Daily Kickoff: Did Natalie Portman intend to take a public stand on Israel? | Alex Soros interview | Jake Tapper on new novel | Putin’s matzah diet

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INTERVIEW — Alex Soros, son of George Soros and the Founding Chair of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, gave a lengthy interview to veteran Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea for Yedioth Ahronoth (published in Hebrew) while attending a conference in Berlin last week.

HIGHLIGHTS — Soros on Trump: “You know that Donald Trump is the son of a rich father, who grew up rich from childhood. I also grew up in wealth. My father used to warn me — jokingly — as a child: ‘Never be like Trump.’ Trump once offered my father to rent an office in one of the buildings named after him. He thought my father’s name would attract more tenants. ‘You set the price,’ he said but my father refused. Like everyone else in New York, my father knew that Trump was a chronic bankrupter. He did not take Trump seriously.”

“When Trump was elected, I was not surprised, I was sad. Since Trump’s election, I wake up every morning and say to myself, ‘The world is in danger. I have to do everything I can to stop it.'”

On Netanyahu: “Despite [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orban’s anti-Semitic campaign, Netanyahu invited him and his colleagues from Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to hold one of their next meetings in Israel. That disappointed me. I was disappointed that the Israeli prime minister is cynical, does not help the Jews and stand behind them. This is not Israel – it’s Netanyahu. The connection between him and extreme right-wing, anti-Semitic, and corrupt individuals is contrary to Israel’s commitment as a Jewish state.”

Barnea: What does George Soros think of Israel?

Soros: “He thinks that Israel has the right to exist… If it did not matter to him, he wouldn’t have advised me, at the time (after his Bar mitzvah ceremony), to emigrate to Israel. My father would like to see Israel in the image of Yitzhak Rabin. His opinions are more or less the views of Meretz and Labor, and we support a two-state solution.”

On becoming more involved in Israel: “I may increase our activity in Israel. If Sheldon Adelson can invest in Israeli politics, I can, too. I am young. I am open to changing policy.” [Yediot]

REPORT — Natalie Portman told Genesis Prize she was canceling over Gaza, not Netanyahu: “The Hadashot News TV report quotes emails by Portman’s representatives expressing concerns over recent violence in Gaza, saying it would therefore be inappropriate for the Israel-born actress to attend the “Jewish Nobel” award ceremony. The Genesis Prize Foundation responded by telling her… [that] canceling the ceremony would serve Hamas and be a “slap in the face” to the Jewish people… Portman later wrote that she did not want her attendance to be seen as an endorsement of Netanyahu.” [ToI]

According to a source, “Genesis went out of its way to accommodate Portman’s concerns about Netanyahu by agreeing she didn’t have to sit next to him, didn’t have to have him present her with the award and was free to say anything from the lectern she wanted, including whatever critical comments she wanted to level at the current government. However in the end she insisted Netanyahu not be invited to the event, a demand Genesis couldn’t accept both for contractual and moral reasons. A bridge too far.”

We’ve also heard from multiple sources that Portman’s rep asked Genesis to cite a scheduling conflict as the reason the actress could no longer attend the ceremony which raises the question whether Portman ever intended to take a public stand in the first place.

“How Natalie Portman became the latest Israel-Palestine flashpoint” by Zack Beauchamp: “Very few Jews, Israeli or diaspora, support a wholesale boycott of Israel. But views on Netanyahu’s government, specifically, are far more mixed. The fact that Portman is framing her criticism as coming from a place of affection for the Jewish state, not hostility, makes it more likely that other Jews — especially Americans — will take it seriously. “This is an important symbolic moment,” says Jeremy Pressman, a scholar of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the University of Connecticut. “She cannot just be written off as a BDS supporter.” [Vox

OUT TODAY — “The Hellfire Club” — a new novel from CNN anchor Jake Tapper. Tapper tells Jewish Insider via email this morning, “The Hellfire Club is about a young congressman and his wife thrust into a conspiracy in 1954 Washington, DC. Charlie Marder is a World War II veteran and academic trying to figure out just how much to compromise to succeed in the fabled DC swamp. There are a couple Jewish characters of note: Roy Cohn, the top aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy, and Charlie’s intern Sheryl Ann Bernstein. It’s not overtly a religious thriller in any way, but readers will recognize themes familiar in Jewish literature and art including bigotry and fighting for justice.” [LittleBrownAmazon]

Ben Smith’s review: “Jake Tapper And The Virtue Of Taking Yourself Seriously… The novel is Tapper’s fourth book but his first work of fiction, and while The Hellfire Club might not get glowing blurbs from James Patterson and Shonda Rhimes if it carried a different byline, its quality is a tribute to taking yourself seriously in all things.” [BuzzFeed]

“Is it anti-Semitic for President Trump to call Chuck Todd ‘sleepy eyes’?” by Julie Zauzmer: “Trump has been referring to Todd’s eyes on Twitter since 2012 — most recently, he used the phrase Sunday when reacting to Todd’s televised comments on North Korea — but he has never explained just what he means about Todd’s eyes. This week, some Twitter users posited a troubling explanation: “Sleepy eyes” might be an anti-Semitic slur that Trump uses to target Todd, who is Jewish… According to the German Propaganda Archive at Calvin College, Nazi politician Julius Streicher (the publisher of the notoriously anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer) wrote a children’s book listing a litany of supposedly Jewish traits, including the drooping eyes stereotype… For his own part, Todd told The Post he didn’t think of the odd nickname as anti-Semitic. “I’ve never taken it that way. If it is a slur, I’ve never heard of it,” Todd said.” [WashPost

TRUMP’S MECHUTAN… “Charles Kushner: ‘I pushed Jared to do the deal’ for 666 Fifth Ave.” by Cristina Alesci: “I pushed Jared to do the deal,” explained Charles, who said Jared expressed reservations about buying the [666 Fifth Avenue] office tower. In a wide-ranging interview with CNN at his company’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan, the elder Kushner didn’t mince words, calling the decision “bad timing and bad judgment.”

“On the transition to the White House, Charles, who said he speaks to Jared every day, declined to say whether he advised Jared to take the job. “Jared thought he could make a positive impact. In the end, I gave him my blessing.” Kushner Companies has made several adjustments since then. “The question in our company today is not ‘what’s the best deal?'” said Charles Kushner recently in his office, which he has adorned with wall-to-wall pictures of his family. Among the photos of his parents, children and grandchildren is one of his daughter-in-law, Ivanka Trump, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. “We shy away from anything that could have a negative impact on Jared,” the elder Kushner said.”

“Charles says his other son, Josh — a Democrat who runs a venture capital firm in New York City — is feeling the blowback from peers who oppose the administration… Charles knew the White House job would be hard on his son [Jared] but underestimated the strength of what he called the “opposition” to the administration.” [CNN] • Rezoning likely inspired Kushner Companies’ Park Avenue bid [NYPost]

DRIVING THE DAY — President Trump and French President Emanuel Macron are meeting this morning at the White House. Macron is expected to press Trump to preserve the Iran nuclear deal. “I suspect that this will be a very difficult conversation,” Wendy R. Sherman, former chief U.S. negotiator for the Iran deal, predicts. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters… that Trump is “the best negotiator at the table,” and is well equipped for the discussions. The two leaders will hold a press conference at 11:45 AM in the East Room. [CSPAN]

“U.K. Urges G-7 to Make Case to Keep Iran Deal as U.S. Wavers” by Josh Wingrove: “U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, speaking to reporters Monday at a G-7 summit in Toronto, said… he doesn’t want the U.S. to quit the deal but noted talks are underway for how to save it if that happens. “Clearly a lot of thought is going into how to keep a non-U.S. version,” he said. “Believe me, that is not our preferred option.” … Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan [said]… Trump wants to strengthen the Iran deal “if it can be strengthened,” he said.” [Bloomberg]

Richard Goldberg writes… “Trump shouldn’t give in to Macron’s Iran deal request: Macron arrived in Washington Monday with a seemingly innocuous request for President Trump: Let Europe keep doing business with Iran. But unless Trump wants to make a bad nuclear deal even worse, he should flatly reject Macron’s request.” [NYPost]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Netanyahu turns up volume as Iran deadline nears: “Israel will not allow regimes that seek our annihilation to acquire nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told an audience of diplomats in a speech in Jerusalem. “This is why this deal has to be either fully fixed or fully nixed,” he said. [YahooNewsVideo

“Russia says no decision yet on delivery of S-300 missiles to Syria” by Maria Kiselyova and Dan Williams:“Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Russia had not yet decided whether it would deliver advanced S-300 missile systems to Syria, but would not make a secret of the matter if it took such a decision… A Russian diplomat… said Israel had asked Moscow not to supply the Syrian military with the S-300s.” [Reuters

“Commander of US troops in Syria makes unannounced first visit to Israel” by Judah Ari Gross: “The head of the US military’s Central Command, which is responsible for American activities in the Middle East, arrived in Israel on Monday to meet with senior Israeli officials for talks expected to focus on Syria and tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran… Despite this being the first trip to Israel by Gen. Joseph Votel, the current head of the Central Command, or CENTCOM, the visit has been without fanfare or publicity.” [ToI]

“Behind bloody Gaza clashes, economic misery and piles of debt” by Loveday Morris and Hazem Balousha: “Across the 140-square-mile territory, Gazans are struggling to finance their daily lives. Young people — unable to pay for weddings or homes of their own — are delaying marriage, figures show, while health officials say suicide, once virtually unheard of in Gaza, is on the rise. Universities say students are dropping out because they cannot afford the fees. At the Islamic University in Gaza City, a third of the students did not re-enroll this semester… Beleaguered Gazans do not blame only Israel; pressure is building against Palestinian leaders, too. “It’s because of Hamas,” Ahmed Hamouda, a 25-year-old worker on Gaza’s seafront, said without missing a beat.” [WashPost]  

HEARD YESTERDAY — Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) National Conference in New York City: “I hear frequently ideas of doing a reverse Birthright, but it’s not possible. It doesn’t make sense to bring masses of young Israelis to see the Jewish community in America. I never heard of an Israeli that said, ‘Where should I go on my next vacation – in Madrid, or go to see the Jewish American community?’ That’s not a realistic option. So I think the mission to educate Israelis about the American Jewish community is on your shoulders. I don’t see any other way than the American Jewish community taking the responsibility of educating Israelis on who they are, what their aspirations are, and what are the issues that concern them.”

Speaking of which… “Birthright, Only for Israelis” by Liel Leibovitz: “Entitled “An Israeli Hope,” the project will dispatch twenty teams of educators representing every sector of Israeli society on a three-day bus ride across Israel, during which they’ll meet secular and Orthodox Jews, Israeli Arabs and Druze, veteran Israelis and newly arrived immigrants, and just about any other group that makes up the rich and diverse mosaic of Israeli life.”[TabletMag]  

“US envoy says Jerusalem under Israel is ‘model for coexistence in the world’” by Raphael Ahren: “At a panel discussion… U.S. Ambassador David Friedman said intelligence cooperation between the two countries has saved American lives… “The United States benefits tangibly now from this relationship with Israel. There are things I cannot say in this forum, but there are people in the United States today who are safe, who are alive, because of intelligence cooperation that Israel has provided to the United States,” he said.”

“Friedman, who recalled that he celebrated his bar mitzvah at the Western Wall shortly after the 1967 Six Day War, said that his primary concern when thinking about the future of US-Israel relations was that “people in my country, especially kids, especially Jewish kids, find a way to reconnect more to Israel. Because I do fear that we’re at risk for not having the same kinds of connection, that me and wife had, that our kids have. And it’s a shame.” [ToI]

“In Donald Trump, Israelis hear echoes of an ancient emperor” by Ben Manson: “While Israelis debate whether it’s in Israel’s long-term interests to side with Trump’s pro-Israel evangelical supporters, some Israelis, along with their evangelical allies in America, discern a deeper mystical meaning in current affairs. A small but growing movement on the fringes of Orthodox Judaism in Israel… speculate that Trump’s Jerusalem declaration is a divine sign that indicates that Trump, like Cyrus, will permit the Jews to rebuild the temple.” [YahooNews]

2018 WATCH — “Stephen Colbert jokes about Mayor Emanuel’s re-election chances at Northwestern gala” by Tracy Swartz: “Colbert praised Northwestern President Morton Schapiro and said “it’s like he’s the mayor.” “Is Rahm Emanuel here tonight? He’s not?” Colbert asked the audience at Ryan Fieldhouse in Evanston. “Good, because Morty has a better chance at re-election. Don’t tell Rahm.” [ChicagoTribune

“Emanuel cautions fellow Democrats to drop impeachment talk” by Fran Spielman: “Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday he “couldn’t be angrier” at President Donald Trump, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for his fellow Democrats to talk about impeachment… Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen asked Emanuel whether impeachment was a “good issue” for the mayor’s fellow Democrats to use against Trump. “This is a serious legal and consequential, non-political issue. And my view is, there’s nothing there today that we know” that rises to that standard, Emanuel said.” [ChicagoSunTimesAxios

“This Young Politico Is Helping Her Generation Run for Office” by Daniel Malloy: “After working on Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns, Amanda Litman was pulled by the post-2016 crash from fighting for the White House to politicking at its most basic level. The co-founder of Run for Something, Litman is giving liberal millennials the tools to run for local and state office in an effort to build a stronger bench for a party hollowed out by losses during the Obama years. But Litman can sometimes be too democratic for the Democrats — pushing candidates who are challenging party-backed incumbents, or running nearly hopeless races.” [Ozy]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Jacob Frenkel Says He’s Not a Candidate for Bank of Israel Job [Bloomberg] • Behind Bill Ackman’s epic battle with Herbalife, Icahn [CNBC• Carl Icahn averts a looming board battle at Newell Brands [NYPost• Glencore’s Prize Cobalt Miner Is Bogged Down Deeper in Congo [Bloomberg• Chetrit lands $83M loan to refi DoBro hotel, rental property [TheRealDeal• David Einhorn thinks Puerto Rican debt will cause insurer to sink [NYPost

STARTUP NATION: “Largest group of international venture capitalists ever in Israel for tech program” by Max Schindler: “280 venture capitalists – in what’s being dubbed as the largest contingent of tech investors ever – are visiting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this week as part of the Kauffman Fellows Program, a US-based NGO that runs programming for such investors worldwide…” [JPost]

Indiana governor planning trips to Israel, Europe in May: “The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says Gov. Eric Holcomb will lead an “agbiosciences-focused” delegation to Israel during a May 6-11 trip. The delegation’s activities will include attending the Agritech Israel Conference in Tel Aviv. “ [LATimes]

COMING SOON — Israel’s Docaviv Festival to Focus on Women, Refugees for Landmark 20th Edition” by Debra Kamin: “Docaviv, Israel’s only festival devoted exclusively to documentary filmmaking, will celebrate its 20th birthday in May with a jam-packed screening schedule focusing on women’s empowerment, refugees and the ever-complicated politics of globalization. In the lineup are films about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and fashion designer Alexander McQueen.” [Variety]

NYTIMES CORRECTIONS DEPT: “An earlier version of this articleerroneously included a reference to Palestinian actions as an example of the sort of far-right conspiracy stories that have plagued Facebook. In fact, Palestinian officials have acknowledged providing payments to the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis or convicted of terrorist acts and imprisoned in Israel; that is not a conspiracy theory.” [NYTimes]

CAMPUS BEAT — “UC Berkeley students call for removal of ‘antisemitic,’ ‘anti-Israel’ lecturer” by Ilanit Chernick: “Students at the University of California, Berkeley have started a petition calling on the university to remove a lecturer who has been accused of anti-Semitism as well as having a blatant anti-Israel bias… The senior lecturer, Dr. Hatem Bazian, hosted an event in which he invited Arab Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi to give a lecture entitled “Israel: A Democracy or a Colonial Project?” The event… took place on Israel’s day of remembrance for fallen soldiers in the country’s wars.”[JPost

Anti-Semitic Wagner letter to be sold in Jerusalem: “A letter written by Hitler’s favourite composer Richard Wagner warning about “corrosive” Jewish influence on culture is to be auctioned in Jerusalem… In it, Wagner wrote that Jewish assimilation into French society meant that it was harder to see that “corroding influence of the Jewish spirit on modern culture”… Wagner would “roll over in his grave” if he knew that a Jew with a beard was going to make money from his letter, Meron Eren from the auction house told AFP.” [BBC

SPORTS BLINK — “When — if Ever — Will the Super Bowl Champion Eagles Visit the White House?” by Ken Belson and Michael Shear: “The Eagles’ owner, Jeffrey Lurie, is considered one of the most liberal in the league… According to the Federal Election Commission, in 2015, Mr. Lurie donated $2,700 to Hillary for America… Mr. Lurie has also made his political leanings known in private league meetings, including last October at N.F.L. headquarters. Weeks after Mr. Trump attacked the league, several dozen owners, players and league executives met to discuss a plan to donate money to an array of groups fighting social injustice. At one point, a player said that it was difficult to trust the owners because they supported Mr. Trump. Mr. Lurie took exception. “Another fact I want to throw out there: Many of us have no interest in supporting President Trump,” Mr. Lurie said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The New York Times. “Yes, there are some. There are some players who do, too.”” [NYTimes

TRANSITION — Jerry Silverman will step down next year as president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America. “I wholeheartedly plan to continue at my usual pace until September 2019. My decision is bittersweet,” Silverman wrote in an email to his colleagues. “However, as I have always stated, family comes first.” [JTA

DESSERT — “Putin eats matzah all year round, says Russia’s chief rabbi” by Itamar Eichner: “Russian President Vladimir Putin is particularly fond of matzah and eats the unleavened flatbread…  all year round, according to Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar… Lazar told reporters during the Limmud FSU festival… that Putin eats matzah while drinking tea. “Putin said matzah is tasty, easy and healthy to eat. He eats the matzah I bring him,” the rabbi said.” [Ynet

“Seniors gather to observe the Jewish Sabbath every week – at Wendy’s” by Donna Freydkin: “The new documentary “Wendy’s Shabbat” spotlights a group of California seniors who for a decade have been meeting weekly to observe the Jewish Sabbath at an unlikely venue – a local Wendy’s. Megyn Kelly TODAY welcomes one of them, Roberta Mahler, along with her granddaughter Rachel Myers, who directed the film.” [Today

“Amid Changing Economics, More Israeli Restaurants Opting to Go Kosher” by Adi Dovrat-Meseritz: “Most of the new restaurants that have opened in Israel in the past year are kosher, and many veteran establishments are getting a kashrut certificate even in secular bastions like Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat. Celebrity chefs who once took pride in their non-kosher menus are choosing to switch to kashrut. One prominent instance is the chef and television personality Moshe Segev, who recently launched a chain of kosher restaurants under his name, with the first two outlets in Netanya and Be’er Sheva.”[Haaretz

BIRTHDAYS: Film director Richard Donner (born Richard Donald Schwartzberg) turns 88… Rabbi emeritus at Washington’s Adas Israel Congregation, he is a former president of the Rabbinic Assembly, Rabbi Jeffrey A. Wohlberg turns 77… Yeshiva of Brooklyn student who went on to become an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony and Peabody Award winning singer and actress, Barbra Streisand turns 76… Delray Beach, FL resident, Phyllis Dupret turns 75… Board chairman of financial publisher TheStreet, also on the board of directors of Gannett, he was previously president and publisher of USA Today, Lawrence S. Kramer turns 68… Israeli architect and artist, Ron Arad turns 67… President of Cincinnati-based Standard Textile since 1986, VP of JINSA and the the Israel Policy Forum, Gary Heiman turns 67…

President of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards of the NBA since 2003, himself an NBA player (1977-1986), Ernest “Ernie” Grunfeld turns 63… Award winning author and journalist and the former national editor for Politico, Michael Hirsh turns 61… President of Kirtzman Strategies in NYC, previously a journalist, political reporter and television news anchor (2002-2008), author of books about Bernie Madoff and Rudy Giuliani, Andrew Kirtzman turns 57… Financial advisor for Bernstein Private Wealth Management where he is Carl S. Schwartz, and leader of Baltimore’s Shomrei Mishmeres HaKodesh where he is Rabbi Chaim Schwartz, turns 48… Congressional affairs specialist at the Food and Drug Administration, Laurie Edberg turns 48 (h/t Playbook)… Television writer, producer and film screenwriter, known as the co-creator and showrunner of the television series “Lost” (2004-2010), Damon Lindelof turns 45… National director of AIPAC’s synagogue initiative, Mark H. Waldman turns 44… Brandon Hersh turns 35… Elaine Berke




Daily Kickoff: Mnuchin to lead delegation for Jerusalem Embassy opening | Inside Koch’s funding of Stephen Walt | Madoff’s surprise contribution

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BEZOS CREDITS MADOFF — “Inside Jeff Bezos’s DC Life” by Ben Wofford: “Ted Leonsis would go on to become a sounding board for Bezos, who later relayed one of the reasons he’d left Wall Street: “He said, ‘I had a competitor who was kicking my ass,’ ” Leonsis remembers. The prodigious rival: Bernie Madoff. “So,” Bezos cracked to Leonsis, “no Bernie Madoff, no Amazon.”

“Leonsis wasn’t the only large persona from Washington who met with Bezos early on. Around 1995, David Rubenstein, cofounder of the Carlyle Group, one of the country’s largest private-equity firms, read about Amazon in the newspaper and booked a flight to Seattle. When he arrived, Rubenstein was struck by the rundown headquarters, where doors were repurposed as work desks—and more startled by Bezos himself, who greeted his guests just as he was preparing to drive a boxful of orders to the local FedEx. Still, a Carlyle-owned firm acquired Amazon stock worth about $4 million. Before he left, Rubenstein told Bezos, “By my calculations, you’ll be worth $300 million at the IPO.” Bezos said he doubted he’d ever be that rich. The firm eventually sold its shares for about $65 million—a stake that Rubenstein says would be worth about $2.5 billion today. “We were happy to get the cash. And obviously,” he recalls, “had we held on for 20 years, we’d probably be happier.” [Washingtonian]

DRIVING THE WEEK — “As Macron arrives to meet Trump, fate of Iran nuclear deal is front and center” by Karen DeYoung: “French President Emmanuel Macron arrives here Monday, on the first official state visit Trump has hosted for any leader, with a clear agenda. Iran is at the top of a to-do list… After his midday Monday arrival, Macron and his wife will travel by helicopter with the Trumps to Mount Vernon for dinner… On Tuesday morning, Trump and Macron will hold a one-on-one meeting, followed by expanded talks with their delegations… Macron will attend a State Department lunch hosted by [Mike] Pence and a state dinner at the White House on Tuesday. He addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday morning…” [WashPost] • Macron Takes a Risk in Courting Trump, but Has Little to Show for It [NYTimes

In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Macron cautioned Trump on Iran, urging him to stick with the Iran nuclear deal. “I’m not satisfied with the situation with Iran but don’t leave the deal without a better option,” said Macron. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is expected to meet with Trump on Friday, defended the nuclear deal in an interview with an Israeli TV channel, saying an imperfect deal is better than no deal and that her country will “watch very closely” to ensure it is being fulfilled.

“The Scramble to Salvage the Iran Nuclear Deal” by Robin Wright: “[Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad] Zarif said any compromise that adds new conditions or interpretations was a non-starter. “We don’t condone it, and we don’t believe it’s useful or fruitful or conducive to a better implementation of the [deal], and they know that to be our position,” Zarif said. “The only scenario that we can deal with is for the Europeans to talk to the Trump Administration to start, once and for all, complying with the deal.” … I asked Zarif if there was a prospect, if the deal dies, that Iran would negotiate again with the United States. “Diplomacy never dies,” he told me.” [NewYorker]

Iranian FM Zarif, PM Netanyahu trade barbs over Iran’s actions in the region: “I do not believe that we are headed towards regional war,” Zarif told CBS’s Face the Nation… He did, however, qualify his statement by saying that “Israel has continued its violations with international law, hoping to be able to do it with impunity because of US support and trying to find smokescreens to hide behind.” … In a ceremony at the General Staff in honor of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu countered Zarif’s remarks. “This is the foreign minister of a country that sends armed UAVs (drones) against Israel and missiles at Saudi Arabia,” the premier said at the event… “I am not impressed by words.” [YnetReuters]

RISE AND…? “Palestinian Engineer, Gunned Down in Malaysia, Published Drone Research” by Rory Jones: “Palestinian electrical engineer Fadi al-Batsh was on his way to a mosque outside Malaysia’s capital for dawn prayers when he was shot dead by a helmeted attacker on a motorcycle. Hamas, the Palestinian militant and political organization that governs the Gaza Strip, blamed Israel for Mr. Batsh’s death on Saturday, calling it an assassination. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Mr. Batsh was a member of the group, with “an honorable reputation in science.” An Israeli government spokesman declined to comment.” [WSJ]

JERUSALEM EMBASSY — ”Mnuchin to lead U.S. delegation to Jerusalem embassy opening” by Barak Ravid: “Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is expected to lead the United States’ delegation to the inauguration ceremony of the new American embassy in Jerusalem on May 14th. Another interesting member of the U.S. delegation will be… Jared Kushner… While Israeli officials believe that Ivanka Trump will also be there, Axios’ Jonathan Swan says that her attendance is not yet guaranteed. According to the Israeli officials, around 250 guests will travel from the U.S. to the embassy’s inauguration. They will include around 40 senators and members of the House of Representatives. Other members of the delegation will include Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. special envoy for the peace process.” [Axios]

— “Others on the invite list are all former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel. The Foreign Affairs Ministry plans to host all of the American officials at a special, festive reception held in its Jerusalem offices.  As for the opening ceremony itself, all of Israel’s most senior officials have been invited to attend.” [Ynet

“Netanyahu Struggles to Get European Nations to Follow Trump and Relocate Embassies to Jerusalem” by Noa Landau: “Israel has been pressuring Romania and the Czech Republic over the past few months to… move their embassies to Jerusalem… But domestic pressures in those countries are preventing this step…” [HaaretzJPost]

“State Department strikes ‘Occupied Territories’ from human rights report” by Carol Morello: “The State Department’s annual human rights report released Friday… stops using the phrase “Occupied Territories” to describe Israel’s presence in Gaza and the West Bank… This year, the section is titled “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza.” … State Department officials said reports issued by other parts of the government no longer refer to the West Bank and Gaza as the Occupied Territories and that the human rights report is simply catching up to what is now standard practice in the administration.” [WashPost]

REPORT — “Trump asked Netanyahu if he genuinely cares about peace” by Jonathan Swan: “In a phone call last year with Bibi Netanyahu… Trump asked Bibi bluntly if he actually cares about peace or not… He’d read news reports about Bibi planning to build additional settlements to please his conservative base in Israel. Trump thought Bibi was unnecessarily angering the Palestinians. So, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, he bluntly asked Bibi whether or not he genuinely wants peace…”

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: “The President has great relationships with a number of foreign leaders but that doesn’t mean he can’t be aggressive when it comes to negotiating what’s best for America.” [Axios]

DRIVING THE CONVO — Natalie Portman explains boycott of Israeli award ceremony — by Isabel Kershner and Megan Specia: “My decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others,” Ms. Portman said. “Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu.” Ms. Portman, who is Jewish and was born in Israel, has starred in such hit movies as “Black Swan” and the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy.”

In her statement Friday, Ms. Portman said: “I am not part of the B.D.S. movement and do not endorse it. Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation.” “Israel,” she said, “was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values…” [NYTimes] • Read Portman’s full statement here [JI]

“Israeli Minister Says Natalie Portman Bordering on Anti-Semitism as Actor Defends Awards Boycott” by Tom Porter: “Natalie Portman has played into the hands of the worst of our haters and of the worst of the anti-Semites in the Middle East,” Steinitz said in an interview on Sunday… Portman had made a serious mistake and owes Israel an apology, the energy minister said. “Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism. Boycotting Israel has elements of anti-Semitism.” [Newsweek]

IPF’s Michael Koplow writes… “Natalie Portman Speaks Loudly For Young American Jews With Snub Of Israel: Portman’s connections to Judaism and to Israel are as strong as any American Jew’s… That she is willing to make such a high profile statement in very publicly refusing to lend her credibility to a Genesis Prize shindig in Israel should terrify the Israeli government and stand as the ultimate cautionary tale. It demonstrates in the strongest possible way why Israel is making a serious error in judgment by dismissing Diaspora Jewish concerns as if they will soon disperse in the wind.” [Forward]

Mayim Bialik tweets on Friday: “How about this as we head into Shabbat: my family just booked our tickets to go to Israel this summer. I know; I was just there. Why again? Because… #Israel. Forever. Always. Shabbat Shalom, Israel.”

ISRAEL AT 70 — Bret Stephens writes… “Jewish Power at 70 Years: Some Diaspora complaints, especially with respect to religion and refugees, are valid and should be heeded by Jerusalem. But to the extent that the Diaspora’s objections are prompted by the nonchalance of the supposedly nonvulnerable when it comes to Israel’s security choices, then the complaints are worse than feckless… For Jews, it’s a painful, useful reminder that Israel is not their vanity. It’s their safeguard.” [NYTimes

“Israeli minister vows to help Ethiopian Jews move to Israel” by Michael Atsbeha: “[Ayelet] Shaked, on what is reported to be her first official visit to Africa, said she came to find out more about the situation of Ethiopia’s estimated 8,000 remaining Jews. Members of the Ethiopian Jews who attended the meeting told her that they want to move to Israel, where many family members moved years ago… “We know aliyah for Jews that are descendants in other countries happened so swiftly that sometimes even their dogs were also included as they moved to Israel. Are we less important than these dogs?” asked Meles Sidisto, the community head of Ethiopia’s Jews in Addis Ababa.” [AP]

ON THE HILL — “Senate Panel Poised to Vote Against Backing Pompeo Nomination” by Rebecca Ballhaus: “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on [Mike] Pompeo’s nomination on Monday evening. All of the panel’s Democrats have said they would oppose the former congressman’s nomination, and they have been joined by one Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.” [WSJ]

“Inside the Looming Bolton-Pompeo Showdown” by Abigail Tracy: “Pompeo’s entanglement with the Senate may give [John] Bolton an opening to take over interagency coordination on North Korea, if he can get the N.S.C. under control.” [VanityFair]

TURTLE BAY — “Haley’s pushback draws fans, rattles White House” by Jonathan Lemire and Meg Kinnard: “I feel sorry for Nikki Haley,” said former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. “She has been very tough up there making points. She makes very clear that she’s representing the President. And all of a sudden she’s put into this ridiculous situation of looking as though she is out there by herself on something.” Trump has vented to confidants about the media attention the dustup has received, but he hasn’t given any signal that he wants to dismiss his ambassador… All the attention has restarted some wary West Wing whispers about Haley’s ultimate goals…”

“And on Tuesday, her office mistakenly blasted an email containing a series of press clippings that mention Haley — a message meant for the ambassador herself — to a number of journalists. Among the headlines highlighted, one cited MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough and read, “Scarborough: Nikki Haley would beat Donald Trump if she ran in 2020 GOP primary.” [AP]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Michael Cohen, once at pinnacle of Trump’s world, now poses threat to it” by Michael Kranish, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman: “At one point, Cohen topped a list of five candidates for White House counsel… He suggested to some Trump allies that he might make a good chief of staff… Among those opposed, the associates said, were Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. For his part, Cohen had warned Trump against giving Ivanka Trump and Kushner White House jobs, saying the president would be hammered by complaints of nepotism… The rebuff wounded Cohen.”

“Cohen hardly seemed headed for life as a tough-talking “fixer” growing up in an upper-middle-class town on Long Island. He attended a yeshiva day school, and then elite Lawrence Woodmere Academy. His father, a physician, was a Polish-born Holocaust survivor; his mother was a nurse. Cohen described himself as an “agnostic Jew.” As a teenager in the 1980s, he dated Ukrainian emigre Laura Shusterman. Cohen often visited her home in Queens, and he also visited friends in Brooklyn, where Soviet refugees had settled in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.” [WashPost]

Alan Dershowitz says Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is subject of ‘epic battle’ by prosecutors for his cooperation: “Alan Dershowitz said prosecutors are engaged in “an epic battle for the soul and cooperation of Michael Cohen.” … There is “a sword of Damocles hanging over his head,” said Dershowitz, who appeared on a “This Week” panel of lawyers… “After those raids, how serious is the threat to Cohen and Trump?” Stephanopoulos asked. “Oh, it’s a very serious threat,” Dershowitz said. “They have enormous abilities to really put pressure” on a witness.” [ABCNews]

TRUMP VS. MAGGIE — “Trump Criticizes Times Report About His Longtime Lawyer” by Emily Cochrane: “Mr. Trump, in a series of tweets on Saturday morning, accused The Times and one of the reporters who wrote the article, Maggie Haberman, of “going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip.’” Mr. Trump accused The Times of using “non-existent ‘sources,’” though he did not assert that the article was false. He also said that “I don’t speak to” Ms. Haberman and “have nothing to do” with her. In fact, she has interviewed the president twice in the Oval Office and three times by telephone.” [NYTimes

HEARD YESTERDAY — Brian Stelter on CNN’s Reliable Sources:“You know, sometimes covering the President is difficult to determine what is actually a lie, but this one is crystal clear. Trump said, quote, ‘I don’t speak to her, and I have nothing to do with her.’ And here they are in the Oval Office together. Haberman has interviewed Trump on the record more than a dozen times in 2015… I know she takes these attacks in stride, but I don’t want to. Lying is disrespectful. It’s not disrespectful to Haberman or the journalists, but to the public. We all know the President uses Twitter to deliver talking points to his base, it’s very effective for him. But it’s also disrespectful.” [Video]

2020 WATCH — “Why LA’s Mexican-American-Jewish-Italian mayor is spending time in Iowa and South Carolina” by Maeve Reston and Gabe Ramirez: “In interviews with dozens of voters while traveling with [Eric] Garcetti across the early presidential contest states of New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa, his potential to become a major contender was apparent. Voters often said they liked how Garcetti used the story of his grandfather, the Mexican immigrant to the US who fought in World War II and opened his own barbershop, as a touchstone to explain his family’s values and their American story… The joke about Garcetti’s background at City Hall is that the mayor is “1/8 everything.” He grew up eating menudo, a traditional Mexican soup, on weekends in his grandmother’s kitchen. On the Jewish side, it was bagels on Saturday and hanging out with his cousins.” [CNN]

“Michael Bloomberg on a 2020 run: “At the moment I’m not running for president”” by Emily Tillett: “Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg… says that while running for president would be a “great challenge,” he’s not considering a run in the 2020 election “at the moment.” “Well if God said I’d appoint you — I think it’s a great challenge and you’d have to think long and hard, and you know, you’re physically able to do it…” Asked by CBS’ “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan what his odds were for a potential run, Bloomberg responded: “Not very high.” [CBSNews] • Why 2020 may be Michael Bloomberg’s best shot at the presidency [CNN

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Gary Gensler was one of the top financial regulators in the Obama administration. Now, like many other big names from business and government, he is plunging into the world of the blockchain, the data-tracking technology introduced by Bitcoin. [NYTimes] • Los Angeles toy mogul Isaac Larian is abandoning efforts to buy the Canadian stores of Toys R Us and instead plans to sweeten his rejected bid for more than 200 U.S. outlets of the bankrupt retailer [LATimes] • Kushner Companies offers $250M for Park Ave. co-op [NYPost]

PROFILE — “The Rise, Reign, and Fall of W.P.P.’s Martin Sorrell” by Ken Auletta: “A professional obituary for Sorrell, seventy-three, seems in order. Sorrell’s Jewish grandparents immigrated to London from Ukraine, Poland, and Romania. In the poorer East End of London, his grandparents and parents felt the lash of anti-Semitism, a reason that they changed the family name from Spitzberg to Sorrell. To help support his family, his father, Jack, dropped out of school, at thirteen, abandoning the scholarship offered by the Royal College of Music, and eventually went to work as a manager for the brothers Max and Francis Stone, Russian Jews who owned appliance stores. By the time Martin was born, in February, 1945, Jack was the managing director of their seven hundred and fifty stores, and the Sorrells enjoyed a measure of comfort.”

“The historian Simon Schama described Martin as “exuberantly tough” and “full of a kind of cuddly warmth” that is often camouflaged. They were “brotherly close,” he said, with sterling grades, when together they entered Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 1963. On Fridays, Martin’s mother would wrap a roast chicken in silver foil and plastic and put it on the train to Cambridge. “I would pick it up,” Martin recalled. “The chicken was still warm.” Schama would make risotto to accompany the chicken. The chicken was kosher, as was all their food. “We were slightly left-wing Zionists” living a semi-bohemian life style, Schama said. Together, they edited and published a glossy magazine, Cambridge Opinion, appearing six times a year, each edition devoted to a single subject.” [NewYorker]

“‘Troubled kid’ turned his life around, then changed how events are planned” by Thomas Heath: “You couldn’t make up a better tale about a wayward kid who makes good than Dan Berger’s story. Grows up in Israel. Moves to the United States at age 9 with his parents. Thrown into a strange school. Doesn’t speak the language. Doesn’t fit in. Plays on his computer until dawn, nearly flunking him out of the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. Sells drugs. Takes drugs. Berger eventually righted his life. He graduated from New York’s Hunter College with a bachelor’s in political science. He followed that up as a point man for former U.S. representative Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), and then received a master’s in business from Georgetown University. He now runs a D.C. technology/hospitality company he invented called Social Tables. It has 102 full-timers, a band of prestigious investors, and gross revenue that I would place between $15 million and $20 million…” [WashPosth/t Howard Mortman

MEDIA WATCH — “Is Facebook’s Campbell Brown a Force to Be Reckoned With? Or Is She Fake News?” by Nellie Bowles: “Once those shows get started, Ms. Brown wants to use Facebook’s existing Watch product — a service introduced in 2017 as a premium product with more curation that has nonetheless been flooded with far-right conspiracy programming like “Palestinians Pay $400 million Pensions For Terrorist Families” — to be a breaking news destination. The result would be something akin to an online competitor to cable news. Ms. Brown is also pushing paywalls for publishers on the social network, another first for a company that has long avoided circulating any content that users would have to pay for.”

“At Facebook, Ms. Brown became part of an informal cadre on the company’s business side known as the FOSSes, or “Friends of Sheryl Sandberg.” But close association with a powerful figure within the company does not assure her of success. When it comes to decisions related to publishers, the power at Facebook has traditionally been more with the product staff, who tend to be aligned more with [Mark] Zuckerberg and cloistered from meetings with partners… While Ms. Brown has helped Facebook mount its charm offensives at industry events, her efforts to remake Facebook’s relationships with publishers has meant cutting back her visibility to the broader public.” [NYTimes]

— “The New York Times dismisses news of Palestinian payments to terrorists as a ‘far-right conspiracy’” by Liel Leibovitz: “As those of us who are in the reality based community know, the Palestinian Authority’s financial support of terrorists and their families is very, very far from a conspiracy, far-right or otherwise… Read the real news, and you’ll learn that, in 2017, the PA doled out more than $347 million to families of terrorists who had murdered Jews, increasing the amount to $403 million this year… This information, of course, was available to Bowles and to anyone else with Internet access, and only she and her editors may know whether it was malice or sheer incompetence that stopped her from looking up a simple fact before presenting it as an ideologically tainted conspiracy theory… We need journalistic institutions like the Times precisely because we trust them to be more discerning, to sift through the stream of falsehoods for the few glittering nuggets of hard truth. Bowles and her editors did nothing of the sort.”[Tablet]

SCENE SATURDAY NIGHT — Campbell Brown celebrated her 50th birthday party at a rooftop loft in Chelsea. “The evening began with live musical performances by Campbell’s sons, Eli and Asher, and ended with a jam session by Jon Batiste. In between, there were toasts and video sketches by Anne Kornblut, Frank Bruni, Lester Holt, Amy Chiaro, Alexandra Pelosi and Dan Senor.”

SPOTTED: Joel Klein, Nicole Seligman, John Podhoretz, John Heilemann and Diana Rhoten, Dina Powell and Dave McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Allison Williams, Matt Negrin, Lee Woodruff, Romy Drucker, Tal Keinan, Ricky Van Veen, Seth Siegel, Chris Licht, Marc Sternberg, Steven Rubenstein, John Avlon and Margaret Hoover, Andrew Morris-Singer, Corey Morris-Singer, Paul Singer, Terry Kassel, Bari Weiss, Boykin Curry, Bret Stephens, Bruce Feiler, Linda Rottenberg, Chris Altchek, Charlotte Morgan, Dafna Linzer and Bart Gellman, Dan and Margaret Loeb, Jacob Weisberg and Deborah Needleman, Jared Cohen, Jay and Elena Lefkowitz, Bill Kristol, Steve Rattner and Maureen White, Katie Couric and John Milner, Kevin Delaney, Ben Smith, Tali and Boaz Weinstein, Michael Barbaro and Jake Kastan. [Playbook]

A conversation between New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet and Politico editor-in-chief John Harris: “Bennet… has faced a succession of social media uproars over the past year as he revamps and modernizes the Times opinion section. Even as the page has retained its historically liberal bearings, and regularly lacerates President Donald Trump, it is now regarded with suspicion by some loud voices on the left. There was a backlash to Bennet’s hiring of conservative columnist Bret Stephens (who wrote skeptically about the evidence for manmade climate change), as well as to his abortive attempt to bring on tech writer Quinn Norton (the hiring was quickly reversed after Twitter posters exposed a friendship with a neo-Nazi).”[Politico]  

DEEP DIVE — “Koch Dark Money Funds Anti-Israel Darlings: How Stephen Walt became the new foreign policy gatekeeper for the right” by Armin Rosen: “The idea that the Koch brothers… are teaming up with the author of The Israel Lobby to re-align American foreign policy might confuse observers who are used to seeing debates around interventionism or US support for Israel as a simple contest between the right and the left. Yet in 2018, isolationist sentiment and anti-Israel conspiracy theories have found homes on both ends of the ideological spectrum. As Charles Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia who has spoken at Charles Koch Institute-sponsored events and is known for his denunciations of Israeli influence in Washington, commented: “In general I’m pretty much appalled by what those guys do but in this case it seems in the foreign policy realm they’re a useful antidote to militarism in Washington.” [Tablet

TALK OF THE TOWN — “ Under fire for Farrakhan donation, D.C. lawmaker Trayon White says he’s ‘not backing down’” by Fenit Nirappil and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel: “In a Facebook Live video, [White said he was done apologizing and stood by his donation to the Nation of Islam. “I am not resigning, I’m not backing down, I’m not discouraged, I’m not depressed, so run all the media stories you want because my people are going to support me,” White said…” [WashPost]

“‘Anti-Semitic’ firefighter assigned to Orthodox Jewish community” by Susan Edelman: “A former FDNY commissioner’s son who once tweeted “I like Jews about as much as hitler” will join a firehouse in the middle of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn… “For him to be assigned to Borough Park, where you have an incredible number of Holocaust survivors, is an insult to our community,” fumed Assemblyman Dov Hikind.” [NYPost]

“Man Claims He Was Beaten in NYC Because He’s Jewish” by Ida Siegal: “Menachem Moskowitz suffered a black eye and broken rib after he was beaten by a man on a sidealk near Rutland Road and Schenectady Avenue in Crown Heights as he was walking home from a prayer service. Moskowitz said he told the attacker hello, but the greeting apparently set the man off and the suspect began hitting Moskowitz. “He was punching me, tried to put me into a hold and tried to choke me,” Moskowitz said.” [NBCNewYork]

CAMPUS BEAT — Barnard President President Sian Leah Beilock published a letter to the Barnard community today: “I am forwarding a letter I have sent to the Student Government Association (SGA) representative council regarding the results of its recent referendum on whether the College should be asked to divest any holdings from certain companies doing business with Israel… While a majority of students who voted support the referendum, this is less than 30% of Barnard’s student body. Thousands of alumnae have also voiced their opposition to the referendum. For these reasons, Barnard will not take action in response to this referendum.” [Barnard]

No boycott fear, say organisers of ‘Giro’ in Israel: “Organisers of an initial Israeli phase of the next Giro d’Italia cycling contest said on Sunday that they do not fear the event will be boycotted. “We are happy to say that, for the moment, there is full participation by all the teams, and we anticipate no problems,” Daniel Benaim, a Giro official, told a news conference in Tel Aviv… “Thousands of the world’s cyclists” were gathering for what is the “second most important” competition after the Tour de France, said Sylvan Adams, one of the event’s organisers in Israel.” [YahooNews

Ivana Trump talks to Page Six about the Trump family — by Dana Schuster: “Ivana also worries about her daughter Ivanka, who works as assistant to the president, losing her agency in the White House. In fact, she wishes Ivanka would give up any DC political aspirations and focus on her own companies, including her fashion lines. “I would prefer if she would [move back to] New York. Politics is a very dirty business,” she said. “In [fashion], she would be her own boss.” [PageSix

PIC OF THE DAY — Karlie Kloss visiting Israel:

MAZEL TOV — Over the weekend, Daniel Schwarz, Director of Strategic Communications for the House Judiciary Committee Democrats and Communications Director for Rep. Jerry Nadler, (D-NY) proposed to Jamie Geller, Senior Advisor and Communications Director for Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and alum of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “There was a trip to Israel that Rep. Engel was leading. Jerry asked Eliot for his staffer’s information and was able to get Jamie’s cell phone number. The rest is history.” Daniel is the son of Rabbi Sid Schwarz and Sandy Perlstein of Rockville, MD and Jamie is the daughter of Norm and Mary Geller of Chicago, IL. The couple celebrated with family and friends from near and far over the weekend. [Pic]

REMEMBERING — “Avicii’s Ex-Girlfriend Emily Goldberg Reacts to His Death: ‘I Don’t Want It to Be Real’” by Karla Rodriguez: “Goldberg shared 10 personal photos of herself and the musician on Instagram along with a heartfelt message about him. “‘Come on babe, don’t give up on us. Choose me, and I’ll show you love.’ Those are lyrics from a song Tim wrote for me. I wish I could have lived up to them,” she captioned the post on Friday… Goldberg also shared what appeared to be a screenshot of a text exchange between herself and Avicii (real name Tim Bergling) expressing their love for each other.” [USMagazine]

“The monks, the Dachau survivors and the concert that heralded freedom” by Rosie Whitehouse: “On the anniversary of the camp’s liberation, the forgotten story of escaped prisoners who set up a Jewish hospital in a Bavarian monastery has been championed by one Benedictine monk.”[TheGuardian

DESSERT — “Miznon Secures Pita Primacy at Chelsea Market” by Hannah Goldfield: “In 2016, Michael Solomonov, the Israeli-American chef and owner of Zahav, an acclaimed “modern Israeli” restaurant in Philadelphia, opened a stand in Chelsea Market called Dizengoff, specializing in hummus and pita… Two years later, both are still exceptionally good. But it’s lucky for Solomonov that Miznon—the first U.S. outpost of a small, beloved international chain started by the Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani, which opened a few months ago, also in Chelsea Market—doesn’t offer hummus, because when it comes to pita primacy Dizengoff has been knocked off the podium.” [NewYorker]

BIRTHDAYS: Literary critic, essayist, philosopher, novelist, Holocaust scholar and educator, George Steiner turns 89… Stage, television and film actor Alan Oppenheimer turns 88… Marim Weissman turns 79… Oberlin, Ohio resident Patricia Ann Haumann turns 74… Terry Pullan turns 68… Retail industry analyst, he is the former president of JCPenney Credit Services and VP of credit at Macy’s, Steve Kernkraut turns 68… Health services researcher focused on smoking cessation programs for women, maternal health and child health, Judith Katzburg, PhD, MPH, RN, turns 65… Deputy Director of NCSEJ, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, Lesley L. Weiss turns 64… Gary Pickholz turns 60… Uruguayan-born author, software developer and entrepreneur, co-founder of Gryphon Software, Gabriel Wilensky turns 54…

CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, he is the primary proponent world-wide of the Magnitsky Act, Bill Browder turns 54… DC-based Executive Director of the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center, Nathan J. Diament turns 51… Russian Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics (1988), Yelena Shushunova turns 49… Businesswoman, daughter of Ronald Lauder, style and image director for the Estée Lauder Companies, Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer turns 48… Director General of Aish HaTorah, previously Eastern Director at the Wiesenthal Center, managing director of OU and international director of NCSY, Rabbi Steven Burg turns 46… SVP of government relations at the Council on Foundations, previously director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Hadar Susskind turns 45… Program officer at Maimonides Fund, she was previously the Israel Program Officer for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Ariella Saperstein turns 35… Co-founder of Edgeline Films, he co-directed and co-produced Weiner, a documentary about Anthony Weiner’s campaign for Mayor of NYC in 2013, Joshua Kriegman turns 38… Digital director at Republican Jewish Coalition, Neil Boylan Strauss turns 33… Former University of Michigan quarterback, now an investor, Alex Swieca turns 26… Editor of the technology section at Mic since 2015, Alexis Kleinman(h/ts Playbook)… Former CEO of the Jerusalem-based non-profit New Spirit, now CEO at Khan Theatre Elisheva Mazya… VP of marketing for Israel365 and the editorial director for Breaking Israel News, Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman




Daily Kickoff: Jerusalem-born Natalie Portman pulls out of Israel award citing ‘distressing recent events’ | How Michael Lynton became Snap Chairman

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PIC OF THE DAY: Scene in Jerusalem’s Old City this am… courtesy of the White House Middle East peace expert’s brother:

The Genesis Prize, dubbed “the Jewish Nobel Prize,” which honors notable individuals for their “commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and the State of Israel” has canceled their upcoming ceremony. The event, scheduled for June 28 in Jerusalem, fell apart after Israeli-born actress Natalie Portman informed Genesis that “recent events in Israel have been extremely distressing to her” and that “she cannot in good conscience move forward with the ceremony.”

The Genesis Foundation said in a press release that it was “saddened that she has decided not to attend the Genesis Prize Ceremony in Jerusalem for political reasons. We fear that Ms. Portman’s decision will cause our philanthropic initiative to be politicized, something we have worked hard for the past five years to avoid.”

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev accused the Hollywood star of succumbing to the pressures of the BDS Movement. “Natalie, a Jewish actress who was born in Israel, joins those who see the story of the wondrous success of the rebirth of Israel as a “story of darkness and darkness,” Regev said.

The prize was initially offered to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but the Prime Minister’s Office reportedly intervened fearing political blowback over her sharp criticism of Trump during the election. Instead, RBG was awarded the Prize Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. The $1 million award was granted to Portman in recognition of her commitment to social causes and deep connection to her Jewish and Israeli roots.

Flashback to 2015 — Portman after Netanyahu won re-election for a fourth term: “I’m very much against Netanyahu. Against. I am very, very upset and disappointed that he was re-elected. I find his racist comments horrific. However… I don’t want to use my platform [the wrong way]. I feel like there’s some people who become prominent, and then it’s out in the foreign press. You know, shit on Israel. I do not. I don’t want to do that.” [HollywoodReporter

Danielle Berrin, who has previously interviewed Portman for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, tells us: “Public support for Israel is always a tricky choice for a Hollywood celebrity. Celebrity careers depend on broad public admiration and affection and Israel is a subject that divides. A show of support for the Jewish State can trigger vicious BDS protest, while criticism or distancing of Israel offends many in the Jewish community. It’s typically a lose-lose for a movie star to take a stand.”

“Portman, however, has been consistent in her criticism of the Netanyahu government. But never before has she impugned Israel as a whole or chosen to isolate it culturally. A year and a half ago when she needed to sell tickets to her movie “A Tale of Love and Darkness,” based on the Amos Oz memoir, she was eager to tout her love and connection to the Jewish homeland. So it’s worth asking: How serious is her protest? Portman’s choice to refuse the Genesis Prize will earn her praise in some circles and condemnation in others. But it should concern all of us: When an internationally famous Jerusalem-born Jew prefers to make a political statement than receive a prize, we should all reflect on the question “why” — and what the answer tells us about the Israel we believe in and the Israel we have.”

HOW IT PLAYED: Natalie Portman pulls out of Israel award due to ‘distressing recent events’ there [TheGuardian] • The Genesis Prize Foundation has yet to indicate whether Portman will still receive the prize money despite pulling out of the ceremony [Variety] • Natalie Portman Denounced By Israeli Government Over Decision Not to Attend Awards[HollywoodReporter]

WHAT PORTMAN ALLIES ARE READING — “The Insanity at the Gaza Fence” by Roger Cohen: “I have passed several times through the fence separating the first world of Israel from the rubble-strewn open-air prison of Gaza. It’s a violent transition in a place of unreason. As usual Israel overreaches, an eye for an eyelash, as the Oxford professor and former Israeli soldier Avi Shlaim once observed. Israel has the right to defend its borders, but not to use lethal force against mainly unarmed protesters in the way that has already left 35 Palestinians dead and nearly 1,000 injured. Overreaction is inherent to the existential threat Israel claims, but that is ever less persuasive… The script is familiar: international investigations will follow, inconclusive outcomes, redoubled hatred. Israel wins but loses. Israel haters, and Jew haters, have a field day.” [NYTimes]

AP on today’s protests: “Thousands of Palestinians joined the fourth weekly protest on Gaza’s border with Israel on Friday, some burning tires or flying kites with flaming rags dangling from their tails. Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops firing from across the border fence, health officials said. The protests are part of what organizers, led by Gaza’s ruling Hamas group, have billed as a “right of return” of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to what is now Israel… to culminate in a mass march on May 15. Earlier Friday, Israeli military aircraft had dropped leaflets urging Palestinians to stay away from the fence and warning that they endanger their lives if they follow Hamas directives.” [AP]

CAMPUS BEAT — “NYU’s Hamilton Denounces BDS, Acknowledges Racism in Stern at Town Hall” by Mack DeGeurin, Sakshi Venkatraman and Alex Domb: “Dozens of student activists, student government leaders and NYU administrators gathered in room 802 of the Kimmel Center for Student Life on Thursday evening for a public town hall with President Andrew Hamilton… Near the end of the town hall meeting, Hamilton was met with hisses as he vocalized his disagreement with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement… The formal denouncement from Hamilton comes just one week after 51 students groups, led by the Jewish Voice for Peace and NYU Students for Justice in Palestine, joined together in support for the pro-Palestinian cause… Hamilton also announced that he sent a letter to the Israeli government condemning their decision to ban groups that support BDS.” [NYUNews]

“Dennis Ross talks Middle East politics, two-state solution” by Adesuwa Agbonile: “Diplomat Dennis Ross discussed the complexities of peacemaking in the Middle East… on Wednesday evening at Hillel… Ross was invited to campus as part of programming for Israel Week, where Stanford students can engage in a full week of activities related to Israel and Jewish faith… “When I go to my synagogue on Saturday mornings, people come up to me and they say: Can you tell us something good?” Ross said. “And I say, well, if you’re asking about the Middle East, it’s going to be hard to do.” [StandfordDaily]

“U of I invites Dershowitz to free speech forum” by Mark Maxwell: “Included in the list of supercharged issues still simmering at the University of Illinois are the lingering tensions over… the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. The BDS debate regained steam on campus this spring… the university hopes to confront the topic next Thursday night during a free speech forum in an open discussion with outspoken lawyer and constitutional expert Alan Dershowitz.” [IllinoisHomepage]

TALK OF THE TOWN — “D.C. lawmaker who said Jews control the weather visits Holocaust Museum but leaves early” by Peter Jamison: “D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8)… on Wednesday made a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. With him was Rabbi Batya Glazer of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington… The group paused before grainy photos of German troops executing Catholic clergy in Poland by firing squad. “Were they actually manufacturing these weapons?” White asked. Moments later, White was nowhere to be seen. Glazer, the rabbi, texted him to ask his whereabouts. He wrote back that… he had to leave soon for an event in Ward 8. The tour, scheduled to last 90 minutes, was halfway done.”

“White, it turned out, was standing alone on the sidewalk outside the museum… Asked why he left the tour halfway and where he went, he said nothing and held his cellphone to his ear. Asked whether he had reassessed his comments about the Rothschilds in light of what he had just seen, White walked east on Independence Avenue. “This opportunity has given me the chance to meet a lot of great Jews, a lot of people. A lot of good Jews that I’ve never had the chance to meet before,” he said after a long silence.” [WashPost

ISRAEL AT 70 — “Netanyahu says at least six states considering moving embassies to Jerusalem” by Ori Lewis: “In order to promote peace … move your embassies here,” Netanyahu told foreign diplomats at a reception in Jerusalem… “I am pleased to say that there are at least half a dozen countries that are currently talking seriously to us about moving their embassies to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said. The first ten embassies to relocate to Jerusalem would receive “preferential treatment.” [Reuters] • Street signs directing drivers toward the new U.S. Embassy are ready to go up in Jerusalem [Pic

REPORT — Romania to move Israel embassy to Jerusalem: “The Romanian government will follow the United States and transfer its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the ruling Social Democrat Party (PSD) leader said Thursday.” [YahooNews]

“Romanian President Condemns Cabinet Plan to Move Israel Embassy” by Andra Timu: “Romanian President Klaus Iohannis slammed the government for not consulting him before announcing a plan to move the country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Iohannis, who according to the Romanian Constitution leads foreign policy and represents the country abroad, urged the cabinet to refrain from any decision before a thorough assessment.” [Bloomberg]

DAYLIGHT? — “On its 70th Independence Day, Israel frets about whether allies are doing enough to counter Iran” by Noga Tarnopolsky: “Jonathan Schanzer, a senior vice president for research at Washington’s Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the Trump administration appreciates the threat Iran poses to Israel and to U.S. interests. “But there is still real reticence to make a strategic commitment,” he said. “This is the friction between [Netanyahu] and Trump, despite their genuinely warm ties.” [LATimes]

IRAN DEAL — “Macron, Merkel Set to Visit Trump With Iran Deal Hanging in the Balance” by Felicia Schwartz and Laurence Norman: “Mr. Trump’s meetings with [Emmanuel] Macron on Tuesday and [Angela] Merkel on Friday are among a series of pivotal events in the weeks before May 12… “We hope this state visit will advance things in the right direction,” an aide to Mr. Macron said… Officials involved in the discussions… said they have mostly completed talks at the staff level… “Good progress and almost there,” one senior European diplomat said… “Now, nobody knows what POTUS will decide in the end.”

“European officials say Mr. Macron had hoped to go to Washington with the first set of new European sanctions on Tehran since the nuclear deal was struck… However, talks on the sanctions package have moved slowly. While the measures could advance before May 12, the chances of them being ready for Mr. Macron’s Washington trip next week are slim.” [WSJ

— Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to deliver remarks and discuss the nuclear deal at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Monday, April 23.

VIEW FROM TEHRAN — “Iran’s Biggest Threat Has Nothing to Do With Trump” by Golnar Motevalli: “With the deal on its nuclear program failing to deliver promised gains, experts in Tehran say a banking crisis poses a bigger economic threat to the country than any decision by Donald Trump to rip up the agreement…  “Solving the banking crisis is the priority for us now, our No. 1 problem, and we have to resolve it,” says Teymur Rahmani, professor of economics at the University of Tehran.” [Bloomberg

MUELLER WATCH — “Rosenstein Tells Trump He’s Not a Target in Mueller, Cohen Probes” by Jennifer Jacobs, Chris Strohm andJennifer Epstein: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or the probe into his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen… Rosenstein… offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday, a development that helped tamp down the president’s desire to remove Rosenstein or Mueller.” [Bloomberg]

— “Trump “hasn’t cooled off on” Rod Rosenstein” by Jonathan Swan: “President Trump “hasn’t cooled off on” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein… and could still fire him, according to a source close to Trump… “Trump doesn’t know exactly what to do with [Rosenstein]. They don’t have a clean way to get rid of him. That’s the problem.” But Rosenstein may be “about to be spit-roasted.” [Axios]

“Giuliani to Join Trump’s Legal Team” by Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt: “Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and longtime friend of President Trump, will join the president’s legal team in an effort to “quickly” resolve the special counsel investigation… Mr. Trump will also bring on Jane Serene Raskin and Martin R. Raskin, former federal prosecutors based in Florida, according to Mr. Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow.” [NYTimesWashPost]  

David Graham writes… “Rudy Giuliani Isn’t the Big Trump Legal Story: The Raskins are not famous partners at a big firm, but litigators who spend a great deal of time in a courtroom… Giuliani’s brash promise of a negotiated settlement… telegraph a president feeling increasingly confident about the Russia investigation. Hiring Raskin and Raskin sends a different message: that Trump is moving toward getting serious about a very serious investigation.” [TheAtlantic

— “David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami where the Raskins also worked, said the Raskins are very well respected lawyers with a “ton of experience in federal court.” … Weinstein… found it curious that Trump would pick lawyers from South Florida as opposed to New York or Washington, D.C. “It raises the question that he might be looking at vulnerabilities in South Florida,” Weinstein said.” [McClatchy

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Seeking Foreign Money, G.O.P. Donor Pushed for Trump to Golf With Malaysian Premier” by David Kirkpatrick and Mark Mazzetti: “White House aides were worried enough about a visit last year by Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, under investigation by American prosecutors… that he was denied the customary photo in the Oval Office… But that did not stop a top Republican fund-raiser,Elliott Broidy, from seeking to use his White House ties to press for Mr. Trump to play a golf game with Mr. Najib, who had the authority over negotiations for a lucrative Malaysian contract with Mr. Broidy’s private defense company… Mr. Broidy also explored separate plans to force the exit from the United States of a Chinese billionaire and dissident, Guo Wengui, evidently to please Chinese allies in Malaysia while reaping payoffs from both the Chinese and, improbably, the United Arab Emirates.” [NYTimes]

2018 WATCH: “Democrats eye Jewish votes in bid to win House of Representatives” by Michael Wilner: “A survey by the Post found that, among 43 House districts considered toss-ups or leaning Republican, 21 have 10,000 Jewish voters or more – enough to justify the investment of critical campaign dollars, say the operatives, who have preliminarily discussed the plan with leadership of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Governors Association.” [JPost]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — “Under Pressure and Embarrassed, Milchan Refused Requests for Luxury Gifts From Netanyahu and His Wife” by Josh Breiner: “You’re humiliating her by making her ask you. Listen, Hadas, it’s not an apartment. Explain to Arnon that if it’s not an apartment, it’s OK to give it. You’re joining the forces against us,” Netanyahu told Hadas Klein, [Arnon] Milchan’s personal assistant, at the beginning of 2016, after Milchan declined a request for gifts by the Netanyahus…” [Haaretz]

** 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: CBS Investors Can Proceed With Suit Over Sumner Redstone’s Bonuses [Bloomberg] • Cheddar CEO Jon Steinberg on Competing with CNBC, Joining YouTube TV and Launching Cheddar Big News [Decider] • Kushner Cos. Subpoenaed for Information Related to Housing Filings [WSJ]  Karlie Kloss Is Announced as Estee Lauder’s Newest Global Spokesmodel [USMagazine] • Hedge Fund Titans Pull Money From Funds for Huge Tax Bills [Bloomberg]

“Welcome to L.A.’s luxury hotel boom, featuring $20,000 suites and James Bond exotic cars” by Hugo Martin: “L.A. is becoming the place to be again,” said hotelier Beny Alagem, who built the 12-story Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills and owns the neighboring five-star Beverly Hilton Hotel. “People like the atmosphere that we created. They like the weather.” [LATimes

“Miami art showdown: How two major new museums stack up” by Mark Ellwood: “The upstart ICA squatted in the historic Moore Building while it awaited completion of its custom-built home, which debuted in December in the nearby Design District. Underwritten by auto magnate Norman Braman and his wife, the 37,500-square-foot complex was master-planned by Spanish firm Aranguren + Gallegos Arquitectos and features a notable sculpture garden.” [NYPost

“Soros foundations to quit Hungary amid political hostility” by Marton Dunai: “George Soros’ Open Society Foundations will close their office in Budapest and move their eastern European operations to Berlin.” [Reuters]

“Hungary Chief Rabbi resigns as Jews consider reaction to Orbán victory” by Liam Hoare: “Hungary’s chief rabbi, Robert Frölich, has resigned over disagreements within the Neolog movement (the dominant religious tendency among Hungarian Jews) and with Mazsihisz, the federation of Hungarian Jewish communities… Rabbi Frölich’s resignation was a result of internal politics over the future direction of Neolog Judaism, which is positioned theologically between Masorti and Orthodoxy.” [TheJC]

“Poland marks 75th anniversary of uprising in Warsaw Ghetto” by Monika Scislowska and Vanessa Gera: “We bow our heads low to their heroism, their bravery, their determination and courage,” [Polish President Andrzej]Duda told the hundreds of officials, Holocaust survivors and Warsaw residents who gathered Thursday at the city’s Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes. “Most of them died … as they fought for dignity, freedom and also for Poland, because they were Polish citizens,” Duda said.” [ABCNews]

— Abe Foxman emails us… “How sad and disgusting that President Duda would use the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising to insult the memory of the heroes. Polish Jews were selected, segregated, starved, and fought and were murdered as Jews, not as Poles. No Polish legislation will change that. Yes, the Polish people were victims but they were also victimizers. I was saved by a Polish woman, but some of my relatives were killed because they were sold out by their Polish neighbors. Both are truths to be told. President Duda knows better and we expect better from him.”

HOLLYWOOD — “Scooter Braun on the Importance of Paying It Forward, His Upcoming Midem Keynote & Award” by Leila Cobo: “When Scooter Braun organized the One Love Manchester concert in June 2017, he was already fully aware of the “universal change” music had the power to effect. But, on a personal level, he tells Billboard no show he had done before “was as important as what we did in Manchester.” … “I have a 3-and-a-half-year-old and a 1-and-a-half-year-old and I said to my son the other day, “Do you know what daddy does for work?” And he said, “No!” And he looked at me and said, “Daddy, what do you do?” Part of being a parent is trying to instill in your kid things you hope they’ll take on. So I thought about the question my 3-and-a-half-year-old asked me and I was unsure what to say. And I responded with, “Daddy helps people and someday you need to help people too.” [Billboard]

Interview with Michael Lynton, Chairman of Snapchat — by Jordan Taylor and Pippa Lamb: How did you end up investing in Snapchat and ultimately becoming their Chairman in just few years? What was that journey like? Lynton: “Well, we were living at the time in the west side in LA which is where Snap started, and my kids started using it very early when there were very few people using it, and then I started using it, and my wife started noticing how much I started using it even when the kids weren’t around. She wrote Evan Speigel one day over customer support email just saying how much she liked it. And she said [in the email], “If you ever want to talk about it, I’m a big admirer”. She loved the idea that it brought conversation back to the internet with a lack of permanence.”

“What happened then was that Evan responded instantly and was actually over to our house for dinner that night. And at the end of the conversation (the two of them were having a long conversation, I was a fly on the wall) she said “Gee I’d love to be able to be helpful or invest.” He said “Well, it would be helpful, for complicated reasons, but let’s talk more.” Post that, Evan would come and see me twice a month because his offices were right down the street from the studio. He was in Venice and we were in Culver City. And we would walk around the studio lot. And one point he had to raise more money from venture firms, which meant he had to form a board and I joined his board. And subsequently when he decided to take the company public, he needed a chairman, and there I was.” [HarBus]

PROFILE — “CNN’s Jake Tapper Has Emerged as a Staunch Defender of Facts in the Trump Era. So Why Is He Writing Fiction?” by Alexandra Alter: “On Tuesday, Tapper is publishing his first novel, “The Hellfire Club,” a political thriller set in 1954… Mr. Tapper has been toying with the idea of writing a novel since college, and wrote one in his 20s that was never published. About a decade ago, he came up with the idea for a political thriller… Mr. Tapper sold the novel, based on sample chapters and an outline, to Little, Brown shortly after the 2016 election, and spent the next year or so writing and revising it. He mostly wrote at night, sneaking into his study after his kids, who are 8 and 10, went to bed… As he researched the overheated political climate in 1954 — when the country was convulsing over the Cold War, the Red Scare, racial divisions and the McCarthy hearings — Mr. Tapper began to notice parallels to our current hyper partisan era.” [NYTimes

SPORTS BLINK — Dan Senor tweets: “Whoa! New York Jets opener is on 2nd night of Rosh Hashana.” [Twitter

DESSERT — “Israel Is the World’s New Dining Hotspot” by Richard Vines: “Eyal Shani, the TV chef who owns some of the most respected and popular restaurants in Tel Aviv, says the revolution in Israeli food started about 30 years ago, when immigrants started to discover their roots and to explore Arab cooking. “People came to Israel from all around the world but the policy of the government in the beginning was to cut all the memories from Europe and from the Arab countries and to create a new Israel,” he says. “So they created a new Israel but they forgot to create a kitchen for the new Israel, nothing to eat. Now, the Israelis are mixing between the (culinary) fashions that are happening all around the world and cooking their own small memories from their grandmothers.” [Bloomberg]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Swiss physicist and Nobel Prize laureate, Karl Alexander Müller turns 91… Motivational speaker and co-founder of Harris and Schutz, previously president and CEO of Porsche (1981-1986), Peter Schutz turns 88… Chairman of the media networks division of Activision Blizzard, he previously held high-ranking roles at NFL Network, ESPN and ABC, Steve Bornstein turns 66… Immigrants’ rights activist and professor at Salem State University, she is the eldest daughter of Noam Chomsky, Aviva Chomsky turns 61… Host of The Steve Malzberg Show, a news and opinion show on Newsmax TV, Steve Malzberg turns 59… President and executive director of the DC-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, Marc Rotenberg turns 58… Entrepreneur, philanthropist, semi-professional race car driver and restaurateur, previously president and chairman of the Trust Company of New Jersey, Alan Wilzigturns 53… Television personality and game show host, J.D. Roth (born as James David Weinroth) turns 50… Israeli jazz bassist, composer, singer and arranger, Avishai Cohen turns 48… British film director Sarah Gavronturns 48… Atlanta-based Southeast Regional Director of AIPAC, Elliott G. Mendes turns 37… News reporter for the Washington Examiner, Kyle Feldscher turns 30… Facilitator, coach and workshop organizer, Daniela Kate Plattner turns 29… Political polling analyst at the DC-based Feldman Group, David Mariutto turns 28… R&B, soul, pop singer and teen actress, at 13 years old she was the runner-up on the second season of “The X Factor,”Carly Rose Sonenclar turns 19… Mr. REALITY Yaniv Rivlin… Associate at Tishman Realty Corporation, Alex Berman… Diane Kahan… Kelly McCormish… Joseph Gettinger 

SATURDAY: Comedienne, screenwriter, film director and actress, Elaine May (born Elaine Iva Berlin) turns 86… British chemist and professor at the University of Cambridge, Sir Alan Roy Fersht turns 75… Former White House Chief of Staff, now serving on several corporate, cultural, educational and volunteer boards, commissions and task forces, Kenneth Duberstein turns 74… Award winning folklorist, author, poet and editor of dozens of books, Howard Schwartz turns 73… Emergency physician for Kaiser Permanente in Panorama City, California, Joseph Edward Beezy turns 70… UCSB mathematician, an early winner of a MacArthur genius fellowship, Michael Hartley Freedman turns 67… Russian billionaire, now also an Israeli citizen, he co-founded the Russian Jewish Congress, the Genesis Prize and the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Mikhail Fridman turns 54… Attorney Scott D. Yonover turns 54… Art collector and dealer, who together with his father and brother are reputed to own $1 billion of art including over 1,000 pieces by Andy Warhol, Alberto “Tico” Mugrabi turns 48… Voice actress, whose career included the voice of Regina “Reggie” Rocket on Nickelodeon’s Rocket Power, Shayna Bracha Fox turns 34… Once the top ranked collegiate female tennis player in the US and currently the head women’s tennis coach at the University of North Florida, Audra Marie Cohen turns 32… Writer, magazine editor and actress, she is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online Rookie Magazine, aimed primarily at teenage girls, Tavi Gevinson turns 22… VP of operations at HEED, an event platform of WME-IMG and AGT, after 4 years as executive director of Israel Birthright Excel, Ifat Bechor… Engagement associate and Ezra Fellow at the University of Chicago Hillel, Joshua Gibbs… Marketing and recruitment associate at Birthright Israel, Alexandra Cohen… Irv Silberberg… Robert Kaufman… Howard Rosenblum

SUNDAY: Real estate developer and principal owner of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, Zygmunt “Zygi” Wilf turns 68… Calgary-based businessman and philanthropist, CEO of of Balmon Investments, Alvin Libin turns 87… Actor and later one of Hollywood’s most prolific producers, Mark Damon (born Alan Harris) turns 85… Co-founder of Human Rights Watch, formerly national director of the ACLU (1970-1978), president of George Soros’s Open Society Institute (1993-2012), Aryeh Neier turns 81… English journalist and former anchor of of BBC Television’s Newsnight, Adam Eliot Geoffrey Raphaelturns 80… Former US Poet Laureate and winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Louise Elisabeth Glück turns 75… Conductor and professor of music at Boston University, Joshua Rifkin turns 74… Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin since 2011, he has served as mayor twice before (1973-1979 and again 1989-1997), Paul R. Soglin turns 73… British economist and former Chief Economist at the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Herbert Stern turns 72… Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania (1995-1999), Jon D. Fox turns 71… New Zealand native, managing director and CEO of the Commonwealth Bank Group, an 1,100 branch bank based in Australia, Ian Narev turns 51… NYC-based attorney, member of Kriss & Feuerstein LLP, Jerold C. Feuerstein turns 50… Chicago-based reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Shayndi Raice turns 36… Intern at the Jerusalem Institute of Justice and teaching fellow at Masa Israel Journey, Zachary Krooks turns 23… Competitive ice dancer, Elliana Pogrebinsky turns 20… Three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The Washington Post, Sari Horwitz… Israeli columnist, contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and Jewish Journal blogger, Shmuel Rosner... Edward Lifshitz

Kafe Knesset for June 28

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Interview with Tzipi Livni: As the White House is brushing off reports which…

Feinstein ‘Regrets’ Netanyahu’s Western Wall Decision

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WASHINGTON – Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told Jewish Insider on Tuesday that she “regretted” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent move to scrap…

Haley Vows to Veto Any Palestinian For Senior UN Post

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley promised to block the appointment of any Palestinian official for a senior role at the United Nations on…

Kafe Knesset for June 27

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day The religious wars continue: Two days after the controversial government decisions to suspend…

Israel One of Two Countries with Higher Trump Favorability Than Obama

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Pew Research Center released extensive public opinion polling on Monday showing Israel and Russia as the only two countries where President Donald Trump has higher favorability marks…

Kafe Knesset for June 26

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Kotel compromise, conversion on the chopping block: The day after the cabinet capitulated…