Daily Kickoff: Largest ever Israeli tech acquisition — Intel buys Mobileye for $15B | Trump advisor visits Israel | Team Israel’s first WBC loss


BIG DEAL: “Intel to Buy Jerusalem-based Mobileye for About $15 Billion in Car Tech Push” by Ian King: “Intel Corp. plans to buy Israel’s Mobileye NV for about $15 billion, its second-biggest acquisition and a bold attempt to dominate technology for self-driving cars. The U.S. chipmaker will pay $63.54 per share in cash for Jerusalem-based Mobileye, according to a statement Monday from both companies. Mobileye shares closed at $47.27 on Friday in New York.” [Bloomberg; CNBC] • Intel will move its automotive unit to Israel [TechCrunch]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: Trump’s ‘ultimate deal’ — by Jonathan Swan: “Influential figures in the conservative pro-Israel community have concluded that President Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have convinced themselves that their dealmaking talents can clinch this “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians… The Trump administration alienated some allies in conservative pro-Israel circles by allowing the State Department to hire Michael Ratney, who was a senior U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem under John Kerry. In recent days, a number of influential conservatives have reached out to White House officials, urging them to fire Ratney… A conservative pro-Israel leader tells me Trump’s aspirations “will run up against the reality of dealing with the Palestinians.”” [Axios

“Trump invites Palestinian leader Abbas to White House” by Luke Baker: “Trump on Friday invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, in a first phone call between the two leaders since Trump took office.” [Reuters]  

White House readout: “The President emphasized his personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal… He underscored that such a peace agreement must be negotiated directly between the two parties, and that the United States will work closely with Palestinian and Israeli leadership to make progress toward that goal.  The President noted that the United States cannot impose a solution on the Israelis and Palestinians, nor can one side impose an agreement on the other.”

“Abbas: Trump told me he wants two-state solution” by Sue Surkes and Alexander Fulbright: “Speaking in Ramallah, Abbas on Sunday said that his phone conversation with Trump… was “constructive” and that Trump “confirmed his full commitment to the peace process and the two-state solution.” He added: “We will continue to cooperate with [Trump], in order to arrive at a comprehensive and just peace that will bring security and stability to everyone.” Other Palestinian sources said that Trump told Abbas he wanted to broker a deal, and that he referred to Abbas as a “partner.”” [ToI]

KEY QUESTION FOR PRO-ISRAEL FOLKS —How much of this is driven, perhaps with encouragement from the Israelis, by the White House’s desire to be viewed by the Palestinians as an ‘honest broker’? According to Michael Herzog’s extensive recap of the last major round of negotiations, the Israeli’s central issue with Kerry wasn’t so much the ‘honest broker’ aspect as it was with the lack of coordination, with the US holding back info and misleading both the Israelis and the Palestinians. To the extent there is currently very high levels of coordination between the White House and the Israelis, another question is how long will it last?

“Trump Envoy Jason Greenblatt to Visit Israel on Monday” by Barak Ravid: “[Jason] Greenblatt will be getting together Monday with President Reuven Rivlin and will then meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ron Dermer… On Tuesday, Greenblatt will go to the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Palestinian officials… Accompanying Greenblatt on his trip is Yael Lempert, who held the Israel portfolio for the National Security Council at the White House during the Obama administration and has remained in the position under President Trump.” [Haaretz

Greenblatt created a new Twitter account @jdgreenblatt45, promising followers that he’ll be tweeting updates from his trip such as this one: “Time for morning prayer (shacharit) at unexpected stop in Frankfurt. Pray for peace.” [Twitter]

QUICK PREVIEW — by the Kafe Knesset team: Just a few hours before Jason Greenblatt landed in Israel, Minister of Defense Liberman conveyed his message to the Trump administration envoy. “Ahead of another attempt to launch Israeli Palestinian negotiations, we should learn lessons from the past and the first lesson is that any attempt to solve the Palestinian issue by the ‘land for peace’ formula is doomed to fail. The only way to reach a viable agreement is a broad regional agreement which will include territory and population exchange,” he wrote on Facebook this morning. Liberman will not be meeting Greenblatt during his Israel trip, though Kafe Knesset has learned that during his visit to DC last week, the Israeli Defense Minister and the President’s special advisor did have a chance to sit down, during Liberman’s meeting with NSC Director McMaster. [KafeKnesset]

“Tillerson Leads From State Dept. Shadows as White House Steps In” by David Sanger: “Henry A. Kissinger slipped into the State Department last week for a quiet lunch in his old office with Rex W. Tillerson… “The normal tendency when you come into that job is to increase your visibility and to show that you are present and in charge,” he said in an interview. “He wanted to first inform himself of all the nuances. I was impressed by the confidence and self-assurance that he showed.” … “He’s won status and respect of the president, of McMaster, and talks all the time to Jared,” [Senator Bob Corker] said.”

Mr. Kissinger, at 93, is philosophical about most things, including Mr. Tillerson. “I would expect that as foreign policy evolves, Rex Tillerson will become an increasingly prominent exponent of it,” he said. “When I first came to Washington” as national security adviser to President Richard M. Nixon, “you would find me mentioned in The New York Times maybe 10 times.” A computer index suggests that the actual number in his first year was around 228.” [NYTimes]

“Foreign leaders try to find their footing with a mercurial yet crucial ally: Trump” by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker: “Some leaders who had strained relations with Obama welcome the chance to turn the page. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was greeted in Washington last month like a conquering hero, and he made a point to celebrate his long personal history with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.” [WashPost

In an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh, Israel’s Minister for Public Security Gilad Erdan commented on Trump’s settlements policy: “Look, the American administration is not the Israeli government. I don’t expect them to see everything eye to eye. And after saying that I think there is still a huge improvement in the way that the new administration sees many issues concerning Israel and it’s challenges compared to what we had in the Obama administration… We heard things from the White House that we didn’t hear for many years. For example when they announced that they understand that the settlements are not the real obstacle for peace and that shows a deep understand of the conflict, because it’s true. When all the settlements are between 2-3 percent of Judea and Samaria, no serious guy can believe that this is what is stopping us from achieving peace.”

“I think that we should do whatever we plan to be coordinated with the new administration. About the settlements, we established a team. Let’s give this team a chance for — I hope for a short time — to try to agree on the policy concerning the building in the settlements. But, personally, I believe that for many years the Palestinians heard from everyone that time is running out only against Israel. So why should they make concessions? They can wait and the world and the American administration would put pressure only on the Israeli side… I hope that we will convince the administration that putting pressure or limiting our construction in the settlement… that will be a mistake because again that will put the pressure on Israel instead of putting the pressure on the Palestinian side to come to the table without preconditions and to challenge us around the table with talking to us and not by boycotting us.”

“Blair did offer to help Trump in the Middle East” by Simon Walters: “US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has confirmed to the British Government that Tony Blair has offered to help Donald Trump win a Middle East peace deal… and the Trump administration had ‘taken his approach seriously’… A senior diplomatic source said: ‘Blair has offered to help Kushner and the White House and they are very interested. They think his general diplomatic and Middle East background could be useful.’” [DailyMail

ON THE HILL 115 House Members Sign Letter Warning About One-State Outcome — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) have circulated a letter calling on President Donald Trump to “reaffirm” America’s support for the two state solution while warning against a one state scenario. At least 115 Members of Congress have co-signed the letter including two Republican Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and John Duncan (R-TN). “There are those who argued that this is just a party line letter, so when we got two Republicans, I was able to say, ‘not anymore,’” Rep. Connolly told Jewish Insider. [JewishInsider]

KAFE KNESSET — UN Human Rights Council, Yair Lapid is coming to get you — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The Yesh Atid leader, and likely leading challenger to Netanyahu in the next election, headed to Washington D.C. on Monday to advocate for the US to stop funding the panel. Lapid recently called the UNHRC “the rotten core of [the] antisemitic campaign” to delegitimize Israel. Lapid plans to meet with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Congressional Israel Allies Caucus chairmen Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Trent Franks (R-AZ).  Lapid will also meet with Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and others in Congress and make appearances in the American media. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

Lapid tells us: “In the last decade, in the UNHRC, there were 61 resolutions regarding global events. In the same decade, they had 67 resolutions about Israel. They had more resolutions about Israel than they had about the entire world. In the past, the U.S. left the organization and came back. And on top of being part of it, the U.S. is its main sponsor. American taxpayers are actually paying the organization on a day-to-day basis for horrible unbalanced, anti-Semitic propaganda. We want to bring this to the attention of Congress and tell senators and House Members: ‘It’s time to leave and take your money with you.’” The friendship between the U.S. and Israel is so firm that I think it’s ok for us to at least make sure that the U.S. administration is aware of what is going on.”

“Trump’s Middle East diplomacy is complicated by Palestinian terror incitement” by Josh Rogin: “Even some longtime advocates of Palestinian institution-building are now on board with defunding. “We have been doing the same thing for decades, and it isn’t working to change Palestinian political culture, and that political culture has to change if we want peace,” said Elliott Abrams, a former White House and State Department official… [Sen. Lindsey] Graham said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on board. An Israeli embassy official wouldn’t confirm that but told me that the government thinks it very important to shine a spotlight on the issue, especially as the peace process gets going again… Robert Danin, a former Middle East negotiator now at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Graham’s legislation is too blunt an instrument but could be useful as leverage, if and when a more comprehensive strategy takes shape.” [WashPost]

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

SPOTLIGHT: “A New York startup shakes up the insurance business” by The Economist: “Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger, tech entrepreneurs with no insurance background, spotted that the industry is huge… distrusted, antiquated and hopelessly unreformed. In September they started Lemonade, a New York-based insurer for homeowners and renters. Some describe it as a peer-to-peer insurer (“Spiritually we’re a tech company,” says Mr Schreiber). Most agree that its app makes insurance a lot easier. This appeals to the digital generation: of 2,000 policies sold in its first 100 days, over 80% were to first-time buyers.” [Economist]

“Mark Cuban on running for president: ‘I wouldn’t say never'” by Michelle Castillo:“”I wouldn’t say never, but it’s not my lifelong dream,” Cuban told CNBC at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. “It depends on how things turn out.” … At the very least, Cuban said he could do better at being president than Trump is doing right now. “Yeah I think I could,” he said to CNBC, smiling.” [CNBC

“CNN’s Jake Tapper Says His Son Has Adapted “Fake News” Line From Trump” by Natalie Jarvey: “Tapper noted that even his 7-year-old son has picked up on the phenomenon, explaining with a laugh that he “now does an impression where whenever I’m bothering him he says, ‘fake news.'”” [THR

“ADL plans Silicon Valley center to fight cyberhate” by Jon Swartz: “The center on cyberhate, technology and society will leverage technology and experts to “monitor, analyze and mitigate hate speech and harassment” across the Internet. The facility, which should open somewhere south of San Francisco  in the next three to six months, received seed funding through eBay founder Pierre Omidyar‘s philanthropic investment firm, Omidyar Network… Greenblatt called the center the “first of its kind” in the civil rights era. Brittan Heller, a former Justice Department official who leads ADL’s anti-cyberhate efforts, will be founding director of the new center.” [USAToday]

“Gaza tailor makes prayer caps for Jewish worshippers” by Nidal al-Mughrabi:“It’s not easy doing business from Gaza but tailor Mohammad Abu Shanab has found a demand he can supply — his sewing factory is churning out religious skull caps, for devout Jewish men. Since Israel resumed importing clothing from Gaza in 2015, Abu Shanab has renewed commercial contacts to sell merchandise to neighboring Israel. With salaries in Gaza much lower, Abu Shanab’s costs are very competitive. “We make all kinds of clothes and recently began making the skull caps that are worn by Israeli rabbis and Christian priests,” said Abu Shanab.” [Reuters]

YESTERDAY’S HEADLINE: “Israel Wins Again in the W.B.C., Beating Cuba to Stay Undefeated” by Ken Belson: “The victory kept Israel undefeated in its first W.B.C. appearance and pushed the team one step closer to a berth in the semifinal round in Los Angeles… Former and current New York Mets played a big role in the game for Israel… Israel will then play host Japan, which includes some of the elite players from the country’s top league.” [NYTimes

TODAY: “Israel falls to first defeat in World Baseball Classic” by Allon Sinai: “Another victory over the Netherlands would have put Israel on the verge of advancing to the last four at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. However, Monday’s lopsided defeat complicates Israel’s position, especially considering it faces favorite Japan in its final Pool E game on Wednesday.” [JPost]

DESSERT: “DC cafe becomes ‘second White House cafeteria’” by Richard Johnson: “Cafe Milano in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, is the favorite restaurant of the Trump administration. On Wednesday night, at three separate tables were Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “It’s like the second White House cafeteria,” said one regular at the Italian eatery.” [NYPost]

WEEKEND WEDDING — Lauren Weinstein, Eli Kintisch: “Lauren Beth Weinstein and Eli Steven Kintisch were married March 12 at Hotel Monaco in Washington. Lilah L. Pomerance, a friend of the couple who received authorization from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, officiated, with Cantor Benjamin Kintisch, the groom’s brother, participating. The bride, 32, who is keeping her name, is a leadership and career coach at the Washington site of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, where she helps candidates find jobs in the Jewish nonprofit sector… The groom, 39, is based in Washington as a contributing correspondent covering climate change at Science magazine, published by Association for the Advancement of Science.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Futurist, social engineer, industrial designer and director of the Venus Project, Jacque Fresco turns 101… Pop singer, pianist, composer of over 500 songs and record producer, whose family name derives from the Hebrew word for charity, Neil Sedaka turns 78… Syndicated columnist whose weekly column appears in more than 400 publications worldwide, author, political commentator and non-practicing physician, Charles Krauthammer turns 67… Former Florida congressman (2009-2011 and again 2013-2017), 1983 graduate from Harvard Law School magna cum laude, Alan Grayson turns 59… Former US Ambassador to the United Nations and deputy national security advisor to President Bill Clinton, currently president and CEO of Soderberg Global Solutions, Nancy Soderberg turns 59… Founder and CEO of MediaBistro which she sold in 2007, now managing partner of Flatiron Investors, a NYC-based investors syndicate, Laurel Touby turns 54 (h/ts Playbook)…

Heavy metal songwriter, vocalist for the band Disturbed as well as for the band Device, former yeshiva student, David Draiman turns 44… Senior advisor for Senator Bernie Sanders, former host of daily Sirius XM program “The Agenda,” Ari Rabin-Havt turns 38… Television and film actor, Emile Hirsch turns 32… Television and film actor, Emory Cohen turns 27… Social Media Manager at NBC Universal, Jessie Rubin… Gabriel Romano… Neil Scheindlin Matthew Gelles… Robert Smith

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




Daily Kickoff: Rabbis argue against notion that Shabbat’s to blame for Trump tweets | Rich -> Putin tells Bibi to stop dwelling on past | Happy Purim!


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About Those Tweets… “Shabbat’s not the reason Trump tweets on Saturdays” by Annie Karni: “I think it’s a very foolish assumption to say that in some way, people in the Trump administration wait until the Sabbath so they can make decisions that otherwise, other members of the Trump administration might weigh in on,” said Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, rabbi emeritus at the Kehilath Jeshurun congregation on Manhattan’s Upper East Side… The rules of Shabbat “are not so black and white,” explained Rabbi Avidan Milevsky, the interim rabbi at Kesher Israel… But he said it was a “dangerous misconception” to assume Kushner was out of touch and off the grid during Trump’s most inflammatory moments. “It implies that anything disastrous is somehow indirectly to be blamed on Jared’s absence—and by extension, Jews,” Milevsky said. “It’s a dangerous narrative — this idea that he’s not allowed to discuss these things on the Sabbath is absolutely false… Jared is not locked in a room. It was a cool idea, and it got some press, but it is a dangerous and false narrative.” [Politico

President-in-law: “Mexican foreign minister goes straight to the White House, skips usual channels” by Tracy Wilkinson: “Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray met at the White House with President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, along with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, a top financial aide, the Mexican government announced… When asked whether any sessions were scheduled at the State Department, the spokesman, Mark Toner, said he didn’t know Videgaray was in town.” [LATimes]

“Rex Tillerson is off to an agonizingly slow start” by David Ignatius: “Tillerson’s first big setback was his failed advocacy of Abrams… Trump seemed enthusiastic during an Oval Office meeting on Feb. 7 that included Tillerson, Kushner and Abrams. As they were leaving the Oval Office, Bannon, in a true “House of Cards” moment, said to Abrams: “Huge fan.” Several hours later, reportedly after Bannon showed Trump some critical comments Abrams had made about him during the campaign, Tillerson was informed that the nomination had been nixed. Tillerson tried to reverse the decision but failed. He’s still looking for a deputy.” [WashPost]

“Leave Steve Bannon Out of Your Shpiel” by Tevi Troy: “Comparing Mr. Bannon, or any Trump aide, to Haman diminishes the true threats that Jews face in a dangerous world. A political figure, even one with whom you disagree, is not worthy of comparison with someone who paid a pliable king 10,000 talents of silver for the “privilege” of slaughtering the Jews. The suggestion that the two are alike will only undermine legitimate criticism of Mr. Bannon… The Hamanization of Trump aides threatens badly needed Jewish unity and could also turn off otherwise sympathetic gentiles.” [WSJ]

“Trump’s Intelligence Nominee Gets Early Lesson in Managing White House” by Matthew Rosenberg and James Risen: “Until last week, the White House was weighing a plan to bring in Stephen A. Feinberg, a co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management and a friend of Mr. Bannon and Mr. Kushner, to lead a White House review of the intelligence community… Stiff resistance from [Dan] Coats and Mike Pompeo, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency — aided by pushback from allies in the Senate and even Mr. Pence — appears to have derailed the plan. Mr. Feinberg is now in discussions with administration officials to take on a still-undetermined role in defense, rather than intelligence… Mr. Coats saw Mr. Feinberg’s potential appointment as an effort by Mr. Bannon and Mr. Kushner to undercut him, according to current and former officials.” [NYTimes

“When the Generals Become Democracy’s Guardians” by Andrew Exum: “Military officers have checked some of the president’s uglier populist impulses. But what does that mean for liberal values? …it makes me worry about what that means for both liberal values and the role of the military officer corps in American society. For some answers, it’s worth taking a look at another country in which the senior ranks of the military officer corps have been thrust into a role as the vanguard of liberalism: Israel.” [TheAtlantic]

HAPPENING TODAY: President Trump will speak with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas by telephone at 12:15 PM, according to the White House.

Aaron David Miller‏: “Trump talks to Abbas. If Trump puts his brand on a peace initiative — like steaks, ties, wine — Bibi watch out.” [Twitter]

Dan Shapiro writes: “Today seems like a good day to debunk this oft-repeated but erroneous claim: That Obama’s first call as POTUS was to Abbas. It wasn’t. I was in the Oval Office that day, Jan 21, 2009… Operation Cast Lead had just ended, and Obama wanted to reinforce the shaky, Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that was taking hold. Just past 8:30 AM, we entered the Oval for the calls. The sequence had been carefully scripted: Mubarak, Olmert, Abbas, King Abdullah. Thank Egypt for its role on the ceasefire; support for Israel’s self-defense; appreciate PA helping keeping the WB stable; support Jordan.” [Twitter

Greenblatt to meet with Palestinians, too: Jerusalem is preparing for the first visit by a Trump administration official, as the president’s special representative, Jason Greenblatt, is set to arrive next week. A US official told Kafe Knesset yesterday that Greenblatt will be visiting both Jerusalem and Ramallah, meeting both Netanyahu and President Abbas, as well as officials from both the Israeli and the Palestinian side.

On the Israeli side, Greenblatt’s visit is likely to be dominated by the settlements issue, as he is the US point man on the team coordinating the matter. He will arrive against the backdrop of right-wing pressure on Netanyahu to expand settlement construction and stand by his commitment to build a new settlement for the Amona evacuees. The Jewish Home is now threatening not to support Likud legislation until Netanyahu fulfills his promise on Amona. [KafeKnesset]

Bill Clinton Talks Rabin, Peace Process — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Former President Bill Clinton spoke to a packed audience at Brookings Institute on Thursday and called for an end to ongoing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians… Clinton called the day of [Rabin’s] assassination his worst day in the White House, adding, “I remain convinced that had he lived we would have achieved a comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians by 1998 and we’d be living in a different world today.” He recalled Rabin telling him once that he was making peace because otherwise, “Very soon we will either no longer be a democracy or no longer be a Jewish state.” [JewishInsiderPolitico

HEARD IN MOSCOW: “Rejecting Purim spiel, Putin tells Netanyahu to stop dwelling on past” by TOI: “Russian President Vladimir Putin told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop living in the past Thursday, after the Israeli premier tried to tie tensions with Iran to an upcoming Jewish holiday about a thwarted genocide of Jews in ancient Persia. Adopting a conciliatory tone, Putin said that the events described by Netanyahu had taken place “in the fifth century B.C.” “We now live in a different world. Let us talk about that now,” Putin said.” [ToI]

KAFE KNESSET — Putin’s perfect present — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: At home, Netanyahu is dealing with an inconvenient gift scandal, but during his visit to Moscow yesterday, a present from President Putin actually warmed his heart. The Russian president and Netanyahu are considered quite close, and Putin chose the perfect gift for Netanyahu, the son of the historian: an antique copy of “The Jewish War” by Josephus Flavius. The volume was printed in Tuscany, Italy in 1526, almost 500 years ago. “It’s a very special gift.” Netanyahu told reporters in a phone call briefing from the tarmac before flying back to Israel. “There is no doubt this book has a significant place in our historical heritage. I really appreciate it,” he added, stressing he will be passing on the book to the National Library.

Gifts aside, Netanyahu stressed the importance of his Kremlin meeting, which was dedicated to the Syrian front and Israeli concerns about Iran bolstering its standing in post-war Syria. Netanyahu presented Putin with intelligence demonstrating recent Iranian moves from the past few weeks, which show Tehran is attempting to create a permanent military presence in Syria, including attempts to build a naval port. “I can tell you from past experience that these face-to-face conversations between us are very significant. It was a direct and frank conversation,” Netanyahu said, refusing to reveal what Putin’s response was. “I can tell you for sure – he got the message.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

ON THE HILL: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced David Friedman’s nomination for US Ambassador to Israel. The vote was mostly along party lines with Democratic Senator Bob Menendez who, by voting yes, gave Friedman bipartisan backing. Friedman’s candidacy will proceed to a Senate floor vote at an undetermined time.

“Menendez, Booker at odds over Trump’s ambassador to Israel” By Jonathan D. Salant: “Menendez said he voted yes after discussing his and constituents’ concerns with the nominee, including a two-state solution… “I believe maintaining that bipartisan support is critical, and that it is vitally important we enjoy open channels of communication with our ambassador.” [NJAdvance

After the vote, Senator Rob Portman explained his vote to Jewish Insider, “He’s the President’s pick. I tend to defer to the President, Republican and Democrat alike. He answered some of the questions I had and I thought he did a good job responding to those.” Senator James Risch (R-ID) told Jewish Insider, “He’s the right guy for the job. Period,” [JewishInsider

Clinton’s Rabbi backs Friedman — “A new US ambassador at a critical time” by Menachem Genack: “David Friedman is uniquely qualified to provide this sense of friendship and backing, and would be an excellent choice as ambassador to Israel. Not only does he possess extraordinary intelligence, he also is intimately familiar with the region, speaks Hebrew fluently, is at home with Israeli culture, and is sensitive to Israel’s concerns.” [JPost

“Trump’s hard-line Israel ambassador pick will have to bend” by Aaron David Miller: “An argument can be made that the ambassador to watch isn’t Friedman at all but Ron Dermer, Israel’s envoy to the United States, who not only is exceptionally close to Netanyahu but also has close ties to the Trump administration. The issue on the US side isn’t really proximity to Netanyahu, but to Washington and the US President — and there Dermer and Kushner will have a distinct advantage… It would be a cruel irony if Trump ends up using the pro-settlement Friedman as his channel to the settlers to persuade them to act with restraint on some kind of settlements freeze.” [CNN

COMING SOON: “British Royal ‘to become family’s first member to make state visit to Israel later this year'” by Niamh McIntyre: “Reuven Rivlin, the Israeli President, extended the invitation via Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at a meeting in Jerusalem earlier this week… A spokesperson for Clarence House, the official residence of the Prince of Wales, told The Independent that the Prince of Wales’ overseas visits are only made at the request of the government. They could not confirm whether the Prince would be visiting Israel. However, they did point to the Prince’s “strong and growing relationship with the Jewish community.”” [Independent]

PURIM, beginning Saturday evening: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes… “Purim is the Jewish answer to one of the great questions of history: how do you live with the past without being held captive by the past? Ours is a religion of memory, because if you forget the past, you’ll find yourself repeating it. Yet it’s also a future-oriented faith. To be a Jew is to answer the question, Has the Messiah come?, with the words, Not yet. There are so many parts of the world today where ancient grievances are still being played out, as if history were a hamster wheel in which however fast we run we find ourselves back where we started. Purim is a way of saying, remember the past, but then look at the children, celebrate with them, and for their sake, put the past behind you and build a better future.” [RabbiSacks] • h/t Yair Rosenberg

IN AUSTIN THIS WEEKEND — Extra ‘Snap’ to SXSW: Purim Coming to the Streets of Austin: More than 300 people are expected at Shabbat dinner this week in Austin as part of the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) film, interactive media and music festival that takes place from March 10 to March 19. The Friday-night dinner, #openShabbat, is organized by Chabad Rabbi Mordechai and Chana Lightstone and co-hosted by Chabad Young Professionals in Austin. The joyous holiday of Purim comes right on the heals of Shabbat and SXSW goers will have every opportunity to celebrate and imbibe at the YAAASS Queen Esther SXSW Purim party which will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Mordechai Lightstone will also be speaking Sunday with Julia Ioffe from the Atlantic about the rise of online anti-Semitism. [EvenbriteSXSW

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Inbox maintenance was taking up a lot of Dan Ariely’s time, so he decided to study it as he would anything else [TheAtlantic] • Extell sells three UES walk-ups to Izaki Group for $42M [TRD] • Former Hedge Fund Exec Bruce Kovner Seeks $67 Million for Caribbean Estate [WSJ] • Lawsuit claims Mori Arkin misled eCam shareholders [Globes] • Patrick Drahi of Altice Is Struggling to Bridge Atlantic Divide [Bloomberg] • Despite sanctions relief, Shell still cool on Iranian oil buys [Reuters] • Sixers owner Joshua Harris meets with Trump over $1 trillion infrastructure plan [PhillyVoice]

“With Trump in White House, Some Executives Ask, Why Not Me?” by James Stewart: “Stu Loeser, once the press secretary for Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who considered a presidential run last year, concurred. “If you run a company that has employed tens of thousands of people, and generated lots of profit and been undeniably successful, and you look at a sitting president who, to be honest, a lot of business people don’t have much respect for, you think, why not me?” he said. Mr. Loeser now runs his own strategic consulting firm, and told me he has clients who are business executives considering a run for high public office. “I can’t tell you their names, obviously,” he said.” [NYTimes

“Blumberg Capital closes $200 million fund” by Katie Roof: “They are willing to look at opportunities that are just in the idea stage and will write checks “even in companies with no product,” explained David Blumberg, founder and managing partner. He likes focusing on seed- and early-stage startups because of the potential for bigger returns… He’s particularly interested in “helping the little guy do better,” and that guides some of his investments in the personal finance category.” [TC

“WeWork Is Giving Away $20 Million in Cash Prizes to Other Startups” by Ellen Huet: “The New York-based co-working giant said it’ll give away $20 million in cash prizes to entrepreneurs and small businesses in a series of competitions called the Creator Awards. Adam Neumann, WeWork’s chief executive officer and co-founder, said the contest will serve as a way to celebrate reaching 100,000 members… In WeWork’s case, the company won’t take equity or ask for repayment from the startups it gives money to, Neumann said. “We’re doing this to give back,” said the 37-year-old CEO. “We’re not doing this as a loan. We’re literally giving this.”” [Bloomberg]

“Maverick’s Guy Oseary: ‘Engineers Are the Rock Stars of Today'” by Craig Marks: “A friend of mine started WeWork, and I didn’t invest. I loved the concept, too: It’s about sharing of services, location, support — it’s everything I love. And it’s now worth 20 billion dollars. What was I thinking?” [Billboard]

MEDIA WATCH: “An anti-Trump tabloid pulls back” by Joe Pompeo: “During a rare newsroom appearance last January, according to people who were there, owner Mort Zuckerman, the 79-year-old real estate mogul and long-time Democratic donor, gushed about what the News was doing and all the buzz it was getting. At one point, according to two of the sources present, he turned to Rich and quipped, “Where have you been all my life?” (It’s no secret in New York media circles that Zuckerman’s health is in decline, which is why he has now fully stepped away from running the paper, entrusting that responsibility to his nephew, Eric Gertler.)” [Politico

“Being Norman Oppenheimer” by Hannah Brown: “At an expensive men’s clothing store, Norman insists on treating Eshel to a very pricey pair of shoes, and this creates a bond between them. When Eshel becomes prime minister a few years later, Norman congratulates himself, exulting, “For once, I bet on the right horse.” How Norman tries to cash in on his connection to Eshel is a story that is fun and full of twists. These involve connections and deals he tries to make among a diverse group of powerful men, including a blustering, self-important rabbi (Steve Buscemi) of an upscale Manhattan synagogue — genius casting — and not one but two billionaire financiers (Josh Charles and Harris Yulin).” [JPost] With the help of A-list actors, Israel’s most successful director takes a jab at Israeli exploitation of U.S. Jewry [Haaretz

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Carol Blue, widow of the late Christopher Hitchens, cohosted a book party for Jamie Kirchick’s debut book The End of Europe. In introducing Kirchick, Blue noted “No one could fill his (Christopher’s) shoes but Jamie comes close.” About 200 people were in attendance including Michael Barone, Peter Berkowitz, Jim Denton, Amb. Norm Eisen, Benjamin Haddad, Michael Pillsbury, David Satter, Amb. Andras Simonyi and Andrew Sullivan.

“DeVos praises Orthodox Jewish group that strongly backs public funding for religious schools” by Valerie Strauss: “U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has made school “choice” a policy priority, met on Wednesday with leaders of an Orthodox Jewish group that has been instrumental in pushing voucher programs across the country. She praised their “leadership and commitment” in helping communities secure schools that “meet the academic and religious needs of their families” and said she looks forward to working with them… Although Agudath Israel of America does not ordinarily advocate for Cabinet members, it urged its supporters to lobby the Senate to confirm DeVos, with whom it has worked for years on school-choice issues.” [WashPost]

Rabbi A. D. Motzen, National Director of State Relations for Agudath Israel, tells us: Agudah leaders walked away “very impressed” and encouraged from the meeting. “She was very genuine, and she sincerely wants to continue this conversation to work with us on these issues,” he said. “This about having a seat at the table so that our voice is heard. We are a minority, and sometimes the minority voice is not heard. With DeVos, we know we will be heard. Having someone who is looking out for that minority voice. Whatever the discussion might be, we have our unique voice in being loud and clear. That, I think, is going to be amplified much more in this administration.”

DESSERT: “Eric Greenspan Jumps Into the Deli Scene With New Kosher Sandwich Shop in Los Angeles” by Farley Elliott: “Fleishik (Yiddish for meat) lands in the former Urban Garden space right along that dense stretch of Beverly not far from The Grove, and next door to Sweet Rose Creamery. The spot will serve traditional Jewish fare that expands beyond the traditional deli, from brisket to grilled salami to more composed sandwiches you’d never find at Jerry’s Deli. You can also find throwbacks like a Waldorf salad and miniature bites of kugel, and all with a full underlying liquor license to boot.” [LAEater]

“The 10 Coolest Places to Eat in 2017” by Ann Abel: “If you’re from Israel you know this restaurant,” says restaurateur and sommelier turned professional bon vivant Kristian Brask Thomsen, host of the three-day gastronomic blowouts known as Dining Impossible. But it deserves wider attention. On a steep side street by the city’s bMy Dinner at Nothing: Dining at the World’s Most Exclusive Kosher Restaurant” ustling food market, Machneyuda is the creation of Israeli Iron Chefs Krav Sakinim, Asaf Granit and Uri Navon, alongside Jerusalem’s “slow food” champion, Yossi Asaf. “They realized a dream of serving guests ‘happy food’ in an extremely fun-loving dining experience, combining seasonal cuisine with a homey interior featuring china from one chef’s grandmother’s house,” says Brask Thomsen. “Add loud music and staff and guests dancing on tables, and you just might have the most memorable eating experience of the Middle East.” Ask for a bespoke evening at the Chef’s Bar, where one of the principals will curate a custom made tasting menu.” [Forbes]

PURIM SPOOF: “My Dinner at Nothing: Dining at the World’s Most Exclusive Kosher Restaurant” by Gamliel Kronemer: “I had been wanting to dine at the legendary Nothing ever since I first heard about it a year ago. Nothing, the brainchild of autodidactic wunder-chef Yankel Gornisht, is a 12-seat kosher restaurant located in the basement of Gornisht’s suburban Bergenfield home, where diners are treated to a six-course prix fixe tasting menu for an entirely reasonable $400 per person (plus wine and gratuities). For those following the treif world’s culinary trends, Gornisht might be compared to Damon Baehrel’s Damon Baehrel in Earlton, New York, a half hour south of Albany—which, for some, is the most exclusive restaurant in America.” [JewishLink] • Read the original New Yorker profile on Baehrel by Nick Paumgarten for context [NewYorker]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Odem Mountain 1060 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon — by Yitz Applbaum: Although travel has always been a necessary and important part of my life, I have always made it a policy to be home with family on Shabbat. The exceptions to this rule have been few and far between. Last Shabbat, I had no choice but to be in Maui. My better half could not join, so I invited my wine-making and wine-drinking buddy, Dan, to spend Shabbat with me. We opened a bottle which I recently acquired, the Odem Mountain 1060 Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, vintage 2012. The wine is produced by the Alfasi family.

This bottle is one of the top wines I have ever experienced. Reminiscent of a giant California cabernet, this bottle exploded with deep tannins on the front part of my tongue. In the middle palate I got a brief respite in intensity, then the finish overwhelms with unripened fruit — think blackberries. It was only five minutes later that it all actually blended together, in my memory. The grapes are grown in the northernmost part of the Golan, and it is predominantly Cabernet. The label does not list any Petit Verdot, but somehow or other I know there is Petit Verdot in this wine. The “1060” will last a very long time, but if you dare to open a bottle now, let it breathe and eat it with a 16-20 oz steak. [Harodam

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Long Beach, California general surgeon, Leonard M. Lovitch, MD turns 73… Record producer, former co-president of Columbia Records and a co-founder of Def Jam Records, Rick Rubin turns 54… Peabody Award-winning financial journalist and market news analyst for CNBC and one of the co-hosts of its morning show “Squawk on the Street,” David Faber turns 53… Stage, screen and television actor, the son of novelist Norman Mailer, Stephen Mailer turns 51… Investigative reporter for The New York Times stationed in the London bureau, Danny Hakim turns 46… CEO of DC-based International Lifeline Fund, an NGO focused on poor countries, previously President of both the Genesis Prize Foundation (2013-2015) and Hillel (2006-2013), Wayne L. Firestone… News editor of Mishpacha magazine, Binyamin Rose turns 61… Author and publisher of the Phoenix Scottsdale Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook, Michael A. Ross… Chief Transformation Officer at Gaithersburg, MD-based BroadSoft, previously a consultant to Israeli start-up and established companies and government officials, Jeffrey Kahn

SATURDAY: Professor emeritus at Princeton University whose research focused upon the Cairo Geniza and Jewish life in Muslim countries, Mark R. Cohen turns 74… Composer and conductor specializing in movie scores, since 1984 he has composed the music for nearly 100 feature films, David Louis Newman turns 63… Hudson Bay Capital’s Sander Gerber… Singer-songwriter who has also worked in film, television, voice-over work and children’s recordings, also promotes an eponymous line of eyeglasses, Lisa Loeb turns 49… Israeli singer-songwriter and pianist who has twice been recognized as Israel’s Singer of the Year, Keren Peles turns 38… VP for investor relations and communications at Ridgewood Energy, an energy-focused private equity firm, Samuel J. Lissner turns 31… Graduate of Yale Law School, clerked for Judge Cabranes on the 2nd Circuit, co-founder of Headliner Labs, Dana Stern Gibber… President of Jerusalem Capital Studios, a graduate of Harvard Business School, Michal Grayevsky… Graduate of NYU (B.A., cum laude), University of Illinois (M.S. in journalism) and University of North Carolina (Ph.D.), Sharon Polansky… Hermine Warren… Glenda Kresh

SUNDAY: Chief Washington correspondent for CNN and anchor of the Sunday morning program “State of the Union,” Jacob Paul “Jake” Tapper turns 48… Attorney, real estate developer and president of AIPAC (2014-2015), Robert A. Cohen… Rabbi, born in Venezuela, raised in Israel, now residing in Lakewood, NJ, Yitzchak Abadi turns 84… Photographer, author of 15 children’s books and musician, married to Alan Alda since 1957, Arlene Weiss Alda turns 84… Director, producer and screenwriter of movies and television including “The Fast and the Furious” film franchise, Rob Cohen turns 68… Born in Bombay, British sculptor who recently won the $1 million Genesis Prize, Sir Anish Kapoor turns 63… Sportscaster for ESPN since 1993, host of SportsCenter best known for his work broadcasting NHL hockey, Steve Levy turns 52… Israeli figure skater who won the 2016 World Junior championship, Daniel Samohin turns 19… Chief Marketing Officer at Consensus Systems, better known as ConsenSys, a blockchain software technology company, Amanda Gutterman… Founder of, and designer for, a NYC-based eponymous clothing line that uses CEOs and other successful women as its fashion models (“role models not runway models”), Carrie Hammer… Principal of the Ryan Advocacy group, previously campaign manager for Rick Perry’s presidential campaign and an advisor for Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Jeff Miller… Sam Cohen turns 84… Carol Margolis turns 72… Lynne Blumenthal turns 59…

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Daily Kickoff: Question dividing Israeli leaders — How to cash in on Trump? | Bill Clinton to talk Rabin at Brookings | Bush 41 receives Mensch Award


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HAPPENING TODAY ON THE HILL — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the nomination of David Friedman for US Ambassador to Israel at 10:30 AM.

The Republicans on the committee are all expected to vote for Friedman, including Senator Rand Paul (R-KN) who told Jewish Insider that he is “favorably disposed” to the New York attorney’s candidacy. Sen. Ben Cardin, the committee’s Ranking Democratic Member told reporters yesterday that he will vote against Friedman since his candidacy contradicts the “bipartisan tradition” of U.S. support for Israel. Cardin, one of the most hawkish Senate Democrats on Israel who voted against the Iran deal, will likely give cover to other Democrats on the committee to also oppose Friedman, while Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who was quoted as saying that he is “inclined to be supportive” of Trump’s pick, could provide Friedman with bipartisan support. [JewishInsider

“Senate Dems: State Department is in disarray” by Jordain Carney: “Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.) and Chris Murphy (Conn.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warning that his department is nearing a “tipping point.” … The letter comes amid multiple reports speculating that Tillerson is being overshadowed on foreign policy decisions by some in the president’s inner circle, including White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law… Staffers for Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.)… told reporters that including ambassador nominations there are more than 200 vacancies currently at the department. Cardin, who didn’t sign the letter… stressed that he hopes the Secretary of State will be the leading designer of U.S. foreign policy.” [TheHill] 

“Jared Kushner’s Conflicts Of Interest Questioned By Democratic Lawmakers” by Cody Fenwick: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware and Maryland’s Rep. Elijah Cummings from the House Oversight Committee signed the letter. “Federal conflict of interest laws prohibit a federal official, such as Mr. Kushner, from profiting off of his government work,” they wrote. “Neither the White House nor Mr. Kushner’s attorneys has confirmed which financial assets Mr. Kushner still controls – rendering oversight of Mr. Kushner’s recusals and compliance with conflict-of-interest law impossible,” they continue.” [Patch

INTERVIEW — Freshman Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD 8th District) speaks to JI’s Aaron Magid about his Jewish identity, his views on the Middle East peace process and the recent rise in anti-Semitism. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Raskin’s career has shifted from the classroom to Capitol Hill. Nonetheless, one theme has consistently remained: “Everything I always wanted to be in life started with the letter ‘p’: professor, politician, philosopher, poet, a playwright and a professional football player,” he told Jewish Insider in an in-depth interview, adding, “I’m a big chess player and a bit of an insomniac so I stay up late playing chess online.”

On U.S. support for a two-state solution: “If we can’t make peace between peace between J Street and AIPAC, what are our chances of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians? I hope that I will be part of solutions that strengthen and fortify Israel and bring real peace between Israel and the Palestinians and make the whole region a source of prosperity and justice rather than unremitting conflict and terrorism… I favor a two state solution, which has been the American position for decades. I think it’s also been the Israeli position for decades. I am for a strong resilient prosperous Israel. I am for the vindication of the rights and aspirations of the Palestinians too who have been the victims of lots of events all over the world including from their own leaders.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

HAPPENING TODAY: Former President Bill Clinton will be speaking at a Brookings Institute event at 2:00 PM about Yitzchak Rabin’s peace negotiations with the Palestinians and relationship with global leaders. Afterwards, a panel moderated by Martin Indyk will discuss a new book titled: “Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman” by Itamar Rabinovich, a fellow at the think tank. Clinton and Rabin established an especially close bond while in power. The former US President delivered a deeply personal eulogy at Rabin’s funeral with the famous words “Shalom Chaver.” [Livestream]

DEALMAKING TIME: “Trump adviser to visit Israel, discuss settlements” by Times of Israel: “[Jason] Greenblatt’s visit will focus on West Bank settlement policy, Channel 2 news reported Wednesday. The goal of Greenblatt’s visit is reportedly to formulate the Trump administration’s position on settlements, including what the US will accept in terms of where and how much Israel can build. One of the main topics of discussion will be the new settlement that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to the former residents of the Amona outpost, who were evicted from their homes last month, the report said.” [ToI

HEARD YESTERDAY – WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer on settlements: “I know that when [Trump and Netanyahu] met here at the White House, there was discussion of settlements, and the President was very clear about what his desires and his wishes were. I think as we continue to follow up with Israel in the coming weeks, we will have more on that.”

“Defense Chief Lieberman to Tillerson: Settlements Not an Impediment to Peace” by Gili Cohen: “According to a statement issued by Lieberman’s office, the defense chief told Tillerson that “even the uprooting of 21 blooming towns in Gaza did not lead to peace but rather to rocket fire at Israel.” Lieberman also asked the secretary of state to instruct the State Department to review its policy toward The United Nations’ Human Rights Council and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.” [Haaretz

“Will Trump split the Israeli right?” by Ben Caspit: “According to Israeli sources familiar with workings in Washington, a fight between two opposing factions is underway there as well over the shape of administration policy…Representing the pro-Israel faction are ambassador nominee David Friedman and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner. Representing the realists are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. That is why the Israeli right is watching Liberman’s trip to Washington and his meetings with Mattis and Tillerson with considerable consternation. “The damage he will do in Washington will be very hard to repair later,” said one Knesset member from HaBayit HaYehudi who requested anonymity.” [Al-Monitor]

“How to Cash In on Trump? The Question Dividing Israel’s Leaders” by David Wainer: “Netanyahu, according to an official close to him, wants to leverage Trump’s support to create a broad alliance against Iran… To keep that goal alive, the official said, Netanyahu wants to steer clear of dramatic moves on settlements. “Precisely because Netanyahu sees opportunities for renewing a strategic front against Iran, with America at the helm, settlement-building is much lower on the list of his priorities,” said Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.” [Bloomberg] • Israeli Ambassador Dani Dayan: “We See Eye to Eye with U.S. on Iran” [Newsmax]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Prime Minister Netanyahu is spending the day at the Kremlin, meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin for the fifth time in a year and a half. For the past week, Bibi has been talking about this meeting on a daily basis, putting the Syrian front on the top of his agenda. Jerusalem is concerned about Iran boosting its presence in Syria the day after the civil war ends. Ahead of the meeting, Netanyahu said that it is a “very important meeting for Israel’s security. Defeating ISIS terror cannot lead to an increase in Iranian terror, nor its proxies. You do not replace terror with terror.” Accompanying Bibi to Moscow are IDF Intelligence chief Herzi Halevi and Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin of the Likud. Elkin has been Netanyahu’s companion and translator in all of his recent meetings with Putin. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“As Trump Makes Threats, Iran Makes Friends” by Donna Abu-Nasr: “As the world adjusts to the Trump era, the message for Washington and its allies is that Iran wields growing influence in unexpected places. The Islamic power has been able to expand its reach regardless of the economic sanctions that excluded it from much of the global oil market until last year. In this case, it’s in Africa’s most populous nation, key oil producer and a country where the sectarian battle that has thrown the Middle East into chaos is festering. Nigeria’s Muslims are mainly Sunnis and Iran’s growing foothold in Africa has alarmed the Saudis.” [Bloomberg

“Israel to assist in US struggle against anti-Semitism” by Itamar Eichner: ““The US Jewish community leaders are very concerned about the rise in anti-Semitism and disappointed that Israel has failed to express enough understanding, sympathy and support of their situation,” said Michael Oren, a Deputy Minister in the prime minister’s office. “Jews in the US are now between a rock and a hard place, between left-wing anti-Semitism and right-wing anti-Semitism,” he said… “Israel needs to find ways to help,” Oren urged.” [Ynet]

MENSCH AWARD: “Condemning hatred – former President, First Lady honored by Jewish community” by Damali Keith:“The event was President George H.W. Bush’s second public appearance since battling pneumonia in January 2017. First, he appeared at Super Bowl LI as part of the pre-game coin toss. On Wednesday, he and his wife Barbara expressed their defiance toward hatred… President and Mrs. Bush arrived to a standing ovation from of a small crowd of invited guests and in a gracious ceremony, they were presented with the Mensch Award. The event took place at the Jewish synagogue Congregation Beth-Israel where Neil Bush, speaking on behalf of his parents, said they are disgusted by the dozens of recent Jewish Center vandalism cases and threats.” [Fox26]

SCENE YESTERDAY IN DC: White house aides — including Jason Greenblatt, Boris Epshteyn, Avi Berkowitz and Sebastian Gorka — met with members of Agudath Israel of America’s Board of Trustees and Regional Directors on their annual Leadership Mission to Washington at the White House for a briefing on the administration’s activities.

PHOTOS: Avi Berkowitz with his cousin former AIPAC president Howard Friedman [Pic] • Jeff Ballabon and Gorka in a friendly chat [Pic

TRUMP APPOINTMENTS: “Trump to Pick Former UN Spokesman Grenell for NATO Post, Official Says” by Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs: “President Donald Trump will nominate Richard Grenell to be his ambassador to NATO, according to a White House official, a selection that would make the longtime loyalist and former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations the highest-ranking openly gay person to serve in the administration… If he wins Senate confirmation, Grenell will take a pivotal position in the Trump administration. The president spurred widespread anxiety in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization when he called the alliance “obsolete” and suggested during the campaign the U.S. might not honor its defense commitments if other members don’t pay their share.” [Bloomberg

“Trump’s personnel problem” by Jonathan Swan: “Treasury has been having major headaches in getting Mnuchin’s people confirmed… The White House has been irritated that Mnuchin has been asking for people viewed as liberals or in one case a Hillary Clinton donor. Treasury spokesman Jason Chung denied there were any problems and said Mnuchin “could not be happier with how the appointment and nomination process is going.” [Axios]

“The Myth of Trump’s Loyalty” by McKay Coppins: “Despite his boasts, the president built his success on his willingness to toss aside mentors, friends, and family members during moments of frustration and chaos.” [TheAtlantic]

BROOKLYN JEWS STICKING WITH TRUMP — “Poll: New York Jews Would Vote For Trump Over Clinton Again” by Michael Johnson: “A closer look at the crosstabs shows that in predominantly Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Queens where we polled, voters backed Trump by significant margins—62 percent in Brooklyn and 24 percent in Queens. Meanwhile, in Manhattan, Clinton held a 53 percent edge over Trump in the heavily Jewish zip codes that NYJL polled.” [NYJLife

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: How Trump could soon be at war with Yellen [Politico] • Michael Bloomberg’s longtime money manager steps down [Axios] • Billionaire Rennert must pay $213.2 million judgment: U.S. appeals court [Reuters Glencore Is on to a Winner With This Obscure Metal [Bloomberg] • Inside the Leviev–Julius Klein Corporate Divorce [JCK• Edgar Bronfman Jr. drops out of the race for Time Inc. [WSJ]

STARTUP NATION: “Endor emerges from MIT research with unique predictive analytics tech” by Ron Miller: “Endor applied its own proprietary technology based on Social Physics theory, and created a commercial cloud service, where the customer simply feeds the data into the model, and then in minutes (after however it longs to take to upload the data) can begin asking questions and getting answers based on the content of that data in the context of Social Physics. In fact, the biggest bottleneck is not the processing itself. It’s getting the data into the system, according to Alter.” [TC]

“Ivanka Trump’s Landlord Is a Chilean Billionaire Suing the U.S. Government” by Mark Maremont and James Grimaldi: “The six-bedroom house in the capital’s Kalorama neighborhood was bought for $5.5 million in late December by a company controlled by Andrónico Luksic… The Obama administration in its waning days blocked a Luksic-company plan to build a giant copper-and-nickel mine adjacent to a Minnesota wilderness area, citing environmental concerns. The company and some Minnesota politicians are urging the Trump administration to reverse the decision… Rodrigo Terré, a relative of Mr. Luksic’s who manages the billionaire’s personal investments, said… “categorically” there was no relationship between the house rental and the Minnesota mining dispute, adding that he and Mr. Luksic had not met their famous tenants.” [WSJ]

Ivanka Trump writes “Women’s day is every day!” alongside a Golda Meir quote this morning: “Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” [Twitter]

ICYMI: “Does Feminism Have Room for Zionists?” by Emily Shire: “But my prime concern is not that people hold this view of Israel. Rather, I find it troubling that embracing such a view is considered an essential part of an event that is supposed to unite feminists. I am happy to debate Middle East politics or listen to critiques of Israeli policies. But why should criticism of Israel be key to feminism in 2017?” [NYTimes]

“White House Echoes Tech: ‘Move Fast and Break Things’” by Charles Duhigg: “During the race, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with Gabriel Leydon, founder of a company in Palo Alto, Calif., named MZ, previously known as Machine Zone, which created the highly popular games Mobile Strike and Game of War: Fire Age. Mr. Leydon, one of the biggest online advertisers, agreed to share insights about digital marketing tactics with the Trump campaign.” [NYTimes

MEDIA WATCH: “Top U.S. Media Execs Turn to Israel TV Conference for Guidance in Chaotic Times” by Debra Kamin: “This week, as Keshet Media Group — Israel’s undisputed television heavyweight — launched its fourth installment of INTV, its quasi-annual Jerusalem confab on innovation in television, it has among its participants for the first time CNN president Jeff Zucker, Fox Television Group CEO Dana Walden, and NBC president Jennifer Salke. “When you look at the gestalt, it’s about how you maintain your sense of direction, creation, and vocation under these circumstances,” says Avi Nir, CEO of Keshet.” [Variety]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “His great-grandfather spoke of a crashed Nazi plane. Decades later, the 14-year-old Danish schoolboy found it” by Ben Guarino: “In November 1944, or maybe it was December, a German fighter plane crashed down on the Kristiansen family farm in Denmark. That was one of the many tales told by 14-year-old Daniel Kristiansen’s great-grandfather… But Daniel and his father, Klaus Kristiansen, decided there was no harm in searching for the plane with a metal detector. To their surprise, the detector beeped. The father and son began to dig. Some four yards down, they hit metal. And then they found human remains.” [WashPost]

SPORTS BLINK: “Israel baseball team beats Netherlands, remains undefeated” by Allon Sinai:“Thursday’s showdown with the Dutch was mainly about maintaining momentum, with both teams having qualified for the last eight and the only difference between finishing first or second in Pool A being the eventual schedule in Tokyo. Israel, nevertheless, wanted to enter the next round on a high, and it will do so after once more getting off to a fast start. The blue-and-white scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back. Pitcher Jason Marquis got the win for Israel, allowing one hit in the opening inning, the only one he pitched.” [JPost; SBNation] • Team Israel Pool A recap: 3 wins. 21 runs. 1 Mensch on the Bench. [Twitter]

BIRTHDAYS: Mayor of North York, Ontario (1973-1997), then Mayor of Toronto (1998-2003), founder of the Bad Boy Furniture chain, Mel Lastman turns 84… Professor of sociology and Jewish studies at the University of Toronto (1974-2012, now professor emeritus), best known for his work on German Jewry, Y. Michal Bodemann turns 73… Sag Harbor-based painter, sculptor and printmaker, Eric Fischl turns 69… Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law graduate, political journalist and commentator, former co-host of CNN’s Crossfire, editor at large for The New Republic, Michael Kinsley turns 66… Moroccan-born member of Knesset (since 1998) now representing the Zionist Union party, previously Minister of Defense (2006-2007) and leader of the Labor Party, Amir Peretz turns 65… President and CEO of NYC’s flagship public TV station WNET, previously the president of NBC News and the executive producer for Dateline NBC, Neal Shapiro turns 59… CEO of NYC-based Gotham Media, holds an MA in Russian history from the London School of Economics and a JD from Harvard Law, previously an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC News Nightline, Gordon Platt turns 55… VP and Chief Strategy Officer at Intel Corporation, David I. Ginsberg turns 42 (h/t Playbook)… Chief of Staff and Acting Deputy US Trade Representative, Matthew Vogel turns 39…

Management consultant in the NYC office of McKinsey & Company, previously at the Washington Post, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard, where he served as president of The Harvard Crimson, Amit Paley turns 35… Jerusalem City Councilman from the Hitorerut B’Yerushalayim party, Hanan Rubin turns 35… Israeli-born singer, now one-half of the world music duo Shlomit & RebbeSoul, Shlomit Levi turns 34… Communications director for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper since 2-2017, previously at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Alissa “Sadie” Weiner turns 30… Founding partner of Mothership Strategies, a DC-based firm using digital strategies for organizational fundraising and activism, previously at the DCCC, Jacob “Jake” Austin Lipsett turns 24… CEO at New Orleans-based hotel restaurant chain, Our House Hospitality and COO of the Besh Restaurant Group, Emery Whalen… Private equity and venture capital investor, Howie Fialkov… Stephen Lent

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

Screenshot 2017-02-16 at 10.29.10 AM

Senators Van Hollen, Duckworth Troubled by Friedman’s Nomination

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

WASHINGTON – Two Senators added their concern on Tuesday regarding David Friedman’s nomination for U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told Jewish Insider, “At this…


Kafe Knesset for March 6

Monday, March 6, 2017

Police investigators are set to arrive to the Prime Minister’s Balfour residence this afternoon for the fourth time to continue the probe of “File 1000,” concerning alleged gifts…

Cuomo Israel

‘Hineini’ – Cuomo Delivers Message Against Anti-Semitism on Israel Trip

Sunday, March 5, 2017

JERUSALEM – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo touted his state’s forceful response to a rash of anti-Semitic attacks as he visited Israel on Sunday. “New York’s principles are…

Photo by Haim Zach (GPO)

Foxman: New Approach Needed to New Phenomenon of Anti-Semitism

Thursday, March 2, 2017

President Donald Trump’s statement condemning a rash of anti-Semitic attacks, bombs threats at Jewish Community Centers, and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries across the nations, at the start…

Kustoff Official Headshot

The Second Jewish Republican in Congress

Thursday, March 2, 2017

WASHINGTON – While 24% of Jews voted for Donald Trump last November according to the Pew Research Center, Representative David Kustoff (R-TN) is not shy about his support…


Kafe Knesset for March 2

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Netanyahu has decided to extend Ron Dermer’s term for one additional year as Israel’s ambassador to Washington. The extension, through October 2018, will be presented this Sunday at…