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Daily Kickoff: Live from Forbes Summit in Israel | Amb David Friedman could temper Trump | Jonathan Haidt on campus rage | Banksy spotted in Herzliya

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ON LOCATION — We’re live from the Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem this week. Congrats to Seth Cohen and Randall Lane, along with the Schusterman and Singer Foundations, on bringing the Forbes Summit back to Israel for another year. Speakers today included Sir Ronald Cohen, Tinder’s Sean Rad, model Ashley Graham, and Hapoel Jerusalem’s Amar’e Stoudemire. [Forbes]

Drone view of Tel Aviv — JI reader Josh Lauder provided a quick aerial view of the Forbes Summit today by the beach [YouTube] • See Josh’s other work here [Vimeo]

We caught up with Chemi Peres earlier today who explained the importance of having the Forbes Summit in Israel: “I think this is an inspiring nation. I think the story of Israel is inspiring because it’s really a country that started as a nation of science and technology from its very beginning, from its inception, and I think Israel serves in a way as a model for many other countries and societies that want to build their future based on entrepreneurship and innovation. In my view, innovation represents the future, and it represents also the optimism and the ability to realize great dreams. So I think that by coming here – plus the fact that this is a vibrant city that is very dynamic and alive, and very suitable for the young generation – this is a country that has been founded and built by young people. So this is the best place to connect and draw the inspiration for young people as they are building their future.”

In September, Chemi is publishing the final book from his father Shimon Peres — No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination, and the Making of Modern Israel … so we asked Chemi what his own big dream is: “My dream is that the visions I have been reading about from the days of the Bible through many great people, including my father (Shimon Peres), would be realized and that is that we live in a world that is free of anger, that is free of discrimination, that is offering equal rights and equal opportunities… And I believe that with technology and innovation you can actually do that… I always like to quote what I heard from President [Bill] Clinton. He said that too many people are doing too much work in order to make sure that bad things do not happen, but very few people are doing very good things in order to make sure good things happen. And I think that as we are transitioning into a new era, I think more and more people will focus on making sure good things happen. That is a vision, that is a dream that I would like to be realized – and peace, of course, is in the heart of it.”

SPOTTED — Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Noah Pollak enjoying lunch this past Friday at Char Bar in DC.

FIRST LOOK — SPECIAL ELECTION WATCH: “The Trump-Hate Weather Vane” by Olivia Nuzzi: “And so Republicans are watching, including rather powerful ones. “[Jon] Ossoff running smart campaign,” Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, told me in a text. A White House official close to him said he’s preoccupied with what’s happening some 600 miles south of Pennsylvania Avenue. “It’s something that I’m tracking specifically for Bannon,” the official said, “and keeping an eye on, following all the polls, following the kind of narrative out there…” On paper, Ossoff seems great to Democrats: He’s an overachieving millennial who looks like a cross between Gumby and Justin Trudeau and who speaks slowly and deliberately in a way that can remind you of Barack Obama, something he’s been told before… At Pour Bistro in Atlanta, Ossoff was introduced by a supporter as “the Ayatollah of the Sixth District,” and he appeared to hold back a grimace. “Hopefully that won’t become a famous moment,” he told the crowd, which laughed in response — perhaps not quite as worried about that as Ossoff is.” [NYMag]  

“Did a Democratic congressional hopeful inflate his national security credentials?” by Glenn Kessler: “Ossoff is just 30, but he had pitched himself as having had five years of experience as a “former national security aide” and holding a “top-secret clearance.” He has cut ads that show him standing in what appears to be a national security situation room or entering a vault assessed only by a code… Ossoff is pushing the envelope by referring to his “top-secret security clearance” in almost the same breath.” [WashPost

“Meet the Obama Holdovers Who Survived Trump’s Sweep” by Mark Landler: “For [Yael] Lempert… the appeal to Mr. Trump’s advisers was her experience in the complex, trap-filled world of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Her colleagues say she is well connected on both sides and is viewed as an honest broker… Lempert, who is Jewish and also served in the Bush administration, played a major role in negotiating a $38 billion military aid package for Israel on behalf of the Obama administration. Still, after reports surfaced that Mr. Netanyahu’s aides were suspicious of her involvement in the talks, the prime minister’s office felt obliged to issue a statement saying it had no objection to her… She declined to comment, as did colleagues from the Obama administration. Some said they worried that praise from them would hurt her with her new bosses.” [NYTimes]

Galei Tzahal report:“During one meeting in the Prime Minister’s Office, they pulled out maps of Israel and spoke about specific towns in order to explain to [Jason Greenblatt where they would put a new town for Amona’s expellees… Yael Lempert said, “The town of Kida isn’t mentioned here – you’ve forgotten it.” Those who were in the room with her were stunned by her familiarity with the topic.” [INN

THE FRIEDMAN EFFECT: “Controversial U.S. ambassador to Israel could temper Trump” by Katie Glueck: “[David] Friedman is comfortable being direct with the president in a way that might be challenging for newer members of the Trump orbit… “In the few places in life the president has been vulnerable, David has been by his side,” said one source who has known Friedman for years… “Mr. Trump very much relies upon people he trusts. He trusts David. David’s very close with Mr. Kushner, with Mrs. Kushner,” [Phil] Rosen said, referring to Ivanka Trump. “That will also reflect itself in how people deal with him. It’s going to be very much a positive for his job because of his closeness. It will reflect itself in how seriously they take him.” … “It’s very likely that an ambassador with a close relationship to President Trump would retain that voice,” said [former Ambassador Daniel] Shapiro, who has such a relationship with Obama. “It’s not the same as sitting in the White House and being part of the conversation day in, day out.” [McClatchyDC]

NIKKI HALEY WATCH: “Trump’s U.N. ambassador emerges as fierce but unnuanced voice on foreign policy” by Anne Gearan: “Her fierce public denunciation of what she calls the ritualized “bashing of Israel” at the United Nations has made her a darling of many U.S. supporters of Israel, especially on the political right. She got a rock-star welcome when she addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s meeting in Washington last week. “I think they’re a little lukewarm,” former George W. Bush adviser Dan Senor quipped as he introduced Haley to thunderous applause at AIPAC… Haley is expected to focus on U.N. treatment of Israel… when the United States holds the rotating leadership of the Security Council this month. On Israel, Haley has drawn criticism from longtime Mideast experts for what many see as an unnuanced view of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” [WashPost] • Haley eclipses Tillerson on Trump’s foreign policy ladder [Politico]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Ambassador Haley on ABC’s “This Week” program: “We’ve changed the Israel bias that’s happening at the United Nations by making sure that we call out anyone that focuses on that as opposed to focusing on the conflict. We made sure that a ridiculous report that came out comparing Israel to apartheid state, we had that report pulled down, the director resigned.”

HAPPENING TODAY: President Trump will host Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi for lunch and bilateral talks at the White House. According to a report by Israel’s national radio, citing the Dubai-based al-Khaleej Times, Sisi and King Abdullah of Jordan – who will be meeting with Trump on Wednesday – will present Trump with a framework for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, based on the two state solution.

PRESIDENT-IN-LAW: “Jared Kushner Visits Iraq on Invitation From Joint Chiefs Chairman” by Maggie Haberman:“A senior administration official confirmed the visit, saying that Mr. Kushner, 36, who serves as a senior adviser to Mr. Trump, was invited by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff… Mr. Kushner is also taking the lead in preparing the West Wing for Mr. Trump’s meeting this week with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, at Mar-a-Lago.” [NYTimes]

“Inside the Kushner channel to China” by Josh Rogin: “The Kushner channel was established shortly after the election with the help of former secretary of state Henry Kissinger… In mid-November, Kissinger met Kushner, national security adviser designate Michael Flynn and the president-elect at Trump Tower. Trump asked Kissinger to travel to Beijing and deliver a verbal message to Xi saying that everything was on the table in terms of bilateral cooperation. Kissinger met Xi in Beijing on Dec. 2… Inside the administration, there’s concern Kushner is too eager to warm relations with China. He is seen as allied in that effort with other top officials, including economic adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.” [WashPost• China Learns How to Get Trump’s Ear: Through Jared Kushner [NYTimes

“Kushner’s privileged status stokes resentment in White House” by Josh Dawsey, Ken Vogel and Alex Isenstadt: “One pro-Israel operative who works with the administration said “there were high hopes” that Kushner… “was a guy who really understood our community” when Trump tapped him as a point person on the Middle East. But, the operative said, those hopes mostly have been supplanted by “deep concern that Jared is not the person we thought he was — that this guy who is supposed to be good at everything is totally out of his depth.” Influential Jewish Republicans including the mega-donor casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson lobbied Kushner to convince Trump to appoint prominent neoconservative foreign policy hand Elliott Abrams as the No. 2 official in Foggy Bottom and to remove Michael Ratney…”

“On Abrams, Kushner “got outmaneuvered by Bannon and couldn’t turn it around,” said a leading neoconservative who has spoken to both Kushner and Adelson in recent weeks. The leader added that, despite the attendance of Vice President Mike Pence at this week’s conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, Kushner’s absence was noted by attendees, who questioned the administration’s Israel policy and Kushner’s role in it.” [Politico

“Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Still Benefiting From Business Empire, Filings Show” by Jesse Drucker, Eric Lipton and Maggie Haberman: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner… will remain the beneficiaries of a sprawling real estate and investment business still worth as much as $740 million, despite their new government responsibilities, according to ethics filings released by the White House Friday night. Ms. Trump will also maintain a stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The hotel… has drawn protests from ethics experts who worry that foreign governments or special interests could stay there in order to curry favor with the administration… [Gary] Cohn is far wealthier, with assets valued between $253 million and $611 million, and income last year as high as $77 million. Another White House official, Reed Cordish, who heads up technology initiatives, accumulated assets as a Maryland developer valued as high as $424 million.” [NYTimes

— “[Jason] Greenblatt, a former Trump Organization lawyer advising the president on Middle East policy, listed assets of more than $1.4 million. Many of the holdings were stock mutual funds. He made $1.02 million last year at the Trump Organization.” [AP]

“After Trump Request, Netanyahu Formulating Goodwill Gestures Toward Palestinians” by Barak Ravid: “There are no limitations on construction in Jerusalem, but we will need to act wisely,” [Netanyahu] told ministers… In addition, Netanyahu informed the security cabinet a decision had been made to limit the activities of the highest-level planning committee of the IDF’s Civil Administration, which approves building plans for the settlements… At Sunday’s Likud ministerial meeting Monday morning, [Yoav] Horowitz, who manages communications with the White House on the issue of the settlements, said that originally the Americans had requested a complete freeze in construction. “It started from zero,” Horowitz told the ministers. “The result we reached was much better.” Prime Minister Netanyahu said in response: “I won’t go into it here, but you don’t know how right he is.”” [Haaretz]

“White House says no ‘formal negotiations’ with Israel on settlements” by Eric Cortellessa: “I would dissuade you from the notion that there is some set of formal negotiations regarding settlements,” the [WH] official said. “We continuously discuss a range of issues, including how to improve the overall climate.” [ToI]  

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: In case we thought that the IBC crisis is behind us, we should think again. The devil is always in the details: As the Justice Ministry and the Finance Ministry are diving into the little details of the agreement reached between PM Netanyahu and Finance Minister Kahlon last week, many potential stumbling blocks are emerging – such as budget constraints and timetable limits… Two petitions were submitted this morning to the Supreme Court demanding a freeze of any implementation of the agreement. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

** 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: Israel’s medical marijuana pioneers look to cash in on $20bn market [TheGuardian]  Israel’s Elbit Systems U.S. unit wins $50 million Navy contract [Reuters• After sale to Intel, Mobileye’s founder raises sights on IPO for OrCam [Reuters] • Peretti Siblings Share a Sense of Humor, Not Just Genes [NYTimes]

SPOTLIGHT: “Ebay Entrepreneur Sells Millions In Mens Suits Online And Off” by Marcia Layton Turner: “From used clothing at thrift stores, he moved to new clothes sold at discount retailers like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. “If TJ Maxx and Marshall’s can sell it and make a profit, then so can I,” [Marty] Babayov thought. And he did. Then Babayov expanded his new merchandise acquisition even farther, into department store liquidations. He would buy up last season’s merchandise at a deep discount and sell it on eBay for a profit. During college, he would arrange to buy up store returns and his mother would ship them to him so he could list and sell them from wherever he was.” [Forbes]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Messy web of ties, some to Trump, in Turkish mogul’s case” by Josh Lederman: “Last month Trump fired Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney who launched the case against [Reza] Zarrab, as part of a purge of Obama-era prosecutors… Bharara’s possible replacement: [Michael] Mukasey’s son, Marc Mukasey, who is frequently mentioned as a contender. That could put the younger Mukasey in charge of prosecuting the man his father has been trying to set free.” [AP]

CAMPUS BEAT: “Jonathan Haidt on the Cultural Roots of Campus Rage ” by Bari Weiss: “Down the hall from Mr. Haidt’s office, I noticed a poster advertising a “bias response hotline” students can call “to report an experience of bias, discrimination or harassment.” I joke that NYU seems to have its own version of the morality police in Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia. “It’s like East Germany,” Mr. Haidt replies—with students, at least some of them, playing the part of the Stasi… Combine that with the universities’ shift to a “customer is always right” mind-set. Add in social media. Suddenly it’s “very, very easy to bring mobs together,” Mr. Haidt says, and make “people very afraid to stand out or stand up for what they think is right.” Students and professors know, he adds, that “if you step out of line at all, you will be called a racist, sexist or homophobe. In fact it’s gotten so bad out there that there’s a new term—‘ophobophobia,’ which is the fear of being called x-ophobic.”

“In 2015 Haidt founded Heterodox Academy, which describes itself as “a politically diverse group of social scientists, natural scientists, humanists, and other scholars” concerned about “the loss or lack of ‘viewpoint diversity’ ” on campuses. As Mr. Haidt puts it to me: “When a system loses all its diversity, weird things begin to happen.” [WSJ

“The most powerful Briton in America on what it’s really like in Donald Trump’s White House” by Ruth Sherlock: “”First I am an Islamophobe, then I’m an anti-Semite, then I am a fascist. Next I am going to be a Martian, you know, subversive.” [Sebastian] Gorka is referring to the allegation that he is a member of the Vitézi Rend, a Hungarian organisation that the US government designated as “under Nazi control” during the  Second World War… I suggest that, given the organisation’s controversial history, Gorka may want to disavow the group. He bristles slightly. He’s genuinely offended by the insinuation that he could be anti-Semitic. “It’s disgusting. It’s all bogus,” he tells me. “But this is a hatchet job… And I am proud of my father’s legacy. They,” he says, referring to the forces he believes to be conspiring against Trump, are “trying to build parallels” between him and Hungary’s nationalist leader Admiral Miklós Horthy, who established Vitézi Rend.” [Telegraph

SUPER SPOTTED — “Woman claims she has caught the elusive artist Banksy on camera for the first time at an exhibition of his art in Israel” by Alice Evans: “The world’s most famous street artist recently opened an interactive exhibition at a hotel in Bethlehem. But a witness claimed she filmed him days before at an art show at a shopping mall curated by his former manager in nearby Israel. The Israeli exhibition, The Art of Banksy, is due to open in the Arena mall in Herzliya Marina, not far from Tel Aviv.” [DailyMail]

WEEKEND WEDDING — Hadas Gold, Christopher Hooton: “Ms. Gold, 29, who will continue to use her name professionally, works in Washington as a media reporter for the political news website Politico… She is a daughter of Daphna Gold and Yoram Gold of Scottsdale… Her mother is a Hebrew teacher at Pardes Jewish Day School, also in Scottsdale. Mr. Hooton, 31, is the chief economist for the Internet Association in Washington. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami and received a master’s degree with distinction in local economic development from the London School of Economics… The couple met through mutual friends in January 2012, at a party in Washington.” [NYTimes

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT IN NYC — The American Sephardi Federations honored André Azoulay, Councillor to King Mohammed VI of Morocco, at the 20th Sephardic Jewish Film Festival’s Opening Night Pomegranate Award Ceremony in Manhattan.

SPOTTED: Mostafa Terrab, Chairman & Chief Executive of OCP in Morocco; Tony Marks, President of the NY Public Library; Conference of Presidents’ Steven Greenberg, former US Ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsburg; Sir Charles Dahan, VP of the World Federation of Moroccan Jewry; Center for Jewish History’s Joel Levy, Kivvunim’s Peter Geffen, ASF’s Jason Guberman-Pfeffer, and Yoel Lefkowitz.

Ted Cutler, premier arts patron in Boston, dies at 86: “Mr. Cutler was a musician who became a patron of the arts, an entrepreneur whose success deepened his community activism. His philanthropy addressed hunger and health care, education issues and Jewish causes — and even the cost of holiday lights for trees along the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. “People said, ‘Why did a Jewish couple put the lights on Commonwealth Avenue?’ The answer was because we care about the city,” he said in 2010, after his wife died.” [BostonGlobe]

BIRTHDAYS: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who held a series of escalating posts at The New York Times from 1952 until 2000, including as executive editor (1986-1994), Max Frankel turns 87… Democratic political strategist, campaign manager, field director and consultant, founder in 2014 of GenderAvenger, a campaign to promote gender equality in public forums, Gina Glantz turns 74… Sociologist and research professor of Jewish social policy at HUC-JIR and director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at Stanford University, Steven M. Cohen turns 67… Member of the Los Angeles City Council since 2009, previously a three-term member of the California State Assembly (2000-2006), Paul Koretz turns 62… Director of the Strategic Studies Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University, contributing editor of The Atlantic, Eliot A. Cohen turns 61… Singer, songwriter and music producer, originally recording music for children on the Disney Channel, more recently producing and peforming Jewish-themed songs, Craig Reid Taubman turns 59… Jazz pianist, arranger and composer, best known for his film and television scores, James Gelfand turns 58…

Rabbi, author, speaker and dean at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, Bradley Shavit Artson turns 58… CEO of Phase 2 Media, former Chairman of the Fox Television Entertainment Group, Sandy Grushow turns 57… Member of the Knesset for Likud, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Minister of Environmental Protection, Ze’ev Elkin turns 46… Award-winning Israeli classical pianist who currently lives in NYC, Ran Dank turns 35… Televison and film actress (active 1996-2010), now pursuing a career in fashion design, Amanda Bynes turns 31… Actress, comedian, singer, writer, producer and songwriter, Rachel Bloom turns 30… Professional tennis player currently on the WTA Tour, she defeated Serena Williams at the Auckland Classic in 1-2017, Madison Brengle turns 27… Tech entrepreneur and fellow of the inaugural cohort of Core 18, Eva Sasson turns 25… Midwest regional director of AIPAC, Daniel Goldwin… Harry Cohen… Nathan Guttman

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Daily Kickoff: Lacking agreement with Trump, Israel approves settlement | Rep. Rooney interview | ‘Kosher Nostra’ fools Hollywood | Barney Frank BDay

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TOP TALKER: “Israel Approves First New Settlement in Decades” by Isabel Kershner: “Mr. Netanyahu said he was following through on a pledge he made a few weeks ago to 40 settler families who were evacuated from the illegal Amona outpost in the West Bank… Some analysts have speculated that the move could be a one-off gesture meant to appease settlement advocates before Mr. Netanyahu acquiesces to the Trump administration’s call for restraint, part of its push to revive long-stalled peace talks.” [NYTimes]

WH official reacted to Israel’s announcement: “President Trump has publicly and privately expressed his concerns regarding settlements. As the administration has made clear: while the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace, further unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance peace. The Israeli government has made clear going forward, its intent is to adopt a policy regarding settlement activity that takes the President’s concerns into consideration.”

“With regards to the new settlement for Amona residents, we would note that the Israeli Prime Minister made a commitment to Amona settlers prior to President Trump laying out his expectations… We will continue to work with Israelis and Palestinians, and other players in the region, to create a climate that is conducive to peace. We hope that the parties will take reasonable actions moving forward that create a climate that is conducive to peace.”

“U.N. chief alarmed by Israel’s approval of new settlement” by Michelle Nichols: “United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is disappointed and alarmed by Israel’s decision to build a new settlement in occupied Palestinian territory, his spokesman said on Friday.” [Reuters]

At the same time… “Netanyahu to slow down settlement activity in effort to appease Trump” by Ruth Eglash: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed his cabinet Thursday evening that Israel will slow down its settlement activity in the West Bank, out of respect for President Trump.” [WashPost; Haaretz]

KAFE KNESSET — Smotrich, the killjoy — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: “Every party has a party pooper, and for the right, it’s Bayit Yehudi’s firebrand Bezalel Smotrich. Smotrich called the cabinet’s decision “very disturbing,” because, he said, judging from experience with Netanyahu, it probably won’t go anywhere. Smotrich added that since Trump’s election, the planning board for the West Bank was not called, so that any plans the Prime Minister authorized in recent months remain just that – plans. The left, of course, is unhappy with the whole thing. Labor MK Amir Peretz – who, in a blast from the past, is running for head of the party later this year – said that Netanyahu is leading Israel to a one-state solution, and that he should start packing his bags to leave office. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

COMING NEXT MONTH: President Trump will meet with the leaders of Israel’s neighboring countries Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority in April. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and King Abdullah II of Jordan (for the second time – Trump and Abdullah briefly met at the National Prayer Breakfast in Feb.) will visit the White house next week. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with the President in mid-April.

Politico profiles the Palestinian’s man in Washington: “Working for President [Abbas] the last couple of years, and being very close to him, allows me to understand his logic and strategy and to have a direct channel to him, and to be trusted by him is a crucial thing in Washington,” Husam Zomlot said. As with all things Palestinian, the Israeli comparison was not long in coming, and he mentioned the man known as “Bibi’s brain”— Israel’s powerful ambassador to Washington. “Remember, Ron Dermer is a very close friend of Netanyahu and almost every ambassador in power there has a direct link [back to the Israeli Prime Minister].” … For now, though, Zomlot is hopeful that a new wind is blowing in Washington, and that… Trump will play an active role. “I have a feeling President Trump wants it [a peace deal] more than Netanyahu. Way more than Netanyahu,” Zomlot said.” [PoliticoMag]

“Trump Admin to Host Convicted Palestinian Terrorist Despite Outrage” by Adam Kredo: “The State Department confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon late Thursday that it intends to permit Jibril Rajoub, secretary of the Fatah Central Committee, to participate in meetings with U.S. officials next week… “The U.S. government does not endorse every statement Mr. Rajoub has made, but he has long been involved in Middle East peace efforts, and has publicly supported a peaceful, non-violent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the official told the Free Beacon.” [FreeBeacon

“Trump meets with Condoleezza Rice” by Jeremy Diamond: “The former top administration official under President George W. Bush met Trump in the Oval Office after first sitting down with Vice President Mike Pence. Trump’s tête-a-tête Friday with Rice, their first publicly known meeting, also follows Trump’s repeated criticism on the campaign trail of the Iraq War and the neoconservative thinking that mired the US in the trillion-dollar war.” [CNN]

JI INTERVIEW – Congressman Francis Rooney (R-FL) discussed about his work in Congress and how it feels being a close ally of the Bush family Washington, DC in the Trump era. Rooney was appointment as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican by President George W. Bush, where he served from 2005-2008. His company, Rooney Holdings Inc., donated more than $2 million to Jeb Bush’s campaign for President.

On Rooney’s foreign affairs page of his website, the former Ambassador to the Vatican places Israel as his top issue. “We need to publicly reaffirm that Israel is a beacon of democracy and capitalism and freedom in an area that doesn’t have much of any of those things,” Rooney told Jewish Insider in a sit-down interview with Aaron Magid. “It wouldn’t bother me a bit to move that Embassy just to show them,” he added when calling for the moving of the US diplomatic post from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He was especially struck by the 2006 Lebanon War when Rooney served as Ambassador. “Hezbollah took it to an all new level by taking all kinds of children and women and sticking them in those hospitals when they had their arms cached beneath them and there was no choice but to take them out,” he explained. Read the full interview here [JewishInsider

TRUMP TUMULT: “2 White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports” by Matthew Rosenberg, Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman: “Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis… Mr. Cohen-Watnick is a former Defense Intelligence Agency official who was originally brought to the White House by Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser. The officials said that this month, shortly after Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter about being wiretapped on the orders of President Barack Obama, Mr. Cohen-Watnick began reviewing highly classified reports detailing the intercepted communications of foreign officials… Officials say Mr. Cohen-Watnick has been reviewing the reports from his fourth-floor office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where the National Security Council is based.” [NYTimes; WashPost]

“Devin Nunes and the Tragedy of the Russia Inquiry” by Eli Lake: “Another U.S. official familiar with the affair told me that… Ezra Cohen-Watnick did not play a role in getting information to Nunes. This official said Cohen-Watnick had come upon the reports while working on a review of recent Justice Department rules that made it easier for intelligence officials to share the identities of U.S. persons swept up in surveillance. He turned them over to White House lawyers.” [BloombergView

ON THE HILL —  Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) tells Jewish Insider he has no regrets on coming out so harshly against the Trump Administration’s dealing with the rise of anti-Semitism after the arrest of an Israeli Jew who was behind some of the JCC bomb threats: “I think it’s fair to say that the President and his campaign contributed to an atmosphere that made this more likely,” Nadler told JI’s Aaron Magid yesterday. “Anti-Semitism is far worse than these threats, the whole atmosphere, people were probably anti-Semitic to start with, coming out feeling more free to express it. The fact that one guy is Jewish has no bearing to that.”

SPOTLIGHT: “U.N. looks for Trump foreign policy hints from tough-talking envoy” by Michelle Nichols: “The diplomat said that on Iran and North Korea: “The tone might be just slightly tougher, but the substance is almost identical (to the previous administration).” Haley has said that while it would be difficult to reimpose sanctions on Iran that were removed under a 2015 deal with world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, the United States is “going to watch them like a hawk.” … Haley said this week that during her first two months she dampened “Israel-bashing” at the United Nations… “There is a gap between her tough public posturing, designed for domestic consumption, and her positions within the U.N. … She will have to close this visible gap,” said a third Security Council diplomat.” [Reuters

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department official about latest round of sanctions against Iran in press briefing call: “These steps we have taken are outside the JCPOA. The JCPOA is limited to Iran’s nuclear program, and the United States continues to implement its commitments under the JCPOA. We have consistently said that we will continue to counter Iran’s support for terrorism, its ballistic missile program, its human rights abuses, including through sanctions where appropriate.”

SPOTLIGHT: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spends his first weeks isolated from an anxious bureaucracy” by Anne Gearan and Carol Morello: “Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact. Eight weeks into his tenure as President Trump’s top diplomat, the former ExxonMobil chief executive is isolated, walled off from the State Department’s corps of bureaucrats in Washington and around the world. His distant management style has created growing bewilderment among foreign officials who are struggling to understand where the United States stands on key issues.” [WashPost]

** 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: Retailtainment and American Dreams: Triple Five President Don Ghermezian on the Future of the AAA Mall [Blooloop] • Kushner-led group buying Invesco out of Dumbo Heights: sources [TRD• Kasowitz Reports Down Year; Trims Firm Name as Ex-Partner Assumes Ambassador Post [AmericanLawyer] • The stark difference between US and Israeli VCs [HackerNoon]

STARTUP NATION: “A self-flying drone can legally fly in Israel” by Max Toomey: “Airobotics, an Israeli company, has been authorized by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority to fly drones without a pilot. The fully automated drone, called Optimus, takes off, carries out missions and lands without any human pilot involved. It runs on software designed by the company which allows someone with little-to-no training to program the drone. It’s already being used in industrial facilities. Next, the inventors hope to tap the consumer market, say by providing live traffic analysis, or for use in emergency response situations.” [QZ]

HOLLYWOOD: “Fake Seth Rogen Script ‘The Kosher Nostra’ Fools Hollywood Gatekeepers” by Rebecca Ford: “Last week when a script called The Kosher Nostra, supposedly written by Superbad and The Interview writing duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, began circulating around town. Creative executives and agents rushed to read the crass comedy about a struggling screenwriter who drives for Uber to pay the bills and ends up working as a getaway driver for the Jewish mafia. But it turns out the script was a fake — it was not written by Rogen and Goldberg, and was not a Point Grey project. Kosher Nostra was actually written by Jonathan Witz, 25, and Jeremy Spektor, 29, two L.A.-based screenwriters who hoped that by putting the names of Rogen and Goldberg on their script, it would finally be read by the right people — including Rogen himself.” [HollywoodReporter]

MEDIA WATCH: “I worked for Jared Kushner. He’s the wrong businessman to reinvent government” by Elizabeth Spiers: “I worked for Kushner for 18 months as he tried to infuse a much smaller institution than the U.S. government with cost-cutting impulses from the commercial real estate world. And my experience doesn’t bode well for the Office of American Innovation… When I worked for him, I wasn’t sure he had a realistic view of his own capabilities since, like his father-in-law, he seemed to view his wealth and its concomitant accoutrements as rewards for his personal success in business, and not something he would have had in any case.” [WashPost]

Jewish Week Editorial hits AIPAC on treatment of press during the Policy Conference in DC — “AIPAC, Unlock Your Doors: This is about an organization championing American and Israeli democracies, including freedom of the press, yet fostering an overly aggressive and perhaps paranoid closed-door policy. One AIPAC official, speaking off the record (of course), told us his group must be more cautious than other Jewish organizations because the media “sharpens the knives when it comes to us.” Maybe that’s at least in part because of AIPAC’s arrogant attitude toward the media over the years… But opening the conference to the press and then banning coverage of the large majority of sessions is a formula for frustration and offense. Better to keep us out altogether.” [JewishWeek

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Trump Is Driving Some American Jews To Reclaim Citizenship in Europe” by Joseph Frankel: “According to the German embassy in Washington, D.C., the number of Jews applying for reclaimed citizenship from the U.S. has been increasing since the fall of 2016: 70 in September, 92 in October, 124 in November, and 144 in December. By January of this year, the number had climbed to 159… The month of the election also saw a spike in applications opened for Israeli citizenship—320 in November… However, in December 2016, the number dipped to 194… And when asked about their motivation, several cite Trump. None of the Americans I spoke to had immediate plans to leave the country. Rather, they were seeking citizenship in Europe as a kind of “back-up plan,” [attorney David] Young said.” [TheAtlantic]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Jewish donors express faith in Catholic Charities’ immigrant services” by Lisa Wangsness: “Now, Shrage’s group, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, is kicking off a major fund-raising effort to benefit Catholic Charities’ immigration law clinic, an unusual display of interfaith cooperation that leaders of both groups said reflects their communities’ shared history of living the immigrant experience and a common biblical obligation to help “the stranger.” The campaign has already drawn about $250,000 in commitments from large donors in advance of its formal announcement scheduled for Friday.” [BostonGlobe]

WINE OF THE WEEK — Domaine Netofa Dor Syrah 2013 — by Yitz Applbaum: There are many aspects of the Israeli wine industry that are miraculous. Within the past fifteen years the quality of Israeli wines has improved at a remarkable rate. It has become the case that many Israeli wines have reached the level of sophistication in craft that the wines can age for more then 10 years in bottle. There are so many new and interesting varietals that have proliferated in the wine-making scene. One of the reasons for the growing diversity in grape varietal and blending techniques is that there is no school of enology in Israel, so Israeli wine makers train all over the world, and often in more than one place.

One such wine which symbolizes the blossoming variety of the wines of Israel is the Domaine Netofa Dor Syrah 2013. This wine is a blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre — a grape grown in the Rhône and Provence regions of France, and in the Valencia and Jumilla regions of  Spain. This wine is aged in French oak for 15 months. There is an abundance of overly ripe fruit on the front of the palate and dry earthy terroir notes on the finish. The mid-palate provides a brief reprieve from the bold flavors. The nose gets your attention the second you smell its rich bouquets of cinnamon and dried figs. My suggested food for this bottle is another bottle of the same wine. I could not find a great food to pair with this unique bottle, so I drank a second. This is a wine for enjoying in the present and you will not regret buying it in pairs. [Netofa]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: Chairman of Apple, Inc. since 2011, CEO of Calico (an Alphabet R&D biotech venture), previously CEO of Genentech (1995-2009), Arthur D.  Levinson turns 67… Music producer, band leader of the Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert turns 82… New York Times best-selling novelist, poet and social activist, Marge Piercy turns 81… Composer, conductor and producer of soundtracks and songs for film and television, Arthur B. Rubinstein turns 79… Playwright of more than 70 plays, screenwriter for movies, director and actor, Israel Horovitz turns 78… Democratic congressman from Massachusetts (1981-2013), named co-sponsor of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, Barnett “Barney” Frank turns 77… Syndicated talk radio host on 400+ stations and conservative political commentator under the name Michael Savage, also best-selling author and nutritionist under his real name, Michael Alan Weiner turns 75… Emmy Award-winning movie and television actress, best known for her role in the sitcom Cheers, Rhea Jo Perlman turns 69… Russian ice dancing coach and former competitive ice dancer, now living in Stamford CT, Natalia Dubova turns 69… Israeli singer and songwriter, Ehud Banai turns 64… Show jumping equestrian and 10-time American Grandprix Association Rider of the Year, a 2009 inductee into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Margie Goldstein-Engle turns 59… Emmy award winning writer (“24,” “Homeland” and “Tyrant”) Howard Gordon turns 56… Heir to his grandfather’s NYC real estate fortune, LA-based businessman, film producer and donor to progressive causes, Steve Bing turns 52… Mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee, elected in 2013 and overwhelmingly re-elected in 2017, Andy Berke turns 49… Chief legal correspondent at MSNBC, Ari Melber turns 37… Footballer for Maccabi Tel Aviv, who has also played for Chelsea, Manchester City and West Ham United in the English Premier League, Tal Ben Haim turns 35… Tinder co-founder, Justin Mateen turns 31… Jerusalem-born, raised in Brookline, Massachusetts, a 2010 contestant on America’s Next Top Model, she went on to join the IDF, Esther Petrack turns 25… Chief economic correspondent for Politico and author of its “Morning Money” column covering the nexus of finance and public policy, Ben White (h/t Playbook)… David Freedman… John Jacobson… Larry Nemer Joel Mittler… Arul Anna Raj… Howie Keenan

SATURDAY: Physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Claude Cohen-Tannoudji turns 84… President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, Gilda Jacobs turns 68… Singer-songwriter best known as the original lead guitarist for Sha Na Na and as the youngest person, at age 18, to play on the main stage at Woodstock in 1969, Henry Gross turns 66… Cinematographer for the Coen brothers and others, producer and director for film and television, Barry Sonnenfeld turns 64… NYC-based attorney, Freddie Berg turns 62… Six-term member of the US House of Representatives from Florida (1993-2005), founder of the Ben Gamla Charter School network in Florida (2007), now living in Ra’anana, Israel, Peter Deutsch turns 60… Author of over 150 children’s books, Mark Shulman turns 55… Lawyer, turned political thriller novelist, Brad Meltzer turns 47… Four-year star basketball player at the University of Maryland including a national championship (2006), drafted by the WNBA, she now plays for Maccabi Ashdod, Shay Doron turns 32… President of Baltimore-based Healthsource Distributors, Jerry L. Wolasky… Senior director of corporate reputation at GE since March 2017, previously Obama White House Deputy Press Secretary, Jennifer Friedman… Lecturer at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism, previously writer of the Media Web column for MarketWatch (1999-2013), Jonathan P. Friedman… Ronald Lippman… Noah Schwartz

SUNDAY: Olympian, holder of the world record in the 50-mile walk, concentration camp survivor and professor at Ben Gurion University, Shaul Paul Ladany turns 81… National Security Advisor under President Clinton (1993-1997), professor of diplomacy at Georgetown, converted to Judaism in 2005, William Anthony Kirsopp Lake, best known as Tony Lake turns 78… Film director, screenwriter and producer, son of long-time NYTimes reporter and executive editor, Max Frankel, David Frankel turns 58… Civil court judge in Brooklyn since December 2016, Rachel “Ruchie” Freier turns 52… Los Angeles-based, raised in Israel, singer, songwriter, guitarist and composer, founding member of the Jewish rock band Moshav, Duvid Swirsky turns 41… Producer and screenwriter for the stage, television and film, best known as the creator and showrunner of the television series “Breaking In” and “The Goldbergs,” Adam F. Goldberg turns 41… Actress and singer who starred on General Hospital, Veronica Mars and Eastwick, Jaime Ray Newman turns 39… Corporate and securities attorney at the NYC office of Dechert LLP, a 2016 graduate of University of Pennsylvania Law School, Isaac Roszler turns 26… Presidential fellow for millennial engagement at the NYC office of the Union for Reform Judaism, Evan Lerner Traylor turns 23… Officer of both the annual Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival and the Warsaw Jewish Film Festival, Magda Strehlau… Miriam Rosen… Judith Berman

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Daily Kickoff: What Trump told Dershowitz to tell Bibi | How Jared ‘exfoliates’ old friends | Beinart on dangers of blaming Trump for anti-Semitism

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PRESIDENT-IN-LAW: “How to lose friends and ‘exfoliate’ people — Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is caught between 2 worlds, and his friends are cutting ties” by Alyson Shontell: “The hope was that with Jared, there at least was someone who was smart and thoughtful and potentially doing the right things behind the scenes,” one person who previously worked with Kushner told Business Insider. But people “hate him right now,” the person continued. “Not just him as a person so much but what he stands for and the fact that he hasn’t been able to use his position to do anything meaningful for what we stand for.” Another person, who attended Kushner’s wedding in 2009, agreed that former acquaintances were “seething.” … Kushner’s allies have two responses… He isn’t the president. And look harder. A source familiar with Kushner’s White House role says he did not go to Washington to focus on some of the more controversial Trump policies, like healthcare or the ban on immigration… As one Kushner defender put it: “If you’re doing well in politics, only 45% of people hate you.” [BusinessInsider

“White House Sends Jared Kushner To Meet With Top Senators On Improving The Criminal Justice System” by Emma Loop: “Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Donald Trump, has been dispatched by the White House to discuss criminal justice reform issues with key senators, BuzzFeed News has learned. Kushner met with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin on Capitol Hill Thursday.” [BuzzFeed]

“Christie: Putting Jared Kushner’s father in prison is ‘ancient history’” by Brent Johnson: “That stuff is ancient history,” the New Jersey governor said during a television interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “It’s over 12 years ago. Jared and I have worked incredibly well on this issue and, by the way, on a whole bunch of other issues during the campaign… And Jared and I get along just great.” [NJAdvance]

“Ivanka Trump, Shifting Plans, Will Become a Federal Employee” by Maggie Haberman and Rachel Abrams: “Ms. Trump’s title will be assistant to the president… “We are pleased that Ivanka Trump has chosen to take this step in her unprecedented role as first daughter and in support of the president,” a spokeswoman for the president said in an email… Ms. Trump’s lawyer, Jamie S. Gorelick, said that her decision stemmed from “her commitment to compliance with federal ethics standards and her openness to opposing points of view.” … People close to Ms. Trump said her official title would not mean a discernible shift from the unofficial influence she has exercised with her father… In a telephone interview, Mr. Eisen was more critical of Ms. Trump’s role. He described it as “a lot of nepotism.”” [NYTimes]

“Trump’s Personal Lawyer Wants to Grab Republicans by the Wallet” by Lachlan Markay: “Three weeks after becoming a Republican (and five months after his boss won the presidency), Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s private attorney and spokesman, will join the Republican National Committee’s finance leadership team… Other Trump loyalists are also among the additions to the RNC’s fundraising team. The list includes Elliott Broidy…” [DailyBeast]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Arab leaders ready to work with Trump on Mideast peace deal” by Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh: “Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the summit signaled the Arab world is willing to engage with the Trump administration in efforts to negotiate a two-state deal… The summit’s closing statement said “peace is a strategic option” for Arab states… The statement urged countries around the world not to move their diplomatic missions in Israel to Jerusalem – another signal to Trump.” [AP

“Trump Asked Alan Dershowitz to Tell Netanyahu Peace With Palestinians Possible Today” by Barak Ravid: “An Israeli source who asked not to be named said that in a phone call to the Prime Minister last week, Dershowitz delivered Trump’s message that he is eager for a peace… “The President told me he loves Israel and likes Netanyahu and said a few times he wants to get a deal between Israel and the Palestinians,” Dershowitz added… “The President told me he thinks Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants to get a deal with Israel and that he [Trump] thinks that the time is ripe for a deal and that it is possible.” Dershowitz refused to confirm that he had called Netanyahu.” [Haaretz

“In Jerusalem, Trump special envoy asks rabbi for peacemaking advice” by Times of Israel: “Jason Greenblatt arrived in Jerusalem from Amman… In the capital for less than an hour, Greenblatt attended a gathering of ultra-Orthodox Jews celebrating the beginning of the Passover vacation in the International Conference Center… Greenblatt can be seen asking an elderly rabbi in Hebrew for advice in tackling “this task,” presumably referring to his efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The rabbi responded by saying that a person who intends to do so will have divine assistance.” [ToI; Pic] • “In Donald Trump, Israeli Settlers See A Message From God” [HuffPost

SEND-OFF — Yesterday at the White House, Vice President Mike Pence swore in David Friedman as the 20th U.S. ambassador to Israel. [Pic] “One of the clearest signs of the President’s commitment to the State of Israel and to its people is in his choice of David Friedman as America’s Ambassador to Israel,” said Pence, with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Jared Kushner in the audience. ”David, you literally were born for this job.”

In his remarks, Friedman noted that the fact that he was the first Ambassador nominated by President Donald Trump speaks volumes “about how highly the Trump-Pence administration prioritizes our unbreakable bond” with Israel. He added that he’s been deeply inspired by the leadership of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “and I look forward to working with him to promote peace and stability within the Middle East.” [YouTube] • Friedman family with Trump in the Oval Office [Pic

— WH Press Secretary at daily press briefing: “The President is glad that Ambassador Friedman will be officially on board as we strive for a lasting peace in the Middle East. Mr. Friedman’s strong relationships in Israel will be a tremendous asset to the President in furthering that mission.”

CONTRARIAN TAKE: “Trump’s Israel ambassador is the right person at the right time” by Orly Azoulay: “If [David Friedman], the settlers’ own flesh and blood, is capable of changing direction, his words will carry more weight when he comes to the settlements and says that they have to give up because there is no other solution apart from two states… From now on, Friedman will be [Trump’s] mouthpiece, and there is no better person to bring the news to the settlers, as he is one of them. If he has undergone a dramatic change, he may succeed in changing some of them, too. Suddenly, his appointment seems like a brilliant idea.” [Ynet

ON THE HILL — “Meet the Democrats who declined to sign the two state letter” — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Freshman Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) told Jewish Insider that he did not back the initiative because there were so few Republicans — only Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC) and Jimmy Duncan (R-TN) — who co-signed on the measure. “Israel must be a bipartisan issue. There is nothing partisan about America’s support for Israel,” he asserted. “I will not sign a partisan letter.”
Veteran Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA) offered an alternative reason for declining to back the measure. “The premise of the letter is to put pressure on Israel so why would we want to put pressure on Israel?” he explained. “This was not a letter written, in my view, to support Israel. Where is the corresponding letter to put pressure on the other side?” Vargas asked.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) declined to sign as she refuses to write a letter addressed to President Trump or meet with the real estate mogul turned Commander in Chief.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), one of the Congressman who introduced the letter along with David Price (D-NC), told Jewish Insider, “There are 191 of us who chose to make a statement reaffirming the two state solution as the only path to peace in the Middle East. In today’s era, that is a pretty profound statement. Our leader (Pelosi) said that is our position.” When asked about Gottheimer’s statement that the initiative could be interpreted as a partisan letter, Connolly responded. “I’m sorry does he belong to a caucus? Ah, so he’s partisan. Oh, please.” [JewishInsider]

Dan Shapiro tweets: “I’m between puzzled and bemused by the current avoidance of the term 2 State Solution to describe the goal of US diplomacy w/Israel and Palestinians. US & Israeli govt statements reflect this. Presumably, it’s a way to bridge divides, whether partisan, or internal in the US & Israeli govts… Some similar tones at the AIPAC conf this week, amid AIPAC’s genuinely admirable effort to maintain a bipartisan flavor at a tough moment… What’s puzzling is that I don’t think anyone buys it. When they say “negotiated, lasting, agreed IS-Pal peace”, what else could it mean? That reality is definitely at the heart of Jason Greenblatt’s pretty impressive diplomatic debut: regional approach, limit settlements… I could be wrong. If this is a smarter way to get to the same outcome, the “deal” that Trump wants to strike, I’d be delighted.” [Twitter]  

Shapiro’s latest: “All Signals Point Once Again to War in Gaza” [BloombergView]

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on whether he was looking for harsher sanctions against Iran than the current bipartisan bill: “Obviously, it would have been very different if we wanted to do it in a partisan way,” Rubio told Jewish Insider. “We are trying to construct something that can pass. As long as it makes things better, that is what we are going to try to do around here. In order to achieve results, you are going to have to accommodate other points of view. The product that is out there is certainly better than the status quo, but if there is an opportunity to make it stronger, we will certainly explore that.” 

UN Goes Blue and White —Yesterday, some 3000 people filled the hallways of the United Nations headquarters in New York to take part in the 2nd annual “Ambassadors Against BDS” conference hosted by Israel’s UN Mission, the World Jewish Congress, and other organizations. “You can let them (BDS supporters) know that the United States has Israel’s back,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the crowd at the opening session held in the General Assembly Hall. Following stand up comedy by Jewish comedian Elon Gold, the crowd held up paper Israeli flags and posed for a giant selfie. [Pic]

KAFE KNESSET — The never-ending IBC crisis is finally over — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: “After five days of intense negotiations, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon reached an understanding this morning on the future of Israeli public broadcasting. According to the new plan, the Israel Broadcast Corporation will go on the air by the 15th of May, meaning there will be a two-week delay, but it will go the on air. But, and this is a big but, the IBC news department will undergo substantial changes and will actually be closed and reopened. The IBC managers Eldad Koblantz and Gil Omer will still keep their jobs, but they will not have anything to do with the news department, and a new chief news manager and news editor will be appointed instead.

It is what Israelis call a “Mapai” compromise – in which both sides had to give in and both sides can try and present it as a victory. Netanyahu didn’t close the IBC as he wished, but he did achieve greater control over the news department, and will probably make sure that Geula Even, wife of his rival Gideon Saar, does not become the chief news anchor. Kahlon, for his part, lived up to his word that the IBC will go on air, but he gave in to Netanyahu’s power grab in the news department.

Peace between Kahlon and Netanyahu gives the coalition some breathing room but not necessarily for long. Many politicians believe that the IBC crisis was just an excuse, and that Bibi has decided to call early elections because of his police investigations. According to that theory, Netanyahu found out that he will have trouble rallying support for early elections over the IBC, and is likely to find another reason to break up the Coalition soon. “We are living on borrowed time,” a senior Coalition source told Kafe Knesset. “The tensions between all of the partners are so high that it’s just a matter of time.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

** 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: Freight marketplace Freightos secures $25 million in funding from GE Ventures [Tech.eu] • 500 Startups launches a short marketing ramp-up bootcamp for startups in Israel [TechCrunch] • Chetrit, Somerset seeking $500M loan for Bronx megaproject [TheRealDeal]

“Why Texas Ag Chief Sid Miller signed a deal with disputed Israeli settlements” by Jim Malewitz: “Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, the cowboy hat-wearing Republican who often draws attention for posting controversial messages on social media, made a bold geopolitical statement during an international trip he wrapped up Wednesday: He opened up trade relations with a group of Israeli settlements in the West Bank that neither the United States nor the United Nations legally recognizes.” [TexasTribune]

“How Trump Adviser Stephen Miller Divided a Santa Monica Synagogue” by Scott Johnson: “He never strongly identified as a Jewish person,” says Charles Gould, a comedian with numerous TV credits… Miller’s positions on refugees irk some Jewish thought leaders, who think his views could do lasting harm to America and the Jewish community. His own great-grandparents settled with other immigrants in Pennsylvania… By all accounts, Miller’s family has felt pressure because of his career arc. One current Santa Monica Synagogue congregant says a few friends have stopped talking to the Millers. A neighbor, also Jewish, is leaning toward posting lawn signs that will read “Refugees and Immigrants Welcome Here,” “No Muslim Ban,” “No Border Wall” and “Our Communities Stand Tall.” “We’ll try to get as many of these on the block as we can,” the neighbor says. “Maybe the Millers will get the message.” [THR]

“Who is Julia Hahn? The unlikely rise of Steve Bannon’s right-hand woman” by Ben Terris: “When Hahn joined the White House, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard told The Post that she would “make Bannon look moderate” by comparison. Yet her former liberal friends are desperately seeking a silver lining. “I feel better having her in the room than not,” said Poeter, her old college roommate. “The Julia I knew was not a demagogue.”” [WashPost]

“The Dangers of Blaming Trump for Anti-Semitism” by Peter Beinart: “Many critics have a narrative in their heads: That Trump and his supporters think and do bigoted things. It did not come out of nowhere… Still, narratives can explain too much. Trump is like the kid in class who perpetually misbehaves. Liberals—especially Jewish liberals—risk becoming the teacher who sees graffiti written on a locker and sends him to the principal without carefully checking the handwriting. It’s become commonplace to hear Jewish liberals claim that Trump has given “license and permission to anti-Semites” and thus “opened the floodgates” for anti-Semitic attacks. But have the floodgates really opened?” [TheAtlantic]

“‘Unreal when it targets you’: Faceless trolls attack online” by Michael Kunzelman: “One morning near the end of her long-shot congressional campaign, 25-year-old Erin Schrode rolled over in bed, reflexively checked her cellphone — and burst into tears… Schrode, a Democrat and activist who would come in third in the June primary in her Northern California district, had become the latest target of The Daily Stormer, a popular neo-Nazi website known for orchestrating internet trolling campaigns.” [AP]

“Soros-Funded University Pledges to Fight Hungarian Crackdown” by Zoltan Simon and Andras Gergely: “In a showdown with Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Central European University, established by Soros in 1991, said a bill submitted to parliament by Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog targets the school “directly” and must be withdrawn… “The bill is a threat to our continued existence in Hungary,” Michael Ignatieff, the president of CEU, told reporters in Budapest on Wednesday… “This isn’t targeted at CEU or against Mr. Soros,” [Education Ministry State Secretary Laszlo] Palkovics said. Palkovics said Hungary would support the signing of a bilateral accord with the U.S. to ensure CEU’s continued activity. Trump has accused Hungarian-born Soros, a major Democratic Party donor, of being part of a “global power structure” that has “robbed” the working class.” [Bloomberg]

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Jew born in Pakistan first in decades to be allowed to declare his faith” by Hollie McKay: “Fischel — his chosen Yiddish name — was born Faisal Benkhald in the Pakistani city of Karachi to a Jewish mother and Muslim father, the fourth of five children… Two years ago, the 29-year-old embarked on the bold road of officially changing his religious status from Muslim to Jew with the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)… On Tuesday, after three years of frustration, Benkhald got word that his ID card, which he has yet to actually receive, was approved. “It feels like shackles have been removed from me and I feel a great sense of liberty now,” he said. While Pakistan now has only one citizen who has registered as a Jew, there are said to be hundreds of Jews living anonymously in the country.” [FoxNews]

LongRead: “The High Price of Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Life” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: “It’s hard to talk about O.T.D.ers as a group, because like the rest of us, like ultra-Orthodox people, too, they are individuals. No two people who practice religion do it exactly the same way, despite how much it seems to the secular world that they rally around sameness; and no one who leaves it leaves the same way, either.” [NYTimesMag]

TRANSITIONS — The Atlantic names Rosie Gray as White House correspondent and Trump critic Eliot Cohen as Contributing Editor. “Rosie Gray has been assigned as White House correspondent, a role she takes on just three months after joining The Atlantic as a staff writer covering politics. The Atlantic’s editors have also announced that Eliot A. Cohen, who served as Counselor of the Department of State under George W. Bush, will become a contributing editor.” [TheAtlantic]

Ira Forman, former special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism at the State Department, will be joining Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service’s Center for Jewish Civilization as a distinguished visiting professor to discuss rising anti-Semitism in the fall of 2017. [SFS]

BIRTHDAYS: Meteorologist, science and health reporter, who was on television in NYC for five decades, Frank Field turns 94… Russian chess grandmaster, three times Soviet women’s chess champion (1954, 1958, 1959), emeritus professor at the University of Tartu in Estonia, Larissa Volpert turns 91… Musician, music executive and businessman, was chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Charles Koppelman turns 77… Harvard Professor of Economics and winner of the Israel Prize in 1991, Elhanan Helpman turns 71… Film and television director, Michael Stephen Lehmann turns 60… Comedian, actor, television personality, screenwriter, author and musician, Paul Reiser turns 60… Actor best known for his role as Steve Sanders on the television series “Beverly Hills, 90210” (1990-2000), Ian Ziering turns 53… Tel Aviv-born actress, appears on television and film in both Israel and the US, Mili Avital turns 45… Award-winning Mexican-American chef, television personality, cookbook author and food writer, winner of two Emmy Awards for her PBS television series “Pati’s Mexican Table,” Pati Jinich turns 45… Treasurer of Oakland County, Michigan, having been elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016, Andy Meisner turns 44… Iranian-born LA-based actress, best known for her roles in “Crash” and the “Saw” franchise, also as the mother of the inspirational amputee Ezra Frech, Bahar Soomekh turns 42… Robert J. Saferstein turns 34… Professional baseball infielder for MLB’s Houston Astros, Alex Bregman turns 23… Foreign policy and national security reporter at the Huffington Post, Jessica Schulberg… Feature writer for Haaretz, Danna Harman… Ft. Lauderdale resident, Lois Goldberg… Boca Raton resident, Janot Grant David… Cherry Hill, NJ’s Zelda Greenberg… Aryeh Lightstone

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

Josh Gottheimer

Meet the Democrats Who Declined to Sign Two-State Letter

Thursday, March 30, 2017

WASHINGTON – Amidst the showers of praise for Israel at this week’s AIPAC Policy Conference, one speaker departed slightly from the party line. Speaking before thousands of pro-Israel…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Key Senators Non-Committal About New Iran Sanctions Bill

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

WASHINGTON – Influential Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee declined to take a position on the bill introduced last week to boost sanctions against Iran for its ballistic…

Photo by AIPAC

Kafe Knesset for March 28

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Is the Temple Mount heating up again? The Temple Mount is back in the headlines, with Prime Minister Netanyahu saying he will no longer prohibit politicians from visiting…

via Facebook/ Benjamin Netanyahu

Kafe Knesset for March 27

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Netanyahu-Kahlon faceoff is still ongoing, as well as the looming coalition crisis over the future of Israeli public broadcasting. Yesterday, the PM and Finance Minister met twice,…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Panel at AIPAC Blasts Trump’s Proposed Foreign Aid Cuts

Monday, March 27, 2017

WASHINGTON – At an AIPAC panel on Sunday, the highlighted speakers assailed the Trump Administration for its massive reductions in the proposed foreign aid budget. Retired General Charles…

via Facebook/Naftali Bennett

Kafe Knesset for March 24

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bayit Yehudi is in turmoil – not because of its leadership race, but because MK Bezalel Smotrich made a statement that goes against party leader Naftali Bennett’s raison…