Daily Kickoff: Primaries today in Michigan and Kansas | New book details how Obama and Panetta convinced the Egyptians to protect the Israeli Embassy

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DRIVING THE DAY — Voters in Missouri, Kansas, Michigan and Washington head to the polls today for Republican and Democratic primaries. There’s also a special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.[FiveThirtyEight]

RACES TO WATCH — In Michigan: Elissa Slotkin, who served as Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs during the end of the Obama administration, is one of two Democratic contenders seeking to challenge Rep. Mike Bishop (R) in the 8th Congressional District. The Cook Political Report rates the district a “toss up” in the fall. In the 13th Congressional District, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib is seeking to become the first Muslim woman in Congress. Her mother is from Beit Ur al-Fauqa, outside Ramallah, and her father from Beit Hanina, an East Jerusalem neighborhood, according to Haaretz. Tlaib has the backing of J Street’s PAC.

— There are also seven candidates running to be Michigan’s next governor. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is backing gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed, who is running 3rd in the polls behind former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and Shri Thanedar.

In Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District: Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are backing former labor lawyer Brent Welder against activist Sharice Davids, who’s backed by Emily’s List.

Can this California Democrat crack the Trump-era election code? — by Andrew Romano: “Halfway through his Q&A session at University Synagogue (in California’s 48th Congressional District), Harley Rouda declared that the “biggest issue” of 2018 is the fact that “institutions of our government and culture — the foundations of democracy — are now under attack.” Then he paused to recount a recent visit to Berlin’s German Historical Museum, where he was reminded that “the rise of Hitler was all based on nationalism.” … The implicit comparison was lost on no one… Here was an Orange County Democrat openly comparing the president of the United States to Adolf Hitler — and warning that America could go the way of Nazi Germany if his power is left unchecked.” [YahooNews]

Idaho residents receive phone messages from neo-Nazi: “A California man who has called the Holocaust “a lie” and mounted a failed campaign against Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein says he plans to establish a “regional capital” in northern Idaho… Sandpoint, Idaho, residents have received automated phone messages from Patrick Little, a neo-Nazi who has called for the U.S. to be “free from Jews.”” [AP] • Patrick Little’s “Name the Jew” Tour Spreads Anti-Semitic Hate Nationwide [ADL]

DRIVING THE CONVO — At midnight, the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran, targeting access to U.S. banknotes and key industries including cars and carpets. Yesterday, Trump signed an executive order restoring the sanctions that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal and threatened even-tougher measures later this year until the Iranian government changes course. “Our policy is not regime change, but we want to put unprecedented pressure on the government of Iran to change its behavior,” National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Fox News.

Trump tweeted this morning: “The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters yesterday that he was in the room when President Trump signed the executive order on the reimposition of Iran sanctions after spending Sunday with Trump at his Bedminster golf course. “The sanctions today… against Iran are crippling, and I think our goal should be as a nation to drive this regime into the ground without firing a shot and stand behind the Iranian people,” Graham said. [Video]

— Graham in an interview with Josh Kimbrell on Christian Talk Radio: “Here’s what I think President’s Trump’s views on Iran are: That they’re the cancer of the Mideast and he’s going to take a different path than Obama.” [CNN]

Europe vows to fight for Iran deal as US renews sanctions — by David Herszenhorn: “The EU is taking legislative action, activating a so-called “blocking statute,” in a bid to protect EU businesses from the renewed U.S. sanctions. But it is unclear how effective it will be in calming the fears of companies, many of which have far greater commercial ties to the U.S. than Iran.” [PoliticoEU]

FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer tells us… “The goal, now that the U.S. has undertaken the decision to exit the JCPOA, is to wield the strength of the dollar and U.S. influence over the global banking community. As it did during the last round of sanctions, the Treasury must put banks and companies to a fundamental choice: they can either do business with America or Iran. But they cannot do both, or they will come under punishing sanctions. This will help to quickly clarify certain business decisions for European firms that may still be on the fence.”

“What’s interesting to watch right now is how effective these sanctions can be when imposed unilaterally. Officials from the Obama administration insisted that the US could not do this alone. So far, the Trump administration appears to be proving them wrong. But it’s still early days.”

Trump drops the sanctions hammer on Iran — but Putin could come to Tehran’s rescue — by Alex Lockie: “I have a suspicion that even if it doesn’t come directly, I can easily see in six months the Iranians turning to the Russians and letting the Russians be their channel,” to negotiate with Trump, Dennis Ross said. “Given the Trump-Putin relationship, we can see Russia coming and offering something, opening up a negotiation.”[BusinessInsider]

Eli Lake writes… “Trump’s Sanctions Miss a Chance to Help Iran’s Protesters: These sanctions will no doubt further destabilize Iran’s already wobbling economy. They will accomplish an important objective in depriving Iran’s treasury the funds it uses to finance its proxy forces in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. But in the process, average Iranians will suffer, too. This is why many dissidents, such as the Nobel laureate Shirin Abadi, have opposed these kinds of sanctions before… One that almost all Iranian democracy advocates support is re-imposing penalties on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.” [BloombergView]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: Jerusalem extols Trump for putting sanctions back on Iran — by Raphael Ahren: “Senior Israeli officials on Monday lauded the reimposition of US sanctions on Iran as a historic turning point that could ultimately lead to the Islamic Republic’s downfall… “This is an important moment for Israel, for the United States, for the region, and for the entire world,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video… Deputy Minister Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the US, called the return of the sanctions a “return to sanity.” [ToI]

OUT ON SHELVES TODAY — Former New York Times Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick’s new book titled Into the Hands of the Soldiers — recounting the Obama Administration’s handling of the 2011 Arab Spring that led to Hosni Mubarak’s downfall and later the rise of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. A few notable highlights below…

“Senator Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, introduced a bill to end Egypt’s military aid because of the the [military coup that removed Morsi from office on July 3, 2013.] The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, better known as AIPAC, wrote to every senator arguing that any cuts “could increase instability in Egypt and undermine important U.S. interests and negatively impact our Israeli ally.” The Senate vote 86-13 to protect the aid.” [page 266]

On the 2011 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Egypt: “Obama spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu. Marine Corps General James Mattis, chief of Central Command, talked to General Sisi, head of Egyptian military intelligence. Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, placed a panicked call to Leon Panetta, who was now defense secretary. Would Panetta please get the Egyptian army to stop this? But by 7:30 pm in Washington — 2:30 am the next morning in Cairo — Field Marshal Tantawi still had not picked up the phone to respond to Panetta. “I am sure he was trying to figure out what was going on,” Panetta later told me, charitably.”

“Panetta left the Pentagon to introduce a performance of Brahms’s German Requiem at the Kennedy Center to commemorate the September 11 terrorist attacks. Aides pulled him from the audience to an adjoining room set up for a secure phone call when Tantawi finally called back. Tantawi made the usual courtly small talk, “so i tried to cut through that s***t,” Panetta told me. “You have a serious situation there with the Israeli embassy,” Panetta told Tantawi. “If this is allowed to happen, not only could it jeopardize lives, but it is going to make Egypt look totally incompetent at providing security.” Tantawi promised to do “whatever” is necessary,” and shortly before 5 am in Cairo, Egyptian commandos finally rescued the six employees trapped in the embassy.” [page 62]

TALK OF THE REGION: A Top Syrian Rocket Scientist Is Blown Up, and Fingers Point at Mossad — by David Halbfinger and Ronen Bergman: “Aziz Asbar was one of Syria’s most important rocket scientists… On Saturday, he was killed by a car bomb — apparently planted by Mossad… It was at least the fourth time in three years that Israel has assassinated an enemy weapons engineer on foreign soil, a senior official from a Middle Eastern intelligence agency confirmed on Monday… The Mossad had been tracking Mr. Asbar for a long time, according to the Middle Eastern intelligence official. The Israelis believed that Mr. Asbar led the secret unit known as Sector 4 at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center.” [NYTimes]

— Israel minister welcomes Syria scientist killing: “We don’t of course comment on reports of this kind and I’m not going to comment now,” [Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael] Katz told Israeli army radio. “I can say that assuming the details of this man’s activities are correct and he was engaged in developing chemical weapons and longer-range missiles capable of hitting Israel, I certainly welcome his demise.” [YahooNews]

David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari write… “Arab Leaders Need to Step Up to Avert War in Gaza: Arab states should remind Mr. Abbas that he does not have the luxury of staying out of Gaza, since Hamas cannot effectively be delegitimized unless the PA returns. Accordingly, they should signal their willingness to bypass him and Hamas altogether by helping international bodies provide direct aid to Gaza. This is not the ideal path, but the message needs to be clear: Arab leaders will keep pressuring Hamas indefinitely to disarm, but only if Mr. Abbas returns.” [WSJ

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH: Trump’s hopes for Middle East peace deal falter — by Mehul Srivastava, Andrew England and Katrina Manson: “The US focus has shifted from the White House’s plan to create a “broad-based set of working principles” for re-establishing talks between Israel and the Palestinians, to a narrower mission of creating an environment where any proposals would at least be entertained by Palestinian and Arab leaders, a US diplomat said. An Arab diplomat said: “The Americans now seem to be prepared to withhold whatever they were planning.”

“Trump administration officials deny that the leaked details reflect their plans and insist they are on track, though it is unclear when the plan will be presented. “We’re certainly not foundering; if anything we’re actually staffing up for an eventual launch. We are strategizing on the rollout of the plan to give it the best chance of success,” a senior Trump administration official said. “We are close to finishing the political part of the plan; we’re still heavily working on the economic part.” [FinancialTimes

US seeking fundamental changes at UN agency supporting Palestinians — by Jeremy Diamond: “President Donald Trump’s administration believes the United Nations agency tasked with supporting Palestinian refugees “has perpetuated and exacerbated the refugee crisis,” a senior Trump administration official said Monday…” [CNN]

— King Abdullah affirms Jordan’s support for Palestinian cause — by Taylor Luck: “During the address, a recording of which was published by the royal court on its Facebook and Twitter accounts, the monarch stressed that Jordan had not changed its long-held position on the two-state solution. “I spoke with the president, the US administration and congress on regional challenges, and most importantly our position on Palestine,” King Abdullah said. “Our position is steadfast, it will never change,” he said.” [TheNational]

NATION-STATE LAW: Sara Greenberg, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s advisor for world communities, writes… “Nation-State law critics are misinformed: While the open, free and democratic nature of Israel was enshrined into law, there was no legal basis to ensure that Israel would also continue to be a Jewish state. During the seven-year debate surrounding the contents of the Nation-State law, there was a broad consensus that a basic law was needed to define the identity of the country and to ensure that the judiciary could not overturn fundamental principles such as the Law of Return (which grants immigration rights to Jews)… The new basic law does not, however, contradict or supersede the basic laws that protect and guarantee individual rights of all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender.” [JPost]

Why a former Israeli military intelligence chief stands with the Druze — by Amos Yadlin: “Although the measure tilts the balance toward the Jewish identification of the state, it does not override the many checks and balances that infuse Israel’s democracy, including the sacred principle of equality.” [JTA]

REPORT: Fake Russian social media accounts sought to influence US-Israel ties: “Researchers from Clemson University found that of nearly three million posts flagged as being from fake accounts out of so-called Russian troll farms, tens of thousands of them had to do with Israel and the broader region. Sixty percent of the posts on Israel worked to bolster the relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump, oftentimes while criticizing former American president Barack Obama.” [ToINews10] • Israeli Right-wing Bot Network Exposed – and It May Be the Tip of the Iceberg [Haaretz]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Jeffrey Katzenberg’s ‘NewTV’ Startup Closes $1 Billion, All Major Studios Among Investors [VarietyWSJ] • Activist investor Carl Icahn sent an open letter urging Cigna shareholders to vote against the Express Scripts deal, calling it a “$60 billion folly” [WSJ] • Are New York’s real estate families, like Ratner, Kushner and Kingston, losing their grip? [TheRealDeal] • Britain’s Centrica invests in Israeli electric vehicle start-up Driivz [Reuters] • Developer Stephen Ross scores big win against union over Hudson Yards project [NYPost] • Why The Old Way Of Doing Retail Is Collapsing, according To Adam Pritzker [Forbes]

SPOTLIGHT — Real-Estate Moguls Betting on a Hybrid of Canyon Ranch and Soho Club — by Keiko Morris:”The business, known as the Well, will combine services of medical doctors, health coaches and acupuncturists with yoga, meditation and spa services, according to its founders. The company plans to open its first location in downtown Manhattan next year, then roll it out in places like Los Angeles, London and Hong Kong. Starwood Capital Group Chief Executive Barry Sternlicht, developer Richard LeFrak, and Mitchell Moinian, a principal at Moinian Group, are among the early investors.” [WSJ]

The venture capital gold rush in real estate — by Konrad Putzier and E.B. Solomont: “After dabbling in insurance tech and investing in other real estate tech funds, the Lightstone Group launched its own fund, dubbed Torch Venture Capital, in February… Shragie Lichtenstein — whose father, David, is Lightstone’s chairman —said when he pitched the concept of launching a third-party fund to the company, he drew a graph of the public firms and REITs he believed were ignoring the tech scene. “It was obvious to everyone in the room that none of these guys were going to make a focus on tech investment,” he said.”

“Lichtenstein, who is 25 and previously worked at the hedge fund Point72 Asset Management, said the goal is not to just be “waving a checkbook.” “It’s about real, strategic value-add,” he said. “If you come to us, we’ll integrate you across our national property management platform.” While Lichtenstein declined to say how much Torch was looking to deploy, he said it will focus on startups in the late seed or Series B stage.” [TheRealDeal]

PROFILE: Mnuchin’s Right-Hand-Man Miller Is Unknown Trade War Soldier — by Saleha Mohsin: “As chief of staff and right-hand man to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, [Eli] Miller’s helping to work back-channels with Beijing in an effort to restart trade talks… The China talks are a test for Miller… His performance will contribute to the outcome of a confrontation that may shape the future of many of America’s key industries, not to mention his own career; one predecessor, Sheryl Sandberg, is now chief operating officer at Facebook Inc…” [Bloomberg]

MOVING ON — Gary Cohn Is Happy in the Hamptons, Golfing and Crypto Investing — by Amanda Gordon: “On Saturday night, the former Goldman Sachs president who served about a year as Donald Trump’s economic adviser joined his wife on stage at the Paddle & Party for Pink, a benefit for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation at Havens Beach in Sag Harbor… “So I’ve been spending two thirds of my time out here, playing golf,” he said. “I’ve been working, been on the phone a bunch, looking for opportunities. I’m not on any boards officially as of this moment.”

“At this point, Rebecca Kobrin, a history professor at Columbia University working on a book on Jewish immigrant bankers titled “Credit to the Nation,” joined the conversation, telling Cohn he needs to write a book about his time in the Trump administration. “I’m writing about my time in Washington already,” Cohn said… “I’ve been talking into my tape recorder lots and lots and lots and lots of hours. I’m afraid when I listen to it it might be the same thing 35 times. But I’m going to give someone literally thousands of hours of tape.” [Bloomberg]

Hope Hicks Plots Her Next Act — by Emily Jane Fox: “As the Hicks job search continues, one suggestion that keeps coming up, according to these people, is that she set up shop with fellow former White House flack Josh Raffel. The two had worked together years ago at Hiltzik Strategies before joining forces again on Pennsylvania Avenue. Many assumed that this would be their plan… since the two are close friends and both resigned from their West Wing roles around the same time. Neither of them is opposed to the idea.” [VanityFair]

FROM READERS — Following our coverage yesterday of Senator Cory Booker’s controversial photo with BDS activists that the Senator’s office says he was tricked into taking, a few JI readers submitted their own opinions:

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: “The issue is not the picture. It is rather Cory’s failure to condemn the BDS movement. He’s admitting that he was set up, yet there’s anti-BDS legislation that AIPAC has been pushing to which Cory is not signed up to. Cory became the single largest recipient of pro-Israel financial support because of his repeated pledges, in many speeches where I personally introduced him, to protect and defend Israel always. How then have we witnessed a pattern that is deeply troubling and alarming? It began with his support of the Iran deal, continued with his opposition to the Taylor Force Act in the committee, to his condemnation of Trump’s move of the Jerusalem embassy. There can be no question that Cory has strongly shifted his positions away from the pro-Israel support to which he had committed himself. If he is to have national aspirations and wants the support of the Jewish community, then he must stop catering to extremist elements of the Democratic Party, regardless of political advantage. Cory should be looking to build bipartisan support for Israel across the aisle. It should begin by him issuing, in wake of this photograph, a full-throated condemnation of BDS.”

NORPAC President Ben Chouake tells us he accepted Booker’s explanation but thought “it was very careless” for a thoughtful and careful politician like Booker. “The picture was terrible.” Chouake said he expects the New Jersey Senator to hold a press conference to express his views on Israel and his opposition to the BDS movement to reassure the Jewish community about his commitment to Israel. “Keep in mind, the support he got in the community in 2013 was extremely enthusiastic and people were looking to him to be a champion on these issues, and I think he’s being very cautious,” the NORPAC president said, pointing to Booker’s reluctance to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act.

Chouake added: “I think Booker is going to have to work on inspiring people to want to do for him what they have done in the past. I mean, he’s fine. He is a solid vote on our issues. He’s very thoughtful and responsive when we call him. But, you know, he’s not reached yet the level of being a champion that we had hoped for. I would like to see him assume the championship, the status he’s both capable of  and that we had hoped for.”

MEDIA WATCH: Jared Kushner Used To Personally Order The Deletion Of Stories At His Newspaper — by Steven Perlberg: “Jared Kushner personally ordered a software developer at his newspaper to remove stories that were critical of his friends and real estate peers… Kushner in 2012 went around the editorial leaders at the New York Observer — the newspaper he owned and operated — to mandate the removal of a handful of articles from the website, according to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News.” [BuzzFeed]

DESSERT: Old stone buildings and trendy cafes: The port city of Jaffa — by Tali Arbel: “In and around Jaffa’s famous flea market, Shuk Hapishpeshim, are streets dotted with cafes… Cafe Puaa has comfy, chic but mismatched furniture, and will sell you the plates you eat off (nearly everything is for sale). Its menu is packed with the vegetable dishes that Israeli cuisine is known for…” [AP]

BIRTHDAYS: Axios National Political Reporter, Jonathan Swan… Former US intelligence analyst, pled guilty to espionage in 1987, released from prison in 2015, Jonathan Pollard turns 64… Rabbi of a congregation in Monsey, NY, he is both a senior Rosh Yeshiva and professor of biology at Yeshiva University, expert in medical ethics, Rabbi Moshe David Tendler turns 92… Brooklyn resident, Esther Holler turns 81… Partner in the Los Angeles office of Mayer Brown, previously the US Trade Representative (1993-1996) and then US Secretary of Commerce (1996-1997), Michael (“Mickey”) Kantor turns 79… Actress who appeared in 30 films and TV shows and co-starred with Clint Eastwood in “High Plains Drifter,” Verna Bloom turns 79… Co-founder of the world-wide chain of Hard Rock Café, board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Peter Morton turns 71…

Retired Lieutenant General in the Israeli Air Force, he also served as Chief of Staff of the IDF, Dan Halutz turns 70… Former PR Director for the New York Yankees, Marty Appel turns 70… President of merchant bank Palisades Associates, Chair of the NJDC, and former CEO of Empire Kosher Poultry, Greg Rosenbaum turns 66… Spiritual leader of Agudas Israel of St. Louis since 1986, Rabbi Menachem Greenblatt turns 63… Founder and CEO of the Zimmer Children’s Museum located in the offices of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, Esther Netter turns 60… Chief development officer at Capital Camps & Retreat Center, she was previously Deputy Director of AIPAC’s Leadership Institute, Havi Arbeter Goldscher turns 39… MLB catcher since 2011, he played for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic and was named Pool A MVP, Ryan Lavarnway turns 31… Social activist, writer, public speaker and the founder of a global nonprofit organization (Love for the Elderly), he has given 2 TEDx talks, Jacob Cramer turns 18… Scott Harrison




Daily Kickoff: Dershowitz defends Booker after photo with BDS activists | How old-money — Ackman, Pritzker, Saban, Gilbert — invest in tech

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DRIVING THE CONVO — At the Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans on Friday, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was pictured posing with anti-Israel activists while holding a poster that criticized Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank. “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” the sign in Booker’s hands read. The image was shared on Twitter by @US_Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a pro-Palestinian group that endorses the BDS movement.

Booker’s Senate spokesperson Jeff Giertz insisted that the Senator did not realize the poster’s reference to Israel. “Just before delivering a speech in New Orleans, Senator Booker was approached by dozens of people for photos,” Giertz explained in a statement on Friday afternoon. “In one instance, amid the rush, he was posing for a photo and was passed a sign to hold — he didn’t have time to read the sign, and from his cursory glance he thought it was talking about Mexico and didn’t realize it had anything to do with Israel. He hopes for a day when there will be no need for security barriers in the State of Israel, but while active terrorist organizations threaten the safety of the people living in Israel, security barriers are unfortunate but necessary to protect human lives.”

Professor Alan Dershowitz tells us… “As someone who is constantly asked to pose for photos with strangers, I understand how Senator Booker was tricked into posing with a sign whose implications he did not immediately comprehend. I have known Senator Booker for many years and have discussed with him many aspects of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. I am confident that he fully understands Israel’s need to protect its citizens from terrorism. We share a hope that just as the barrier dividing Jerusalem came down in 1967, so too the other barriers will someday be able to be safely removed, if and when terrorism against Israelis ends.”

— Dershowitz added that he doesn’t see this picture become an issue in 2020 should Booker decide to run for president.

Noah Pollak tells us… “Senator Booker’s explanation for why he posed with BDS activists is not credible, and so his judgment on foreign policy will be an issue in any future election. If he wants to begin repairing the damage, he can argue to the progressives he appears so interested in courting that their contempt for Israel and support for BDS is unacceptable. But I am sure he will never publicly criticize the kind of people with whom he just posed with. That would require political courage.”

A veteran of Democratic presidential races, who asked to remain anonymous, tells us that Booker could get a one-time pass over this ‘stupid’ move. And while it’s possible that Booker didn’t read the sign, it’s also possible that “having never been confronted with a split-second decision about angering a fan, Booker didn’t know what to do,” the Dem strategist said.

“This ain’t baseball — if there’s a strike two, then he’s out,” he added. “It will certainly be possible to run for president in 2020 as a pro-Palestinian Democrat — we’ll probably see more than one candidate do that and it’s definitely where a lot of Democratic primary voters are. But it isn’t possible to be pro-Palestinian if you’ve already been co-president of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s L’Chaim Society.”

Ann Lewis, a former White House Communications Director, emails us… “I have too much confidence in voters to think that a photo snapped in 15 seconds — and explained 15 minutes later — will have a lasting effect.”

Democratic pollster and campaign strategist Mark Mellman: “Booker’s long and strong record of support for Israel says a lot more than a mischievously placed sign handed to him as he was going to a podium to speak. Some Israel critics tried to misuse Booker and he did not let it stand, making clear immediately that Israel has the right and responsibility to protect itself.”

Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter and Jewish liaison for President George W. Bush: “Maybe it will hurt him with everyone. His explanation that he hadn’t read the sign suggests he doesn’t have the courage of someone else’s convictions.”

Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tweeted on Friday: “Booker’s office issued a statement saying he was handed the sign amidst a crowd and did not read it. These things do happen to politicians. I accept his explanation.”

DRIVING THE DAY — The U.S. is expected to restore major sanctions against Iran that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal following President Trump’s withdrawal from JCPOA in May. “The United States is going to enforce these sanctions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reportersyesterday. “It’s an important part of our efforts to push back against Iranian malign activity.”

— “A U.S. Treasury official… said so-called “snapback” sanctions will be reimposed at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Tuesday.” [Reuters]

Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, emails us… “The Trump administration is sending a clear message to banks, insurers and other companies around the world: get out of Iran or face dire legal and financial consequences. U.S. sanctions on Iran are back and they will be fully enforced.”

“Now it’s time to look ahead to the next round of sanctions in November — especially for foreign banks processing oil payments with the Central Bank of Iran and banks on the board of SWIFT, which must disconnect Iranian banks or face certain cut-off from the US financial system. As this maximum pressure campaign gets rolling, the mullahs will face a stark choice: fundamental behavioral change or regime collapse.”

Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, on what’s next: “The big regional picture is a race underway to determine what comes first: Will the Iranian regime buckle under internal protest and external pressure, including the tightened economic grip imposed by the Trump Administration’s welcome reimposition of sanctions, or will Iran’s attempt to turn Syria into a Lebanon-like front against Israel, armed to the teeth with offensive weapons, trigger a massive Iran-Israel conflagration?”

“While the Trump administration seems to have indicated it would be happy with any of three outcomes of its Iran policy — a unilateral change by Iran of its malign behavior in the Middle East; a willingness by Iran to negotiate a bigger, better agreement covering both nuclear and non-nuclear issues; or full-scale regime change in Iran — at the current moment, it is difficult to see the Tehran regime choosing either of the first two paths. That calculus may change if the domestic situation dramatically worsens, both politically and economically, or if Israel adopts an even more muscular and assertive strategy to counter Iranian gains in Syria. ”

HEARD YESTERDAY — Former Senator and Chairman of UANI Joe Lieberman on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo: “It’s a very important day, and that’s a day that I for one I didn’t think would happen. Tomorrow is the day that effectively the Iran nuclear agreement of 2015 dies, and this is one death that I am not mourning because I thought it was a bad agreement… I give credit to President Trump on this one, for getting us out of the agreement. Hopefully, it will bring the Iranians back to the negotiating table to negotiate a better deal.” [Video]

U.N. officials: Trump, Rouhani may hold meeting at U.N. General Assembly — by Shlomo Shamir: “A summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month, a senior diplomatic source at the UN headquarters in New York told Ma’ariv… “It’s still too early to talk about it, but we think it’s worth making the effort to take this opportunity to push toward a meeting between the two leaders,” one UN official said.” [JPost]

Trump tweeted on Saturday“Iran, and its economy, is going very bad, and fast! I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter – it is up to them!”

U.S. Accuses Iran of Terror Plots in Effort to Sway Europe — by Laurence Norman in Brussels and Matthew Dalton in Paris: “A slate of investigations into alleged terror plots and killings sponsored by Iran has opened a new front in U.S. efforts to persuade European governments to cut ties with Tehran… Washington, Israel and Iranian dissident groups say the alleged recent operations show that Iran has ended years of caution about hunting its enemies in Europe.” [WSJ]

INSIDE THE ADMIN: There’s Trump’s Foreign Policy and Then There’s His Administration’s — by Mark Landler: “For aides like [Mike] Pompeo or Nikki R. Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, there could be another reason for the disconnect with Mr. Trump: they harbor their own long-term political ambitions and do not want to run afoul of traditional Republican constituencies. Cozying up to Iran or Russia does not play well with mainstream Republicans.” [NYTimes

REPORT: Trump and Allies Seek End to Refugee Status for Millions of Palestinians — by Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer: “It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote about the agency in one of those emails, dated Jan. 11 and addressed to several other senior officials, including Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt. “This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace,” he wrote.”

“Kushner raised the refugee issue with officials in Jordan during a visit to the region in June, along with… Jason Greenblatt. According to Palestinian officials, he pressed the Jordan to strip its more than 2 million registered Palestinians of their refugee status so that UNRWA would no longer need to operate there.”

“The White House declined to comment on the record for this story. A senior executive branch official… said U.S. policy regarding the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee program “has been under frequent evaluation and internal discussion. The administration will announce its policy in due course.” [ForeignPolicy

Palestinians slam reported US plan to weaken refugee agency: “Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, alleged Sundaythat the Trump administration is “pushing to impose facts on the ground, by realizing all of Israel’s demands.” [AP

How Trump’s strong support for Israel harms pro-settler party — by Mazal Mualem: “Trump’s highly supportive policy toward Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and his failure thus far to instigate a peace process with the Palestinians seem to have left [Nafatali] Bennett without a cutting-edge agenda… With such a friendly US administration and a US ambassador… HaBayit HaYehudi and Bennett have lost the “demon” who made them so essential for the hardcore right.” [Al-Monitor]

The real lesson Trump learned from Charlottesville — by Annie Karni: “The big picture is the fizzle,” said Bill Kristol, editor-at-large of the Weekly Standard and a prominent Never Trump conservative. “He’s not in good shape politically, but he’s not in worse shape. Charlottesville didn’t change his numbers. Everything has just become more the way it was.” … In some ways, the experience of Charlottesville, as well as his ability to recover from any short-term crisis, has been empowering for Trump and his allies. Three former aides said the takeaway from Charlottesville is the nihilistic notion that nothing matters except for how things play.” [Politico]

ROAD TO THE MIDTERMS — In an interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh, Republican challenger Noga Sachs discussed her campaign against incumbent GOP Congresswoman Ann Wagner in Tuesday’s primary for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District:

Sachs, a 34-year-old Israeli American, is Wagner’s only challenger and is facing an uphill battle. The Missouri GOP attempted to throw her off the ballot alleging Sachs is a ‘Trojan Horse’ candidate. In a phone interview, Sachs admitted that she is not a traditional Republican and that in the past she voted for Democrats…

Sachs on her views toward President Trump: “Trump does a lot of not necessarily well thought-out-things that I think is irresponsible. Definitely, if you’re talking about moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, I agree with that and several other ideas that he has. But I couldn’t tell you that I would be like Wagner and that I would just always go with what Trump says.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

White Nationalists Love Corey Stewart. He Keeps Them Close — by Danny Hakim and Stephanie Saul: “Some white nationalists volunteer for Mr. Stewart’s campaign, and several of his aides and advisers have used racist or anti-Muslim language, or maintained links to outspoken racists like Jason Kessler, the organizer of last year’s violent rally in Charlottesville, Va. Mr. Stewart has not distanced himself from those aides… Mr. Stewart praised President Trump’s statement that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the Unite the Right white nationalist protests in Charlottesville last August. “I don’t think he said anything bad there,” Mr. Stewart, 50, said.” [NYTimes]

Sanders boosts progressive candidate ahead of Michigan governor primary — by Max Greenwood: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sought to boost Michigan Democratic gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed in Detroit on Sunday… In a fiery stump speech that touched on the senator’s usual motifs of income inequality and the corrupting influence of money in politics, Sanders touted El-Sayed as a political ally who would buoy the progressive movement in a state narrowly won by President Trump in 2016.” [TheHill]

In Deeply Blue New Jersey, an Unexpected Battle for Senate — by Nick Corasaniti: “So far, national Democratic Party groups have not contributed to [Sen. Bob] Menendez’s efforts, though that may change. Mr. Menendez said he might get help from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which he once led… Mr. Menendez also counts one of the rising stars in the Democratic Party as his close friend: Mr. Booker, who despite spending time traveling and planting the seeds for what many believe will be a presidential run in two years, is also invested in ensuring Mr. Menendez is re-elected.” [NYTimes]

Max Rose on leave from campaign trail to train with National Guard — by Anna Sanders: “Staten Island Congressional candidate and decorated war vet Max Rose is detouring from the campaign trail for military training. Rose is on leave from his campaign between Sunday and Aug. 20 for squad-level combat exercises with the New York National Guard.” [NYPost]

Pennsylvania congressman touts fake pro-Israel award from Sacha Baron Cohen — by Josh Israel: “Alongside his 2018 “True Blue Award” from the anti-LGBTQ hate group the Family Research Council and his 2010 Leadership Award from the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, [Rep. Scott] Perry (R-PA) lists the fake prize — incorrectly listing it as “70 for 70″ on his “Awards and Recognition” page.” [ThinkProgress

** 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: Deal Gives Kushners Cash Infusion on 666 Fifth Avenue [NYTimes] • Chetrit Group out at 9 Dekalb Avenue, Brooklyn’stallest development [TheRealDeal] • In ‘Confidential’ Letter, Hedge Fund Elliott Skewers ‘Secretive’ Label [WSJ] • Israeli Startup DouxMatok Makes Sugar Sweeter [Bloomberg] • Scooter Braun Launches Fitness Venture[Variety] • Sun, sand, sea and … unicorns? Why Tel Aviv is the world’s new startup capital [TheGuardian]

SPOTLIGHT — Old-Money Billionaires Are Chasing New Tech Riches — by Anupreeta Das: “The family office of hedge-fund titan William Ackman has invested in Rubicon Global, an Atlanta-based trash-collection startup last valued at $1 billion… E-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc., which in July raised $650 million from investors at a $15 billion valuation, counts a family office founded by Nicholas Pritzker and his four adult children among its early backers.

“Successful tech companies are popping up all around [families],” making it impossible not to consider investing, said Jacob Cohen, who oversees venture investments for Dan Gilbert, the billionaire cofounder of mortgage lender Quicken Loans Inc. and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team. While Mr. Cohen is open to investing in deals led by Valley firms, he also focuses on Michigan-area investments and holds out his serial-entrepreneur boss Mr. Gilbert as a resource to young founders.”

“Entrepreneur-turned-venture-investor Barak Pridor, who has $100 million from media mogul Haim Saban’s investment firm Saban Capital Group to deploy on startups, too is steering clear of the Valley. He’s training Saban Ventures on Israel, which he deems as friendlier than the Valley. Israel has a thriving community of entrepreneurs and has produced venture-backed companies such as Mobileye, acquired by Intel Corp. for $15 billion.” [WSJ]

PROFILE — Disney’s Streaming Service Starts to Come Into Focus — by Brooks Barnes: “The service’s initial success or failure will depend a great deal on an ascendant Disney executive named Ricky Strauss, who was recently given — to the surprise of many in Hollywood — creative oversight of the service’s programming.” [NYTimes]

She’s Joining Goldman’s Most Elite Tier, as Its Youngest Banker — by Sridhar Natarajan: “[Stephanie] Cohen is now Goldman Sachs committee’s youngest, with the rare label of “ex officio” member… Since the start of this year, Cohen has held the weighty title of chief strategy officer — leading a team that helps decide where the bank should pursue new lines of business or acquisitions of its own… She’ll be among seven women on the 33-person panel.” [Bloomberg]

SPORTS BLINK: Amar’e Stoudemire Is on a Religious Quest — by Sam Kestenbaum: “The halls of the Jewish Museum in Manhattan were hushed and dim as Amar’e Stoudemire stepped inside… With furrowed brow, he considered dozens of Jewish relics on display: a chunk of carved third-century marble, twinkling candelabra and a carved wooden chest for keeping the Torah… “When I’m not training, I study Torah,” Mr. Stoudemire said. “Study, train, study, train, study, train, study. That’s life.” … Mr. Stoudemire seems undeterred by religious gatekeepers who might discourage such exploration. “I study with elders, with rabbis, with everyone,” he said. “I don’t limit myself.”” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: C-SPAN Caller Threatens ‘To Shoot’ CNN Hosts Brian Stelter And Don Lemon — by Hayley Miller: “A supporter of President Donald Trump threatened “to shoot” CNN reporters Brian Stelter and Don Lemon during an on-air call with C-SPAN on Friday… “I’m not asking for sympathy,” Stelter said Sunday. “I don’t think I’m in extreme danger. I know some of my colleagues get much worse threats than I do. CNN has a great security team and we know how to handle this stuff.” “But these kinds of threats are coming in more often,” he warned.” [HuffPost]

Bret Stephens writes… “Trump Will Have Blood on His Hands: The message I got in May was the third time I’ve been expressly or implicitly threatened with violence by someone whose views clearly align with Donald Trump’s.” [NYTimes]

CNN boss Jeff Zucker is doing well after heart surgery: “Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, is through heart surgery and doing well. Zucker is on a leave of absence through August to recover and is expected back at the network in September.” [NBCNews]

CAMPUS BEAT — Stanford RA Who Threatened ‘Zionist Students’ Resigns –by Marcy Oster: “A student at Stanford University who threatened to “physically fight” against “Zionist students” following Israel’s passing of legislation making Israel the “nation-state of the Jewish people” announced that he would resign his post as a residential assistant…” [ForwardStanfordDaily]

Some College Students Choose a School Where They Don’t Fit, on Purpose — by Kyle Spencer: “When Jonah Shainberg was accepted to Notre Dame, a football-heavy Catholic university in Indiana, his mother balked at the idea. “I’m not sending my Jewish son to Notre Dame,” Mr. Shainberg recalled her saying. He was also skeptical. But once he was there, Mr. Shainberg… discovered something about himself he had not totally understood before: His faith was central to his identity. “I think Notre Dame made me more Jewish,” he said.” [NYTimes]

Ross Douthat writes… “The Jewish Crossroads: One form of pressure comes from the left, which is increasingly intent on rooting out all residues of traditionalism within the liberal order… At the same time, there is a different pressure from Israel itself. As the Jewish state’s political and cultural debate has shifted to the right, Benjamin Netanyahu has embraced the view that European Jewry’s old enemy, Christian nationalism, is less dangerous to the Jewish future than the dissolving effects of liberal cosmopolitanism and the threat posed by Islamist anti-Semitism… These centrifugal forces, pulling leftward and rightward, have already alienated younger liberal Jews in the United States from the uncomplicated pro-Israel sentiments of their grandparents. And they may portend a future where the “liberal politics with a dose of cultural conservatism” combination gives way to a sharper choice for many Jews: a more consistently conservative Judaism bound to Israeli nationalism, and a liberal Judaism that’s more consistently liberal and less identitarian — and perhaps ultimately more secularized and assimilated.” [NYT]

ACROSS THE POND: Jewish leaders blast Corbyn for ‘bland’ video with no apology in video — by Tim Stickings: “Jewish leaders have dismissed Jeremy Corbyn’s latest attempt to solve his party’s anti-Semitism crisis after the Labour leader posted a video promising to ‘root out’ racism among his supporters.” [DailyMail]

Anti-Semitic Graffiti Scrawled on Childhood Home of Elie Wiesel in Romania — by Kit Gillet: “It was scrawled late Friday evening on the outside wall of the childhood home of… Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. The building in Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania, is now a protected historical monument and museum. The graffiti read in part, “Nazi Jew lying in hell with Hitler” and “Public toilet, anti-Semite pedophile.” … In a statement on Saturday, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its regret over the vandalism at Mr. Wiesel’s childhood home, and condemned “any anti-Semitic gestures and any behavior or expression that promotes intolerance and xenophobia.”[NYTimes]

— The Elie Wiesel National Institute for Studying the Holocaust in Romania called the damage “grotesque” and asked investigators “to treat this incident with maximum severity with maximum responsibility.” [CNN]

IMAGE — Roger Waters displayed the slogan “Resist Israeli anti-Semitism” on the Jumbotrons at his concert last night at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland.[Pic]

— Rabbi David Wolpe tweeted“That Roger Waters displayed this at his concert in Poland of all places is unendingly odious.”

DESSERT — Eating kosher at ASU is about to get easier — by Lauren Castle: “Hannah Widawer, 20, found herself taking an Uber or relying on friends with cars to get kosher food off campus in her earlier years at Arizona State University. She is one of an estimated 3,500 Jewish students attending ASU… That will change this year as ASU will serve new kosher options at the Hassayampa Academic Village Dining Hall…” [AZCentral]

New Vegan Shawarma Joint in Tel Aviv Is a Game-changer — by Roni Kashmin: “The new place, called Sultana, will be a shawarma eatery for all intents and purposes… Only this shawarma is totally vegan.” [Haaretz]

Healthy taqueria Taco Dumbo opening fourth location — by Jennifer Gould Keil: “While the name evokes Brooklyn, Taco Dumbo — a SoCal taqueria that focuses on healthy food and cold-pressed juice — is launching an outpost at 1385 Broadway, between 37th and 38th Streets, later this year… Jonathan Krieger and Dan Bodner of Retail Worx repped Taco Dumbo.”[NYPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Beverly Hills-based family law attorney, founding partner of Jaffe and Clemens, Daniel J. Jaffe turns 81… Casino owner, three time winner of the World Series of Poker, and former executive of Wilsons Leather and Rainforest Cafe, Lyle Berman turns 77… Founder and spiritual leader of The Elijah Minyan in San Diego, Wayne Dosick turns 71… Austrian businessman with many US, Israeli and Eastern European investments, Martin Schlaff turns 65… Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, formerly Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (2012-2013), Tara D. Sonenshine turns 59… NASA astronaut who spent 198 days on the International Space Station during 2008, he brought bagels from his family’s bagel store in Montreal into space on his first mission into orbit, Gregory Chamitoff turns 56… Famed computer hacker, now a computer security consultant, Kevin Mitnick turns 55…

AVP of Public Affairs at the American Council on Education, Jonathan Riskind turns 55… Chair of the Executive Grantmaking Committee of the board of directors at the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, board member of Hillel at Stanford University, Susie Sorkin… Television and radio sports anchor on ESPN and ABC, he was one-half of the “Mike & Mike” team but now hosts his own morning program, Mike Greenberg turns 51… HBO’s boxing commentator and co-host of ESPN’s First Take, Yiddish speaking Max Kellerman turns 45… Former CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick turns 42… Entrepreneur In Residence at LinkedIn, she was previously the CEO at ReUp Education, Nitzan Pelman… Actress, director and screenwriter, Soleil Moon Frye turns 42… Creative director and graphic designer at Facebook, Rachel Gogel… Senior Policy Advisor to Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), Corey A. Jacobson turns 29… Senior producer and journalist at Mic, Jessica I. Goldberg




Daily Kickoff: White House Mideast team staffing up ahead of peace plan rollout | United’s new DC—Tel Aviv route | Paul Ryan’s welcome package

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VIEW IN DEBUT: An early version of today’s Daily Kickoff was available in the Debut Inbox starting at 7:19 AM EDT this morning. 

DRIVING THE CONVO: Donald Trump Jr. compares Democratic platform to 1930-era Nazis — by Stephanie Murray: “President Donald Trump’s oldest son made the comments at an event for conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza’s new film: “Death of a Nation: Plantation Politics and the Making of the Democratic Party.” … “You see the Nazi platform in the early 1930s and what was actually put out there, and you look at it compared to, like, the DNC platform of today, and you’re saying, ‘Man, those things are awfully similar,’ to the point where it’s actually scary, and to me that was one of the most striking things I took from the movie because it’s the exact opposite that you’ve been told,” Donald Trump Jr. said during an interview with One America News Network.”

“The president’s son did not address the members of the so-called alt-right who self-identify as Nazis and white supremacists.” [Politico

Abe Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and former National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, tells us… “This is 1984 Doublethink. I would like to believe that it is not true, but unfortunately, it is! Sadly it is being pronounced by the people who brought back Lindbergh’s America First, that there are good Nazis, and who brought you separating children from parents. It is hideous to compare Trump to Hitler or Mussolini, and it is more hideous to compare the DNC agenda to the Nazi platform. Somebody please take Donald Jr. to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum or to Auschwitz so he may learn what the Nazi platform was all about.”

Aaron Keyak, co-founder of Bluelight Strategies, emails us… “After President Trump’s response to Charlottesville and his general reluctance to strongly condemn neo-Nazis, it’s not a surprise that his son doesn’t know his Nazi history. Of course, this is all deeply disturbing and damaging, but the real question is what are Trump’s supporters going to do about it?”

Alan Dershowitz shares some of the hate mail he got for defending President Trump on TV: “One email that begins by calling me “a piece of s—” continues with the following: “Despite what Zionists such as yourself want the rest of us to believe, the world doesn’t revolve around Jews.” Another says that alleged support for President Trump is “All about Jerusalem as the capital, and loving Israel to you, just move there.” …  Yet another accused me of saying what I say for “The Money” and accusing my “home country,” Israel, of being like the “f—— Nazis.” He ends his email by acknowledging that “I don’t like Jewish people.”

“Then there are the anti-Trump extremists who compare Trump to Hitler and compare those of us who defend his civil liberties to those who brought Hitler to power. One email addresses me as “Alan ‘Goebbels’ Dershowitz.”” [TheHill]  

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH: White House Mideast team staffing up for peace plan rollout — by Matt Lee and Zeke Miller: “The National Security Council last week began approaching other agencies seeking volunteers to join the team, which will work for President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace pointmen Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt… The team, which is being set up to organize the peace plan’s public presentation and any negotiations that may ensue, will comprise three units: one concentrating on its political and security details, one on its significant economic focus and one on strategic communications.”

“The State Department, Pentagon, intelligence agencies and Congress have been asked to detail personnel to the team for six months to a year.” [AP]

REPORT: US postpones rollout of Mideast ‘deal of the century’ — by Daniel Siryoti, Ariel Kahana and Erez Linn: “[A] U.S. official said the administration has already decided not to present the peace plan before the congressional mid-term elections on Nov. 6 because certain components of the plan call for Israeli concessions and could harm Republican candidates’ election bids.”

“The official also said that if Israel goes to elections after the Jewish holidays this September, then the administration would postpone the peace plan even further… Announcing the peace plan during an Israeli election campaign “would play into the hands of [Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali] Bennett and the administration understands this,” the official said… “It appears, therefore, that the sides would rather play it smart and simply wait until the elections are over, in the U.S. and in Israel,” the official said.” [IsraelHayom]

Zev Chafets writes… “Israel’s Opposition Took the Bait of Bibi’s New Law: Prime ministers stay in power one election at a time, and Bibi intends to win re-election to a fourth consecutive term. His right wing coalition partners will be with him because they have nowhere else to go. But if he makes inroads in the center, he can have the kind of broad government he has dreamed of. If that comes to pass, he will look back on the 19th of July, 2018 as the day his opponents walked into the trap by voting against a bill that happens to enshrine the most cherished values of the Israeli mainstream.” [BloombergView]

Jerusalem fast-tracks approval of major US embassy expansion: “The plans, reported by Hadashot TV news on Thursday, include an expansion of office space, creation of new entrances, and additional areas for providing services to the public… Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat welcomed the expansion. “The permits that I signed yesterday for the US embassy in Jerusalem are another stage in establishing and setting the role of the embassy in Israel’s capital,” he said.” [ToI]

TALK OF THE REGION: Hamas Debates Cease-Fire With Israel as Leaders Head to Gaza — by Jonathan Ferziger: “Salah al-Arouri, Turkey-based deputy head of the militant group that rules Gaza, and Mussa Abu Marzuk, another senior leader, crossed from Egypt to Gaza for three days of talks, spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in an email… Netanyahu’s deputy minister for public diplomacy, Michael Oren, acknowledged that efforts were being made to halt the violence, without discussing Israel’s involvement.”[Bloomberg]

— “Permitting a delegation with this level to come to Gaza is a clear sign that there are first of all guarantees that the delegation will not be targeted by the Israelis, and a sign that there are serious meetings to be held in Gaza,” said Bassem Naim, a Gaza-based Hamas official.” [AP]

PROFILE: The man trying to save Gaza — by Itamar Eichner and Elior Levy: “Israeli officials agree that [Nickolay] Mladenov is the most active UN envoy the region has seen in recent years. That is considered a compliment, as Israel generally views UN personnel with suspicion for their generally pro-Palestinian views… He is very familiar with Israel and the Israelis and is deeply involved in politics… Mladenov was also able to earn the trust of Hamas, and it is no wonder that in each of the recent escalations, the terrorist organization was quick to turn to him (in addition to Egypt, of course) to achieve a cease-fire… Israel views Mladenov as the man who can find a solution to the Gaza mess, despite the difficulties… The Americans also admire him, and… Jared Kushner is in touch with Mladenov regarding a tentative American peace initiative that will surely place an emphasis on Gaza.” [Ynet

WELCOMING COMMITTEE — House Speaker Paul Ryan received a warm welcome after it was revealed that he’s slightly Jewish. Yesterday, The Manischewitz Company, the largest marketer of Kosher Foods in North America, sent a letter to Ryan introducing him to the traditional kosher products and offering him some tips to jump-start his education on Jewish culture.

The top ten tips include making “sure to clear your calendar on Friday nights or Saturday mornings for Shabbat; be prepared to gain a few pounds, Jewish grandmothers will never believe you when you say you’re full” and “make sure to learn the hora because if you don’t, you may get injured.” Read the full letter here.

— Dan Senor tweets“Look, Speaker Ryan is a team player — so he’ll roll with it — but he did NOT know that Kosher-for-Passover macaroons were part of the deal.”

Stephen Colbert Offers to Circumcise ‘Slightly Jewish’ Paul Ryan on ‘Late Show’ — by Ryan Reed: “Colbert offered to recruit a mohel and stage a “live bris” on The Late Show. “Think of it this way, Paul,” he added, sneaking in one final diss. “The foreskin is only one percent… and we know how much you love cuts for the one percent!” [RollingStoneVideo]

TENNESSEE PRIMARY RESULTS: David Kustoff holds off George Flinn challenge for Eighth District GOP nomination — by Ted Evanoff: “U.S. Rep. David Kustoff held off a challenge from Dr. George Flinn Jr. to win the Republican nomination in the Eighth District Thursday. Incomplete and unofficial vote totals showed Kustoff with 57,391 votes, or 56 percent, compared to 40,673 for Flinn, or about 40 percent.”[CommercialAppeal]

Controversial former GOP lawmaker fails in comeback bid — Sheila Burke and Adam Beam: “Stacey Campfield finished third in a GOP primary for House District 89 in the Knoxville area, one of 86 contested state legislative races in Tennessee on Thursday… He once likened the insurance requirement under President Barack Obama’s health care law to the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.” [AP]

Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Too Far Left for Hollywood? — by Peter Kiefer: “In a break with tradition, Ocasio-Cortez, who labels herself a democratic socialist, has no plans to meet with any of the entertainment industry’s Democratic political power brokers while she is in town. She will not be having coffee with Carl Reiner. There will be no sitdown with Jeffrey Katzenberg, David Geffen or Haim Saban. No $5,000-a-plate dinner at Robert Iger’s mansion in Brentwood.” [HollywoodReporterNYPost]

MIDTERMS: Steve Bannon Is Trying To Set Up A “2018 War Room.” Will Trump Care? — by Tarini Parti: “Bannon is expected to launch a “2018 war room,” according to two sources, to try to shape the midterm elections messaging on behalf of Republicans… Former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg… told BuzzFeed News he will have a senior role in it.” [BuzzFeed]

Tommy Robinson case exposes links between far-right in US and UK — by Henry Mance: “Mr Robinson’s case was championed on Fox News, the US network beloved of Mr Trump, and an online petition calling for his release gained more than 630,000 signatories, many from the US. His legal fees were paid by the Middle East Forum, a conservative US think-tank (led by Daniel Pipes) that has previously supported Dutch populist Geert Wilders.” [FinancialTimes

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… Top Trump Donor Agreed to Pay Michael Cohen $10 Million for Nuclear Project Push, Sources Say — by Michael Rothfeld, Rebecca Ballhaus and Joe Palazzolo: “A major donor to President Trump agreed to pay $10 million to the president’s then-personal attorney Michael if he successfully helped obtain funding for a nuclear-power project, including a $5 billion loan from the U.S. government…”[WSJ

** 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: Selling Millennials Home Insurance Is Lemonade’s Novel Pitch [Bloomberg] • Les Moonves Breaks Silence On CBS Earnings Call But Sticks To Numbers [DeadlineNYT] • Media Veterans Betsy Morgan, Brett Bouttier and Jeff Berman Form Venture To Acquire Consumer Businesses[Deadline] • Papa John’s hires Ari Emanuel’s ad agency to get past N-word controversy [CNNMoney] • Bossert debacle: No opening in sight for beloved Brooklyn Heights hotel [BrooklynPaper]

Univision’s Saban Wants to Hand Chairman Post to Tribune Media Chief — by Gerry Smith, Nabila Ahmed and Kiel Porter: “Billionaire Haim Saban is considering stepping down as chairman of Univision Holdings Inc. and has told associates he wants Peter M. Kern to take his place at the Spanish-language media company… Kern, the chief executive officer of local TV station owner Tribune Media Co., is already advising Univision CEO Vincent Sadusky, who replaced Randy Falco this year… Saban has no immediate plans to step down from the board, in part because his succession has been complicated by regulators’ resistance to Tribune’s sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc.” [Bloomberg]

Kara Swisher writes… “The Expensive Education of Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley: Mr. Zuckerberg is now trying to fend off talk in Washington of regulating his company like the thing he once told me it was: a utility. He has also spent the last month meeting over dinners with a range of academic experts on free speech, propaganda and more to try to understand where to go from here. Call it the education of Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley, but on the world’s dime. How much that has — and will — cost is probably immeasurable.” [NYTimes]

PODCAST PLAYBACK: Mila Kunis Shares How Her Family Does Shabbat — by Emily Burack: “Mila Kunis… who is married to Ashton Kutcher and is mom to Wyatt, 4, and Dimitri, 2, recently dished to actor/podcast host Dax Shepard about how her family always makes time to do Shabbat on Friday nights… “I’m not religious, at all, but Ashton is… When we started dating, Ashton was very religious,” and she was “not religious whatsover.” So she told him, “listen buddy, I love you, so very much, let’s like find a happy medium here.” And what was that happy medium? Shabbat. She tells Shepard that even though “normal Shabbats are hours long, and require a lot of work,” her family’s Shabbat is just about spending time together.”

“Our kids are going to get older, and they’re not gonna want to spend time with us. Just what happens,” she adds. “Too bad, so sad, you’re going to have dinner with us. So that, to me, was like — Friday night, we’re all going to get together, and we’re all just going to talk. And we’re gonna talk about the week.” … Kunis, furthermore, says her kids know all the blessings in Hebrew. And she only says the lighting of the candles part, and the rest is said by Kutcher.” [KvellerArmchairExpertPod]

Spike Lee Takes On the Klan — by Salamishah Tillet: “Adam Driver, who plays Ron Stallworth’s partner, Flip Zimmerman, the Jewish police officer who goes undercover with the Klan, said the political weight of the film’s message hit home. “The town I was from” — Mishawaka, Ind. — “had a Klan presence, and there were rallies and fights every summer in South Bend,” Mr. Driver said. “And then suddenly, I am acting in a movie and am putting on Klan paraphernalia.” Aware that the film’s success depended on audiences not simply seeing Mr. Stallworth’s story as a history lesson, Mr. Lee knew that he also needed to update it. Which is why images from the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, end the movie. Mr. Lee knew that he had to make the connection between the 1970s and the world today explicit. [NYT

TRAVEL TALK: United adds Israel route from its Washington Dulles hub — by Ben Mutzabaugh: “The carrier will add non-stop service to Tel Aviv from its hub at Washington Dulles, offering three flights a week starting May 22. United says its new Washington Dulles-Tel Aviv routes will include connecting options for about 70 U.S. destinations, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth Houston, and Miami.” [USAToday]

HAPPENING ON SUNDAY — Long Island Ducks Go Kosher For One Night Only: “The fourth annual Jewish Heritage Night with the Long Island Ducks will take place on Sunday.. at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip… Jewish Heritage Night will be the only game of the year in which kosher food will be available for game-goers… Jewish music will be played throughout the evening and complimentary “l’chaim stadium cups” will be distributed.” [Patch

PIC OF THE DAY: Legendary New York Yankees superstar pitcher Mariano Rivera toured the Michve Alon IDF base in the Galilee on Tuesday as part of a spiritual interfaith mission led by The New York Board of Rabbis. [Pic] • Rivera also met with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem [Pic]

REMEMBERING: Charles Docter, promoter of downtown Washington revitalization, dies at 86 — by Bart Barnes: “Charles A. Docter, a bankruptcy lawyer for a half century who simultaneously pursued a second career as a 12-year member of the Maryland House of Delegates and then a third career as a promoter of downtown Washington revitalization, died July 27 at a medical-care center in Washington… Charles Alfred Docter was born into a Jewish family in Hamburg on Aug. 5, 1931 — two years before Adolf Hitler came to power. He and his family left Germany three months before the anti-Semitic Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, and they settled in Cincinnati.” [WashPost]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Retired NFL Head Coach, member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Marv Levy turns 93… English actor, known for his roles as the villain in both James Bond and Rambo films, Steven Berkoff turns 81… Sephardic rabbi and rosh yeshiva in Tel Aviv, he was a member of the Knesset for the Shas party (1992-1996), Rabbi Moshe Maya turns 80… EVP of the UJA-Federation of New York (1993-2015), Vice Chancellor of JTS (1985-1993) and Education Director at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA (1980-1985), John S. Ruskay turns 72… Chairman and CEO of Savills Studley, Mitchell S. Steir turns 63… Board Member of both the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles and the LA Museum of Contemporary Art, Orna Amir Wolens turns 57… Former aide to Senator Schumer, then senior adviser to President Clinton at the White House and thereafter, now President of DC-based Freedman Consulting, LLC, Thomas Z. Freedman turns 55… Political journalist, a Rhodes Scholar and editor-in-chief and chairman of Slate Group,Jacob Weisberg turns 54… Russian-born Canadian entrepreneur, he developed the 65-story Trump International Hotel in Toronto and he leads the Jewish Russian Community Centre of Ontario, Alexander Shnaider turns 50… Member of the New York Daily News editorial board and the paper’s opinion editor, Josh Greenman turns 45… National Security Advisor in the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Jeffrey A. Dresslerturns 34… Director of development at the Anti-Defamation League, Erica Greenblatt turns 34… Associate at McKinsey & Company, Carrie Keller-Lynn… Program Officer at The Natan Fund, Adina Poupko turns 30… Ariana Kaufman… Leigh Bonner

SATURDAYOwner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Sheldon Adelsonturns 85… The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama turns 57… Professor of American history at Yeshiva University and Stern College, expert on the history of McCarthyism, Dr. Ellen Schrecker turns 80… Talmudic scholar, Av Beit Din (head of the rabbinical court) of Mekor Haim in Queens, New York and a prominent leader of New York’s Sephardic Jewish community, Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Haim turns 78… Member of the Knesset since 2013 for the Yesh Atid party, she served as mayor of Herzliya between 1998 and 2013, Yael German turns 71… Long-time member of the Knesset for Likud (1992-2015) including multiple ministerial positions, Silvan Shalom turns 60… Executive producer of “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” Michael Gelman turns 57… Executive Editor of PwC’s management magazine “Strategy + Business,” Daniel Gross turns 51… Co-founder of the music and culture magazine The Source, Jonathan Shecter turns 50… CEO of Aspiration Andrei Cherny turns 43… Jonathan Keyson turns 26… Natalie Roberts… Evelyn Murphy

SUNDAYFormer member of the New York State Senate (1961-1994) and a founding partner of the New York law firm of Ohrenstein & Brown, Manfred Ohrenstein turns 93… Historian, Nazi hunter and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff turns 70… Banker, once known as “Austria’s woman on Wall Street” and founder of Bank Medici in 1994, Sonja Kohn turns 70… Former Soviet Refusenik, moved to Israel in 1987, elected to the Knesset in each of the last seven elections since 1996, now Speaker of the Knesset since 2013, Yuli-Yoel Edelstein turns 60… Member of the British House of Lords, he was chief executive of the Office of the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and then chief executive of the United Jewish Israel Appeal, Baron Jonathan Andrew Kestenbaum turns 59… Songwriter, author and political columnist, Seth Swirsky turns 58… Actor who starred in “Weekend at Bernie’s” and whose father and grandfather were both rabbis, Jonathan Silverman turns 52… Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Kulanu party, Roy Folkman turns 43… Long-time member of the Israeli national soccer team who also played in Europe’s UEFA Champions League, Gil Vermouth turns 33… Lobbyist for the Wireless Infrastructure Association and adjunct at American U, Matt Mandel… Leslie Saunders

CUFI Warns Trump of Failing to Move Embassy to Jerusalem

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WASHINGTON – Speaking before a crowded gathering of pro-Israel supporters at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) annual summit on Monday, former Congressman Allen West warned President Donald…

Trump Certifies Iran Complying with Nuclear deal, Promises New Sanctions

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration certified on Monday night in its quarterly review that Iran was complying with the 2015 nuclear agreement while also warning about Tehran’s malign…

Kafe Knesset for July 18

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Submarine confusion: Is Israel going to lose out on the German submarines at the center of a major corruption scandal involving Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and cousin David Shimron?…

Pence: ‘Question of When’ Trump Will Move Embassy to Jerusalem

Monday, July 17, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence assured thousands of Christian supporters of Israel on Monday that it’s only a matter of time until President Donald Trump moves the U.S. Embassy…

CFR’s Haass: Only ‘Optimist on Steroids’ Believes Syrian Ceasefire Will Hold

Monday, July 17, 2017

WASHINGTON – After six years of horrific bloodshed across Syria, President Donald Trump has invested presidential credibility towards negotiating a ceasefire with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in…

Kafe Knesset for July 17

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dispatch from Paris: Providing the perfect summer break from ongoing scandals and affairs surrounding him and his closest confidants, Netanyahu is spending the week far away in Europe….