Daily Kickoff: Sheldon finally endorses a candidate | How Jeffrey Schottenstein & LeBron came up with TACKMA | Israel’s lab for growing desert wines

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SCENE LAST NIGHT: Approximately 700 guests of the Israeli Embassy gathered last night at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in D.C. for the annual Israeli Independence Day celebration. ‘Machers, Schnooks and D.C. Cave Dwellers’ schmoozed and networked over Israeli wine and Italian fare. Ambassador Ron Dermer thanked White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough for attending noting, “Having worked in a similar position for Prime Minister Netanyahu, I know that it is never easy to get away – so Denis, I appreciate you being with us.”

Amb. Dermer on differences with the White House: “Now, ladies and gentlemen, there is no denying that Israel has had differences with the Obama administration over the best way to block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and over the best way to advance a secure peace with the Palestinians. But the test of a relationship between two countries is not how strong it is when their two governments see eye-to-eye but rather how strong it is when they don’t – and the relationship between Israel and America has passed that test with flying colors.” [Transcript]

Ed note: Apologies in advance if we missed you at last evening’s event. Tevi Troy joked that today’s Daily Kickoff would simply state “Spotted: Everyone” while Rabbi Jack Moline suggested we only list the few folks who were not at the event. 

SPOTTED: Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, new JLOTUS Chanan Weissman, Cruz Chief of Staff Paul Teller sporting his new handmade Lucchese boots [Pic], DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, AIPAC’s Howard Kohr and Bob Cohen, Alan & Judy Gross, State Department’s Ira Forman, Ambassador Norm Eisen tweeting up a storm, Congressman Ted Deutch, Douglas Feith, Schusterman Foundation’s Lisa Eisen and Mary Ann Weiss, State’s Matt Nosanchuk, Brookings’ Dan Arbell, Phil Rosen, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, MassChallenge’s Clara Scheinmann, Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Joshua Landes, OU’s Nathan Diament, Victoria Coates, David Milstein, Rabbi Sid Schwarz, William & Heidi Krizer Daroff, Gabriel Scheinmann, Liz Leibowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel, Eli Lake, Noah Pollak, Embassy Chief of Staff Jordana Cutler, Steve Rabinowitz, Jeremy Deutsch, Aaron Weinberg, Yarden Golan, Katie Glueck, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Ambassador David Saperstein, Sarah Arkin, B’nai B’rith’s Dan Mariaschin, Jonny Fluger, Jeremy Furchtgott, Ezra Friedlander, AEPi’s Andy Borans, Joseph Raskas, Ezra Gontownik, Julia Schulman, Melissa Weiss, and Mira Kogen Resnick.

Flashback to last year’s event: “White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was spotted coming out from backstage, minutes before Biden’s speech, to grab a few kosher potato puffs off the buffet.” [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “I endorse Donald Trump for president” by Sheldon G. Adelson: “I’ve spent time talking to Donald Trump. Do I agree with him on every issue? No. But it’s unlikely that any American agrees with his or her preferred candidate on every issue… Despite being the grandson of a Welsh coal miner and the son of a Boston cab driver, I’ve had the remarkable experience of being part of almost 50 different businesses in my more than 70-year business career. So, tell me I’m not a conservative enough Republican or I’m too hawkish on Israel or whatever else you may think, but I think I’ve earned the right to talk about success and leadership.” [WashPost]

TWEETS — Shane Goldmacher: Still pretty surprising that Sheldon Adelson’s first endorsement of 2016 is for Donald Trump” • Maggie Haberman: “No mention of Adelson’s primary issue beyond his casinos – Israel – in this op-ed” • Jon Ralston: “Sheldon loves Donald, endorses him in WaPo. Um, Sheldon, you could have done that in your own paper!”

“Journalists Wait for Donald Trump, but Meet Only His Papier-Mâché Model” by Ashley Parker: “As the crowd waited for Mr. Trump, the diverse group of demonstrators — a gaggle of undocumented immigrants, a small cabal of women from the protest group Codepink, and a lone man holding a “Rabbis Against Trump” sign — all vied for attention.” [NYTimes• Shofar sighting [Video]

“No, Donald Trump has not softened his stance on banning Muslims” by Jenna Johnson:“The latest confusion over Trump’s position stemmed from two meandering interviews on Wednesday that led to reports he was retreating in some way from his anti-Muslim policy… Except that Trump has not actually walked anything back. The presumptive Republican nominee still wants to ban nearly all members of the world’s fastest-growing religion from entering the United States in an effort to prevent terrorist attacks.” [WashPost]

David Petraeus: “Anti-Muslim bigotry aids Islamist terrorists” [WashPost]

“Temporary Job Opening” by comedian Gary Rudoren, spouse of the NYTimes’ Jodi Rudoren: “The United States of America and Israel are currently looking for a qualified professional to fill the job opening of “President of the United States” in January 2017. Qualified candidates should submit resumes highlighting their experience and thoughts on the U.S.-Israel relationship as well as examples from their past and sober (or outrageous) declarations on the future.” [MomentMag]

“Can Ted Cruz Make Friends, Influence People, And Run For President Again?” by Rosie Gray: “Former Bush administration deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams, who was one of Cruz’s national security advisers, also encouraged Cruz to do more work for the party. “He will spend the next few years I assume doing a lot of appearances around the country and I think the best way for him to combat this constant series of hits, particularly from other Republican senators, is just to make himself better known,” Abrams said, suggesting Cruz “get around the country making speeches for Republican state parties, and for candidates running for [the] House and Senate who invite him.”” [BuzzFeed]

Ted Cruz in today’s NYTimes: “America cannot stand idly by while Iran threatens our ally Israel” [NYTimes]

“Trump called Lindsey Graham to discuss national security” by Jessie Hellmann: “The conversation, which lasted about 15 minutes according to the statement, “centered on the national security threats” facing the United States. “I gave him my assessment about where we stand in the fight against [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] and the long-term danger posed by the Iranian nuclear deal. He asked good questions,” Graham said.” [TheHillPolitico]

“White House defends aide, fires back at House GOP” by Kathleen Hennessey: “White House spokesman Josh Earnest did not rule out the possibility that deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes would testify before the House oversight committee at a Tuesday hearing on “White House narratives on the Iran deal.” But Earnest tried to brush off the request from Chairman Jason Chaffetz by casting the Utah Republican’s hearing as political theater and challenging the GOP case against the agreement. “I think there are some people who have some explaining to do when it comes to the wildly false accusations that they made about the Iran deal. And it’s not the administration. It’s Republicans who are demonstrably wrong when it comes to the Iran deal,” Earnest said.” [AP]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: “It’s the Billionaires vs. the Millionaires in This Hawaiian Resort War” [Businessweek] • David Geffen buys Hamptons home to the tune of $70M [NYPost] • “Ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israel are losing the Internet war” [WashPost• “Israel: The going gets rough for diamonds — Exchange is urged to beef up regulation after a trader was accused of fraud” [FinancialTimes]

SPOTLIGHT: “What TACKMA means on LeBron James’ hat and on the billboard outside Quicken Loans Arena” by Joe Vardon: “Jeffrey Schottenstein wanted you to know what the part-T, part-lightning bolt on LeBron James’ hat means. So Schottenstein put up two billboards in Cleveland, including one near The Q, visible from the I-90 bridge heading into the city, with the logo featured prominently on both. And TACKMA stands for “They All Can Kiss My (expletive)… James calls not just Jeffrey Schottenstein, but his brothers and father – modern-day patriarch and entrepreneur Jay Schottenstein – his “family.” He said he met the Schottensteins playing state championship basketball games for Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary at “The Schott,” the main hoops arena on Ohio State’s campus.”

“James learned to tune out his critics in 2011-12, his first of two championship seasons. You could say he adopted a TACKMA attitude, and it worked for him. But the mantra is not his. Schottenstein said he developed it in 2010 while frustrated in his attempt to make his own mark as an entrepreneur and step outside the family’s shadow. He started using TACKMA on shoes and shirts he created through the Nike ID program, and handed them out to family and friends. “I wanted to do something on my own,” Schottenstein said. “I have the capital, I’m blessed to have the capital to do this. I wanted to do something entrepreneurial, grow something from the ground up. TACKMA is bred from that frustration.””[Cleveland]

TRANSITIONS — JDC Names David Schizer its New CEO: “The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is delighted to name David Schizer as its next CEO. Schizer – the Dean Emeritus of Columbia Law School and a noted Jewish community leader – will take the helm of the global Jewish humanitarian organization on January 1, 2017, pending his approval by the JDC Board at its regular Board Meeting next week.” [JDC]

New White House appointment: “Dr. John Ruskay, Appointee for Member, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Dr. John Ruskay is a partner at JRB Consulting Services, a position he has held since 2014. Dr. Ruskay is currently the Executive Vice President-Emeritus of the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, where he previously served as Executive Vice President & CEO from 1999 to 2014.” [WhiteHouse]

HUMANS OF NEW YORK features _super_avi — “I’ve thought about what I would say if I could go back in time, and talk to myself before I got cancer. I’d say get ready to not be who you are right now. And get ready to deal with a lot of disappointments and pain. And just keep strong. And never give up. And don’t lock yourself in your room if you get sad or angry. Because nobody can help you if you’re in your room and the problem will get worse. And stop fighting with your brothers and sisters. Because you’re really going to need them soon and they are going to help you so much. And keep watching sports. Because those are really going to cheer you up.” [Facebook]

DESSERT: “Desert wines: How to grow grapes where the ground is a griddle: Daniel Kish once speared fish for a living. Now he makes wine in Israel’s Negev desert. Sipping on Shoshanna, a spicy blend of petite sirah, zinfandel, merlot and shiraz named after his mother, he explains why winemaking there can be so hard. The ground is rocky and parched. The sun is fearfully hot. And the local Thomson’s gazelles adore grapes. “You’ve opened a restaurant in the desert. So of course animals are going to eat,” he says. Mr Kish produces between 6,000 and 7,000 bottles of wine a year; he reckons each costs 45 shekels ($12) to make. They sell for just over twice that at his vineyard on Kish Farm. Keeping the process kosher is costly.” [Economist]

“From Chile to Tokyo: The boom of kosher restaurants worldwide” by Yaniv Pohoryles: “According to Jonathon Myron, the founder of the free mobile app, the precise number of kosher restaurants in the world is constantly changing due to the rapid turnover of openings and closures. The most recent numbers, however, indicate that there are between 3,500-4,000 kosher restaurants in the world, at least 800 of which are located in New York alone.” [YNet]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Actress, writer, producer and director, best known as the creator, writer and star of the HBO series “Girls,” Lena Dunham turns 30… Lawyer, businessman and philanthropist, Sir Sydney Lipworth QC turns 85… Film, television and stage actress, Zohra Lampert turns 79… Actor and producer Harvey Keitel turns 77… UK Labour Party MP since 2010, Luciana Berger turns 35… Technion professor of computer science, Orna Grumberg turns 64… ESPN’s SportsCenter anchor and football sideline reporter, Suzy Kolber turns 52…  Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Howard Wolfson, former Deputy Mayor of NYC, turns 49… Facebook’s chairman, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg turns 32… Canadian molecular biologist and pioneer in human genetics, Louis Siminovitch turns 96… Actor David Krumholtz turns 38… Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, known for her role as Tony Soprano’s daughter, Meadow, turns 35… Google’s Raquel Saxe, alum of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy…

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Daily Kickoff: Meet Obama’s new White House Jewish Liaison | Why Iran’s ‘moderates’ prefer Trump to Clinton | Inside Israel’s Secret Startup Machine

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EXCLUSIVE — Meet the new White House Jewish Liaison: The Obama Administration is set to name a new liaison to the Jewish community later today, Jewish Insider has learned. Chanan Weissman will make the transition from the State Department to the White House, becoming the first Modern Orthodox Jew to assume this position for a Democratic administration, according to several sources we spoke with.

Most recently, Weissman served as a spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Matt Nosanchuk, who held the Jewish liaison position for nearly three years, recently transferred to the State Department, à la ‘Trading Places,’ where he is working as a senior advisor in the Office of Religion and Global Affairs. Observers can debate the respective perks of Foggy Bottom and Pennsylvania Avenue but only one job comes with the pressure of managing the Administration’s relationship with a community rarely described as ‘shy.’

The eighth year of any White House presents its own unique challenges. Administrations often cede the spotlight to the election season. President Obama has stressed he will not be a lame-duck president, and questions remain about whether the White House will attempt another push for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the final year. According to Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat who participated in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations following the Camp David summit in 2000, there’s no doubt that at some point between now and January 2017, Obama will seek to outline his own version of the Bill Clinton parameters before leaving office. If the White House decides to refocus on the Middle East, one can expect Weissman to play a critical role. [JewishInsider]

Ambassador Norman Eisen: “I first met Chanan years ago at the hashkama minyan at Kesher Israel in DC, when he was starting his career at the State Department. Over cholent, we talked about working in government as observant Jews. I said to myself, someday he will be in the White House.  Now he is! He will be a great White House Jewish liaison, continuing the high standard set by Matt and all his predecessors.”

Tevi Troy, a Bush 43 Jewish Liaison and the second Orthodox Jew to hold the position, tells us: “Congrats to Chanan. I think he’ll do great. I think there’s an advantage but also a challenge to being an Orthodox Jew in this position. The advantage is that you have instant credibility within the community as knowledgable and credible representing the community. The challenge is that the bulk of American Jews are not Orthodox and you have to show you can reach out to all.”

Former Jewish Liaison Scott Arogeti, who was appointed during the final year of the George W. Bush Administration, passed along this note to Chanan: “Being appointed White House Jewish Liaison midway through the final year of an Administration is an honor, and yet one that also comes with a unique challenge. How do you move the ball down the field effectively at a point where the campaign season for your boss’s successor is already in full swing (taking media and public attention along with it) and most major policy battles are likely in the rear view mirror?”

“What accomplishments do you point to in making the case that the Administration you represent has improved the lives of members of the Jewish community? What issues do you champion in attempting to break through the clutter and make your mark? From the last person to have this honor for President George W. Bush to the one who will presumably follow suit for President Obama, I wish you the best. (…oh, and good luck with the final Hannukah Party list!)”

“GOP Jews Want To Hear More From Trump” by Stewart Ain: “Daniel Retter, a New York lawyer who has provided the Trump campaign with ideas on how to handle the estimated 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants living illegally in the U.S., said he recently provided the campaign with the names of potential donors. “There are some very heavy-duty people who gave money to the Rubio campaign, and I’m trying to convince the Trump campaign to reach out to them,” he said. “They are Jewish people with serious bucks who in the past have supported Rubio and [former Florida Gov. Jeb] Bush. They are now just waiting to see if Trump represents their values.”” [JewishWeek]

GOP donor Rich Roberts tells Jared Sichel: “I think Trump has a chance to be very good and I think people are ready for someone who’s going to come in and break up some of that status quo. Trump is now reaching out to experts in a lot of different areas, and that’s a big relief to know that he’s doing that.”

“Jewish Republicans in doubt about Trump” by Robert Wiener: “While he believes Trump “will be good on the issue of Israel because he understands the issue,” Chouake said he may be open to crossing party lines in November if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. “I think Hillary has a record to show for her support of U.S.-Israel relations that is important to a lot of her constituents,” he said.” [NJJN]

“Why many of Iran’s ‘moderates’ say they prefer Trump to Clinton” by Jeremy Shapiro and Ellie Geranmayeh: “Trump is a man Iranians can do with business with… Clinton is known in Tehran as the “sanctions lady,” the person who orchestrated international buy-in to the unprecedented sanctions regime against Iran in 2010 that had a crippling impact on the Iranian economy. Many Iranians we spoke with are concerned that under a Clinton presidency, the United States will introduce a new wave of secondary sanctions to confront Iran’s regional behavior.” [Vox]

Fact Checker: “Kerry’s claim that Iran has only received ‘$3 billion’ from the nuclear deal” by Glenn Kessler: “This was always Iran’s money, but the total amount made available remains unclear. That number reflects only what Iran has transferred back to the country, and belies the fact that U.S. officials are actively urging banks to give Iran even more access to the international banking system. We’re not sure why Kerry used the figure–which he has not repeated–and he did note that the official U.S. government estimate is $55 billion. But that doesn’t excuse such a lowball number, especially if Kerry is arguing that administration claims on the deal have been truthful.” [WashPost]

Suzanne Maloney: “Deception and the Iran deal: Did the Obama administration mislead America, or did the Rhodes profile?” [Brookings]

ON THE HILL: “Senate rejects amendment that inflamed tensions over Iran nuclear deal” by Karoun Demirjian: “Democrats were blocking consideration of the annual energy and water appropriations bill to protest Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) proposal to prevent the United States from using federal funds to purchase heavy water, which is used in some nuclear fuel reactors, from Iran. The Obama administration made clear it considered the proposal a “poison pill” that would cause the president to veto the bill. To get around the standoff, Republican leaders scheduled a vote on Cotton’s amendment but set a threshold of 60 votes for it to be adopted. The vote was 57 to 42.” [PowerPost]

“Harry Reid to Rep. Alan Grayson: ‘I want you to lose'” by Burgess Everett: “Rep. Alan Grayson angrily confronted Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday, disrupting a meeting of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in front of dozens of staffers and members of Congress. As each member took a turn to speak to Reid, it was Grayson’s turn. He asked Reid if the Nevada senator knows who he is. After Reid answered in the affirmative, Grayson went on the attack. “Say my name, senator. Say my name,” Grayson told Reid as Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tried to shut down the confrontation… Grayson responded by angrily waving a printout of Reid’s searing quote that called on Grayson to drop out of the primary race against Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.). “Why’d you say that?” Grayson said, insisting Reid’s statement was false. Reid calmly faced his inquisitor: “I want you to lose. It’s true.”” [Politico]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: “David Rubenstein: Next President Likely to Face Recession” [Bloomberg• “Sam Zell Still Says Sell” [Fortune] • “New Rubashkin claims garner support from former attorneys general, judges” [DesMoinesRegister• “Clinton Son-in-Law’s Firm Is Said to Close Greece Hedge Fund” [DealBook• “How to raise money in Israel: A developer’s guide” [RealDeal]

STARTUP NATION: “Inside Israel’s Secret Startup Machine” by Richard Behar: “Much has been made of Israel’s status as “Startup Nation.” Not even the size of New Jersey, with a population smaller than New York City’s, Israel is home to more Nasdaq-listed companies than any country except the U.S. and China. On a per capita basis Israel boasts more venture capital, more startups and more scientists and tech professionals than any other country in the world. To understand these dizzying numbers, you need to understand the mysterious Unit 8200.” [Forbes]

TALK OF OUR NATION — Israel celebrates 68th birthday after solemn Memorial Day: “In a jarring contrast, Israel transitioned Wednesday night from melancholic reflection to remember its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism to joyous Independence Day festivities in celebration of 68 years since the modern Jewish state was formed.” [AP]

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN NYC: Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon hosted a special showing of “Fiddler on the Roof” at a Broadway Theatre in honor of Israel’s 68th Independence Day. “While I was backstage, I asked if I could play the role of Tevye. I started to sing, ‘If I were a rich man…’ But they told me to stick to be an ambassador,” Danon joked at the start of the evening. SPOTTED: Ambassador Samantha Power, Deputy Ambassador David Roet, Jack and Phyllis Rosen, Greg and Marti Rosenbaum, Michael Miller, Malcolm Hoenlein, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Rabbi Marc Schneier, Rabbi Mendy Carlebach, Ronn Torossian, and Elie Bennett.

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT: “The fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg was being honored at the 20th Annual Heritage Dinner at the Museum of Jewish Heritage… Annette de la Renta, Anh Duong, Hamilton South, Seth and Alexi Meyers (on her first night out since having a baby six weeks ago), interior designer Ariel Ashe, Michael Rourke and Wes Powell, Starwood’s Barry Sternlicht and HBO’s Sheila Nevins were just some of the guests who came to support Ms. von Furstenberg.”

“In Belgium in May of 1944, her mother, Liliane Nahmias, was arrested and shipped to Auschwitz. Somehow, she survived and was liberated 13 months later, returning home a mere 49 pounds. Even today, Ms. von Furstenberg explained, “all I read is books on the Holocaust, all I see is movies about the Holocaust,” adding that sometimes her friends mock her for her continued and constant interest. “But I still to this day cannot believe my own mother was there. I am her torch of freedom.”” [WSJ]

“18 of the Most Gadol Jewish People in Fashion” by Nora Crotty: “May is Jewish American heritage month. To honor this momentous occasion, I’ve chosen to highlight 18 (18!) of the most fashion-forward chosen people in the biz.” [Yahoo]

“The paradox of feeling too Jewish — and not Jewish enough” by Ruth Margolis: “Sometimes, I feel like I might have my “Jew” card confiscated for knowing so much less about my birth culture and religion than even non-Jewish New Yorkers. But there are over two million Jews in New York. Jewish culture is woven into the city so you can’t help but soak it up. There are just 269,000 Jews in the whole of the U.K. Back home, I’m a rare bird; here, I’m just another nose.” [TheWeek]

“I Threw My Dog a Bark Mitzvah and All I Got Was This Lousy Jewish Guilt” by Peter Moskowitz: “It wasn’t that celebrating dogs was bad, he said. Judaism has a conflicted relationship with dogs. Jewish scripture tends to paint them as symbols of greed, noise, dirt, and general mischievousness. But other passages view those who take care of animals, though not specifically dogs, as shepherds, even heroes. It was elevating a dog to the human level that offended my uncle.” [Racked]

LongRead: “When Do You Give Up on Treating a Child With Cancer?” by Melanie Thernstrom: “Andrew Levy’s parents knew that the rare and deadly cancer in his blood could not be beaten, so they began to prepare for the worst. Then something mysterious happened… Dan founded a sports-related start-up, then became vice president of small business at Facebook, while Esther worked at Kurbo, a start-up focused on weight management for kids, and taught spin classes at a Jewish community center for fun. Their own families were stable and close-knit; to recall any true adversity in either family, they had to think back to a grandmother of Dan’s whose family perished in the Holocaust.” [NYTimesMag]

DESSERT: “McDonald’s: NSW man loses fight to register ‘McKosher’ trademark for Jewish Scottish restaurant” by Giselle Wakatama: “The trademark applicant, Mark Glaser, told the office hearing he was of Scottish Jewish descent and his ancestors’ surnames included McKosher, MacAdoo, Beadle, Zimmerman, Rosenthal and Glaser. He said he hoped to open a Scottish and Jewish restaurant bearing the name McKosher. But the fast-food giant noted calls by a group of powerful rabbis in Jerusalem for the chain to rebrand kosher-friendly restaurants there as McKosher. “The Jerusalem Rabbinate refuses to certify any of the chain outlets in the capital as kosher so long as there are any non-kosher branches in the city,” McDonald’s lawyers said. “The solution suggested by the Rabbinate is a renaming of the kosher McDonald’s branches to ‘McKosher’.” [ABC]

BIRTHDAYS: Matthew Hiltzik, founder of strategic communications and consulting firm Hiltzik Strategies, turns 44… Composer, songwriter, record producer, pianist and singer, Burt Bacharach, who won three Academy Awards and six Grammys, turns 88… British lawyer and member of the House of Lords, Baron Joel Goodman Joffe, turns 84… World reknowned architect and master planner for the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, Daniel Libeskind, turns 70…

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Daily Kickoff: Trump to visit Israel after all… so he says | Why only Israel can customize U.S. fighter jets | Meet Alan Amron: Ali’s Jewish manager

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TOP QUOTE — Jon Stewart on David Axelrod’s The Axe Files: “And now, from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, and CNN, the Axe files, with your host, David Axelrod. JON STEWART: Oh, can I say… DAVID AXELROD: Now you can say… JON STEWART: This is how Jews meet all the time. (Laughter) When people aren’t paying attention, we sneak into churches and just chat. (Laughter)” [CNN]

Trump Confirms Planned Trip to Israel — by Jacob Kornbluh: “The Trump campaign on Monday denied a Friday report by Israel’s Ma’ariv daily that the presumptive nominee is planning to visit Israel, Russia and Germany after the convention. But in an interview with Israel Hayom, in honor of Israel’s 68th Independence Day, Trump confirmed the report. “I heard you are going to visit us soon, before the election,” the paper’s Boaz Bismuth asked. “Yes. I will be coming (to Israel) soon,” Trump responded.” [JewishInsider] • In Hebrew [IsraelHayom]

SPOTTED: Eric Trump walking at a fast clip by himself at 57th and 6th in NYC yesterday afternoon.

HIRED GUN: “Donald Trump Hires C.O.O. for Growing Campaign Finance Operation” by Ashley Parker and Maggie Haberman: “Donald J. Trump has hired Eli H. Miller, deputy finance director for Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential bid, as the chief operating officer for his growing finance operation.” [FirstDraft]

“Big Money Republicans Reluctant To Go All In On Trump” by Tarini Parti and Rosie Gray: “Frayda Levin, a major Republican donor who is involved with Koch-backed groups, said the decision many are debating on whether or not to get on board with Trump will depend on the type of donor they are. “You have to divide donors into those who are Republicans first and policy second and those who are policy first and Republicans second. Many who are policy first still aren’t comfortable with Trump.” Another top GOP donor to super PACs, billionaire Paul Singer, will focus on House and Senate races and does not plan on supporting either Trump or Clinton, according to a source.” [BuzzFeed]

“Trump Selects a White Nationalist Leader as a Delegate in California” by Josh Harkinson:“On Monday evening, California’s secretary of state published a list of delegates chosen by the Trump campaign for the upcoming Republican presidential primary in the state. Trump’s slate includes William Johnson, one of the country’s most prominent white nationalists. Update: Responding to this story late Tuesday, the Trump campaign blamed Johnson’s selection on a “database error,” and Johnson told Mother Jones he would resign.” [MotherJonesJI]

“Fact Check: Did Hillary Clinton Introduce A New Approach To Early Education?” by Anya Kamenetz: “A Clinton campaign video features Bill Clinton, in a speech, crediting his wife with bringing the program to the U.S. from Israel when she was first lady of Arkansas in 1985. “She comes in one day, jumping up and down happy,” the former president says in the video. “She says, ‘I found it. A preschool program in Israel that teaches people to be their children’s first teachers even if they’re illiterate. I think it could work here’ … Next thing you know it’s in 26 states.” The short answer: Hillary Clinton did bring the program to Arkansas, but she wasn’t responsible for importing it to the United States. And it is national, in 21 — not 26 — states and DC, but it’s not very big — only 15,000 participants each year.” [NPR]

TOP TALKER: “Kerry Tries to Drum Up Some Business in Europe for Iran” by Felicia Schwartz: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that European businesses should not use U.S. sanctions on Iran as an excuse for avoiding business with Tehran. Mr. Kerry’s comments were part of the Obama administration’s moves recently to help integrate Iran into the global economic system after decades of punitive sanctions.” [WSJNYTimes]

Mark Dubowitz tells us: “In its remaining time, the Obama administration will do everything possible to enable European business with Iran and the Europeans and Iranians will put enormous pressure on the next administration to continue that trajectory,” FDD’s Mark Dubowitz told Jewish Insider. According to Dubowitz, the only way European companies would be reluctant to rush doing business with Iran would be if the U.S. imposes meaningful economic sanctions on Iran for its support for terrorism, missile activities or human rights abuses. “It will take a bold administration — and Hillary Clinton may be tough-minded enough to do this — to resist the pressure and use the full range of American power to counter Iranian aggression,” he said. “If she signals a willingness to do that, European companies, especially the large banks and insurance companies, may stay out.” [JewishInsider]

“State Dept. blames ‘glitch’ for missing Iran video” by Pete Kasperowicz: “The State Department said Tuesday that a “glitch” led a video on its website to be altered in such a way that it removed comments from a spokeswoman who seemed to admit in 2013 that the government lied about when the Iran nuclear talks started. “There was a glitch in the State Department video,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters.” [WashExaminer]

“Ron Dermer: Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is highlight of my DC tenure” by Herb Keinon: ”Dermer rejected the criticism that Netanyahu’s decision to go ahead with the speech against the Iran deal despite US President Barack Obama’s bitter opposition was a colossal mistake that set back Israel-US ties.“The fact that the prime minister spoke up in the face of so much unjust criticism is not just a highlight of my tenure in Washington but, in my view, one of the highlights of his premiership and one of the many reasons I am so proud to serve him,” he said.” [JPost]

SPECIAL PRIVILEGES: “Why Only Israel Can Customize America’s F-35 (At Least for Now)” by Eric Adams: “The stealth fighter jet, which Lockheed Martin is selling to US allies, comes with caveats that expressly prohibit unauthorized tinkering and a requirement that only US-run facilities service the plane. These rules, designed to protect deeply intertwined systems and maintain the security of sensitive technology, are non-negotiable. Unless you are Israel.” [WiredMag]

Happening today: The annual Jewish American Heritage Month Congressional Celebration, hosted by the U.S. Jewish Heritage Committee and coordinated by The Friedlander Group, will take place at the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill at noon.

In NYC: Ambassador Danny Danon will host a special showing of “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway in honor of Israel’s 68th Independence Day.

Heard yesterday — Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence, gave his perspective on Syria, the war against ISIS, the strategic challenges ahead for the United States and its allies, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in a conversation with Michael Doran at the Hudson Institute on Tuesday.

Highlights — Rubio indirectly rebuked Trump’s foreign policy approach that the U.S. should scale down its global presence in favor of focusing on domestic problems, stressing how important U.S. engagement is to the economy and national security. “It’s a lot easier to say let’s walk away. It’s a lot easier to say for example, why do we give all this money to NATO and these other people do not? It’s easier to say that than to explain what would happen if you didn’t,” Rubio said. “While it is true that there are certainly consequences and complexities presented by our engagement, I still think a world without our engagement is not a world we want to live in. If we are not engaged in the world, the price we’ll pay will be much higher in the long run than the price we pay to be engaged.” [Video]

Rubio on Netanyahu’s call to recognize Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan Heights: “In the short term, the Golan isn’t going anywhere. It is going to continue to be an important buffer for Israel, especially given what you now see on the ground. What I try to avoid doing is add additional irritant to an already difficult issue because it would almost be used by some of the forces in Syria to call for additional arms with regards to what’s happening and perhaps even trigger more activity near the Golan at a time when Israel faces multiple threats. But the reality of it is that even if Israel tomorrow would give up the Golan, who exactly would they turn it over to? My guess is that for the foreseeable future, Israel will continue to have an enduring presence in the Golan… I think that as part of the final matrix, it is likelier than not that the Golan Heights will remain in Israeli control for a long, long time.” [JewishInsider] • Flashback: “Rubio Supports Israeli Annexation of Golan Heights” [JewishInsider]

STATE SCENE — David Adelman emails from Des Moines, Iowa: “After a bipartisan push from the Iowa Legislature, the Governor signed House File 2331, an Act concerning investment of certain public funds in and public contracts with companies that boycott Israel. The progressive and conservative communities came together to advocate for the legislation after seeing that BDS is not a pro-peace movement. The Iowa State Legislature spoke resoundingly with the passage of legislation that rejects bigotry, rejects anti-Semitism, and prevents state agencies from working with companies that unjustly discriminate against one of America’s closest allies.”

–Spotted at the signing: Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Republican Majority Leader Rep. Chris Hagenow, Democratic Majority Leader Sen. Mike Gronstal, Sen. Matt McCoy, Sen. Charles Schneider, Israel Project’s Jacob Milner, and 6 year old Michael Adelman. [Pic]

Jesse Gabriel emails from Sacramento, California: “Several dozen activists and Jewish communal professionals converged on Sacramento to lobby on homelessness and anti-BDS legislation as part of the annual JPAC lobby day. Senator Mark Leno presented the Earl Raab Award to Rabbi Doug Kahn and joked about being a rabbinical school dropout. Hot topics of conversations included Former Assembly Speaker John Pérez’s encyclopedic knowledge of Jewish trivia and the heated State Senate race between NLP alum Henry Stern and Jewish World Watch co-founder Janice Kaminer-Reznick.”

–Spotted: State Treasurer John Chiang, Former Obama Administration staffer Jake Levine, Dr. Anita Friedman, Abby Porth, Catherine Schneider, Paul Castro, Shana Hazan, Nancy Volpert, Jerilyn Gelt, Julie Zeisler, Rabbi Noah Farkas, Gia Daniller Katz, Howard Welinsky.

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Carl Icahn Is Betting Big on a Stock Market Crash” [Fortune• “Best-paid U.S. hedge fund managers take home $13 billion” [Reuters] • “Mayoral Aide in Talks About Rivington Before Deed Restrictions Lifted, Property Sold” [WSJ• “Israeli Stocks Are Dragged Down by Teva Pharmaceutical” [TheStreet]

SPOTLIGHT: “Israeli Entrepreneurs Are Shaking Up The American Real Estate Market” by Omri Barzilay: “There’s little doubt that 2015 will be remembered as a remarkable year in real estate technology. With more than $1.7 billion deployed globally across more than 190 deals, real estate technology reached record funding and deal levels never seen before. Two of the leading companies in this surge was WeWork and Compass co-founded by Adam Neumann and Ori Allon respectively who are both from Israel.” [Forbes]

STARTUP NATION: “Chinese tech giant Kuang-Chi harnesses Israeli tech to build smart cities in China” by Dennis Mitzner: “Kuang-Chi, a Shenzhen-based technology conglomerate, recently launched a $300 million Israel fund in Tel Aviv to tap the country’s smart-city know-how, according to the company’s founder Ruopeng Liu.” [TechCrunch]

LongRead: “South Florida Man Alan Amron Says He Invented the Post-it and Lost Millions” by Jerry Iannelli: “Alan Amron’s living room on Evernia Street in West Palm Beach is barely wider than the dark sofa that dominates it… Not exactly the kind of home you’d expect for a guy who says he invented a product that sells an estimated $1 billion a year. So, yeah, things haven’t turned out like Amron hoped. But the 68-year-old is unquestionably a genius. He holds patents on 40 inventions and has come up with scores of others: a battery-operated water gun, a digital photo frame, sprays that dissolve dog poop, a zombie-like doll that walks toward you as if it were Frankenstein, a bubblegum tape dispenser, numerous children’s toys, an early version of the TV sleep timer, and a green laser cannon that shoots a first-down line onto football fields.”

“In 1976, Amron took a vacation from Long Island to Miami Beach. Strolling along Collins Avenue, he ducked into a greasy spoon to grab some breakfast. Improbably, Muhammad Ali, then the greatest boxer on the planet, sat in a booth in the middle of the restaurant, tearing his way through a stack of pancakes. Amron, ever the opportunist, walked up to Ali’s table. “Excuse me, sir,” he began, “but I’m trying to re-form the Beatles. Would you like to help?” “The Beatles?” the boxer replied. “I love the Beatles!” Ali then shoved one of his massive hands into his pocket and fished out his wallet. He handed Amron a business card. “This is the number to my manager,” Ali said. “Call him and tell him I want to do this with you.”

“After his initial meeting with Ali at the Miami Beach diner, Amron flew out to the boxer’s home in Chicago. Jabir Herbert Muhammad, Ali’s manager and spiritual adviser, met the duo at the house… “We need someone like you,” Muhammad the manager told Amron at lunch that day. “When people see me, they get sort of scared, sort of upset.” Muhammad was also a prominent leader in the Nation of Islam. “We need a nice Jewish kid like you to represent Ali in movie deals, TV deals, that sort of thing. I’ll tell you what to say, and you go out and do it.” So Amron became Ali’s manager.” [BPBNewTimes]

REVIEW: “In new Anthony Weiner documentary, it’s hard not to see shades of Trump” by Marina Fang: “In a now-famous incident, a routine campaign stop at a kosher bakery just days before the primary turns ugly when Weiner gets combative with an antagonistic customer. Outside the bakery, the filmmakers interview an eyewitness to the fracas, who is dumbfounded at Weiner’s behavior. “Why didn’t he just walk away?” he says, shaking his head. “Why did he need that? It was going nicely!” Afterward, Weiner seems to regret how he escalated the situation. Yet his first reaction upon seeing the video, which has gone viral, is one of vanity: he complains about the “terrible shot” of his bald spot.”[HuffPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Philanthropist and CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, Bill Ackman turns 5-0… Israeli optical and kinetic artist and sculptor Yaacov Agam (who was born Yaakov Gibstein) turns 88… Comedian Mort Sahl, the pioneer of social and political satire for comics, turns 89… Director of Governmental Affairs at the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia, Michael Alexander… Howard Pollack…

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Atlantic Magazine: Casino Jack’s New Game

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mariah Blake of The Atlantic Magazine profiles Jack Abramoff. Jack Abramoff, the infamous lobbyist, was slumped over a table in a dimly lit Clear Channel studio on a recent Sunday…

An Israeli lollipop that helps you lose weight

Thursday, March 21, 2013

“Willy Wonka may have the secret recipe for the Everlasting Gobstopper, but it’s an Israeli candy company that is taking the confectionery and health food world by storm…

NYTIMES: Jailed Unjustly in the Death of a Rabbi, Man Nears Freedom

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On today’s front page, the NYTimes reports that a Brooklyn prosecutor plans to seek freedom of man convicted in 1990 killing of Rabbi.

Orthodox Jewish groups endorse Christie in Lakewood

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 reports Governor Christie visited Lakewood Tuesday to accept the endorsement of the town’s elected leadership and the Orthodox Jewish community, after he held a town hall-style meeting at…

Digital learning bills would expand reach to non-public school students in Florida

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jeff Solocheck, of the Tampa Bay Times, reports on a new bill out of the Florida House Education Choice and Innovation Subcommittee that would, among other things, require the…

Ruby Schron pays $25M for Coney Island retail site

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Real estate investor Ruby Schron has forked out $25 million to buy a 49,000-square-foot building at 532 Neptune Avenue near Coney Island, according to public records filed with…