Daily Kickoff: Omar’s op-ed pushes two states, ‘coming to the table’ but will she meet with AIPAC? | How Schultz reacted to Bloomberg’s discouragement

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DRIVING THE CONVO — Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) writes… “We must apply our universal values to all nations. Only then will we achieve peace: A balanced, inclusive approach to the conflict recognizes the shared desire for security and freedom of both peoples. I support a two-state solution, with internationally recognized borders, which allows for both Israelis and Palestinians to have their own sanctuaries and self-determination. This has been official bipartisan U.S. policy across two decades and has been supported by each of the most recent Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as the consensus of the Israeli security establishment.”

“When I criticize certain Israeli government actions in Gaza or settlements in the West Bank, it is because I believe these actions not only threaten the possibility of peace in the region — they also threaten the United States’ own national security interests. My goal in speaking out at all times has been to encourage both sides to move toward a peaceful two-state solution. We need to reinsert this call back into the public debate with urgency. Both parties must come to the table for a final peace deal; violence will not bring us any closer to that day.” [WashPost]

Amb. Dan Shapiro tweets
“When I criticized Rep. Omar for her statements, I also called on her to rethink her approach on Israel-Palestine. In this piece, she’s made a start. While it’s certainly fair to criticize Israel for some policies, Palestinians also deserve their share, which she omits.” 

I’ve Seen Civil War Destroy the Democrats Before. We Can’t Let it Happen Again — by Stuart Eizenstat: “I watched pressure from the party’s liberal wing tear the party apart and bring down a Democratic presidential candidate. Both times, the Republicans took the White House… A two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians is essential, but it will not be achieved by blaming Israel alone for the impasse or failing to back legislation that builds on the 1977 law signed by Carter that bars U.S. companies from complying with boycotts of Israel, as many Democratic presidential hopefuls have done, or worse, defending those who single out American Jews for dual loyalty for supporting a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.” [PoliticoMag]

Yair Rosenberg“Omar’s section on Israel in this piece is quite reasonable and far better and less fraught than her off-the-cuff tweets on the subject. Which suggests, among other things, that perhaps we’re poorly served by reducing issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to 280 characters.” 

Batya Ungar-Sargon“Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has been pretty consistent on supporting a two state solution but I’m especially digging the framing here and its deep compassion for both sides. Thank you for modelling this so well, Congresswoman. It’s a lesson we are all in constant need of.” 

OF NOTE — While Rep. Omar’s call for two states seems to fit with AIPAC’s approach, her spokesman Jeremy Slevin told Jewish Insider‘s Laura Kelly, “We don’t have any plans right now” to meet with AIPAC activists when they embark on Capitol Hill next Tuesday during the group’s annual conference.

FDD’s Mark Dubowitz tells Jewish Insider“Omar’s refusal to meet with AIPAC next week is yet more evidence that hers is a personal vendetta against the largest bipartisan pro-Israel organization in the country — and against the Jewish state itself. It also calls into questions the sincerity and message of her most recent Washington Post op-ed where she called for an ‘inclusive foreign policy’ — a lame attempt that read like it was written by a Washington crisis communications firm designed to whitewash her recent anti-Semitic vitriol.”

Chelsea Clinton berated by students blaming her ‘rhetoric’ for causing New Zealand shootings — by Christal Hayes: “Video of Chelsea Clinton being confronted by several students who claimed her ‘rhetoric’ had ‘stoked’ the New Zealand mosque attacks went viral Saturday — and allowed for an unexpected bipartisan moment as Republicans came to her defense.  The video was taken Friday at a vigil in New York for the 50 victims of the shootings, which targeted two mosques in Christchurch. Students confronted Clinton, who is pregnant with her third child, over statements she’d made denouncing anti-Semitism.” [USAToday• Students at center of viral Chelsea Clinton video at New Zealand vigil speak out [WashPost]

Linda Sarsour tweeted on Sunday: 
“I am triggered by those who piled on Representative Ilhan Omar and incited a hate mob against her until she got assassination threats now giving condolences to our community. What we need you to do is reflect on how you contribute to Islamophobia and stop doing that.”

HEARD ON CABLE — Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper —Tapper: Are you suggesting that Democrats who took issue with Congresswoman Omar’s comments did so because of anti-Muslim bias?  

“I mean, I think that’s part of it… Is it because she’s a black Muslimah? Is it because it’s around the issue of human rights violations from the country of Israel? I don’t know. But I can tell you, if it was really about anti-Semitism and condemning that, then we need to be able to say to all the members — and that’s what we ended up at the end, condemning all forms of hate, but also holding every single person accountable to the same standard. And that’s what I didn’t see.”

Tapper: But you don’t think that those Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, who viewed Congresswoman Omar’s comments as anti-Semitic, you don’t think that they legitimately felt that way? You think there is anti-Muslim bigotry that’s part of their criticism of Congresswoman Omar?  

Tlaib: “I think she becomes an easier target, is what I’m trying to say… Probably the fact we’re women of color that is very vocal against human rights violations, especially in the country of Israel or even Saudi Arabia, that we are coming from a place of personal experiences, as being people of color, with my living grandmother in the West Bank in the occupied territories, that we want to be heard and we want to be seen, beyond whatever these kinds of labels that people like to put on us. And I think we just become an easier target for folks.”[Video]

SCENE YESTERDAY — Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rev. Al Sharpton were heckled by a large group of protesters at a rally on Sunday, as they addressed rising antisemitism outside of the Asphalt Green Upper East Side Campus a week after it was defaced with swastikas. [Pic]

The protesters called on Rep. Maloney to take a stronger stand against Rep. Ilhan Omar than she had. The protesters held up posters calling on Democratic leadership to remove the Minnesota congresswoman from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Rep. Maloney shouted back to protesters, “I had a strong statement.” To which one protester responded, “That is not enough.” 

“All of us must take the risk of reconciliation and stand against those who are extremist on either side, and say we must denounce hate and terrorism no matter what,” Sharpton said. “Hate must be denounced… Until we stop antisemitism, racism, homophobia and any form of bigotry, we are all under threat. So heckle me all you want, we are going to meet heckle with love… I welcome the hecklers because I want people to know that we are standing with courage, we are standing with unity, and we are standing together.” [VideoJewishInsider]

TALK OF THE TOWN — These Muslims and Jews in Ilhan Omar’s district are united in frustration — by Sara Sidner and Mallory Simon: “Omar Jamal, Steve Hunegs, Mohamed Ahmed and Avi Olitzky agree on the characterization of language Omar used: When Omar talked about Jews ‘hypnotizing’ the world, it was anti-Semitic. When she said American support for Israel was ‘all about the Benjamins baby,’ it was anti-Semitic. And when she questioned whether American Jews had loyalty to Israel, it was anti-Semitic, they all said. Local leaders want her to understand why her words were causing so much pain.” [CNN]

REACTION — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) released a statement on Sunday in response to President Trump’s recent comments about the Democratic Party serving as a home for Jewish voters and questioning their support for Israel:”Exploiting anti-Semitism for partisan advantage is dangerous and wrong. It is misleading on the facts, destructive to the critical bipartisan support that Israel has always enjoyed and that has been so important to its security and success, and a risk to the unity of our country… These statements and actions by Republican leaders also dangerously ignore the unnerving phenomenon of their Alt-Right supporters embracing the use of swastikas and anti-Semitic epithets in our country’s public spaces and online.” 

Former Senator Joe Lieberman on the Cats Roundtable radio program: “The Democratic Party is not an anti-Jewish or antisemitic party, but I will tell you that I didn’t like the way the House of Representatives handled their response to the really grotesquely antisemitic remarks of Congresswoman Omar —  just uninformed and hurtful to people and not what you’d expect from a young woman from her background where she suffered discrimination herself… We have got to blow a whistle on this and I’m really sorry and disappointed at the way the House Democratic caucus responded to Congresswoman Omar statements.” [CatsRoundtable]

Jewish voters are furious at Dems’ defense of Ilhan Omar — by Mary Kay Linge and Doree Lewak: “’We felt we had a home there,’ said Mark Schwartz, the Democratic deputy mayor of solidly blue Teaneck, NJ. ‘And now we feel like we have to check our passports.’ … Mark Dunec, a consultant in Livingston, NJ who ran for Congress as a Democrat in 2014, says, ‘I’m physically afraid for myself and for my family,’ adding, ‘I see my own party contributing to the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States.'” [NYPost]

— “Jesse Lehrich, a foreign policy spokesman for 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, said Trump’s attacks ring hollow from a man who spoke sympathetically of some of the white supremacists who held a 2017 march in Charlottesville, Virginia. ‘American Jews overwhelmingly vote Democratic, and a brazen attempt to weaponize anti-Semitism by a man who has mainstreamed bigotry seems like a bad way to win them over,’ Lehrich said.” [USAToday

De Blasio rushes to defend AIPAC group — by Rich Calder: 
“Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday rushed to the defense of AIPAC… ‘From my experience with folks from AIPAC, they represent a broad range of views,’ de Blasio said on WNYC radio… Hizzoner’s comments came in response to a question from radio host Brian Lehrer, who asked why he supports the American Israel Public Affairs Committee considering its ‘reputation of having a right-wing bent.’ Earlier in the morning, Politico reported that de Blasio attended an AIPAC meeting Thursday that wasn’t listed on his public schedule.” [NYPost]

ON THE HILL — Jewish, Muslim Democrats seek to ease tensions amid Omar controversy — by Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis: “At a late-night meeting blocks from the Capitol, about a dozen lawmakers shared their raw experiences with bigotry and discrimination, hoping the stories would bridge the glaring interfaith divide. Suddenly, Rep. Dean Phillips, a Jewish Democrat, shattered a moment meant to be about listening and learning — not politics…. [Omar’s] remarks, Phillips said, represented ‘tips of the arrow’ — small but devastating offenses that made Jews fearful of a rising tide of anti-Semitism… His words stunned the three Muslim Democrats in the room, as well as some other Jewish members and third-party participants. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) grew emotional and started to cry as she spoke of her grandmother’s suffering in the West Bank at the hands of Israelis. ‘She would treat you like a grandson,’ she said to Phillips… The second gathering aimed at reconciliation broke on a bitter note.” [WashPost]

AT THE UN — The UN Human Rights Council to call for Israeli arrests, settlement boycott — by Tovah Lazaroff: “The UN Human Rights Council is expected to call for the arrest of IDF soldiers responsible for Gaza deaths at border and for a boycott of West Bank settlements, when it gathers in Geneva on Monday for the last week of its 40th session. The day-long meeting of the 47-member council will involve the reading of seven reports on alleged Israeli human rights abuses and the tabling of five resolutions demanding action.” [JPost]

, former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Ambassador to the UN, at a rally against the actions of the UNHRC in Geneva:“There is a straight line from these UN actions to last week’s launch of an Iranian Fajr missile toward Tel Aviv. Is anyone in Geneva looking after the human rights of Israeli farmers in the Gaza envelope communities whose fields are regularly set ablaze by Hamas incendiary weapons?”

REPORT — New Zealand mosque shooting suspect visited Israel in 2016 — by Barak Ravid: “Brenton Tarrant, the alleged perpetrator of the Christchurch mosques massacre, visited Israel on October 25, 2016, and left 9 days later… It’s unclear what brought Tarrant to Israel, and officials told me he didn’t raise any suspicions when he entered the country. He arrived as part of a trip in the region that also included Turkey.” [Axios]

TALK OF THE REGION — U.S. Military Now Preparing to Leave as Many as 1,000 Troops in Syria — by Dion Nissenbaum and Nancy  Youssef: “The U.S. military is crafting plans to keep nearly 1,000 forces in Syria, U.S. officials said, a shift that comes three months after President Trump ordered a complete withdrawal and is far more than the White House originally intended…. U.S. officials said the exact number of Western troops that will remain in Syria is still being worked out. Mr. Trump could further constrain the military plans if he decides that having so many Americans stay in Syria isn’t worth the risk.” [WSJ]

Saudi Crown Prince’s Brutal Drive to Crush Dissent — by Mark Mazzetti and Ben Hubbard: 
“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia authorized a secret campaign to silence dissenters — which included the surveillance, kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudi citizens — over a year before the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, according to American officials who have read classified intelligence reports about the campaign. At least some of the clandestine missions were carried out by members of the same team that killed and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi in Istanbul in October.”[NYTimes]

West Bank Attack Raises Tensions as Israeli Elections Approach — by Isabel Kershner: 
“A Palestinian carried out a stabbing and shooting attack in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, killing an Israeli soldier and a civilian, and ratcheting up tensions ahead of Israeli elections… The soldier killed on Sunday was identified as Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19. On Monday, a second victim, Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47, a father of 12 from the settlement of Eli and head of a seminary in Tel Aviv, died of his wounds… As of Monday morning, the assailant was still at large.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — Supreme Court Disqualifies Jewish Power Head — by Neri Zilber: 
In an unprecedented eight to one vote, the Supreme Court voted yesterday to disqualify the candidacy of Michael Ben-Ari, the head of the Kahanist Jewish Power. It was the first instance of the court disqualifying an individual candidate, as opposed to an entire slate. The justices explained their decision by pointing to Ben-Ari’s past statements against Arabs, ruling that it constituted “incitement to racism.” There are already calls by some in Jewish Power to compensate the party for its loss, e.g. guaranteeing its third candidate, Baruch Marzel, a future ministerial position from outside the Knesset. The political fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision could impact both the current election race as well as future government policy. Politicians on the Israeli right unanimously condemned the court’s decision — especially since the far-left/Arab candidates were allowed to run. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]

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BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Netanyahu Seeks Trump Bump as He Brings Re-Election Bid to U.S. — by David Wainer and Ivan Levingston: “Netanyahu is officially coming for the AIPAC conference, an annual pro-Israel policy gathering that’s become a key stop for political leaders, but his visit will serve up excellent campaign optics back home. He’s certain to be photographed meeting President Trump while his speech, delivered in his American-accented baritone, will get plenty of airtime in Israel. ‘He’ll be speaking in English to an American crowd, but the most important audience will be the Israelis back home,’ said Natan Sachs, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “The message is: ‘Show me another Israeli who can do this. Show me someone else who has this kind of relationship with Trump.’” [Bloomberg• Knesset speaker: U.S. Golan stance is good first step toward West Bank recognition [ToI]

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to visit Israel in a show of ‘unwavering’ support, 2 weeks before the election: 
“Pompeo travels this week to Israel, where he will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… in the midst of a heated re-election campaign. Pompeo travels to the Middle East [on Tuesday] stopping first in Kuwait for talks before heading to Jerusalem and Beirut, his spokesman Robert Palladino said.” [ToIHaaretz]

Netanyahu’s Challenger Has a Major Handicap — by Zev Chafets: 
“Gantz is the Israeli JFK. Bibi is Richard Nixon. Gantz lacks what Bibi has in spades – political acumen. He poses a lot but rarely talks… He lacks the military charisma of political generals like Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak or Moshe Dayan. He was a second-choice for the Chief of Staff’s office, and, although he performed competently, he won no famous battles.” [Bloomberg]

2020 WATCH — He’s running — almost. Joe Biden gets ahead of himselfin Saturday speech, to cheers from the crowd…Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) plans Trump NYC hotel speech, makes 2020 bid official… Bernie Sanders got stitches after cutting head on shower door… Beto O’Rourke is 46. Bernie Sanders is 77. Does age matter anymore for Democrats?… Beto O’Rourke reports raising more than $6.1 million in first day of campaign, the highest total yet among presidential candidates… Twitter’s insiders are skepticalabout Beto O’Rourke. Iowans don’t seem to care… Governor? Senator? Veep? President?! Stacey Abrams, who is usually sure about everything finds herself conflicted about her future… Jeb Bush told David Axelrod on The Axe Files podcast that a Republican should run against Trump in 2020… Howard Schultz hires former Instagram analytics chief, looks to build tech team in advance of possible White House bid

Howard Schultz and His Team Think the Backlash Means They’re ‘Onto Something’ — by Gabriel Debenedetti: “When Michael Bloomberg, a fellow billionaire and committed centrist, issued a statement essentially discouraging Schultz from running — recalling how he abandoned his 2016 independent flirtations for fear of electing Trump — Schultz’s team was furious. ‘God knows he’s a brilliant man with lots of resources, and there’s no doubt his analysis took him where it took him. [But] he said if an independent ran it would elect Donald Trump. Well, he didn’t run, and Donald Trump won anyway. [And] the conditions in 2019 are totally different from 2015 and 2016,’ insists Peter Chiarelli. ‘The whole idea on the Democratic side that they can predict, in February of 2019, that Howard Schultz’s entry to this is going to elect Donald Trump is just silly! It’s just silly!'” [NYMag

** 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: Renaissance founder Jim Simons says hedge fund has overcome Trump tension [FinancialTimes• Stryker Buys Orthopedic Device Company OrthoSpace for up to $220 Million [Calcalist• Pipeline Snag to Delay Israel Gas to Egypt for 3 Months [Bloomberg• Israel’s Cellcom falls to quarterly loss, urges regulatory intervention [Reuters]

SPOTLIGHT — Ariane de Rothschild challenges Swiss conservatism — by Harriet Agnew: “This week Baroness de Rothschild shook up her illustrious family’s financial empire by announcing that the Edmond de Rothschild group will consolidate all of its operations under the Swiss bank and then take it private. She is a Rothschild by virtue of her marriage to Benjamin de Rothschild, rather than by blood… Vivacious, stylish, and energetic, Mrs de Rothschild will now move from chief executive to chairman of the executive board at Edmond de Rothschild… In practice, her day-to-day involvement is unlikely to change… ‘It wasn’t my aim to be chief executive of Edmond de Rothschild — and it still isn’t,’ Mrs. de Rothschild told the Financial Times this week. She insisted that she only agreed to step into the role in 2015 to show the family’s commitment to restructuring the sprawling group.”[FinancialTimes]

— Rupert Murdoch, scrappy Fox mogul who transformed media, begins his Hollywood goodbye — by Meg James: “Now, Murdoch is dismantling his life’s work: a kingdom worth more than $100 billion. On Tuesday, his largest company, 21st Century Fox, will be broken apart. Walt Disney Co. will absorb Fox’s legendary movie and television production studios, with their deep trove of titles that includes ‘Avatar,’ ‘Deadpool,’ ‘Family Guy’ and ‘The Simpsons.’ The Murdoch family will create a new entity, simply known as Fox, that will include Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network, national Fox Sports channels, TV stations and the 50-acre Fox studio lot in Century City… ‘Rupert has been the most influential person in Hollywood in the last 25 years,’ Peter Chernin, Murdoch’s former deputy who now owns his own media company, said in an interview. ‘He has been the key driver of trends that now define the industry.'” [LATimes]

Private club on the hunt for Steven Spielberg leaker — by Ian Mohr: “After word got out this week that power director Steven Spielberg and Netflix honcho Ted Sarandos broke ciabatta — to smooth over their Oscars feud— at posh private club San Vicente Bungalows, sources tell Page Six that the hotspot is on the hunt for the loose-lipped leaker with plans to discreetly expel them post-haste… The club created by top Sunset Tower hotelier Jeff Klein deeply prizes privacy, with strict rules about cellphones, looky-loos and members of the media. Upon entry, stickers are even placed over phone cameras.” [PageSix]

‘Billions,’ ‘Succession’ and the Making of Wealth Porn — by Alexis Solosk: “For the ‘Succession’ pilot, the production team wanted to create an apartment for Logan Roy, the paterfamilias played by Brian Cox, that would suggest power, not magazine cover ostentation. Kevin Thompson, the pilot’s production designer, borrowed two floors of the Council on Foreign Relations, dressing it as a penthouse duplex.” [NYTimes

Last night on Billions season 4 episode 1: 
“With a mixture of desperation and deftness, Chuck constructs an elaborate Rube Goldberg device of quid pro quo exchanges among the city’s most privileged and powerful. Nearly all of the palm-greasing and back-scratching is ridiculously petty. At one point in the chain, the real-life advertising executive Donny Deutsch demands primo ski lodge passes in exchange for seats at the children’s Hanukkah service in a major Manhattan congregation — apparently the hottest tickets in town.” [NYTimes]

Supermodel Karlie Kloss confirms converting to Judaism to marry Kushner — by Amy Spiro: 
“Karlie Kloss confirmed publicly for the first time this weekend that she converted to Judaism before marrying Joshua Kushner last year. The revelation came during an interview on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. Cohen read aloud a viewer question asking the supermodel if she converted to Judaism before the wedding. ‘I joined the tribe, mazel,’ Kloss said, raising her glass in a toast. ‘Nice, you’re a nice Jewish girl!’ Cohen exclaimed in response.” [JPostVideo]

TALK OF OUR NATION — Pittsburgh Jewish Group Raises Money for New Zealand Muslim Community After Mosque Shootings — by Megan McCluskey: “In the wake of Friday’s terror attack on two Christchurch mosques that took the lives of 50 people and injured at least 40, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is working to reciprocate the support that Pittsburgh’s Jewish community received from Muslim groups in its own time of need. Last October, a crowdfunding campaign called ‘Muslims Unite for Pittsburgh Synagogue’ raised more than $200,000 in four days for the Pittsburgh shooting victims. In a Friday statement, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh said it is now accepting donations to help repay that kindness.” [Time• Jews stand in solidarity with New Zealand following massacre [JPost]

INTERVIEW — Bernard-Henri Lévy on regime change — by Isaac Chotiner: 
You wrote, at the time, ‘What is dying: an ancient concept of sovereignty in which all crimes are permitted as long as they go on within the frontiers of the state. What has been born: the idea of the universality of rights that is no longer a pious hope but a passionate obligation for all who truly believe in the unity of mankind and in the virtue of the right to intervene, which is its corollary.’ Has Libya at least changed your mind about people in the West being overconfident about the ability of regime change to have long-lasting accomplishments?

Bernard-Henri Lévy: ‘No. There are two different things. In terms of principles, we have to hold firm. It is a duty, a moral duty, to hold firm the idea that there is no people, no ethnicity, forbidding democracy. Democracy is a universal value and it can be adopted in any situation, and it is absolutely a racist point of view to say that this part of the world or that part of the world is unable to build a democracy. No. 2, to build a democracy, you don’t do that overnight—with one exception, and that is Israel, a democracy built overnight in 1948. Except for that, democracy takes time.’” [NewYorker]

TRANSITION — Boris Zilberman 
has been appointed as Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Action Fund’s director of public policy and strategy. Zilberman previously served as deputy director of congressional relations at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and manager of defense programs in the policy and government affairs department at AIPAC. 

BIRTHDAYS: Professor emeritus of biochemistry and genetics in the medical school of the University of North Carolina, and the author of five books since turning 80 years old, Edward Glassman, Ph.D. turns 90… Screenwriter, actor, comedian and film executive, he is best known for co-writing the screenplay for “Jaws” and its first two sequels, Carl Gottlieb turns 81… Professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University, Deborah Lipstadt turns 72… National columnist with Creators Syndicate and contributor to CNN Opinion, Froma Harrop turns 69… One-half of the eponymous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Jerry is four days older), Bennett “Ben” Cohen turns 68… Crisis response team manager for the City of Los Angeles (1998-2013), consultant for non-profit organizations in the areas of event management, administration and development, Jeffrey Zimerman MSW turns 63… Head coach of the Auburn Tigers men’s basketball team, he also served as the gold medal winning head coach for the Maccabi USA men’s basketball team at the 2009 Maccabiah Games, Bruce Pearl turns 59 (his team awarded him an early birthday present by winning the Southeastern Conference championship on Sunday afternoon)…

Dean of the Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Daniel S. Nevins turns 53… Filmmaker, writer and stand-up comedian, best known as the screenwriter for “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and for writing the screenplay adaptation of “Battlefield Earth,” Jake David Shapiro turns 50… Identical twin brothers, both singers and songwriters who recorded as “Evan and Jaron,” Evan Lowenstein and Jaron Lowenstein, turn 45… Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor, record producer and lead vocalist for the pop rock band Maroon 5, Adam Levine turns 40… Actor, comedian and writer, he is best known for starring as Max Blum in the ABC comedy series Happy Endings, he is also the executive producer of The President Show, Adam Pally turns 37… Sales manager at IKO Industries Ltd, he was previously a consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, Ariel Koschitzky turns 30… Andrew G. Weiss turns 30… Northeast data analyst in the fundraising effort at AIPAC, Michael Schapiro… Jenni Volz




Daily Kickoff: When the UAE and Israeli Ambassadors shared a DC dinner table with Sheldon Adelson | De Blasio at AIPAC | RBG turns 86

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DRIVING THE DAY — Global condemnation, condolences after NZ mosque attack — by Mike Corder: 
“World leaders expressed condolences and condemnation Friday following the deadly attacks on mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, while Muslim leaders said the mass shooting was evidence of a rising tide of violent anti-Islam sentiment.” [APCNN]

Rockets Fired on Tel Aviv From Gaza, and Israel Strikes Back — by David Halbfinger: 
“Two rockets were fired at Tel Aviv from the Gaza Strip on Thursday — the first time since 2014 that rockets had reached the area — in an attack that led to retaliatory airstrikes by Israel hours later. Israel blamed Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, for the rocket fire, but by Friday morning, the assessment of Israeli military officials was that Hamas operatives had launched the rockets ‘by mistake.’ … The Israeli military said it had carried out retaliatory strikes overnight against approximately 100 military sites belonging to Hamas throughout the Gaza Strip, including an underground rocket manufacturing facility and an office complex in a residential area of Gaza City that housed Hamas’s headquarters for directing activities in the West Bank.” [NYTimesWSJ]

“The timing of this latest outbreak in violence could create a political dilemma for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… If he is seen as hesitating to strike back forcefully, that could cost his Likud party votes among right-wingers who seek a tough response to attacks from Gaza. A large-scale offensive, however, would entail other risks if Israeli casualties mount.” [Bloomberg]

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) condemned the ‘unprovoked’ attack on Israel and stressed the need for bipartisan support for Israel’s security. “These attacks also show why Congressional support for systems like the Iron Dome are so critical,” Hoyer wrote on Twitter. “I will continue to work in Congress to ensure robust, bipartisan support for Israel’s defense.” 

Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted“Hamas and other terror orgs in Gaza continue to fail their people day after day and drag Gaza further & further down by constantly choosing violence. This method will never work. Ever! It will just continue to cause more suffering… Presumably all responsible countries/international orgs will condemn attacks/confirm Israel’s right to defend. Anything else is tone deaf — to Israelis, Palestinians and to peace. Time to wake up folks!”

ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Congress is pushing for increased U.S.-Israel cooperation on next generation war capabilities, including lasers and high-power microwaves, to protect against increasing threats from competing countries.

Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) re-introduced on Thursday the U.S.-Israel Directed Energy Cooperation act, authorizing the Department of Defense work with Israel in developing “directed energy capabilities,” weapons that are based off high-energy lasers and microwaves. “The ability to stop ballistic missiles and other major threats through directed energy technology, such as lasers, will save lives,” Rep Lieu said in a statement. Rep. Stefanik added, “Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East, and working together to enhance security for both of our nations is of the utmost importance.”

A spokesperson for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) emailed Jewish Insider on Thursday that the move by the State Department elevating language regarding Israel – from “occupied” territories to “controlled” – is a “welcome step” but more must be done. “Sen. Cruz believes that it is in the United States’ national security interests to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Anything that moves in that direction is a welcome step, but we must do more. He will continue advancing his legislation, introduced with Sen. Cotton and Rep. Gallagher in the House, to establish that it is the policy of the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty. Any policy short of full recognition is a policy that falls short of securing American national security interests.”

— Christians United for Israel, the largest pro-Israel organization with five million members, put their support behind Republican efforts to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the group announced on Thursday. “It is past time for our leaders in Washington to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and make clear to Iran and Syria that any attack on the Golan Heights is an attack on Israel,” CUFI founder and Chairman Pastor John Hagee said in a statement.

Progressive Democrats hope the Omar clash will reset debate in Congress over Israel — by Jennifer Haberkorn: “’I think there will be more and more willingness on the part of members of Congress and policymakers to speak up and be critical of the policies of the U.S. and the government of Israel. There’s been more reluctance in the past,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street… ‘This is a start of the conversation that didn’t happen in a positive way,’ said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont). ‘But the conversation is not going away.'” [LATimes]

Trump tweets this morning: 
“The ‘Jexodus’ movement encourages Jewish people to leave the Democrat Party. Total disrespect! Republicans are waiting with open arms. Remember Jerusalem (U.S. Embassy) and the horrible Iran Nuclear Deal! @OANN @foxandfriends.” 

U.S. ambassador condemns convicted Palestinian terrorist’s speech in Germany — by Benjamin Weinthal: 
“The U.S. ambassador to Germany has condemned the presence of a convicted Palestinian terrorist who entered Germany in order to deliver a talk on Friday… about ‘Palestinian women in the liberation struggle.’ The event is organized by a reportedly ‘anti-Semitic alliance of BDS.’ Ambassador Richard Grenell told Fox News Thursday: ‘The rise of anti-Semitism around the world is very troubling… Offering a public speaking role to a Palestinian terrorist convicted of murder, terrorism and immigration fraud legitimizes anti-Semitism at a time when we should be condemning it.'”[FoxNews]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in an interview with the Washington Examiner: “We’re trying to find that perfect place to land, and ultimately, there will be some Israelis that view [the plan] as exceeding their maximum and some Palestinians for whom it doesn’t meet their minimum. But it will hopefully, if nothing else, provoke a serious discussion that hasn’t taken place in a long time.” Pressed on the issue of Palestinian statehood, Friedman only said: “We’d like to see Palestinian autonomy improve significantly, as long as it doesn’t come at the risk of Israeli security. Where you slice that can be debated.”[WashExaminer]

TRUMP DIPLOMACY — Talk to Trump, Skip the Diplomats: World Leaders’ New U.S. Tactic — by Vivian Salama and Peter Nicholas: 
“Increasingly, savvy leaders are bypassing the standard protocols and government processes of American diplomacy to go directly to President Trump himself… An official familiar with the inner workings of the White House said the president’s advisers suspect that he regularly speaks with world leaders on his phone… ‘At this point, foreign leaders understand that nobody can speak authoritatively other than Trump, and that what other interlocutors say may not represent the president’s position today,’ said Robert Danin, a longtime U.S. diplomat, now at the Council on Foreign Relations.” 

“‘I should have a nickel for every foreign minister who has asked me to help decipher and interpret this administration,’ said Richard Haass, who held foreign-policy positions in the past two Republican administrations. ‘They just don’t know how to read it. It’s been a nightmare for ambassadors and foreign ministers.'” [WSJ]

DEEP DIVE — Inside the opulent Trump inaugural dinner designed as a glittery overture to foreign diplomats — by Michael Kranish, Rosalind Helderman, Mary Jordan 
and Tom Hamburger: “Details about the invitation-only Chairman’s Global Dinner, Tom Barrack’s signature event of the week, have been largely out of public view. An examination of the event… provides a window into how Trump’s upstart victory quickly drew influential figures eager to shape the new administration… Yousef al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador who had emailed with Barrack, was also among the guests — assigned to a table with the Israeli ambassador… Two of the RNC’s biggest fundraisers were in attendance: Steve Wynn and Elliott Broidy… Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who was assigned to Table 4 with Otaiba, gave $5 million for the inauguration, more than any other donor.”

“Barrack’s relationship with Trump, meanwhile, has suffered. His hopes of brokering Middle East policies were outstripped by the influence of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner… The two men once spoke regularly, according to people familiar with their relationship. But now, they said, their conversations are sporadic.” [WashPost

SCENE YESTERDAY — NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio discussed antisemitism and U.S. support for Israel at an event for women hosted by AIPAC in Manhattan. [PicDe Blasio is expected to speak at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. on March 24th.

HAPPENING NOW — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is hosting a rally to mark Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s 86th birthday, a Brooklyn hero, outside Brooklyn Borough Hall.

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Netanyahu’s departure would be a very big deal — by Aaron David Miller: “Should Benny Gantz become prime minister, unlike Netanyahu, he will likely stay out of U.S. politics. There will be no end runs to Congress; no twinning with Trump’s inflammatory politics about ‘witch hunts’; no circulating Trump endorsements from Fox News; and no effort to help Trump make the Republican Party the most pro-Israel party in U.S. politics. At the same time, Gantz has already indicated he will address American Jews’ concerns about egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall in Jerusalem — a move that will help defuse tensions from the Netanyahu years. Gantz, unlike Netanyahu or Trump, won’t be a divider.” [CNN]

Netanyahu Outfoxed Russia, Iran 
and ISIS With His Cynical, Ruthless Syria Policy — by Anshel Pfeffer: “Netanyahu doesn’t have many fans among the IDF General Staff, but on his Syrian record, they are near-unanimous in praise. The only criticism you can hear today is that in recent months he has been too quick to acknowledge Israel’s strikes, which in the past had been left unattributed. But that claim is hard to stick to Netanyahu, when Eisenkot himself spoke about the strikes openly in the interviews he gave in January at the end of his term… If he has one valid claim to remaining in office, it’s his Syria policy.” [Haaretz

— No One Wants to Help Bashar al-Assad Rebuild Syria — by Krishnadev Calamur: 
“Assad is in a bind. His supporters can’t afford to pay for reconstruction; his adversaries in the West can, but won’t. Iran, Assad’s other principal supporter, is suffering from reimposed U.S. sanctions and doesn’t have that much to spare.” [TheAtlantic]

GONE VIRAL — Whatcha got cookin’? — 
PM Netanyahu spent some time in the kitchen on Thursday to demonstrate his cooking skills in an attempt to reinforce his campaign theme that Benny Gantz will form a left-wing government with the support of Arab parties. “This is what I know how to cook,” Netanyahu, in an apron, said as he fried up a sunny side up in a puddle of olive oil. “What they [Blue and White] are cooking up is a left-wing government with support from left-wing parties and Arab parties. They aren’t fooling anyone.” [Video]

Israel suspects Iran of hacking election frontrunner Gantz’s phone: 
“Israel’s Shin Bet security service suspects Iran of hacking the mobile phone of Benny Gantz… Gantz, a former chief of Israel’s armed forces, was informed of the hack five weeks ago, Channel 12 said, adding that the Shin Bet believed Iranian state intelligence had accessed the ex-general’s personal information and correspondences.” [Reuters]

2020 WATCH — 
Beto O’Rourka wants to be Obama— but came off like Trump… Peter Beinart writes: Instead of invoking God, O’Rourke and most other Democratic contenders identify religion as a source of division… Biden will be a bust, Trump aides have tried to assure their boss… Institute founded by Bernie Sanders’ wife and son is shutting down… Howard Schultz apologized for claiming he had spent more time with the military than any other 2020 candidate… 

** 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: Fantasy or transformation? New York’s $25bn Hudson Yards set to open [TheGuardianNYTimes• Ken Griffin Says Amazon Exit Damped His Interest in NYC Headquarters [Bloomberg• Two of Mark Zuckerberg’s most important executives are leaving Facebook [NYTimesRecode]

SPOTLIGHT — Here are the hip coliving apartments under construction in Hollywood — by Bianca Barragan: “On a cul-de-sac near Hollywood Boulevard and Bronson, nestled among midcentury apartment buildings, construction is well underway on the latest investment in co-living. The years-vacant lot is giving way to a fully-furnished, five-story apartment complex called Treehouse Hollywood, where 60 bedrooms will be organized into 18 suite-like living spaces with shared kitchens and living rooms. ‘It’s not going to feel like a generic apartment building,’ says Joe Green, Treehouse’s board chairman… Treehouse’s founders say they want to foster a feeling of belonging among tenants. One of the ways they’ll accomplish that is by having residents help review applications for prospective tenants… ‘We think to have a good community, you can’t have people coming in and out all the time,’ Green said.” [CurbedLA]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — Patrick Radden Keefe, a New Yorker staff writer, discussed his latest book, Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, on the Longform podcast: “When I went over there for the first time, I talked to David Remnick, my boss, and he’d gone 20 years earlier to write a piece about the peace process and Gerry Adams for the New Yorker. As I was leaving to Belfast for the first time, he said. ‘You are going to love it. It’s a reporter’s dream. Just like Israel — everybody talks, talks, talks.’” [Longform]

MEDIA WATCH — The Intercept Bars Co-Founder From Meeting After Snowden Archive Shutdown — by Maxwell Tani: 
“Laura Poitras, one of the founding editors of The Intercept, was barred from attending a company meeting on Thursday following a decision by First Look Media to discontinue managing The Intercept’s archive of leaked documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden… Since 2014, Poitras and Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald have entrusted The Intercept, which is owned by First Look Media, to maintain the voluminous archive.” [DailyBeast]

CAMPUS BEAT — Pitzer President Melvin Oliver vetoes suspension of Haifa study abroad program — by Marc Rod: 
“Less than three hours after the Pitzer College Council voted 67-28 to suspend Pitzer’s study abroad program to the University of Haifa in Israel, Pitzer President Melvin Oliver vetoed the decision and said he will not implement the suspension… The Faculty Executive Committee will meet Friday to discuss Oliver’s decision, FEC chair Claudia Strauss said.” [StudentLife]

University of Haifa President Prof. Ron Robin said in a statement: 
“The Pitzer boycott is particularly misguided given the fact that at University of Haifa, 35 percent of our students are Arabs, and that our Israeli and Arab students work together harmoniously on extracurricular activities and community service. This is diversity, coexistence, and tolerance at its finest.” 

TALK OF THE TOWN — American Dream mega mall, opening soon, will feature these swanky restaurants, savory food halls — by Allison Pries: “American Dream [in East Rutherford, NJ] will be comprised of 55 percent entertainment and 45 retail.  But what foodies should know is, there will also be more than 100 places to eat, including 14 to 18 full-service restaurants… American Dream has said that it will have the first Kosher food hall in the U.S. in a retail and entertainment destination. It will have six units culled from the best kosher food operators on the East Coast.” [NJAdvance]

Real Estate for the Afterlife — by Jane Margolies: 
“Across the city, recent arrivals to New York are leaving their mark on older burial grounds. Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, for example, have brought a preference for polished headstones of black granite with photorealistic depictions of the dead — a stark contrast to the plainer, timeworn stones with Hebrew lettering favored by Jews of earlier generations.” [NYTimes]

DESSERT — In the Future, Everything Will Be Made of Chickpeas — by Ambda Mull: 
“Biena Snacks is part of a constellation of American food companies, such as Banza Pasta and The Good Bean, that has sprung up around the humble chickpea in recent years, ready to fully integrate a global staple food into the country’s diets. Now there are chips made with chickpea flour and vegan butter emulsified with the liquid waste of hummus manufacturing. There’s dessert hummus, which might be one of the more difficult sells in the garbanzo-food family tree. Beyond the grocery store, there are viral chickpea recipes to prepare at home, and maybe even some chickpea brine behind the bar at your favorite cocktail spot.” [TheAtlantic]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. “Notorious RBG,” turns 86… Theoretical chemist and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, professor emeritus at Harvard University and Director of the Biophysical Chemistry Laboratory in France, Martin Karplus turns 89… Emmy Award and Tony Award-winning actor, Judd Hirsch turns 84… Former federal prosecutor (1961-1966), then founder of Baer & McGoldrick (now Schulte, Roth & Zabel), movie producer, now vice-chair of Medici Arts LLC, Thomas H. Baer turns 82… UCLA professor, biochemist and biophysicist, David S. Eisenberg turns 80… First-ever New York City Public Advocate (1994-2001), winner of Democratic primaries for NYC Mayor (2001), the House (1980) and the Senate (1986) but lost each general election, author of 23 books, Mark J. Green turns 74… Sam Treynor turns 71… British billionaire and philanthropist, chairman of retail conglomerate Arcadia Group, Sir Philip Nigel Ross Green turns 67… Animator and director of The Simpsons, David Silverman turns 62… Los Angeles-based writer, director and producer, Andrea Blaugrund Nevinsturns 57… Chief operating officer at Jewish Child & Family Services of Chicago, Wendy Platt Newberger turns 56…

CEO and Executive Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis since September 2013, Debra Barton Grant turns 50… Member of the Knesset for the Likud party since 2015, Amir Ohana turns 43… Retired MLB infielder, then a special assistant to the Chicago Cubs GM Theo Epstein, he now owns a brew pub in Los Gatos, CA, Kevin Youkilis turns 40… Global business editor for Defense One, where he writes about the intersection of business and national security, Marcus Weisgerber turns 37… MSW candidate at Simmons University, she was previously in the DC office of the Jewish Federations of North America and at the Anti-Defamation League, Mindy Beth Reinstein Brodsky turns 36… Born in Jerusalem, she is a member of the New York State Assembly for the northeast portions of Queens since first being elected in 2012, Nily Rozic turns 33… Board member of the African Middle Eastern Leadership Project (AMEL), he played a key role in Mohammed Al Samawi’s rescue from Yemen, Justin Hefter turns 30… Freelance multimedia journalist, he was previously a business reporter at The Jerusalem Post, Max J. Schindler turns 27… and Max’s twin sister, Rachel Schindler, who works in the media partnerships group at Facebook, also turns 27… Shirley Hoffner… Robert Rosner… Ze’ev Bar-El

SATURDAY: Former CEO and chairman of Citigroup, Sanford I. “Sandy” Weill turns 86… Dean and founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, its Museum of Tolerance and of Moriah, the Center’s film division, Rabbi Marvin (Moshe Chaim) Hier turns 80… Graduate of Harvard Law School in 1964, tax assistant to the Solicitor General of the US (1973-1983), now a NYC tax attorney and litigator, Stuart A. Smith turns 78… Actress and film director, Susan Linda Bay turns 76… Computer scientist and author of multiple computer science textbooks, he is a professor emeritus of computer science at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Andrew S. Tanenbaum turns 75… Film, stage and television actor and singer, Victor Garber turns 70… Mathematician and founder of four technology companies, creator of the first camera phone, Philippe Kahn turns 67… Peabody Award and Emmy Award-winning NPR journalist since 1977, now a host of NPR’s Weekend Edition, Scott Simon turns 67… VP of external affairs at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Amy Kaplan turns 65… Film producer, production designer and adjunct faculty member at Chicago’s Columbia College, Gail Sonnenfeld turns 64… Adjunct professor at both George Washington University Law School and Stanford In Washington, previously a partner at DLA Piper, Andrew D. Eskin turns 62… VP for talent, booking at ABC News’ specialized units at Disney / ABC Television Group, Eric Avram turns 54…

Philanthropist and president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, in 2005 he enlisted in the IDF, Jay Ruderman turns 53… Actor and comedian, best known for playing the role of writer Frank Rossitano on the NBC sitcom “30 Rock,” Judah Friedlander turns 50… VP at the BGR Group since 2017 focused on financial services and tax issues, he was previously a principal at the Podesta Group, Andy Lewin turns 45… Partner at West Wing Writers, Jeff Nussbaum turns 44… Founder of Seward Square Strategies, he was previously the director of digital advertising at Hillary for America and director of elections and advocacy media at Google, Jason Rosenbaum turns 42… Retired soccer player in the Israeli Premier League who is now the first team manager of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Yoav Ziv turns 38… Detroit-based founder and managing partner of Ludlow Ventures and Sandwich Fund, he is a mentor at numerous technology accelerators, Jonathon Triest turns 37… Head of policy and communications at Facebook’s Israel office since 2016, she was previously Chief of Staff at the Israeli embassy in Washington DC and adviser to PM Netanyahu (2009-2013), Jordana Cutler turns 37… VP at the Glover Park Group, he was previously a public affairs official at the Pentagon, Adam Blickstein turns 37… Strategic communications consultant at Endeavor WME-IMG, Alexandra Stabler turns 30… Senior legislative assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, a graduate of Northwestern University, Nathan Bennett… Customer care manager at CCRA Travel Commerce Network, Judy Karta… Investigative reporter on the Metro desk of The New York Times since 2017, he was previously at the Houston Chronicle (2014-2016) and the Seattle Times (2011-2013), Brian M. Rosenthal… Jackie Stern… Jeremy Levin

SUNDAY: Retail and real estate executive, CEO of Wilherst Developers and trustee of publicly traded Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust, Mark K. Rosenfeld turns 73… Founder, president and CEO of Laurel Strategies, also the co-founder and board member of ImagineNations Group, Alan H. Fleischmann turns 54… Director of Legislative Affairs at B’nai B’rith International since 2003, Eric A. Fusfield turns 52… Lead field/floor reporter for CBS Sports football and basketball broadcasts, she also serves on the board of the JCC in Tenafly, NJ (using her married name, Tracy Reichel), Tracy Wolfson turns 44… VP at Las Vegas-based Gold Coast Promotions, assisting non-profits in fundraising, Richard Metzler turns 42… Hasidic singer, entertainer and composer, Lipa Schmeltzer turns 41… Actor, music producer and stand-up comedian, best known as Gustavo Rocque on the Nickelodeon television series “Big Time Rush” (2009-2013), Stephen Kramer Glickmanturns 40…

Musician and digital strategy executive, CEO of Santa Monica-based mobile messaging technology company Kapps Media, Rick Sorkin turns 40… Justice on the Florida Supreme Court, he was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis in January 2019, at his swearing-in he recited the fourth blessing of the Amidah seeking wisdom, Justice Robert J. Luck turns 40… Digital reporter and producer for ABC News including “World News Tonight With David Muir,” Emily Claire Friedman Cohen turns 34… Assistant professor at GW University in the School of Media and Public Affairs, he received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago in 2016, Ethan Porter turns 34… Head of US and Canada field operations at Uber, she was previously an analyst at LivingSocial, Annaliese Rosenthal turns 32… Los Angeles-based tech journalist and founder of the TechSesh blog, Jessica Elizabeth Naziri turns 31… Casino marketing analyst at Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Zach Sherman




Daily Kickoff: In big shift, Exxon eyeing Israel | Local MN Dems seeking Omar challenger | Bibi makes peace… with Sa’ar | Profile: Andrew Zobler

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TOP TALKER — The State Department referred to the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” instead of as “Israeli-occupied” for the first time in its annual report on human rights released on Wednesday. The change comes a year after the administration dropped the “occupied” reference to the West Bank and Gaza at the top of the report.

Israel first captured the Golan from Syria in the Six Day War in 1967 and effectively annexed it in 1981. At the time, the Reagan administration described the move as being inconsistent with the Camp David accords and suspended a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel on strategic cooperation. Since then, consecutive administrations from both political parties have refused to change existing U.S. policy. 

In a press briefing at the State Department, Michael Kozak, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, explained the change: “This is not a human rights issue. It’s a legal status issue… and ‘occupied territory’ has a legal meaning to it. I think what they tried to do was shift more to just a geographic description… My understanding from the policy bureaus on this is that there’s no change in our outlook or our policy vis-a-vis the territories and the need for a negotiated settlement there… We decided not to use the term in the reports because it’s not a human rights term and it was distracting.”

 U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has been the key U.S. figure pushing for the change, according to U.S. officials.” [Axios]

Aaron David Miller tells Jewish Insider“This is a big deal, and it will be an even bigger deal if the language is elevated consistently in statements by the president and Secretary of State. The strategic imperative of this administration is to change U.S. policy toward Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is another step in that process. For many in the administration, these areas aren’t occupied. So poof — with a simple word change, it’s no longer occupied.” 

Amb. Dennis Ross: “It reflects the Administration’s different approach; the terminology is different. It makes the Palestinians more suspicious and creates a context in which Arab leaders are likely to be more cautious and hesitant about responding to the administration’s plan. But time will tell whether that is really the case.” 

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — Israeli ministers hailed the change as a diplomatic victory for the country and a political victory for the right. The State Department announcement, Likud’s Gideon Sa’ar tweeted, “was proof that the correct and determined path of the Likud will ultimately win… The people of Israel aren’t occupiers in their own land… We’ll keep defending the Land of Israel and to settle it.”

Brazil’s Bolsonaro to visit Israel with embassy move still undecided — by Lisandra Paraguassu: “Brazilian right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro will visit Israel at the end of the month but he may not be able to deliver on a promise to move Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem, a move opposed by military officers in his cabinet. A government official told Reuters on Wednesday that no decision has been taken on the embassy move, which could give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s standing a boost a week before Israel’s elections… He added that a formal announcement might not be made during the March 31 to April 2 visit.” [Reuters]

We’re hearing rumblings 
that another country will announce two weeks from now that they are moving their embassy to Jerusalem. 

ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Following reports that Hezbollah is operating a terror cell in Syria on the border with Israel, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AK) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) on Wednesday reissued their call for the U.S. to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

“Iran and Hezbollah have deployed fighters and terrorists, including those with American blood on their hands, to deepen their hold over the region. This aggression highlights the need for the United States to affirm Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” the Congress members said in a joint statement. “Hezbollah’s missile arsenal and terror tunnels pose severe threats to the State of Israel. To support Israel’s right to self-defense, both houses of Congress should take up our legislation establishing that it shall be the policy of the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan.”

In an email to Jewish Insider, Sen. Cotton added that the decision of the State Department to refer to contested areas as “Israeli controlled” instead of “occupied” is a step in the right direction. “It’s encouraging to see the change in State Department language included in their annual global human rights report; the Golan is rightfully Israeli territory,” the Arkansas Senator wrote.

Congressional sources tell Jewish Insider that a final version of Sen. Cruz’s antisemitism resolution is circulating. It includes a previously unreported section about the unique manifestations of antisemitism that American Jews confront.

Senate Votes Again to End Aid to Saudi War in Yemen, Defying Trump — by Catie Edmondson: “The Senate on Wednesday again rebuked President Trump for his continued defense of Saudi Arabia after the killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, voting for a second time to end American military assistance for the kingdom’s war in Yemen and to curtail presidential war powers. The 54-to-46 vote… sets the foundation for what could become Mr. Trump’s first presidential veto.” [NYTimes

Senate confirms Trump judicial pick to replace Kavanaugh — by Marianne Levine: 
“The Senate confirmed President Donald Trump’s judicial nominee Neomi Rao Wednesday to the nation’s second highest court despite initial concerns raised by a handful of Republicans over her prior writing on sexual assault and her position on abortion. In a 53-46 vote along party lines, the Senate approved Rao to replace Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.” [Politico]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Jordan’s King Abdullah II discussed the Trump administration’s push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) told Jewish Insider, but that the conversation was shallow. “We certainly talked about it but it’s hard to ask anyone, let alone a King, whether they’ll support something that hasn’t been written, let alone read,” he said.

The closed-door meeting, which took place in the Capitol, also touched on the economic strain the Kingdom is under as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis. “I think the King has shown himself to be a leader of goodwill,” Rep. Sherman said.

Jonathan Schanzer and Ghaith al-Omari write…  “Trump’s Subtlety Could Yield Middle East Peace: To the surprise of many, the Trump administration so far has forestalled needless violence through a novel combination of discipline and secrecy. That surely hasn’t been easy. But the next phase will be even harder, because a plan’s release can be as important as what’s in it.” [WSJ

Israeli group honors Nikki Haley with coin: 
“The Sanhedrin, a Jewish group that says it aims to restore the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, is one of three organizations behind the coin. The collector’s coin, which costs $50, features Haley’s face set against the U.N. building, and a rendition of the Jewish Temple on the back.” [AP]

How Lobbying Has Changed in Donald Trump’s Washington — by Luke Mullins: 
“Others try to influence the thinking of the White House officials Trump listens to. One consultant told me he has geofenced the Kalorama home of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump with digital ads in an effort to shape their views on an issue.” [Washingtonian]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — A bipartisan group of legislatures gathered for a somber event marking eight years since the start of the Syrian Civil War, a memorial to the victims of torture and murder by Syrian President Bashar Assad and pledging swift action on legislation that punishes the regime. Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Michael McCaul (R-TX), French Hill (R-AK) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) spoke about the need for continued action to punish Assad.  

Rep. Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act should be voted on in the House on its own to keep it a bipartisan issue. It passed the Senate as part of the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act, which was held up because of an anti-BDS bill. “It seems that every year there’s another monkey wrench thrown in somehow. What I’ll call on my colleagues to pass the Caesar bill alone, not as partisan package to play political games, so Democrats can’t vote for it, or that Republicans can’t vote for it,” Rep. Engel said. [Pic

Former President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker at the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s Humanitarian Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Rahm Emanuel also spoke at the event. [Pic

AIPAC PC — AIPAC announced on Wednesday its list of confirmed Israeli speakers at the Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. In addition to PM Netanyahu’s appearance, speakers on the main stage include Benny Gantz (Kachol Lavan candidate for PM), Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Ron Dermer and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. Additionally, cabinet ministers Naftali Bennett (New Right), Tzahi Hanegbi (Likud) and Yoav Galant (Likud), Gideon Saar (Likud), Yoaz Hendel (Kachol Lavan); and MKs Stav Shaffir (Labor), Merav Michaeli (Labor), Amir Ohana (Likud) and Pnina Tamano-Shata (Kachol Lavan) have confirmed their attendance. 

INBOX — J Street asked supporters on Tuesday to tell 2020 presidential candidates that if they speak at AIPAC, they must condemn Netanyahu and his policies. 

Of note: There is no precedent for presidential candidates speaking at the conference in a non-election year. In the last two presidential elections cycles, none of the candidates were given speaking slots on the main stage in the year before the election (2011 and 2015). In 2007, the two Democratic front-runners, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton held competing receptions at the gathering, but did not speak. 

STATE-SIDE — Democrats upset over Omar seeking primary challenger — by Reid Wilson: “Some Minnesota Democrats, aghast at controversial comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D), are taking initial steps to recruit a candidate to run against her in next year’s primary election… ‘There’s definitely some buzz going around about it, but it’s more a buzz of is anyone talking about finding someone to run against her than it is anyone saying they’re going to run against her or contemplate it. There’s definitely talk about people wanting someone to run against her,’ said state Sen. Ron Latz (D), who represents a portion of Omar’s district… ‘Our community is exasperated by Rep. Omar’s unfulfilled promises to listen and learn from Jewish constituents while seemingly simultaneously finding another opportunity to make an anti-Semitic remark and insult our community,’ Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, said in a statement.” [TheHill]

GALLUP — One in Six U.S. Jews Identify as Republican — by RJ Reinhart: 
“Prior to Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent comments questioning U.S. support for Israel… roughly half of U.S. Jews identified as Democrat in Gallup polling. Far fewer, 16%, said they were Republican… While it is too soon to know whether Jewish Americans’ orientation to the major parties has changed in recent weeks, Gallup trends suggest the potential is there. In 2008, 55% of Jewish Americans identified as Democrats, compared with the current 52%… Jewish Americans were among the least likely to approve of Trump of all religious groups in 2018, with just 26% approving and 71% disapproving.” [Gallup]

2020 WATCH — Beto O’Rourke formally announced his bid for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 in a video this morning… ‘I’m just born to be in it,’ O’Rourke told Vanity Fair… Joe Biden mulls 2020 campaign aimed at the working class… Tom Friedman writes that so far he hasn’t heard any of the Democrats running claiming they are the best person to answer the 3 AM phone call… Trump’s reelection campaign is seeking to turn anti-Semitism and Israel into a wedge issue for Jewish voters… Two of the Democrats’ best-funded outside groups— both of which are backed in part by George Soros — are planning at least a $130 million campaign to build support for Democrats in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida. 

Howard Schultz says he grew up in a poor, rough place. Those who lived there called it the ‘country club of projects’ — by Marc Fisher: “In recent TV interviews, Schultz has repeatedly pointed out that ‘I came from the projects,’ calling his escape from Bayview and success at Starbucks a classic example of ‘the American Dream.’ But the place Schultz sought to escape from was a community that many residents pushed hard to get into… ‘This was an all-white, Jewish neighborhood, with some Italians,’ Henry Blank said. ‘Even the rabbi and the toy-store owner lived in the development.’ … Sheryl Boyce has lived at Bayview since it opened and runs its residents association. Boyce, who is black, said the population of the complex was anything but diverse… ‘I even went to synagogue with the Jewish kids. We had two kosher delis that everybody shopped in, whether you were Jewish or not.'”[WashPost]

How Milwaukee talked the Democrats into bringing the 2020 national convention to the city — by Bill Glauber and Mary Spicuzza: “‘I don’t like to think of us as any sort of underdog, some David versus Goliath matchup,’ said Alex Lasry, the bid committee chair who is a Milwaukee Bucks executive. ‘This was Milwaukee outing itself as a top city in the country. It was Milwaukee showing everyone what it is we see when we live here, what we believe.'” [JournalSentinel]

Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale sitting next to Agudath Israel board member Chaskel Bennett on a flight from DC to NY last night. [Pic• An unenthused Bernie Sanders waiting for the elevator with Hasidic lobbyist Ezra Friedlander on Capitol Hill [Pic]

KAFE KNESSET — Bibi Makes Peace With Sa’ar — by Neri Zilber: 
Over the past week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apparently made peace with his biggest rival inside the Likud — Gideon Sa’ar, a popular former interior and education minister who only recently returned to political life after taking a hiatus in 2014. At the party’s launch event last week Netanyahu made a big show of shaking Sa’ar’s hand (it was a long and jerky gesture, with thin smiles fixed on both men’s faces). After that the floodgates were opened; a truce, if not real peace, had been achieved. This week Sa’ar was included in a photo Netanyahu circulated on social media of his top Likud lieutenants, with another image of the two men speaking intimately also making the rounds. Two nights ago Sa’ar was the main guest on the “Likud TV” Facebook stream, a Netanyahu propaganda arm, singing the PM’s praises. “We have a prime minister with terrific talent, with vast experience, with connections spanning the world,” Sa’ar said, contrasting the incumbent with his rivals in Blue and White. Those words may be turned back on Sa’ar in future — but not anytime soon. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]

** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email **

BUSINESS BRIEFS:Marijuana company hires billionaire snack food tycoon Nelson Peltz [NYPost] • Brookfield takes control of Oaktree Capital in $4.7bn deal [FinancialTimes• SodaStream CEO Birnbaum joins bubbling medical cannabis race [JPost• Hamptons oceanfront home goes for $1.5 million as a summer rental [NYPost]

TALK OF THE REGION — Exxon eyes Israel gas bid in major Middle East shift — by Ron Bousso: “Exxon Mobil Corp is considering exploring for oil and gas in Israel, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter, in what would make Exxon the first oil major to operate in the country still technically at war with Gulf Arab states… Exxon executives held talks with Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz in Houston this week about bidding for the right to explore and pump oil from offshore blocks in an auction that Israel will hold in June… Exxon is one of the biggest foreign investors in Qatar. It also has refining and petrochemical operations in Saudi Arabia, and produces oil and gas in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates.” [Reuters]

PODCAST PLAYBACK ― Former White House economic advisor Gary Cohn explained the reason he left Goldman Sachs on the Freakonomics podcast with Stephen Dubner: 
“When I was asked by Lloyd [Blankfein] and the board to become president, chief operating officer, Lloyd called me and Jon Winkelried into a room. We were co-’s at the time and said, ‘Guys, will you give me two years? I got to know you’re committed for two years.’ And I said, ‘Lloyd, I’ll give you two. Two’s not hard. But you’ve got to understand, I think these are seven-to-10-year jobs. I don’t think these are lifetime jobs.’ … And literally at seven years, I started getting a little antsy. Lloyd, at that point, ended up getting sick. And I wasn’t going to rattle the boat or rock the boat at all in year seven or eight, or maybe it was eight, nine… At that point, I was letting the board know that I wasn’t going to be here forever. So I sat down, and I made it clear that I would be gone by the end of the year…  And the Trump thing was pure lucky coincidence.” [Freakonomics]

PROFILE — Meet the man who creates today’s coolest hotels — by Rima Suqi: 
“Andrew Zobler currently has six unannounced projects in the works. All of this comes just a year after the debut of The Ned, Zobler’s collaboration with Nick Jones of Soho House, which quickly became a go-to spot in London. In the past year alone, Sydell Group’s portfolio has grown from 1,993 hotel rooms to 5,986. ‘If you look at what we’ve done, it’s pretty unusual in terms of the number of independent concepts, that have legs, that we’ve created all within a relatively short period of time,’ he says over coffee at a corner table at Studio, an all-day café at the Freehand in New York.”[NationalGeographic]

Jaffa Is Tel Aviv’s Unexpected Luxury Hotspot — by Debra Kamin: 
“Three new luxury properties — The Setai Tel Aviv (in a former Ottoman prison with Crusader-era origins); The Jaffa (an Aby Rosen recreation of a former hospice for malaria victims) and The Drisco, a revival of Jaffa’s first luxury hotel — opened last year, within spitting distance of each other. And that’s not all: Add to the mix of this major makeover a new lush Japanese spa, a bustling night life district and a flea market packed with restaurants led by major Israeli chefs… ‘Jaffa is the hottest area in Tel Aviv — the energy and authenticity, coupled with the creativity seen in the ancient architecture, the local artists, galleries and not to mention the amazing food and the sea — it’s all part of the appeal,’ says Mr. Rosen.” [NYTimes]

HOLLYWOOD — Israeli Actress Moran Atias Moves Into ‘The Village’ — by Gerri Miller: “The intertwined lives, loves and crises of neighbors in a Brooklyn apartment building play out in the new NBC ensemble drama ‘The Village.’ … Israeli actress Moran Atias plays Ava Behzadi, an Iranian immigrant who has been living in New York for 10 years… Atias has never lived in an apartment building like The Village, where the neighbors are close as family and have regular get-togethers on their rooftop, ‘but growing up in Israel, you feel like your hometown is your village,’ the Haifa native said.”[JewishJournal]

TALK OF THE TOWN — NYPD Hate Crimes Unit Investigating Vile Defacing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Poster in Brooklyn: “The NYPD’s hate crimes unit is investigating slur-ridden ‘DIE’ graffiti scrawled on a Brooklyn subway station poster of Ruth Bader Ginsburg after a rider flagged it on Twitter Tuesday. ‘DIE’ in all capital letters was scrawled in black marker across Ginsburg’s forehead on the poster; ‘JEW’ was written over her glasses, followed by another slur and a swastika over her mouth. The NYPD tweeted its transit and hate crimes units were both investigating the matter… For its part, the MTA says it removed the ‘offensive imagery’ immediately after the NYPD collected evidence for its investigation.” [NBC4]

SPORTS BLINK — Amare Stoudemire granted Israeli citizenship: 
“Former NBA star Amare Stoudemire was granted Israeli citizenship… in a ceremony at the Interior Ministry on Wednesday. Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said he was granted citizenship due to his ‘unique contributions’ to Israeli society. Now, Deri said, ‘Amare will be Israel’s ambassador to the world.’ ‘It’s a very exciting moment for me. My body is flooded with emotions now, my love for Israel has been with me for many years, and being part of Israel is something very special,’ Stoudemire said at the ceremony.” [JTA]

MEDIA WATCH — The Intercept lays off several staffers — by Maxwell Tani: 
“Laura Poitras — the Citizenfour director and award-winning filmmaker who helped start The Intercept’s parent company First Look Media — lashed out Wednesday after layoffs were announced internally at the publication… CEO Michael Bloom’s email announced that First Look Media would be letting go about 4 percent of their staff.” [DailyBeast]

TRANSITION — Omri Nahmias
, the Washington correspondent for Israel’s Walla News, is joining The Jerusalem Post as its D.C. Bureau Chief at the end of this month. 

DESSERT — Turns Out East Village Kosher Icon Moishe’s Is Not Permanently Closed — by Stefanie Tuder: “A bright spot this week is that kosher East Village bakery Moishe’s Bake Shop is not closed permanently after all. Despite recent reports that the 40-year-old institution had shuttered, it turns out the clearing out of the space is merely for renovations. Though owner Moishe Perl reportedly told storefront photographers James and Karla Murray that it closed due to a building sale, a sign in the window now says it’s closed for renovations and a manager has confirmed this to Eater. The bakery should reopen in six to eight weeks.” [EaterNY]

Here’s Why Israel Is a Dream Destination for Wellness Lovers — by Krista Gray: 
“Dairy-free and vegan food is always available. One of the first things I noticed (and felt grateful for) on my first day in Israel was how easy it was to eat dairy-free; the country is often referred to as the vegan capital of the world, and an estimated five percent of the population has completely ditched animal goods in their daily diet. After doing a bit more research, I found that the reasons behind the rise in Israeli veganism include desired health improvement, concerns about animal cruelty and the environment, religious reasons, and a younger population that’s less inclined to follow traditional eating patterns and loves to try trends.” [Brit+Co]

Thinking Outside the Triangle — by Joan Nathan: 
“Originally called mohntaschen, hamantaschen date back at least to 16th-century Germany, when mohn, or poppy seeds, were eaten as a snack during winter, when little grew. The seeds, from the flower that produces the powerful drug opium, were also turned into jam and encased in pastries for special occasions.” [NYTimes]

REMEMBERING — Sidney Verba, Innovative Scholar of Democracies, Dies at 86 — by Sam Roberts: 
“Sidney Verba, whose pioneering research comparing political behavior among the world’s democracies became a classic book among students of politics, died on March 4 at his home in Cambridge, Mass… Sidney Verba was born on May 26, 1932, in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn to Morris and Recci (Salman) Verba, Jewish immigrants from what is now Moldova in Eastern Europe. They ran a curtain store but were always worried about money. His parents also worshiped Franklin D. Roosevelt.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Professor emeritus of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University, winner of the 1982 Israel Prize, Joshua Jortner turns 86… Founder and President of Los Angeles-based Skirball Cultural Center, Rabbi Dr. Uri Herscher turns 78… Canadian criminal defense attorney, Brian Greenspan turns 72… Actor, writer, producer, director, comedian and television host, Billy Crystal turns 71… Executive director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, Dr. Anita Friedman turns 70… Member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 1995, representing Howard County, Shane Elizabeth Pendergrass turns 69… One-half of the eponymous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Ben is four days younger), Jerry Greenfield turns 68… Eliezer Cohen Barak turns 68… Encino, California resident and co-founder of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, Gila Milstein turns 66… Managing Director of Investments at Hefter, Leshem, Margolis Capital Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Steven Hefter turns 65… Special advisor to the President at Union for Reform Judaism, she is also the founder and leader of ChangeCommunications, Jo-Ann Mort turns 63… NYC-based restaurateur and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, he and his team have won 28 James Beard Awards, Danny Meyer turns 61…

Past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and a senior rabbinic fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute, Denise (Davida) Egerturns 59… Microgrid architect at Urban Ingenuity, a DC-based consulting firm for advanced clean energy infrastructure projects, Shalom Flank, Ph.D. turns 54… Film and television actress, she is best known for her title role in the 1985 film The Journey of Natty Gann and the 1989 teen comedy, Dream a Little Dream, Meredith Salenger turns 49… Canadian fashion stylist, publicist and close friend of Princess Meghan Markle, Jessica Brownstein Mulroneyturns 39… Heiress to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, Liesel Pritzker Simmonsturns 35… Former NASCAR driver, he is the sole inductee into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in the “Auto Racing” category, now a VP of Corporate Trading at INTL FCStone Financial, Jon Denning turns 32… QA Test Engineer at Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Philip Liebmanturns 29… Four-time Israeli national champion in the skeleton event, he competed for Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Adam Edelman turns 28… Sophie Galant

Kafe Knesset for November 30

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The embassy, again? Moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem made it back into the headlines last night. Israel’s Channel 2 reported that officials in Jerusalem…

Kafe Knesset for November 28

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shaming and acceptance: The tension between the Israeli government and segments of US Jewry continues to make headlines, and yesterday Channel 2 sent out a push notification with out…

Kafe Knesset for November 21

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Knesset marked the 40th anniversary today of the historic 1977 speech by then Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.  The event was, of course, filled with messages of peace,…

Kafe Knesset for November 16

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan: The top-secret White House Middle East peace effort to design the “ultimate deal” and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a major discussion topic…

Kafe Knesset for November 14

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Netanyahu and friends: As Bibi’s investigations are expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, we can expect many more leaks of evidence and testimony. Last night, TV channels…

Kafe Knesset for November 9

Thursday, November 9, 2017

After more than six months of investigation, officers from Lahav 433 (the the National Crime Unit of the Israeli Police) are set to meet the Prime Minister again…