Daily Kickoff: Tony Blair to address AIPAC | Greenblatt defends Lempert | Chelsea & Ivanka trade places | Adam Braun’s mission to prevent college debt

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SIREN: “Israel police arrest suspect in threats on US Jewish targets” by The Associated Press: “Israeli police say they have arrested a 19-year-old Israeli Jewish man as the primary suspect in a string of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers in the U.S. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld… says the suspect is “the guy who was behind the JCC threats” … He says the investigation was carried out with the help of the FBI and police from other countries… There are still few details available about the suspect’s profile, but he is not in the IDF, not ultra-Orthodox, and at some point made aliya and possibly has psychological and social problems.” [APJPost]

“The suspect reportedly has US citizenship. According to his lawyer, the suspect has been suffering from a brain tumor since the age of 14, and he’s been homeschooled ever since. According to her, the illness affects his behavior, which impedes him from working and even prevented him from being enlisted.” [YNet]

FLASHBACK — March 1st: “Trump questions who is really behind anti-Semitic threats and vandalism” [WashPost]

TOP TALKER: “Federal staffers panicked by conservative media attacks” by Nahal Toosi and Andrew Restuccia: “The claims posted on the conservative sites include allegations of anti-Israel and pro-Iran bias against staffers at institutions such as the State Department and the National Security Council. Breitbart News, whose former executive chairman Steve Bannon is now Trump’s chief strategist, has even published lists of workers that the president should fire… Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a career civil service officer in State’s policy planning office who’s been targeted in the past, has come under renewed fire because of her role shaping the Iran nuclear deal and other Iran policy during the Obama administration.”

“Yael Lempert, a National Security Council official who deals with Israeli-Palestinian issues and has nearly 20 years of government experience, also has been targeted by reports casting her to be anti-Israel. People from across the political spectrum have risen to her defense, noting that she’s well-liked by Israeli officials and served as a top negotiator for a recent $38 billion security assistance package for Israel.”

“In a statement to Politico, Jason Greenblatt, a Trump special envoy for international negotiations, described Lempert as “extremely hard-working” and one of several people across various agencies who are “enthusiastically working to advance the president’s agenda.” “She’s not an Obama lackey. She has served all presidents because she’s valued,” added another U.S. official who has worked with Lempert.” [Politico]

“In Greeting to Iranian People, Trump Leaves Out Their Government” by Mark Landler: “The five-paragraph statement went through multiple drafts, according to two people involved in the process. Hard-liners in the White House first tried to kill the message, and when that failed, stripped it of references to engaging with the Iranian government… Mr. Bannon, an administration official said, “gutted the most ridiculous material” after arguing that Mr. Trump should not send the message at all… “This is a message designed to put the regime on the defensive,” said Dennis B. Ross, a former senior adviser to Mr. Obama on Iran. “It is smart and well crafted with clear messages in mind.” … Mr. Trump claimed “wonderful friendships with Iranian-Americans.” His director of Jewish outreach during the campaign was an Orthodox Jewish immigrant from Iran, David Peyman.” [NYTimes

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Channel 2’s Udi Segal reported last night that Jason Greenblatt offered to accept building within settlement blocs and under quotas, but that BB rejected that offer and is still trying to improve the framework. The report was immediately met with right-wing objections, as the Jewish Home party and many members of the Likud will not settle for a restriction to the blocs, reflecting the political constraints Netanyahu is facing. Bezalel Smotrich from the Jewish Home tweeted “It seems like Trump really wants Netanyahu to fall. Weren’t they supposed to be friends?” Meanwhile, Naftali Bennett is on his way to DC himself, to address AIPAC, and mark his first visit in the US in the Trump era. The day after the elections, Bennett was dreaming of a whole new world with the administration, but so far, his dreams seem far from coming true. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset, including the latest on the fight between Bibi and Kahlon over the IBC, here [JewishInsider]

“Obama’s Israel envoy sees positive elements in Trump’s peace efforts” by Yuval Ben-David: “So far the approach on the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been more cautious and more responsible than almost anything else,” Dan Shapiro told Reuters. “I can’t quite explain why on this one issue they’re closer to the norm than they’ve been on other issues.” In the interview, he said Trump has surprised him by calling for a slowdown in Israeli settlement construction… Still, Shapiro cautioned, Trump’s government is inconsistent and unpredictable. “I’m not sure how comfortable the Israelis should be with an administration that’s hard to read, that’s far from fully staffed, that has a very undeveloped policymaking apparatus and has very divergent voices within it.” [DailyMail]

“Why Netanyahu won’t attend this year’s AIPAC conference” by Ben Caspit: “A diplomatic source in Washington told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that it was impossible to arrange a meeting between the two men due to “scheduling conflicts.” As of now, it is unclear who really tried to avoid meeting with whom… Regardless of who was responsible for that, a source in the prime minister’s office said on condition of anonymity, “We’re not quite there yet, but we will soon start to miss Barack Hussein Obama.” …

“During his talks in Washington, Netanyahu tried to intimidate the Americans by telling them that he was restrained by politics and his coalition. Given the makeup of his government, he explained that there was little he could do in terms of the Palestinian issue. As such, when Greenblatt met with Herzog and also with Zionist Camp co-leader Tzipi Livni, he asked discreetly and with considerable sensitivity about the current political situation. In other words, he tried to find out whether Netanyahu’s analysis of the situation was accurate, or whether he had other political options.” [Al-Monitor]

COMING SOON — Former Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair will address AIPAC’s Policy Conference during a Sunday morning session alongside Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer. Blair reportedly courted WH Senior Advisor Jared Kushner to become Trump’s envoy on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed last week that Blair has offered to help Trump win a peace deal… and the WH had “taken his approach seriously.”

ON THE HILL — Three days before the AIPAC Policy Conference commences, House and Senate members are rushing to introduce bills attractive to the pro-Israel community. Yesterday Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) in the House and Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Jon Tester (D-MT) in the Senate introduced resolutions to strengthen US economic cooperation with Israel. The Iran sanctions bill is also being advanced, with Sen. Bob Corker, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, telling Jewish Insider that after intense deliberations with Democratic Senators, Ben Cardin and Bob Menendez, “we’re down to just a couple of paragraphs and hopefully we will be able to complete discussions today.”

Senator Chris Coons told JI’s Aaron Magid that he would support the Iran sanctions bill. “Iran hasn’t in any way moderated its behavior with regards to terrorism,” Coons explained. “Iran’s bad behavior with regards to human rights violations and ballistic missile launches has not only not moderated, if anything it’s worsened, since the JCPOA. It’s important that we work to find a path a forward for a strong bipartisan bill that responds to the concerns.” [JewishInsider

“Iranian navy endangering international navigation in Gulf: U.S. commanders” by Sami Aboudi: “It was the first time a U.S. carrier entered the narrow waterway, where up to 30 percent of global oil exports pass annually, since President Donald Trump took office in January pledging a tougher U.S. stance toward Iran. U.S. commanders said Tuesday’s incident, in which the George H.W. Bush sent helicopter gunships to hover over the Iranian speedboats as some came as close as 950 yards (870 meters) away from the aircraft carrier, ended without a shot being fired. The encounter with Iranian Navy boats occurred as the USS George H.W. Bush was en route to the northern part of the Gulf to participate in U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.” [Reuters]

FLASHBACK – Trump on 09-09-2016: “With Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures — that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water.” [JewishInsider]

“Congress, Trump need a united front to face down Iran” by Richard Fontaine, Elizabeth Rosenberg and Ilan Goldenberg: “With Iran now “officially on notice,” President Trump has yet to spell out the precise contours of his more aggressive approach.” [TheHill

“The Delusion of the Iran Nuclear Deal” by Mark Dubowitz: “The Trump administration should work with Congress to design a statutory architecture that freezes the Iranian nuclear program where it is today and impose new crippling sanctions if it expands… While putting the squeeze on the regime, the administration should make it clear to the Chinese, Europeans and Russians that Washington is prepared to negotiate a follow-on agreement that addresses the fatal flaws of the original deal… Rigorously enforcing the Iran deal is a delusion.” [WSJ

“An Open Letter from a Young Saudi to Prince Mohammad bin Salman” by Abdulhameed Hakeem: “A Message to the Israeli and Jewish People – Joining Forces… The policies of the Iranian regime are alarmingly similar to the Nazi policies that aimed to exterminate your people. Thus, the Iranian and Nazi regimes are two faces of the same coin in their enmity and hatred of you and the danger they pose. Nevertheless, please be assured that peace can be achieved, and your historical role in our region secured, within the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative. This process would also promote the achievement of peace with Israel within the framework of the Saudi (Arab) Peace Initiative. If achieved, it will save the region from the flames fueled by the Iranian regime, and also allow Saudi Arabia to openly partner with the many technological advances Israel offers.” [WashInstitute]

House Hearing Highlights Rise in Anti-Semitism — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Given the partisan tensions, Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) called for the fight against anti-Semitism be removed from the daily squabble between Republicans and Democrats. “It is my hope that this bipartisan consensus will continue, and that none will seek to score political points to advance a political narrative.” [JewishInsider

“This Is The White House Aide Who Met With An Anti-Muslim Leader This Week” by Hannah Allam: “This week, [Paul] Teller met with ACT for America founder Brigitte Gabriel… Under [Ted] Cruz, Teller was a behind-the-scenes player who was described in a Washington Post profile as “one of the most influential conservative aides in Congress” and by The Hill as Cruz’s “agitator in chief.” He is known for an aggressive take-no-prisoners style… In the Trump administration, Teller serves as special assistant to the president for legislative affairs in the House, focusing on conservative lawmakers.” [BuzzFeed]

“Pulse Check: Zeke Emanuel’s lonely fight to shift Trump on health care” by Dan Diamond: “Emanuel also insists that he’s no liberal patsy, despite some Democrats’ worries that the White House will use his meetings with Trump to provide bipartisan cover for what’s been a partisan bill… “I’m not going to be a fig leaf for them,” Emanuel said, promising that he consistently delivered “straight talk” to Trump… “Just because I got invited to the White House, I’m never not going to say what I think,” Emanuel said. “This is an appalling bill.”” [Politico

2018 WATCH: “Billionaire running for Illinois governor passed bad check” by Natasha Korecki: “Billionaire J.B. Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt Hotel empire and who was named one of the wealthiest people in the world this week, once pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of writing a “worthless check.” The check was written in June of 1986 for the amount of $60.46. Two years later, he was charged with writing a bad check for an even smaller figure: $17.72, records show. In a statement to POLITICO, Pritzker, through a spokesperson, accused a potential gubernatorial opponent of planting a story about “two checks totaling $78 dollars that were accidentally written 30 years ago while JB was in college.”” [Politico]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Netanyahu Seeks China Waiver on Israel Technology Investments [Bloomberg] • Israeli defense company Elbit optimistic in age of Trump [Reuters] • Sam Nazarian’s SBE set to merge with Hakkasan Group [LVSun; WSJ] • James Packer’s Crown Resorts steps up cost-cutting [TheAustralian] • Elliott Management Threatens to Force Akzo Nobel to Engage With PPG [WSJ] • Black Elk Down: How did a small Houston oil company with grand ambitions get caught up in the biggest Ponzi scheme since Bernie Madoff? [TexasMonthly] • Guardian Announces Cuts After $250,000 Kushner Lease Debacle [BuzzFeed]

“Inside the Troubled Kushner Tower: Empty Offices and Mounting Debt” by Caleb Melby and David Kocieniewski: “The Manhattan tower co-owned by the family of Jared Kushner… has been losing money for three years and faces increasing loan fees in 2017, which may explain why the family has been negotiating with Chinese insurance behemoth Anbang on new financing. The fees, at 666 Fifth Avenue, kicked in last month and escalate with each payment until the loan is repaid, a 2011 refinancing agreement shows. December brings another hurdle: Interest paid on the bulk of about $1.1 billion of loans jumps to 6.35 percent, more than double what it was after the debt was refinanced in 2011.” [Bloomberg]

“Chelsea and Ivanka Are Trading Places” by Michelle Cottle: “This time last year, people were pestering Clinton fille about what role she would be playing in her mother’s administration and how much time she would be spending in the White House. Now, Chelsea pops up in the news only rarely, when she issues some piquant remark on Twitter or when someone wants to float a rumor that she’s considering a political run in the very near future… At this rate, Chelsea will soon roll out her new eponymous line of fragrances while Ivanka is announced as her dad’s new chief of staff.” [TheAtlantic] • When Ivanka Trump Was a Cool Teen, She Reportedly Went ‘Missing’ in Aspen [NYMag]

‘Power Rangers’ creator Haim Saban hits out at Trump: “The 62-year-old Israeli-American billionaire, who turned the teen superhero franchise into one of the longest-running children’s shows of all time, was receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when his thoughts turned to Trump. “I’m heartbroken (at) the breaking up of families, the way it’s happening right now,” he told AFP of the president’s crackdown on undocumented migrants and court-challenged 90-day ban on entry to the United States by people from six Muslim-majority countries. “It’s a very saddening thing, it’s not who we are as Americans. We are not that.”” [AFP]

— “Take it from this immigrant from Israel, a proud Israeli-American, born in Egypt, a Muslim country: America is great. Not perfect, but great,” Saban said to applause. “And we shouldn’t allow any rhetoric to make us think otherwise, because America is great — period.” [LADailyNews]

Haim Saban’s Rise From Poor Kid in the Middle East to ‘Power Rangers’ Godfather” by Malina Saval: “It was August 2003 and Haim Saban was awaiting word on a deal to acquire a controlling stake in ProSiebenSat.1 Media, Germany’s largest broadcasting group… Saban’s cell phone vibrated in his pocket as he was standing in the [Dachau] death camp with his son, Ness… It was Adam Chesnoff, president and CEO of Saban Capital, who’d been negotiating all day with the bankers. “I pick up the phone, and Adam says… ‘We got it. The bankers decided to sell it to us.’ I’m standing there, and my whole body is covered with shivers… All of a sudden I’m someone people wanted to talk to in Germany,” says Saban, on whom the irony of being a Jew and owning the largest group of German TV networks has never once been lost, even as he tells the story 14 years later. “I never felt threatened, not even close. In fact, it was the opposite. The German politicians, the German employees, and the people, they were all absolutely fantastic.”” [Variety] • Haim Saban’s Deep Love for Israel Drives His Philanthropy [Variety

“Backed By Big Wheels, A Boston Incubator Hooks Up Young Israelis And Palestinians To Launch Startups” by Richard Behar: “The venture [Ohad Elhelo] has built in a short time — a rigorous annual academic fellowship and business incubator in the Boston area for young Israelis and Palestinians called “Our Generation Speaks” — ought to be replicated in every American city. Former governor Patrick chairs its advisory board, while Dan Kraft — Robert’s son and the CEO of the family’s giant International Forest Products — also serves on that board. The Kraft family provided seed capital plus $1 million, and to date, the venture has raised nearly $4 million from a variety of American, Israeli and Palestinian investors.” [Forbes

ADAM BRAUN’S LATEST: “Start-up partners with Lyft, Spotify to help young people skip college and land high-paying jobs” by Catherine Clifford: “Inspired by (his wife) Tehillah’s struggles and those of millions of smart, motivated young people like her, [Adam] Braun set out to build an alternative to the current higher education system in the U.S. MissionU launched Tuesday and is currently accepting applications… If accepted, students at the one-year skills-focused program have no upfront payment. Instead, they agree to pay 15 percent of their salary for three years once they have graduated from the program and secured a job making at least $50,000 a year… Corporate partners including Lyft, Warby Parker, Casper, Bonobos, Spotify and Harry’s help establish the curriculum so that MissionU graduates are sure to have the skills that employers need in their workers.” [CNBC; USATodayCollege]

“Israel’s Autotalks raises $30M, total to date $70M” by Tova Cohen: “Autotalks, an Israeli provider of vehicle to vehicle (V2V)communication for improving road safety, said on Wednesday it raised $30 million in a late-stage funding round, bringing to $70 million its total raised to date. It will use the funds to expand operations and accelerate deployment of technologies for safer autonomous vehicles.” [Reuters

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Can We Still Be People of the Book in the Age of Trump and Twitter?” by Yishai Schwartz: “For too many of us, our days are framed by texts filled with news stories, not values debates. And as we go to bed, it is Gorsuch and Comey and Kahlon that we ponder, not the meaning of the Exodus or whether I overcharged my most recent customer.” [Tablet

“Meet Benoit Cohen, The Decorated French Director Who Went Undercover as a New York City Cab Driver” by Armin Rosen: “Encouragingly for himself, his adopted city, and perhaps the human race at large, Cohen did not emerge from four months of driving a cab in New York with his faith in humanity shattered—like his inhibitionless late-night fare, most customers were perfectly adequate tippers. And Cohen, a French citizen and the son of a Tunisian Jew, has had what counts as a successful if somewhat idiosyncratic immigrant experience these last three years. (Although he isn’t religious, and says he grew up in what was basically an atheist household, Cohen recognizes that “being a Cohen is a something special.” More than one passenger noticed his last name on his taxi license and asked about it.)” [Tablet

TRANSITION — Barry Shrage, longtime CEO of Boston Jewish federation, announces retirement: “Shrage, 69, who has helmed the Combined Jewish Philanthropies for three decades, made the announcement in a letter Wednesday to the local Jewish community — the fourth largest in the United States.” [JTA

DESSERT: “Israel finds hundreds of bottles of alcohol left behind by British soldiers during First World War” by Raf Sanchez: “Israeli archaeologists digging near the city of Ramla are used to uncovering flint tools and Palaeolithic remains. But when they began excavating land that is about to be used for a new motorway they made a significantly less dry discovery. Hundreds of bottles of gin, wine, beer and other alcohols left behind by British troops during the First World War were dug out of the dry earth.” [Telegraph]

BIRTHDAYS: Stand-up comedian, actor, veteran of World War II who has worked as a comedy headliner in nightclubs and as a dramatic actor in TV roles, Marty Allen (born Morton David Alpern) turns 95… Actor, film director, television director and producer,  Mark Rydell turns 88… Former National Football League referee for 23 seasons, the only NFL head referee to officiate four Super Bowl games (1983,1987, 1992 and 1995), Jerry Markbreit turns 82… Of counsel at the ultra-prestigious law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, served as White House counsel for President Clinton (1993-1994), Bernard W. Nussbaum turns 80… Mandolinist and composer of acoustic, instrumental, bluegrass and newgrass music, David Grisman turns 72… Writer and producer of television series, creator of “Deadwood” and co-creator  of “NYPD Blue,” summa cum laude graduate of Yale University, David Milch turns 72… Los Angeles-based psychologist and author, whose first book is “The Blessings of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children,” Wendy Mogel turns 66…

Designer of men’s and women’s footwear, men’s and women’s clothing, and also accessories under the Kenneth Cole Reaction Line, promoter of progressive social causes, Kenneth D. Cole turns 63… Mayor of Austin, Texas since January 6, 2015, previously board member or board chair of multiple Austin-based nonprofits and civic organizations including the ADL, Stephen Ira Adler turns 61… Investor, author, financial commentator and radio personality, he owns an offshore bank, a management company and a NYC-based precious metals dealer, Peter Schiff turns 54… French actress who has appeared in more than 30 films and whose Holocaust survivor grandparents changed their name from Goldreich, Judith Godrèche turns 45… Member of the Maryland General Assembly since 2011, initially as a delegate and since 2016 as a state senator, Craig Zucker turns 42… Israeli stage and screen actor, Itay Tiran turns 37… Israeli singer-songwriter, actress and musician who performs in Hebrew, French and Arabic, winner of Israel’s 2013 “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” award, Riff Cohen turns 33… Tax counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee, Aharon Friedman… Beth Millstein… Yehuda Hausman

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Daily Kickoff: Trump is mad at the Israeli government…. Jules Trump that is | How Kushner got the UK to thwart the Obama admin | Wolf Blitzer BDay

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SPOTLIGHT: “Another Trump hopes Israel can make ammonia great again” by Shoshanna Solomon: “Trump is mad at the Israeli government. Not Donald Trump, the president of the United States. The other Trump — Jules Trump, a 73-year-old South African-born US citizen and real estate tycoon who holds a controlling stake in the Israeli fertilizer maker Haifa Chemicals. He is no relation to Donald, but the real estate tycoon who is now US commander-in-chief did sue the “other” Trump to stop him from using the name. “Trump never won,” Jules Trump said with a chuckle, sitting on the couch in a Tel Aviv hotel suite last week. “I still operate under the name Trump. Our relationship with him now is fine.” But, to get back to Israel, Jules Trump, who with his brother Eddie owns a controlling stake in Haifa Chemicals, has a huge problem.”

“An Israeli court has ordered that a huge ammonia tank on the bay be emptied by April 1 following concerns that damage to the storage facility could endanger the lives of tens of thousands of people in Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city. The tank stores the compound that Haifa Chemicals and others use in their production lines. Haifa Chemicals is the main consumer of the imported ammonia, which it uses to make potassium nitrate, a fertilizer used by farmers in Israel and globally to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables… Last year, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to target Haifa’s ammonia facilities with rockets in the next conflict with Israel… The report warned that if ruptured, the vast ammonia storage tank would suffocate 16,000 victims under a toxic cloud.” [ToI]

FIRST LOOK: “Jared Kushner Struck Out in His First Foray Into Middle East Diplomacy — But Trump’s son-in-law succeeded in coaxing the U.K., America’s closest ally, into thwarting the Obama administration” by Colum Lynch: “Shortly before the Dec. 23 vote on Israeli settlements… Kushner contacted Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to the United States… to push back the vote on the resolution until after the inauguration… Britain rebuffed Kushner’s appeal… “He gave the Brits a tough time because of their vote on the settlements resolution,” said a senior Western diplomat. On Dec. 30, May delivered an extraordinary rebuke of Secretary Kerry… Kushner was said to be simmering over May’s remarks, which failed to fundamentally alter London’s views on the virtues of the settlements resolution. One diplomat suggested the statement may not have put enough daylight between Britain and the Obama administration. “Or maybe he’s just always angry,” the diplomat said.”

Trump’s advisors were alarmed by French plans to host a high-level Middle East meeting the next week in Paris, which would have reinforced international opposition to settlements. Johnson declined to go to Paris, sending a lower level British official in his place. British officials subsequently blocked the adoption of European Union statements in Brussels and the U.N. Security Council endorsing the Paris communique, which had reinforced international denunciation of Israel’s settlements.”

“Thomas Barrack Jr., a Lebanese-American fundraiser and advisor to Trump, praised Kushner’s role in trying to block the settlements resolution. His “instinct of sensing a moment in time in which this president might put his fingerprints on a peaceful solution to decades-old issues was timely and appropriate,” he said.” [ForeignPolicy]

Netanyahu: ‘Significant Progress’ in Talks With Trump Administration on Curbed Settlement Activity — by Barak Ravid: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesdayto journalists before he left China for Israel that there has been “significant progress” in recent talks between U.S. and Israeli negotiators in recent days regarding curbed settlement construction. Netanyahu noted that talks have not ended despite the recent progress, which he will be updated on upon his return.” [Haaretz] • Netanyahu: Building in East Jerusalem is non-negotiable [ToI]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Michael Ratney’s role in the peace process: “He is following this issue very closely from his perch in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. This is a team effort. We’re going to continue to look at the way forward and we’re analyzing. Much of what Mr. Greenblatt did in the region last week, as we’ve said, was geared towards listening to perspectives on both sides of this or on all sides of this issue and trying from that to find ways of commonality, common goals, and try to set the environment we believe is necessary to begin a peace process.”

“Defense Minister warns of EU diplomatic ‘assault’ against Israel by end of the year” by Dana Somberg: “[Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman] also made references to the relatively new American administration, saying Israel could ill-afford to disrupt relations with US President Donald Trump. “We do not have an option to quarrel with the Trump government … we had eight difficult years with [former US president Barack] Obama and now there is a Republican administration – the Senate, Congress and of course the White House lead by a sympathetic Republican president.” [JPost]

“Former Ambassador Dennis Ross: Trump will face Middle East test” by Michael Reschke: “Trump was highly critical of the Obama-era deal, but it seems clear he’s not planning to walk away from it. “That’s the smart thing to do,” Ross said… The focus should be on Iran and its bad behavior, Ross said, but if the U.S. pulls out, the focus would shift. “We become the issue,” he said.” [HeraldTimes]

“Trump’s secret plan against ISIS? A lot like Obama’s” by Aaron David Miller and Jason M. Brodsky: “On ISIS, President Trump is operating within the parameters set by his predecessor. Redux on the fact that the Trump White House has decided to retain President Obama’s special presidential envoy, Brett McGurk, so he will continue to be the point man for the US in countering ISIS. Now removing the caps on the number of US forces deployed to these battlefields is a change. Still, if reports are accurate, President Trump’s much-promised “secret plan” to defeat ISIS looks very similar to the Obama playbook, albeit with increased tempo.” [CNN]

“Calling On a Few Good Men” by Thomas Friedman: “Trump inherited a “daunting inbox” in foreign policy, but unfortunately “he is making it much worse,” said Richard Haass… Without an urgent course correction, added Haass, we could end up “not with America first, but with America alone. If you say and do nothing when the nation’s leader smears his predecessor — and then maintains his fantasy as fact — not only will he never have the credibility to call on any other country to uphold the highest standards for rule of law, democracy and human rights, but neither will all of you.” [NYTimes]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Carbon tax debate exposed rift among Trump’s aides” by Josh Dawsey, Annie Karni and Andrew Restuccia: “After Zeke Emanuel, one of the Affordable Care Act’s architects, came to the White House for a meeting with Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Monday, conservatives and some White House aides were displeased, including Bannon… The strategist skipped the meeting, even though other top White House officials attended. “Why would he be in here?” one adviser said of Emanuel. “We are trying to pass a new law, not promote theirs.” “That is why the Hill thinks Cohn is not conducive to getting any legislation passed,” one White House official said, when asked about the meeting, accusing Cohn of orchestrating the meeting.” [Politico

“Why Letting Go, for Trump, Is No Small or Simple Task” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “One of the only other people whom Mr. Trump views as a peer is his top economic adviser, Gary Cohn… In a recent meeting in the Oval Office, Mr. Cohn was speaking when Mr. Trump interrupted him. “Let me finish,’’ Mr. Cohn interjected, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction. Mr. Trump, unaccustomed to ceding the floor, let him make his point.” [NYTimes

“As Ivanka Trump’s White House role expands, her company is sued for unfair competition” by Matea Gold: “Norman Eisen, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama, said he expects other such suits to crop up. “None of them is a layup, but I do think the courts are going to take them seriously,” he said, adding, “I do believe that the Trump family businesses are engaged in unfair competition. The ways in which the whole Trump family uses the White House and the presidency as the world’s greatest infomercial does strike me as unfair.”” [WashPost] • How first daughter Ivanka Trump’s role at the White House has grown [ABCNews]

Maggie Haberman:“Apparently the office Ivanka is taking has been held aside for her since Trump took office, per two people briefed.” [Twitter

“Trump pushes policy on Alan Dershowitz during Mar-a-Lago visit” by Oli Coleman: “When Trump arrived, “He walked over to us and he started schmoozing,” Dershowitz said. “He said, ‘If I can get you to vote for me in 2020, that’ll be the real accomplishment because you’ve probably never voted for a Republican.’ It’ll be very uphill, but I have an open mind.” … Trump returned to the table soon after. “He picked the subjects. I didn’t have an agenda, but he had an agenda,” Dershowitz said. “He said, ‘I want to talk about this, this and that,’ and talked about six subjects or something,” including the travel ban, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Israel, “wiretaps” and “leaks.”” [NYPost]

IRAN DEAL — White House Adviser Says Will Honor Iran Nuclear Deal, Ensure Iran Complies: “Christopher Ford, the White House National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, told a conference in Washington on March 21 that the U.S. administration accepted the deal despite repeated criticism by Trump. “Until otherwise decided, the United States will adhere to the Iran nuclear deal and ensure that Iran also does,” Ford told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.” [RFE]  Trump administration to review goal of world without nuclear weapons: aide [Reuters

TEHRAN WATCH: “Rouhani, the Deceiver” by John Hannah and Saeed Ghasseminejad: “For the Trump administration, that means at a minimum taking action to demonstrate to the Islamic Republic’s two most powerful political actors, the Supreme Leader and the IRGC, that their Rouhani ruse is up. His diplomatic fan dance has effectively shielded their expanding aggression from renewed Western political, economic, and military pressure. The Trump team should make clear that that game is now over.” [FP]

“Family of C.I.A. Consultant Sues Iran Over His Disappearance” by Barry Meier: “The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Washington on behalf of the wife of the missing man, Robert A. Levinson, and their seven children. The action is seeking unspecified damages from Iran for its alleged role in, among other things, inflicting emotional distress on the family of Mr. Levinson.” [NYTimes

ON THE HILL — Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican who has already voted against one Trump nominee, told Jewish Insider yesterday that she is “inclined to support” David Friedman to be US Ambassador to Israel. In a brief interview on Tuesday, Collins explained, “I called Joe (Lieberman) to find out his views and he (Lieberman) speaks very highly of him (Friedman). That certainly is a good endorsement… I’m inclined to support him.” [JewishInsider]

“Evoking Holocaust, Lawmakers Demand ‘Never Again’ for Syria” — by JI’s Aaron Magid: When displaying the photos of “Caesar” — the codename of a Syrian military defector who smuggled out of the country over 28,000 images of torture and death in Assad prisons — Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee explained, “When you see the images of the Holocaust in the 1940s and the images of Syria in the 21st century, one can just get chilled to think that what has humanity learned all these years? We used to think things couldn’t happen here or any place else and now we see, we were really wrong.”

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (D-CA) recalled his father who took photos of the Dachau Concentration Camp after it was liberated in 1945. “When high school students would hear his lecture, they would ask why was the world so asleep to Hitler’s concentration camps? He would explain there was very little visual evidence at that time until those camps were liberated,” the California lawmaker noted. “That’s why he (Caeser) ran that risk so that the visual evidence would be right here in front of us. So, what is our excuse?” [JewishInsider]

“GOP Takes Up Russia-Aligned Attack On Soros” by Isaac Arnsdorf, Andrew Hanna and Kenneth Vogel: “So far, the Republican lobbying against Soros’s efforts in Macedonia has not resulted in much. But the involvement of several high-profile Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, is raising eyebrows within the U.S. foreign policy community, who see the baleful influence of Moscow making inroads on Capitol Hill… Russia’s state-controlled English-language websites rushed to trumpet [Sen. Mike] Lee’s and [Rep. Chris] Smith’s letters, holding them up as proof that the U.S. is guilty of exactly what it accuses Russia of doing in 2016 — interfering in another country’s politics.” [Politico]

“Democratic Donors Gather in D.C. to Plot the Resistance” by Lachlan Marka: “Donors in attendance will include Michael Vachon, a top aide to billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros; health care technology mogul Paul Egerman; Dallas philanthropist Naomi Aberly; Susan Sandler, the daughter of subprime mortgage pioneer Herb Sandler; and Ian Simmons, the husband of Hyatt hotel fortune heiress Liesel Pritzker Simmons.” [DailyBeast]

“George Soros-aligned group weighs funding anti-Trump activists” by Fredreka Schouten: “Ezra Levin, a former congressional aide who helped start Indivisible with his wife, Leah Greenberg, and other ex-Capitol Hill staffers, said the group is “is very much led on the ground” by activists who are determined to take action against Trump and is not under the sway of any one donor or group. Levin said the group has received more than 10,000 donations totaling more than $500,000 since last January through ActBlue… “We’re certainly not looking for anybody to own it by providing like some kind of enormous amount,” he said. “That’s not our model.”” [USAToday]

SPECIAL ELECTION WATCH: “Ossoff aims for knockout blow in Georgia special election ” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein: “Democrat Jon Ossoff has transformed the race for suburban Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District, and his soaring donations and groundswell of support from energized Democrats have fast painted a shiny target on his back as he scrambles to flip Tom Price’s ruby-red turf. Just about every candidate in the crowded April 18 special election to represent the district, which spans from east Cobb County to north DeKalb County, has assailed the 30-year-old former congressional aide. And Republicans determined to keep a GOP stronghold are readying more attacks. But even Ossoff’s Republican adversaries marvel about his campaign’s field operations and the more than $3 million he’s raised in 10 weeks – and worry about their own fractured field of 11 GOP candidates battling each other for their own slice of the electorate.” [AJC] h/t Playbook

Background: “Ossoff is indeed a white guy, though he is not from Scotland. His father is a Jew of Russian-Lithuanian descent who owns a specialist publishing company, and his mother is an Australian immigrant and management consultant who co-founded a nonprofit aimed at electing women—of either party—to political office in Georgia. “Our name was probably truncated at Ellis Island,” Ossoff told me. “From something like Ossoffsky.” [NewYorker] • Campaign ad: ‘Jon Ossoff: The Truth Strikes Back’ [McClatchyDC

** 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: Intel now employs 10,000 people in Israel [Bloomberg] • Patrick Drahi’s Altice snaps up advertising platform Teads [FT] • How Jessica Lessin used her reporting chops to build The Information [Digiday] • Nazarian family sells Century penthouse for $15.2M [TRD] • Hedge fund Millennium hires portfolio manager from Steve Cohen’s firm [Reuters]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Jared Kushner’s White House Role Complicates Skyscraper Deal” by Peter Grant: “After reports of the talks surfaced last week, Anbang said in statement that they weren’t correct. The company… might decide whether or not to stay or go as early as this week, people familiar with the matter said. “Contrary to recent reports, Anbang has no investment in 666 Fifth Avenue,” said an Anbang spokesman in an email. “Any suggestion that Anbang has signed a contract or made any kind of financial commitment is inaccurate.” A collapse of the Anbang talks, which began last July, wouldn’t necessarily doom the elder Mr. Kushner’s dream. Mr. Kushner believes he could raise the necessary equity from investors other than Anbang, according to people involved with negotiations.” [WSJ

“Guardian Ditches Move To Kushner Building After Newsroom Revolt” by Steven Perlberg: “The plan to move rankled The Guardian’s reporters, who feared their sources might not have full confidence that they could communicate securely with journalists in the new office. Reporters wondered openly whether the next Edward Snowden would feel safe leaking to The Guardian if it was headquartered in a building linked to the president’s son-in-law, according to one source… A spokesperson for Guardian US said that the company changed plans when it learned of Kushner’s ties to the building.” [BuzzFeed]

“Magerman: How ‘instant billionaires’ threaten America” by Joseph N. DiStefano: “David Magerman, the Penn Valley computer scientist, was suspended from hedge fund Renaissance Technologies after challenging co-CEO Robert Mercer’s patronage of Breitbart News, Donald Trump, and Breitbart boss-turned-Trump adviser Steve Bannon… His status at the firm remains unresolved. I asked Magerman about what he calls the “Instant Billionaire” phenomenon — the role people with big fortunes like his Renaissance bosses play in shaping America… Magerman: “Imagine Bill Gates (Microsoft’s founder, now a philanthropist) running the government. He’s done very healthy things with his money. Solving health problems in Africa. Addressing water pollution. I think that’s an unusual success story. But what if I don’t like democracy — I’ll go out and buy authoritarianism? That’s not a good thing… A lot of this kind of wealth can go to very idiosyncratic projects. And not necessarily be good. When you are that wealthy, you can make a platform to drown out everyone else’s voice.”” [Philly

“The original plan for the Mall of America was bananas” by Tracy Mumford: “As MPR News reporter Stephen Smith detailed at the time, the plans called for a 12-story roller coaster… landscaped gardens, an 18-hole golf course, an ice rink, night clubs, theaters and a giant indoor lake filled with exotic sea life that you could tour in a submarine. According to Nader Ghermezian, one of the family members behind the Triple Five Corporation, it would be the world’s largest indoor lake. At 360 feet wide, with six-foot-high waves, visitors would be able to surf and water ski on it. “Can you imagine, in January, you walk out of your house and you come and do surfing? This is what we’re proposing for you today,” Ghermezian said in 1985.” [MPR

RICH FAMILY LAUNCHES GOFUNDME EFFORT — The family of Seth Rich, a DNC staffer whose July murder remains unsolved, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise money to continue efforts to solve the case. The family is seeking $200,000 it says to “give the family independence in helping to direct the investigation as a direct response to ongoing conspiracy theories and a lack of credible evidence that has surfaced in the case.” [Gofundme]

“Lawyer for Family of Sergei Magnitsky, Dead Russian Whistle-Blower, Is Seriously Injured” by Andrew Higgins: “Russian news organizations said the lawyer, Nikolai Gorokhov, fell while helping movers carry a hot tub up to his fourth-floor apartment… The financier, William F. Browder, said Mr. Gorokhov was to appear in a Moscow court on Wednesday to appeal on behalf of Mr. Magnitsky’s mother for an investigation into new evidence relating to the fraud scheme first exposed by Mr. Magnitsky.” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Rolling Stone Turns 50…. and Bucks Print Media Trends to Become Debt Free” by RealClear Life: “According to Bloomberg, the magazine will finally be debt-free for the first time in the last decade, after parent company Wenner Media’s recent sale of Us Weekly for $100 million… Also, the company has its sights set on the future with 26-year-old Gus Wenner, founder/publisher Jann Wenner’s son, heading up Rolling Stone digital. Though largely inexperienced in the ways of media, some in the company see him as just what the company needs to reach a new, lucrative millennial audience. “ [RCL]

“NY Times’ Maggie Haberman on Secret to Covering Trump White House: Her Tabloid Experience” by Brian Flood: ““In terms of covering him over the last two years, I mean, I knew him,” Haberman said. “One of the things that I think is very important to the president is a sense of a familiar… I do think the fact that he knows me from a previous life has helped in terms of an ongoing relationship with him.” … Haberman’s father, Clyde Haberman, was a longtime New York Times reporter, often stationed overseas and away for most of her childhood. However, a career in journalism wasn’t among the topics of conversation when Haberman traveled to visit him abroad… Haberman was interested in writing, but wanted to land at a magazine as opposed to following in her father’s footsteps. After failing to find exactly what she was looking for, Haberman started her professional career at the New York Post in 1996 and never looked back… “I think he is very proud of me,” she said.” [TheWrap]

“Met Opera Auditions Yield a Young Star: Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen” by Zachary Woolfe: “At just 23, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, a baby-faced countertenor from Brooklyn, already possesses a remarkable gift for intimate communication in a vast hall, combined with a voice of velvety gentleness — surprisingly penetrating given the tenderness of its texture — and a taste for adventure. In a competition that hews toward the standards, Mr. Cohen chose a harrowing aria from Jonathan Dove’s 1998 opera “Flight,” based on the true story of an Iranian refugee stranded for years in a Paris airport. While most young performers in the National Council Auditions concentrate simply on nailing their high notes, Mr. Cohen — his diction superb, his acting alert without overplaying — provided an eloquent reflection on a current international crisis.” [NYTimes]  

BIRTHDAYS: CNN’s lead anchor, and longtime JI reader, Wolf Blitzer turns 69… Professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia and founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation, E.D. Hirsch turns 89… Mad Magazine’s caricaturist for over 50 years, Mort Drucker turns 88… Composer and lyricist, winner of eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, an Academy Award and a Pulitzer Prize, Stephen Sondheim turns 87… Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, William Shatner turns 86… Born in Iran, came to the US as a teen, elected to the Beverly Hills city council in 2003, elected Mayor of Beverly Hills in 2007 and 2010 (each time for a one-year term), Jamshid “Jimmy” Delshad turns 77… Dentist, born in Tel Aviv, raised in NYC and practicing in Norwalk, CT, Murray Bruckel, DDS turns 72… Academy Award-winning screenwriter, his work includes “Forrest Gump” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Eric Roth turns 72… Israeli viola player and teacher, she has performed as soloist with many orchestras world-wide, Rivka Golani turns 71…

Manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund (1992-1996) then started his own highly successful hedge fund, current owner of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and arena football’s Tampa Bay Storm, Jeffrey N. Vinik turns 58… Popular musical entertainer in the Orthodox Jewish community, Avraham Shabsi Friedman, better known by his stage name, Avraham Fried turns 58… Former corporate secretary, EVP and general counsel at Hertz Corporation until 12-2014, J. Jeffrey Zimmerman turns 58… Senior director for CEO Communications at PepsiCo, former Obama speechwriter (2009-2011), a Fulbright scholar who earned an M.A. at the London School of Economics, Adam Perecman Frankel turns 36… Creator and director of the Yehi Ohr program at Jewish Community Services of South Florida, Zisa Levin… MLB first baseman now in the LA Dodgers organization, has played for the Mets, Pirates, Athletics and Yankees, he starred for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Isaac Benjamin “Ike” Davis turns 30… NYC correspondent for Haaretz, contributing editor of The Forward and author, Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Managing director of Mercury Public Affairs focused on government relations, public affairs and politics in NYC, Jonathan Greenspun… Editor of the English language edition of Haaretz, Charlotte Hallé… CEO of BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre), previously spokesman for the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, James Sorene… Brooklyn, NY resident who is a general assignment reporter for DNAinfo, Ben Fractenberg… News reporter and editor at The Daily Signal, a publication of The Heritage Foundation, where he covers foreign policy, immigration and criminal justice issues, Josh Siegel… EVP of public affairs at the Federation of American Hospitals, representing the investor-owned hospital industry, Jeff E. Cohen (h/ts Playbook)… Beatrice Stein… Mike Orkin

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




Daily Kickoff: Congress crafting Iran sanctions for AIPAC week | Israelis grumble about US official | Ivanka joins West Wing | Rabbi Lookstein BDay

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TOP TALKER: “Billionaire-Backed Jewish Settlement Emerges as New Battleground” by Jonathan Ferziger: “As U.S. policy frowned on settlement construction, money kept flowing to Beit El from billionaires abroad. Among the top contributors are American Eagle Outfitters Inc. Chief Executive Jay Schottenstein, Duty-Free Americas Inc. President Leon Falic, Jordache Jeans founder Joe Nakash and Renco Metals Inc.’s Ira Rennert… Inside the settlement, [David] Friedman’s name is everywhere, starting in the study hall where a brass plaque identifies his father, Rabbi Morris Friedman, as one of the founding trustees. Then there is the Rabbi Morris Friedman Center for Computer Sciences, the Friedman Faculty House and the Friedman fitness center at the settlement’s pre-army academy… Ultimately, said Gilead Sher, a former Israeli peace negotiator, the settlers in Beit El are likely be disappointed in Trump who will “bow to reality” and work toward a two-state solution that keeps Israel and the Palestinians from hurting each other. “We’re looking for a divorce, not a real estate deal,” he said.” [Bloomberg

“Top Palestinian official: Trump committed to two states” by Aron Heller: “Jibril Rajoub told foreign reporters that President Donald Trump made clear to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a recent phone call that he was his “strategic partner” in making a “real and serious” peace between Israelis and Palestinians… Rajoub, a former West Bank security chief, said Trump’s “America First” slogan also indicated that he would be less prone to supporting Israel by default. “I have to understand that it means he is not in the pocket,” he said.” [AP

REPORT — Israeli officials have increased their criticism of Yael Lempert who accompanied Trump advisor Jason Greenblatt on his visit to Israel — by Ariel Kahana: “According to Israeli sources, Lempert “strained the atmosphere.” Diplomatic sources revealed that Lampert tried to prevent a meeting between Greenblatt and the heads of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, and only counter-pressure from Netanyahu’s office eventually led to Greenblatt holding the meeting. They added that it was evident that Greenblatt himself had come to listen, as he has said in public, but Lempert’s influence was on display, and not in a positive way.”

“Among other things, Greenblatt repeated statements that were heard many times during the Obama administration – that Israel is the stronger side in the conflict and therefore there are expected to first take conciliatory measures towards the Palestinian Authority. Israel concluded that this argument, and the human rights issues raised by Greenblatt, echoed similar comments made in the past by Lempert, who holds similar views to those of J Street.” [NRG-Hebrew; Twitter]

–Worth Noting: Sheldon Adelson purchased the NRG website in 2014 for 17 million shekels ($4.86 million).

“The Liquidator From Washington Comes Calling on Netanyahu” by Aluf Benn: “Into this morass stepped Trump, with his demand for a settlement freeze and renewed negotiations with the Palestinians about a “deal.” Netanyahu can’t stave off the current president with the help of Congress the way he did with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama; he is totally dependent on Trump. Thus he would rather avoid conflict with the White House and risk elections, after which he can form a coalition that would be less confrontational toward Trump.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — The Crisis Is Still On — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Political crises in Israel tend to be hectic and chaotic, but they usually last somewhere between 24 and 48 hours. The current coalition crisis over the Israeli Broadcasting Authority vs. the Israeli Broadcast Corporation is now entering its fourth day. The crisis is not likely to be resolved until Thursday when Netanyahu returns from his visit to China… In Israel, Netanyahu’s surrogates – Likud minister Yariv Levin, who’s filling in as Prime Minister in Netanyahu’s absence, and Shlomo “Momo” Filber, director of the Communication Ministry – are attempting to bridge the differences between Netanyahu and Finance Minister Kahlon, but in Beijing, so far, it appears there is no room for compromise. Levin and Filber are trying to work out a creative solution that would merge the IBC and the existing IBA – whatever it takes to bring the sides closer.

The Geula factor: The IBC crisis, by the way, already has a new name – “the Geula Crisis” – named for the chief anchor on the new channel, Geula Even. Even’s appointment was announced yesterday, in the midst of the mediation attempts. Yedioth Aharanoth coined the term Geula Crisis this morning with a widespread front-page headline and photo of Even. Even, aside from being a gifted and talented journalist also happens to be married to Netanyahu’s rival, former Likud minister Gideon Saar, considered one of the biggest enemies on Balfour Street. The appointment is widely considered one of the reasons Netanyahu’s aides dismissed reports about a settlement last night, and clarified that Bibi still insists that the IBC will not go on the air. But Kahlon also didn’t like the timing of the announcement, and is fuming at IBC directors for breaking the news while he is trying to save the channel. So the only way out of this mess seems to be a one-on-one meeting between Netanyahu and Kahlon and that cannot even occur for a few more days.

A source close to Netanyahu tells Kafe Knesset: “All the mediators running around right now are just the prelude. Bibi and Moshe have to settle this between themselves.”

A senior minister summed up the political game: “Netanyahu and Kahlon are in a zero sum game right now. One of them will end this crisis as a loser, because the IBC will either go on air, or not. If Kahlon caves he will lose all credibility and will be the joke of the Knesset. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has climbed up a very high tree – so this is basically a game of chicken.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Congress races to craft Iran sanctions bills ahead of AIPAC conference” by Julian Pecquet: “Rep. Eliott Engel, D-N.Y., told Al-Monitor last week he has “confidence” he can hammer something out with Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif. “We’re still negotiating it, and like everything I do with the chairman I’m hopeful we’ll have a meeting of the minds,” Engel said… Meanwhile in the Senate, Democrats have yet to coalesce around a single vision that can get the backing of Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn. The top Democrat on the panel, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., is insisting that any sanctions bill preserve President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement, while his more hawkish colleague Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is publicly signaling that he’s ready to make the necessary concessions to get a deal done… The internal congressional politics have left AIPAC lobbyists discreetly pushing both parties to compromise and avoid a repeat of the highly partisan Iran deal debate of 2015.” [Al-Monitor

Trump once again criticized the Iran nuclear deal — by AP’s Vivian Salama and Robert Burns: “In brief remarks in the presence of reporters during al-Abadi’s White House visit, Trump raised his frequently stated objections to the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor… “One of the things I did ask is, ‘Why did President Obama sign that agreement with Iran?’ because nobody has been able to figure that one out,” Trump said. “But maybe someday we’ll be able to figure that one out.”” [AP

“Backing UN moves and Iran deal, China shows Netanyahu it’s not (only) about the money” by Raphael Ahren: “Premier Li has expressed that China does not have its own interest in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. We’d like to see the issue properly solved in line with the UN resolution and international consensus,” Deng Li, the director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of West Asian and North African Affairs, told reporters… Deng said that the two premiers also discussed the Iran nuclear deal… “China’s position has always been clear. That is, we need to strictly implement the JCPOA,” he said… “And the starting point of this implementation is to safeguard the nonproliferation system and world peace. Also, the JCPOA will be very conducive for regional and international peace.” [ToI

“Israel, U.S. Trying to Persuade Western Countries to Oppose Five anti-Israel UN Resolutions” by Barak Ravid: “Israel contacted the Trump administration and asked to coordinate activity in Geneva and other capitals around the world against the resolutions. A request to this effect was also transferred to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who undertook to help. Israel’s permanent envoy to the UN and other international institutions in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, has been working in recent days with American representatives to influence Germany, Britain and other countries, hoping to persuade them to oppose the resolutions or abstain.” [Haaretz]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Ivanka Trump set to get West Wing office as role expands” by Annie Karni: “The powerful first daughter has secured her own office on the West Wing’s second floor — a space next to senior adviser Dina Powell, who was recently promoted to a position on the National Security Council. She is also in the process of obtaining a security clearance, and is set to receive government-issued communications devices this week… except she is not being sworn in, will hold no official position, and is not pocketing a salary, her attorney said. Ivanka Trump’s role, according to her attorney Jamie Gorelick, will be to serve as the president’s “eyes and ears” while providing broad-ranging advice.” [Politico

“Despite a Trust, Ivanka Trump Still Wields Power Over Her Brand” by Rachel Abrams: “Even if Ms. Trump is trying to tread carefully, her trust raises questions about how effectively a voluntary arrangement can minimize conflicts, said Norman L. Eisen, the chief White House ethics adviser under President Barack Obama. “There’s no enforcement,” he said. “If this is voluntary, what if she voluntarily decides not to do it?” … Mr. Eisen praised the appointment of Ms. [Jamie] Gorelick as an ethics adviser… “Whatever questions I and others may have about the arrangement,” Mr. Eisen said, “I think it speaks well of Ivanka and of the process that has been set up to manage the conflicts that the trustees’ monitor is one of the most prominent Democratic lawyers in the country.”” [NYTimes

“Ivanka Trump enjoys some mother-daughter time on the slopes in Aspen” by Chris Spargo: “Ivanka and the children could not leave until after sundown on Saturday as the family observes Shabbat.” [DailyMail

Another Trump MOT… “Eric and Lara Trump Expecting Their First Baby” by Gilliam Telling: “Eric Trump and his wife Lara are expecting their first child this September—and they’re having a boy… The couple, who dated for six years before marrying at Mar-A-Lago in 2014, note that their pregnancy was starting to become a hard secret to contain: “Eric’s dad was so excited,” says Lara, “that we were worried he’d blurt it out at a press conference.”” [People

** Good Tuesday 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: Gas Talks With Turkey May Wrap Up in Summer, Says Israel Energy Minister [Bloomberg] • For Every Mobileye, 600 Israeli Start-ups Crash [Haaretz] • Is there a new wave of Ponzi schemes coming? There’s a possibility [MiamiHerald] • Israel’s tallest planned building approved [Globes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Tech’s Biggest Consumer Is Not Who You Think It Is” by Jessica Abo: “Does the thought of using tech for your business want to make you swipe left? Jessica Naziri, the CEO and founder of TechSesh wants to change that. When the former Los Angeles Times technology reporter started covering tech for her job, she discovered most of the people reviewing gadgets designed for women were men. Named as one of the most influential women in technology, the former journalist turned entrepreneur is empowering women in technical fields. Her reviews give women a voice in an industry that needs to know “pink is not a strategy.”” [Entrepreneur]

“Good Schools Aren’t the Secret to Israel’s High-Tech Boom” by Naftali Bennett: “Unlike quiet Western libraries, the Jewish beit midrash—house of study—is a buzzing beehive of learning. Since the Talmud is one of the most complex legal codes ever gathered, the idea of a verdict is almost irrelevant to those studying. Students engage in debate for the sake of debate. They analyze issues from all directions, finding different solutions. Multiple answers to a single question are common. Like the Talmud itself—which isn’t the written law but a gathering of protocols—the learning process, not the result, is valued.” [WSJ

“Tim Samuels’ Sleepover: Inside the Israeli Hospital” by BBC Radio 4: “On the children’s ward, a mother who has brought her son for treatment describes how her trip to Israel must remain a secret – or she fears she could be killed when they return. On the Syrian border, Tim sees two badly wounded fighters smuggled into Israel by the IDF as they are rushed to Ziv for emergency attention. In the hospital – staffed by Jewish, Muslim and Druze medics – the doctors talk about the psychological toll of treating the war wounded. A hospital social worker describes waking up repeatedly through the night at home to check that his young son wasn’t injured. The doctors at Ziv say they hope their work is at least a sliver of humanity in a dark region.” [BBC]

TRANSITIONS — Rabbi David Saperstein Joins URJ and RAC as Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy: “President Rabbi Rick Jacobs announced today that Rabbi David Saperstein will return to the URJ senior staff as Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy. He will assume this new position as of April 1, 2017.”

Josh Lipsky, an Obama White House and State Department alum, is heading to the International Monetary Fund, where he will serve as speechwriter and advisor to IMF chief Christine Lagarde. In January, Lipsky finished a tour at State working as special advisor to Rick Stengel, who was under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. h/t Playbook

“Trump immigration lawyer on travel ban: ‘What happens to Muslims can happen to Jews'” by Danielle Ziri: “As an observant Jew, [Michael] Wildes added he believes the Jewish community has a responsibility to stand up for marginalized people. “We are historically people of the passport and we need to make sure that we get this right,” he told the Post. “What happens to a Muslim can happen to a Jew and we have to take our responsibility to our biblical cousins very seriously.” Michael Wildes’ brother, Rabbi Mark Wildes added that the travel ban is “complicated from a religious perspective.”” [JPost]

“This Jewish Photographer Documented a Nazi-Controlled Ghetto” by Clyde Haberman: “More than 200 of his photos, along with dozens of related objects are part of an exhibition, “Memory Unearthed: The Lodz ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross,” that will open March 25 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston… Not all of his images were grim. There are pictures of birthday parties, of a young woman smiling in a garden, of a little girl on a swing, of a couple kissing… Still, some things are eternal. One photo in the exhibition is particularly striking. It is also, appropriately, the last image in a book of Mr. Ross’s work that the Ontario gallery published with Yale University Press in 2015. It shows a man standing atop the rubble of a destroyed synagogue in Lodz. He is carrying a Torah scroll that he had managed to save from the ruins.” [NYTimes]

“Israel’s Rich Culinary Legacy Revealed in a New Film” by Front Burner: “In the new feature-length documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” the chef Michael Solomonov travels from one end of Israel to the other sampling food and talking to cooks in a narrative style reminiscent of Anthony Bourdain. After watching this film, one has to conclude that with more than 100 nationalities living within the country’s borders, an Israeli cuisine resists easy definition… While exploring the food mosaic, the film also points out the simmering tension between Arabic and Israeli cooking. Who can claim ownership of falafel, shakshuka or chopped salad?” [NYTimes

“How to make the best Israeli pita bread: ingredients, method and tips” by Samantha Gross: “There are lots of Middle Eastern restaurants in the capital, but for Israeli-born chef Eran Tibi, none of them the embodied the cuisine of his homeland. Earlier this year, Tibi brought his version of Tel Aviv-style eating to London, when he opened Bala Baya in Southwark. “London is the perfect blend of cultures where people are curious, adventurous and expect excellence,” he says. “It’s a fantastic way to challenge myself and the team.” [EveningStandard]

BIRTHDAYS: Yale Law School graduate in 1954, who in 1978 became the first woman appointed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, Ellen Ash Peters turns 87… Rabbi emeritus of Manhattan’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun (active 1958-2015) and principal of the Ramaz School (1966-2015), Rabbi Haskel Lookstein turns 85… Co-founder of Wynnefield Capital Management, on the Board of Directors of S.A.R. Academy in Riverdale, NY, Joshua H. Landes turns 55… Harvard professor, biochemist, physicist, molecular biology pioneer and winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Walter Gilbert turns 85… Scholar of Jewish mysticism and founding dean of the non-denominational rabbinical program at the Hebrew College in Boston where he still teaches, Arthur Green turns 76… First Jewish member of the US House of Representatives from New Hampshire (2007-2011), later on the boards of the ADL and NJDC, Paul Hodes turns 66… Acting Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, previously Israel’s ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem turns 58…

Award-winning film, stage and television actor and singer whose roles include the title role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and the adult voice of Simba in Disney’s The Lion King trilogy, Matthew Broderick turns 55… Hedge fund manager, philanthropist and chairman of the board of the New York City Opera, Roy Niederhoffer turns 51… Senior editor of the National Review, syndicated columnist, author and commentator, Jonah Jacob Goldberg turns 48… James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef from Miami who is known for her culinary skills as an expert in Latin-style flavors of cooking, Michelle Bernstein turns 47… Digital marketing guru and president and founder of Bully Pulpit Interactive, Andrew Bleeker turns 32… Student activist at Miami University of Ohio, worked in the Office of Community Engagement at the Democratic National Committee, Addison Caruso turns 21… Samuel Gross

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