Daily Kickoff: Did Israeli F-15s pretend to be US planes in Syria? | NYT Editorial calls for Abbas to go | The woman tasked with cleaning up the NFL

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DRIVING THE CONVO — “Sources: Trump has all but decided to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal” by Steve Holland and Arshad Mohammed: “President Trump has all but decided to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord by May 12 but exactly how he will do so remains unclear… There is a chance Trump might choose to keep the United States in the international pact… in part because of “alliance maintenance” with France… Top aides are not seeking aggressively to talk Trump out of withdrawal because he seems intent on it, a second White House official said.” [Reuters]

“Quitting Iran Deal a Bad Idea But Not End of World, Condoleezza Rice Says” by Daniel Flatley: “I would probably stay in it because once you’re in an agreement, you don’t want to send the signal that the United States just turns its back on agreements that are there,” Rice said during an interview Wednesday on Bloomberg Television’s “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations.” But, she added, it “won’t be the end of the world” if President Donald Trump withdraws from the agreement… Rice echoed backers of the agreement, including Obama’s Secretary of State John Kerry, in saying that the information detailed by Netanyahu wasn’t new.” [Bloomberg]

Washington Post editorial… “Netanyahu’s revelations aren’t enough to justify ripping up the Iran nuclear agreement: Mr. Trump has frequently said he does not want the United States to fight more Middle East wars. If so, it would be in his interest to look beyond Mr. Netanyahu’s video appeals before making a final decision.” [WashPost]

Richard Goldberg writes… “Netanyahu’s Intelligence Bombshell Should Spell End of Iran Deal: The response from President Donald Trump should be no different than his response to North Korea: maximum pressure until the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.” [NationalReview]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM — “With Three Rapid Strokes, Netanyahu Advances Agenda Against Iran” by David Halbfinger: “All these years [Netanyahu] was trigger-unhappy,” said Nahum Barnea, a respected columnist at Yediot Ahronoth… “Now, it seems that he is pushing everybody toward a more hostile environment.” … Increasingly in recent years, Mr. Netanyahu has spoken with almost prophetic fervor about stopping Iran. Yet for all of his assertive moves this week, analysts said it remained unclear where exactly they were intended to lead. In particular, if he succeeds in scuttling the nuclear agreement with Iran, then what? ”He didn’t give us Israelis any logical scenario for what will happen after the American decision,” Barnea said… “This is something he never elaborated on. And it’s time he does it.” The heightened tension with Iran, along with the Knesset’s enactment of the lowered threshold to declaring war, came as a surprise… “Suddenly, they’re faced with a big question mark: Where are we heading?” “Maybe,” Mr. Barnea added, “he feels his war has come.” [NYTimes]

“Israel braces for Iranian military reaction” by Ben Caspit: “The intelligence assessment is that Iran will attempt a response that exacts a similar cost and mode of operation to those taken by Israel. In other words, it would attack an Israeli military target and try to take a toll on uniformed troops. If that is the case, will Israel “contain” the Iranian response and react in a measured and tempered way so that the situation doesn’t deteriorate any further? It all depends on the circumstances of the attack. Should Israel respond against Iranian targets in Syria, or should it attack Iran itself? This lies at the base of a significant debate, which has yet to be decided.” [Al-Monitor] • Israel Sees Iran War Looming as Mideast Tinderbox Awaits a Spark [Bloomberg]

“Israeli Army Chief Eisenkot: Stay Forceful in Syria Despite Iran” by Amos Harel: “Tehran seems to be debating over the nature of its promised retaliation against Israel, and even more, over its timing… One theory being advanced is that Tehran may be reluctant to respond prior to Lebanon’s parliamentary elections this coming Sunday and U.S. President Donald Trump’s expected announcement on May 12… Israeli officials also believe the Trump Administration is reconsidering its decision to remove American forces from Syria… Several people well-versed in the ongoing talks with the Trump Administration said Trump is likely to approve keeping the U.S. troops there for another six months.” [Haaretz]

“Israel to Russia: We sat out Western sanctions, so help us in Mideast” by Dan Williams: “Israel’s defense minister reminded Russia on Thursday of his government’s decision not to join Western sanctions against it, and asked that Moscow reciprocate with a more pro-Israel approach to Syria and Iran… “We value these relations with Russia,” [Avigdor] Lieberman said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Kommersant… “A lot of countries have recently expelled Russian diplomats. Israel did not join in this action,” he added.” [Reuters]

DEEP DIVE: “Let’s Talk About This Rumor That Israeli F-15s Mimicked US Jets To Strike At Iran In Syria” by Joseph Trevithick: “How the jets were able to get to their targets and not prompt any significant response from Syrian air defense forces remains unclear… One unconfirmed rumor explains that the Israeli jets masked their approach by setting their Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders to emit the same type of signal associated with U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles, as well as using false callsigns to help keep up the ruse. These jets routinely conduct operations in Eastern Syria in support of American forces and their local partners. The presence of Strike Eagles would not necessarily have aroused suspicions if they appeared on Syrian or Russian radars while over Eastern Syria. Israel’s aircraft then supposedly flew through Jordan, Iraq, and into Eastern Syria before blitzing toward their targets…” [TheDrive]

Israel Reportedly Seeks to Renegotiate Refugee Deal With UN: “Israel is looking into renewing negotiations with the UN’s refugee agency over a deal to find a solution for the African asylum seekers living in the country… Channel 10 reported that the UN agency reached out to Israel and said that as far as it was concerned, the deal was still on the table.” [HaaretzNana10]

NYTimes Editorial… “Let Abbas’s Vile Words Be His Last as Palestinian Leader: “Even in this gloomy climate, however, Mr. Abbas’s vile speech was a new low. No doubt he feels embittered and besieged on all sides. But by succumbing to such dark, corrosive instincts he showed that it is time for him to leave office.” [NYTimes

— Jonathan Freedland: It’s right to condemn Mahmoud Abbas for his anti-Semitic remarks [TheGuardian]

ANOTHER ABBAS SPEECH TODAY — “Palestinians said set to withdraw recognition of Israel” by Stuart Winer: “The top-level governing body of the Palestine Liberation Organization is reportedly set to adopt a resolution freezing its recognition of Israel and conditioning it on Israel recognizing a state of Palestine. Sources close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat that the Palestinian National Council is expected to pass the resolution during its current gathering… Abbas is reportedly to announce the measures during a speech to the council on Thursday evening.” [ToI]

JERUSALEM EMBASSY WATCH — “Turks, Saudis, UAE said to pump quarter billion dollars into East Jerusalem” by Sue Surkes: “Less than two weeks away from the scheduled transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are pumping a quarter of a billion dollars into the Islamic Waqf and a slew of Muslim organizations in East Jerusalem, Hadashot news reported… The three countries are describing the move as an act of “rescue” to finance renovations at holy sites, but Israeli officials fear their involvement will go beyond money and could spark violence in the run-up to the ribbon-cutting on May 14.” [ToI]

“Rick Scott will travel to Israel for U.S. Embassy opening” by Alex Leary: “Gov. Rick Scott will travel to Israel this month for the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, his office said, noting it’s his third official visit. The trip dovetails with Scott’s Senate campaign.” [TampaBayTimes]

PIC OF THE DAY — Mrs. Rhoda Dermer, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Paul Singer, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, and Dan Loeb at the Manhattan Institute’s 18th annual Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner last night [Pich/t Playbook

SIGHTING — “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner test out new Israeli eatery” by Sarah Polus: “Hey, isn’t that … Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner leaving Sababa? The first daughter and presidential adviser were spotted trying out the newly opened Israeli restaurant in Cleveland Park, where they dined about 8 p.m. Tuesday. “They were both very warm and friendly,” said Scott D. Forman, the restaurant’s general manager.” [WashPostTheHill

MUELLER WATCH — “Giuliani ally Marc Mukasey in talks to join Trump legal team” by Kara Scannell and Sara Murray: “Marc Mukasey, a longtime ally of Rudy Giuliani, is in talks to possibly join President Donald Trump’s legal team. Adding Mukasey to the President’s roster of lawyers outside the White House is under consideration, but sources cautioned that a final decision has not been made.” [CNN]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Rudy Guiliani on a report that Robert Mueller might interview Ivanka Trump in an interview on Fox News’ Hannity: “I think I would get on my charger and go right into their office with a lance if they go after Ivanka… If they do [interview] Ivanka, which I doubt they will, the whole country will turn on. ‘They are going after his daughter?’ I guess Jared [Kushner] is a fine man, you know that, but men are, you know, disposable (chuckle). But a fine woman like Ivanka, come on.” [Video]

— “Near the end of his hour-long appearance, Giuliani called the federal agents who raided Cohen’s Manhattan office last month “stormtroopers.” [DailyBeast]

— The big headline: Giuliani says Trump reimbursed Cohen for Stormy Daniels payment [CNN]

2018 WATCH — “Heller targets Rosen for her support of the Iran nuclear deal” by Humberto Sanchez: “Who does Jacky Rosen stand with? Iran … or #Israel? Based on her record of supporting the #IranDeal, we all know the answer,” [Sen. Dean] Heller said in a tweet posted Tuesday… Rosen’s campaign took offense that Heller would cast Rosen, who is Jewish, as against Israel and in league with Iran,.. citing her activism in the Jewish community as president of Congregation Ner Tamid in Henderson… Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel of Midbar Kodesh Temple in Henderson said that while the Nevada Jewish community skews slightly toward Democrats, it reflects the community at large with some who oppose the deal and some who support it. “We’re not a monolithic community,” Tecktiel said. “It’s not going to affect how Jews in Nevada vote for either one of them… Neither one is going to change anybody’s mind.” [TheNevadaIndependent]

“Greitens donor and state contractor funded $90k in travel in 2017, new filing shows” by Kevin McDermott: “[Gov. Eric] Greitens’ newly released personal financial disclosure statement shows that Herzog Contracting Corp., a highway and railroad building company based in St. Joseph, Mo., provided $89,600 worth of travel and lodging to Greitens for four separate outings in 2017… According to the new filing, Herzog Contracting paid for Greitens to travel to Las Vegas in February 2017 to attend the Republican Jewish Coalition Conference and Republican National Governors Association events.” [STLToday]

“Doctor used Hebrew code to warn Sheldon Silver about FBI” by Kaja Whitehouse: “Dr. Robert Taub said he used the phrase “bikur cholim” — a Jewish commandment to visit and extend aid to the sick — to warn [then-Assembly speaker Sheldon] Silver that the feds were on his tail. “I mentioned it to let him know that I had been rendered ill … rendered sick by a visitation,” Taub told the Manhattan federal jury Tuesday.” [NYPost

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Michael Lynton and Len Blavatnik are backing an acquisitions group that bought regional publisher Arcadia Publishing[WSJ] • Sam Zell Says Warehouses Getting ‘Too Exciting’ in E-Commerce Age[Bloomberg] • Point72 Human Resources Chief, Mike Butler, Leaves Cohen’s Hedge Fund Firm [Bloomberg] • Larry Silverstein raises $200M in bonds in Tel Aviv [TheRealDeal] • The Harvard Undergrad Fixing Finance: JPMorgan, Bank of America, and big-name hedge funds are trying to diversify. BLK Capital wants to make it easier for them [Businessweek]

“This startup is doubling down on the idea that your inbox can be a one-stop shop for businesses” by Zoë Bernard: “Opening your inbox shouldn’t be a static experience. This is the fundamental belief of Joe Teplow, CEO and founder of the New York-based email marketing startup Rebel, who, for the past four years has been working on creating marketing tools tailored to the inbox experience… The company has caught the attention of investors as well. Rebel recently raised $5 million in a seed round that included Courtside Venture Capital, Sinai Venture Capital, and Wisdom Venture Capital.” [BusinessInsider]

JI INTERVIEW — Why did you start Rebel? Joe Teplow: “It began with a charity newsletter I had started called Good Street that enables members to donate 25¢ to different organizations daily. Every day features a new cause and two charities that are addressing that problem in unique ways. While I was an undergrad at Yeshiva University, I became really fascinated by the engagement we were seeing. More than half our members were opening our email on a daily basis and were clicking! I was curious to learn why people were engaging at such a high rate, so I started talking to our subscribers, and while I initially thought guilt was the main motivator for friends, one thing that emerged was that people loved that they didn’t have to login, download an app, put in a password… the email itself was the interface for Good St. and that was pretty interesting and novel. I became curious as to why there were not more interactive experiences from within email and this curiosity was the impetus for the Rebelmail platform.”

“Someone once told me that there is a Jewish principle which states it is better to give a small amount of charity every day than one large amount one day. The rationale being that daily giving cultivates a behavior and is a character forming endeavor. I liked the idea of turning people into givers. Today Good St. is a testament to the power of the collective, and the list has grown from a couple friends giving 25¢/day to over 550 subscribers now giving nearly $200/day. My dream is for Good St. to one day be giving thousands of dollars a day. A world where a member can pass by a Good St. wing in a hospital, knowing that they contributed 25¢.” [GoodSt]

STARTUP NATION — “Regulus Cyber launches with a technology to secure autonomous vehicles” by Jonathan Shieber: “[Yonatan] Zur first had the idea to launch the company three years ago while he was working with drones at the Israeli technology firm, Elbit… Backing the company are a clutch of well-known Israeli and American investors, including Sierra Ventures, Canaan Partners Israel, Technion and F2 Capital… The company’s first two products are a spoofing protection module that integrates with any autonomous vehicle and a communication security manager that protects against hacking and misdirection.” [TechCrunch]

“The 100 Most Influential People in Boston” by David S. Bernstein: “Jonathan Kraft, President of the Kraft Group: Not to take anything away from the legendary Bob Kraft, but the true power behind the throne is now his son Jonathan, who’s running the Patriots and spearheading the organization’s efforts to combat opioid addiction and push for juvenile justice reform. Bob still gets plenty of camera time at the Super Bowl, but Jonathan’s cell number is the one you want in your contacts list… Lawrence Bacow, President of Harvard University: The former head of Tufts University doesn’t actually start his new job until July, but he earned a spot on this list the minute he was selected. What he does with the elite perch remains to be seen.” [BostonMagazine]  

“At Milken, Wall Street touts itself as force for good” by Lawrence Delevingne: “Eric Cantor, the former U.S. House majority leader and now vice chairman of investment bank Moelis & Company, told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference that he has long been drawn to Milken’s focus on capitalism as a force for good, often through partnership with the public sector. “It’s about how you create an environment for that collaborative effort to end up yielding one of the highest standards of living in the world,” Cantor said.” [Reuters

“Franklin Graham talks about his last days with Billy Graham and what he misses most” by Tim Funk: “Graham also uses his new book [Through My Father’s Eyes] to try to clear Billy Graham of what many consider one of the biggest blemishes on his record: His comments about Jews during a 1972 conversation with then-President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office… Franklin Graham argues that Billy Graham was not speaking about Jews, but about Hollywood producers of the time, some of whom were Jewish and some who were not. “My father said that he was uncomfortable with some of the people in Hollywood and if they only knew how he really felt. The Harvey Weinsteins of that day,” Graham told the Observer. “His entire life, my father (had) been a friend to the Jewish people … and (had) defended Israel.” … “In hindsight, my father would have done things a lot differently,” Franklin Graham said of the incident. “But he didn’t even remember the conversation.” [CharlotteObserver]

VIDEO — The Man Making Hasidic Music Pop: “He’s been called the Hasidic Lady Gaga, the Jewish Elvis, but soon, you’ll know him as just Lipa. Raised in a close-knit community, Lipa Schmeltzer grew up with no radio and no television. Hasidic music became his outlet. After he heard his first non-Hasidic song at age 21, Lipa’s life changed. Realizing there was a whole new world of music out there, he began incorporating song structures from modern pop, hip-hop and R&B into his tracks. Nineteen albums and millions of YouTube views later, Lipa is revolutionizing Hasidic music as we know it.”[GreatBigStory

SPORTS BLINK: “She Was Handpicked by the NFL Commish to Help the League Clean Up Its Act” by Lisa Rabasca Roepe: “Sports have long been a focal part of Anna Isaacson’s life. Raised in Brooklyn, New York — her mom was a schoolteacher and her dad ran an office supplies business — she attended Barnard College, where she broadcast radio shows for the Columbia University Lions. During the summer, Isaacson worked at a souvenir shop outside Yankee Stadium, and after graduating in 2001, she took a job with the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones… After five seasons with the Cyclones, she was hired by the NFL as director of community relations, where she ran campaigns that included Play 60, a program encouraging kids to be active, and Crucial Catch, geared toward cancer education.” [Ozy]

“How Italy’s Most Famous Bike Race Wound Up in Israel” by Joshua Robinson: “Nothing in the rules of Italy’s most famous bicycle race says it must be contained entirely in Italy. In its 109-year existence, for example, the Giro d’Italia has spilled over the Italian border into neighboring Monaco, France, and landlocked San Marino… Which is why the 101st running of the Giro d’Italia, the three-week stage race, will begin here, in Israel, on Friday, in one of the most audacious bits of race planning in cycling history. Between volunteers, security personnel and support staff, the Israeli legs of the race will involve some 25,000 people.” [WSJ]

DESSERT — Muslim, Jewish students campaign for more halal, kosher food options on campus: “Last week, Arielle Zoken felt a wave of joy wash over her at the sight of a leftover box of matzo on a counter of the dining commons. It was symbolic of Zoken’s efforts to introduce kosher food at the UC Davis DCs for Passover… Last year, when she was a freshman, her mother sent her two whole grocery bags of kosher food to sustain her for the week. “Two of my roommates are not Jewish, and last year, I didn’t really see them for a whole week because I was cooped up in my dorm, eating my matzo and like fruit and meat that was in my mini fridge,” Zoken said.” [TheAggie]

“And The Brisket King Of NYC Is…” by Clay Williams: “Rounding out the winners of the evening, Josh Massin only had to cross a couple rivers to get the festivities from Teaneck, New Jersey, where he cooks kosher fare at Nobo Wine and Grill and the upcoming Narruto Bowl. His beautifully prepared bowls of ramen drew one of the longest lines of the night… In recent years, the kosher chef community has joined in, and bloggers and videographers covering kosher food could be seen filming and interviewing chefs and judges.” [Gothamist]

BIRTHDAYS: Southern California-area philanthropist, writer and activist promoting wellness, founder of the New Americans Museum in San Diego, Deborah Shainman Szekely turns 96… Physicist and Nobel Laureate, professor at University of Texas at Austin, Steven Weinberg turns 85… Founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, David A. Siegel turns 83… Pioneer in late night television advertising for his company Ronco, inventor and marketing personality, known for the phrase, “But wait, there’s more!” Ronald M. “Ron” Popei turns 83… Senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Ely Karmon, Ph.D. turns 77… US Senator from Oregon since 1996, previously served in the House of Representatives (1981-1996), Ron Wyden(original family name was Weidenreich) turns 69… Partner at Jones Day (previously at Patton Boggs), represents political parties, campaigns, candidates, governors and members of Congress on election law matters, Benjamin L. Ginsberg turns 66…

Retired in 2017 as chair and CEO of Mondelez International, a multinational food and beverage company (including Oreo, Nabisco and Cadbury), Irene Rosenfeld turns 65… Real estate attorney, a partner in the Chicago office of DLA Piper, Mark D. Yura turns 65… Veteran of 13 NHL seasons, who in 2005 sat out a hockey game to observe Yom Kippur, now an assistant coach for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, Jeff Halpern turns 65… EVP for Program Development and Management at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Susan Steinmetz turns 62… President of the North American division of Finsbury, he was the founder of Georgetown Policy Advisers and a senior writer at The New York Times, Stephen Labaton turns  57 (h/t Playbook)… Russian billionaire and owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center (though he is in the process of selling a 49% interest in both), Mikhail Prokhorov turns 53… Partner at Burton Kamins Advocacy, Scott A. Kaminsturns 43… Educated at the Hebrew Academy of San Francisco, played as a defensive lineman in the NFL from 2004 until 2011 (Chargers, Cowboys and Dolphins), Igor Olshansky turns 36… Managing director and director of executive communications of SKDKnickerbocker, graduate of CESJDS, he was previously a speechwriter for President Obama, Stephen Andrew Krupinturns 36…




Daily Kickoff: Which Israel celebration will Trump attend? | JINSA visits Cairo | Saban sells Power Rangers | Dan Gilbert and the ‘Heter Iska’ issue

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‘NO DAYLIGHT’ — “Trump Reverses U.S. Policy: Israeli Nukes Not Up for Debate Until Mideast States Recognize Country’s Right to Exist” by Chaim Levinson: “The Trump administration has taken the position that Israel should not be required to discuss giving up nuclear weapons, which according to foreign sources it possesses, without recognition by all states in the Middle East of the country’s right to exist… Preparatory talks are currently being held in Geneva in advance of a conference in 2020 on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, a meeting that is held every five years… Last week, the United States submitted two position papers to the Geneva preparatory committee that fully adopt Israel’s stance.” [Haaretz]

DRIVING THE CONVO — “Will it be U.S. and Israel against the world over Iran? Only Trump is buying Netanyahu’s warning” by David Brennan: “Netanyahu’s warnings seem only to have struck a chord in the U.S., with the other signatories reiterating their support for the pact. Two camps seem to be forming. In one, the U.S.—with Israeli encouragement—appears to be stepping away from the deal. In the other, Iran and the other signatories are trying to save it.” [Newsweek]

— “We have to ask ourselves, ‘Who was the audience of [Monday’s] presentation?’” said Amos Yadlin, the former chief of military intelligence for the Israeli Defense Forces. “Was it the Iranians, to tell them Israel has penetrated their secrets? Maybe it was Iranian public opinion, or the opposition? Or was Trump himself the target, because the prime minister felt the Europeans had convinced him not to walk away?” [NYTimes]

“Netanyahu’s info on Iran nukes known to U.S. intelligence for years” by Andrea Mitchell and Ken Dilanian: “The information unveiled by Netanyahu with great fanfare on Monday has largely been known to American intelligence agencies for years… Other U.S. intelligence officials added that nothing in the documents… has changed the American intelligence judgment that Iran is living up to its agreement not to restart a nuclear weapons program… American intelligence officials… told NBC News that while the documents may contain new details, the story they tell — that Iran once had an unauthorized nuclear program — is an old one.” [NBCNews]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer on CNN’s OutFront: “The only agency that has seen the information is the U.S. intelligence agency, the CIA. As of last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the director of the CIA, and he said himself that this is new information. It was new to us. I don’t know if Senator [Bob] Corker or the other people who you showed on screen, if they had this information, it was certainly new to Israeli intelligence. It’s a massive amount of information… And there are many things that the prime minister didn’t show… The prime minister actually showed some new things for people who are really in the weeds on this stuff.” [Video]

Former Secretary of State John Kerry tweets“Every detail PM Netanyahu presented yesterday was every reason the world came together to apply years of sanctions and negotiate the Iran nuclear agreement – because the threat was real and had to be stopped. It’s working! That’s why Israeli security experts are speaking out… (shares J Street’s statement by 26 commanders) It’s worth remembering that the early 2000’s – when his evidence comes from – was the period where the world had no visibility into Iran’s program. More and more centrifuges were spinning each month and the world wasn’t united like it is now. There was no negotiation – and all of that changed with JCPOA. Blow up the deal and you’re back there tomorrow!”

Bret Stephens writes… “The Iran Deal Is a Lie: The deal’s defenders have dismissed the Israeli prime minister’s presentation as a bunch of old news… Yet it’s difficult to imagine that the I.A.E.A. can now square Iran’s 2015 declaration with what the Israelis have uncovered… As for Iran’s current compliance, of course it’s complying. The deal gave Iran the best of all worlds… But why believe this regime will be faithful to the deal at its end when it was faithless to it at its beginning?” [NYTimes

David Ignatius writes… “We know Iran’s nuclear secrets now. Let’s make the most of them: Trump’s choice on May 12 is clearer now: If he scuttles the deal, he risks isolating the United States, rather than Iran. If he instead uses Israel’s intelligence windfall to fuel a global pressure campaign, he may actually have a pathway for getting a better, longer-lasting and more enforceable agreement. Thanks to Israeli intelligence, Trump just got lucky on Iran. But will he be smart?” [WashPost

Eli Lake tweets“Mossad should create a website to publish the new Iranian intelligence trove. Call it WikiNukes.”

“Morocco cuts ties with Iran over Hezbollah arms transfer to the Polisario Front: “Morocco has cut its diplomatic ties with Iran, the kingdom’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita told reporters… The minister accused Iran and its ally Hezbollah of supporting the Polisario Front, a decades-old movement intent on ending Moroccan presence in Western Sahara. “Hezbollah sent military officials to Polisario and provided the front with…weapons and trained them on urban warfare,” Mr Bourita said.”[TheNational]

FOGGY BOTTOM — “Pompeo Vows ‘Swagger’ Will Return to State Department’s Work” by Jessica Donati: “At the top of the agenda in [Mike Pompeo’s] first week in office will be President Donald Trump’s decision on whether to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal by his self-imposed deadline of May 12… By making Saudi Arabia and Israel among the first destinations on his first official trip abroad, Mr. Pompeo underscored the deeper relationship Mr. Trump has tried to develop with the two countries. Mr. Trump also visited Saudi Arabia and Israel on his first official foreign trip and has sought closer ties with Riyadh as a bulwark against Iran.” [WSJWashPost

HAPPENING AT 11AM: President Trump attends the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony of Secretary of State Pompeo at the State Department. [CSPAN]

JERUSALEM EMBASSY — Invitations to the opening ceremony for the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem have been sent out by Ambassador David Friedman. The event is expected to take place on Monday, May 14 at 4:00PM Israel time (9:00 am EDT), according to an invite obtained by Jewish Insider. Yesterday, President Trump was asked by a reporter if he’s planning to travel to Israel to attend the event. “I may. I may. I’m not sure,” Trump replied. Earlier in the day, Netanyahu told Fox News, “[We] would love to have him here. It’s his decision. He’s got an open invitation.”

— Amb. Dermer to CBN News: “Obviously, if President Trump came to Jerusalem for the opening of the embassy it would make the celebration all the greater. I think President Trump, if he decided to come, would see a tremendous outpouring of gratitude from the entire people of Israel.” [CBN]

— Worth noting: Amb. Dermer himself is hosting a large Israel Independence Day celebration in DC, an annual event that in previous years has featured speeches from a sitting Vice President and a White House Chief of Staff. Last year’s event featured then National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. If Trump does not fly to Israel, we’re told there’s a decent chance he’ll attend the Embassy’s event. The Israeli Embassy did not respond to a request for comment.

TALK OF THE REGION — Holocaust row: Abbas accused of anti-Semitism: “Remarks by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas about the Holocaust have been condemned as anti-Semitic by Israeli politicians and rights activists. Mr Abbas told a meeting in the West Bank the Nazi mass murder of European Jews was the result of their financial activities, not anti-Semitism…. Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the ADL, which campaigns to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people,” dismissed the Palestinian leader’s “ahistorical and pseudo-academic assertions.” [BBC] • U.S. Officials and Jewish Groups Denounce Abbas’ Speech, Accusing Him of anti-Semitism [Haaretz

Amb. David Friedman tweets“Abu Mazen has reached a new low in attributing the cause of massacres of Jewish people over the years to their “social behavior relating to interest and banks.” To all those who think Israel is the reason that we don’t have peace, think again.”

Amir Tibon tweets“Palestinians have a real opening to improve their standing with American Jews in light of Trump and of Bibi’s shift to the right, so of course, Abbas gets those Jews angry by spreading anti Semitic conspiracy theories.”

“EU calls Abbas Holocaust remarks ‘unacceptable'” by Alastair Macdonald: “The European Union’s foreign service condemned remarks on the Holocaust by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as “unacceptable”, echoing criticism on Wednesday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu… In strikingly blunt language from Brussels, the European External Action Service said in a statement: “The speech Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered on April 30th contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel’s legitimacy…” [Reuters]

“What Is Women’s March Leader Tamika Mallory Doing In Israel And The West Bank?” by Aiden Pink: “Tamika Mallory, the co-chair of the Women’s March who was harshly criticized for refusing to condemn the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, is traveling in Israel and the Palestinian territories as part of a delegation of left-wing activists organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights.” [Forward]

SPOTTED IN CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met with a delegation of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA). [Pic] • “President Sisi expressed Egypt’s keenness to be in constant contact with all sects of the American society in order to enhance common understanding and intensify consultations on the diverse challenges facing the region,” according to a statement by the Egyptian government.

ON THE HILL — “Congress Seeks Showdown On Ending U.S. Aid to Palestinians” by Adam Kredo: “A group of 14 lawmakers formally petitioned Pompeo this week to “immediately suspend all aid payments to the Palestinian Authority” due to recent reports these funds continue to be used to pay convicted terrorists and their families… The lawmakers seek a public showdown with the Trump administration over the future of U.S. aid to the Palestinian government, which has publicly refused to comply with new U.S. laws mandating the terror payment program known as “pay to slay” be stopped.” [FreeBeacon]

PODCAST PLAYBACK — In a conversation released this morning, Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and his new book Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor on The Atlantic Interview podcast with Jeffrey Goldberg:

Goldberg to Klein Halevi: You come out of the American Jewish Right, albeit 30 years ago or more, what don’t Right Wing Jewish American supporters of Israel understand about the conflict?

Klein Halevi: “The first thing they don’t understand is that there really is a Palestinian people, and I discovered the reality and the power of Palestinian identity by getting a rock thrown at my head and I was carrying an M16 and I looked at these kids and I said they are ready to do what I was ready to do as a teenage Jewish militant… The Right has not yet come to terms with the fact that Palestinian national identity and the willingness to sacrifice is a reflection of their own sensibility… The definition of peoplehood is that you are contrived. So that’s what the Israeli and Jewish Right haven’t internalized…”

Goldberg: Have they internalized lessons about Jewish moral law and what Jews because of Judaism owe the stranger or owe the weaker party? Or is that a more difficult one for you?

Klein Halevi: “I think that Jewish history speaks to our generation of Jews with two commanding voices, and these voices have analogues in biblical verses. The first is ‘Remember you were strangers in the Land of Egypt,’ and the lesson there is: don’t be brutal, don’t do to others what was done to you. The second voice is ‘Remember what the tribe of Amalek did to you when you were leaving Egypt and you were attacked without provocation,’ and the message there is: don’t be naive. Remember that you live in a world where genocide against the Jewish people is possible. Part of the tragedy of the Left-Right Jewish discourse today is that each of these camps has appropriated another one of these commanding lessons. So the Left has done a really great job in remembering that we shouldn’t be brutal. The Jewish Left has done a far less good job in not being naive… The fatal mistake on the Jewish Left is not to take Israel’s vulnerability seriously enough and not to take Palestinian rejectionism of Israel’s legitimacy and indigenous seriously enough.”[TheAtlantic]

THE DAILY KUSHNER — “The Jared “Cleanse” — The Endgame Approaches for the Kushners’ Looming Tower” by William Cohan: “In addition to trying to resolve their massive financial problem at 666 Fifth Avenue, the Kushners also appear to have started to position themselves for Javanka’s expected return to New York City from the White House probably “by the end of the year,” according to an experienced real-estate banker… This, of course, is more than just a little revisionist history and may have been designed to try to “cleanse” Jared, as this real-estate banker put it, of the taint of 666 Fifth when he again takes up the reins of Kushner Companies when he leaves Washington.”

“Another influential real-estate executive told me that the Kushners misjudged Jared’s ascent to the Trump White House, hoping it would help them recruit capital to their real-estate enterprise rather than deter organizations and countries fearful of the troubling optics. According to this person, the family business has turned into a “leprosy colony.” [VanityFair]

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM — “Kim Kardashian West has talked to White House about pardoning nonviolent drug offender” by Jake Horowitz and Kendall Ciesemier: “Kim Kardashian West and… Jared Kushner have spoken over the phone about a possible presidential pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, a 62-year-old great-grandmother serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. The telephone calls… have taken place over the course of the past several months and have picked up in intensity over the last several days.” [Mic]

MUELLER WATCH — “The real reason Mueller hasn’t called Ivanka Trump” by Annie Karni: “That someone so close to the major events under scrutiny would not be interviewed is unusual, former prosecutors and Justice Department lawyers said. But [Robert] Mueller’s decision to steer clear of the first daughter — at least for now — is a signal of his “don’t poke the bear until you have to” strategy. “Mueller would know that trying to interview Ivanka Trump would be like lighting a match to the highly combustible Donald Trump,” said Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor… Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Abbe Lowell… said in a statement: “That Politico is now doing an article on why Ms. Trump has not done anything to merit an article is the definition of making up the news.” [Politico]

“‘The Department of Justice is not going to be extorted’: Rosenstein responds to impeachment threat” by Matt Zapotosky: “Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein took aim Tuesday at Republican lawmakers who have drafted articles of impeachment against him… “I think they should understand by now that the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted,” Rosenstein said. “We’re going to do what’s required by the rule of law, and any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job.”

“Rosenstein also on Tuesday addressed a question that has long vexed members of the D.C. press corps: Should his last name be pronounced Rosen-steen or Rosen-stine? “So, there’s no right answer to that question,” Rosenstein said, to laughter. “My family, my father, pronounces it ‘stine.’ That’s how I pronounce it. But I actually have relatives who pronounce it ‘steen,’ so I’ll answer to either one.” [WashPost]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Bornstein claims Trump dictated the glowing health letter” by Alex Marquardt and Lawrence Crook: “He dictated that whole letter. I didn’t write that letter,” [Dr. Harold] Bornstein told CNN on Tuesday. “I just made it up as I went along.” … He said Trump read out the language as Bornstein and his wife were driving across Central Park. “(Trump) dictated the letter and I would tell him what he couldn’t put in there,” he said. “They came to pick up their letter at 4 o’clock or something.” [CNN]

— “Trump’s doctor says Trump bodyguard ‘raided’ his office, took files” by Anna Schecter: “Bornstein told NBC News that he felt “raped, frightened and sad” when Keith Schiller and another “large man” came to his office to collect the president’s records on the morning of Feb. 3, 2017. At the time, Schiller… was serving as director of Oval Office operations at the White House. “They must have been here for 25 or 30 minutes. It created a lot of chaos,” Bornstein said, who described the incident as frightening.” [NBCNews]

2018 WATCH —  “Grayson says he’ll challenge Soto in Florida’s 9th” by Marc Caputo: “Former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson announced Tuesday morning that he’ll mount a primary challenge against his successor, Rep. Darren Michael Soto… The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which seldom weighs in on its party primaries, took the unusual step of not welcoming Grayson to the race.” [Politico]

Bluelight Strategies’ Aaron Keyak writes… “Don’t let Koch dollars work against Israel: Through his foundation, Charles Koch, who has vowed to spend millions of dollars to support Republicans in the upcoming elections, is arming isolationist college professors with money and a platform to push their shared foreign policy agenda… Many of the academics Koch supports are outspoken critics of the Jewish state, and their policies would give more power to Russia, hurt Israel and end America’s role as a world leader.” [JNS

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Is Said to Seek Sale of Apartments [Bloomberg] • Nobu Hospitality to Launch the Nobu Hotel and Restaurant in Tel Aviv with a vision crafted by Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman [PRNewswire] • Jeffrey Soffer closes deal to buy South Florida’s Mardi Gras Casino [FloridaPolitics] • Glencore wins injunction against Gertler following royalty claim [FinancialTimes] • Mark Zuckerberg Has a Message: Facebook Will Keep Building [NYTimes]

SPOTLIGHT — “Hasbro buys Power Rangers from Haim Saban” by Anna Nicolaou: “Hasbro has struck a deal to buy media brands including the Power Rangers for $522m, as the toymaker tries to boost sales after the fallout from the Toys R Us bankruptcy. The Rhode Island-based company is paying about $230m in cash and $270m in stock to Haim Saban, a media billionaire who created Power Rangers 25 years ago. Hasbro will also acquire other Saban brands such as My Pet Monster.” [FinancialTimesLATimes]

“The Philanthropist Of Film: How The Power Rangers Billionaire Has Given Back To Los Angeles” by Madeline Berg: “Haim Saban’s home has been Los Angeles for over three decades, but part of his heart is still in Israel, where he grew up. So for every dollar given in Los Angeles, he says he hopes to give a dollar away in Saban’s home country… In total, the Sabans have given $350 million to various initiatives around the world—mainly in Israel and Los Angeles. Born in Egypt to Jewish parents, Haim Saban immigrated to Israel as a child, his entire family living in a one room flat in Tel Aviv… “For me, it was about giving back to those I am close to…more than reaching out to the community. We didn’t have any money to give, so it was about the spirit of supporting, in our closest circle, those that need our support,” Saban says.” [Forbes

HEARD YESTERDAY AT MILKEN CONFERENCE — “The big comeback: Hedge fund managers at Milken predict industry rebound” by Lawrence Delevingne: “Ricky Sandler, another prominent hedge fund manager who leads $7 billion stock-focused Eminence Capital, said the opportunity to find alpha, or returns above market benchmarks, was as good as 15 or 20 years ago, a period known for double-digit investment gains. “The opportunity is there,” Sandler said.” [Reuters]

“Milken Party-Goers Courted for Cash in Fight for Congress” by Christopher Palmeri, Nabila Ahmed and John Gittelsohn: “[Mike Pence] was the star of a $10,000 per person fundraiser Sunday afternoon at the Malibu home of TCW Group Inc. Chairman Marc Stern. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a conference speaker, was also there… Attendees at a separate fireside chat at the Montage got a vice presidential briefing on trade, immigration, health care and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, said billionaire Tom Barrack, the Colony NorthStar Inc. chairman who hosted that event…”

“Democrats didn’t pass up the chance to tap donors either. City National Bank Chairman Russell Goldsmith hosted a fundraiser for two Democratic Senate candidates that was attended by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer… Former economic adviser Gary Cohn stopped by a party sponsored by the hedge fund WorldQuant LLC. Veterans Affairs ex-chief David Shulkin, who was scheduled to speak at the conference before the president let him go in March, was seen at a mixer sponsored by the public relations firm Prosek Partners.” [Bloomberg]

Correction: In yesterday’s Daily Kickoff we incorrectly noted that Frank Luntz interviewed Sen. Chuck Schumer at the Milken conference on Monday. The moderator was Richard Sandler, who also serves as Chair of the JFNA Board of Trustees.

TOP TALKER: “Some rabbis say it isn’t kosher to borrow from Quicken Loans — because it’s run by Jews” by Ben Sales: “Agudath Israel of America… issued a Jewish legal ruling last month prohibiting Jews from taking out loans from the Detroit-based [Quicken Loans] because it is majority-owned by Jews… Jewish law… forbids Jews from charging interest to other Jews… In the Middle Ages, rabbis devised a contract called a “heter iska,” or business permit, that technically transforms the loan into a co-investment… Agudath Israel says Jews can keep using Quicken Loans — that is, if they sign a heter iska.”

“On Monday, Quicken responded to a query saying it was open to the idea. “Over the next 30 days, Quicken Loans will assemble a committee to quickly and efficiently dive into the issue of ‘Heter Iska,’ and once and for all attempt to find a solution that the observant Jewish community, as well as our legal and capital markets team, finds acceptable. I am confident that this can and will be achieved,” said a statement attributed to Dan Gilbert, chairman of Rock Holdings, Quicken’s parent company.” [JTA]

TALK OF THE TOWN — “Rabbi Who Publicly Rebuked Trump at AIPAC Interrupts D.C. Council To Protest Failure To Censure Anti-Semitic Member” by Yair Rosenberg: “In March 2016, Shmuel Herzfeld, the modern Orthodox rabbi of Washington D.C. synagogue Ohev Sholom, grabbed headlines when he publicly interrupted Donald Trump’s speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference… Today, Herzfeld again donned his shawl to protest politicians for coddling hatred. But this time, his target was the Washington D.C. Council… who had refused to censure the anti-Semitic conduct of one of their own: Council member Trayon White.” [TabletJPost] • Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories roil DC city government [AP]

— “Bowser appointee resigns after organizing rally where a lawmaker was called a ‘fake Jew’” by Fenit Nirappil: “Joshua Lopez, whom Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) paid as a consultant in her 2014 campaign and appointed to the board of the public housing authority, faced scathing criticism over a “unity rally” he organized last week to defend D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8)… The event organized by Lopez sparked an uproar after a representative of the Nation of Islam called D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) a “fake Jew” for criticizing Farrakhan.”[WashPost]

TRANSITION — Wall Street Journal foreign affairs reporter Felicia Schwartz is moving to Tel Aviv to be the paper’s Israel and Palestinian territories correspondent. h/t Politico Playbook

DESSERT — “Is This Artichoke Kosher? Rome Defends a Classic Jewish Dish” by Jason Horowitz: “As women wearing artichoke body paint caressed artichoke sculptures shaped like an owl, a snowman and a cobra at this seaside town’s 68th annual Festival of the Artichoke, Ada Di Porto stood inside a tent, banging a peeled artichoke bud against a white plastic plate. “Look at this plate! Do you see anything? Any worms?” Ms. Di Porto, a retired teacher at a Roman-Jewish school, asked as she gave a lesson about the preparation, cleanliness and kosherness of the carciofo alla giudia, or Jewish-style artichoke, a dish that for centuries has been the symbol, specialty and cash crop of the 2,000-year-old Jewish community in Rome.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Former Lord Chief Justice and President of the Courts of England and Wales, Baron Harry Kenneth Woolf turns 85… Professor of international relations and Middle Eastern studies at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir turns 81… Author, publisher, president of four radio stations in the Pacific Northwest, Alan Merril Gottlieb turns 71… Former member of the Texas Senate (1993-2013), she was born in NYC to Holocaust survivor parents, Florence Shapiro turns 70… Former USAID contractor imprisoned by Cuba from 2009 to 2014, Alan Gross turns 69… Analyst at MSNBC, he was previously Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (2014-2016) and Managing Editor of Time Magazine (2006-2013), Richard Allen “Rick” Stengel turns 63… Member of the New York State Assembly, previously a member of the NYC Council and former Deputy Superintendent of the NYS Banking Commission, David Weprin turns 62… Billionaire businesswoman, entrepreneur, civic leader, she served as US Secretary of Commerce (2013-2017), now chairman of the private investment firm she founded PSP Capital Partners, Penny Sue Pritzker turns 59…

Partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, she is active on many non-profit boards including Penn Law School and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Jodi J. Schwartz turns 58… Director of the Chabad Center in Bratislava, Slovakia, Rabbi Baruch Myers turns 54… Founder and CEO of Shutterstock, Jonathan E. Oringer turns 44… Director of communications at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Stephen Schatz turns 38… DC-based CBS News correspondent, once a K-12 student at CESJDS in Rockville, Julianna Goldman turns 37… VP of Campaigns at the Center for American Progress, she was previously the executive director of the Young Democrats of America during the 2012 election cycle, Emily Tisch Sussmanturns 36… Senior communications specialist at the NYC office of HIAS, previously a senior strategist at West End Strategy Team, Gabe Cahn turns 28… Director of development at Cornell Hillel, Susanna Rachel Fried turns 28…




Daily Kickoff: Debating what’s new after Israel’s daring raid of Tehran warehouse | WhatsApp founder Jan Koum stepping down | BDay: Abe Foxman

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TALK OF THE VALLEY — “WhatsApp founder plans to leave after broad clashes with parent Facebook” by Elizabeth Dwoskin: “The billionaire chief executive of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, is planning to leave the company after clashing with its parent, Facebook, over the popular messaging service’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption… Koum, who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for more than $19 billion in 2014, also plans to step down from Facebook’s board of directors…”

“Koum’s exit is highly unusual at Facebook. The inner circle of management, as well as the board of directors, has been fiercely loyal during the scandals that have rocked the social media giant. In addition, Koum is the sole founder of a company acquired by Facebook to serve on its board. Only two other Facebook executives, Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, are members of the board.” [WashPost]

Koum writes on Facebook“It’s been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people. But it is time for me to move on… I’m leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined. The team is stronger than ever and it’ll continue to do amazing things. I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee. And I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside. Thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible.”

— Mark Zuckerberg replied to Koum’s post: “Jan: I will miss working so closely with you. I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people’s hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp.”

DRIVING THE CONVO — Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled evidence gained from 100,000 original Iranian documents — seized by Israeli intelligence — that he said proved Iran was lying about its nuclear program. In a TED Talk-style presentation, Netanyahu claimed Iran has “a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons” despite its claims it has no ambitions to pursue nuclear weapons development. [Video

In an interview with President Trump’s favorite show Fox and Friends this morning, Netanyahu said he presented the information to Trump during their last meeting in March. Netanyahu added that Iran complying with a terrible deal does not justify the U.S. staying in the JCPOA.

HEARD THIS MORNING — CNN’s Chris Cuomo asks Netanyahu in a satellite interview on New Day: Why give this speech in English, and do it in such a big way? Netanyahu: “Well, because I wanted the world to hear it – all of it – and there are only a few million Hebrew speakers and a there are a few billion English speakers.” Netanyahu added, “No one had better intelligence on Iran than Israel.” [Video

Susan Page, Washington Bureau chief of USA TODAY, on CNN’s The Lead: “I think Prime Minister Netanyahu had an audience of one in mind when he gave that presentation and that audience was Donald Trump and he listened to it. I don’t know if he’s assured that the president is going to pull out of the Iran deal.”

Gloria Borger on CNN Newsroom: “I think there’s no way that Netanyahu would have done this in English first, which means he was speaking not only to Trump, but to the American people.”

President Trump confirmed he knew the details Netanyahu shared with the public and that he watched part of the speech, but he refused to rule out a possible diplomatic solution with Iran. Later in the evening, the White House issued a statement saying Netanyahu’s information is “new and compelling.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also told reporters on his flight back to the United States that “these documents are real, they are authentic” and that he discussed the material in his meeting with Netanyahu on Sunday.

— “Iran Gains, Then Loses, Nuclear Weapons Program Thanks to White House ‘Clerical Error’” by Margaret Hartmann: “These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people,” said the statement from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders… Without offering any apology… the White House corrected the line to the past tense when the statement was posted online: “Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.” When asked for clarification, the White House said it was a “clerical error.” [NYMag

Netanyahu’s presentation was “nothing new,” Senator Bob Corker, the Republican head of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. However, according to Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Netanyahu “did not present a smoking gun, he presented a smoking bomb” and “exposed the fangs of the Iranian wolf.”

BEHIND THE SCENES — by David Halbfinger, David Sanger and Ronen Bergman: “Netanyahu said that Iran had intensified its efforts to hide evidence of its weapons program after signing the nuclear deal in 2015, and in 2017 moved its records to a secret location in Tehran that looked like “a dilapidated warehouse.”
“Few Iranians knew where it was, very few,” Mr. Netanyahu said proudly. “And also a few Israelis.”

“A senior Israeli official… said that Israel’s Mossad intelligence service discovered the warehouse in February 2016, and had the building under surveillance since then. Mossad operatives broke into the building one night last January, removed the original documents and smuggled them back to Israel the same night, the official said. President Trump was informed of the operation by the Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, on a visit to Washington in January.” [NYTimes]

James Stavridis, a retired United States Navy admiral and former NATO Supreme Commander, on Morning Joe: “The first reaction on this one is: damn, the Mossad is good. This would be like us, the CIA, getting into the Kremlin and taking files out.”

HOW IT PLAYED — Israel Said That Iran Lied About Wanting A Nuke And So The Iran Deal Is Garbage [Buzzfeed• Obama team: ‘Nothing new’ in Netanyahu speech [WashExaminer] • Eli Lake: Israel Exposes Iran’s Nuclear Lies, and the Limits of U.S. Intelligence [BloombergView] • Anshel Pfeffer: What the Israeli prime minister presented wasn’t a smoking gun but a photograph of a smoking gun taken years ago [Haaretz] • U.S. Jewish groups hail Israeli intel after Iran nuke revelations [JPost]

REACTION — Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro tells us… “The information in the documents Netanyahu revealed was all known and built into the assumptions of the deal, as was the expectation that Iran would lie about it. The deal was designed to keep them at least a year from that capability, and ensure that they could not achieve it for over a decade. It may be the first time some of it was presented to the public. And so that, combined with Netanyahu’s skill in presenting it, could have some effect on public opinion. But I suspect most deal supporters and opponents remain where they were. The new public quality is useful to Trump when he announces he is leaving the deal by May 12. This presentation, coordinated with his team, will be cited as evidence to justify it.”

FDD’s Mark Dubowitz emails us… “Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed that the Iranian regime lied about its nuclear weapons program. It also retained a vast atomic archive with detailed instructions on how to restart its nuclear weapons program at a time of its choosing. That is new, alarming and inconsistent with its JCPOA pledge not to develop nuclear weapons and only to have a program for peaceful purposes. It is now clear that a fix to the deal must include a US-European pledge to force the regime to do what it didn’t do in 2015: Provide full access to its nuclear scientists, sites and documentation so that the IAEA can use this as a baseline to fully verify Iran’s commitment to the deal.”

Amb. Dennis Ross: “It is not new to say that the Iranians lied. It is not new to say that the Iranians were not required to come clean on their whole nuclear program — something that was a major flaw in the deal, partly because it allowed them to claim they had never worked on a nuclear weapon when we know that they had.” [WashPost]

Hudson Institute’s Mike Doran: “If Netanyahu didn’t tell us anything new today, then why did John Kerry, back in 2015, offer this ludicrous testimony to Congress about the fatwa and how the Supreme Leader was opposed to building a bomb?” [Twitter]

Aaron David Miller on NPR’s Morning Edition: “Netanyahu is on the verge of a major political victory – getting the U.S. to walk away from [the nuclear] deal, and I think Mr. Netanyahu likes to be President Trump’s coach, he likes to be the cheerleader, and he is also – as the prime minister of Israel – a major player in this looming game with respect to an impending confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria.” [NPR]

Sen. Brian Schatz‏ tweets“The reason they want to undo the Iran Deal is Barack Obama.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon writes… “Israel and Its Neighbors Need an Iran Deal Overhaul: After the intelligence revealed Monday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one thing is clearer than ever: The Iranian regime has lied repeatedly about its nuclear program and cannot be trusted. No matter what happens on May 12, May 13 must not see a return to the status quo ante July 2015.” [WSJ]

“Israel’s Netanyahu Can Now Declare War on Iran With Single Vote” by Tom O’Connor: “The Israeli parliament voted in favor Monday of granting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the ability to declare war with the sole approval of his defense chief under certain conditions.” [Newsweek]

“Mattis plays down odds of Syria pullout before peace agreement” by Phil Stewart: “The United States and its allies would not want to pull troops out of Syria before diplomats win the peace, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday, one of the strongest signs yet a full U.S. withdrawal was unlikely anytime soon.” [Reuters]

‘ULTIMATE DEAL’: “Israeli official says Israel should welcome Trump peace plan” by Aron Heller: “Michael Oren, the deputy minister for diplomacy in the prime minister’s office, said the U.S. president’s much-anticipated plan will undoubtedly require Israeli concessions, but that Israel would be foolish to reject it. “I have never known a team to be more favorably disposed to us,” Oren… told foreign journalists. “My own feeling is to strongly recommend that the Israeli government accept this plan with an open mind, if not open arms, that we engage with it energetically and that we certainly don’t reject it out of hand… In the world of business negotiations, the first offer on the table is the best offer, the second offer is a less good offer, the third offer is less than that.” [AP]

Abbas says Jews’ behavior, not anti-Semitism, caused the Holocaust: “In a long and rambling at speech in Ramallah at a rare session of the Palestinian National Council, [Mahmoud] Abbas touched on a number of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories during what he called a “history lesson” … Pointing to Arthur Kessler’s book “The Thirteenth Tribe,” which asserts Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Khazars, Abbas said European Jews therefore had “no historical ties” to the Land of Israel. He went on to claim that the Holocaust was not the result of anti-Semitism but rather of the Jews “social behavior,  [charging] interest, and financial matters.”” [ToI]

MUELLER WATCH — “Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction” by Michael Schmidt: “Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference, has at least four dozen questions on an exhaustive array of subjects he wants to ask President Trump… They also touch on the president’s businesses; any discussions with his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, about a Moscow real estate deal; whether the president knew of any attempt by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to set up a back channel to Russia during the transition…” [NYTimes

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Michael Cohen Is Ready to Soldier On” by Emily Jane Fox: “Cohen… had not initially been watching as Trump gave his… phone interview to Fox, in which he contended that Cohen performed “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work. But he was surprised by the comments, which he listened to as the fire alarm in the Regency Hotel… Cohen… was baffled about why Trump even made the remarks in the first place… “But,” one person noted, “knowing him, the fight goes on.” … Another person close to Cohen called Trump’s comments a “stupid” and “unnecessary” blow to his longtime attorney… But, this person added, he is entering a prize fight, and these remarks were not quite a body blow. “I think he is a little bit numb at this point,” this person said.“ [VanityFair] • Trump campaign has paid portions of Michael Cohen’s legal fees: Sources [ABCNews]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Goldman Sachs president David Solomon says there is no timeline for CEO succession at firm [CNBC] • Kushner Companies received financing from Internet bank that was recently under federal investigation[Newsweek] • Who Is John Galt? Ken Moelis Has 1,000,000,000 Answers[Bloomberg] • Sapir Corp Ltd. Acquires Majority Interest In NoMo-SoHo Hotel, NYC [PRNewswire] • Canyon’s Josh Friedman Laments GSO’s ‘Unseemly’ Hovnanian Swaps Deal [Bloomberg] • How Stewart Butterfield’s Slack Got Ahead in Diversity [TheAtlantic

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “Toronto vape company Green Tank poised to cash in on cannabis legalization” by David Dias: “Dustin and Corey Koffler, brothers and co-founders of Green Tank Technologies Corp., have been growing their business at breakneck speed over the past year – and the pace is unlikely to slow down as cannabis legalization approaches. Entrepreneurship runs in the Koffler family. The brothers’ grandfather was Murray Koffler, who, in the 1940s, founded the pharmacy chain that came to be known as Shoppers Drug Mart.” [Globe&Mail]

TRANSITIONS — “Billionaire Dan Loeb stepping down as Success Academy chair” by Selim Algar: “Billionaire Dan Loeb is stepping down as chairman of Success Academy, the city’s largest charter-school operator — and will be replaced by… venture-capitalist board member Steven Galbraith on July 1… It is unclear why Loeb — who just recently gave Success $15 million — is stepping down as chairman now.” [NYPost]

Arthur Stark, Chairman of the Board of Friends of the IDF, was elected yesterday to serve as Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations effective June 1, 2018.  

LIFE LESSONS — “Philosophy Prepared Me for a Career in Finance and Government” by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin: “I’m asked from time to time which undergraduate courses best prepared me for working at Goldman Sachs and in the government. People assume I’ll list courses in economics or finance, but I always answer that the key was Professor Demos’s philosophy course… I concluded that you can’t prove anything in absolute terms, from which I extrapolated that all significant decisions are about probabilities. Internalizing the core tenet of Professor Demos’s teaching — weighing risk and analyzing odds and trade-offs — was central to everything I did professionally in the decades ahead in finance and government.” [NYTimes]

HEARD YESTERDAY AT MILKEN CONFERENCE — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a conversation with Frank Luntz: “America has always had dark times, and this is one of them. My goal if I become Majority Leader is to work in a bipartisan way on things we can agree on — infrastructure, immigration — and really get some major things done.” Schumer noted the bipartisan relationships he’s made in the Senate gym, striking up conversations with GOP senators during early morning workouts, but said… “bipartisanship in the abstract, not getting anything done, isn’t going to work.”[AP]

Tony Blair on Netanyahu’s Iran files presentation in interview with Bloomberg TV: “Obviously, we are going to have to examine very carefully what the documents say that has been disclosed by the Israeli government, but plainly on the face of it, it’s very serious. These things have to be investigated whether they constitute breaches of the agreement. But I think more than that, what it does is, it will increase pressure on those who want to keep the agreement to make sure that it is adjusted in order to take in account other things like the ballistic missile program and so on. So I think it’s a further ratcheting up the pressure before the president comes to make his decision.”[Video]

“Antitrust Chief Says AT&T Faces Same Time Warner Deal Condition” by Nabila Ahmed: “AT&T Inc.’s planned takeover of Time Warner Inc. might be approved by U.S. regulators if Turner Broadcasting assets are severed from the merged company, the Justice Department’s top antitrust enforcer… Makan Delrahim said Monday at the conference… The Turner Broadcasting assets include CNN, one of President Donald Trump’s favorite Twitter targets.” [Bloomberg] • Future of AT&T-Time Warner Deal Is in Judge’s Hands [NYT]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Axios’ Mike Allen asked former FBI Director James Comey at a book-signing event at George Washington University: What’s the biggest mistake you made as FBI director that didn’t involve a Clinton or a Trump? Comey: “I carelessly created a problem with the government of Poland in a speech I was giving about the Holocaust, and it was a distraction and just a boneheaded play by me.” [Video

TALK OF THE NATION — “Starbucks drops Jewish group from bias training” by Andrew Hanna: “The ADL, whose mission is to fight anti-Semitism, will play an advisory role in the company’s long-term efforts to combat discrimination, Jaime Riley, a Starbucks spokeswoman, told POLITICO Monday. But the group won’t help develop the curriculum for Starbucks’ May 29 mandatory anti-bias training, as originally planned… “When Starbucks asked for assistance, we agreed to help,” ADL spokesman Todd Gutnick told POLITICO. “As to whether Starbucks may or may not now want to utilize our expertise, you should ask them.” … Starbucks’ Riley denied the company cut the organization loose because of political pressure, saying in an email, “We are architecting a multi-phase approach to addressing bias.”” [Politico]

— Liel Leibovitz writes… “Considering the fact that Jews are, by far, the most prominent targets of hate crimes in America these days, giving in to anti-Semites and removing the ADL from a diversity training initiative of a major American corporation is particularly heinous.” [Tablet

HOLLYWOOD — “Joel Grey is directing ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in Yiddish” by Cindy Adams: 
“Joel Grey is directing. So what’s he know from Yiddish? “Nothing. I was bar mitzvah’d in Cleveland. An Orthodox temple. Saturdays my dad went to shul. But I don’t know the language. It wasn’t spoken in my house. The show’s been translated. Hal Prince, who produced ‘Fiddler’ in ’64, called to suggest me. I thought, interesting. I can’t know each word, but I can be brilliant. Look, I’m a saver. I know the play well. I’ve kept its original program. Love it. Know it by heart. I followed the Yiddish reading with English words in front of me so I know what’s intended. We did casting for three weeks. Gentiles who did other shows elsewhere spoke it perfectly.”” [PageSix

“Actually, Seth Rogen Doesn’t Think North Korea Was Behind the Sony Hack” by Yohana Desta: “Though it does seem that North Korea hacked into Sony’s system in order to view The Interview long before the film’s actual release, the nation may not have been behind the leaked e-mails—because it wasn’t until closer to the film’s premiere that hacked messages began to surface. “Then, months later, when the movie itself finally came out, all this hacking s**t happened,” Rogen said. “This was months after North Korea had probably already seen the movie. Why would they wait [to leak the e-mails]? And they never did anything like that before and haven’t done anything like it since. So things just never quite added up.” [VanityFair]

LongRead: “They Saved Hitler’s Skull. Or Did They?” by Jean-Marie Pottier: “In 2009, Nicholas F. Bellantoni, an archeologist at the University of Connecticut, claimed he had analyzed a sample of the skull in a documentary broadcast on the History Channel, bluntly titled Hitler’s Escape, and concluded that it belonged to a 40-year-old-woman—but probably not Eva Braun, who poisoned herself. His findings gave another impulse to the Hitler-did-not-die-in-the-bunker cottage industry, exemplified by Jerome R. Corsi, the far-right American writer who, in addition to peddling theories about Barack Obama’s birthplace, is the author of Hunting Hitler: New Scientific Evidence That Hitler Escaped Nazi Germany…. The Russian State Archive had then claimed, and still claims, that Bellantoni never got access to its vaults. Both he and that History Channel say he did. Russia’s wariness about letting the French team examine the skull may have been caused by fear they would come to the same conclusion as Bellantoni…” [Slate]

SPORTS BLINK — “Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho opens academy in Israel” by Marcus M. Gilban: “Ronaldinho, who spent last week in the Jewish state, announced Thursday the establishment of the Ronaldinho Soccer Academy for children aged 6 to 16. The goal is to combine the passion and fun of Brazilian soccer with a strong teaching methodology and friendship values. The school will launch in the summer as a camp for some 100 youths before opening in September.” [JTA

BIRTHDAYS: National Director Emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League, head of the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Abraham Foxman turns 78… Member of the New York City Council (1974-1983) and Commissioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (1983-1990 and a second term from 1994-2000), Henry Sternturns 83… Progressive political activist, pacifist, literary and political journalist, Larry Bensky turns 81… Assistant professor of Bible and Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University and editor of Tradition, an Orthodox theological journal, Rabbi Shalom Carmy turns 69… Attorney specializing in redistricting, voting rights and census law and director of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Jeffrey M. Wice turns 66… Member of the House of Representatives for Colorado’s 7th congressional district since 2007, Edwin George “Ed” Perlmutter turns 65… Political reporter and columnist for The Richmond Times-Dispatch, he has covered Virginia elections and the state Capitol for 30 years, Jeff E. Schapiro turns 63…

Israeli entrepreneur and software engineer, founder and CEO of Conduit, an online platform for app publishers with 260 million users, Ronen Shilo turns 60… Real estate entrepreneur, born in Israel, has lived in Southern California since 1986, a co-founder of the Israeli American Leadership Council (IAC), Eli Tene turns 55… Professor of computer science and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, David R. Karger turns 51… Israeli judoka, she was the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal when she won Silver at Barcelona (1992), she now is a manager of the Israeli operations for Viacom (and its Nickelodeon subsidiary), Yael Arad turns 51… Member of the Washington State Senate where he currently serves as the Senate Democratic Whip, co-owner of minor league baseball’s Spokane Indians, Andrew Swire “Andy” Billig turns 50… Award-winning broadcast journalist for more than 30 years including GM of CBS Radio News, now SVP of communications at University of Maryland University College, Michael Freedman… DC-based political reporter for The Guardian US, previously a reporter for the Daily Beast, Ben Jacobs… Deborah Chin

Kafe Knesset for October 19

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mr. Liberman Goes to Washington: Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman departed last night on a four-day visit to Washington, DC and New York City. This is the second time…

Kafe Knesset for October 18

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hamas not welcome: Last night the Security Cabinet concluded a two-day session debating the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. A joint statement was issued describing Israel’s new “red…

Kafe Knesset for October 17

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

To evacuate or not to evacuate? New Labor chair Avi Gabbay has been making headlines for a few days now with a series of statements signaling an apparent…

Kafe Knesset for October 16

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bibi versus the Police: With the continued corruption investigations against Netanyahu, the Prime Minister has taken his responses up a notch. Now he is not only blaming the…

Kafe Knesset for October 9

Monday, October 9, 2017

Family man: Israelis are very familiar with Bibi’s family story. They are especially familiar with his legendary brother, Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed leading the Entebbe raid in…

Kafe Knesset for October 4

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Liberman “believes” Trump: Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman gave a lengthy pre-Sukkot interview to Walla. After declaring Syrian President Assad’s victory, he also had some interesting answers to share…