Apr
13

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Daily Kickoff: Where in the world are Jared & Ivanka for Passover? | Bret Stephens leaves WSJ for NYTimes | Trump team asked Safra Catz to join admin

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Ed note: Enjoy this quick mid-Passover briefing. We’ll be back after Passover…

EXCLUSIVE — Where In The World Are Jared and Ivanka for Passover? — by Jacob Kornbluh: Jewish Insider has learned exclusively that the President’s daughter and son-in-law have been spending the Passover holiday at the Four Seasons Resort in Whistler, a resort town in British Columbia, Canada. A Jewish Insider reader shared a photo with us of Ivanka in ski gear filling up a plate of matzah while chatting on her cell phone a few hours before Monday night’s Seder. [Pic

In past years, Ivanka has joined Jared’s family for Passover at the Biltmore in Arizona, at a program near the Mayan Ruins in Mexico, and last year at Ivanka’s own Trump National Doral in Miami. In fact, Jared first met Avi Berkowitz, now his deputy at the White House, on the basketball courts at the Biltmore Passover program.

— Among the featured speakers at the Whistler Passover program this year is Ami Horowitz. Horowitz is a frequent Fox News contributor and is credited with sparking President Trump’s controversial remarks in February about Sweden… After the backlash, Trump clarified via Twitter that he first heard about the stories in Sweden from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News segment with Horowitz…

No word yet on whether Ivanka’s friend, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit the First Family in Whistler. [JewishInsider

MEANWHILE… Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined a Seder with Jewish members of the Liberal caucus and staff [Facebook

“The White House hosted a Passover Seder, but without President Trump” by Juliet Eilperin and Julie Zauzmer: “Several aides to President Trump gathered in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to commemorate the annual Jewish holiday… But Trump did not attend the ceremony… After the Seder, a White House official… said that guests included Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Jeremy Katz, deputy director of the National Economic Council… The three Obama campaign staffers who initiated the tradition — Arun Chaudhary, Eric Lesser and Herbie Ziskend — all celebrated separately this year, and without the Obamas. “Hopefully President Trump is able to attend a White House Seder at some point because I think retelling the ancient story of liberation from persecution is an important exercise for the leader of the free world. Especially this one,” Ziskend said in an email. “Maybe he will do so next year…in Jerusalem!”” [WashPost]

The Seder – a Glatt Kosher meal – took place in the Indian Treaty Room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building – the same room where the Seder was held by staffers of the Clinton administration in 1993. [Twitter] • Photo of the Seder shared by Sean Spicer — with a cameo from Menachem Shemtov [Pic

MEDIA WATCH: “Bret Stephens leaves Wall Street Journal for New York Times” by Hadas Gold: “Bret Stephens, the Journal’s deputy editorial page editor, will be The New York Times’ newest op-ed columnist, both papers announced on Wednesday. “He’s a beautiful writer who ranges across politics, international affairs, culture and business, and, for The Times, he will bring a new perspective to bear on the news,” Times editorial page editor James Bennet wrote in a memo… In a tweet, Stephens said he is “profoundly grateful for many years at an extraordinary newspaper. Looking forward to many more years at another.”” [Politico]  

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “‘I Screwed Up’: Sean Spicer Apologizes for Holocaust Comments” by Michael Grynbaum: “One day after he delivered a stunner of a gaffe from the White House lectern — favorably comparing Hitler to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, then clumsily referring to Nazi death camps as “Holocaust centers” — Mr. Spicer gave an abject apology on Wednesday… Mr. Spicer offered no excuses, describing his remarks as “inexcusable and reprehensible” and acknowledging that the timing — during Passover and the Christian Holy Week — “compounds that kind of mistake.”” [NYTimes

“Spicer, under fire, says he’s not going anywhere” by Josh Dawsey: “Spicer did not seem to be at risk of losing his job, two White House officials and two advisers said, even though the President was displeased with his comments… “Until you’ve stood at that podium, you have no idea how hard it is day in and day out to never make a mistake,” said Ari Fleischer, a press secretary for George W. Bush. “Sean made a big one today. He handled it properly. He apologized. Now, he’s going to take a pounding, and he’s going to move forward.” … Spicer called the office of Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, a major giver to Jewish causes, soon after making the statements, according to Andy Abboud, an Adelson spokesman. “Sean called shortly after and said he made a terrible mistake and apologized if he was offensive,” Abboud said.” [Politico; CNN

ICYMI — Spicer’s comments that caused the uproar: “You look — we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons… I think when you come to sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing… There was not — he brought them into the Holocaust center, I understand that. But I’m saying in the way that Assad used them, where he went into towns, dropped them down to innocent — into the middle of towns.” [CSPAN; CSPAN]  

HEARD LAST NIGHT — at Republican Rep. Mike Coffman’s town hall in Aurora, Colorado: “The tensions came to a head with the final question of the evening, from a woman who said her great-grandparents had died in Auschwitz. She expressed dismay at what she said was a “president who has anti-Semitic people” in high-ranking positions, and slammed White House press secretary Sean Spicer for saying Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad ‘s actions were worse than Adolf Hitler’s. “Spicer made a terrible mistake yesterday,” Coffman began. “If you’re not familiar with what he did…” But the audience let it be known that it wanted no excuses about Spicer. Throwing up his hands, Coffman finally said about Spicer: “He needs to go.” [CNN]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Trump won’t definitively say he still backs Bannon” by Michael Goodwin: “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump said…He ended by saying, “Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will.” [NYPost

“Inside Bannon’s struggle: From ‘shadow president’ to Trump’s marked man” by Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Robert Costa: “Trump also is increasingly embracing more mainstream policy positions championed by daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner and their allies, including ascendant National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, instead of Bannon’s brand of combative nationalism…Trump’s three oldest children — Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric — and Kushner have been frustrated by the impression of chaos inside the White House and feel that their father has not always been served well by his senior staff, according to people with knowledge of their sentiments.” [WashPost; NYTimes

“Trump kneecaps Bannon” by Mike Allen: “Axios AM is told that President Trump didn’t like the stories about Bannon as the Svengali, or leaks against Jared and Ivanka, or planted stories that he blamed Bannon for.” [Axios

Bill Kristol: “I hope Trump dumps Bannon. But to be honest it would be a mistake: Trump’s new friends still won’t respect him & his enemies won’t fear him.” [Twitter]

“Trump adviser compares Kushner to Alexander Hamilton” by Max Greenwood: “Anthony Scaramucci, an informal adviser to President Trump, compared White House senior adviser Jared Kushner on Tuesday to Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury secretary and one of the nation’s Founding Fathers. “I think he’s like an Alexander Hamilton,” Scaramucci said on CNN’s “New Day.” “He’s a young man who has a tremendous amount of maturity about him.”” [TheHill] • What is the Kushner Doctrine? [NYMag]

“CEOs gaining power in Trump’s White House” by Josh Dawsey and Ben White: “The president is a business person, so he’s very comfortable being around business people and he learns best by talking to people and observing things,” Stephen Schwarzman (CEO of Blackstone Group) said in an interview after meeting on Tuesday with Trump and other business leaders. “I think he looks forward to these things and he likes being with business people who have run businesses that are bigger than his. It’s just a highly supportive environment, whether it’s Gary Cohn or Jared, certainly Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross and Dina Powell, these are all people who’ve had very similar experiences.” [Politico]

“Trump Team Talked to Oracle’s Safra Catz About an Administration Post” by Brian Womack: “The previous month, the Trump’s inner circle had shown interest in Catz, and spoken to her about the positions of U.S. Trade Representative and the Director of National Intelligence, according to people familiar with the matter. While she didn’t take a formal job, she assisted in the run-up to the inauguration, sitting on the executive committee of the transition team and penning a column for The Hill in support of Steve Mnuchin, the future treasury secretary.” [Bloomberg]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Q — What could possibly unite such disparate figures as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid? A — The latest provocation from Ha’aretz, of course. An op-ed published by Ha’aretz on Wednesday claimed that religious Zionists are more dangerous than Hezbollah and car accidents, and lamented that the government can’t kill them… The outrage-filled comments came very quickly. Netanyahu called it “shameful and delusional,” adding that Ha’aretz has “totally lost it,” and that “the religious-Zionist public is the salt of the earth; their sons and daughters serve in the IDF and national (civilian) service for the State of Israel and Israel’s security. I am proud of them, as I am of most citizens of the state. Ha’aretz must apologize.”

It is Passover, so we have to ask: Why is this article different from all other articles? Yes, it’s a despicable thing to write, but Ha’aretz has plenty of in-house provocateurs like Rogel Alpher, Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, who have written all kinds of outrageous things, for example, justifying Palestinians throwing boulders at moving cars. The author of the article, Yossi Klein, is not very well-known, but reached a new level of infamy in the past day. The reason is that, well, it is Passover. Everyone is busy with their families, and not much else is going on from a political perspective. The politicians don’t have much to say this week that will get them into the newspapers or shares on Facebook – so they’ve latched on to the latest hate-filled diatribe from Ha’aretz. In other words, today is a slow news day. Happy Passover! Today’s Kafe Knesset [JewishInsider] • Response from Haaretz [Haaretz]

TEHRAN WATCH: “Hard-line ex-leader Ahmadinejad stuns Iran with election bid” by Amir Vahdat and Jon Gambrell: “Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered Wednesday to run in the country’s May presidential election… Though Ahmadinejad still might not be approved for the ballot by Iran’s clerically overseen government, merely the mention of the Holocaust-questioning populist might energize discontent hard-liners who want a Persian answer to U.S. President Donald Trump… The May 19 election is seen by many in Iran as a referendum on the 2015 nuclear agreement and other efforts to improve the country’s sanctions-hobbled economy.” [AP• Chances that Ahmadinejad’s candidacy will be approved are slim [JPost

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Ron Perelman acquires online coupon site RetailMeNot for $630 million [TechCrunch• Barry Rosenstein’s Jana Partners Takes Nearly 9% Stake in Whole Foods [WSJ] • LeFrak sells Rego Park office building to tenant for $140M [RealDeal] • Geoffrey and Matthew Chaiken’s startup just raised another $90 million to help people save money on prescriptions [BusinessInsider]

SPOTLIGHT — “The making of Adam Schiff: Why is this man taking on the president?” by Ryan Torok:“Adam became a bar mitzvah at Temple Isaiah, a Reform congregation in Lafayette, Calif., in June 1973. “I certainly do remember making tape recordings of my [bar mitzvah] practice sessions on cassette tape with a little cassette recorder, and I think I may even have one of those,” Schiff said. “It’s funny to hear your voice back then.” … Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in West L.A. met Schiff five years ago at a memorial service at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills. Wolpe was leading the service, and Schiff said he was impressed with how eloquently and powerfully he spoke. The two struck up a friendship, exchanging book recommendations via email.” [JewishJournal

LongRead: “The Conservative Pipeline to the Supreme Court” by Jeffrey Toobin: “Leonard Leo has for many years been the executive vice-president of the Federalist Society, a nationwide organization of conservative lawyers, based in Washington. Leo served, in effect, as Trump’s subcontractor on the selection of Gorsuch, who was confirmed by a vote of 54–45, last week… Leo’s role in the nomination capped a period of extraordinary influence for him and for the Federalist Society. During the Administration of George W. Bush, Leo also played a crucial part in the nominations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Now that Gorsuch has been confirmed, Leo is responsible, to a considerable extent, for a third of the Supreme Court.” [NewYorker]

PROFILE: “Brian Stelter has been training for this moment his entire life ” by Ellen McCarthy: “After following Jamie’s tweets during a blizzard in December 2010, he wrote a private message to Pat Kiernan, anchor of her morning show: “two innocent and unrelated questions: does jamie shupak have a boyfriend? and how often is she asked out by viewers?” Stelter started using Twitter in 2008, and it quickly became integral to both his personal and his professional life. When he wanted to lose weight in 2010, he turned to Twitter to keep himself accountable — and shed 75 pounds… Last year, he wrote 439 articles for CNN.com — a number he had at his fingertips because he compiles a list at the end of each year.” [WashPost]

“Has the mystery of Banksy finally been solved?” by Alex Matthews: “William Kasper took a photograph of an artist in Bethlehem in December 2007, who he believed was Banksy. The painter in the photograph was later identified as James Ame – also known as aka AM72 – a UK painter who lives in Israel. But Mr Kasper has now reiterated his claims, insisting Mr Ame is one of four people who has been responsible for Banksy’s work the whole time. He came forward with the nine-year-old picture after recognising Mr Ame from a recent video, which another woman claimed showed Banksy at work in Israel… The graffiti artist’s identity has been shrouded in mystery for years, but some claim that he is Robin Gunningham, a man in his early 40s from Bristol.” [DailyMail]

DESSERT: “Ben & Jerry’s in Israel Has Passover Ice Cream—and Now, So Do We” by Amy Ettinger: “Because Ben & Jerry’s in Israel is run by an independent licensee, Avi Zinger, that branch has a bit more creative freedom to roll out a limited-edition Passover flavor. Zinger also once created a chocolate matzo crunch ice cream. At hearing the news, I began to dream of a combination of these Israeli flavors: matzo and chocolate in ice cream with chopped nuts. So I decided to develop my own concoction, using my mom’s guarded recipe for caramelized, chocolate-covered matzo with almonds… Instinct would indicate that the matzo wouldn’t stand a chance in the ice cream… But it holds its own… Take my advice: Buy a few extra boxes of matzo this week so you can enjoy the flavor year-round.” [Food52

BIRTHDAYS: Aide to President George W. Bush (2002-2006), then became the youngest-ever Federal Reserve Governor (2006-2011), married to Jane Lauder, a granddaughter of Estée Lauder, Kevin Warsh turns 47… Film director and choreographer, famous for “Singin’ in the Rain,” Stanley Donen turns 93… Curator and then director of the Louvre, Pierre Rosenberg, son-law of Alain de Rothschild, turns 81… Geneticist and Nobel Prize laureate, Michael Stuart Brown, turns 76… Actor who won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Vincent in the television series “Beauty and the Beast,” Ron Perlman turns 67… Longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and the bandleader for Conan O’Brien on The Tonight Show, Max Weinberg turns 66… Member of the UK Parliament (1992-2005), she served as the UK’s first ever Minister of State for Asylum and Immigration under Tony Blair, Barbara Roche (née Margolis) turns 63… Pacifica Radio’s investigative journalist Amy Goodman turns 60… Guitarist and founding member of the rock group “Staind,” Aaron Lewis turns 45… Director of Operations at Israel on Campus Coalition, Ian Hersh… Glenn Dubin, Principal of Dubin & Co, turns 6-0…. Helene Cash

FRIDAYMember of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (2008-2013), including a four-month stint as SEC Chair, Elisse B. Walter turns 67… Media executive Shari Redstone turns 63… Baltimore-born film, television, and theatre producer Marc Platt turns 60… Professional makeup artist and the founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown turns 60… US Ambassador to Mexico since June 2016, previously Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (2012-2016), Roberta S. Jacobson turns 57… Manager of MLB’s Detroit Tigers since 2014, previously an MLB catcher (1993-2010) and manager of Israel’s national baseball team, Brad Ausmus turns 48… Emmy Award-winning actress, producer, and entrepreneur, best known for her portrayal of Buffy Summers on the WB series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003),  Sarah Michelle Gellar turns 40… Author of three books, journalist for Monocle and Bloomberg Politics, co-founder of Votecastr to track elections in real-time, Sasha Issenberg
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Apr
10

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Daily Kickoff: Meet Moshe Lax — Jared & Ivanka’s matchmaker | Forbes on Josh Kushner in the Trump era | Bibi’s black hair | Witty Passover Products

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Ed note: Wishing all of you a Happy Passover! We’ll be back Thursday…

FIRST LOOK — Cover Story: “Josh Kushner’s Complex World: How Jared’s Liberal Brother Runs A Billion Dollar Fund In Trump Era” by Steven Bertoni: “As the world’s attention on November 8 turned to New York City, where both candidates awaited the results of the U.S. presidential election, one of Manhattan’s most connected people, Thrive Capital founder Joshua Kushner, boarded a flight to San Francisco… Josh Kushner’s expectation: By the time he touched down, the Trump political experiment would be retired as a historical ego trip. Pre-Trump, Kushner had pretty much everything an ambitious 31-year-old could possibly hope for: a $1.5 billion venture capital shop that shot to prominence with an early bet on Instagram, a slew of high-profile startups that he was directly incubating and a life that remained low-profile even as he dated supermodel Karlie Kloss. The Trump Train had derailed much of that.”

“Jared and I still speak every day,” says Kushner, who won’t elaborate on what they discuss or pretty much any other family dynamic. The Kushner brothers rate among the dullest, least forthcoming people ever to emerge as glamorous power brokers… Josh Kushner scrambled. “It is no secret that liberal values have guided my life,” he says, “and that I have supported political leaders that share similar values.” For the next week, he held one-on-one meetings with nearly 100 employees across Thrive and the two startups he’s currently incubating. People were sad, frustrated, worried, angry. “Just as Jared is my family, I feel similarly responsible to everyone at my companies,” Kushner says… And as he gazes across the room, his older brother’s shadow looms, from the black-and-white photo of his Holocaust-survivor grandparents (Jared reportedly has one in his White House office, too) to a brick from Citi Field, inscribed: “Fans for Life/Jared Kushner/Josh Kushner.” [ForbesMag]

Drew Friedman on Observing Jared Kushner: “In 2006, 25 year old real estate developer Jared Kushner bought the Observer and Peter Kaplan continued on as editor. I would create over 50 covers over the next 10 years under the Kushner regime. The first assignment Peter gave me under the new Jared Kushner regime was to draw Sacha Baron Cohen for a cover story, also in the guise of his two characters, Ali G. and Borat, (The Borat film was about to be released). When the issue hit the stands the following Wednesday, a very excited Peter called me to say that Jared, a huge fan of Ali G., loved the cover and wanted to purchase the original art for his younger brother Joshua as a gift. Peter also told me, (in a more subdued voice), that this was “finally really good news.” Peter acted as Jared’s liaison and we agreed on my fee, and at the end of the conversation he said, “Drew, thank you… thank you”, as if I had done him a tremendous favor.” [DrewFriedman]

“A glimpse inside the Trump inner circle” by Gary Silverman: “Donald Trump has a funny way of making friends. In the case of rival US property developer David Cordish, Mr Trump sued him first. Mr Cordish became an issue because he had landed a deal to build two Native American casinos in Florida that Mr Trump had wanted for himself. Angered that one of his former associates had joined the winning Cordish team, Mr Trump filed a civil suit in 2004, hoping to win hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. His legal action failed — Mr Cordish denies paying a cent to the plaintiff who would be president — and the suit was settled in 2010. But along the way, Mr Trump had a chance to meet Mr Cordish, and the result was the formation of one of the key alliances in the president’s inner circle. Mr Trump’s White House staff today includes Reed Cordish, son of David, the man the president once wanted to rip apart.” [FinancialTimes

–Flashback to when we broke the news in January that Reed was joining the Trump administration: “In introducing Trump, David Cordish recalled how he once asked Ivanka if she had a twin sister who could date his youngest son, Reed. Instead, Ivanka set the junior Cordish up with one of her best friends from college, Margaret Katz.” [JewishInsider]

MOSHE LAX PROFILE: “Polish Your Diamond” by Yisroel Besser: “In time, [Moshe] Lax would do more than offer Ivanka Trump a partnership. He was putting together a real estate deal and he invited Jared Kushner to take part. He called a meeting at Prime Grill, where Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner met for the first time. “I wasn’t playing shadchan- it was a business opportunity.” Did he get shadchanus? I ask. He doesn’t bite, laughing instead. “That’s a state secret.” Lax’s vantage point allowed him to see a different side to the president. “I would notice a certain decency, I remember how we were at an event and Trump noticed his ex-wife, Ivanka’s mother, come in to the room. ‘Go say hello to your mother,’ he told her, right away…” And Lax even got a glimpse of the sense of humor. “We were working on a deal and most of the partners were Jewish: Trump looked at me and shrugged, ‘I must be the only goy in New York real estate,’ he said and laughed.”” [Mishpacha

TOP TALKER: “The Happy-Go-Lucky Jewish Group That Connects Trump and Putin” by Ben Schreckinger: “The links between Trump and Chabad kept piling up. In 2007, Trump hosted the wedding of Sapir’s daughter and Leviev’s right-hand man at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach resort. A few months after the ceremony, Leviev met Trump to discuss potential deals in Moscow and then hosted a bris for the new couple’s first son at the holiest site in Chabad Judaism. Trump attended the bris along with Kushner, who would go on to buy a $300 million building from Leviev and marry Ivanka Trump, who would form a close relationship with Abramovich’s wife, Dasha Zhukova. Zhukova would host the power couple in Russia in 2014 and reportedly attend Trump’s inauguration as their guest.” [PoliticoMag]

BACKLASH — ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt tweets: “This article is offensive on many levels. Denigrating Chabad or implying it is driving a conspiracy evokes age-old myths about Jews. And for those unfamiliar, Chabad is a joyous community but also charitable, non-judgmental, apolitical and focuses purely on Jewish renewal.” [Twitter]

Avital Chizhik‏: “All Russian Jews go to Chabad”?! Uh, not exactly. Many don’t go to synagogue at all, sick of being patronized. Also I just love how the new experts on Jewish peoplehood are Torossian and Boteach. Solid sources.” [Twitter]

Politico changed the sub-header from “Chabad, a worldwide Jewish movement, is at the center of a web of ties between the Kremlin and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” to “Where Trump’s real estate world meets a top religious ally of the Kremlin” [Twitter]

–Flashback to November: “A high-ranking and well-informed source has told online Russian news publication Gazeta that in their search for channels of communication with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, Kremlin representatives have used members of Russia’s Jewish business circles who have contacts with the family of his daughter Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew.” [RussiaInsider]

HAPPENING TONIGHT — A White House staffer tell us: “The White House will be having a Seder for staff tonight. Obviously the previous administration had their own Passover tradition… Many of our Jewish staff are actually going to be able to spend the holiday with their families. Our tradition is still taking shape but this year it will be an opportunity for observant WH staff that can’t be with their families to celebrate the holiday among friends. We’ll also be opening it up for other interested WH staff (Jewish and non-Jewish alike) to take part in a Seder on campus. A few details are still being nailed down but as of now it seems the President will not be attending.”

Eric Lesser, who was one of the originators of the Obama White House Seder and is now a Massachusetts State Senator, tweets: “This may be the first thing Donald Trump has done that I agree with…EXCLUSIVE: Trump White House to Host Seder.” [Twitter

Lesser tells us he is not sure if President Obama will be attending a Seder this year. “I’ll be in Maryland with my in laws for both nights,” Lesser said in a Twitter message.

“Keep Your Politics Out of Passover” by Shmuel Rosner: “A Passover Seder during which you spend time criticizing the Trump administration’s immigration policies or regretting the evacuation of Israeli settlements from Gaza is not a “relevant” Seder, it is a mediocre and redundant one. Passover is for celebrating the transcendent, the mysterious, the eternal, not rehashing worn-out political debates.” [NYTimes

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Democratic Syria hawks love Trump’s airstrikes” by Michael Crowley: “Obama should have done this four years ago when the problem was easier. History will judge him harshly because he didn’t,” said Jane Harman, a former Democratic congresswoman from California who is now director of the Wilson Center… “I am completely torn,” said Ilan Goldenberg, who served as a senior official for Middle East issues at both the State Department and Pentagon under Obama. “For six years we’d been wringing our hands about this thing. And then — boom — a hammer on your head and it’s done,” he said… “I wish we could have somebody who is more aggressive than Obama—but I have no confidence that Trump is the guy,” he said… One longtime proponent of military action against Assad is former Secretary of State John Kerry, who was ‘absolutely supportive’ of Trump’s strike and ‘gratified to see that it happened quickly,’ according to a person close to the former diplomat.” [Politico] • Obama aides push back against criticism of inaction on Syria [AP

“The Emerging Trump Doctrine: Don’t Follow Doctrine” by Peter Baker: “After the missile strike, Israeli news outlets were filled with headlines like “The Americans Are Back”… “What is striking to me is a subtle yet clear shift away from the rhetoric of pure American self-interest narrowly defined, as espoused by candidate Donald Trump,” said Robert Danin, a former Middle East negotiator who is now at the Council on Foreign Relations. “What has emerged is a new language of American leadership in the world that we have not heard before from President Trump.”” [NYTimes]

“Does Israel Have a Special Duty to Stop a ‘Holocaust’ in Syria?” by Sigal Samuel: “The sight of innocents being gassed resonates for Israelis not only because many of them are descendants of European Jews gassed in the Holocaust, but also because Syria’s chemical weapons were originally produced to kill Israelis… But the Holocaust comparison, and the victimhood narrative that accompanies it, is double-edged: Even as it causes some to reach out to contemporary victims, it causes others to focus only on looking out for themselves.” [TheAtlantic

JI INTERVIEW — “From Republican Governor to Democratic Congressman: Charlie Crist’s Journey” by JI’s Aaron Magid: “After deciding to run for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010, Crist was collapsing in the polls. Given his ongoing discomfort with what he perceived as a rightward shift among the Republican Party, Crist reached out to Senator Joe Lieberman for advice. The two became friendly in the 2008 presidential race; Crist asked Lieberman if he should make the switch to Independent and Lieberman responded, “Charlie, if you do it, you’ll feel so liberated.” That same week, he left his longtime party and registered as an independent. While he ended up losing the Senate race to Marco Rubio (R-FL), Crist emphasized, “It worked out the way it’s supposed to. Beshert.”

Crist on love for Israel and Judaism: “I love Israel. I committed in the race for governor, the one I won, that if I won that my first trade mission would be to go to Israel. And so I did that in May, 2007 with Robert Wexler. We went to Tel Aviv, which reminded me of Florida because you are right on the coast. The food is amazing. The people are amazing. Afterwards, we went to Jerusalem. There is no place like it. I love to go there. I think Democrats, and many Republicans, are so strongly aligned and care about the State of Israel. As Floridians, we do particularly. We have an enormous Jewish population in my state and I’m very proud of that. When I became governor, with Ted Deutch, he was Senator Deutch, in the Florida State Senate, a wonderful man, we had a divestment bill that would not have our retirement funds invest anything that would somehow favor Iran. I was the first governor who did that. The State of Florida and the State of Israel have a unique bond. Probably the most moving thing I did on the trade mission to Jerusalem was visit Yad Vashem. I love Judaism, anything that I can do to strengthen, protect and help.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

“White House Orders Staffers to Quit Church and Synagogue Boards” by Amir Tibon: “Two weeks ago, a White House staffer who was a board member at the Orthodox synagogue Kesher Israel in Washington, D.C. announced his resignation in an email to the other board members, citing a demand by “the ethics office at my current job” to “roll off any board positions.” The staffer, Ari Schaffer, works in the White House communications department and used to be the social chair of the synagogue. A member of Kesher Israel told Haaretz that, at the same time, Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jason Greenblatt, who regularly prays at Kesher Israel, also told members of the synagogue that he could not engage in other activities at the synagogue in order to avoid possible ethics questions.” [Haaretz

“Trump’s envoy pushing two-state solution as Abbas’ US visit nears” by Uri Savir: ““Jason Greenblatt surprised us at the Arab League summit meetings in Amman,” a senior PLO official told Al-Monitor this week… The PLO official told Al-Monitor that Greenblatt explicitly spoke about the possibility of a two-state solution… “The Palestinian leadership was asked to be constructive when Abbas meets later this month with US President Trump in the White House. The main emphasis of the US move is to create a regional framework for dealmaking,” he said.” [Al-Monitor]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR: “Israeli media: Billionaire questioned in Netanyahu probe” by The Associated Press: “Channel 2 TV says police grilled British businessman Poju Zabludowicz on Saturday about alleged presents he provided Netanyahu and his wife, Sara… Zabludowicz owns several assets in Israel and has been friendly with Netanyahu for decades.” [AP

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Netanyahu is set to be investigated again in the upcoming weeks, but investigators are reportedly still trying to reach Aussie billionaire James Packer and fetch his version of the events. Meanwhile, another Bibi billionaire friend visited the Lahav 443 special unit’s offices last week and testified about their relationship. British-Finnish magnate “Poju” Zabludowicz, a renowned art collector, media and business investor and founder of BICOM, the UK version of AIPAC, already starred in a Bibi affair in the past, as he was mentioned in the Bibi-tours probe as funding flights and luxury hotel stays for Netanyahu and his wife Sarah. Now, the police are investigating whether Zabludowicz provided other gifts to the Netanyahus.

Another bad hair day: Meanwhile, social media is abuzz over the Prime Minister’s coif. Netanyahu has veered all the way into black hair this week. Some speculated on social media that he was wearing a toupee, but it’s just the dark color making his comb-over look less patchy. Chiming in on Twitter was former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, who said Netanyahu’s hair was a sure sign of an early election. Netanyahu’s media arch-enemy Yediot Aharonot made an infographic of all of the premier’s recent hair colors, with the headline “black is the new purple.” The Prime Minister is not going to get back to the wavy-haired glory of his youth (Google Ben Nitay if you don’t know what we’re talking about), so maybe he should give the hair dye a rest. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

FRENCH ELECTIONS WATCH: “Le Pen says France not responsible for WWII round up of Jews” by AFP: “Former President Jacques Chirac and current leader Francois Hollande have both apologised for the role French police played in the round-up of more than 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track which was ordered by Nazi officers in 1942. But Le Pen told the LCI television channel on Sunday: “I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv.” [AFP

** 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: Steven Cohen Is Selling His $28 Million Basquiat Cop Painting [Bloomberg] • Frank McCourt spends $77M on Palm Beach estate [TRD• Top hedge fund manager, Michael Gelband, who said he generated $7 billion in revenue is prepping his own fund launch [BI] • Wall Street Made Charles Murphy Successful and Rich, but Happiness Eluded Him [WSJ] • Jake Horowitz’s Mic Raises $21 Million in Series C Round [WSJ]

SPOTLIGHT: “Maggie Haberman: The New York Times reporter Trump can’t quit” by Dylan Byers: “There may be no reporter Trump respects, and fears, more than Haberman. He may bash and beat up on the Times, and her, but he inevitably returns to her to share his thinking and participate in interviews… “I think he respects her diligence, her fairness, her intelligence and the investment she’s put into the relationship,” said Michael Barbaro, a colleague of Haberman’s at the Times… “It’s hard to think of a reporter who has balanced that better than her — who gets access to Trump because he needs her, not because she needs him,” said BuzzFeed editor-in chief Ben Smith.” [CNNMoney

THIS TOWN: “At Cafe Milano, Politicians Are Served Dinner and Peace of Mind” by Katie Rogers: “The CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer has covered several presidential administrations and has been coming to Cafe Milano regularly for two decades. He said the Trump team was avidly going out. “A lot of the cabinet secretaries are not just finishing the day and going home,” Mr. Blitzer said. “I think from their perspective it’s probably part of their job to go out and work their various contacts.” [NYTimes

AIRED LAST NIGHT ON CNN — “Why I worry about Israel’s future” by Reza Aslan: “In the interviews I conducted with ultra-Orthodox leaders during the filming of this week’s episode of “Believer,” I was repeatedly told that the only way Israel could legitimately be a “Jewish state” is if it abides by Jewish law… One of our interviewees, Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox deputy mayor, Yitzhak Pindrus, threatened not too long ago to cut off all municipal funding to any event that violates the law of the Sabbath… I myself spoke to a number of secular Jews in Israel who openly worried that the ultra-Orthodox are on the verge of turning Israel into a Jewish version of Iran. While that may sound extreme, it shows the level of concern that is running through the secular community in Israel.” [CNN] • Growing up ultra-Orthodox [Video]

“The Contradictions of Reza Aslan’s “Believer”” by Elias Muhanna: “[Aslan] stumbles upon a sub-sect of Haredim, an exuberant band of Hasidic Jews called the Na Nachs, who preach a religion of happiness through trance music, reggae, and ecstatic dance…. The Na Nachs’ unique belief that “happiness is basic, the beginning of everything,” suggests to Aslan that they may represent a bridge between secular and religious Jews… He also finds the grand finale his series needs, as he and the Na Nachs dance together in a cemetery near Jerusalem. When one of them asks Aslan if he is Jewish, Aslan surprises him by saying no, then looks at the camera and shrugs. “I feel Jewish today,” he says.” [NewYorker] • Pray, study, party: Inside a growing sect of Judaism [Video]

Rabbi David Wolpe on being Don Rickles’ Rabbi… “Öne day as requested, I showed up at his place for his grandson’s brit milah. I rang the bell. “Who is it?” answered the famous voice. “It’s Rabbi Wolpe.” “Sorry, no Jews here. Go home.” Now, that alone was funny. And I laughed. But it didn’t end there. Rickles kept me on that stoop, ringing and refusing, for a good ten minutes. Each time he pretended he didn’t know who it was, and came up with a new variation. “Rabbis not wanted.” “Rabbis not needed.” “Are you a deaf Rabbi?” It wasn’t until he could hear that I was convulsed with laughter that the buzzer rang and I was admitted… The last time I had the chance to be in his company was a few months ago, when I sat with him and his wife Barbara at a birthday luncheon for a friend… The lunch was on a Friday, and it was starting to get late. “Rabbi, you better run home for Shabbes, or I’m telling everyone you’re an apikorous” — the traditional Jewish word for “heretic.”” [TIME]

“The Netflix Of Torah: Coming Soon To A Military Base Near You” by Laura E. Adkins: “The American Forces Network (AFN), which broadcasts into the homes of U.S. servicemen and women stationed abroad, has teamed up with Aleph Beta Academy and will be airing “Passover: The Exodus That Could Have Been,” on April 9. Starting in May, AFN will also be airing a weekly video on the parsha (the week’s Torah portion)… AFN’s Director of Religious Programming, Chaplain Allen Vaughan, says that to his knowledge, this is the first time AFN will be airing weekly Jewish religious programming.” [Forward]

“You Shall Tell Your Child: In Time for Passover, a Journalist Celebrates a Year of Jewish Holidays” by David Gregory: “During lunch at a Washington, D.C., steakhouse more than a decade ago, [Leon] Wieseltier encouraged my own Torah study and efforts to deepen my faith by admonishing, “Who are we to let this 4,000-year-old tradition slip through our fingers?” The journalist Abigail Pogrebin, who interviewed Wieseltier for her book about Jewish identity, “Stars of David,” takes his cri de coeur seriously. In “My Jewish Year,” she becomes curious about how Jews search for meaning — “something tugged at me, telling me there was more to feel than I’d felt, more to understand than I knew” — and decides to celebrate all the Jewish holidays of the calendar year, even the ones she’s never heard of… This is what Wieseltier was talking about. He wrote in his book “Kaddish,” “Do not overthrow the customs that have made it all the way to you.”” [NYTimes

“The Witty and Weird of Passover Products (Matzo Print Bra to Come)” by Joanne Kaufman: “Last year, American consumers spent $1.3 billion on Passover food, gifts, textiles and assorted Judaica, according to Menachem Lubinsky, the head of Lubicom, a marketing consultant firm… Passover innovations aren’t limited to food…. Searching for a baby bib that says “Little Mensch” or “Future Doctor”? Ms. Tyding’s company, Davida Aprons, aims to deliver, specializing in textiles with a high kitsch factor. This is the place to buy matzo-print lounge pants, an “Oy Vey!” baseball cap and a toilet seat cover that says, “Let My People Go.” A matzo print sports bra is in the offing. “Passover is a very serious holiday,” Ms. Tydings said. “But it’s also celebrated for eight days, so people enjoy having different and fun things. Even the Orthodox love our stuff.”” [NYTimes] • Kosher food modernizes for Passover to lure foodies [USAToday]

PASSOVER TRAVEL: Why Delta Air Lines Paid Me $11,000 Not To Fly To Florida This Weekend” by Laura Begley Bloom: “After hours of delays, Delta Airlines started offering money for volunteers to give up their tickets on our overbooked flight, which had 60 (sixty!) standby passengers hoping to get a seat…. When the compensation for volunteers got to $900 a ticket in gift cards… my husband convinced me to consider the offer. I thought it was too low, but I said I was open to the idea. My husband approached the gate agent and offered to give up our seats for $1,500 apiece. She countered: $1,350 each.” [Forbes

David Greenfield: “Many people trying to get to Florida for Pesach led to others to make big bucks for agreeing to be bumped off flights.” [Twitter

Read Jet Blue’s Four Questions: “Next year in the Caribbean!” [Facebook

DESSERT: “This New Deli Is Making Vegan Jewish Classics That Look Like the Real Deal” by Melissa Kravitz: “Just a few blocks south of Lower East Side deli mainstays Russ & Daughters and Katz’s is a new modern deli counter and grocery: Orchard Grocer. Here, the shelves are filled with specialty products like Sir Kensington’s Ketchup and organic rice ramen, and there’s a tidy case of packaged products that at first glance look like standard sliced salami and bricks of cheese. But there’s just one thing missing: animal products.” [Thrillist]

BIRTHDAYS: Martin B. Bordo turns 82… President of the U.S. Soccer Federation (1990-1998), previously an executive of both the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers, Alan Rothenberg turns 78… Author of 200 books including the Cam Jansen series and books for youth on the Holocaust, David A. Adler turns 70… Soviet-born Israeli-American pianist, Yefim Bronfman turns 59… Member of Knesset (Likud) since 1999, Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, in charge of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, Yuval Steinitz turns 59… Governor of Missouri since January 2017 (and one of the youngest governors in the US), former Navy SEAL, Eric Greitens turns 43… Director of Communications at RespectAbilityUSA, Lauren Appelbaum… Yishai Schwartz… Robin Samot… Naomi Atlani… Phil Hayes… Susie Diamond

BIRTHWEEK — TUESDAY: Australian billionaire, executive chairman of Visy Industries and Pratt Industries US, the world’s largest privately owned packaging company, Anthony Pratt (family name in Poland was Przecicki) turns 57… Executive chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies, on many charitable boards including the University of Pennsylvania and the 92nd Street Y, William P. Lauder turns 57…

WEDNESDAY: Moroccan-born fashion designer, businessman, investor, and philanthropist, co-founder of the Guess clothing and accessory brand, Paul Marciano turns 65… Businessman, media entrepreneur and philanthropist, built SFX Entertainment (a concert and stage performance promoter that was sold to Clear Channel in 2000 for $4.4 billion), Robert Sillerman turns 68… Comedienne, best known for co-creating and co-starring in the Comedy Central series Broad City, Ilana Glazer turns 30…

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]

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7

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Daily Kickoff: SCOOP — White House to host Seder | Reaction to US strikes against Assad | Wynes for Congress? | Yitz Applbaum’s Passover Wine Picks

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EXCLUSIVE — KEEPING TRADITION: Sources at the White House tell us that the Trump administration is planning to continue the tradition set by President Obama of hosting a Seder at the White House this coming Monday night. The sources did not yet know whether Trump or Kushner would participate and noted that it is still in the planning process. They explained that Trump’s participation is very much up in the air due to the situation in Syria. [JewishInsider]

GAME CHANGE: “U.S. strikes Syrian military airfield in first direct assault on Bashar al-Assad’s government” by Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Thomas Gibbons-Neff: “The U.S. military launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield late on Thursday, in the first direct American assault on the government of President Bashar al-Assad since that country’s civil war began six years ago. The operation, which the Trump administration authorized in retaliation for a chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week, dramatically expands U.S. military involvement in Syria and exposes the United States to heightened risk of direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, both backing Assad in his attempt to crush his opposition.” [WashPost; Guardian]

JI READERS REACTION — Elliott Abrams tells us: “Every US ally, starting with Israel, must be gratified to see the President act. The message to Putin, Kim in North Korea, China’s President Xi in Florida with Trump, Ayatollah Khamenei in Tehran, and of course Assad is that they cannot take Trump for granted. He will not analyze endlessly and then decide that there are always too many risks, so he has very much complicated their lives now. That’s a very good thing for our security, as is reinforcement of the century-old rule that chemical warfare is a crime that will be punished. If you read the briefing by National Security Advisor McMaster and Secretary of State Tillerson last night, you get the sense that serious people are coming to the fore in this new administration. Yes, this was a very small action we took in Syria, but it was one Trump’s predecessor would not take. This small, one time action will reverberate loudly around the world.”

Abe Foxman emails us…“POTUS did the right thing. It is finally a significant gesture on behalf the innocent victims of hate. If only it had happened against Auschwitz or Treblinka. This act will not put an end to all the hate and death. But it is a welcome message and hopefully a new beginning.”

Daniel Shapiro: “Many Qs remain, but on balance, Trump’s decision to strike Syrian air fields associated with the CW attack was correct and well-executed.” [Twitter]

Bret Stephens: “President Trump has done the right thing and I salute him for it. Now destroy the Assad regime for good.” [Twitter

ON THE HILL YESTERDAY — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution that condemns the Assad regime for launching the grisly strike. The resolution was introduced by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Bob Corker (R-TN). Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) declined to vote in favor of the resolution and recorded his vote as present. At the same time, leading Senate Democrats Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) have warned the President about proceeding with a military response in Syria without first receiving approval from Congress, as former President Barack Obama requested in 2013 after Assad previously used chemical weapons against its own people. [JewishInsider] • Rand Paul: Trump needs Congress to authorize military action in Syria [TheHill]

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: “It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government. This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a possible nuclear war between the United States and Russia.” [BusinessInsider]

“Israel’s former chief rabbi says a Holocaust is happening in Syria” by Ruth Eglash: “Of course, this is a ‘shoah’ of the Syrian people and it did not start today. For the past six years since they have been living in a Holocaust,” said [former chief rabbi Yisrael Meir] Lau, using the Hebrew word for Holocaust. [WashPost]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Most of the opposition was united with the coalition in praising Trump, with a Twitter parade of compliments. Isaac Herzog tweeted that the Tomahawk missile attack sends “an important message against the Butcher from Damascus, at a perfect time and perfect place.” Yair Lapid went with: “Better late than never. There are times when use of force is the moral act.” Still, some warned against rejoicing so vocally, such as Zionist Union’s always contrarian leadership candidate Erel Margalit, who said the public celebrations are “unnecessary and dangerous to Israel, and can push us into a complicated military confrontation. Israel can support a justified attack even without public statements.”

Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) told Kafe Knesset: “The American attack sends a clear message to Assad and Khamenei that if they cross red lines, they will pay a heavy price. It’s also a signal to Russia of a new American policy and new rules for conducting a dialogue with the superpower over Syria and the Middle East. The Trump policy of reacting and initiating is going to replace the Obama policy of leading from behind, which failed and led to a significant strengthening of Iran and its regional proxies.”

According to Katz, the US operation brought back the Arab confidence and trust in the US leadership, and increases the potential for creating and strengthening a “regional security axis, which includes Israel, to stop Iran and push it out of the region. The most important thing for Israel,” Katz added, “is US support for preventing a territorial connection between Iran and Lebanon, through Iraq and Syria, which could create an increased missile threat to Israel and reestablish the northern front that will threaten Israel and require constant alertness.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

GIFT OR NOT? “Moscow surprisingly says west Jerusalem is Israel’s capital” by Herb Keinon: “The statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry reads, “We reaffirm our commitment to the UN-approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.” This is a sharp shift in Russian policy, which until now has formally held that Jerusalem should eventually be under a permanent international regime… Russia’s ambassador to Israel will meet with Foreign Ministry officials in the coming days to discuss Moscow’s decision and its ramifications.” [JPost] • Israel ‘studying’ Russian statement on Jerusalem recognition [Ynet

MORE from el-Sisi’s meeting with Jewish leaders in DC… During the meeting, according to two attendees, the Egyptian President questioned why people are surprised about Russia’s increased role in the Middle East since the prior White House decided to abandon its leadership role in the region. “If you leave a void someone will come in and fill that gap,” el-Sisi emphatically said. We’re told former Obama administration official Dennis Ross replied, ‘You’re correct, we did.’

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Steve Bannon Calls Jared Kushner a ‘Cuck’ and ‘Globalist’ Behind His Back” by Asawin Suebsaeng: “It’s been an “open secret” that Bannon and Kushner often clash “face-to-face,” according to senior officials… “[Steve] recently vented to us about Jared being a ‘globalist’ and a ‘cuck’…He actually said ‘cuck,’ as in “cuckservative,’” the administration official told The Daily Beast… “Globalist” is a term typically used by nationalist, pro-Trump right-wingers against political opponents; however, the term has also come under fire for at times carrying anti-Semitic tones. (Kushner is Jewish.)… One senior Trump aide said that Bannon was also frustrated with Kushner “continuing to bring in Zeke Emanuel to discuss health care options,” for instance… “Steve thinks Jared is worse than a Democrat, basically,” another official close to Bannon said.” [DailyBeast

“Kushner and Bannon Battle for the Soul of the Trump White House” by Rosie Gray: “Six top aides sat in on Trump’s interview with The New York Times this week, including Cohn, but Bannon was not listed among them… “I think he is in trouble,” said another source with knowledge of the internal workings of the White House. “I think Jared is moving on him… I’m sure Jared and Ivanka are very embarrassed by Steve’s politics,” the source with inside knowledge of the White House said… Clearly Jared wants the President to be a more mainstream political figure.”” [TheAtlantic; WashPost]

“In Battle for Trump’s Heart and Mind, It’s Bannon vs. Kushner” by Maggie Haberman, Jeremy Peters and Peter Baker: “At different moments, Mr. Trump has given conflicting impressions of his preferences. He has privately scorned the coverage of Mr. Kushner’s recent high-profile trip to Iraq, according to two people who spoke with him, and questioned the need for his son-in-law’s newly created office to overhaul the government. At other points, he has been dismissive of Mr. Bannon, curtly telling him he is not needed at this meeting or that… On foreign policy, Mr. Kushner is more inclined toward intervention in the Middle East while Mr. Bannon would prefer that the United States remain as uncommitted as possible.” [NYTimes]

President Trump is considering a broad shakeup of his White House that could include the replacement of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the departure of chief strategist Steve Bannon. [Axios]

REPORT: “Kushner Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms” by Jo Becker and Matthew Rosenberg: “The omissions, which Mr. Kushner’s lawyer called an error, are particularly sensitive given the congressional and F.B.I. investigations into contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates.” [NYT]

King Abdullah speaks to The Washington Post about his efforts to revive the peace process — by Lally Weymouth: “Q. When you met President Trump before, you told him that moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be disastrous in the region? A. I was asked about this, and my response was there is going to be a fallout if it is not part of something more comprehensive. The president said, “Look, I am very keen to move the Israelis and Palestinians forward and to find a peace process that actually works, and let’s all work on this together.” … Q. Wasn’t it right after your conversation that Trump encouraged Israel to freeze settlements? A. I think people are giving me way too much credit. They are saying that I had something to do with it. I don’t know if I did. I just expressed my views.” [WashPost

“Dershowitz details chat about Israel with President at his estate” by Annie Linskey: “Trump “clearly had subjects he wanted to talk about. It was his agenda,” Dershowitz said. “He told me he thought in the Middle East, they are ready for a deal.” Trump explained that he’d spoken to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and sensed that he was ready for a peace deal, Dershowitz said. “I responded by saying, ‘the Palestinians say that to every new president,’ ” Dershowitz said… “He said ‘Now I think they’re really ready,’ ” Dershowitz added. “I said, ‘You have to test them. … You have to test them, it’s not enough to just hear ‘they’re ready.’ “He shook his head in apparent agreement,” Dershowitz said. Dershowitz said Trump made it clear he was aware that the former professor is “very friendly” with Netanyahu… “The president said, ‘I know you know Jared from Harvard. Be in touch with him.”” [Boston Globe]

“Let’s Keep Israel a Bipartisan Issue” — Congressman Josh Gottheimer writes… “Recently, I was asked to sign onto a letter affirming the importance of the two-state solution, which I support. The problem was that it was signed almost exclusively by Democrats. Even by today’s standards, a letter signed by 189 Democrats and only 2 Republicans can’t be considered bipartisan. So, while I agree with much of the letter’s content, I couldn’t bring myself to sign it. We need to go the extra mile to work with members of both parties to keep the partisanship out.” [JewishLinkNJ]

TOP-OP: “If Palestinians are serious about peace, ‘martyr’ violence should not pay” by David Makovsky, Ghaith al-Omari and Lia Weiner: “Difficult as it may be politically, such a move is necessary in order to signal to the United States that the Palestinian side can make difficult decisions in the pursuit of peace. Focusing on this issue during the upcoming Trump-Abbas meeting could put the shaky U.S.-Palestinian relations on sounder footing with a new administration. It is also necessary in order to begin rebuilding trust with Israel — just as Israel should be required to make its own difficult decisions to show seriousness and mend trust.” [WashPost]

SPOTLIGHT: “Operation seduction: Lapid captures Israel’s mainstream support” by Mazal Mualem: “In stark contradiction to this careful attitude, there is the divisive language he uses about the left. This is the formula that his American Jewish adviser Mark Melman put together for him, and it is proving effective.” [Al-Monitor]

2018 WATCH: “Billionaire J.B. Pritzker announces run for Illinois governor” by Aamer Madhani: “Pritzker, who served as co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for the White House, will join a crowded Democratic field seeking the nomination… Pritzker’s sister, Penny, served as Commerce secretary in President Obama’s administration. He also founded the Pritzker Group, a private investment firm, and the Chicago tech incubator 1871. Pritzker formally announced his campaign in a rally on Chicago’s South Side surrounded by family and supporters, calling Rauner a “local partner” of President Trump.” [USAToday

WORD ON THE STREET — Jeremy Wynes is set to announce a run for Congress: Wynes, the Midwest Regional Director for the Republican Jewish Coalition and formerly AIPAC’s Midwest Political Director, is exploring a run against Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider for Illinois’ 10th congressional district. Wynes was seen making the rounds at this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference and has met with NRCC. When reached for comment, Wynes told us: “The 10th District deserves a representative who can actually get things done – someone with their own voice and new ideas who isn’t afraid to lead. I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement from friends on both sides of the aisle who think I fit that description. So I’m strongly considering running, but right now I plan to enjoy Passover with my family and make a final decision soon after the holiday.”

** 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: Israel Aerospace Industries signs near $2 billion missile deal with India [Reuters]  David Cordish Says He Isn’t Worried About MGM National Harbor Competition [WBAL] • 5 Lessons Entrepreneurs Worldwide Can Learn From Israeli Culture [Entrepreneur] • 23andMe, Inc. Granted First FDA Authorization to Market Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Health Risk Reports [Newswire]

“Who paid the American-Israeli bomb hoaxer? Jewish teen had Bitcoin account worth millions” by Josh Robbins: “Israeli police say that the Israeli-American teenager suspected of making hundreds of bomb threats against Jewish community centres (JCCs) in the US has a Bitcoin account worth millions of shekels. The discovery raises suspicions that the 18-year-old was paid by a third party… Today (6 April) police extended his detention for a third time.” [IBTimes]

HOLLYWOOD: “Ron Meyer Honored With Simon Wiesenthal Center Humanitarian Award at Politically Charged Gala” by Lawrence Yee: “Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has co-chaired the tribute dinner 25 times, [said], “In recent times, forces have been released in our country — and around the world — that are intolerant and intolerable.” … While others talked broadly about the current cultural climate, Barbra Streisand — who presented Meyer with the Humanitarian Award — specifically called out Donald Trump’s administration. “We are living under an administration that deliberately omitted Jews from its Holocaust Remembrance Day statement. We are living with a president that, in his own words, wants to ban a specific religion. All this while the president praises authoritarian leaders and calls our free press the enemy of the people. This is a president who uses words calibrated to incite the beast in people, not the best in people.”” [Variety]

“How Oslo Dramatizes the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks” by Marie Brenner: “A phone call, in fact, launches Oslo, J. T. Rogers’s electrifying three-hour drama, opening in April at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont after a critically acclaimed Off Broadway run last year. The setup is irresistible: the fraught behind-the-headlines negotiations 25 years ago when representatives of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israel secretly met in Norway and battled their way to the 1993 Oslo peace accords. How did this byzantine insider’s story come to the stage? A chance meeting on the playground of their daughters’ school started the friendship between director Bartlett Sher and Norway’s U.N. ambassador, Mona Juul, and her husband, the sociologist Terje Rød-Larsen. In time, the largely unknown history of Juul’s and Larsen’s roles as clandestine go-betweens came to light.” [VanityFair]

PROFILE: “Meet the 19-Year-Old Israeli Designer Making Gorgeously Grown–Up Clothes” by Rebecca Stadlen: “Glancing at Maya Reik’s Instagram feed—with its elegant black-and-white portraits, Art Deco influences, and close-ups of intricately embroidered silk kimonos—you’d never guess that the sophisticated, well-traveled woman behind the page is a 19-year-old high school dropout. The self-taught Israeli designer, born and raised in the coastal village of Beit Yanai, founded her Tel Aviv-based line, Marei 1998, less than two years ago, and since then has designed two collections; assembled a bicontinental team; set up production at the same Italian factories that work with The Row, Gucci, and Stella McCartney; and presented during Milan fashion week—accomplishments that would be impressive even for someone twice her age.” [VogueMagazine]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Passover Edition — by Yitz Applbaum: I am often asked which wines I recommend for the “four cups” on Seder Night. Over the past several years I believe that I have come up with a reasonable solution to avoid the paralysis that comes from the paradox of choice: I actually drink 8 cups! For the traditional four cups, I drink very good mid-priced Israeli wines (after all, the Exodus from Egypt had Israel as its destination). Here are a couple of suggestions: 1. Flam Classico 2. Gvaot Petit Verdot 3. Barkan Altitude 4. Har Odem Volcanic Shiraz

To dive deeper into the mood of Magid, and to better enjoy the great friends and family we are with, I enjoy four additional cups to match each of the traditional cups. For these wines, I tend to go a bit higher-end because with the traditional four, we need to drink most of the cup rather promptly, and for the second four, we can take our time and savor the wine. A few recommendations for the higher end: 1. Matar CB 2. Yarden Rom 3. Segal Unfiltered 4. BenHaim Grand Reserve Cab

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYCo-author of Politico Playbook — the indispensable morning newsletter for the political class — and most frequent hat tipper to Jewish Insider’s birthday editors, Daniel Lippman turns 27… Political activist and former US military analyst who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers, Daniel Ellsberg turns 86… Professor of philosophy at Vanderbilt University, Marilyn Ann Friedman turns 72… President of Yale University (1993-2013), now CEO of Coursera, an education-focused technology company, Rick Levin turns 70… Born in Haifa, a professor at the Pennsylvania State University since 1981, folklorist, ethnologist, historian, educator and author, Simon J. Bronner turns 63… NYC socialite and founder of Pretentious Pocket, a silk pocket square business, Justin Ross Lee turns 34… Professional golfer who joined the PGA Tour in 2015 when he won Rookie of the Year, won his first PGA Tour event in 2016 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic near Memphis, Daniel Berger turns 24… Jane Sobo David Farahi

SATURDAY: Comedian known for his nightclub performances in Las Vegas, Shecky Greene (born Fred Sheldon Greenfield) turns 91… Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and political writer, longtime contributor to The New Yorker magazine on national security matters, Seymour Myron “Sy” Hersh turns 80… French actor who has appeared in over 60 movies during a career spanning five decades, Jean Benguigui turns 73… Bassist for the rock band Grand Funk Railroad, Melvin George “Mel” Schacher turns 66… Russian-born businessman and philanthropist, emigrated to Israel in 1972, appointed in 2005 as President of the Congress of Jewish Religious Communities of Russia, Arcadi Aleksandrovich Gaydamak turns 65… Member of the National Assembly of Quebec since 2014, previously executive director of the Quebec region of the Canadian Jewish Congress (1998-2004), David Birnbaum turns 61… President of Wesleyan University since 2007, previously president of California College of the Arts, known as a historian, curator, author and public advocate for liberal education, Michael S. Roth turns 60… Member of Knesset since 2015 (Likud), chair of the Knesset’s important House Committee and chair of the governing coalition, David Bitan turns 57… Television journalist, political director for NBC News and moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, Charles David “Chuck” Todd turns 45… Professional baseball pitcher who played briefly for the Milwaukee Brewers and currently works as a coach in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Matthew Lee “Matt” Ford turns 36… Israeli actor, entertainer, model and TV host, Ofer Shechter turns 36… NYC-based head of investor relations for the Israeli Ministry of Finance, focused on global debt capital markets, Jason Reinin turns 35… Television personality and entertainer, best known for starring on the first season of the reality TV series Beauty and the Geek, Richard Rubin turns 34… Musician, singer, songwriter, radio personality and the lead vocalist and guitarist of the indie rock band Vampire Weekend, Ezra Michael Koenig turns 33… Dan Smith of UN Watch, Tamid and AmEx fame… Jeffrey Kramer… Janet Goldstein (h/t Playbook)…

SUNDAYPresident of CNN Worldwide since 2013, Jeffrey Adam “Jeff” Zucker turns 52… Retired singer-songwriter, satirist, and mathematician, Thomas Andrew “Tom” Lehrer turns 89… President of the Duberstein Group, a government relations and lobbying firm in Washington, and a prominent Democratic Party activist, Michael S. Berman turns 78… Retired fighter pilot and brigadier general in the Israeli Air Force, credited with 7.5 enemy fighter jets shot down, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest-ever and longest serving combat pilot, Uri Gil turns 74… EVP of real estate and business development at nationwide homebuilder KB Home, vice-chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, previously a partner at Sidley & Austin, Albert Zane Praw turns 69… Rhode Island resident Gail T. Kritz turns 65… Fashion designer for his own world-wide chain of eponymous stores, previously creative director for Louis Vuitton (1997-2014), Marc Jacobs turns 54… Visual artist, performance artist and co-founder of the arts ensemble Processional Arts Workshop, known for his creation of the large-scale puppet performance works, Alex Kahn turns 50… Attorney, author, political commentator, movie critic and blogger, Debbie Schlussel turns 48… VP at the Marino Organization, a NYC-based strategic communications firm, previously an advisor to New York governors Spitzer and Paterson, Ross M. Wallenstein turns 39… Actress and writer best known as the model for the RGX body spray commercials, Rachel Sarah Specter turns 37… Israeli actress who has appeared in Israeli films, Italian films and US television programs, Moran Atias turns 36… San Francisco-based private equity analyst at Bertram Capital, Soraya Hoberman turns 26… Jonathan Bollag… Lester Garfinkel… Herbert Levine

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PHOTO: POOL/REUTERS

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