Jun
12

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Daily Kickoff: Ivanka felt ‘blindsided by viciousness’ in DC | Bibi caught between base and peace push | Ben Platt wins Best Actor at the Tony Awards

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MAZEL TOV: “Dear Evan Hansen’s Ben Platt Holds Back Tears as He Wins Best Actor in a Musical at 2017 Tony Awards” by Devan Coggan: “Ben Platt is no longer on the outside, always looking in at the Tony Awards. The Dear Evan Hansen star won the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical at Sunday’s ceremony. In an emotional and rapid-fire acceptance speech, he thanked the Broadway community for his win and spoke about how much theater has changed his life. “It’s where I found everything I ever loved and where I belong,” Platt told the audience. “And I’ve dreamed every day since of being on this stage and being a part of this community of artists.”

Platt also offered a few words of wisdom to viewers around the country. “To all young people watching at home, don’t waste any time trying to be like anybody else because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful,” he said. [EWeekly]

“Ben Platt’s L.A. high school days: He shone in different ways than Evan Hansen, teachers say” by Daryl Miller: “In “Dear Evan Hansen,” newly minted Tony winner Ben Platt portrays a high schooler who’s so nervous, unsure and desperately lonely that he seems to fold into himself, as though trying to make himself disappear. None of this remotely resembles the lead-musical-actor recipient in his own high school years at Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City. Instructors who worked with him until his 2011 graduation say he was confident, always ahead of the game, a natural leader. He grew up among four performance-minded siblings in the musical-obsessed Westwood household of Julie and theater-film producer Marc Platt (“Wicked,” “La La Land”). He’d already acted professionally by the time he reached Harvard-Westlake…” [LATimes]

SPOTLIGHT: “Role of Trump’s Personal Lawyer Blurs Public and Private Lines” by Rebecca R. Ruiz and Sharon LaFraniere: “Marc E. Kasowitz… is a personal lawyer for the president, not a government employee, but he has been talking about establishing an office in the White House complex where he can run his legal defense… In recent days, Mr. Kasowitz has advised White House aides to discuss the inquiry into Russia’s interference in last year’s election as little as possible, two people involved said. He told aides gathered in one meeting who had asked whether it was time to hire private lawyers that it was not yet necessary… Mr. Kasowitz bypassed the White House Counsel’s Office in having these discussions… And concerns about Mr. Kasowitz’s role led at least two prominent Washington lawyers to turn down offers to join the White House staff.” [NYTimes]

“When a liberal power lawyer represents the Trump family, things can get ugly” by Marc Fisher: “When [Jamie] Gorelick signed up Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump — the president’s close advisers, as well as his son-in-law and daughter — as clients, she knew her friends might raise their collective eyebrows. She didn’t know that some of them would call her a turncoat… “For the first time, Jamie’s getting irrational criticism from her fellow liberals, who think that if you represent anyone associated with the other side, you must be a Republican in hiding,” said Alan Dershowitz, Gorelick’s mentor at Harvard Law School and a friend ever since. “Jamie is obviously a liberal Democrat, but this is not a betrayal… We have to resist zealotry on both sides.”” [WashPost]

IVANKA ON FOX AND FRIENDS THIS AM: “Ivanka Trump felt “blindsided” by DC viciousness” by Alayna Treene: “It is hard, and there’s a level of viciousness that I wasn’t expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience, but this isn’t supposed to be easy. My father and this administration intends to be transformative, and we want to do big, bold things, and we’re looking to change the status quo. So I didn’t expect it to be easy, I think some of the distractions and some of the voracity was, I was a little blindsided by on a personal level. But for me, I’m trying to keep my head down and not listen to the noise.”

–Does Jared Kushner like his job? “He loves it,” said Ivanka. “I mean talk about impact.”

–On Jared “clashing” with others in the White House: “There’s a 24 hour news cycle that gets sped by and is encouraged by lots of salacious emails, and at the end of the day we’re very focused on the work… [Jared] is someone who likes to get things done and doesn’t get involved in that.” [Axios]

“Maher Goes After Jared Kushner: If He’s Going to Run So Many Things, ‘He Must Speak’” by Joseph Wulfsohn: “At the end of Fridaynight’s episode of Real Time, Bill Maher came up with a “new rule” for President Trump‘s top White House advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner. “If Jared Kushner is going to be in charge of peace in the Middle East, trade with China, solving the opioid epidemic, reforming the criminal justice system, and reinventing government, he must speak,” Maher began. “We are six months into the Trump presidency and we have yet to hear Boy Wonder talk.”” [Mediaite]

FIRST LOOK — “Jared & Ivanka’s Guide to Mindful Marriage” — by Paul Rudnick in the latest issue of The New Yorker: “Now that Ivanka’s “Women Who Work” is a best-seller and Jared has begun brokering arms deals in the Middle East, we’ve decided to expand our horizons even further… If, during the courtship phase, your potential spouse asks you to convert to Judaism, your first response should be an adorable pout… If your potential in-laws become insistent, try reasoning: “Jewish or Presbyterian, don’t we all place dusty aluminum Christmas trees and plastic menorahs in the lobbies of the apartment buildings we own, except for the more neglected properties in Jersey and the outer boroughs?” If religion threatens to become a deal breaker, tell yourself, “You know, being Jewish might be fun, and could inspire a new signature fragrance called Oyvanka.” [NewYorker]

–Ivanka shares her five-year-old daughter Arabella’s answers to her kindergarten classmates’ questions: “Arabella, whose parents are Jewish, also said that if she could be any star in the world, she would be ‘A Star of David'” [DailyMail]

TOP TALKER: “Caught between a right-wing base and a new peace initiative, Netanyahu ducks and weaves” by Haviv Rettig Gur: “It took Trump’s Israel advisers, chiefly envoys Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, both longtime and rather doctrinaire critics of Obama’s Israel policy, some weeks to realize that a US administration that is too openly supportive of the Israeli right might actually destabilize the Israeli right… It is now the accepted wisdom in Knesset hallway chatter that Netanyahu’s staffers explained this danger to their counterparts in the Trump administration and averted this politically disastrous bear-hug — that is, that they asked for American pressure to be brought to bear on the Israeli government… There’s just one problem. In recent weeks, it has become clear that neither Netanyahu nor his rightist flank seem to be playing along.” [ToI]

“US official: Israeli, Palestinian spoilers want to derail peace talks” by Boaz Bismuth: “A senior U.S. official told Israel Hayom on Sunday that the reports suggesting that Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni was advising U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt… are entirely false… He stressed that reports in Israel in May claiming that Livni and Greenblatt had met frequently to discuss ways to advance the peace process were misleading and baseless… He stressed that the reports on Livni’s alleged relationship with Greenblatt were tendentious. The official said that “there are spoilers both on the Israeli and Palestinian sides who want to derail the possibility of peace,” and cautioned that “these spoilers create false narratives in the media and [in] social media to distort the efforts of the administration.”” [IsraelHayom]

“Netanyahu Asked Trump to Accept Isolated Settlements as Israeli Enclaves in Palestinian Territory in Future Peace Deal” by Barak Ravid and Amir Tibon: “Netanyahu raised the issue of the isolated settlements’ fate in conversations with a number of officials in the Trump administration in recent months. The last one to hear from him on this issue was U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who visited Israel last week. Netanyahu told Haley that he wants to reach an agreement without evacuating any settlers, and that he seeks to leave the isolated settlements as Israeli enclaves within the Palestinian state’s territory. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who attended the meeting with Haley, told Haaretz that Netanyahu spoke about adopting a model like the one that exists along the border area of Netherlands and Belgium, in which each country has small enclaves in the other country’s territory.” [Haaretz] • Netanyahu, Herzog secretly met with Egypt’s Sissi in Cairo last year amid regional peace effort [Haaretz]

“Nikki Haley embroiled in IDF, UNIFIL dispute about Hezbollah threat” by Joy Bernard: “[Ambassador] Nikki Haley was exposed to an unusual dispute between the IDF and the UN regarding the security state at Israel’s northern border while she visited the area during her stay in the Jewish state last week… Maj-Gen. Michael Berry, Force Commander and Head of Mission of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, explained that the region was relatively calm. According to Channel 2, Maj.- Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Deputy IDF Chief of Staff and the former head of the Northern Command, could not hide his disagreement and refuted Maj.- Gen. Berry on the spot, adamantly insisting that the situation was quite to the contrary… According to Channel 2’s report, Haley was not particularly disturbed by the heated exchange she witnessed, but later told an Israeli official: “It’s good that I was exposed to the argument and to the truth that you presented, it will influence moves at the UN.”” [JPost; ToI

Haley tweets pictures with Israeli and Palestinian girls and a selfie with yeshiva students: “These are the faces we saw during our trip. The Israeli & Palestinian people we met had hopes & dreams of a promising future #peace.” [Pic]

KAFE KNESSET — The latest on Israel’s version of the Taylor Force Act — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Netanyahu was probably not enthusiastic about Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid scoring some political points, as the Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved the Israeli version of the Taylor Force Act yesterday. The bill – which seeks to cut off PA salaries to terrorists from the tax revenues Israel transfers each year – is sponsored by Yesh Atid’s Elazar Stern and it was approved unanimously. It is quite unusual for the government to support a bill drafted by the opposition. But Yesh Atid drafted the political move wisely, ensuring it was co-signed by senior coalition partners, including Likud’s coalition chair David Bitan.

Stern told Kafe Knesset that he is confident the bill will move forward, despite objections from some security brass that the move could undermine the Palestinian economy. “I am an Israeli patriot. I wore a uniform for most of my lifetime. I will not do anything that would harm the State. I consulted with plenty of security officials before drafting this bill.” Stern met Senator Lindsey Graham last week in Washington and he added that Graham believes that the progress in the Israeli bill will help efforts to advance the Taylor Force Act in the US Congress. “When I raised the issue on Capitol Hill, senators always ask why don’t the Israelis legislate? And they are right.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

IVANKA TAKES THE SPOTLIGHT — “Donald and Ivanka Trump head to Wisconsin for jobs push” by Jordyn Phelps: “President Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump are set to travel to Wisconsin Tuesdayto join Gov. Scott Walker to tour a technical college, as the administration puts a renewed focus on its goal of job creation… Dubbing it “workforce development week,” first daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump is taking a leading role in the administration’s initiative. “We’re very excited about where we are,” she said.” [ABCNews]

— “On Wednesday, [Ivanka] will lead a CEO roundtable focused on workforce development and apprenticeship programs at the White House with about 15 CEOs… Later Wednesday, Ivanka Trump will join Mr. Trump at the Department of Labor for his major policy speech. In addition to laying out the week’s administrative actions, the president is expected to discuss working with Congress to address college affordability.  Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intergovernmental and technology initiatives, called the planned administrative actions “highly substantive.”” [CBSNews]

AMERICA-ISRAEL FIRST: “Israel Holds Off ‘America First’ With Joint Venture Tech Lure” by Gwen Ackerman: “Israel sees expanding joint research and development with the U.S. as a way to boost trade in the era of Donald Trump’s “America First.” “The minute we work together on technology, we both maintain our security and civilian advantage,” said Economy Minister Eli Cohen, who met with Gary Cohn, director of the U.S. National Economic Council. The intention is to “deepen development ties” through the existing Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development fund, known as BIRD, which promotes projects of mutual benefit to both countries, he said in an interview… Cohen said Israel also wants to encourage U.S. companies to open manufacturing operations in Israel, following in the footsteps of Intel Corp., Applied Materials Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprises Co. and Perrigo Co.” [Bloomberg]

“U.S. Cyberweapons, Used Against Iran and North Korea, Are a Disappointment Against ISIS” by David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt: “Even one of the rare successes against the Islamic State belongs at least in part to Israel, which was America’s partner in the attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago, the officials said. That was how the United States learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers… It was also part of the classified intelligence that President Trump is accused of revealing when he met in the Oval Office last month with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and the ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak. His disclosure infuriated Israeli officials.” [NYTimes]

ON THE HILL — “Senate looks to jab Russia” by Elana Schor: “A successful vote to punish Moscow would give a key win to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a longtime Russia hawk who telegraphed his interest in a deal when he agreed to combine the issue with an Iran sanctions bill teed up for passage this week… Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker… acknowledged to reporters that Trump’s administration, and any other, “obviously would not” want to see Congress force a legislative review of changes to Russia sanctions. Yet lawmakers set a precedent of sorts in 2015 when they forced then-President Barack Obama to submit his Iran nuclear deal for their eventual disapproval, the Tennessee Republican added.” [Politico]

“Trump faces backlash over $3M Holocaust Museum cuts” by Niv Elis: “A bipartisan group of 64 members of Congress is demanding a reversal on $3 million in funding cuts to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum proposed in President Trump’s budget… The reduction, which would return the museum’s budget to its 2016 level of $54 million, is roughly a 5 percent decrease.” [TheHill

SPECIAL ELECTION WATCH: “Democrats in Split-Screen: The Base Wants It All. The Party Wants to Win” by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin: “In a special election that has become the most expensive House race in history, Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional aide, presented himself as essentially anti-ideological… Bucking the left, Mr. Ossoff said in an interview that he would not support raising income taxes, even for the wealthy, and opposed “any move” toward a single-payer health care system… Mr. Ossoff said he had not yet given “an ounce of thought” to whether he would vote for Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, in a future ballot for speaker… The tension between Mr. Ossoff’s message and the appetites of the national Democratic base has not appeared to hinder his bid for Congress. He has raised more than $23 million, an astonishing sum, largely in small online donations from Democrats seeking to put a dent in the Republicans’ House majority.” [NYTimes]

2018 WATCH: “Republican fundraisers can stomach Trump — if only he’d call” by Theodore Schleifer: “One person filling some of the fundraising leadership void left by Trump: Sheldon Adelson, the party’s largest contributor, who is preparing for possible headwinds ahead of 2018… Adelson has begun sounding out other contributors, such as the Ricketts family, on forming a new super PAC that would focus on governors’ races and state legislative races ahead of the next redistricting cycle in 2020. Adelson would be willing to commit substantial resources to the group, which is still in early talks but is envisioned as a heavyweight GOP group similar to the Senate Leadership Fund or Congressional Leadership Fund. Adelson has also been staying in close touch with Trump administration hands in Washington — last week, Adelson visited Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, one of the architects behind the White House’s plan to replace Obamacare.” [CNN

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Boeing’s Sale of Up to 60 Commercial Jets to Iran Takes Next Step: Transaction still requires U.S. government approval [WSJ] • Altice, Netflix Ink Multi-Year Partnership For France, Israel And More [Deadline; Variety] • David Rubenstein’s Carlyle Group is ceding control of its big nursing home chain, HCR ManorCare [NYPost] • Michael Adler sells Tampa-area rentals for $49.7M [RealDeal] • 10 months ago, Univision bought Gawker in a fire sale, and it’s been messy ever since [BusinessInsider]

PROFILE: “The Bounty Hunter of Wall Street” by Jesse Barron: “During the 45-minute drive to his house, [Andrew] Left, never hanging up, floated and discarded a variety of plans. They were… withdrawing a million-dollar cashier’s check from his bank, made out to a pharmaceutical company, to be offered as a donation to the charity of its choice if it could prove to him the efficacy of a drug for multiple sclerosis, still in trials, which Left had on authority from the “rabbi of M.S.” didn’t work… Left was born in Detroit and raised in Coral Springs, Fla., the second son of parents who divorced when he was 5… His mother, Rhoda Left Black, scraped together an income. During the day, she was an office manager at the public school. In the evening, she gave Hebrew lessons… Recognizing his ability to dazzle an audience at a young age, Black wanted her son to become a lawyer or a rabbi. Instead, he was accepted at Northeastern and chose political science.” [NYTimes]

“A Best-Selling Israeli Philosopher Examines His Country’s Inner Conflict” by Isabel Kershner: “Born in Jerusalem in 1974 to parents who had emigrated a year before from the United States, [Micah] Goodman was embarrassed as a teenager by his family’s diversity, but has come to embrace it. His mother, who converted to Judaism, came from a pious Roman Catholic family… Still, Mr. Goodman grew up in an Orthodox Jewish household — but being a kind of an accidental Jew, as he put it, he began his own odyssey in search of meaning. Now he is a researcher at the Hartman Institute, a center for Jewish scholars in Jerusalem, and the director of Ein Prat, a pluralistic beit midrash… in the desert near Jericho in the West Bank… Mr. Goodman’s book (“Catch 67”) gives equal weight to arguments on all sides. But while he allows that there is a dispute over the legal status of the West Bank land and whether it is truly occupied, he takes a clear stand when it comes to robbing the Palestinians of their freedom… Leftist critics say the book seems more concerned with finding internal peace for an Israel at war with itself than peace with the Palestinians.” [NYTimes]

“How some of the Arab countries at war with Israel treated their Jewish populations during Six Day Way — by Lucette Lagnado: “By the mid to late 1960s, the vast majority of Arab Jews, who once numbered 800,000, were gone from their ancestral lands. It had taken only two decades for the Arab world—a fairly congenial home for Jews for hundreds of years or more—to rid themselves of most of their Jewish populations. Some countries, such as Algeria, had seen Jews leave en masse after the country became independent from France in 1962 and there were few who remained… Perhaps that is why, whenever a supporter of the BDS movement targeting Israel insists they are “only” anti-Israel not anti-Jewish, I cast a cold eye, recalling how bogus that distinction turned out to be for Jews of Arab countries.” [Tablet

MEDIA WATCH: “In Iran, Radio Liberty Doesn’t Live Up to Its Name” by Sohrab Ahmari: “President Trump is hiring a chief executive for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal agency that oversees Voice of America and other media outlets charged with beaming light and liberty into closed societies world-wide… To get a feel for the dysfunction, consider Radio Farda, the Persian-language component of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty… But Farda too often fails to deliver. Nowhere is this more apparent than in its treatment of Israel… Then there is Farda’s coverage of President Obama’s nuclear diplomacy. At least five stories, published between 2012 and 2017, described critics of Mr. Obama’s engagement with Tehran as “extremists” and their views of Iranian realities as “amateurish.” The extremists in question included Sen. John McCain, congressional opponents of the deal generally, GOP aides on Capitol Hill, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.” [WSJ]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Charter school boss wins pre-K war with Mayor de Blasio” by Ben Chapman: “[Eva] Moskowitz, who operates the city’s largest charter school network, brawled with [mayor Bill] de Blasio over pre-K oversight for more than 18 months. She even refused to sign a City Hall contract for reimbursement for her pre-K classes, prompting the city to withhold payments. The State Supreme Court ruled Friday that her pre-K programs fall under jurisdiction of outside charter school authorizers, not the city.” [NYDailyNews]

DESSERT: “New Meshuggah Bagel’s location keeps its kosher chewiness, adds ‘bagel boards’” by Jill Wendholt Silva: “Hardcore bagel fans are spurring the growth of the only New York-style, kosher-certified bagels sold in Kansas City, with a second Meshuggah’s retail location opening last week and a third slated for fall. “We have the highest level of kosher certification,” says Janna Linde, who co-owns the business with her husband, Pete… If you’d told the Lindes in March 2016 that they were on their way to cornering the kosher bagel market, they would have told you “meshuggah” — a word that means “crazy” in Yiddish.” [KansasCity]

BIRTHDAYS: Founder and managing partner of the investment firm Thrive Capital, co-founder of Oscar Health, and the brother of Jared Kushner, Joshua Kushner turns 32… EVP of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), Rabbi Levi Shemtov turns 49 (his Hebrew and English birthdays coincide this year)… Sportscaster for NBA games on TNT, has also been the play-by-play announcer of multiple Super Bowls, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals and the World Series, Marv Albert (born Marvin Philip Aufrichtig) turns 76… Israeli statesman and scholar who has served in multiple ministerial and leadership positions in the Israeli government, Yossi Beilin turns 69… Rabbi in Santa Cruz County, CA (1976-2016) Richard Litvak, a/k/a Rabbi Rick, turns 67… British Conservative Party member of Parliament since 1992, re-elected last Thursday, Michael Fabricant turns 67… Director of Education at Beacon Bay Dental, Kenneth Nussen turns 62… Board member of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru, previously Peru’s Agriculure Minister, José Chlimper Ackerman turns 62… Rosslyn, VA-based editor of Politico, Carrie Budoff Brown turns 41 (h/t Playbook)… Communications director for US Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) since 2014, Eliezer O (“Eli”) Zupnick turns 34… Deputy Director of the Truman National Security Project’s Partnership for a New American Economy, a bipartisan nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to passing immigration reform, Hanna Siegel turns 32… Software engineer and co-creator of the Mozilla Firefox internet browser, was director of product at Facebook (2007-2013), Blake Aaron Ross turns 32… Canadian tech entrepreneur, television personality and venture capitalist, Michele Romanow turns 32… Attorney since 2012, in 2017 he joined the DC office of the prestigious law firm of Boies Schiller Flexner as an associate, Zachary Louis Baron turns 31… DC-based reporter with BuzzFeed News, Alexis Rose Levinson turns 29… Transportation planner in the Silver Spring office of Toole Design Group focused on bicycle and pedestrian master plans, Eli Glazier turns 27 (h/ts Playbook)… University of Southern California student, campus representative of PETA, active in USC’s Hillel Foundation, Tessa Nesis

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Jun
9

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Daily Kickoff: Paul Singer on his politics and philanthropy | WH-Jerusalem comms bottleneck | Dem Senator’s tense ZOA speech | Natalie Portman BDay

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PEER-TO-PEER: In rare interview, Paul Singer discusses his upbringing and how he views politics and philanthropy: Paul Singer, founder of Elliott Management, demonstrated his Jewish humor and opened up about his upbringing, love for music, and the philanthropic causes he supports during a rare wide-ranging interview with David Rubenstein, host of “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” on Bloomberg TV, at the Bloomberg Invest New York summit this week.

Rubenstein: Where does the name Elliott come from? Singer: “My middle name. I thought it was better than Paul.”

Singer’s Jewish mother’s reaction when he gave up practicing law to enter the world of business: “Can you earn a living?” Rubenstein: I assume she is proud of you — Singer: “Yes she is”DR: Does she recognize that giving up the practice of law was probably a good idea? PS: “I hesitated because…” DR: Because she’s Jewish?… PS: “She hasn’t been in great shape for the last several years…” DR: But when she was in better shape, she must have called you today, ‘You are doing great’? PS: “Never. She called me once and said, ‘Your reports are too long.’”

Political affiliation — Rubenstein: Were you always a Republican? Singer: “I was a Stevensonian Democrat in 1956 and a Kennedy liberal. But starting with Goldwater I became a conservative.”

Singer on Trump: “I voted for him. I was not going to vote for Hillary Clinton as some of my Republican friends did. And I became optimistic about some of the opportunities – in economic growth, regulatory reforms, and tax reform.” DR: Did you know him before he was elected president? PS: “I did not. I invested in his bonds a couple of times (laughter). They were [high] on the date of issue.”

If Trump offered him an administration post:“I would say, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. President, but I am doing what I love doing and I’d be happy to render whatever help I can as a private citizen.”

As one of the early signers of the Giving Pledge, here’s how Singer views his philanthropy: “I am very interested in supporting Jewish causes, particularly Israel and the economic stability and growth of Israel, the acceptance of Israel, [and] the normalization of Israel’s relationships with other countries. I am also interested in the rule of law and I am interested in campuses – free speech on campus.”

Legacy and a dig at the NY Times — Rubenstein:
Let’s suppose the New York Times were to ask somebody to write an obituary for Paul Singer and let’s suppose they ask you to write the obituary, what would you like to see as the headline of what you had accomplished in your life? Singer: “Could it be the Wall Street Journal? It would help me think better (laughter)… ‘He tried to make a difference. He protected a lot of people’s capital over a long period of time. He was steady, reliable.’” Video of the interview and full recap by Jacob Kornbluh here [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “Unfilled State Dept. posts hamper daily Israeli-US ties” by Herb Keinon and Michael Wilner: “Understaffing in the State Department since the inauguration of President Donald Trump is affecting everyday communication between Jerusalem and Washington… There’s basically only one guy – Jason Greenblatt,” said a source who advises the president’s Middle East team. “That’s it. There’s no office, there’s no bureaucracy. Ron [Dermer] might talk to Jared [Kushner], and Jared might talk to Jason. But there’s no assistant secretary of state. There’s no special envoy. There’s no under-secretary, there’s no deputy secretary.” … The [Israeli] official said that the channel between the Prime Minister’s Office and the White House is important, “but it can only handle so much, only the most pressing issues – they can’t get to the day-to-day things that are important.” Michael Oren, deputy minister for diplomacy, said that the situation “does impact on us.” It is “important to have addresses,” he said.” [JPost

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Dept. spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Israel’s announcement about 2,500 units in the West Bank: “President Trump has talked about this consistently, and he has said, in his opinion, unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance the peace process. He’s been pretty clear about that. It doesn’t help the prospect for peace. That is something that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is important to this administration, and they will keep promoting that. They remain optimistic.”

Nauert on the report that Abbas has dropped his demand for a full settlement freeze: “I’m not aware of any diplomatic conversations about that very topic.” [Transcript

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says Israel is ‘closer than ever’ to regional peace deal: “We are far closer to an agreement than ever before,” Liberman told Channel 2 on Thursday… When asked how the deal would come together, Liberman responded: “Because Trump has arrived on the scene and because, as I keep saying, the Arab countries have internalized that their problem is not Israel. Israel can be a solution to the problem.” … “If you’re asking me whether Netanyahu is making every effort,” he added, “yes, he is. I can testify that he is making a great many efforts.” [ToI

–Aaron David Miller: “Extraordinary statement by senior Israeli official. Either Emperor has no clothes or…price for Gulf Arabs is one Israel’s willing to pay.” [Twitter]

“Trump didn’t know the Middle East could be so complicated” by Fareed Zakaria: “One of the great successes of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy was that they were able to woo Egypt into the American sphere, while simultaneously preserving an alliance with the shah of Iran… If the Trump administration wants stability in the Middle East, it should help broker a new balance of power. This cannot happen purely on Saudi terms. Iran is a major player in the region, with real influence, and its role will have to be recognized… This would not cede anything to Tehran. Iran’s influence would be countered by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others.” [NYTimes]

KAFE KNESSET — Haley’s high heels in Israel — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov:After a private helicopter tour of the country’s borders yesterday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley kicked off her third day in Israel at a meeting this morning with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem. At the beginning of the meeting, Liberman gave Haley a present: a special figurine of a high heel shoe embroidered with pearls and gold, with a plaque dedicated “to the USA’s New Sheriff.”  Liberman referred to Haley’s AIPAC speech last March, in which she declared that her high heels are not a fashion statement but a symbol of her intention to “kick them every single time” she sees something wrong. “You are a true friend of Israel, and we appreciate the great help and struggle you are waging against those who try to hurt us and defame us. So in gratitude I am giving you this souvenir and you are invited to use it if necessary …”

Moscow first? After the disappointment with President’s Trump delay on the much anticipated US Embassy move to Jerusalem, Israel is continuing the campaign and perhaps shifting the focus of the campaign to the east. Likud Minister Zeev Elkin called on Moscow yesterday to beat the US to the point and be the first country to announce an Embassy move. Speaking at a Russian Embassy event marking the country’s National Day in Tel Aviv, Elkin said “I cannot but wish that you and your country take advantage of the half-year hiatus that the President of the United States has unfortunately taken to win the competition between the two powers and be the first country to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem – before the Americans. This year in built Jerusalem!” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

ON THE HILL — House Members discuss bolstering financial pressure against Hezbollah — by Aaron Magid: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing yesterday devoted to increasing the economic pressure against Hezbollah. Dr. Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Studies (WINEP), called for harsher sanctions against Tehran due to its ongoing support of Hezbollah. While not undermining the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, “more vigorous action could be taken against entities such as the IRGC Quds Force, Mahan Air, and a host of other Iranian entities involved in Tehran’s support for terrorism,” he suggested.

In an odd moment during the hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) asked, “Is Hezbollah — the people who make up Hezbollah — are they all Palestinians?” Rohrabacher added that he had previously assumed that the Palestinian refugees who fled to Lebanon were the ones who created Hezbollah. [JewishInsider] • Bronx Man Accused of Casing J.F.K. Airport for Potential Hezbollah Attack [NYTimes]

How Israel spots lone-wolf attackers: “Since its outbreak in late 2015, there have been hundreds of knife and car-ramming attacks against Israelis. If the violence has ebbed, it may be in part because the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have become better at forestalling attacks. Israeli spooks reckon they have lessons to offer Western countries struggling to stop lone wolves. These days IDF algorithms monitor the social-media accounts of young Palestinians to look for early-warning signs. These include “tripwire” terms such as the “sword of Allah” or “day of the sword”, associated with the writings of past attackers.” [Economist]

SCENE AT THE ZOA — “Dem Senator’s speech to conservative Jewish group gets tense” by Jonathan Swan: “Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown created a tense moment with a conservative pro-Israel audience when he told them he was concerned about “bigotry and anti-Semitism” at the highest levels of the Trump administration. Addressing the Zionist Organization of America’s event in D.C. on Tuesday, Brown said, “There are a whole lot of members in the Senate, in both parties, that are very concerned about the bigotry and the anti-Semitism in the White House.” It didn’t go down well… A source said there were boos and hisses, and a video shot at the event bears that out, with the crowd cheering every time Brown mentioned [Steve] Bannon’s name.” [Axios

NEW TRUMP GUARD — “Behind Trump’s silence: Why the counterpuncher let others do the punching” by Philip Rucker and Robert Costa: “A president who earlier in the week had been spoiling for a fight with Comey — and who sees his Twitter feed as both megaphone and weapon — was convinced by his personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz and senior aides to stay cool and lay low… Kasowitz and White House advisers… argued to Trump that they had a rapid-response operation in place Thursday to defend him as vociferously as he would defend himself, according to people familiar with the discussions… “Kasowitz was able to persuade the president that he would not give a Washington-style, tepid defense,” said a top Republican figure who is close to the White House. “Trump’s big charge with his staff is that they don’t defend him aggressively. And Kasowitz convinced him that not only will I defend you, but I will attack Comey where there’s room to.”” [WashPost

“‘We Are Going to Fight,’ Trump Says, but Calm Reigns During Comey Testimony” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “His top advisers, especially his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, were worried that the president would defy Mr. Kasowitz and take to Twitter to vent his pique with Mr. Comey… Mr. Kasowitz has met with many top staff members to advise them against discussing issues facing the president, even relatively innocuous ones, telling one aide, “Leave everything to me.” For their part, many of Mr. Trump’s aides were less than impressed by the public performance of Mr. Kasowitz.” [NYTimes]

DIDN’T LAST TOO LONG… “Trump just ended his second-longest Twitter drought since he declared his candidacy” by Philip Bump: “Trump came up tantalizingly short on setting a new record. Had he gone three more minutes, he would have set it, but [the first] tweet was slightly too early.” [WashPost; CNN]

SHABBAT TWITTER WATCH: Will Trump set off a tweetstorm while at his NJ golf course Saturday?

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: “Kushner plans to meet with Senate intel staff as soon as this month, source says” by Manu Raju and Tom LoBianco: “Jared Kushner is expected to meet with Senate intelligence committee staff as soon as this month, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. It’s unclear when he will meet with members of the committee, the source added, and no date has been set.” [CNN; NBCNews]

Sen. Cory Booker on Comey’s testimony:”This testimony illustrates why what Kushner and others have been alleged to do is serious, grave and dangerous. The truth must come out.” [Twitter]

“Tech CEOs Cook, Bezos, Catz Said to Attend Kushner-Led Summit” by Mark Bergen  and Brian Womack: 
“The American Technology Council meeting will include a gathering of top executives followed by smaller sessions on particular topics, including those involving tech sales to government agencies, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters… The list of planned attendees include Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, Microsoft Corp. CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos, Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz and International Business Machines Corp. CEO Ginni Rometty, the people said. Alphabet Inc. plans to send Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Facebook Inc. also has been invited to send an executive to the summit, but it hasn’t yet replied to the invitation.” [Bloomberg

“Daniel C. Richman: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know” by Brendan Morrow: “During his Congressional testimony… former FBI Director James Comey said that he instructed a friend to leak a memo to a reporter in order to prompt a special counsel appointment… Comey did not name names, but he was referring to Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia Law School professor… In 2004, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Dan Richman to the position of chairman of the Local Conditional Release Commission… Students at Columbia say that he is an effective mentor and confidante. “I can’t count the number of people who have told me they rely on Professor Richman both inside and outside the classroom,” Elizabeth R. Cruikshank of the class of 2015 said. “And yet despite the sheer number of students who consult him and seek his help, none of those relationships ever feels routine or perfunctory.”” [Heavy]

Joe Lieberman on a paralyzed Congress: “Congress is paralyzed. Republicans can’t even agree with other Republicans. And for the most part, Democrats have endorsed a deliberate strategy of gridlock and resistance. Washington is perpetually engulfed by anonymous leaks and diversions. The end result is that the people’s business has taken a permanent back seat to politics and division. Now, more than ever, we have to recognize the importance of bipartisan action.” [CNN]

UK ELECTION: “‘Corbyn surge’ in London faltered in ‘bagel belt’ suburbs with strong Jewish vote” by Robert Philpot: “As the elections results Friday showed a drift back to Labour that cost Theresa May’s Conservative Party its parliamentary majority and left May battered and discredited, British Jews seemed to move sharply in the opposite direction… Given the closeness of the result, Jewish voters, who are concentrated in a small number of highly marginal seats, may potentially have helped preserve May’s premiership. Early indications had predicted that – in line with its strong performance in the capital – Labour would pull off a number of upset victories in the north London “bagel belt”. Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon and Chipping Barnet were all slated to fall to Corbyn’s party.. Both were contested by leading lights in the Jewish Labour Movement who had faced criticism within the community for attempting to unseat pro-Israel Tory incumbents.” [ToI] • Zac Goldsmith bounces back to regain Richmond Park seat [ITV]

David Horovitz: “Humiliation of May, rise of Corbyn, make gloomy news for Jerusalem: Netanyahu has wanted to believe that political forces in many places worldwide are shifting in what he considers to be Israel’s favor. Not in the UK, they’re not.” [ToI]

Mike Granoff tweets: “Only upside: more English speaking Israelis soon.” [Twitter]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Teva has multibillion dollar drug [Globes] • Israeli tech firm turns parked car windows into video displays [Reuters] • Michael Cohen Pitched Investors For A Powerful Ukrainian Oligarch’s Company [BuzzFeed] • What’s the future of media? Ask BuzzFeed chairman and HuffPost co-founder Ken Lerer [Recode]

SPOTLIGHT: “Howard Schultz for President?” by Beth Kowitt: “Schultz has made it clear he’s concerned with the country’s direction… The Starbucks chairman is clearly focused on political developments. The day I interviewed him and [Kevin] Johnson in Schultz’s office, where photos of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy sit on the windowsill, the House was scheduled to vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Schultz asked a PR person twice in an hour whether the House had voted yet. Will he run for office? “I don’t have any plans to do that,” Schultz told me, and needless to say, that amounts to something less than a no. A politician couldn’t have said it better.”” [Fortune

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Rabbi Aaron Kotler talks Lakewood development, school funding during ‘Ask the Editor'” by Mike Davis: “Ten years ago, the township of Lakewood surpassed Trenton – the [NJ] state capital – in population. But over the last decade, township officials have been trying to keep up with a skyrocketing population using wildly outdated plans and policies, [Rabbi Aaron] Kotler said… But as for Lakewood residents leaving for the more rural pastures of Jackson, Toms River or Howell? That’s… because they’d grown tired of the city-like development…  But others move to Lakewood from apartment buildings in Brooklyn: For them, a townhouse or duplex is “rural,” Kotler said.” [APP]

MEDIA WATCH: “Vox’s Ezra Klein Explains it All” The editor in chief of Vox on why explaining policy is more important than ever” by Kara Bloomgarden-Smoke: “This is a very proud moment for journalism. I think The New York Times and The Washington Post are genuine champions in this moment. The role that they are playing in democracy is the role that you hear about journalism playing in civics classes. Other people are doing great work, but the Times and the Post have really been leaders. The public is watching, and they are hungry. They know something is wrong, there’s a lot of anxiety out there. There’s a real sense that the mission of journalism is very clear.” [WWD]

“America’s Descent Into Middle Eastern-Style Conspiracy-Theory Madness” by Lee Smith: “The American media has become just like the Arab press, consumed by savvy audiences not for the news it actually publishes but for the various pieces of information disclosed between the lines… What’s interesting here is the light this episode sheds on the modern conspiracy theory itself, the weaponized political narrative that began in Russia with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Thus it’s curious that the origins of the Kremlin Conspiracy can be found in the Kremlin itself… In a country of more than 300 million people, you can find a significant percentage of the population who will believe any wild story you can dream up—whether it’s Pizzagate, UFOs, Obama is a Kenyan Marxist, or the fact that Clinton lost because she was heavily criticized by a Russian television network that .001 percent of Americans watch.” [Tablet]

SPORTS BLINK: “Did LeBron James want Dan Gilbert to trade his ownership of the Cavaliers for the Detroit Pistons?” by Brian Manzullo: “So what I was told to me last night is … LeBron was willing to go back to Cleveland, but he wanted the Cavaliers’ ownership to buy the Pistons, and the Pistons’ ownership would take over the Cavaliers,” [Dan] Patrick said on his radio show… “[Tom] Izzo, friends with the guys who own the Pistons, they were then going to take over the Cavaliers. Dan Gilbert, who’s a Michigan guy, would get to then own the Pistons. And LeBron would then be able to play in Cleveland for the ownership of the Pistons as opposed to Dan (Gilbert).” [Freep]

“Patriots owner’s son piles onto the Jets misery” by Hannah Withiam: “Can’t the Patriots just let the Jets struggle in peace? The son of Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Josh, twisted the knife on the Jets’ already miserable offseason by boasting the Patriots’ history of success during a visit to the franchise’s Hall of Fame on Thursday. “It’s a lot better than the Jets’ Hall of Fame, which is nonexistent,” Josh Kraft commented at the event.” [NYPost]

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT — Nature vs. Nurture — The Dr. Mona Riklis Ackerman lecture Series on the Psychology of Philanthropy held its annual event last night at the NYU Kimmel Center. A Conversation on the Psychological Development of Philanthropy event included a high powered panel featuring Lisa Silverstein, Jacob Toll, Sarah Ojjeh and moderated by NYU professor Ed Seidman. This is the second installment in the series which last time featured Michael Steinhardt. The lecture series was established by Dr. Ackerman’s children – Bunk1 Founder Ari Ackerman and Dr. Gila Steinbock, in honor of their beloved mom who was a legend in NYC philanthropic circles. It celebrates her life and work as former clinical psychologist while acknowledging her position on the NYU faculty and a member of the NYU board of trustees.

Spotted: Ari Ackerman, Dr. Gila Steinbock, Lisa Silverstein, Jacob Toll, Columnist Richard Cohen, Patricia Duff, UJA President Jeff Schoenfeld, Ralph Lauren marketing director David Lauren, Sixty hotel owner Jason Pomeranc, AIPAC’s Jay Haberman, Marcia Riklis, David Gomberg, Lisa Ernst, Patricia Moran, Steven Gad, Adam Lowe.

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYStandup comedian Jackie Mason (born Yacov Moshe Maza) turns 89… Journalist for 30 years at CBS who then became the founding director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, Marvin Kalb turns 87… Retired Israeli diplomat Aviezer “Avi” Pazner turns 80… Author and founding editor of Ms. Magazine, mother of identical twin daughters, Robin Pogrebin and Abigail Pogrebin, Letty Cottin Pogrebin turns 78… British businessman, co-founder with his brother Maurice of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, noted for his art collection and for owning Saatchi Gallery, Charles Saatchi turns 74… Diplomat, Pentagon official, political writer, policy analyst, Shakespeare historian, he was national editor of Washingtonian magazine for more than 17 years, Kenneth Adelman turns 71… Founder and chairman of Commonwealth Financial Network (a broker/dealer network) and chairman of Southworth Development (golf and leisure business), Joseph Deitch turns 67… Professional mediator, previously a syndicated advice columnist in many Jewish newspapers (1995-2006), Wendy J. Belzberg turns 59… Formerly Israel’s military attache in DC (2005-09) who went on to become the IDF’s Chief of General Staff, Benjamin “Benny” Gantz turns 58… Producer, playwright and screenwriter, Aaron Benjamin Sorkin turns 56… Founder and CEO of Delve LLC, an opposition research firm for political campaigns, previously a White House Jewish liason (2005-2006), Jeff Berkowitz turns 38… Jerusalem born actress, producer and director, Natalie Portman turns 36… Online producer, writer and director, who together with his brother Benny, are best known for their React video series which have billions of YouTube views, Rafi Fine turns 34… Senior associate at DC-based Precision Strategies, Jeffrey Francis (Jeff) Solnet turns 25 (h/t Playbook)… Entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Team Brotherly Love and The Fine Companies, which includes NEU, sunglass company Glass-U, medical app Dosed, and Boston based tutoring firm NexTutors, Daniel Fine turns 24… Joe Biden’s Deputy Press Secretary (2014-2017), Stephen Spector… Craig Appelbaum

SATURDAYAuthor of award-winning books about her experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, Aranka Davidowitz Siegal turns 87… Emmy Award winning TV journalist who has worked for CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN and PBS, Jeff Greenfield turns 74… Strategic communications director at the Generation to Generation program powered by Encore[dot]org, Stefanie “Stef” Weiss turns 59… Former Attorney General and then Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer turns 58… President of Skokie-based Pharmore Drugs, Avi H. Goldfeder turns 58… Film, television and stage actress, singer and author, Gina Gershon turns 55… Executive director of NYC-based Encounter Programs, designed to transform communal engagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Yona Shem-Tov… Editor-in-Chief of The Algemeiner newspaper Dovid Efune… Cathy Miller… Melbourne native, now director of strategic partnerships at the Birthright Israel Foundation and director of community education at NYC’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, Rabbi Daniel Kraus turns 36…

SUNDAYHeir to the British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, minister in two British governments under prime ministers Major and Thatcher (1990-1994), Sir Timothy Alan Davan Sainsbury turns 85… Columbus, Ohio-based retail mogul, Chairman and CEO of American Eagle Outfitters, Value City Department Stores, DSW and others, sponsor of ArtScroll’s translation of the Babylonian Talmud, Jay Schottenstein turns 63… Hedge fund manager, now managing his own $13 billion net worth, Steven A. Cohen turns 61… Israeli politician who currently serves as a member of the Knesset for the Shas party, Yoav Ben-Tzur turns 59… VP of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Duke University, based at Duke’s DC center, Michael J. Schoenfeld turns 55… President of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami turns 55… White House Jewish liaison (technically, associate director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement) from 2013 to 2016, Matt Nosanchuk turns 52… Synagogue rabbi in Brooklyn and Perth Amboy, NJ in the 1990s, campus rabbi at UCLA, now national educational director for Olami Worldwide and founder of Shabbat[dot]com, Rabbi Benzion Zvi Klatzko turns 49… Chabad rabbi noted for his web based lectures, succeeded his father for some years as editor-in-chief of the Yiddish weekly Algemeiner Journal, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson turns 45… Israeli attorney Dana Naor Mande’el… Jennifer Rubin

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Daily Kickoff: Abbas aide says settlement freeze no longer a precondition for talks | Livni-Greenblatt ties | Preet & a Rabbi spotted at Comey hearing

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DRIVING THE DAY — THE COMEY SHOW: “Comey’s testimony could turn congressional probes toward question of obstruction” by Ed O’Keefe and Karoun Demirjian: “Barak Cohen, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice at Perkins Coie, said of Comey’s testimony: “There’s enough here to raise serious questions about whether obstruction occurred.” [WashPost

Norm Eisen, former WH ethics czar and a long time defense lawyer who got to know Comey while overseeing an FBI office as Ambassador, tells us… “Comey’s opening statement makes out a prima facie case of obstruction of justice, although that of course is not the same as a conclusive final case. It is the most damaging evidence of a president’s words since the Nixon tapes. But it leaves many questions unanswered. Expect Comey to address some of them today — it would not be like him to not have saved some surprises.”

SPOTTED AT THE HEARING: Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld sitting next to former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara [Pic]

Ari Fleischer‏: “Seems to me key headline is Comey confirming Trump is not under investigation. Isn’t that what collusion w/ Russia was all about?” [Twitter]

HEARD YESTERDAY — NJ Gov. Chris Christie on MSNBC with Nicolle Wallace: “I want to hear, and I think most people want to hear, from Jared Kushner. And he has said that he is absolutely willing to testify.” [MSNBC]

PRESSURE OFF SETTLEMENTS = PRESSURE ON PEACE: “Abbas Will Put Aside Settlement Halt for Peace Talks, Aide Says” by Jonathan Ferziger and Fadwa Hodali: “Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will temporarily shelve his long-standing demand for Israel to freeze West Bank settlement construction in order to revive peace talks under the Trump administration, a top adviser said… “We have not made the settlements an up-front issue this time,” [Mohammad Mustafa, Abbas’s senior economic adviser and former deputy prime minister,] said in an interview Monday… “We think it’s better for all of us right now to focus on giving this new administration a chance to deliver.” … Another high-ranking Abbas aide, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said Trump earned Palestinian confidence when he postponed moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.” [Bloomberg]

“Trump Middle East envoy deals with his own palace intrigue” by Jonathan Swan: “A narrative is catching on among pro-Israel hardliners that President Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, is getting too close politically to… [one of Israel’s opposition leaders] Tzipi Livni. The argument… is that Livni has become a “mentor” of sorts to Greenblatt… The (much more boring) reality: Greenblatt and Livni have met and spoken with each other but are hardly close. He met Livni for the first time on Friday March 24, when she visited Washington. Two administration sources with direct knowledge of the encounter said Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer also attended the meeting. Livni then joined Greenblatt for Shabbat dinner. Two days later Greenblatt met with Naftali Bennett, who leads Israel’s right-wing Jewish Home party, and on May 9 he had his second and final meeting with Livni. Dermer and the U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman both attended that second meeting.” [Axios]

“Have two ministers annexed Area C of the West Bank?” by Tovah Lazaroff: “Two ministers have discovered a loophole to apply the bulk of new Israeli laws to Area C of the West Bank without formally annexing the region to sovereign Israel. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin have instructed the Ministerial Legislative Committee to only debate government-sponsored bills that provide an option for residents of Judea and Samaria… The new measure, effective immediately, could be through legislation, military edicts or other provisions, said Shaked.” [JPost]

INBOX — Ron Lauder’s World Jewish Congress strongly supports the Taylor Force Act… “These bills will condition U.S. foreign assistance to the PA on its public condemnation of terrorism, it’s taking credible steps to investigate, punish and end acts of terror, and its terminating of payments to terrorists and their families. We applaud these leaders and all the co-sponsors for introducing and supporting these bills and urge all the members of the House and Senate, on both sides of the aisle, to pass them. Combating terrorism is not a partisan issue. We hope all the Senators and Representatives will support and pass the Taylor Force Act.”

ON THE HILL — Increasing Dem Support for Disapproving Saudi Arms Sale — by Aaron Magid: Senate Democrats are expressing growing concern over the Saudi Arabia arms agreement before today’s expected vote of disapproval introduced by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Al Franken (D-MN). Speaking from the Senate Subway yesterday, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) told Jewish Insider, that he will be joining Murphy and Paul in disapproval of the agreement. “I believe that the sale of those weapons will simply prolong humanitarian crisis rather than resolve it,” he said. Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-MD) also announced his support: “I have not been able to get satisfactory explanations from our administration in how they are monitoring the human rights issues in regards to the Saudis as well as their long term plans in arming the Middle East. This is part of a long range of arms sale,” Cardin told Jewish Insider. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) noted that he is “inclined to support” the resolution.

— On the Republican side, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), passionate advocates for human rights in the Middle East, explained why they would not support the resolution of disapproval. According to McCain, in order to fight Iran’s aggression, “I believe the best way to bring about progress is to continue the pressure that I have been exerting upon them for years.” Rubio stressed, “I hope it will be carefully monitored… I have a huge problem with Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. But, the pragmatism of the region is one of the considerations.” [JewishInsider]

Cardin Expresses Skepticism Over House Bill Targeting Qatar for Hamas Support — by Aaron Magid: Ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-MD) expressed concern over a bipartisan House legislation that would sanction Qatar for its ongoing financial support of Hamas. Cardin told Jewish Insider that there are numerous countries who are “strategic partners of ours that are doing things that we don’t like.” If Congress were to pass legislation sanctioning Qatar as the House bill proposes, Cardin explained, “I would be concerned about our policies as it relates to our strategic partners in the Gulf.” [JewishInsider]

MIDDLE EAST DIPLOMACY: “Trump Has Busy Day in Vortex of Middle East Relations” by David Sanger, Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt: “Rarely has the Trump administration spoken of Iran other than to condemn it as the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism and an aspiring nuclear weapons state. So when the White House woke on Wednesday to images of a possible Islamic State attack on Tehran, it prompted a sharp quandary: How does President Trump condemn the violence without seeming to embrace the victims? Several administration officials said it took most of the day for the White House to work out the terse, curt wording of a statement that sought to show sympathy for the Iranian public even as it pointedly suggested that the behavior of Tehran’s clerical leaders made its people a target… Mr. Trump wrote. “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.” [NYTimes]

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif responded: “Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients. Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship.” [Twitter]

IRAN SANCTIONS — “Russia sanctions talks leave Iran bill hanging in the balance” by Elana Schor: “Any failure to reach agreement on a Russia sanctions vote could cause trouble for the Iran sanctions bill to which it may get attached. [Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer warned Wednesday that without a deal to vote on punishing Russia, Democrats would find it “very difficult” to cast a vote on passage of the Iran bill, which some in their party wanted to delay in the wake of Wednesday terrorist attacks against Tehran… “We feel strongly that we need a tough, effective package of Russia sanctions to move alongside the Iran sanctions,” Schumer said on the floor Wednesday.” [Politico; USAToday

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on the Senate floor: “I have serious concerns about the sanctions on Iran contained in this bill. As we have heard from former Obama administration officials including Secretary Kerry and Ambassador Sherman, these measures could undermine the JCPOA, the very important nuclear agreement signed in 2015. Let us be aware that earlier today the people of Iran suffered a horrific terror attack in which 12 people were killed. The Islamic State has claimed credit for this attack. At a time when tensions are extremely high in that part of the world, our goal must be to find ways to bring people together to reduce tensions rather than to exacerbate this very painful and dangerous situation.” [YouTube] • Sanders, Feinstein call for delay in Iran sanctions vote after Tehran attack [Politico]

On Capitol Hill this morning, Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) sponsored a Congressional briefing titled: “50 years of Occupation & Life for Palestinian Children.” Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at the Human Rights Watch, and Nadia Ben-Youssef, Director of the Adalah Justice Project, were two of the invited speakers. Senior Foreign Policy advisor for Bernie Sanders, Matthew Duss, was also spotted among the packed crowd. The event is also sponsored by Defense for Children International-Palestine and American Friends Service Committee. Pocan has recently circulated a letter, also sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), calling for the dropping of all Israeli charges against a Palestinian named Issa Amro. [Pic]
 
SCENE YESTERDAY — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ambassador Ron Dermer, Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, House Speaker Paul Ryan addressed Israel’s control of an undivided Jerusalem during a first-ever bi-country event to mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. The event was broadcast live from the Knesset and Capitol Hill, simultaneously, along with watch parties in all 50 states. Ambassador Dermer thanked the Senate for passing a resolution that recognizes the 3 millennia Jewish presence in Jerusalem and reaffirms the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

In his speech, Knesset Speaker Edelstein said, “For the sake of Jerusalem, let us not remain silent. Let us promise that support for unified Jerusalem remains high on both sides of the aisle, across the political spectrum, and throughout the United States… I therefore call upon the Administration – follow the lead set by the House and Senate. Recognize Jerusalem as the official and unquestioned capital of the State of Israel. Bring your embassy to our capital.” PM Netanyahu did not directly address the administration’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Instead, he spoke about life in Jerusalem before the 1967 Six Day War. He also reiterated, “America has no better friend than Israel, and Israel surely has no better friend than the United States of America.” [YouTube

Spotted at the Capitol Hill event: Sheldon Adelson, Senator Lindsey Graham, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Ted Deutch, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Pastor John Hagee, Sandy Hagee Parker, Ralph Reed, Richard Sandler, David Harris, Richard Sandler, Jerry Silverman, William Daroff, Nathan Diament, Josh Block, Mike Makovsky, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Matt Brooks, Steve Rabinowitz, Brian Shankman, Elliot Brandt, Eddy Acevedo.

ACROSS THE POND: “Britain’s largest pro-Israel event this year is scrapped amid fears of another London terror attack” by Scott Campbell: “Britain’s largest pro-Israel event this year has been scrapped amid fears of another London terror attack. Organisers had sold 1,000 tickets for A Night to Honour Israel which sees Christians and Jews come together each year for a night of celebration and music. But they have been forced to cancel the event on the orders of security experts in both the US and UK in the wake of this week’s terror attack on London Bridge and last month’s Manchester bombing… But a pro-Palestinian event organised by the Friends of Al-Aqsa is still set to go ahead at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster next month.” [DailyMail

UK ELECTION DAY: “Labour-supporting banner showing Theresa May wearing Star of David earrings removed after complaints of anti-Semitism” by Natasha Clark: “Labour supporters have been forced to take down a giant banner showing Theresa May wearing Star of David earrings – after it was slammed as being anti-Semitic… The banners were unveiled yesterday – but have already been taken down… Local Labour candidate Thangham Debbonaire, who is seeking re-election in Bristol West, denounced the banner and said anti-Semitism had no place in the party. She said in a statement on Facebook: “There is no excuse for this. It is anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism has absolutely no place in our party and I will not tolerate it.”” [TheSun] • Jewish Conservatives expected to sweep their constituencies in UK general elections [ToI]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Paul Singer Says System May Be More Leveraged Than 2008 [Bloomberg] • George Soros confident he’ll ‘prevail’ against detractors [WashPost] The Fishman Debt: Is Israel’s Bank Hapoalim Playing Tough or Playing for Time? [Haaretz] • How was Israeli ‘tycoon’ allowed to rack up $1.13b debt to the banks? One word, say critics: Corruption [ToI] • China Defends Arrest of Men Investigating Ivanka Trump’s Shoe Supplier [Time] • The Real Estate Start-Up Jared Kushner Co-Founded Is Now Worth $800 Million [VanityFair] • Crescent Heights lists development site on Alton Road for $9M [TRD] • Douglas Development pitches hotel in Mount Vernon Triangle [Bizjournals] • Ari Horowitz — who is the executive chairman of the String app, a local discovery app — lists penthouse for $30,000/month [NYPost] • WeWork has acquired venture-backed Fieldlens [TC] • Microsoft agrees to buy U.S.-Israeli cyber firm Hexadite [Reuters]

“Who did President Trump bring onstage during his Cincinnati speech?” by James Leggate“President Donald Trump interrupted his speech at Rivertowne Marina Wednesday to invite a pair of New York City real estate developers onstage. Steven Roth of Vornado Realty Trust and Richard LeFrak will have a role as advisors in Trump’s infrastructure plan… “These are great builders, and we’re watching and they’re looking over our shoulders,” Trump said… Roth has partnered on projects with Trump, co-owning a pair of properties worth hundreds-of-millions of dollars. Vornado also has invested in a real estate project with the business owned by the family of Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. LeFrak is a longtime friend of Trump and a member at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club.” [WCPO]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “This Email Startup Wants You To Go Shopping In Your Inbox” by Pavithra Mohan: “An eBay newsletter that employs RebelMail’s technology, for example, allows subscribers to take quizzes within the body of the email, while Home Depot customers can now fill out reviews for products they’ve purchased without leaving their email—a change that Rebel founder Joe Teplow says has nearly doubled the number of reviews submitted. In terms of e-commerce, RebelMail also offered the ability to “add to cart.” Teplow cited the example of an Old Navy email that would let customers view photos of a product, choose the desired color and size, and then add the item to their shopping bag… But one of the biggest challenges, according to Teplow, is convincing email marketers… that keeping people in an email for longer, without necessarily encouraging them to click through, is a good idea.” [FastCompanyTC]

HOLLYWOOD: “Israel’s TV Producers Become Heavy Hitters in Exporting Shows” by Ethan Bronner: “Fauda illustrates the transformation of Israeli television from a purveyor of treacly drama and embarrassing slapstick into a high-octane content machine. In the past few years, networks worldwide have picked up dozens of series that originated in Israel—Homeland and In Treatment among them—placing the country of 8 million among the world’s top producers of shows. “Israel is up there with the best,” says Walter Iuzzolino, who runs a British streaming service of foreign shows called Walter Presents. “Their stuff is emotionally poignant, three-dimensional, and never boring.” [Bloomberg]

“How the Jewish identity of ‘Wonder Woman’s’ star is causing a stir” by Sarah Pulliam: Bailey: “[Gal] Gadot’s identity has been noted across Jewish media, including the Jewish Journal, which examined the Jewish essence of her character. “It isn’t just a triumph for women that the new savior of the world is female; it is a triumph for the Jews,” Danielle Berrin wrote… People will politicize anything connected to Israel, said Deborah Lauter, Anti-Defamation League’s senior vice president of policy and programs, but the timing of the film comes during the anniversary of Israel’s Six-Day War, which tripled the land under Israeli control. “Anti-Semites will exploit a current event like this,” she said. “They latch onto the popular trend and try to gain legitimacy by talking about it.” … “Wonder Woman” resurfaced debates over Jews and intersectionality, said Yair Rosenberg, senior writer for Tablet Magazine. Jews have been the only white people white supremacists target, but Jews are seen as white privileged and part of the problem, he said. “Everyone who has preconceived views about Israelis will project them onto the film,” he said. “People will use this to hang their hat on certain issues.”” [WashPost]

DESSERT: Which Ice Cream Brand Is Big, Gay — And Defiantly Kosher?” by Michelle Honig: “Kosher ice cream lovers have a lot to celebrate this Pride month, specifically in the form of a pint of Big Gay Ice Cream. That’s because when the ice cream truck-turned-brick-and-mortar shop decided to package its popular soft serve to be sold nationally, it sought and received kosher certification. The pints… are officially under the auspices of the kashrut division of… the OU.” [Forward]

“This Muslim-owned Jewish deli is one of Brooklyn’s best-kept (open) secrets” by Yaakov Schwartz: “Just out of reach of a halo of boutique doughnut shops and yuppie-centric taco stands is David’s Brisket House – sandwiched, as it were, between the gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy… The restaurant’s name itself is somewhat of a misnomer: For one thing, it’s not owned by a David, and the brisket itself, while good, is nothing to write home about. In fact, the deli belongs to Riyadh Gazali, a Yemeni Muslim, and it’s the corned beef and pastrami that are the stars — arguably as good as New York’s famous deli meccas, Katz’s or Ben’s… But while the closet-sized restaurant continues to pump out the Jewish classics as it has for decades, the once-kosher meat is now hallal.” [ToI]

BIRTHDAYS: Businesswoman, friend of Ivanka and Jared, art collector and editor, married to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, Dasha Zhukova turns 36… South African businessman and philanthropist, formerly the Chairman of De Beers, Nicky Oppenheimer turns 72… Denver-based chief marketing officer at Layer3 TV, previously the head of social media at United Talent Agency, Eric J. Kuhn turns 30… Offensive tackle for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, Hebrew name “Mendel,” Mitchell Schwartz turns 28… Comedian and actor, originally of the comedy team of Stiller and Meara, later of both Seinfeld and King of Queens, Jerry Stiller turns 90… Hebrew University mathematics professor and Nobel Prize laureate in Economics, Robert Aumann turns 87… Long-time Republican member of the Ohio State Senate (1967-1996), the last 7 years of which he served as Senate President, Stanley J. Aronoff turns 85… Founder of the Family Dollar Stores chain of discount stores in 1959, he remained chairman and CEO until 2003, Leon Levine turns 80… Guru of alternative, holistic and integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil turns 75…

Hedge fund founder and manager, founder of the Paloma Funds and New China Capital Management, board member of Carnegie Hall, Selwyn Donald Sussman turns 71… Detective novelist, best known for creating the character of V.I. Warshawski, Sara Paretsky turns 70… The Juilliard School’s classical pianist, teacher and performer, Emanuel Ax (child of Holocaust survivors) turns 68… Community affairs coordinator at UCLA’s Leve Center for Jewish Studies, awarded a Ph.D. in Social Ethics from USC, Mary Enid Pinkerson turns 66… Member of Knesset since 2015 from the Zionist Union party, professor at Ben-Gurion University, Yosef “Yossi” Yona turns 64… Journalist, stand-up comedian, author, cartoonist, blogger and occasional commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Aaron Freeman turns 61… Assistant Vice President for Campaign at the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Patti Frazin turns 56…

Moscow-born, living in the US since 1976, a major figure in the Russian energy sector, lead director of UK-based L1 Energy, co-founder and CEO of the Genesis Prize Foundation, Stan Polovets turns 54… Winner of many Emmy and SAG awards, star of the long-running TV series “The Good Wife,” Julianna Margulies turns 51… Actor and screenwriter, married to the sister of baseball executive Theo Epstein, Daniel Paul “Dan” Futterman turns 50… Former Congresswoman, survivor of an assassination attempt near Tucson in 2011, Gabrielle Giffords turns 47… Actor, starred in USA Network’s “Royal Pains,” Mark Feuerstein turns 46… Deputy Chief of Staff for Charlie Baker, the Governor of Massachusetts, Michael Emanuel Vallarelli turns 38… Rabbinic fellow in the inaugural cohort of the Jewish Emergent Network at DC’s historic Sixth & I Synagogue, Suzy Stone turns 37… Michael Fishberg

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