DRIVING THE DAY — Israelis will pay their respects to U.S.-born Sgt. First Class Zachary Baumel, who will be buried at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem this evening, 37 years after he was likely killed in the battle of Sultan Yacoub during Israel’s first Lebanon war. Baumel’s remains were returned to Israel earlier this week, Israeli PM Netanyahu announced on Wednesday.
Netanyahu thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for helping Israel with finding the remains and assisting with its return to Israel during a brief visit to Moscow. “I would like to thank you my friend,” Netanyahu said, “on my behalf and on behalf of the people of Israel, for everything you have done and for our steadfast friendship which is very important for my country.” Netanyahu will attend the funeral upon his return.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), said in a statement to Jewish Insider, “After nearly 37 years, answers have finally surfaced for the family and friends of Brooklyn-born IDF tank commander, Zachary Baumel, who was returned to Israel after going missing in Lebanon in 1982 during the First Lebanon War. As Zachary’s former Congressman, I spoke from the House floor and worked closely with his family, and in conjunction with several organizations, in pursuit of justice and answers regarding the condition of Zachary and his fellow soldiers. After so many years, he will finally get the proper burial he deserves.” Read Schumer’s House floor speech about Baumel on June 10, 1998 here [GovInfo]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — by Neri Zilber: Israeli officials rejected the idea, floated by some (more cynical) observers, that the timing of the announcement was connected to Bibi’s re-election bid — military operations run according to their own schedule, not that of the election calendar. Yet the return home of the remains, and with it Bibi’s emotional press statement yesterday, the trip to Moscow, and tonight’s funeral, are all clearly benefits of incumbency.
Shalom Lipner, a veteran of 26 years in the prime minister’s office, emails: “Netanyahu is riding a wave of popularity moving into the home stretch of next week’s election, proving once again that he’s a world-class campaigner. It’s no coincidence that most recent polls have both the Likud as top vote-getter, and Netanyahu as still the most likely candidate to succeed at forming Israel’s next government. He’s managed a tightly disciplined and centralized operation, while his main opponents have struggled to deliver a coherent message. And on the international stage, where Netanyahu shines, these final days before the ballot have witnessed a parade of guest stars making cameos appearances alongside him and bestowing gifts. Benny Gantz’s path to victory has never been less clear, but the full picture will only begin to materialize once the votes are tabulated and we discover which parties did — and didn’t — manage to cross the 3.25% electoral threshold into the next Knesset.”
KAFE KNESSET — Campaigns Enter Final Stretch With Media Blitz — by Neri Zilber: With the election entering its final weekend, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival Benny Gantz launched a last-minute media blitz to persuade voters ahead of next Tuesday’s poll. Ironically, both men — one (Bibi) fond of the phrase “fake news” and the other (Gantz) who famously eschewed the press earlier in the campaign — are choosing more traditional media outlets. Netanyahu yesterday gave an interview to his favorite newspaper, Israel Hayom (owned by Sheldon Adelson), where he warned right-wing voters that “we are very close to losing the election” — no matter that the momentum and polls have over the past week turned in Bibi’s favor, with his Likud now leading Gantz’s Blue and White. This morning the PM was interviewed on Reshet Bet radio, where he defended his restrained Gaza policy. “I use force when necessary and I’m willing to pay the price, but only when necessary. I’m also willing to pay the political price even when I don’t have to,” he said.
Tellingly, when asked about the looming criminal indictments against him, Bibi pointed to his continued effectiveness on the world stage, saying “last week I met with President [Donald] Trump, [Brazilian President Jair] Bolsonaro was here all week, and today I’m flying to Moscow to meet with [President Vladimir] Putin.” Netanyahu is set to appear on Channel 13’s Friday evening talk show tomorrow, helmed by two hosts known to be supportive of the PM.
For his part, Gantz yesterday was interviewed on Channel 12’s early evening newscast, where he attacked Netanyahu in harsher terms than he has previously. “I once thought it wasn’t right that Netanyahu will be prime minister — today I think it’s forbidden [that he be re-elected],” Gantz said. “There are dangerous processes here that must be stopped.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]
REPORT — Netanyahu likely benefited from his cousin Nathan Milikowsky’s unauthorized deals with Libya while holding stock in Texas-based Seadrift Coke, according to a report in the Huffington Post. During that time, Milikowsky’s other company, C/G Electrodes, was charged by the U.S. Department of Commerce with violating U.S. nonproliferation regulations in selling electrodes to Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya. Milikowsky told HuffPost that Netanyahu did not know about C/G Electrodes’ sales to Libya “and was just a passive investor in Seadrift.”
Kachol Lavan (Blue & White) is looking at potentially taking bigger sums than currently allowed from Israel’s nascent sovereign wealth fund to invest in badly needed infrastructure projects, Orit Farkash-Hacohen, a candidate on the party’s Knesset ticket who’s advising the bloc on its economic agenda, told Bloomberg’s Ivan Levingston.
PEACE PLAN TIMING — Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday: “We know that the [Trump peace] plan is completed… We believe that after the elections they will make it public. We will see the context of the plan. We haven’t seen the plan. We will discuss it with our colleagues in Washington and our colleagues here at the U.N. We are open-minded, but we will wait. It’s only a few weeks. We have elections in a week, so in a few weeks we will see the plan.”
Amanpour: Can I get a better answer from you than Rep. [Nita] Lowey didfrom the secretary of state? Is it April 10th — a day after the election, is it May, is it June? What do you think, what do you know?
Danon: “It’s coming. It’s coming right after the elections. It’s a matter of weeks. I wouldn’t say days. You know, we have to count the votes. But I would say a few weeks, right after the elections we will see the plan, and it will be exciting to see the work of the administration.” [Video]
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Pro-Israel groups are rallying supporters around two anti-BDS bills, asking for pressure on representatives to join as co-sponsors and bring the resolutions to the floor.
Both AIPAC and NORPAC are backing resolutions in the House and Senate that put Congress on record as opposed to efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel through the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The resolutions also define BDS as undermining the two-state solution and that it denies the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their homeland.
The bill was introduced in the House by Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) and co-sponsored by Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY). It has 123 additional sponsors at present. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) is the lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate, joined by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), with 29 other sponsors currently.
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), outside a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on assessing U.S. policy in the Middle East, tells JI: “We have to remain engaged in the Middle East, the U.S. does. The previous administration, we had the so-called ‘pivot’ to Asia, out of the Middle East to Asia, and then referring to it as the ‘re-balance.’ The U.S. has to stay engaged. If we don’t, Iran essentially is going to continue to become more and more powerful and jeopardize our allies, Israel being our strongest ally in the Middle East and our Arab allies as well.”
FLOOR FIGHT — House Republicans are expected once again to try to add an amendment on antisemitism to a Yemen war resolution, giving Democrats a wrenching choice: Vote down the amendment amid charges that their party is coddling anti-Semites, or approve it and kill a hard-fought resolution aimed at ending U.S. involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) implored members of his party to oppose the Republican motion. “If anybody thinks that I’m not supportive of an anti-Semitism resolution, you don’t know much about my history, and I’m going to tell that to the members on the floor,” Mr. Hoyer later told reporters. “This is about Yemen. This is not about some extraneous, maybe very important, but extraneous and undermining” amendment.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), the lead sponsor of the Yemen resolution, described the Republican maneuver as “a divisive tactic of anti-Semitism to block an effort to save lives in Yemen.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) told the NYTimes, “I don’t see the issue going away. Silence isn’t an option.”
TAKING IT TO THE AIRWAVES — An official from American Action Network, a conservative advocacy nonprofit group founded by former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) and the recently deceased GOP donor Fred Malek, told CNN the group will spend six figures on digital ads that criticize Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her “anti-Semitic slurs.” The ad urges House Democrats to “stand up to hate” and remove Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
AAN, affiliated with the GOP Congressional Leadership Fund, also plans to air 30-second online ads in four swing districts held by moderates freshman Democrats — Reps. Dean Phillips (MN03), Abigail Spanberger (VA07), Tom Malinowski (NJ07) and Haley Stevens (MI11).
Dem pollster Mark Mellman, who also serves as president of the Democratic Majority for Israel, tells us: “Republican efforts to turn Israel into a wedge issue damages Israel. Republican attacks on Congresswoman Omar may be good for AAN’s fundraising, but are counterproductive. Republican attempts to smear strong pro-Israel Members of Congress like Dean Phillips, Abigail Spanberger, Tom Malinowski, and Haley Stevens are dishonest, deceptive and disgusting. Sincere advocates of a strong U.S. Israel relationship would be thanking them for their staunch support not attempting to mislead their constituents.”
— Rep. Omar will soon learn the conclusions of an investigation into allegations that she violated campaign spending laws during her time as a state lawmaker — including accusations that she used campaign money to pay for her divorce attorney and personal travel.
CONFIRMATION — Roy Altman, a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, became the first in a likely wave of Trump district court appointees to be considered under an accelerated Senate confirmation timetable. The chamber voted 66 to 33 to invoke cloture on Altman’s nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and set the stage for a likely confirmation vote today.
HEARD YESTERDAY — On the 70th anniversary of the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressed the Congress on Wednesday, touting the shared values of the alliance, the importance of its mission and providing praise to President Trump for pushing member states to spend more on defense.
“Hitler could not have been stopped with peaceful protests,” he said. “Stalin could not have been deterred with words. ISIS could not have been defeated with dialogue. Future enemies of freedom may choose violence again. Our desire for a peaceful world is simply not enough. We must act and invest to make it so. NATO allies must spend more on defense. This has been the clear message from President Trump and this message is having a real impact.”
IN THE SPOTLIGHT — The House Intelligence Committee has askedStephanie Winston Wolkoff, one of the top contractors to President Trump’s inaugural committee, to provide it with documents about the event and parties around the inauguration in 2017. Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that the panel would investigate any “financial or other leverage” that “foreign actors” might have over Trump and his administration.
Jared Kushner was identified only as ‘Senior White House Official 1’ in committee documents released this week describing the testimony of Tricia Newbold, a whistleblower in the White House’s personnel security office who said she and another career employee determined that Kushner had too many ‘significant disqualifying factors’ to receive a security clearance. Their decision was overruled by Carl Kline, the political appointee who then headed the office, according to Newbold’s interview with committee staff.
REPORT — President Trump pondered nominating Merrick Garland — President Obama’s last nominee to replace former Justice Antonin Scalia — to the Supreme Court seat now filled by Brett Kavanaugh, Politico reporters Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer write in a new book, The Hill to Die On: The Battle for Congress and the Future of Trump’s America, due for publication next week.
YESTERDAY IN DES MOINES — Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, addressed the Iowa Legislature. Along with Israeli Consul General to the Midwest, Aviv Ezra, Amb. Dermer spoke about the potential partnership between Israel and Iowa as it relates to precision agriculture, cyber security and water quality. In addition to meeting with the Governor and the Iowa Legislature, Amb. Dermer met with the Greater Des Moines Partnership (chamber) and the Jewish community. Dermer was hosted by immediate past president of the Des Moines Jewish Federation David Adelman and his wife Liz.[Pic; Pic]
STATE VISIT — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro created a political storm towards the end of his 3-day Israel trip, declaring “there is no doubt” that Nazism was a leftist movement. Following his tour of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum on Tuesday, Bolsonaro was asked if he agreed with remarks made by his foreign minister, Ernesto Araujo, that the Nazis were leftists. “There is no doubt, right?” he responded. Bolsonaro added that the Nazi party’s formal name included the term “socialist.”
WATCH — Netanyahu and Bolsonaro, who visited the Western Wall together, recorded a video in which they invite Brazilian soccer player Neymar and surfer Gabriel Medina to visit Israel. Both Neymar and Medina accepted the invitation. [Video]
2020 WATCH — Joe Biden, in video, says he will be ‘more mindful’ of personal space…Beto O’Rourke raised $9.4 million in the first 18 days of his 2020 campaign… Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) is expected to announce a presidential campaign this week… Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has prostate cancer, but he still intends to run for president… Schultz will appear on a live Fox News town hall held in Kansas City, Missouri at 6:30 PM EST.
Democrats are increasingly critical of Israel. Not Pete Buttigieg: A senior foreign policy adviser for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg tells Vox’s Alex Ward that ‘Pete doesn’t see the Israel-Palestinian issue as a zero-sum game.’
** Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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: Larry Mizel bids over NIS 1b for Africa Israel[Globes] • Max Levchin’s Affirm Raises $300 Million for Payments Tech[Skift] • Carl Icahn Sold Lyft Stake Prior to Initial Public Offering[WSJ] • Lenny Kravitz firm to help design new Temple Detroit hotel[CrainsDetriot] • Uber spent $2M to help push through congestion pricing [NYPost] • New York puts tax lien on former Trump SoHo[CrainsNewYork] • Jonathan Newhouse will become chairman of Condé Nast’s board of directors [WSJ]
The Shed opens this Friday—take a sneak peek now — by Jonathan Hilburg: “The Shed… is nearly ready to open. On April 5, this Friday, the public will finally get to venture inside Manhattan’s newest, and largest, cultural institution… On the top floor are the Lizzie and Jonathan TischSkylights, a wide, multipurpose section that affords one of the few views towards the rest of Hudson Yards, including a prominent view of Vessel. The open area features 9,500-square-feet of flexible event space, the 1,700-square-foot Tisch Lab for local artists, and a 3,300-square-foot rehearsal space. The two namesake skylights provide the entire floor with plenty of natural light, making up for the difference in ceiling heights found throughout the rest of the building.” [ArchPaper]
SPOTLIGHT — Starwood’s Barry Sternlicht Says Real Estate Health Is Tied to Tech — by Gillian Tan: “Sternlicht said at a conference sponsored by the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate in New York on Wednesday that Starwood has invested about half of its $7.55 billion fund that closed in April 2018 in properties such as the Wells Fargo Centers in Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon and the St. Regis Princeville Resort in Kauai, Hawaii, which it intends to renovate. ‘I’m surprised, frankly, that this late in the cycle we’ve found so many things to do,’ he said… Starwood, based in Miami, currently prefers Europe to the U.S. and recently bought two properties in Milan, one of which includes WeWork Cos. as a tenant, Sternlicht said. He added that Starwood is ‘pencils down’ on new investments in London until the outcome of Brexit becomes certain.”
“Another real estate investor, Sam Zell, chairman of Equity Group Investments Inc., weighed in on U.S. politics when he spoke during lunch at the same conference. ‘I wish we had a little more stable leadership, which we don’t,’ said the 77 year-old, who also expressed concern about refugees from Venezuela destabilizing Latin America.” [Bloomberg] • Sam Zell talks ‘jungle’ entrepreneurs, ‘dearth’ of mergers [RealDeal]
SPORTS BLINK — Roman Abramovich no longer paying up front for £1m-a-year Chelsea box amid absence over visa issues — by Tom Morgan: “Roman Abramovich is no longer paying up front for his £1million-a-year corporate boxes at Chelsea as he continues to miss every game at Stamford Bridge following his visa row with the Government… A Chelsea spokesman told Telegraph Sport that Abramovich will now be charged ‘in arrears’ for hospitality as he has been attending fewer games.” [Telegraph]
Muslims and Jews face a common threat from white supremacists. We must fight it together — by Jonathan Freedland and Mehdi Hasan: “Just as we acknowledge that the communities we were born into harbor prejudice, so we are ready to say the same of our chosen political community. We need no lectures on the importance of tackling antisemitism and Islamophobia on the left as well as on the right. Both of us have condemned Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party for its failure to tackle anti-Jewish racism within its ranks, while one of us has discussed the importance of avoiding antisemitic tropes in conversation with the controversial Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar… Both of us have condemned anti-Muslim bigotry in liberal-left circles too… But this is no time for whataboutism… The growing and lethal threat to life and limb for Muslims and Jews is now coming not from the far left but from an emboldened and violent far right.” [TheGuardian]
INTERVIEW — The Internet May Be Just As Omniscient As God In ‘Kaddish.com’ — by Ari Shapiro: “Author Nathan Englander was raised in an observant Jewish family and now considers himself secular… His latest book is called kaddish.com, and it’s a satire about what separates the doubters from the devout… On the idea that the all-knowing Internet has some similarities to an all-knowing God: ‘We have built beta God. If you have a phone and live in a city, or Google anything, it really does know everything you’ve done, what you’re doing, what you’re doing next. So I was like, the question “could God exist in an all-knowing way?” We’ve sort of already got that, because my Instagram feed is downright scary at this point. It knows what I’m hungry for.'” [NPR]
TALK OF THE TOWN — He Built a Holocaust Memorial by a Far-Right Leader’s Home. Now He’s Under Investigation — by Katrin Bennhold: “Germany’s most notorious far-right politician, Björn Höcke, a man who has called the Holocaust memorial in Berlin ‘a monument of shame,’ was furious when he woke up one morning to find a section of the memorial built to scale outside his bedroom window. It was November 2017. Mr. Höcke sued the artist who had secretly rented the neighboring property and prepared the stunt over many months. He tried to have him evicted. He even launched criminal proceedings against him. But to no avail. The rental lease is open-ended. And the replica of the Holocaust memorial remains. But where civil and criminal proceedings have failed, a state prosecutor has stepped in, it emerged Wednesday. The prosecutor’s office in Mr. Höcke’s eastern home state, Thuringia, is investigating the artist, Philipp Ruch, on suspicion of ‘forming a criminal association.'” [NYTimes]
Is now a good time to talk about Jews and money? The Jewish Museum thinks so, and perhaps it is right — by Douglas Murray: “Is now a good time to talk about Jews and money? The Jewish Museum in London thinks so, and perhaps it is right…A film at the start of this new exhibition at the museum in Camden gives some context, with clips of recent anti-Jewish statements from the likes of Louis Farrakhan and other conspiracy theorists. It also includes Donald Trump talking about ‘elites’ draining power from America.” [Spectator]
MEASLES OUTBREAK — Bethany Mandel writes… “Parenting in the Time of Measles: If vaccines are so important to my family, I’ve come to ask myself how intellectually honest it is for me to turn a blind eye and continue to allow my kids to socialize with families who are putting us all at risk. That’s the problem with vaccine refusal: It is not an individual choice. It is a choice that endangers everyone, especially those too young or sick to be vaccinated.” [NYTimes]
DESSERT — An old-school, ‘authentic’ Tel Aviv market has become a vegan haven — by Karen Chernick: “It was, in fact, the market’s time-honored quality that recently attracted a surprising newcomer to the scene: the upscale vegetable-centric restaurant Opa… ‘I think that Levinsky Market is one of the last truly authentic places remaining in the city,’ said Shirel Berger, chef and co-owner of Opa, about her choice to open a fine dining establishment there last November. ‘People have had their stores for generations, and I really like the vibe – it seems real and not like a mall, or anything new. It’s very raw and authentic.'” [JTA]
BIRTHDAYS: Author of books about her childhood experiences as a Jewish girl in the Netherlands during the Holocaust, she is a long-time NYC resident, Johanna Reiss turns 87… Retired MLB player for the Orioles, Senators, Athletics, Rangers and Angels (1966-1974), Mike Epstein turns 76… French-German politician who is a Green Party leader in Europe, Daniel Cohn-Bendit turns 74… Hungarian dramatist, novelist and essayist whose recent works are focused upon Jewish characters, György Spiró turns 73… Author of many books and over 100 articles, political historian who teaches at American University in D.C., his most recent book is “The Case for Impeachment ” regarding President Trump, Allan Jay Lichtman turns 72… Poet, essayist, editor, literary scholar, professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, Charles Bernstein turns 69… Visiting fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, he was previously chief of staff to former Australian PM Julia Gillard (2012-2013) and an advisor to then Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Bruce Wolpe turns 68…
Emmy Award-winning film director, producer, freelance journalist and writer, Simcha Jacobovici turns 66… Tel Aviv-born animator and film director, now a freelance director in NYC, Tatia Rosenthal turns 48… Member of the Knesset since 2006, he is now a member of the Hatnuah Party, Yoel Hassonturns 47… Actress since she was six years old, she has appeared in many movies and television series, Natasha Lyonne (born Natasha Bianca Lyonne Braunstein) turns 40… Israeli journalist who serves as the political correspondent and senior analyst for The Times of Israel, Haviv Rettig Gurturns 38… Israel’s top men’s tennis player, who had broken into the top 30 of world rankings, David “Dudi” Sela turns 34… NYC-based freelance editor and lifestyle writer, she was previously a senior editor for Hearst Digital Media’s content studio, Daisy Melamed Sanders turns 32… Sherman Oaks resident, Gloria Margulies… Phyllis Wilner…
HEARD LAST NIGHT — President Trump at the National Republican Congressional Committee annual spring dinner held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.: “To support Israel’s security, just last week — and this has been going on for 58 years ― I recognized fully Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Fifty-eight years, they have been talking. They’ve had committees, they’ve had meetings ― they’ve had 32 different meetings, and it’s talk and they never do it. So we did it.”
Trump’s Trading Places Dream: “And I will tell you what. I don’t know about the United States, I think we’re doing well, but I can run for the prime minister of Israel. That’s what they tell me. I think I am at 98 percent in Israel. You’d better be careful, I’ll leave here and go run in Israel.” [CSPAN]
KAFE KNESSET — Gantz Comes Into His Own — by Neri Zilber: Just over two months after formally entering political life, and with the election mere days away, Benny Gantz seems to be coming into his own. The Blue and White head, much maligned early on for not speaking publicly and, when he did, for being too scripted and robotic, last night gave arguably the strongest performance of his campaign to date at a massive town hall in Tel Aviv. Speaking to over 1000 attendees, many still undecided, Gantz was sharp and on message, funny and loose, as he articulated a positive vision for the country while still differentiating himself from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Standing up on stage with only a mic in his hand, Gantz explained that the Zionist vision rested on several pillars: a Jewish State for the Jewish people, well-defended, with recognized borders, a strong economy, high societal ethics both inside and outside (“light unto the nations”), and good relations with the Diaspora. “The entire pillars are at stake right now,” Gantz said. It was a theme he would return to often: an “emergency era” that required real change, and a government interested in working for the people (and not vice versa). “We’ve always had three synagogues,” Gantz said, repeating the old joke about the two Jews, “but we always managed to stay united, that’s the role of leadership… Unfortunately that’s not the case now [with Netanyahu]… Enough is enough.”
On the Palestinian issue he said his priority was to ensure a Zionist “end state” — Jewish and democratic — and not a binational state, while keeping the Jordan Valley, a united Jerusalem, and modifying the 1967 lines. Gantz didn’t think there was anybody to talk to on the Palestinian end at present, but he also added that “new leadership” was needed on both sides. “I don’t want to rule the Palestinians…Let’s continue the dialogue and see where it takes us…we need to shape the solution and not just manage the conflict,” he said. He was “very happy,” he went on, about the close ties between Bibi and President Donald Trump — “a relationship between people is important” — but the “relationship between countries is even more important.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]
Palestinians largely ignored in run-up to Israeli election — by Josef Federman: “In a charged election campaign that has been heavy on insults and short on substance, Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians has been notably absent from the discourse… It is a far cry from past elections, when peace with the Palestinians was the central issue for voters… ‘The peace track is currently in a coma,’ said Shmuel Rosner, a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute. ‘There’s not much hope for a viable solution to be revived in the near future, so people can just keep pushing it aside until someday it comes back to haunt them.'” [AP]
Noam Rotem, one of the researchers behind the report on pro-Netanyahu bot network, said on Tuesday he has seen Twitter shut down 258 of the over 400 automated and fake accounts his team identified.
A new poll published by Israel’s Channel 13 Tuesday night predicted the Likud would get 29 Knesset seats, besting Gantz’s Kachol Lavan by one seat. The party gaining support is the Labor party, which has jumped to 14 projected seats. Another poll conducted by the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute found that 63% of Israelis believe Netanyahu’s standing in the current election campaign was strengthened by Trump’s Golan recognition.
From Raf Sanchez’s Telegraph newsletter: “One of the joys of Israeli electoral law is that no public poll will be published after Friday. That means we will be basically flying blind – with no idea about last-minute slips or surges – until we see exit polls on election night itself.”
TRUMP WHISPERER — On Middle East Peace, the White House Turns to… Alan Dershowitz — by Betsy Woodruff and Asawin Suebsaeng: “Alan Dershowitz… has consulted with senior White House officials on efforts to negotiate a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians. ‘I’ve consulted with them about it,’ Dershowitz told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. He said he has discussed the issue with Jared Kushner, special envoy Jason Greenblatt, Ambassador David Friedman, and President Trump himself… And he said he spoke with White House advisers before they rolled out some of their biggest decisions on the issue, including moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel.”
“A source close to the president confirmed that, saying Trump encouraged senior officials — including Kushner to keep Dershowitz in the loop on these matters from the first days of his presidency. The president has also stressed to those close to him that Dershowitz could be helpful because of his friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” [DailyBeast]
ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Michael Singh, former national security official in the George W. Bush administration, suggests the Trump administration should resume aid to the Palestinians Authority to ensure the success of Trump’s peace plan. “Aid programs bring American officials into contact with a wide swath of Palestinian society, which can help ensure that American influence outlasts the current leadership of the Palestinian Authority,” he writes in the NYTimes. “It would be rash to assume that the vacuum left by the United States will not be filled by others, such as Russia, whose agenda in the region diverges sharply from Washington’s.” [NYTimes]
HEARD IN NYC — Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett discussed her new book, Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward, in a conversation with Mika Brzezinski at the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center last night.
Jarrett said that when she first met with former President Barack Obama, they found something in common by the fact they both spent their childhood abroad (Jarrett was born in Iran, while Obama spent his childhood in Indonesia). “We both thought that the U.S. is already the greatest country on earth, but it’s not the only country on earth, and you can actually learn a great deal outside of the United States. And that shaped our view of foreign policy to a large degree.” [Pic]
In her book, published on Tuesday, Jarrett details her first visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp accompanying President Obama and the late Elie Wiesel in 2009. “On the site of the barracks where [Wiesel] and his father were housed, there was a photo of him in one of the cramped four-level bunks. He stared at the emaciated image of himself. As I looked at the sunken eyes of the photo returning his gaze, I couldn’t imagine the thoughts running through his mind,” Jarrett writes. “After the walk around the grounds, President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Elie Wiesel addressed the press. Wiesel said, about the day his father died, ‘He [was] on the upper bed and I was on the lower bed. He called my name, and I was too afraid to move. All of us were. And then he died. I was there, but I was not there.’ Despite his excruciating words, there was a remarkable absence of bitterness in his tone. As we all listened, he told his story, seeking not recrimination but understanding. I was deeply touched by this special man who had experienced so much hate, pain, and loss yet could still be a kind and gentle spirit.” [pg. 192-193]
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: The House advanced a resolution on Tuesday that directs the U.S. to remove all troops from the conflict in Yemen, unless authorized by Congress, putting it on track to be sent to the president’s desk. The bill, first proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), passed the Senate last month in a 54 to 46 vote. The House is expected to debate the bill before bringing it to a vote.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), who voted for the resolution last month, told Jewish Insider that even if the bill passes the House, he expects President Trump to exercise his veto. “My reaction is it’s telling that the legislative branch of government – which is the body that has, under our constitution’s ability to determine where American military should be – does not want our troops assisting the Saudis in Yemen and there’s good reason for that,” he said. “So the President’s an outlier and he’s using powers that I think our framers never intended to be used.”
FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer tells Jewish Insider: “The U.S. footprint in this conflict is minimal, to have Sunni allies against Shia proxies is not something that runs counter to American interests at the end of the day. My understanding is the Saudi’s have not done a terrific job in terms of wooing their friends in Congress. In the aftermath of Khashoggi, they angered a lot of staffers on the Hill by not being honest, by obfuscating, evading and eluding questions — we all know now how the Khashoggi affair rolled out and it was rather embarrassing for the Saudi’s.”
Washington Institute’s Dennis Ross: “US troops are not really playing a role in the Yemen war. The vote is more symbolic in terms of communicating Congressional unhappiness with the Saudis, with the Administration for not imposing some consequences for the Khashoggi murder, and with the inability to produce a new authorization of military force for our troops operating in the region. It is a reminder that getting any arms sales through the Hill for the Saudis is likely to remain very difficult.”
WATCH — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) mocked White House senior advisor Jared Kushner for reportedly using WhatsApp to conduct sensitive conversations with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday: “I mean, really, what is next, putting nuclear codes in Instagram DMs?!? This is ridiculous.” [Video]
SPOTTED LAST NIGHT — Per a tipster, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) at the Soussi Hookah Bar & Lounge in D.C… Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were sighted dining alone at Nobu DC.
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports: Trump looked at replacing Fed chair Jay Powell with Kevin Warsh, the son-in-law of Trump whisperer Ronald Lauder, who was considered for the job last year. Trump ultimately chose Powell at the strong urging of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos and Alex Leary report that Trump blasted Powell at three meetings in the past week, telling senators and others that if not for Fed rate increases, “economic output and stocks would be higher and the U.S. budget deficit would be rising less.”
INBOX — Former DHS Secretaries Michael Chertoff and Jeh Johnson will co-chair a new Community Safety and Security Task Force convened by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Secure Community Network (SCN), the homeland security and safety initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The task force will work to enhance the safety, security and resiliency of religious communities.
FDD’s Mark Dubowitz writes… “Build an Iranian Sanctions Wall: Democrats are talking about re-entering the 2015 Iran nuclear deal if they defeat President Trump next year… There’s plenty more the Trump administration can do. The U.S. could combine economic coercion, including driving Iranian oil exports to zero (as administration officials have promised to do), with greater support for Iranians, who have protested on the streets since December 2017… That might cripple key sectors of the economy and lead to larger protests, similar to those that hit the shah in 1978 and 1979… The administration could also build a wall of additional sanctions that a pro-Tehran successor could not easily dismantle.” [WSJ]
2020 WATCH — Joe Biden’s tactile politics threaten his return in the #MeToo era…Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) raised $18 million in the first quarter of presidential campaign…Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is ‘very close’ to a decision on a 2020 run that would emphasize his pro-business record in Virginia… Mayor Pete Buttigieg hits LA to boost Hollywood support… Buttigieg spoke to the New Yorker on how he plans to win the Democratic nomination and defeat Trump…
** Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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: Andreessen Horowitz Is Blowing Up The Venture Capital Model (Again) [Forbes] • Leon Black’sApollo to Launch Seven Funds in Hot Market for Private Capital [Bloomberg] • Wynn Resorts Executives Tried to Hide Misconduct Allegations Against Steve Wynn, Regulators Say[WSJ] • Rahm Emanuel, J. B. Pritzker move to grab Georgia’s film and TV biz[CrainsChicago]
MORE BRIEFS: Peter Orszag, currently Head of M&A, North America, will become Chief Executive Officer of Financial Advisory at Lazard [Businesswire] • Former Frutarom CFO Alon Granot Joins Ehud Barak’s Cannabis Company [Calcalist] • Israel needs a more sophisticated financial market, Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron says [Reuters] • Ehud Olmert joins Israeli cannabis company Univo [Globes]
PROFILE — Eden Dersso Is the Changing Face of Tel Aviv’s Hip-Hop Scene — by Orit Pnini: “Over the past year, Dersso has become a sensation in the city’s small but growing rap scene, yet she has spent her whole life preparing for this meteoric rise… Most of her YouTube videos hover around 70,000 to 100,000 views—quite a feat for a rising Israeli artist—and she performs gigs several times a month… Dersso’s background, like those of many immigrants and Israelis of color, has deeply affected her sense of identity. She tells me that she feels Ethiopian when she is in her community and very Israeli outside of it… Ethiopian-Israelis’s lives have been far from easy in Israel, being heavily marked by economic disadvantage and pervasive discrimination, including hiring bias, random identification checks, and police brutality. In a powerful response, Dersso celebrates her heritage in her lyrics.” [Vogue]
LONG READ — How Rupert Murdoch’s Empire of Influence Remade the World — by Jonathan Mahler and Jim Rutenberg: “In early 2015, Murdoch got a call from Ivanka Trump, proposing lunch with her and her father. They met soon after in the corporate dining room of the Fox News building in Midtown Manhattan. Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, came, too. Just as the first course was being served, Trump told Murdoch that he was going to run for president. Murdoch didn’t even look up from his soup, according to three people who independently shared the story. ‘You have to be prepared to be rapped up badly,’ Murdoch replied, using an expression for taking some knocks.”
“Kushner became close to Murdoch after he purchased The New York Observer in 2006. An improbable friendship blossomed between the octogenarian mogul and the 30-something publishing parvenu, with Murdoch and Wendi even taking Kushner and Ivanka on vacation in the Caribbean on Murdoch’s yacht. After Murdoch’s divorce in 2013, Kushner, who was also in the real estate business, helped him find a decorator for his new bachelor apartment. Ivanka was one of five individuals designated to oversee the trust for Murdoch and Wendi’s two daughters, which held $300 million in stock in News Corp and 21st Century Fox.” [NYTimes]
HOLLYWOOD — Justice Department Warns Academy Over Potential Oscar Rule Changes Threatening Netflix — by Ted Johnson: “According to a letter obtained by Variety, the chief of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, wrote to AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson on March 21 to express concerns that new rules would be written ‘in a way that tends to suppress competition.'” [Variety]
TALK OF THE TOWN — L.A. Jr. Kings coaches and players suspended after reported anti-Semitic remarks are heard on video — by Helene Elliott: “Fifteen players and three coaches of a Los Angeles-based youth hockey team were suspended and their actions are being investigated by the California Amateur Hockey Assn. after a video was posted to a social media site in which one player performed a Nazi salute and others reportedly were heard to make what sounded like anti-Semitic comments. The video was posted on March 9, the night before the Jr. Kings were scheduled to face the Jr. Ducks in the championship game of the Pacific district hockey tournament in Las Vegas.” [LATimes]
SPORTS BLINK — Chaim Bloom’s Diamond Life — by Yair Rosenberg: “When you walk into the office of Chaim Bloom, the senior vice president of baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays, one of the first things that stands out is a large jar of gefilte fish… As Bloom explains, the fish is a holdover from Passover circa 2006-2007. Thanks to the holiday’s dietary restrictions, Bloom subsists throughout on jars of store-bought gefilte fish that he brings to the office. That year, one of the team’s longtime employees was passing through and asked about the stuff. Did Bloom like it? The man inquired dubiously. ‘I said, ‘No, I actually think it’s sort of gross, but it’s just kind of what you do,’’ Bloom recalled… Bloom promptly offered his interlocutor a taste, who declined. ‘He said, ‘No way, that sounds terrible.’’ Then, however, came the challenge: ‘He said, ‘I’ll tell you what, if we win the World Series, I’ll eat that jar of gefilte fish.’‘ [Tablet]
DERMER’S PRO DAY — Vikings, Wilf Family Host Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. — by Lindsey Young: “Ambassador Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, was hosted at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center Monday afternoon by Vikings leadership, including Owner/President Mark Wilf. Ambassador Dermer was given a tour of the state-of-the-art facility… Ambassador Dermer also spent time with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer and General Manager Rick Spielman, and he received a behind-the-scenes look at the Vikings Draft Room, locker room and Indoor Practice Facility, where the former quarterback even took the opportunity to throw a few passes. ‘He still has a pretty good arm – he threw a nice spiral,’ Wilf said.” [Vikings]
SCENE LAST NIGHT IN TORONTO — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended a Salute to Israel event organized by Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA and Israel Bonds at the Westin Harbour Castle in downtown Toronto. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who was scheduled to be the event’s guest speaker, cut short his Canada trip after his wife’s medical condition suddenly deteriorated. [Pic]
BIRTHDAYS: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, he held a series of escalating posts at The New York Times from 1952 until 2000, including as executive editor (1986-1994), Max Frankel turns 89… Democratic political strategist, campaign manager, field director and consultant, founder in 2014 of GenderAvenger, a campaign to promote gender equality in public forums, Gina Glantz turns 76… Member of the Los Angeles City Council since 2009, he was previously a three-term member of the California State Assembly (2000-2006), Paul Koretz turns 64… Director of the Strategic Studies Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University, contributing editor of The Atlantic, Eliot A. Cohen turns 63… Singer, songwriter and music producer, originally recording music for children on the Disney Channel, more recently producing and performing Jewish-themed songs, Craig Reid Taubman turns 61… Jazz pianist, arranger and composer, best known for his film and television scores (he has scored over 50 movies and 300 television episodes), James Gelfand turns 60… Rabbi, author, speaker and dean at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Bradley Shavit Artson turns 60…
CEO of Phase 2 Media since 2012, he is the former Chairman of the Fox Television Entertainment Group (1999-2004), Sandy Grushow turns 59… Member of the Knesset for Likud, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Minister of Environmental Protection, Ze’ev Elkin turns 48… Executive director of public affairs at Jewish United Fund – Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, he was previously the Midwest regional director of AIPAC, Daniel Goldwin turns 48… Award-winning Israeli classical pianist who currently lives in NYC, Ran Dank turns 37… Television and film actress (active 1996-2010), Amanda Bynes turns 33… Actress, comedian, singer, writer, producer and songwriter, Rachel Bloom turns 32… Washington correspondent for Israel’s Kan 11 and author at Moment Magazine, Nathan Guttman… Professional tennis player currently on the WTA Tour, she defeated Serena Williams at the Auckland Classic in 1-2017, Madison Brengle turns 29… Product marketing manager at Sentry and tech entrepreneur, Eva Sasson turns 27… Publishing strategist Harry Z. Cohen turns 26…
KAFE KNESSET — On The Campaign Trail With Nir Barkat — by Neri Zilber: Former Jerusalem mayor and now number nine on the Likud list Nir Barkat is, like all the other Knesset candidates, very busy these days: media interviews interspersed with town halls and official party events. Yet away from the public eye, countless small “living room” salons take place daily across the country, where the candidate can make his or her pitch directly to the voters. Barkat himself has a strong message, which last Thursday evening he conveyed to around 60 people in a Ramat Aviv penthouse apartment just north of Tel Aviv.
Over wine and appetizers, Barkat told the English-speaking and affluent crowd about his personal journey from the paratroopers, to a hi-tech millionaire, to his two-term mayorship. He has now entered national politics, to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him “my blessings and my condolences.” Barkat often comes across as a Bibi clone — private sector experience overseas, strong English, and ideologically hawkish on security but economically and socially liberal.
Like the rest of the Likud, Barkat was adamantly opposed to the idea of “land for peace” and dividing Jerusalem. As a former mayor of the holy city, he rejected various proposals — some put forward by other Likud ministers —- of handing over even outlying Arab villages and refugee camps. “The city as the city has to stay whole. You can’t give one village, and then another, and then another… Let’s agree that that’s the city and manage.” Read the full report here [JewishInsider]
The Great ‘Bot Scandal’ of 2019: Much of the political conversation yesterday was dominated by the fallout from Ronen Bergman’s report in both the New York Times and Yediot Aharonot, alleging that a network of hundreds of social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook were used to amplify smears against Netanyahu’s rivals. Turning the tables on the (potentially) damaging report, Bibi later convened his own press conference where he accused the media and Blue and White of dismissing “real people” — Likud voters — as “bots.” Netanyahu even brought one such Twitter user up on stage with him. “Are you a bot? Are you real?” the PM asked the man sarcastically. While the man was later identified as a far-right Kahanist and homophobe, the Likud deflection seemed to work. Right-wing outlets and pundits kept emphasizing the “bot” angle, with the front page of this morning’s pro-Bibi Israel Hayom daily declaring “Blessed is the resurrector of bots.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — Bibi forever? Supporters in Netanyahu’s heartland think so — by Melissa Bell: “On our tour of the local market, both sellers and shoppers alike stopped us to tell us ‘Bibi forever’ and ‘only Bibi.’ … Some even couch things in biblical terms. Ahead of [a] rally, Beer Sheva’s deputy mayor likened Netanyahu to Moses.” [CNN] • In Israel Campaign, All Sides Claim Fabled Voice From the Grave: Menachem Begin [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE REGION — Four Israeli entrepreneurs are scheduled to speak at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress held in Bahrain in mid-April, a reflection of improving relations between Israel and Gulf Arab governments. The move triggered a backlash among some members of Bahrain’s parliament. The Council of Representatives responded on Facebook that the event’s organizers “have the right to extend direct invitations to any country and we can’t interfere.”
The U.S. suspended the delivery of support equipment and supplies to Turkey for F-35 jet fighters because Ankara continues to pursue Russian anti-aircraft systems over repeated U.S. objections. The Pentagon’s announcement came on the same day the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw his power shrink after a stinging electoral defeat in Istanbul, the city whose politics he dominated for a quarter of a century. The local elections across Turkey on Sunday were widely seen as a referendum on Erdogan’s policies and produced mixed results.
REPORT — After his Israel visit, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the Lebanese government in Beirut that Hezbollah and Iran have set up a new covert factory for precision missiles on Lebanese soil. According to Ch. 13’s Barak Ravid, Pompeo told his Lebanese counterparts that Hezbollah’s covert operations in Lebanon raise the risk of a real escalation with Israel.
PM Netanyahu will travel to Russia on Thursday for talks with President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders last met in Moscow on February 27.
ON THE GROUND — In raids throughout the West Bank overnight Monday, the IDF arrested 12 Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorist activities, popular terrorism and violent disturbances against civilians and soldiers. One of the suspects arrested was senior Hamas figure Sheikh Hassan Youssef. “His detentions are routine and take place from time to time in the context of Hamas activity,” the Shin Bet told JPost.
CITY-SIDE — The NYC Council leadership decided to remove Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-Brooklyn) from his membership on the Immigration Committee on Monday days after he posted on Twitter that “Palestine does not exist.”
Council Speaker Corey Johnson said in a statement, “I do not believe that someone who engages in the type of rhetoric we heard from Council Member Yeger belongs on the immigration committee, which is supposed to welcome and support immigrants in our city.” Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged the Brooklyn lawmaker to apologize for his remark.
Yeger responded on Twitter: “I respect the Speaker’s right to run the Council as he sees fit. It’s unfortunate that political correctness takes precedence over objective fact. Of course, there are Palestinians. However, the fact remains there is no Palestinian state.”
ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs committee said that the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi “changed” the course of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and to an extent, Israel, during a policy discussion at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. yesterday.
“I met with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, he is starting to call Saudi his ally, because the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and that being Iran,” he said. “We’re starting to see this alliance between Israel and Saudi against Iran and then there’s even some speculation they can help in the peace process with the Palestinians. Unfortunately, Khashoggi changed all that.” The ranking Republican further called for investigating the murder as a step towards repairing U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia. “This internal investigation has to be done and we don’t know if it will lead all the way up to the top [to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman]. I know there’s a lot of speculation.”
Rep. McCaul also called the Golan Heights “a strategic piece of real estate” and that he believes threats to Israel are “increasing, not decreasing.” He added: “It’s important that the United States recognize it as part of Israel. Now does the rest of the world? I’m for a strong Israel. I think they’re a very strategic ally in the region surrounded in a pretty bad neighborhood.
AT THE UN — Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) was appointedby House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to serve as the Republican representative for Congress at the United Nations on Monday. In an interview, McMorris Rodgers said that she considered the defense of Israel to be an extension of the United Nations’ founding mission. “Israel was recognized as a separate state just over 70 years ago, and it was the U.N. that was instrumental in making that happen,” she said.
INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — John Bolton Tests His Boundaries and Trump’s Patience in Growing Role — by Margaret Talev and Jennifer Jacobs: “Trump is aware that Bolton’s relationships with powerful Republican figures who influence the president, particularly billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, give him an added degree of political cover… Trump and Bolton, whom the president sometimes calls “the Mustache” because of his trademark facial hair, are often on the same page on policy. There’s little daylight between their positions on issues such as Iran, Venezuela and the ICC, for example, and Bolton helped push Trump to formally recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”
“But Bolton also can bait Trump’s break-glass instincts, as is the case in a debate over issuing waivers from U.S. sanctions for some countries to continue importing Iranian oil. Bolton opposes any waivers in order to crush the Iranian economy.” [Bloomberg]
Trump Heads to Vegas for Adelson’s Jewish Republicans Gathering. Will Adelson Attend? — by Amir Tibon: “President Donald Trump will visit Las Vegas this weekend to speak before the Republican Jewish Coalition, the leading Jewish group affiliated with the Republican Party. The event will take place at the Venetian Hotel, owned by the group’s most prominent donor, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, but it remains to be seen if the billionaire, who has cancer, will attend.” [Haaretz]
RISING STAR — Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum is a member of the Yerushalmim party, which positions itself as pluralist, a mix of religious and secular. Among her many other roles, her portfolio includes the Deputy Mayor for Foreign Relations, a title that the mayor once held for himself but a position for which Hassan-Nahoum feels uniquely situated. A trained lawyer and former non-profit and public relations specialist, Hassan-Nahoum speaks English, Hebrew and Spanish fluently.
She spoke with Jewish Insider‘s Laura Kelly at the end of the AIPAC conference last week, where the Romanian Prime Minister announced the country would move its embassy to Jerusalem. It falls under Hassan-Nahoum’s responsibilities to accommodate the new embassies, working with the U.S. State Department on its embassy in Jerusalem and the planning of an entire embassy district in the southeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Arnona. “I’m looking at it as an economic opportunity for the city as well, as a political opportunity for the city, and intend to plan an Embassy District using the American embassy as an anchor,” she said. “It’s not only good for the cosmopolitan character of the city, but also for providing jobs for local people.”
U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital also had the added benefit of legitimizing what Israelis already believed to be so, Hassan-Nahoum said. “It’s given people a lot to be happy about, confidence, people feel heard. We have a right to decide where our own capital is. We always knew that Jerusalem was our capital, it’s the seat of government for everything. But now we have international recognition and that international recognition could not have happened without the Americans. So we’re extremely grateful.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]
2020 WATCH — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) raised $12 million during the first fundraising quarter of the 2020 campaign season… Harris’ call for reform collide with her prosecutor past… Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) released 12 years of tax returns… Crisis hits Joe Biden as new allegation emerges… ‘Friendly grandpa’ or creepy uncle? Generations split over Biden behavior.
OPEN WINDOW — Michael Bloomberg might still run for president in 2020, especially if Joe Biden winds up not getting in, Mike Allen reports. According to people who have discussed the matter with the former New York mayor, Bloomberg might reconsider his decision to pass on a White House bid if a centrist lane were to open up.
David Brooks on the rise of Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “The Trump era has been all about dissolving moral norms and waging vicious attacks. This has been an era of culture war, class warfare and identity politics… The Buttigieg surge suggests that there are a lot of Democrats who want to say goodbye to all that. They don’t want to fight fire and divisiveness with more fire and divisiveness.” [NYTimes]
** Good Tuesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip? 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: Warburg Pincus to invest $221 million in Israel credit card firm [Reuters] •David Zaslav’s Discovery Aims to Be the Netflix of Nonfiction Streaming, From Food to Natural History [WSJ] • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg trying to outsmart Elizabeth Warren by offering to help write the rules constraining Silicon Valley [VanityFair] • Andreessen Horowitz rides the wave of Silicon Valley IPOs [FinancialTimes] • Paul Jacobs Retreats From Qualcomm Takeover Quest [WSJ]
NEXT GEN — Stefan Soloviev is taking over the family company from his 90-year-old father, Sheldon Solow, beginning with 685 First Ave., a 42-story luxury tower. Soloviev, who uses an older version of the family name, started out parking cars for the company and later managed the family’s farms in New Mexico and Colorado. In February, the father and son filed permits to raze several buildings on Billionaire’s Row, and a 52-story hotel is in the works.[CityandStateNY]
INTERVIEW — Robert A. Caro on the means and ends of power — by David Marchese: “As far as titles go, Robert A. Caro’s ‘Working’ is both humbly straightforward and almost comically understated. Yes, the 83-year-old’s book is a precise and detailed set of recollections about his painstaking, near-mythically thorough job of researching, interviewing, and writing about political figures. But the fruits of that labor aren’t exactly ho-hum. Caro, of course, is responsible for two totems of American political biography: ‘The Power Broker,’ about the New York public servant Robert Moses, responsible for nearly 50 years of sweeping development projects, and ‘The Years of Lyndon Johnson,’ a multivolume account of the life of the 36th president.
You famously have to cut huge chunks of material out of your books before they’re ready to be published. What’s the stuff you most wished you could’ve left in? I don’t know if you’re familiar with ‘Fiddler on the Roof?’
Caro: “Only slightly. It’s about a poor Jewish village called Anatevka… When I was working on ‘The Power Broker,’ I’d be interviewing people from that neighborhood who were forced to move away, and the word ‘lonely’ kept reappearing in my notes. And at some point when I was working on that section, I saw ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ There’s a song called ‘Anatevka,’ and the line in the center is ‘Anatevka,/Where I know everyone I meet./Soon I’ll be a stranger in a strange new place,/Searching for a old familiar face.’ So I wrote a chapter in ‘The Power Broker’ called ‘One Mile (Afterward),’ and in it I wrote about what it’s like to be lonely, to have a neighborhood all your life, and then you’re suddenly dispersed. None of that is left in the published book.” [NYTimes]
MEDIA WATCH — Jeff Zucker reportedly wants to run for New York City mayor — by Emily Smith: “A wild rumor flying around the TV industry is that CNN chief Jeff Zucker is eyeing a run for mayor of New York City. Industry sources said they’d heard that Zucker, who has long held political aspirations, is exploring a run for NYC mayor in 2021. This is the latest potential job linked to Zucker, who was said to be positioning himself for ESPN, but is now poised to gain oversight of Turner Sports.” [PageSix]
Bianna Golodryga Out At ‘CBS This Morning’ And Leaving Network, Sources Say — by Yashar Ali: “Bianna Golodryga, who joined ‘CBS This Morning’ as a co-anchor less than six months ago, is leaving the morning program… Golodryga has been moved off the program by the new president of CBS News, Susan Zirinsky. Zirinsky felt that the show had too many anchors.”[HuffPost]
Comscore Leaders to Depart After Less Than a Year — by Alexandra Bruell: “President Sarah Hofstetter, who joined six months ago, will leave the company as part of a leadership shake-up.” [WSJ]
ACROSS THE SEA — Former PM Gordon Brown says Labour has ‘let down’ British Jews over antisemitism in impassioned video — by Rosa Doherty: “Labour has allowed legitimate criticism of Israel to ‘act as a cover for the demonization of the entire Jewish people’ ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said. He made the comments as he announced that he has joined the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) as an affiliated member and condemned how the party had ‘let the Jewish community and itself down’ in its handling of antisemitism.” [TheJC]
CAMPUS BEAT — Harvard Undergraduate Council Votes to Fund Israeli Apartheid Week — by Kevin Chen and Laura Espinoza: “The Undergraduate Council voted to allocate the Palestine Solidarity Committee $2,050 to host Israeli Apartheid Week at Sunday’s general meeting… The PSC planned much of the programming of Harvard’s event, which began on March 30 and runs until April 4. The week includes Palestinian speakers, a student panel, an unveiling of a physical Wall of Resistance, and a movie screening. The bill to fund IAW passed 21-13-4 and drew money from the UC’s Grant for an Open Harvard College, which subsidizes student initiatives that address one of the UC’s indicated ‘compelling interests.'” [TheCrimson]
TALK OF THE TOWN — American arrested for trying to steal part of train tracks at Auschwitz — by Dragana Jovanovic: “A 37-year-old American man has been arrested for attempted theft in Poland after trying to steal part of the train tracks at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, according to Polish officials… The man, who is from Texas… has been released from police custody and is allowed to leave the country… The American tourist was part of a larger guided tour group visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau, when he was spotted by a woman from another visiting group trying to steal a metal piece of train tracks that Nazi Germans used to unload the prisoners. The woman alerted museum security, who then called the police.”[ABCNews]
The Holocaust memorial of 70,000 stones: “For the last 14 years, Friedrichs-Friedländer has hand-engraved individual Holocaust fates onto small commemorative plaques called Stolpersteine, or ‘stumbling stones’. Each plaque is a 10cm brass square affixed on top of a cuboid concrete block that’s installed into the pavement directly before a Holocaust victim’s last known, voluntary residence. There are now more than 70,000 of these stones around the world, spanning 20 different languages. They can be found in 2,000-plus towns and cities across 24 countries, including Argentina, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine. Together, they constitute the world’s largest decentralized memorial.” [BBC]
Israel Saw 4,000 Measles Cases in 2018—and Only 30 the Year Before — by Noga Tarnopolsky: “For at least a year now, Israeli health officials have been playing a game of immunological cat and mouse, seeing out Measles cases in cities with large ultra-Orthodox communities. In Jerusalem alone there have been 2,138 diagnosed cases, including the two fatalities… But despite the insular lives led by ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, the principal reasons behind rampant propagation in Israel, according to Rotem Elizera, the health correspondent for the daily Yediot Ahronot who has spearheaded coverage of the outbreak, are non-ideological. ‘The small but loud crowd of well-educated, prosperous people who question the entire medical establishment and are skeptical of conventional world views, and the larger crowd that doesn’t vaccinate its kids, who are mostly ultra-Orthodox. They simply have very low rates of compliance in general.'” [DailyBeast]
DESSERT — How kosher cuisine in Dallas is getting more chef-driven and ‘better than good’: “When chef Jeramie Robison was approached to create a unique, all-kosher menu for Congregation Anshai Torah in Plano, he looked no further for inspiration than some of the dishes he’d already developed for City Hall Bistro, the Adolphus Hotel’s casual restaurant, where he’s executive chef. ‘I tweaked some of those dishes to be 100 percent kosher,’ he says, ‘For example, I used avocado instead of labneh in the zhug recipe [a spicy herb purée].” [DallasNews]
BIRTHDAYS: Olympian, holder of the world record in the 50-mile walk for over 30 years, he is a concentration camp survivor via the Kastner train and a professor at Ben Gurion University, Shaul Paul Ladany turns 83… National Security Advisor under President Clinton (1993-1997), executive director of UNICEF (2010-2017), he converted to Judaism in 2005, William Anthony Kirsopp Lake, best known as Tony Lake turns 80… Deputy Secretary of Transportation, he is pending Senate confirmation to become Deputy Attorney General, Jeffrey A. Rosen turns 61… Academy Award-winning film director, screenwriter and producer. he is the son of long-time NYTimes reporter and executive editor, Max Frankel, David Frankel turns 60… Elected as a civil court judge in Brooklyn in 2016, now serving as a criminal court judge, she is the founder of Ezras Nashim, the first all-female volunteer ambulance corps in NYC, Rachel “Ruchie” Freier turns 54… Los Angeles-based, raised in Israel, singer, songwriter, guitarist and composer, he is a founding member of the Jewish rock band Moshav, Duvid Swirsky turns 43…
Producer and screenwriter for the stage, television and film, best known as the creator and showrunner of the television series “Breaking In” and “The Goldbergs,” Adam F. Goldberg turns 43… Academy Award-winning actress and singer who starred on General Hospital, Veronica Mars and Eastwick, Jaime Ray Newman turns 41… Associate general counsel at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Brian Janovitz turns 38… Ph.D. candidate at NYU, he was a law clerk on the Israeli Supreme Court and a corporate attorney at the NYC office of Dechert LLP, Isaac Roszler turns 28… Associate director for college engagement at the Union for Reform Judaism, Evan Lerner Traylor turns 25… Officer of both the annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival and the Warsaw Jewish Film Festival, Magda Strehlau… Attorney and senior legal manager at Medtronic, Rhona Shwaid… Miriam Rosen… Judith Berman…
Netanyahu vs. Ha’aretz “fake news:” Ha’aretz is in the Prime Minister’s Office’s crosshairs, Kafe Knesset learned today, over a story about Netanyahu’s planned participation in the Jewish Federations…
Hi-Tech Defense: The latest breaking story from Israel today is the destruction of a Hamas terror tunnel from Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, into Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin…
Happy Birthday, Daddy: Dozens of Likud ministers and MKs gathered in the cabinet room to celebrate Bibi’s 68th birthday. Perhaps because of the scandalous police investigations underway, no…
TKO on PM immunity: The Bayit Yehudi party put the kibosh on the controversial bill to give sitting prime ministers immunity from criminal investigations. After days of MKs…
Pickles and politics: Both PM Netanyahu’s speech and President Rivlin’s speech at the Knesset winter session’s opening meeting yesterday made big waves. Netanyahu’s speech was based around a…
Welcome back, Knesset: After a three-month summer recess, the Knesset has returned to regular work. As always, the afternoon plenum meeting will be full of pomp and circumstance,…