washington bureau. “So for us, the first thing to do is to make sure this country doesn’t have nuclear weapons. That’s what the deal did and does in our view, and it is working.” [Bloomberg]

Canada’s Conservatives promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: “Following Donald Trump’s lead, the leader of Canada’s Conservative party has pledged to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital if the party forms a government after the next election in 2019… “Canada’s Conservatives led by Andrew Scheer will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital when we form a government in 2019,” the party said in a pledge posted on its website this weekend.” [ViceCBC]

ON THE HILL — “Senate urges Homeland Security to expand Global Entry to Israel” by Bart Jansen: Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and James Inhofe, R-Okla., announced Monday that they drafted a letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that was signed by all 100 senators urging the expansion of Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry screening to Israel… in recognition of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the countries… “Israel’s membership in Global Entry would not only provide its passport holders a smoother visit to the U.S. but would also help to make our country safer by enhancing bilateral law enforcement cooperation,” the Senators said.” [USAToday]

TRUMP TRAIN — “Israel-focused charity praises Trump — and pays him — at Mar-a-Lago gala” by Lori Rozsa: “[Steven] Alembik had said he would send any money he raised to an Israeli charity run by Danny Ayalon, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, although Alembik wasn’t sure how much money would be left after he paid Trump’s club for the ballroom rental, catering and other costs… Rabbi Alan Sherman and his wife, Marilyn, were also happy to be at Mar-a-Lago, even if Trump wasn’t present. Sherman was wearing a yarmulke with Trump’s photo on it. “He autographed it,” Sherman said, turning to show the signature on the back. “I met him at the airport, and he saw it and said, ‘I bet you like me a lot,’ and he signed it.”” [WashPost]

“How Anthony Scaramucci became the darling of the Orthodox Jewish community” by Katie Glueck: “I have no idea,” said Rabbi Zev Reichman, an influential rabbi from an Orthodox synagogue in New Jersey, when asked about Scaramucci’s turn in the right-leaning Jewish spotlight. “I think he’s a colorful guy, but no idea why he’s become suddenly honored at events, going to Israel. I’m wondering the same thing you are.” … But some people, such as Rabbi Duvi Honig, have gone much further in embracing “the Mooch.” … Honig, who founded the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce and serves as its CEO, invited Scaramucci on the trip to Israel with his organization last November… Scaramucci was more free-wheeling in interviews with Jewish media on the trip, cracking jokes about circumcision and showing off his Yiddish by rattling off “three derogatory Yiddish terms for non-Jews.” … “He’s an Italian guy through and through,” [RJC’s Matt Brooks said], “but he’s got a Jewish soul.” [McClatchyDC]

DRIVING THE CONVO — “Trump stops short of full endorsement of gun proposals” by Mike DeBonis and Anne Gearan: “Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday that “at the very least” Congress should pass legislation mandating universal background checks… “My Republican friends face a simple choice: Do something real on guns, or please the NRA. Doing both is impossible,” Schumer said… Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing to go further. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), who represents the district that includes the high school, introduced a bill Monday with Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) and more than 150 other Democrats to ban semiautomatic assault-style weapons… At [a White House] meeting, Trump suggested he would act to regulate bump stocks even if Congress does not… “I’m writing that out myself. I don’t care if Congress does it or not. I’m writing it out myself, okay?” Trump said to applause from some of the governors.” [WashPost]

“No, Israeli teachers don’t bring guns to school” by Carl Campanile and Linda Massarella: “Despite repeated claims by some gun advocates, teachers in Israel are not allowed to bring guns into their classrooms, a government spokesman said Monday. “In general, personal weapons are not permitted on school premises in Israel,” Almog Elijis, a spokesman for the Israeli Consulate in New York, told The Post… “Israeli schools are protected by professional authorized security officers, not members of the teaching or administrative staff,” she said.” [NYPost]

“Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller appears to fall asleep during White House meet on school safety” by Chris Sommerfeldt: “Photographers caught the senior White House adviser rubbing his eyes, yawning and nodding off during an hour-long Mondaymeeting… Miller, who has become one of President Trump’s most trusted advisers, appeared to be fully asleep in one of the photos.” [NYDailyNewsPic]

AP CORRECTIONS DEPT: “In a story Feb. 22 about the Florida school shooting, The Associated Press misquoted Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel in some versions of the story when he spoke about the families of the victims,” the correction said. “He said, “I’ve been to their homes where they’re sitting shiva,” not “where they sit and shiver.”” [AP]

PALACE INTRIGUE — “Ivanka Trump’s South Korea trip fuels White House tension” by Jeff Zeleny, Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins: “Inside the White House, Ivanka Trump’s unique stature — along with that of her husband, Jared Kushner — is causing tension. Some of their colleagues chafe at the pair’s favorable standing… [John] Kelly was not initially enthusiastic about her South Korea trip… “This isn’t like going to Italy. The stakes are far higher and more complex,” a person close to the President said… The concerns of Kelly and others about Ms. Trump… were aired in private… Kelly has remarked privately that Ivanka is just “playing government,” one source said, and has largely brushed aside her agenda, once disregarding her child tax credit as “a pet project.”” [CNN• How Long Can John Kelly Hang On? [NYTimes]

McMaster on Thin Ice — by Elias Groll: “The rumor mill was churning by Thursday afternoon over who might replace [H. R.] McMaster, including former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Bolton, however, isn’t talking. Even in private conversations late in the week, he offered non-answers when asked about the position.” [ForeignPolicy

“Melania Trump Parts Ways With Adviser Amid Backlash Over Inaugural Contract” by Ken Vogel and Maggie Haberman: “The first lady, Melania Trump, has parted ways with an adviser after news about the adviser’s firm reaping $26 million in payments to help plan President Trump’s inauguration… Mr. Trump, who is notoriously tight with his money, was also enraged to learn that [Stephanie] Winston Wolkoff brought on a close friend, David Monn, to help plan inaugural events, according to people who spoke to him. Mr. Monn’s firm was paid $3.7 million… Ms. Winston Wolkoff, in an email, defended her work on the inauguration, denounced news coverage of it and challenged the characterization that her contract with Mrs. Trump’s office was terminated as a result of the news about payments from the inaugural committee… “I expect to remain a trusted source for advice and support on an informal basis,” she wrote.” [NYTimes]

“Trump’s Longtime Lawyer, Michael Cohen, Knows Way Too Much. So Why is He Still in Exile?” by Brandy Zadrozny and Asawin Suebsaeng: “The week of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Cohen said the president elect asked him to stay on as his “personal attorney.” Cohen said he was “honored” at the request, but others inside the campaign have said the longtime aide-de-camp was expecting an official White House post… There are some signs that Cohen’s exile from the administration is no longer so absolute. Though he may not be at the White House physically, he is serving as a helping hand on Trump-world odd jobs and pet projects… White House officials continue to describe him as a “non-entity” and a goofy “character,” according to a senior Trump aide.” [DailyBeast

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Investigators eye possible $100 Million construction fraud in which subcontractors paid bribes and kickbacks to Turner and Bloomberg executives to land work in a “pay-to-play” scheme [NYTimes• Washington City Paper owner Mark Ein says local media can still succeed [Recode• How a Deal to Sell the Weinstein Company Fell Apart [NYTimes

“How Softbank, World’s Biggest Tech Investor, Throws Around Its Cash” by Mayumi Negishi: In January 2016, with WeWork’s valuation at $10 billion, [Masayoshi] Son met CEO Adam Neumann and was intrigued by his vision of how work would evolve… A year later, Mr. Son was considering investing more than $1 billion, the Journal reported. Most SoftBank directors were opposed, telling him they didn’t understand why SoftBank should invest in what they viewed as essentially a real-estate company… Some SoftBank executives thought WeWork’s valuation, then $17 billion, was excessive, says one. Mr. Son prevailed, leading SoftBank and the Vision Fund to invest $4.4 billion in WeWork in 2017, boosting its valuation to around $20 billion.” [WSJ] • WeWork, With $900 Million in Sales, Finds Cheaper Ways to Expand[Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION — “Daimler, MizMaa invest in Israeli tech startup Anagog” by Maria Sheahan: “German carmaker Daimler and U.S. venture capital firm MizMaa Ventures took part in a round of financing for Tel Aviv-based start-up Anagog Ltd, Daimler said on Monday, without providing financial details… Anagog has developed software that analyses user behavior directly in the mobile phone, using sensors, and then predicts future scenarios on the basis of artificial intelligence.” [Reuters]

SPOTLIGHT — “Warren Buffett’s Big Bet On Israel” by Karl Kaufman: “What is it about Israel that Buffett finds attractive? “I’m not Jewish, but Israel reminds me of the United States after its birth,” said Buffett in an interview. “The determination, motivation, intelligence and initiative of its people are remarkable and extraordinary. I’m a big believer in Israel’s economy.”” [Forbes]

“Goldman Sachs exec DJs at Brooklyn hot spot” by Mara Siegler: “Goldman Sachs co-president David Solomon isn’t too broken up about the recent arrest of his former assistant for stealing $1.2 million of vintage wine from Solomon’s cellar. The millionaire Wall Street titan — who goes by the DJ name “D-Sol” after hours — spun tunes at Schimanski in Williamsburg on Saturday night for three hours with SiriusXM’s Liquid Todd.”[PageSix]

PROFILE — THE TALK WITH DANIELLE LAUDER: “All great things begin with a vision…a dream,” Estée Lauder once said. Before setting the standard in 1946 for the entire beauty industry, by launching beauty company that will last for decades, Estee Lauder, in her own words, “dreamed of being an actress — name in lights, flowers, handsome men.” Although she is no longer with us,  she seems to be fulfilling that dream through her great granddaughter, Danielle Lauder. A young actress Danielle for a long time did not know that her grandmother wanted to be an actress. Danielle’s passion for acting is likely the result of nature versus nurture, but there is no doubt this rising star’s command of all things cosmetic is definitely genetic.” [JolieGazette

MEDIA WATCH — “CNN Boss Jeff Zucker Calls on Regulators to Probe Google, Facebook” by Stewart Clarke: “In a Google and Facebook world, monetization of digital and mobile continues to be more difficult than we would have expected or liked,” Zucker said, Monday, in a keynote address at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “I think we need help from the advertising world and from the technology world to find new ways to monetize digital content, otherwise good journalism will go away.” [Variety]

“Backfires and Explosions at The New York Times as a Possible Future Chief Re-Invents the Paper’s Opinion Pages” by Joe Pompeo: “Perhaps the most notable uproar was the one following the hiring of [Bret] Stephens last April. In response to his April 28 Times debut—an op-ed trafficking in the climate-science skepticism that has made Stephens, despite his anti-Trump bona fides, such a hard pill to swallow for many Times loyalists—the Times received more than 600 letters, “an unusually large outpouring,” it said. [Arthur] Sulzberger Jr. had to personally make an appeal to readers who had canceled their subscriptions over Stephens’s hiring… “We’ve also seen Bret Stephens write a column about repealing the Second Amendment, and he’s one of the bravest voices on the right against the degradation of presidential norms,” said Sulzberger.” [VanityFair]

TALK OF THE NATION — “Anti-Semitic Incidents Surged 57 Percent in 2017, Report Finds” by Maggie Astor: “The number of reported anti-Semitic incidents surged 57 percent in 2017, according to an annual report by the Anti-Defamation League… That increase was the largest in a single year since the A.D.L. began tracking in 1979… “It had been trending in the right direction for a long time,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, chief executive of the A.D.L., said in an interview. “And then something changed.” That “something” is hard to identify definitively, but Mr. Greenblatt pointed to three likely factors: the increasingly divisive state of American politics, the emboldening of extremists, and the effects of social media.” [NYTimes]

“Envoy: Polish Holocaust law won’t be enforced without Israeli coordination” by Lahav Harkov: “The controversial law outlawing public discussion of Poles’ collaboration with the Nazis will not be enforced in the near future, Polish Ambassador to Israel Jacek Chodorowicz told the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee on Monday. “The Polish Justice Ministry committed to not enforcing the new law before there is an in-depth examination of all of its components, including a discussion with Israeli representatives,” Chodorowicz said.” [JPost]

SCENE IN JERUSALEM — The Am Echad delegation of American Jews met today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset in Jerusalem [Pic]

TRANSITION — Julie Beren Platt, a long-time community leader and philanthropist in the Los Angeles area, has been elected for a three-year term as board chair of Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC). She currently serves as chair of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Platt’s son is Ben Platt, best known for playing the lead character in the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”

REMEMBERING — “How Billy Graham Made Israel OK With Evangelicals” by Zev Chafets: “[Foreign Minister Golda Meir] was charmed by the handsome young evangelist, especially when he assured her that he had no intention of doing any Jewish missionizing. In fact, he said, he was grateful to Israel for producing Jesus, to whom he had committed his life. Meir, who had grown up in the U.S., liked the sound of that, and suggested he repeat it to the local media, which he did. It was the start of a beautiful friendship… Soon after, the Yom Kippur War broke out… Graham rallied evangelicals, personally and persistently lobbied the White House for emergency aid, and coordinated his efforts with the Israeli ambassador, Yitzhak Rabin… The approval of [Golda] Meir and Rabin, coupled with Graham’s anti-proselytization policy, made Graham persona grata among America’s secular, liberal Jews. Synagogues and community organizations bombarded him with invitations and honors.” [BloombergView]

BIRTHDAYS: Investor and philanthropist, Chair of Julliard, Vice Chair of Lincoln Center and on the Board of the Metropolitan Opera, Bruce Kovnerturns 73… Performance artist and film-maker, Eleanor Antin turns 83… Writer and illustrator of children’s books, Uri Shulevitz turns 83… William Drykos turns 79… Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Alan Harvey Guth turns 71… Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue, a member of the British House of Lords, Baroness Julia Neuberger turns 68… Film and television actor, now starring as FBI Agent Stan Beeman on the FX series “The Americans,” Noah Emmerich turns 53… VP of regional operations and advancement at the Anti-Defamation League, David S. Waren turns 55… Businesswoman and founder of Spanx, she is a part owner of the Atlanta Hawks, Sara Blakely turns 47…

Senior Washington editor for NBC News, Rebecca Sinderbrand turns 41… Singer-songwriter, composer and prayer leader, co-founder of NYC’s Kol Zimrah minyan, Sam Benjamin “Shir Yaakov” Feinstein-Feit turns 40… Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Jewish Home party, Bezalel Smotrich turns 38… SVP of baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays,Chaim David Bloom turns 35… Massachusetts State Senator since 2015 and former Obama White House aide where he was one of the originators of the White House Seder, Eric Lesser turns 33… Grand”Pa” of Dov and Joe et al., Michael Gervis… Alana Berkowitz… Lenore Wax… Judith Meyer

Kafe Knesset for August 14

Monday, August 14, 2017

The dramatic anti-Semitic images from the Charlottesville white supremacist rally took over Saturday’s headlines in Israel, but prompted only minimal reactions from Israeli politicians. The only official government…

Kafe Knesset for August 11

Friday, August 11, 2017

A witch hunt? Israelis are not buying it: Another roller coaster week of intense public engagement with Netanyahu’s legal and criminal affairs has come to an end. Everyone…

Kafe Knesset for August 10

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Trumpification of Bibi: It appears that Netanyahu is more emboldened in the Trump era. He seems to be asking himself, ‘If Trump can get away with these…

Kafe Knesset for August 9

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Three cheers for Bibi: Thousands of Likudniks are expected to gather this evening in Tel Aviv for a mass rally and demonstration of support for Netanyahu. The rally…

Kafe Knesset for August 8

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

When it rains, it pours: Trouble just continues to pile up on PM Netanyahu’s desk. Against the backdrop of the numerous investigations, the Supreme Court ordered the PM…

Kafe Knesset for August 7

Monday, August 7, 2017

Likud without Netanyahu? As the Prime Minister’s corruption cases heat up, a new poll on Channel 10 shows something that Netanyahu probably did not want to hear –…