Daily Kickoff: At dinner with Bibi, George W. Bush criticizes heads of state who say they’re indispensable | BDay: Rabbi Lord Sacks

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HEARD LAST NIGHT IN NYC — Former President George W. Bush during a joint conversation with outgoing Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky at Cipriani on Broadway: “You know what the bad thing is? For the first time in a long time, [Vladimir] Putin is in the Middle East.”

The former President also suggested Russia is not a democracy. “Not Really,” Bush said when asked by the moderator if he considers Russia a democracy. “What Putin has done is he’s undermined civil society. You can’t have a truly functioning democracy without a robust civil society. During my presidency, he got rid of the independent media. And so people say, ‘Oh man, he’s really popular in Russia,’ and my answer is: Hell, I’d been popular if I owned NBC… Anytime you hear a leader say, ‘I am indispensable, I must stay in power. My country can’t survive without me in power,’ that’s not a democracy.” [JewishInsider]

OUR WONDERING MIND… after reading these headlines in recent days: “With inspiring performance at AIPAC, Netanyahu seeks to show he’s indispensable” [ToI… “To survive scandals, Netanyahu relies on mantra: no one else can lead Israel” [CSMonitor]

So do Bush 43’s comments apply to Bibi, who was in attendance at last night’s dinner, as well? “The plain language of the comment is that it applies everywhere, no?” a former White House aide to President Bush replied when we asked. However, Aaron David Miller argued, “No, Bush 43 considered Israel a very special place and a democratic ally.” Miller added, “The leader in a democracy —however imperfect — even those that may have considered themselves indispensable — are still constrained by institutions; elections, courts. Russia is not a democracy and Putin is far less constrained than a leader like Netanyahu. And Israel — however imperfect — is a democracy.”

“Netanyahu Meets Confidant Sheldon Adelson, Owner of Newspaper at Center of Corruption Probe Against Him, in N.Y. Event” by Noa Landau: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised his long-time ally… Sheldon Adelson at an event honoring the departing Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky in New York. “There are no bigger philanthropists in the Jewish world today. Birthright, Yad Vashem, medical centers, college campuses, you name it- the Adelsons are doing it. Thank you, thank you both, for all that you do for the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” he said.” [HaaretzPic]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — “Netanyahu mocks reasons behind corruption probes” by Orly Azoulay: “Speaking at the Economic Club in Washington as part of his five-day trip to the US, Netanyahu mocked the probes being conducted against him, insinuating that Israeli authorities launch graft cases against him over trivia. “You met with President Trump and I noticed that you are wearing a red tie that he often wears, is that something that he gave you as a gift?” the Prime Minister was asked. “That could be investigated too so I won’t answer,” Netanyahu replied.” [Ynet]

REPORT — “Netanyahus tried to push moguls to fund Israeli version of Fox News” by Sue Surkes: “Israeli police are looking into suspicions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara tried to get billionaires Arnon Milchen, James Packer and Rupert Murdoch to invest $25 million each in a new Israeli right-wing commercial TV channel.” [ToI]

ON THE HILL — “Netanyahu Warns U.S. Lawmakers About Saudi Nuclear Power Deal” by Ari Natter: “Netanyahu, during a closed door meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington on Tuesday, spoke out against any agreement that would allow the Saudis to enrich uranium and reprocess plutonium, Senator Bob Corker, the committee’s chairman, said in an interview. “He certainly is opposed,” said Corker. Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who also attended the meeting, said, “I think his view is that they need fewer nuclear weapons and fewer nuclear materials, not more nuclear materials in the Middle East.”” [Bloomberg]

“A glimpse inside Saudi Arabia in photos” by Tamara Cofman Wittes: “From February 19-25, Brookings Senior Fellow Tamara Cofman Wittes traveled to Saudi Arabia with Brandeis University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies. The group visited Riyadh, Jizan, and Jeddah.”[Brookings]

“New U.S. Embassy May Be in Jerusalem, but Not in Israel” by Isabel Kershner: “The diplomatic compound that will serve as the American Embassy until a permanent site is found lies partly in a contested zone known as No Man’s Land… between the armistice lines drawn at the end of the 1948-49 war and was claimed by Jordan and Israel. Israel won full control of it in the 1967 war, so the United Nations and much of the world consider it occupied territory. The State Department has avoided taking a clear position on the matter… The dispute could turn the American ambassador, David M. Friedman… into a new kind of diplomatic settler himself. .. Eugene Kontorovich, the director of international law at the conservative Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, contends that by moving the embassy to the Arnona site the United States is recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over areas it captured in the 1967 war.” [NYTimes]

HEARD YESTERDAY – Education Minister Naftali Bennett reacted to the Trump administration’s opposition to his annexation bill during a briefing with reporters at the Israeli Consulate in New York. “I will remind you that Menachem Begin did the same (declare Israeli sovereignty) with the Golan Heights in 1981. America was vehemently opposed and to this day does not recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel, but he had the courage and he did it. We got some heat for a couple of months from the Reagan administration, and we are still here to talk about it,” Bennett told Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh when asked how he intends to move forward with his proposed sovereignty bill, given the Trump administration’s objection.

“I am not running the country as of now. It’s a bit difficult. My job is to inch forward. We don’t have to change it (applying Israeli law on all of Judea and Samaria) overnight. It’s got to be gradual, and I also want to sell the Israeli public on the rationale. You start with more consensus areas like Ma’ale Adumim, like Gush Etzion, and you begin the process. There’s a pace in life. It’s okay if it takes another 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years. We are going to be here for thousands of years to come. We’ve got strategic patience.”

Bennett on the Taylor Force Act: “When folks push bills forward in Israel and in America, it can either be a symbolic bill – which matters – or a material bill, which really matters. I view Taylor Force as the latter, potentially – if it’s not watered down… By taking the money off the table, that will save lives. Some terrorists will not go out and do that attack if indeed the Palestinian Authority stops doing this. I want to thank the U.S. for doing this. This is a real gift, and certainly from an American perspective, it’s just crazy that American taxpayers that live in Minnesota or New York City are paying the PA to pay terrorists to kill Jews. Taylor Force is just and effective.”

VIEW FROM RAMALLAH — “Palestinians change tack on Trump” by Daoud Kuttab: “After initially jumping on every pro-Israel decision, statement or tweet by US President Donald Trump, Palestinian leaders appear to have adopted a new tactic. They seem to have come to the conclusion that many of Trump’s actions and words are intended for his base rather than part of a well-thought-out foreign policy…” [Al-Monitor]

PROFILE — “Mahmoud al-Aloul is Fatah’s first vice president. Does that make him the next Palestinian leader?” by Grant Rumley: “Aloul is not nearly as wedded as the President to diplomacy, nor is he afraid to embrace positions that Abbas typically avoids. Most noticeably, he has long been skeptical of the peace process. “With the current course of action that the U.S. has adopted, it’s not possible to create peace,” Aloul told me, yet the U.S. still has to be involved: “How can you reach a point where Israel feels obligated to provide something if you don’t have the U.S.?” … Perhaps Aloul’s biggest break with his leader is in his willingness to entertain, and even support, the one-state movement.” [AmericanInterest]

“AIPAC’s Struggle to Avoid the Fate of the NRA” by Peter Beinart: “Unlike the NRA, AIPAC must do business with whoever runs Congress and the White House, policy disagreements notwithstanding… But AIPAC doesn’t only fear polarization because it could undermine its influence. It also fears polarization because it could split the organization in two… AIPAC’s problem is that its bipartisanship is becoming harder to maintain. Democrats may constitute roughly half of AIPAC’s members, but their share could plummet in the years to come… If this year’s AIPAC conference had a theme, it was a loud, almost desperate, vow by the organization’s leaders to not let this happen.” [TheAtlantic]

“AIPAC’s Next Big Battle Might Be With Israel” by Batya Ungar-Sargon: “If advocating for a two-state solution is going to be the fault line separating American and Israeli Jews — as increasingly it seems like it is — AIPAC may have to make a very tough, existential choice. This choice gets to the tension at AIPAC’s core. Is it a group that represents the American Jewish community? Or does it represent Israel’s interests on Capitol Hill, as the Israeli electorate defines them? And if the former, does it have a responsibility to reflect the Jewish community in its entirety, or only those who really, really care about Israel?” [TheForward]

DRIVING THE CONVO — “Keith Ellison takes over the Democrats’ universal health-care bill” by David Weigel: “Rep. Keith Ellison, the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has replaced former congressman John Conyers Jr. as the sponsor of the Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act… At the same time, Ellison (D-Minn.) is facing a new round of questions and attacks about his former support of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam… In an interview, Ellison said that none of his colleagues raised concerns about the Farrakhan story, which has lit up in conservative media and on cable news, as he campaigned to take over H.R. 676… “None of my colleagues ever asked me about that, only reporters,” Ellison said. “I am telling you — no one cares. I’ve been all over Minnesota, all over Alabama… and nobody ever asked me about this… But for some reason, some folks in the Fourth Estate think that this Farrakhan thing needs to be inquired about instead.”” [WashPost]

INBOX — RJC Calls on Seven Farrakhan-connected Members of Congress to Resign: “Seven long-serving Democrats have close ties with Louis Farrakhan. Each of them should resign,” RJC’s Matt Brooks said in a statement. “They include former Nation of Islam employee, Congressman Keith Ellison, who is Deputy Chair of the DNC. Ellison has tried to excuse his 2013 meeting with Farrakhan, while ignoring his more recent meeting with the NOI leader in Farrakhan’s hotel room, in 2015…”

J Street re-evaluating endorsement of congressman who praised Louis Farrakhan: “JStreetPAC, the arm of the liberal Israel lobby that funds and endorses candidates, currently lists Rep. Danny Davis, an Illinois Democrat… as a candidate it supports. The endorsement, first reported in the Forward, calls Davis “a longtime supporter of Israel and a two-state solution.” But a J Street spokesman wrote in an email to JTA that the lobby is speaking with Davis’ office and reconsidering that endorsement.” [JTA]

“Why Won’t Women’s March Leaders Denounce Louis Farrakhan’s Anti-Semitism?” by Jesse Singal: “It’s simply difficult to think of any other situation in the left-of-center universe where the response to hate speech would be anything like this, where the act of responding aggressively to that hate speech would be seen as a “distraction” or a political trap to be avoided. The Women’s March, throughout this whole controversy, just hasn’t come across as taking anti-Semitism very seriously.” [NYMag

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Carl Icahn denies knowing about steel tariffs before stock sale [Axios] • How Much Could Gary Cohn’s Resignation Cost the Trump Hotel? [Washingtonian] • Telecom Italia and the Battle of the Billionaires [WSJ• Univision board Chairman Haim Saban made the announcement Wednesday night that CEO Randy Falco to retire as media company struggles [LATimes] • Taboola Projects $1 Bil In 2018 [MediaPost]

SPOTLIGHT: “Ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick launches his comeback with new fund” by Sara Ashley O’Brien: “Kalanick, who was ousted as CEO of Uber in June, announced Wednesday that he’s started a new investment fund called 10100. The fund, pronounced “ten one hundred,” will center on real estate, e-commerce, and innovation in China and India, he said in a statement posted on his social media accounts.” [CNNWSJ]

–Spotted: Kalanick grabbing drinks at the Royalton Park Rooftop in NYC last night.

“Ultimate Fighting TV Rights Go Begging in Test for Superagent” by Lucas Shaw: “Hollywood superagent Ari Emanuel’s reputation as a legendary dealmaker is being put to the test. Emanuel’s Endeavor has spent months trying to sell TV rights to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts league his company bought for about $4 billion in 2016 with the private-equity firms Silver Lake Partners and KKR… But no buyer has stepped up to pay the $300 million to $400 million a year Endeavor wants, people close to the talks said.” [Bloomberg

COMING SOON — Julia Ioffe is writing a book on Russia for HarperCollins imprint Ecco scheduled for publication in 2020: “It is a combination of personal memoir and original reporting that looks to really get at Russia and the Russian psyche,” Ecco executive editor Denise Oswald told Politico’s Michael Calderone. Ioffe recently left her staff position at The Atlantic, though she remains a contributing writer. [MorningMedia]

“Kushner Meets With Mexican President, Underscoring Shift in U.S. Diplomacy” by Azam Ahmed and Nicholas Casey: “The encounter between Mexico’s president and [Jared] Kushner, a political newcomer whose top-secret security clearance was stripped last month, underscored the profound shift in approach that the Trump administration has taken with Mexico, and with the region more broadly. Officials announced the visit less than a day before it happened, offering no guidance on what would be discussed. Kushner, who also met with Mexico’s foreign minister, did not invite the American ambassador — Roberta S. Jacobson, a diplomat with more than 30 years of experience in the region — to join him in the meetings.” [NYTimes]

PROFILE —  “New York City Appoints Its First Nightlife Mayor” by Alan Feuer: “In her first interview since accepting the post, [Ariel] Palitz suggested that her stint as the Nightlife Mayor would be slightly more sober and focus less on carousing than on conflict mediation… In her early 20s, she took her first night life job, managing the guest list at the old Club Mars… Now in charge of a mayoral office with a 12-person advisory board, a $300,000 budget and a salary of $130,000 a year, Ms. Palitz seems to have realized that even a doyenne of New York night life must make a few concessions when joining city government. On her Tuesday evening drink, she was accompanied, for instance, by a minder from City Hall. While she admits that there were times in her career when she personified “what the no-bar movement rejected,” she also claimed that she has always tried “to find solutions that work for everyone.””[NYTimesAMNY]

“Kew Gardens Hills: A Little Town in Central Queens” by Julie Lasky: “Once largely populated by assimilated Jews… it now supports one of the biggest Orthodox Jewish communities in New York City. Main Street is crammed with kosher food stores with names like Holy Schnitzel. Synagogues have proliferated, making it easy for residents to walk to services, as the rules of Sabbath observance require. Processions of baby carriages glide down the road, bearing the scions of growing families… The variety of kosher restaurants includes Chinese (Soysauce Glatt Kosher Chinese, at 68-22 Main Street), Mexican (Carlos & Gabby’s, at 67-11 Main Street) and Italian/Japanese (Benjy’s Kosher Pizza Dairy Restaurant & Sushi Bar, at 72-72 Main Street)…” [NYTimes

DESSERT — “Kosher restaurant planned for downtown Baltimore office building” by Amanda Yeager: “A new restaurant serving up a rotating array of kosher dishes is coming soon to downtown Baltimore… Chef Daniel Neuman, of kosher steakhouse Serengeti in Pikesville, will help launch the new concept, which he said will offer “not only healthy and fresh options to the area for lunch, but also a twist of something new and different.” True to its name, the eatery will offer a changing daily special… Ayelet Dresin, who is helping to coordinate the Daily Special’s launch, said the restaurant will be open for lunch and will follow a Chipotle-like concept, with customers “going down the line and picking items for a green bowl or salad bowl.”” [BizJournals]

BIRTHDAYS: Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain (1991-2013), member of the House of Lords, philosopher, scholar and winner of the 2016 Templeton Prize, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks turns 70… Founder and CEO of 32 Advisors, previously President of UBS Investment Bank, Robert Wolf turns 56… Jazz pianist and composer, Dick Hyman turns 91… Democratic US Representative for California’s 47th congressional district since 2013, Alan Lowenthal turns 77… British television executive and businessman, former chairman of the BBC, member of the House of Lords, Michael Grade (family name Winogradsky) turns 75… Graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, he retired as an attorney at Seyfarth Shaw and is now the ‘Judaism and Science’ blogger, Roger Price turns 74… Lyricist, singer, songwriter, painter and philanthropist,Carole Bayer Sager turns 71… Licensed clinical psychologist and director of couple therapy training at the Chicago Center for Family Health, Dr. Mona Fishbane turns 71…  Senior Fellow on national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress, Alan Makovsky turns 68… Brenda Krantz turns 68…

Former Governor of Virginia (1994-1998) and US Senator (2001-2007), whose mother was from a Sephardic Jewish family in Tunisia, George Allen turns 66… Retired in 2016 after 28 years as the Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester NY, Larry Fine turns 66… Journalist, author and media analyst, managing editor of the WNYC radio program “On the Media” which is syndicated nationwide to over 400 public radio outlets,Brooke Gladstone turns 63… DC-based labor and employment attorney at Bredhoff & Kaiser, clerked for Justice Brennan at the U.S. Supreme Court (1983-1984), Bruce R. Lerner turns 61…  Talent acquisition executive at Sageview Consulting, specializing in placements at Jewish federations and non-profits, Colorado Springs resident, Carin Maher turns 55… Vice chairman of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, with a Ph.D. in Chinese politics from Stanford University, high-ranking State Department official (2001-2009), Evan A. Feigenbaum turns 49…

Albany Reporter for New York’s news channel NY1, Zack Fink turns 45… Harvard Law grad, member of Congress since 2017 (D-NJ:5), former speechwriter for Bill Clinton, Joshua S. Gottheimer turns 43… Alexis Riceturns 40… Principal for corporate communications at CamberView Partners, he was the communications director for NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Eric Louis Sumberg turns 36 (h/t Playbook)… Manager of Public Policy at the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership of The Forbes Funds, previously press secretary at NJDC, David Streeter turns 31… Senior digital and marketing associate at Catalist (a voter data service for progressive organizations), Lauren Farber turns 30… Los Angeles-based writer, Amanda Botfeld turns 21… Program analyst at Mathematica Policy Research, Karen Katz… Student at Harvard Law School, he was a special assistant to the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, Nathaniel Sobel… Charleston native, Lexi Chavin… Jeff Sonderman




Daily Kickoff: Israel contemplates a future without Bibi | JI Interview with Rabbi Rick Jacobs | Holocaust Museum revokes award to Aung San Suu Kyi

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DRIVING THE DAY — “Kushner to Meet With Mexican President During Trip” by Rebecca Ballhaus: “Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner is set to visit Mexico City on Wednesday where he is expected to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto… [and] Mexico’s secretary of foreign affairs, Luis Videgaray. Their talks will focus on security, immigration, trade and economics… Mr. Kushner’s trip suggests the adviser will continue to have a foreign-policy portfolio despite the downgrading of his security clearance last week.” [WSJ]

TRUMP TUMULT — “Gary Cohn Said He Will Resign as Trump’s Top Economic Adviser” by Kate Kelly and Maggie Haberman: “White House officials insisted that there was no single factor behind the departure of [Gary] Cohn… But his decision to leave came as he seemed poised to lose an internal struggle over Mr. Trump’s plan to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports… The departure of Mr. Cohn further shrinks the number of allies Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, have in the White House… In several conversations that Mr. Trump had with people on Tuesday, he denounced Mr. Cohn as a “globalist.”” [NYTimes• Trump Confronted Cohn on Trade Hours Before Resignation, Sources Say [Bloomberg]

— “Earlier in the day, Trump had denied that his West Wing was in “chaos,” but added cryptically, “I still have some people that I want to change.” That poured fuel on speculation that he could part ways with Cabinet officials with whom he has had major disagreements, such as Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin or Attorney General Jeff Sessions, or senior aides like national security adviser H.R. McMaster and chief of staff John Kelly.”[YahooNews]

Josh Dawsey‏ tweets: “Cohn wrote a resignation letter after the president’s Charlottesville comments but decided not to give it to Trump. Over tariffs, he gives the letter.” [Twitter]

HOW IT PLAYED — “Lloyd Blankfein Is ‘Disappointed’ About Gary Cohn’s Exit” by Dakin Campbell: “Lloyd Blankfein said he’s disappointed to see his former deputy Gary Cohn leave the White House. Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s chief executive officer said on Twitter that Cohn “deserves credit for serving his country in a first class way.” … Goldman Sachs fell 1.7 percent in late trading.” [Bloomberg]

Josh Boltenthe President and CEO of the Business Roundtable, emails… “Director Cohn’s departure from the White House is a real loss for President Trump and the American people. Gary is a strong and thoughtful leader whose efforts on tax reform and regulation will continue to benefit American families and workers for years to come. On behalf of Business Roundtable CEO members, we can only hope to have as great of a working partnership with the next director of President Trump’s National Economic Council.”

IS MCMASTER NEXT? “National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster was solidly aligned with [Gary] Cohn in fighting the tariff, and some inside the White House believe McMaster endangered his standing with Trump by being too strident. Trump met Tuesday in the Oval Office with former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, a potential successor to McMaster, though it wasn’t clear what the two discussed.” [Bloomberg]

BUZZ ON BALFOUR — “Israel Contemplates a Future Without Netanyahu” by Ruth Margalit: “Despite the cheerful air that Netanyahu tried to project during his meeting with Trump, those who know him say that he is increasingly rattled, on edge, and isolated… Many in Israel believe that he may call for early elections, if only to preempt having to run with an indictment hanging over his head… Netanyahu has remade Likud in his image—so much so that it is now unclear whether the Party can survive without him. “The day after Bibi, in Likud, an all-out war will break out,” Tal Shalev, a political reporter… told me…”

“If Netanyahu’s rule is characterized by a seizing of the base and then an appeal to the center, almost as an afterthought, some of his potential replacements… may attempt to rule from the center first and only then cater to the right… Does it feel like the end of an era, I asked [Yair] Lapid…  “It does,” he said, then corrected himself. “It feels like the beginning of the end.”” [NewYorker]

“Netanyahu Bids AIPAC Farewell With His ‘Terminator’ Speech” by Anshel Pfeffer: “It was a Bibi classic… It was such a classic of the Netanyahu genre that he could have made nearly the identical speech at any point in the last decade… None of the adoring listeners were about to note the historical incongruity. How many of them were wondering if they were indeed listening to him for the last time? Perhaps this is what Netanyahu was subliminally messaging them, in his Bibi-bot way… You know me. This is what I’m best at. I’m the Terminator and I’ll. Be. Back.” [Haaretz]

David Horovitz: With inspiring performance at AIPAC, Netanyahu seeks to show he’s indispensable [ToI]

SPEECH PROP — At the beginning of Netanyahu’s speech, while he was walking around the stage presenting the ‘good’ of Israel, he held in his left hand a piece of paper reading “1-800 how’s my speech?” [Pic] • Netanyahu’s media team distributed the image to the press and later uploaded it on his official Instagram account.

HEARD YESTERDAY — Aaron David Miller on PBS Newshour: “You know, Netanyahu has been around for a long time. He’s currently working, I think, on his 13th of his nine lives.” [PBS]

JI INTERVIEW — Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, spoke with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh about AIPAC’s bipartisan message and Netanyahu’s speech yesterday: “I was actually very encouraged and was heartened by the genuine bipartisanship that the AIPAC leaders put on the main plenary stage. Howard Kohr’s speech on Sunday night, I thought, was both courageous and truthful. I think that sometimes ‘bipartisan’ is a slogan, but I saw and heard substantive voices affirming the diversity of Jewish views,” Jacobs said at the conclusion of the annual gathering. “I thought that was very positive and I really commend the APAC leadership on a stage that could have been very divisive. They were able to put forward a very effective way to galvanize a very divided community.”

On Netanyahu’s speech: “To be honest, there was a very large piece of the speech that was missing – the genuine issues that really have divided the United States Jewry from Israel. To talk about shared values is very important, but it’s not a talking point, it’s a practice. A leader has the responsibility to also talk about what’s challenging, and Jews in Diaspora are still waiting to feel more intensely that they matter too, not just to the Prime Minister but to the State of Israel. I believe that could have been an important additional element to the speech.” [JewishInsider]

Shmuel Rosner writes… “AIPAC 2018: No News is Good News? From several conversations I had, I get the impression that the appeal to progressives in this conference was quite successful. It felt like a real attempt at inclusion, and at least some of the progressive participants were convinced that AIPAC is genuine in trying to send a message of a broad tent.” [JewishJournal]

ON THE HILL — Netanyahu met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, and the House leadership yesterday [PicVideo

As the House Speaker welcomed Netanyahu in his office – which was closed to press but captured on video by Tal Schneider – Ryan showed Netanyahu the view of the Trump hotel from his office window. “See that tall building over there? That’s the Trump Hotel,” Ryan said. Netanyahu replied, “Has that become now a landmark?” At the meeting, Netanyahu presented House Majority Whip Steve Scalise with an IDF Paratroopers Brigade beret.

Netanyahu also met with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee [PicVideoand stopped to chat with Hill reporters while walking over to the Speaker’s office. “Prime Minister Netanyahu described Iran’s aggression in the region including its attempts to establish a military presence in Syria and noted that Israel is determined to thwart this,’ the Prime Minister’s Office said in a readout. “He presented the dangers in the Iranian nuclear agreement and said it was necessary to either fully fix the errors in the agreement or abrogate it.”

SPOTTED: Netanyahu with his wife Sara and “a ton of bodyguards” were spotted dining at Café Milano last night. h/t Playbook

HAPPENING TODAY — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President George W. Bush will attend a celebration in honor of Natan Sharansky as he concludes his 9-year tenure as Chairman of the Jewish Agency at Cipriani on Broadway in New York City. The Jewish Agency will formally launch The Shlichut Institute, an all-encompassing center in New York to train its Israeli emissaries, at the event. Sharansky will serve as its Founding Chair.

SPOTTED: Natan Sharansky on the 12PM Acela from DC’s Union Station to New York’s Penn Station yesterday.

ANTI-BOYCOTT ACT — “Israel anti-boycott bill inches closer to passing Senate after revisions” by Bryant Harris: “Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., proposed an amendment to his Israel Anti-Boycott Act on Monday that he hopes will assuage concerns that the legislation violates free speech rights… Cardin told Al-Monitor that he’d had “several conversations” with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and taken its “input” after the group opposed his initial bill. But while the ACLU approved of some of the changes, they still maintain that the latest iteration of the bill is unconstitutional.” [Al-Monitor]

TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST — “Mahmoud Abbas’ Health Deteriorates, and Israel Prepares for Bloody Succession Fight” by Amos Harel: “In recent months there has been a deterioration in the health of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas… Information about his health has been submitted to Israeli political and security officials… The PA president has cut down his work hours over the past year. People around him say he seems to be getting more short-tempered and argumentative with his aides and other senior PA officials… There are nearly 10 Palestinian politicians and security officials who see themselves worthy of the job, and there could be temporary alliances formed between some of them in an effort to win the leadership of PA.” [Haaretz]

“El Al Taps Aviation Regulator in Campaign to Access Saudi Air” by Yaacov Benmeleh: “Saudi Arabia would violate United Nations-sanctioned regulations should it allow Indian planes en route to Israel to fly over its airspace without granting the same access to Israeli carriers, Chief Executive Officer Gonen Usishkin wrote in a letter addressed to Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, president of the International Civil Aviation Organization… The one-sided approval would be discriminatory on the part of Saudi authorities, who would not reciprocate the access to El Al “solely” because it’s “an Israeli airline,” Usishkin said.” [Bloomberg]

“U.S. Lawmakers Ask Justice Dept. to Declare Al Jazeera a Foreign Agent Amid ‘Israel Lobby’ Film Tensions” by Amir Tibon: “[Senator Ted Cruz] and several members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday, asking him to look into the possibility of declaring Al Jazeera a foreign agent of Qatar’s government… Haaretz has learned that the main reason behind the letter… is a controversial Al Jazeera film about the “Israel Lobby in the United States,” which the network prepared in 2017… In their letter, the legislators hint at this issue by saying that the Justice Department should investigate “reports that Al Jazeera infiltrated American non-profit organizations.”” [Haaretz]

— Amir Tibon tweets“Interesting sub-plot to this saga: the lone Senator who signed the anti-Al-Jazeera letter is Ted Cruz; Qatar’s lobbyist/consultant who brokered the deal with Al Jazeera not to air the “Israel lobby” film, is Nick Muzin, a former Cruz staffer.”

Students heckle pro-Israeli Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz in Doha: “Qatari activists on Sunday heckled notorious pro-Israeli US academic Alan Dershowitz during a lecture at Northwestern University in Doha, shouting pro-Palestinian slogans and waving Palestinian flags. The students told Dershowitz “Zionists were not welcome in Qatar,” amid applause by some of those in attendance.” [Alaraby] • Qatar activists only interested in Israel condemnation, says Dershowitz [JPost]

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

2020 WATCH: “Oprah Charms Wall Street at Power Lunch With Henry Kravis, Leon Black” by Amanda L Gordon: “Winfrey joined private equity billionaires Leon Black and Henry Kravis, as well as hedge fund founder Dan Och, at a fundraising luncheon for the Museum of Modern Art to accept the David Rockefeller Award “for enlightened generosity and advocacy of cultural and civic endeavors.” “The last time I accepted an award, I accidentally wound up running for president,” Winfrey, 64, told the audience. “So I’m going to choose my words very carefully today.” … Hollywood mogul and MoMA benefactor David Geffen was among those attending.” [Bloomberg]

“Carlyle Co-Founder Says Guns Are Off-Limits for His $195 Billion Fund” by Eliza Ronalds-Hannon: “David Rubenstein’s $195 billion private equity firm, Carlyle Group LP, has never invested in guns or tobacco, Rubenstein said in an interview on Monday with Freakonomics Radio. “When I set up the firm with my partners, I said I didn’t want to do certain things, that I found them antithetical to my own beliefs,” Rubenstein told Stephen Dubner. “So I didn’t want to invest in tobacco-related products. We’ve never done that. I didn’t want to invest in firearms, guns. We’ve never done that,” he said.” [Bloomberg]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Special counsel has examined episodes involving Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer” by Rosalind Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey: “Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has requested documents and interviewed witnesses about incidents involving Michael Cohen, the longtime lawyer for President Trump… Cohen is also among nine Trump associates whose communications with former Trump aide Sam Nunberg are being sought by the special counsel… Cohen has been seen far less in the White House during the past six months but remains in regular contact with the president, according to people familiar with his role.” [WashPost]

“‘Man of mystery’ cooperates with Mueller in Russia probe” by Shimon Prokupecz, Kara Scannell and Sara Murray: “George Nader, a low-profile diplomatic go-between who has forged close ties to the Emirates, was stopped and questioned by the FBI at Dulles International Airport in January as he returned from an overseas trip… Since then, he has been talking to Mueller’s investigators and providing information to the grand jury.” [CNN]

LongRead: “The source: How hacked emails and a yacht in Monaco ended my career at The Wall Street Journal” by Jay Solomon: “Hackers—likely state-sponsored—went after me, I believe, to hurt one of my sources and throw me off the Iran story, which dominated my career for nearly a decade. My mistakes gave those hackers and their employers the ammunition they needed to end my career at the Journal… in the heat of pursuing stories, reporters don’t always think about managing perceptions. But I was also concerned about losing [Farhad] Azima as a source and access to the world he offered. I walked a fine line and probably talked in ways that gave false impressions. Because I never signed onto any business, nor did anything close to engaging in one, I figured the emails were irrelevant…” [CJR]

DEEP DIVE — “When Israel Hatched a Secret Plan to Assassinate Iranian Scientists” by Ronen Bergman: “The Iranians quickly realized that someone was killing their scientists and began guarding them closely… The Iranians posted cars full of cops around their homes, making their lives a nightmare and pitching them and their families into profound anxiety. The series of successful operations also had an additional effect, one that Israel did not initiate but that ended up working to its benefit: Iran began to fear that Israel had penetrated their ranks, and thus started devoting huge efforts to locating their leaks and trying to protect their personnel against the Mossad. The Iranians also became paranoid about the possibility that all the equipment and materials they’d acquired on the black market for their nuclear project—for very large sums of money—were infected, and they examined and reexamined each item over and over. These efforts greatly slowed the progress of the nuclear project as a whole.” [PoliticoMag

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Digging Up the Past in a Jewish Cemetery: In Wroclaw, Poland, the fate of an old graveyard collides with the promise of a new Best Western hotel” by Agnieszka Jablonska: “In 2017, when work on the [Best Western] hotel began, heavy machinery entered the site, and human remains were unearthed… In addition to buttons from German military uniforms and Nazi badges with swastikas—suggesting that the Jewish cemetery had also been used by the Nazis during WWII—the remains of 100 humans were uncovered, along with more than 30 fragments of stone matzevot, and a fragment of a Hebrew text encased in a clump of hard soil… The regional monument preservation office halted construction works in 2017, allowing archeologists to do their work. However, since then, government authorities at all levels have shown little concern about the outcomes of the excavations. The city reportedly maintains the land was purchased legally and has not revoked the construction permit.” [TabletMag]

“U.S. Holocaust Museum Revokes Award to Aung San Suu Kyi” by Michael Schwirtz: “The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has revoked a prestigious human rights award it had given to the Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, now Myanmar’s civilian leader, faulting her for failing to halt or even acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of her country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who endured 15 years of house arrest for taking on the military dictatorship in Myanmar, was only the second person to receive the award, in 2012.” [NYTimes]

“Israeli shepherdess uses modern sheep breed to revive ancient shofar sound” by Rinat Harash: “The spotted breed of Jacob Sheep was bred in England in the 17th and 18th centuries, and this flock was brought to Israel from Canada by [Jenna] Lewinsky in 2016… “The Jacob Sheep horns can probably be processed anywhere in the world but what makes the horns special is that we are processing them in Israel, which gives them a holiness,” she said. Robert Weinger, a shofar-maker who works with the horns from Lewinsky’s farm, said that a ram’s horn made from the breed can sell for $500 to $20,000 or more, depending on its sound quality.” [Reuters

RISING STAR: “How an unlikely Jewish genealogist caught the family history bug” by Peggy Fletcher Stack: “Like many amateur genealogists, Ari Ehrlich started out just wanting to see if he was related to British royalty. You know, like Prince George and Princess Charlotte… As word spread of the genealogist’s successes in ferreting out relationships, the mayor of Tuxedo Park, N.Y., where Ari grew up, approached the family at a picnic and asked: “I’m adopted. Do you think Ari could find my birth mother?” To that challenge, Ari replied: “I will not rest until I find her.” Of course, he’ll have to do that detective work before bedtime. Ari just turned 12. “My Aunt Lizzie got me the Ancestry account,” he says, “I’ve been geeking out ever since.” All this “geeking out” has taught Ari how to do methodical research, to compile data, to try to explain inconsistencies in the records. His mom, Katie Rosman, a reporter for The New York Times, says she has seen the work build empathy and wonder in the budding genealogist.” [SLTrib]

“Purim Is a Sacred Jewish Holiday — and a Wild Two-Day Party” by John LeLand: “There may be more fun holidays on the calendar than the 48-hour Jewish celebration of Purim, which ended March 1, but not many. Orthodox Jewish communities tend to be in full party mode, with children wearing rabbinical beards or flamboyant costumes. But Mark Abramson, who spent this Purim taking photographs in two very different Hasidic neighborhoods in Brooklyn, said he also experienced something deeper. It got a little crazy,” said Mr. Abramson, who is Jewish but not observant. “They really partied hard. But it felt more about unity and the welcoming spirit. It’s an amazingly joyous holiday. I got invited into people’s homes, even in the Satmar community. That doesn’t happen during the year.” [NYTimes]

PIC OF THE DAY — Actor Jeremy Piven with the Zusha Music crew in Los Angeles [Pic]

SPOTTED BY A JI READER: Sean Spicer having coffee at Pret A Manger near Dupont Circle this morning [Pic]

TRANSITION — Dr. Merryl Tisch has been appointed as Vice Chair of the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Dr. Tisch was head of the Board of Regents, New York’s governing body for education, from 2009 to 2016.

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC — Merryl and James Tisch hosted a cocktail reception to welcome former NYC Councilman David Greenfield as the new CEO of Met Council, who is now in his third month at the helm of New York City’s largest Jewish charity. “Met Council is embracing technology to battle poverty. We’re saving money, providing better service and serving more clients than ever before,” Greenfield said as he detailed his vision for organization. [Pic]

SPOTTED: Met Council Co-Presidents Ben Tisch and Joseph Allerhand, Steven Price, UJA’s Eric Goldstein, Jeffrey Feil, Rob Capito, David Lichtenstein, Raanan Agus, Ziel and Helene Feldman, Isaac Corre, Rebecca Feit, Ralph Herzka, Linda and Jerome Spitzer, Betsy and Ben Lopata, Jeffrey Schoenfeld, Jennifer Yashar, Ken Fox, Susie Stern, Gary Barnett, Stacy Scheinberg, Joseph Shenker, Daniella Tisch, Joe Sitt, Andrew Rechtshaffen, Lisa and Larry Cohen, Randi Schatz, Simon Ziff, Karen Kasner, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Bret Barth, Jodi Schwartz, George Klein, Lisa and Barry Bergman, Yossi Prager.

TODAY IN BERLIN — Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, head of the European Beth Din, will receive the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, one of Germany’s highest honors, in recognition of his contribution to the German Jewish community in a ceremony at the offices of Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

BIRTHDAYS: Nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Times since 1984, author and social observer, Suzanne Bregman Fields, Ph.D. turns 82… Biologist, president of the California Institute of Technology (1997-2006) and 1975 Nobel laureate in Medicine, David Baltimore turns 80… Bureau chief for the AP in Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, London and Tokyo, president of the National Press Club in 2014, since 2005 a journalism educator at George Washington University, Myron Belkind turns 78… Former Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company from 1984-2005, Michael Eisner turns 76… Geneticist and 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in Medicine, his parents were immigrants who had fled Nazi Germany in 1938, his father was the cantor of Boston’s Temple Ohabei Shalom, Michael Rosbashturns 74… Retired media executive who was a member of the first co-ed class at Yale University in 1969, Ruth Barbara Jarmul turns 69…

Vice-Chairman and general trust counsel of Fiduciary Trust International, Gail Ehrlich Cohen turns 62… Award-winning freelance journalist, author and adjunct professor at Philip Merrill College of Journalism at University of Maryland, Anne Farris Rosen turns 62… Democratic political strategist, SVP at TruBlu Politics, Lewis H. Cohen turns 58… Academy Award winning actress, Rachel Weisz turns 48… Assistant News Director for DC’s NBC4 News, adjunct professor of journalism at American U, Matt Glassman turns 48… Brooklyn-based political consultant and attorney focused on media relations, formerly director of intergovernmental affairs for Senator Schumer, Michael Tobman turns 45… Staff writer for U.S. News & World Report covering law enforcement, criminal justice, STEM and healthcare, Alan Neuhauser turns 31… Attorney Sasha Ahuva Farahi… Senior publicist in the media relations group at MSNBC, Rachel Zuckerman… Jake Hirth… Yaakov Spira




Daily Kickoff: “The most pro- … President in American history” | Senate Dems back Taylor Force Act at AIPAC | Elliott Broidy accuses Qatar of hacking his email

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‘THE ULTIMATE DEAL’ — “Trump’s Hopes of Being the ‘Neutral Guy’ in the Mideast Seem Long Gone” by Peter Baker and David Halbfinger: “In a meeting at the White House on Monday, Mr. Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel put on display perhaps the closest relationship between leaders of their two countries in the seven decades since Israel declared independence… and the president said he might visit Jerusalem in May to preside over the politically potent transfer of the American Embassy… Mr. Trump insisted that he still had “a good chance” of forging peace… “The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table very badly,” he said… Then he acknowledged what would happen if he is wrong. “If they don’t, you don’t have peace.”” [NYTimes]

“Trump didn’t share his peace plan with Netanyahu” by Barak Ravid: “Netanyahu said at a briefing with Israeli reporters after the meeting that… Trump didn’t give any details about a time table for releasing his peace plan, which Netanyahu said will be a U.S. decision. The main issue discussed in the meeting was Iran – mainly the nuclear deal. Netanyahu said he found Trump very informed on the Iranian issue and very much in control of the details… Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner didn’t attend the first part of the meeting, which took place in a smaller setting. Kushner joined a second, broader meeting.” [Axios] • Netanyahu Takes Reporters’ Questions Ahead Of AIPAC Speech [NPR]

The Washington Institute’s David Makovsky tells us… “The question is, is there a value for the U.S. to put forward a peace plan that is most likely to be rejected by the Palestinian side? Does that help the United States? Does it help Israel? Some believe that Netanyahu would like the U.S. to put forward a plan that he knows the Palestinians would reject because it would enable him to run on the next election as a peacemaker. Even if he knows that the other side would not accept it. I think we’re in an unusual place where the Israelis see a tactical value to a Trump plan, precisely because they feel it will be rejected by the Palestinians. I just think for the U.S., we should have an American perspective. I don’t know if I see the value in putting forward a plan that is not likely to succeed because it could hurt a good idea. The United States has tried to hit the home run ball three times on the peace issue – Clinton in 2000, Condi Rice in 2007-2008, and Kerry in 2013-2014 – I just think we’re better off trying to hit a solid single that both sides can accept, maybe.”

HOW IT PLAYED — “Trump welcomes embattled Netanyahu as corruption probe follows Israeli leader to Washington” by Ruth Eglash and Anne Gearan: “President Trump said he may soon visit Israel to open a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem as he offered a warm welcome Mondayto Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… “I may” go for the planned May opening of the embassy, Trump said. “We’re looking at coming. If I can, I will.” … Netanyahu’s praise of Trump… aired during the much-watched evening news period in Israel — and it hinted at the stakes for the veteran leader.” [WashPost] • “Netanyahu gets VIP treatment from Trump after years of frosty relations with Obama” [FoxNews]

Evan McMurry‏: “A vigorous handshake between President Trump, PM Netanyahu.” [Pic]

Shalom Lipner, former aide to several Israeli Prime Ministers, emails us… “The most striking thing about watching Netanyahu back in the Oval Office was his relaxed demeanor, in sharp contrast to the palpable tension which characterized his visits to the Obama White House. The meeting with Trump couldn’t have come at a more fortuitous time for Netanyahu. Embattled at home, he took full advantage of the opportunity to shift the discourse to his preferred frame: Iran. And in heaping praise and superlatives on Trump for his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Netanyahu was essentially patting himself on the back — taking credit for the unprecedented U.S. decision, and telegraphing to Israelis that nobody is more qualified than him to manage Israel’s most critical strategic relationship. It’s safe to assume that the glowing optics of his meeting with Trump and address to AIPAC will feature prominently in his campaign for reelection.”

HAPPENING THIS MORNING — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the AIPAC Policy Conference – Watch live [CSPAN]

RECAP OF AIPAC DAY 2 — Delivering a similar speech to the one he delivered to the Knesset in January, Vice President Mike Pence assured AIPAC that the U.S. will not allow the defeat of ISIS in Syria to become a victory for Iran.” Pence also announced that “unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States will withdraw from the deal immediately.” [CSPAN]

OOPS! “Pence opened his speech with a slip of the tongue, which drew laughter from thousands in the crowd. He told the crowd that he is conveying a message of support from U.S. President Donald Trump, and called Trump “the most pro-life President” ever… After noticing the crowd’s reaction, Pence quickly adjusted his comment and praised Trump as “the most pro-Israel president ever.””[Haaretz] • Pence delivered the ‘pro-life’ line at the National Religious Broadcasters’ 75th annual meeting last week [Tennessean]

FLASHBACK — Pence speaking at AIPAC in 2009: “Though I know of no synagogues in my district… let me say emphatically: Like the overwhelming majority of my constituents, my Christian faith compels me to cherish the State of Israel.”” [CSPAN]

HALEY RECEIVES ROCKSTAR TREATMENT, AGAIN — Interrupted constantly by roaring applause and drawing twelve standing ovations, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley assured AIPAC that the U.S. will stand with Israel against a growing threat of Iranian aggression in the Middle East the same way it defends Israel against bias and bullying at the United Nations. Haley began her speech by stating, “When I come to AIPAC, I am with friends. In the United Nations, we sometimes don’t have many friends.” [Video

–Expressing hope she will attend the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, Haley declared, “Jerusalem was, is, and will always be the capital of Israel.” [Video]

HOW IT PLAYED — “Nikki Haley Wows pro-Israel Lobby AIPAC: ‘For Me, She’s the Next President'” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “If the AIPAC conference had been the GOP Iowa presidential caucuses, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence would be facing a formidable challenge if he aspired to succeed U.S. President Donald Trump. Haley would have beaten him hands down… Howard and Rachel Nieman, a pro-Trump couple from New York, said they were both deeply impressed by Haley… “For me, she’s the next president,” said Rachel. “Her smile – her humor – all of it connected with me.”” [Haaretz]

SCHUMER’S SHTICK — Immediately following Haley’s speech, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer shared one of his classic stories — a joke his father shared about a stolen can of peaches — at the start of a well-received speech during which he explained that the real reason there’s still no peace is that the Palestinians refuse to recognize “any Jewish state.” Schumer vowed to pass the Taylor Force Act and called the BDS movement blatant anti-Semitism. He also peppered his speech with Yiddish and Hebrew phrases.

–Schumer on settlements: “Now, some say there are some who argue the settlements are the reason there’s not peace, but we all know what happened in Gaza, Israel voluntarily got rid of the settlements there, the Israeli soldiers dragged the settlers out of Netzarim, and three weeks later the Palestinians threw rockets into Sderot. It’s sure not the settlements that are the blockage to peace.”

–Schumer on Taylor Force Act: “We must pass and highlight the Taylor Force Act… Too many believe that this Palestinian Authority is moderate and really wants peace. The Taylor Force Act will force the world to confront the dark truth that the Palestinian Authority, every day, actively aids and abets terrorism. We will pass the Taylor Force Law and that will show the world what the Palestinian Authority is actually doing.”

Vice President Pence’s spokeswoman Alyssa Farah‏ tweets: “AIPAC: that one time a year I find myself nodding along & clapping to a Chuck Schumer speech.” [Twitter]

Nathan Guttman‏: “AIPAC speakers from right to left: Chuck Schumer the most pro-settler; Nikki Haley with a Netanyahu-like speech; Mike Pence almost centrist; AIPAC’s CEO – most dovish. Weird world #AIPAC2018.” [Twitter]

HEARD THIS MORNING AT AIPAC — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in an apparent dig at J Street: ”Saying that you are pro-Israel and pro-peace sounds like a completely reasonable position. My friends, it’s not… Using that phrase suggests Israel is not pro-peace. Saying pro-Israel and pro-peace is a redundancy. If you support Israel, you must by definition support Israel living in peace with its neighbors… It’s no less than blasphemous to suggest that any Jew or Christian is against peace. Everyone in Israel yearns for peace, and it is dangerously misleading to use phrases that suggest otherwise.” [CSPAN]

–JTA’s Ron Kampeas tweets“Jan Schakowsky was vicious about Orthodox Jews a few years ago at J Street; she apologized after being called out. David Friedman was vicious today at AIPAC re J Street – does he apologize (again)?”

“AIPAC rekindles old debate: Is Israel in favor of a two-state solution or not?” by Raphael Ahren: “[Howard] Kohr, who has been at AIPAC’s helm since 1996, was roundly criticized by right-leaning Israelis, including Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and other influential figures in the Likud party… On Monday evening, Netanyahu told reporters that he had refused to say, during a meeting with Trump.. whether he supported the creation of a Palestinian state.” [ToI]

“Why more Orthodox Jews are going to AIPAC” by Ben Sales: “The Orthodox segment of the community is most connected to and passionate about Israel,” said Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center… “AIPAC has become not only more and more welcoming but has actively recruited in the Orthodox community,” Diament said. “That and other things have prompted a two-sided equation in which the Orthodox community is becoming more and more engaged, and AIPAC has been very welcoming.” [JTA]

“Don’t Meet the Press: AIPAC’s ‘Freedom of the Press’ Panel Is Closed to Media” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “At the conference, each subgroup – speakers, students, staff and various levels of donors – was distinguished by the color of the lanyard with their AIPAC entrance credential. If someone was wearing the bright pink “Press” lanyard (“Did it have to be pink?” grumbled one male journalist), they were turned away from any of the small group sessions… It’s a policy that has long gotten under the skin of reporters covering the conference, particularly American-Jewish and Israeli reporters who view the conference as an important opportunity to take the temperature of the community.” [Haaretz]

— Jewish Week editorial… “Why We Won’t Be At The AIPAC Conference: AIPAC has a long history of being wary of and less than friendly toward the press… Such treatment doesn’t foster trust and mutual respect… Unfortunately, the lobby has not changed its policy about keeping most of its sessions off-limits to the press. We look forward to a time when it chooses to open its doors wider rather than keeping them closed.” [JewishWeek]

PROFILE — “Teaneck doctor seeks bipartisan unity as president of pro-Israel group AIPAC” by Herb Jackson: “In his speech Sunday at the massive Washington Convention Center, where the wall behind his lectern was lined with 12 stadium-scale TVs projecting his image, [Mort] Fridman said attendees could be sitting next to people from the opposite party, but that would add to the group’s strength when attendees head to Capitol Hill Tuesdayto lobby lawmakers… Public records compiled by cqmoneyline show Fridman and his wife, Esther, have given nearly $154,000 to federal candidates and committees in the past 15 years, split about 55 percent-45 percent between Democrats and Republicans.” [NorthJersey]

SPOTTED by a JI reader last night: Head of Israel’s Labor Party Avi Gabbay schmoozing with Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Bayit Yehudi party [Pic]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who also serves as Minister of Diaspora Affairs, at an event hosted by the Yesha Council at Sixth and I: “You know what really keeps me up at night more than the future of Yehuda and Shomron? It’s the future of Jews in the United States. There are almost 6 million Jews in the United States of America and we are losing a lot of them, and if Israel was the project of the Jewish world, I think now the Jewish world is the project of Israel. I am Minister of Diaspora Affairs. I am essentially Minister of the Jews. I am your minister. (laughter). We need to figure out how we reach out and get to these Jews… This is, I think, our big mission. On campus, before your defend Israel, reach out to the Jews.” [JewishInsider]

ON THE HILL — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says he’s determined to pass the Taylor Force Act — by Jenna Lifhits“Graham said the Taylor Force Act could either be attached to an upcoming omnibus spending bill or put on the floor separately, “sooner rather than later.” “I don’t know if we’re going to put it on the omnibus or take a floor vote, but it’s going to pass one way or the other,” he said… “We’ll try to work those out as soon as we can,” Graham told TWS last week, regarding the differences between the House and Senate versions.” [WeeklyStandard]

TOP TALKER — “Ex-Trump Aide Sam Nunberg Says He Will Refuse Grand Jury Order. Unless He Doesn’t” by Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman: “It began with a subpoena. It ended with a question about whether its recipient was drunk on live television. Sam Nunberg, a onetime Trump campaign aide who recently met with investigators for the special counsel, set cable news alight on Monday when he declared that he was subpoenaed to go before a grand jury on Friday, but that he was unlikely to appear or to provide documents he was ordered to hand over… By midafternoon, he had been interviewed on MSNBC and CNN. Fox News soon joined in with coverage… By evening, Mr. Nunberg told reporters he might comply with Mr. Mueller’s demand after all. Unless he doesn’t, of course.”[NYTimes] • The 42 craziest quotes from Sam Nunberg’s absolutely bonkers CNN interviews [CNN]

HOW IT PLAYED — “Nunberg’s Mueller Meltdown Leaves Friends Petrified” by Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng: “Starting Monday morning, Nunberg began calling several close associates that he was flatly refusing, at this time, to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation… Three Nunberg friends said they walked away from those conversations fearful that he was “drinking again” and was about to embark on a personal tailspin. They didn’t know it would play out on daytime TV.” [DailyBeast]

PALACE INTRIGUE — “At Mar-a-Lago, Trump Polls Guests About Kushner’s Bad Press” by Emily Jane Fox: “When Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner entered the Renaissance Washington Hotel on Saturday… they evidenced little sign that their world had been nuked in the preceding week… What did raise some eyebrows in the Jewish community, however, was the fact that cameras caught them entering the hotel on Saturdayevening before the sun set… The president would only stay at Mar-a-Lago for some 24 hours before returning to the Swamp for the Gridiron dinner. But it afforded him enough time… to poll club members about what they thought about the Kushner stories and how they were playing… This person noted that the headlines crossed two of Trump’s red lines. “He hates bad publicity generated by others,” this person said—especially anything that suggests somebody else might be making money off the Trump name.” [VanityFair]

“Geraldo Fawns Over Ivanka After Selfie: ‘She’s So Noble and She’s So Efficient and So Effective’” by Justin Baragona: “Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera took to Twitter Monday to post a selfie with… Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner along with a defense of the embattled couple… Rivera claimed, “they work in a nest of snitches, vipers & rats AKA the #WestWing.” … Rivera said [Ivanka] invited him to the White House for tea on Monday.” [Mediaite]

2018 WATCH — “Bernie Sanders’ Son Is Extremely Mad Online” by Ashley Feinberg: “Levi Sanders, Bernie Sanders’… only biological child, is running for Congress in New Hampshire largely as an unknown… Thanks to years of Facebook postings, though, we can glean some sense of the passions that drive the younger Sanders… Levi Sanders is extremely mad online. Levi has already come under some social media scrutiny for his past tweets. It seems that Twitter is where he goes to drop his iffy takes; Facebook is where he prefers to brawl…” [HuffPost]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: The Billionaires’ Feud That Will Affect Electric Cars[WashPost] • Wilf’s Vikings Open Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center [Vikings] • Gary Cohn Tries to Head Off Trump Tariffs With White House Summit [Bloomberg] • Brooklyn’s long-delayed Bossert Hotel faces another setback [Curbed

“U.N. Chief Picks a Very Rich New Yorker (Not Named Trump) for Climate Job” by Somini Sengupta: “The appointment of Michael R. Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York City who is a prominent advocate in the fight against climate change, to the United Nations post comes a year ahead of a summit meeting on global warming that the secretary general is planning. “The world has those that follow and those that lead. And those that lead, some lead in the wrong direction and some lead in the right direction,” [António] Guterres said at a news conference…” [NYTimes]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “A Top Trump Fund-Raiser Says Qatar Hacked His Email” by David Kirkpatrick: “A cyberwar in the Persian Gulf reverberated in the United States this week as a top Republican fund-raiser [Elliott Broidy] accused agents for Qatar of hacking into his email to plant damaging articles in the American news media… Qatar called Mr. Broidy’s charges a false ‘”diversionary tactic to distract from the serious allegations against himself and his client, the United Arab Emirates.” Mr. Broidy and Qatar each threatened legal actions. The dispute illustrates how conflicts around the globe can echo through American news media, politics and courts, as rivals compete for the favor of Washington and the sympathies of the West.”[NYTimes]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “The future of Israel’s “dreamers”” by Loveday Morris: “[Alam] Godin is a soft-spoken 21-year-old, a keen basketball player and fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He says he’d like to study nursing but instead, at the moment, flips burgers at a fast-food restaurant. He has put his plans on hold and fears he could be handed a deportation order whenever he renews his visa. He says he’d rather be jailed than deported… “It’s not our country, Rwanda or Uganda,” said Godin, who speaks near fluent English, along with Hebrew and Arabic. His younger brother, Alan, 18, is on the cusp of graduating and facing uncertainty. “They can’t do anything to you while you are at school,” said Alan, as he flicked through Katy Perry and Shakira music videos on the family television. “It’s a safe place.””[WashPost]

Saturday shopping serves as symbol as Jews quarrel over faith” by Brinley Bruton and Paul Goldman: “Shay Rodnick, who owns a Judaica shop in Mea Shearim… said that many Haredis feel the government is trying to take things from them, such as subsidies given to Israelis for having children and religious scholars for studying. “The Haredi people feel stipends are being reduced — they are always trying to take stipends away from us,” Rodnick said. Because Haredis often have large families, they tend to receive proportionally more in government aid than other Israelis… Netanyahu’s government recently rolled back legislation aimed at increasing conscription, but this was struck down by the Supreme Court. The court has demanded new legislation within a year.” [NBCNews]

MAZEL TOV — “Westfield founder Frank Lowy’s tech entrepreneur grandson marries his fiancée in a lavish million-dollar wedding inside Sydney’s Centennial Park” by Kate Darvall and April Glover: “The grandson of Westfield Corp founder Frank Lowy has married his partner in an extravagant multi-million dollar wedding. Josh Lowy married Britt Friede in the lavish wedding in Sydney’s Centennial Park on Sunday, in what is believed to be one of the city’s most expensive weddings. Josh is one of Steven and Judy Lowy’s four children. Photos snapped at the reception show exquisitely-dressed guests arriving to celebrate the nuptials, including Sir Frank Lowy, 87, the former Chairman of Westfield Corporation.” [DailyMail]

DESSERT — “New York Welcomes Its First Kosher Ramen Restaurant” by Leah Koenig: “Located on New York’s Upper West Side, Boru Boru, which opened in mid-February, offers the city’s first kosher-certified ramen. Instead of the pork and seafood that often provides ramen’s base flavors, their broths are made from chicken, soy sauce, miso, and other umami-laden flavor builders. And they are really good—complexly flavored, deeply savory, and well-balanced.” [TabletMag]

New Midtown NYC Mediterranean Spot ‘Basta’ Opens Its Doors: “This newcomer–located in the former Tim Horton’s space, which closed up shop last year–is the latest project from executive chef Raz Shabtai (Nur). Basta features an all-kosher Mediterranean menu with North African and European influences.” [ABC7NY]

ACROSS THE POND: “New fine-dining London kosher restaurant set for spring opening” by Daniel Sugarman: “Weeks after the announcement of one kosher restaurant opening in central London, another venue has announced plans to launch “in the heart” of the city. Tish Bar & Kitchen has announced that it will open in “spring 2018.” [TheJC]

BIRTHDAYS: Newly minted centenarian, known as “Philadelphia Phil,” the founder of a successful advertising agency, he achieved fame during the Eagles 2018 run to a Super Bowl championship, Philip Basser turns 100… Former chairman of the Federal Reserve of the United States (1987-2006), Alan Greenspan turns 92… Actor, writer, director, producer and political activist, directed “When Harry Met Sally” and “A Few Good Men,” Rob Reiner turns 71… Television personality, author and libertarian pundit, known for his career on both ABC News and Fox Business Channel, he is a winner of 19 Emmy Awards, John Stossel turns 71… Musical theatre lyricist and composer, winner of three Oscars, three Grammys and received six Tony Award nominations, Stephen Schwartz turns 70… Owner of Atlantic Media, David G. Bradley… Actor, comedian and sports show host, converted to Judaism upon marrying Roseanne Barr in 1990, Tom Arnold turns 59… Aliza Tendler turns 53… Head of Innovation Communication at Bloomberg LP, Chaim Haas turns 43…

Former football quarterback who played on six NFL teams (2001-2012), member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Sage Rosenfels turns 40… Managing director at Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based investment firm, he was the body man (2001-2006) and then deputy chief of staff (2008-2009) for former President George W. Bush, Blake L. Gottesman turns 38… Fourth generation developer, owner, and operator of commercial real estate throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, Daniel Klein turns 37… Israeli fashion model, Esti Ginzburg turns 28… Artist and founder / director of Tikkun Olam Journeys, Tova Suissa… Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law student who is a member of The Israel Project’s Tower Tomorrow Fellowship, Riley Clafton turns 23… Senior director for business development and client services at NYC-based Jewish Communal Fund, Michelle Lebowitz… Princeton University student who interned for Senator Marco Rubio, Theodore Furchtgott… Sandra Brown… Nelson Katz

House committee will vote on Taylor Force Act next week

Thursday, November 9, 2017

WASHINGTON – The House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote next Wednesday on the Taylor Force Act, a critical step in advancing the legislation into law, a Congressional aide…

Kafe Knesset for November 8

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Spotlight on Dermer: Investigations against the PM and his associates have accelerated this week, along with news reports about some of the suspicions. As Netanyahu’s confidants, lawyers Isaac…

Kafe Knesset for November 7

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Submarine Affair: After two days of guessing and hinting as to whom the Police detained in their investigation of the Submarine Affair, the court-imposed gag order expired…

Kafe Knesset for November 6

Monday, November 6, 2017

The noose tightens around Bibi: Netanyahu never really gets any quality time off. And, as has happened in the past, his historic visit to London was disrupted by…

Kafe Knesset for November 3

Friday, November 3, 2017

Just as PM Netanyahu took off to London, two new television-sponsored polls were published, giving him some troubling news for the weekend. If elections were held today, both…

Kafe Knesset for November 1

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Netanyahu’s off to London: After an extravagant Australian celebration marking 100 years since the Battle of Beersheba, the Prime Minister is heading to more historical festivities. Netanyahu and…