Daily Kickoff: Tillerson, Haley to join Trump’s Israel trip | Inside the Netanyahu Lauder Trump trio | Israeli ride-sharing apps merge: Gett buys Juno


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KAFE KNESSET — POTUS Prep — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: News of President Trump’s trip to Israel spread like wildfire yesterday… Israeli officials stress that the plans are far from final. The likely trip was kept under a veil of secrecy and news of it actually came about in an unexpected way: Channel 2’s Udi Segal, who broke the story yesterday afternoon, told Kafe Knesset that the first tip arrived from the channel’s chief producer, Oded Bino, who heard that his American counterparts are starting to prepare special satellite broadcasts ahead of a presidential visit.

Let’s make a deal: Israeli officials confirmed that a special US delegation is arriving to discuss the logistical details of what appears to be a snap visit of less than 24 hours. The current date being discussed by the preliminary US team visiting here today is May 22nd, for one night. There are lingering questions in Jerusalem over Trump’s ultimate Mideast goals, and what he plans to do to reach the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians. Several sources close to Netanyahu told Kafe Knesset that Bibi is “showing growing concern” in recent days and is following the upcoming Trump-Abbas summit very closely.

Before reaching the ultimate deal, Trump might be aiming to present a mini-deal. “The Trump Initiative,” was the headline of the Yedioth Aharonoth daily today, stating that Trump intends to use his Israel visit to present a new US policy. According to the report, Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel, as well as call for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Trump will not move the US embassy to Jerusalem for the time being, until the “conditions ripen.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

BEHIND THE SCENES: “The definition of the occasion—state or work—will bear significance on its character, with the former meaning that President Reuven Rivlin would be the official host, and the latter meaning that Prime Minister Netanyahu would host Trump. In the event that President Trump does ask to address the Knesset, the visit will have to be defined as a state visit. Moreover, while a state visit would require that Trump take a tour of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, it is likely that he will be asked to visit the museum regardless of how it is defined.” [Ynet

“Tillerson, Haley and Friedman to join Trump’s Israel visit” by Itamar Eichner: “The Trump administration reported Wednesday that the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will accompany the president on his upcoming visit to Israel… Also joining President Trump on his visit… will be the new US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Friedman is scheduled to arrive on May 15and will submit his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin a month later. Almost immediately after his arrival in Israel, Friedman will begin arranging plans for his boss in the White House.” [Ynet]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer hosted a reception at his Maryland residence for new U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Attendees included Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), White House negotiator Jason Greenblatt, RJC Chairman Norm Coleman, Pastor John Hagee, the Orthodox Union’s Nathan Diament (pictured here with Friedman), prominent lobbyist Norm Brownstein, and Diana & Michael David Epstein. [Pic]

“Ronald Lauder Cozies Up to Trump as His Estranged Ally Netanyahu Watches and Worries” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “The current chapter appears to be one in which Lauder has the ability to unsettle Netanyahu, once his close friend and key supporter, with his ability to whisper in Trump’s ear. This is increasingly problematic for the prime minister and his supporters in the U.S. since Lauder, pro-Israel Republican he may be, makes no secret of the fact that he believes a negotiated two-state solution should move forward. Jewish Insider reported Tuesday that Lauder has “convinced Trump that ‘the ultimate deal’ between Israelis and Palestinians is achievable… Trump likes people familiar to him and Lauder is a face he has known for 50 years. If Netanyahu had ever dreamed that Donald Trump could win the White House, and Lauder – Trump’s friend for half a century – would be one of his trusted voices on Middle East policy, he would never have allowed the cosmetics tycoon to drift so far for so long.” [Haaretz]

NEW FRONT: “Israel seeks U.S. backing to avert permanent Iran foothold in Syria” by Matt Spetalnick and Mark Hosenball: “I want to achieve an understanding, an agreement between the U.S. and Israel … not to let Iran have permanent military forces in Syria, by air, by land, by sea,” Israel Katz told Reuters, saying this should be part of any future international accord on ending Syria’s six-year-old civil war. Katz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, insisted, however, that Israel was not asking Washington to commit more forces to Syria, but to “achieve this by talking to the Russians, by threatening Iran, by sanctions and other things.” … Katz was due to meet President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt.” [Reuters] • Israel suggests it was behind Damascus airport blast [TheGuardian]

ON THE HILL — Bipartisan Congressional consensus against reducing aid to Jordan — by Aaron Magid: Representative Blake Farenthold (R-TX) told Jewish Insider yesterday, “I think we need to take an overall look at foreign aid but as far as allies in the Middle East go, once you get beyond Israel, Jordan has been a major player in keeping the region stable. There are places I would look to cut foreign aid before I look to Jordan.”

When asked if he supports such cuts, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said, “No. Jordan is an ally. She sustained tremendous economic burden by taking in a lot of Syrian refugees. Anything that would potentially destabilize the Hashemite Monarchy would only strengthen ISIS and every force we don’t like in the Middle East. A budget cut to Jordan seems very short sighted.” [JewishInsider]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Ivanka Trump Parts Ways With Her Father on Syrian Refugees” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “I think there is a global humanitarian crisis that’s happening, and we have to come together and we have to solve it,” Ms. Trump told NBC when asked about the refugee crisis in Syria… Asked whether that would include admitting Syrian refugees to the United States, she replied: “That has to be part of the discussion. But that’s not going to be enough in and of itself.” … Two advisers to Mr. Trump, who declined to be identified talking about an internal White House dispute, described the statement as a political misstep. Her comments, they said, revealed a simmering private policy debate in the White House that pits Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, against hard-core nationalists like the president’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, and the policy adviser Stephen Miller.” [NYTimes]

“The education of Donald Trump” by Josh Dawsey, Shane Goldmacher and Alex Isenstadt: “[Trump invited] a pair of POLITICO reporters into the Oval Office for an impromptu meeting. He sat at the Resolute desk, with his daughter Ivanka across from him. One aide said the chat was off-the-record, but Trump insisted, over objections from nervous-looking staffers, that he be quoted. He addressed the idea that his senior aides weren’t getting along. He called out their names and, one by one, they walked in, each surprised to see reporters in the room—chief of staff Reince Priebus, then chief strategist Steve Bannon, and eventually senior adviser Jared Kushner. “The team gets along really, really well,” he said… Several senior administration aides said Trump loves nothing more than talking to reporters.”

“Kushner, too, sometimes calls TV personalities and executives, in particular MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, according to people close to the Trump son-in-law. (It didn’t go unnoticed in the West Wing that, at the height of the Kushner-Bannon war, the Drudge Report and Scarborough’s Morning Joe had an anti-Bannon flair to their coverage.).” [Politico]

“State Department Understaffing Is Likely to Linger Into 2018” by Gardiner Harris: “State Department veterans reacted to Mr. Tillerson’s timetable with incredulity. “There is a crisis with North Korea now, at a time neither State nor Defense have the bench of senior leaders needed, and with State facing a massive budget cut,” said Wendy R. Sherman, a top diplomat in the Obama administration. “How do you execute a policy with the quality you need in that circumstance?” … Elliott Abrams, a neoconservative whom President Trump rejected as Mr. Tillerson’s pick for a deputy, said delays in appointing new leaders meant that career diplomats — most of whom lean ideologically toward the Democratic Party, he said — might remain in charge for nearly a quarter of the president’s term. “The Republican Party won the election, and Republicans should be in charge,” he said.” [NYTimes]

TRANSITION — Fred Zeidman, former Chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, spoke to us about the expected appointment of Howard Lorber as new Chair: “I think it’s a fantastic pick. He is really dedicated to the cause. This is what he wanted to do, and the President has awarded him by allowing him to do that. It is my guess that Howard could’ve been anything he wanted, and this is what he wanted. Knowing his history in the Jewish community, knowing his history as a philanthropist, and with his exceptional skills, I think the President has made an absolutely excellent choice. The museum is under unbelievable leadership right now with Tom Bernstein (who was appointed by President Obama in 2010). Tom, Josh Bolten, and subsequently Allan Holt (vice chairman) have done an incredibly marvelous job of leading this museum. To the extent that the President gets to pick a new chairman, I don’t think he could’ve made a better pick to succeed Tom than Howard Lorber.”

NYC 2017 WATCH: “‘Anti-Semitic’ politician tricks critics into raising money for him” by Carl Campanile: “A GoFundMe called “Stop Thomas Lopez-Pierre Hate Campaign” suddenly popped up and was so successful it raised $5,781. But anyone who donated hoping to actually stop Lopez-Pierre is going to be sorely disappointed — because the page was created by the candidate himself to scam money from his foes. “I call it bait and switch,” Lopez-Pierre actually bragged to The Post. “I intend to use the money to pay for my marketing expenses. The people who are doing this [donating] oppose me. I thank them for their support.” Lopez-Pierre is trying to win a council primary election for a seat in upper Manhattan that is now held by heavily favored incumbent Mark Levine, who is Jewish.” [NYPost

Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) tells us… “This kind of anti-Semitism, the anti-Semitic propaganda is not new. It’s something we have been dealing with literally for thousands of years… As long as I have an ounce of energy in me, I will do everything in my power to make sure that anti-Semites like this candidate are not only not welcome here in the New York City Council but have no chance of even getting in. I will do everything I can, and I will use every resource I have, to make sure that this disgusting individual who wants to seed and sow hatred will in fact never be able to walk into this august body as a member of the New York City Council.” [YouTube

Brian Stelter spotted this interaction at the Time 100 Gala: “At one point I overheard new DNC chair Tom Perez exchanging contact info with Linda Sarsour and the other Women’s March leaders who were there.” [CNNReliableSources

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Bribe Cases, a Jared Kushner Partner and Potential Conflicts: President Trump’s son-in-law, a top adviser, had help building a real estate empire from a member of one of Israel’s wealthiest families [NYTimes] • US tax cuts to hit Israeli tax collection hard [Globes• A New York hotel deal shows how some public pension funds help to enrich Trump [Reuters] • Harvey Krueger, Lehman’s Pioneer of Israeli Market, Dies at 88 [Bloomberg] • A new hedge fund started by a Steve Cohen protégé David Fiszel is off to a strong start [BI]

SPOTLIGHT: “On-demand ride service Gett confirms acquisition of Juno for $200M” by Ingrid Lunden: “Gett has announced that it has acquired Juno, a rival in the New York market. Separately, Gett’s CEO and founder Dave Waiser has told TechCrunch in an interview that the price of the deal was $200 million, although the companies are not disclosing other terms such as whether the deal was in cash, shares or a combination of the two… Juno was co-founded late last year by Talmon Marco, the co-founder of Viber (which sold to Rakuten for $900 million), and pitched itself as the driver-friendly app.”

“Its primary appeal was a stock program that would award restricted stock units to drivers who used the platform for 30 or more hours a week. However, in an email sent to drivers announcing the acquisition, Juno says it’s doing away with the program as part of the acquisition. Drivers who’ve already earned shares would be cashed out. Several of the drivers who forwarded their emails to Recode are receiving around $100 for their shares, regardless of how many shares they had accumulated. One had roughly 1,600 shares, another more than 3,500 and another had more than 6,000. Drivers are outraged. One said that while the low commission of 10 percent was a nice bonus, the real reason he drove for Juno was the stocks.” [Recode; TechCrunch]

“WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum: “Most of startup ideas are absolutely stupid” by Darya Luganskaya: “I do not have any plans of investing into startups: I am not the man who would do this. I think that most of startup ideas are absolutely stupid. At this moment, I am busy working on WhatsApp and I keep thinking all the time how I can make this product better. I am not interested in any other projects at the moment…  For the moment, we do not have the task to earn money. The deal with Facebook helped us to channel our resources into growth and product development. In coming future we do not plan to focus on monetization. Our aim is to attract more than 1 billion users.” [TechandtheCity]

PERSON OF INTEREST: “The return of Joe Lonsdale: How the cofounder of multibillion-dollar company Palantir was vilified in Silicon Valley, then bounced back” by Julie Bort: “Joe Lonsdale was a little bit nervous as he shook my hand and flashed his trademark wide grin. His tall, broad-shouldered frame, in a white dress shirt and black dress slacks, towered over my 5-foot-3 self. No jeans. No hoodie. He dressed respectfully for this rare interview with a journalist. I got the impression that this moment sums up his personality perfectly: a ton of confidence thanks to smarts and preparation, mingled with a touch of nerves, the kind of nerves that make you want to step up to a challenge, not back down. Lonsdale is like the living embodiment of Silicon Valley all rolled up into one person: young, smart, geeky, financially successful, optimistic, passionate, outspoken, and, at times, controversial, not to mention his involvement in some pretty scandalous lawsuits.” [BusinessInsider]

Bret Stephens defends a column he wrote, “The disease of the Arab mind,” which has gotten some attention since he was hired by the NY Times… “The column was about the refusal of an Egyptian judoka during last summer’s Olympics to shake the hand of an Israeli athlete. I used it as an occasion to talk about anti-Semitism in the Arab world. By any measure, the Arab world is the most anti-Semitic part in the world. If you want to talk about denialism, the failure of many people — including, I’m afraid, many of those in my profession — to point out the ubiquity of anti-Semitism in Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, you name it, both state-sponsored and private, is a real form of denialism… The whole thing struck me as a made-up controversy, which in an attempt to indict me as a racist — which I most certainly am not — wound up eliding and evading the rather important subject I was trying to address, which is the extraordinarily prevalent anti-Semitism throughout the Arab world.” [Vox

BIRTHDAYS: US Senator from New Jersey since 2013, previously mayor of Newark (2006-2013), perhaps the only Senator who regularly and publicly recites verses from the Torah in Hebrew, Cory Booker turns 48… Former refusenik in the Soviet Union, made aliyah in 1987, now a political activist in Israel, Ida Nudel turns 86… Physician and a NASA astronaut, Chief of the Education/Medical Branch of the NASA Astronaut Office, Ellen Louise Shulman Baker, M.D., M.P.H. turns 64… Entertainment industry businessman, former model, founder of nightlife companies including restaurants, bars and lounges worldwide, Rande Gerber turns 55… Author, political analyst and columnist for The Washington Post, Dana Milbank turns 49 (h/t Playbook)… New York City-born actor David Benger turns 26… Associate Area Director for AIPAC’s Baltimore office, Leah Berry… Officer at Covington Fabric & Design, Donald Rifkin… Harvey Hirsch… Jonathan Glidden

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: Trump to Israel next month? | The Steinmetz-Kushner partnership | Will Theo Epstein enter politics? | NBA to visit Israel this summer


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KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Israeli sources tell Kafe Knesset that there are early attempts to coordinate President Trump’s first visit to Israel by the end of May.

According to Channel 2’s Udi Segal, the visit could take place on May 21 or later in the month. [Twitter]

Worth noting: Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day is on May 23rd and June 1st is the deadline for the waiver on moving the Embassy to Jerusalem…

Putin says ‘Nyet’ to Liberman: Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is off to Moscow for the first time since taking this office last year. On the top of the agenda for the visit, which includes meetings with his Russian counterpart and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, is the Syrian issue and the Israeli concern with a growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. Who is is missing from Liberman’s itinerary? President Vladimir Putin. Of course, diplomatic protocol does not require Liberman be granted such a high-level meeting, but in the past, he was Putin’s guest of honor. In 2009 and 2011, when Putin was Prime Minister, he didn’t care about diplomatic protocol that much and he met Liberman, then Foreign Minister, during both of Liberman’s Russian visits.

Putin’s cold shoulder is interesting against the backdrop of recent events in Syria. After the Idlib chemical attack earlier this month, Liberman was the first to point a direct finger at the Assad regime, and Putin didn’t like it, expressing his discontent in a phone call with Netanyahu a few days later. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “White House Intervened to Toughen Letter on Iran Nuclear Deal” by Jay Solomon and Carol Lee: “Top White House officials said the initial letter the State Department submitted was too soft because it ignored Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East and support for regional terrorist groups… Mr. Trump personally weighed in on the redrafting of the letter… Mr. Trump also told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to follow up the next day with a strident public message that the new administration was planning a shift on policy toward Iran, putting the nuclear deal in play, these officials said… The initial State Department letter on Iran, senior U.S. officials said, was drafted by career diplomats who played leading roles during the Obama administration in negotiating and implementing the Iran deal.” [WSJ; Bloomberg

The other night, Trump discussed the Iran deal review at WH reception with conservative media… “We can never let Iran have nuclear weapons,” Trump said… “Israel wouldn’t have a chance,” he added. “They’ve broken the feel of a deal,” he said. “We’re going to have a big report. It’s not going to be a positive report for Iran.” [Powerline]

Politico/Morning Consult poll: “47% said that they are more likely to support the Iran nuclear deal now that the U.S. said the nation is complying with the agreement.” [Playbook]

“Royce chides Obama administration on proliferation” by Josh Meyer: “Rep. Ed Royce made the request in a letter to Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions… “Needless to say, the Obama Administration appears to have done serious damage to our national security,” wrote Royce (R-Calif.) and Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), who co-signed the letter… urging Sessions and Tillerson to make the request a top priority within the Trump administration’s broader review of the Iran Deal and U.S. policy toward Tehran that was announced last week… “We have received the letter, and will respond to Chairman Royce and Ranking Member [Eliot] Engel. Generally speaking, we remain committed to prosecuting, regardless of citizenship, those who violate our export control laws and the U.S. trade embargo on Iran,” a State Department official said.” [Politico

“At Holocaust event, Trump pays tribute to ‘those who survived history’s darkest hour’” by Philip Rucker and David Nakamura: “This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism,” Trump said, receiving applause from the audience. “We will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness and we will act. As president of the United States, I will always stand with the Jewish people, and I will always stand with our great friend and partner, the state of Israel.” Vice President Pence, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn were among the guests sitting in the front row. Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, has acted as Trump’s top adviser on Israel, helping write his first speech on Israel during the campaign.”

“Before Trump spoke, Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States praised the U.S. missile strike on a Syrian airfield that Trump authorized… “That decision was a defiance of indifference,” Dermer said. “And if evil triumphs when good men do nothing, we should all seek to live in a world that defies indifference.” Dermer went on to say that the civilized world should be “prepared to use military might to confront barbarism.” Trump returned the praise, saying of Dermer that “he’s done a great job and said some wonderful words.” [WashPost]

— “White House officials said that Trump decided himself that he wanted to speak at Tuesday’s Days of Remembrance event, and he took personal ownership of the drafting of his remarks.” [WashPost

HOW IT PLAYED — “Trump’s Holocaust Remembrance Day speech was normal — for any other president” by Sarah Wildman: “Solemn as they were, the most remarkable aspect of the speech were not the words themselves, but the identity of the man giving them — and the continued controversy over the administration’s past comments about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism… On the Holocaust, Trump has, at last, finally begun sounding like his predecessors — and in a good way.” [Vox

“A New Donald Trump? Moving Holocaust Speech Wins Praise From Jews, Derision From Alt-right” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “After the speech, there was widespread speculation in the media as to how influential his Jewish family members had been in the crafting of the text.” [Haaretz

Andrew Weinstein, a member of the Holocaust Memorial Council who attended the event, shared with us his personal opinion of Trump’s remarks: “I thought Donald Trump delivered a well written and long overdue speech at the Days of Remembrance ceremony today. Remarks by the president of the United States have enormous influence, and it was important for the world to see this president recognize the incomparable tragedy of the Holocaust and the enormous suffering of the Jewish people. I was also pleased to see him strongly and unequivocally denounce anti-Semitism.”

“That said, while the words were powerful, it is difficult to reconcile the comments made today with the continuing actions of the Trump administration. How does the president continue to justify his positions concerning refugees and immigration? Why did he offer praise for Marine Le Pen? And how does Sebastian Gorka still have a job in his White House? These questions and many more need answers before I am satisfied that the speech he made today came from his heart and not just his teleprompter.”

Abe Foxman emails us… “President Trump’s speeches – to the World Jewish Congress and at the U.S. Holocaust Museum – should put to rest the debate about where POTUS stands on anti-Semitism. He stands very clearly with the Jewish community against anti-Semitism! it is also a very clear message to the alt-right and all those who support him who may espouse animosity to Jews. The Jewish Community should now stop blaming the President for the rise in anti-Semitism in the USA.”

“Ivanka Trump visits Berlin’s Holocaust memorial” by Regina F. Graham: “Crowds of people snapped cellphone photos and yelled out ‘Hi, how are you?’ as she entered the center to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe for a short visit Tuesday. The First Daughter walked slowly through the undulating grounds filled with concrete slabs, along with U.S. Embassy personnel. She paused occasionally to look at the slabs, meant to symbolize the chaos of the Holocaust, before emerging on the other side of the monument to a crush of cameras and onlookers.” [DailyMail]

HEARD YESTERDAY — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley touted her young pro-Israel record at the UN during a speech at the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in NY: “I can safely say that it’s a new day for Israel at the United Nations.  I know it’s a new day for Israel at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations… The United States will no longer be silent as Israel is unfairly attacked at the United Nations. Silence is not my thing anyway, but that’s especially true when it comes to standing up for America’s friends.  And we have no better friend in the Middle East than Israel.” [Transcript]

ON THE HILL — Senate panel calls for cutting US aid to Egypt – by JI’s Aaron Magid: In overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion on Tuesday, Senators and three panelists invited by the Appropriations Committee called for Congress to reexamine its $1.3 billion annual funding to Egypt. The panelists invited were Elliott Abrams, former deputy national security advisor during the George W. Bush administration, Dr. Michele Dunne, Senior Fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Tom Malinowski, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy during the Obama presidency.

Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) asked the expert witnesses if cutting US aid to Egypt would damage Cairo’s strong current relationship with Israel? (The US dramatically boosted its assistance to Egypt due to Cairo’s 1978 peace treaty with Jerusalem). However, Abrams was unconvinced. “Good relations with Israel are in the interest of Egypt. The army understands that. As Senator [Lindsey] Graham mentioned, they (Egypt) are getting help in the Sinai. I think the answer is no impact,” the former Bush official asserted. Dunne added that shortly after the 2013 military coup, when the Obama administration froze much of the US security assistance. “That was the heyday of Egyptian-Israeli relations. That really proved the point that the relationship now has its own logic and dynamic.” The Carnegie expert added that even with the tightening security ties, the people-to-people relationship between the Israelis and Egyptians under President Sisi is quite weak with almost zero study exchange and a relentless incitement campaign against the Jewish state in the Egyptian media often crossing into blatant anti-Semitism. [JewishInsider

TRUMP TEAM: “How Trump’s Pick for Top Antitrust Cop May Shape Competition” by Cecilia Kang: “Makan Delrahim, the nominee for chief antitrust cop at the Justice Department, was 10 when his family immigrated to the United States from Iran as Jewish political refugees. Unable to speak English, he struggled to keep up in school… “I came to realize that my values identified with the conservative viewpoints of personal responsibility, hard work, respect for individual rights and appreciation of a limited role of government,” Mr. Delrahim, 47, said in his first interview since being nominated last month by President Trump for assistant attorney general for antitrust. On Wednesday, Mr. Delrahim will have his confirmation hearing for the Justice Department position, where these views will be closely scrutinized by Congress. If he is confirmed — and he is expected to be — his philosophies will help shape the corporate competition landscape for the next few years.” [NYTimes]

“The Swamp Is Getting Tired Of Winning” by Adrian Carrasquillo and Ben Smith: “The source close to the administration said that the worst transgression of all is that Trump seems open to retaining Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen… “I’m incredibly bothered that he said Yellen could be reappointed,” the source close to the administration said. “She’s the personification of the swamp, very much a detriment to the American worker. Great for Wall Street but terrible for most wage-earning, paycheck to paycheck Americans.”” [BuzzFeed

FARM SYSTEM: “Could Theo Epstein Perform a Miracle for the Democrats?” by Ben Strauss: “Plenty of others have speculated about Epstein’s political future. He is telegenic, well-spoken and has a demonstrated interest in public service, having started a foundation that has donated millions of dollars to support urban youth and families. His grandfather wrote the screenplay for “Casablanca.” Epstein’s father, Leslie, won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford and is a Boston University English professor (He also happened to predict Trump’s defeat of Hillary Clinton.). When Epstein was hired by the Red Sox, then the youngest general manager in baseball history, his father quipped, “At Theo’s age Alexander the Great was already general manager of the world.” More recently, Leslie Epstein has mentioned that his son could run anything from the United Nations to the Ford Foundation after his baseball career… David Axelrod says his baseball management skills, honed in Boston and Chicago, could win for him in politics too. If he wants it, that is.” [PoliticoMag]

NYC 2017 WATCH: “NYC Dems asked to boot Council hopeful over anti-Semitic remarks” by Erin Durkin: “City Councilman David Greenfield is asking the Manhattan Democratic Party to boot a City Council candidate running on his opposition to “greedy Jewish landlords” off the party rolls. Thomas Lopez-Pierre, who is challenging Councilman Mark Levine for a West Harlem seat, has drawn attention for a series of anti-Semitic comments and racial slurs. “There’s no question that Lopez-Pierre’s campaign is based on good, old-fashioned, virulent anti-Semitism,” he said…  Quite frankly, if Lopez-Pierre wants to run for City Council he should do so by petitioning his way onto the Ku Klux Klan party. His views are very much in line with David Duke’s.” … Manhattan Democratic Party chair Keith Wright condemned Lopez-Pierre and said… “I have considered removing a whole lot of people from the party — I just never knew quite how to do it,” he said.“ [NYDailyNews]

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: This Hedge Fund — Renaissance Technologies — May Be Poised to Create the Most Billionaires [Bloomberg] • Israel Chemicals says in talks to sell IDE stake [ToI] • Why Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush are paying so much for the Miami Marlins [Yahoo] • The Other Chetrit: Isaac stitches together mini-empire in Garment District [RealDeal]

SPOTLIGHT: “Kushners Are Partners With One of Israel’s Wealthiest Families” by David Kocieniewski and Caleb Melby: “Gaia Investment Corp. is an Israeli company owned by Raz Steinmetz. A search by Bloomberg of real-estate documents revealed a Steinmetz-Kushner partnership. Asked about it, a spokesman for Kushner Cos. said, “Kushner Companies has a longstanding relationship with Raz Steinmetz and Gaia, who have been terrific partners.” … Gaia Investment lists Shlomo Meichor and Assi Arev as principals. Meichor previously served as chief financial officer of Ampal-American Israel Corp., a New York-traded investment firm that Raz Steinmetz and his father Daniel bought a controlling interest in from Bank Hapoalim in 1996. Bank Hapoalim is among Kushner’s lenders.” [Bloomberg

“WeWork’s office takeover continues with the launch of the Services Store” by Jordan Crook: “For WeWork’s streamlined partners, users can simply purchase software from the WeWork site like any other e-commerce transaction, and the software automatically gets information about the number of seats, name, and billing. For the CEO, that transaction is reflected as part of the WeWork invoice for that month…  WeWork’s Services Store launches with 100 launch partner, and SVP of digital product Ron Gura told TechCrunch that the partner list is expected to continue growing over time. Gura also explained that WeWork isn’t currently taking revenue on the Services Store, but he didn’t rule it out in the future.” [TC]

HOLLYWOOD: “Universal’s Insurer Says Studio Ignoring Realities of Warfare in 21st Century” by Eriq Gardner: “As evidenced by a clash between Universal Cable Productions and Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company over USA Network’s Dig, a mystery-thriller miniseries set in Jerusalem that premiered in 2015… In June of that year, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped… On July 8, 2014, Israel conducted its own offensive campaign, Operation Protective Edge… In the midst of all this, producers were filming Dig… By July 10, the security assessment came that the crew’s safety could no longer be guaranteed, and the studio made the decision to postpone shooting… Dig later completed filming in New Mexico and Croatia… The studio contends that the Hamas rocket fire amounted to terrorism, and as such, there is no exclusion. Atlantic not only sees the events in question as warlike activity, but is also arguing that it doesn’t have to cover insurrection, rebellion, revolution or usurpation of power, nor cover use of a weapon of war including atomic fission or radioactive force.” [HollywoodReporter]

PERSON OF INTEREST: “Interview with Vox Founder and ‘Math-for-Jocks Poster Boy’ Ezra Klein” by David Hochman: “He briefly interned on Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2003 and, the following year, ran a blog—still called a “web-log” back then—from the Democratic National Convention. With a mind for large numbers and an ability to write fluently and fast on many topics, Klein was hired by The Washington Post in 2009 and soon gained a following with his intelligent, nuanced posts on Obama-era politics for Wonkblog, which he launched in 2011. When he left to start his own news operation in 2014, Klein was one of the country’s top political commentators—at least among those who appreciate five-alarm coverage of the ever-hardening right.” [Playboy]

IAC launches first legislative initiative: The Israeli-American Council will introduce its first national legislative project today in a Congressional resolution honoring the Israeli-Americans contributions to the United States. Sponsored by Representatives Lee Zeldin (R-NY) and Grace Meng (D-NY), the symbolic measure noted the 800,000 Israeli-Americans whose hundreds of startups have created tens of thousands of American jobs. “From high-tech to Hollywood, from agriculture to clean energy, Israeli-Americans are making their mark in the U.S. to strengthen our country’s security, economy, and future,” said Israeli-American Council CEO Shoham Nicolet.

SPORTS BLINK: “In tense political times, NBA heading to Israel this summer” by Jon Krawczynski: “Basketball Without Borders has visited cities across the globe since 2001… “We’re looking forward to the chance to bring all communities together for this program,” said Kathy Behrens, NBA president of social responsibility and player programs. “This is going to be about bringing the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druids and other communities together.” The camp will take place from Aug. 13-16 in Netanya. The top teenagers from over 30 countries, including Israel, Spain, Germany and France, will get coaching and tutoring from NBA and FIBA players, coaches and former stars, including former Spurs All-Star David Robinson.” [AP]

BIRTHDAYS: Billionaire businessman and philanthropist, friend of Warren Buffet and early investor in Berkshire Hathaway (and a member of its board of directors), David Sanford “Sandy” Gottesman turns 91… Former owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers (1981-2014) until its forced sale for $2 billion to Steve Ballmer, Donald Sterling (born Donald Tokowitz) turns 83… Computer expert, author, lecturer, Jewish genealogy researcher and publisher of Avotaynu, the International Review of Jewish Genealogy, Gary Mokotoff turns 80… CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay (Oakland, CA) until 2008, Loren Basch turns 73… Investment banker best known as the Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers through its bankruptcy filing in 2008, Richard S. Fuld Jr. turns 71… Professor of computer science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hal Abelson turns 70… President of Brandeis University since 2016, Ronald D. Liebowitz turns 60… Moscow-born, conservative journalist and political activist in Israel, Avigdor Eskin turns 57… Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, contributing editor of The Atlantic, author of six books, previously a journalist for the National Journal and The Economist magazine, Jonathan Rauch turns 57… Member of the Maryland House of Delegates (2006-2010) and the Maryland State Senate (since 2010) where he serves as Majority Whip, Roger Manno turns 51… Senior staff editor on the international desk of The New York Times, Russell Goldman… Ahron Singer

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Daily Kickoff: Dem & GOP Senators on whether Abbas is a partner for peace | Howard Rubenstein’s advice for Jared | Pence’s Kushner family connection


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DRIVING THE DAY — President Trump will deliver the keynote address at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Days of Remembrance ceremony at the U.S. Capitol at 11:20am EDT [CSPAN] • At 4:40pm local time (10:40am EDT), Ivanka Trump will visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin.

“Some Jewish Groups Bristle at Thought of Trump at Capitol Holocaust Ceremony” by Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: “I’ve struggled with whether or not I should even go, or to stay away in protest,” said Andrew J. Weinstein, a member of the museum’s board of trustees who was appointed by President Barack Obama. Ultimately, he decided to attend, “despite my deep concerns about the president and the people he’s surrounded himself with. But there are many, many reasons not to,” said Mr. Weinstein… [RJC’s Matt] Brooks said that Tuesday’sappearance at the Capitol is a chance for Mr. Trump to put the “absurd” notion that he is “soft on anti-Semitism” to rest. “Could some things have been said somewhat differently” during the campaign, Mr. Brooks asked, answering, “Yes.”” [NYTimes

“Trump to name Howard Lorber to Holocaust council” by Tara Palmeri: “[Howard] Lorber, the chairman of real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman, is a longtime friend of Trump’s who arranged for him to be the grand marshal of the 2004 Salute to Israel parade on New York’s Fifth Ave… The council’s chairs, appointed by the president to five-year terms, have typically been prominent Jewish leaders with close White House ties. President George W. Bush chose Houston businessman Fred Zeidman, a prolific Republican fundraiser, for the council chairmanship. The current chair, developer Tom Bernstein, was appointed to consecutive terms by President Barack Obama.”

“Son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner and other influential Jewish members of Trump’s inner circle—including ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Trump’s special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt—pushed for Trump to speak at the museum, according to a former transition official. “Expect a carefully scripted speech by POTUS,” said the transition official, who asked to remain anonymous in order to discuss the plans freely. “He is going to stick to the script.” [Politico

Yesterday, the President proclaimed April 23 through April 30, 2017, as the ‘Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust’ – “with appropriate study, prayers and commemoration, and to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution by internalizing the lessons of this atrocity so that it is never repeated.” [Facebook

“Trump Adviser Gorka Walks Off Stage at a Discussion of Fake News” by Nafeesa Syeed: “As [Seb] Gorka took the stage, a group of students at the back of the lecture hall held up homemade signs, including a young man wearing a yarmulke whose poster read: “Gorka’s Gotta Go” next to a crossed-out swastika symbol… During his Georgetown presentation, Gorka dismissed accusations that he’s anti-Semitic and called Trump’s White House one of the “most pro-Israeli administrations in U.S. history.” “Every single person holding a placard to protest my parents and myself, I challenge you now go away and look at everything I have said or written in the last 46 years of my life and find one sentence that is anti-Semitic or that is anti-Israeli, because you won’t find one,” Gorka said…  One student asked Gorka if he was a member of Vitezi Rend… After answering a series of questions, Gorka gathered his things and abruptly walked from the stage and exited through a side door.” [Bloomberg

“The Guide To Becoming Jared Kushner” by Ben Walsh: “When Charles Kushner was heading to federal prison in 2005, his son Jared got some advice from Howard Rubenstein ― the dean of New York damage control ― on how to rehabilitate the Kushner name, Charles would later tell a family friend. Step one: Buy a New York newspaper. Don’t be too particular, Rubenstein told Jared, according to the family friend’s recounting of their conversation with Charles. Any newspaper will do. Step two: Buy a big Manhattan building. Any building will do. Step three: Marry the daughter of a rich New York family. Anyone will do. The younger Kushner went on to do just that… (A Kushner Companies spokesman denied the family friend’s account. Rubenstein said: “That’s preposterous. I never said that or anything like that.”)”

“Long before he could afford the counsel of someone like Rubenstein, Jared’s father had a sense for how to shape perception to his advantage. In the 1990s, Charles Kushner bought a corporate box at New Jersey’s Giants Stadium on the 50-yard line ― right next to the box reserved for the team’s owners, the Tisch family, according to the Kushner family friend. At the time, the Kushner real estate business was still small, and Charles could barely afford the expense. (A Kushner Companies spokesman confirmed that the family had box seats but denies this characterization.) But he found a way, because he recognized that if you can get close enough to powerful and wealthy people, they’ll assume you are one of them. It’s exactly the sort of maneuver Howard Rubenstein would respect.” [HuffPost]

“Trump and Pence had a Jewish connection before a political one — and it’s steeped in the Holocaust” by Philip Weiss: “Hart Hasten is a quiet legend of American and Israeli political life. Born in a Polish shtetl in 1931, Hasten barely escaped the Nazis in a wagon that his worried father had had the prescience to engage in June 1941. From the time they were teenagers, Hart Hasten and his older brother Mark resolved that Jews must never be so helpless again… The brothers ultimately made it penniless to the midwest in their 20s, and with the sense that their youth had been stolen, clawed their way into American business life… When it came to Israel lobbying, the brothers divvied up Indiana politics. Mark cultivated Democrats — Evan and Birch Bayh. While Hart cultivated Dan Quayle and Mike Pence.”

“The Hastens are related by marriage to another orthodox Jewish family of Holocaust survivors: the Kushner family of New Jersey. Hart Hasten’s second child, Bernard, is married to Laurie Laulicht. Laurie is a first cousin of Jared Kushner… In his memoir, Hart Hasten recalls Passover at the Fontainebleu in Miami Beach in 2001, when Benjamin Netanyahu called his friend Charles Kushner– Jared Kushner’s father– to meet for breakfast to plot his political future… Hart Hasten and Charlie Kushner are kingmakers. I don’t know what role Hart Hasten played when Charlie’s son helped Donald Trump choose Mike Pence as vice president, but it’s a good bet the relatives talked.” [Mondoweiss]

“Trump jokes (?) about firing Nikki Haley: ‘She could easily be replaced’” by Aaron Blake: “She’s doing a good job. Now does everybody like Nikki?” Trump asked at a meeting of U.N. Security Council ambassadors and their spouses. “Otherwise she could easily be replaced. Right?” Trump added: “No, we won’t do that. I promise. She’s doing a fantastic job.” [WashPost; CSPAN

Report: Trump said bidding to defeat new anti-Israel UNESCO resolution — Next Monday, UNESCO is set to vote on a resolution that includes clauses denying any Jewish connection to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and that attacks Israel for the killing of children in Gaza, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported Monday. The US administration… has issued a démarche to its ambassadors in UNESCO-member countries, telling them to initiate meetings at the host foreign ministries and to convey the US’s hope that those countries will vote against the motion, Channel 10 said. In the note to its ambassadors, the administration describes the upcoming UNESCO motion as one-sided and counter-productive to US efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace.” [ToI]

KAFE KNESSET — It is either me or them — by Tal Shalev & JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Netanyahu is at war with “Breaking the Silence,” the left-wing NGO which gathers testimonies from IDF soldiers about alleged human rights violations. Breaking the Silence has testified about these alleged violations to international organizations. The NGO is now the at the center of a diplomatic debacle with Germany. After learning that the German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, intends to meet Breaking the Silence representatives during his visit to Israel this week, Netanyahu posed an ultimatum: If you don’t cancel the meeting – I will not be meeting you. So far, the German FM hasn’t budged. According to several sources, he intends to meet with left-wing groups this evening as planned. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s ultimatum sparked a lively political debate, with praise from his right and criticism from his left. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, Democrats from New York, asserted during a panel at the World Jewish Congress’s Plenary Assembly in Manhattan that the time is ripe for a renewed effort to bring to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal — by Jacob Kornbluh: Engel — “I think now is the time where it’s ripe for a comprehensive solution for the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.. Some of the Sunni countries in the region are starting to realize that Israel is not their enemy and are beginning to work together to combat the real enemy, ISIS and the Iranians who wish to do them harm. I think that is an opportunity. I hope we can take this time and turn it around.”

Lowey: “I do feel so passionately that there has to be a two-state solution and I am optimistic that perhaps this is the time.”

Lowey tells us… “I am always a cockeyed optimist. Abbas doesn’t have the capacity to lead anything; to make any decisions. But I am hoping that with King Abdullah of Jordan leading the Arab League, if they aggressively work together and work with Israel, then perhaps they can convince Abbas that this is the time. I think President Trump is a dealmaker, and on this he wants to make a deal. Maybe he can make a deal, the deal that no one has been able to make for a long time.”

ON THE HILL — JI’s Aaron Magid asked Senators yesterday on Capitol Hill whether they believe Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a partner for peace?

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV): “That’s a tough one. He’s been there 10 years and we don’t have peace yet. Bottom line is they have to understand that Israel has to be recognized, that the Jews have the right to have their own state. He (Abbas) seems afraid to push back. This basically keeps festering. They want Israel to give back lands and it makes no sense to me at all: why can’t they just recognize? I think we can move forward.”

Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM): “There have been times where he has been a partner for peace and there have been times when he has been far less than constructive. My hope is that the President will use his influence to encourage him to be a constructive partner for peace.”

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL): “I met him one time, but I don’t really know him. That’s a tough neighborhood. They would have to show me that they are really interested in peace.”

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA): “I think President Trump has shown a willingness to try. His initial overtures towards Putin, which were rebuffed and it seems to not go anywhere, at least he tried. I can’t speak for the President, but I’m sure he’s asking what’s the alternative? On the other hand, Mr. Abbas is pretty old so he also may be trying to search out where we’re going. It’s a complex situation.”

Senator John Hoeven (R-ND): “Let’s see what he’s willing to do in that discussion. I think that Benjamin Netanyahu has been very open to coming up with a solution and the Palestinians have to be willing to come to the table and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state. That’s what we need to see from Mahmoud Abbas. I believe he (Abbas) needs to do more in terms of coming to the table and coming up with a two state solution.”

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD): “It’s worth pursuing the conversation, and I’m glad to see the meeting take place. We need to work hard to try and bring the parties together. Ultimately, any decisions will have to be ones they make on their own. I think everybody involved has had both shortcomings and some positive aspects to their approach. Obviously, the fact that we don’t have any dialogue right now indicates the difficulties to bridge the differences.”

“Momentum to delay Senate Iran sanctions bill until after elections” — by Aaron Magid: “There are many people who believe that we should let the Iranian elections take place so that can’t be used as suggested somehow it (Senate bill) affected the elections,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said yesterday. “I can understand why there’s a universe that feels that way and I don’t think we are going to lose anything in terms of the sanctions and the consequences we want by waiting.”

While Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Bob Corker (R-TN) would prefer that the sanctions bill not wait until after the May 17 Presidential elections, he acknowledged, “I do think there are others who would like to see that happen.” He added that his “counterparts” have urged that the SFRC proceed with both the Russian and Iranian sanctions bills at the same time. [JewishInsider

“These are the 100-day accomplishments Trump is touting” by Jim Acosta: “…New Iran Sanctions: On February 3rd, 2017, The Department Of The Treasury Sanctioned 25 Entities And Individuals Involved In Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program.” [CNN

HEARD YESTERDAY — Ohio Governor John Kasich at a live town hall meeting on CNN: “I was a boring candidate for president because I didn’t make wild accusations or wild promises… ‘We’re going to tear up that Iran deal on day one!’ I said, ‘Well, we can’t do that.’  Well, that was boring because it wasn’t like, yes, you know?  And now we begin to see this settling.”

“Report: Trump Plans to Cut Foreign Aid Across World – but Increase Aid to Palestinians” by Amir Tibon: “Internal State Department documents that were published on Monday by Foreign Policy magazine show… major cuts in foreign aid to numerous countries in all continents, but a small rise of 4.6% in foreign aid to the West Bank and Gaza, which would go up to $215 million for the 2018 fiscal year… The document proposes a 47.4% cut to Egypt’s aid – a surprising policy in light of the warm and friendly way in which Trump has treated Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi. It also proposed a 21% cut to foreign aid to Jordan.” [Haaretz; FP]  

Dan Shapiro‏: “Except that Congress will never let that happen. Jordan has too many friends who value it there. Israelis will lend their quiet support too.” [Twitter]

Mark Leon Goldberg‏: “Sen. Bob Corker re: foreign aid “It’s 1% of what we spend. If we spend it wisely is what keeps them out of harms way and out of a hot war.”” [Twitter

NYC 2017 WATCH: “Dietl questions de Blasio’s name and heart” by Azi Paybarah: “Independent mayoral candidate Bo Dietl on Monday… accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of changing his name in a cynical ploy to court Jewish voters and of potentially lacking a heart…Noting his ex-wife, children and grandchildren are Jewish, he added, “I’ve got Jewish in me.” Then, turning his focus to de Blasio, Dietl added, “Hmm. What was his real name? Warren Wilhelm? Why did he change it? … I want my Jewish friends to think — and you saw how he came against Israel. He came against Israel. I support Israel. He doesn’t support Israel.” When told of Dietl’s comments, de Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan said in a statement, “Bill de Blasio is a strong supporter of Israel and any suggestion otherwise is silly and offensive.”” [Politico]

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: LeFrak, Roth dish on Trump’s lofty infrastructure goals [RealDeal] • Developer Russell Galbut offers Miami-Dade a $300 million courthouse. Rent: $1.8 billion over 99 years [MiamiHerald] • Tenants of Crown Heights Jewish Hospital Complex Wary as City and Landlord Work Out Deal [Brownstoner] • Aluminum giant is looking to cut a deal with Paul Singer [NYPost] • CEO Stewart Butterfield Says Slack Is Evolving Into An ‘Always-On Chief Of Staff’ [Forbes]

LongRead: “Can Facebook Fix Its Own Worst Bug?” by Farhad Manjoo: “Mark Zuckerberg now acknowledges the dangerous side of the social revolution he helped to start. But is the most powerful tool for connection in human history capable of adapting to the world it created?… “If you look at the history of Facebook, when we started off, there really wasn’t news as part of it,” Zuckerberg went on. But as Facebook grew and became a bigger part of how people learn about the world, the company had been slow to adjust to its new place in people’s lives. The events of 2016, he said, “set off a number of conversations that we’re still in the middle of.” [NYTMag]

TED TALK: “Facing the future without fear, together: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks speaks at TED 2017” by Brian Greene: “These are the times that try men’s souls, and they’re trying ours now,” begins Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, quoting Thomas Paine, in an electrifying talk about how we can face the future without fear if we face it together. It’s a fateful moment in history. We’ve seen divisive elections, divided societies and a growth of extremism — all of it fueled by anxiety, uncertainty and fear. The world is changing faster than we can bear, and it’s looking like it’s going to continue changing faster still. Sacks asks: “Is there something we can do to face the future without fear?”

“The only people that will save us from ourselves is we, the people — all of us together,” Sacks says. Sacks leaves us with a simple suggestion: “Do a search-and-replace operation on the text of your mind. Wherever you encounter the word ‘self,’ substitute the word ‘other.’ Instead of self-help, other-help. Instead of self-esteem, other-esteem. We can face any future without fear so long as we know that we won’t face it alone.” [TedBlog]

“500 Years After Expulsion, Sicily’s Jews Reclaim a Lost History” by Elisabetta Povoledo: “A few years ago, trilingual street signs — in Italian, Hebrew and Arabic — were put up as markers in the area in a nod to the city’s rich past. But “the Hebrew is wrong, it’s botched”— a transliteration that doesn’t read right, according to Maria Antonietta Ancona, a retired anesthetist who goes by her Jewish name, Miriam. “They didn’t translate, but just substituted Italian characters with the Hebrew characters, so it doesn’t make sense,” she said. She should know, she began studying Hebrew 10 years ago as part of her conversion to Judaism. Like other members of the nascent Palermo community, Ms. Ancona, who was raised as a Roman Catholic though her father was Jewish, began recovering her roots 30 years ago as part of a “pressing necessity” to embrace her Jewish identity.” [NYTimes]

“Anti-Semitic incidents rose a whopping 86% in the first 3 months of 2017” by Doug Criss and Carma Hassan: “The report, released Monday by Anti-Defamation League, counted 541 anti-Semitic attacks and threats between January and March. There were 281 incidents in the same time period in 2016.” [CNN]

— “White House spokesman Michael Short said Trump has consistently called for an end to anti-Semitism, as recently as Sunday in a speech on Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.” [Reuters]

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tells us… “We believe that the political climate in the presidential campaign certainly had something to do with the increase in incidents. What appears to be happening is the extremists feel emboldened and are kind of spreading their virus. Look, we had white supremacists media credentialed for events during the campaign. We had means and images coming from white supremacist sources that found their way into Twitter feeds of the campaigns. We had situations that people like Richard Spencer and David Duke found themselves in the headlines. So when we try to understand where this is coming from, I think that contributed to it. The challenge of delegitimization of Israel continues to be prevalent.”

“We believe one of the antidotes are strong statements from our elected officials and public figures, whether it’s a university president or the U.S. president. So it’s notable – we though it was – when President Trump used his remarks before a joint session of Congress and called out anti-Semitism – for the first time on the record – in a very strong way. It was really important. I think his remarks Sunday night at the WJC were important. And we are looking forward to what he says at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum event. That is really important because when he speaks it sends signals.”

“Who Does the Anne Frank Center Represent?” by Emma Green: “But just as [Steve] Goldstein’s approach has rankled some people in America—Alan Dershowitz, the emeritus Harvard law professor, told me Goldstein is making “over-the-top, irresponsible, exaggerated statements designed to bring him publicity”—the Anne Frank House’s political activity in the ’70s and ’80s upset folks… Goldstein disagrees that it is “‘politicizing’ our organization to be tough on Sean Spicer,” he told me. “I believe that Donald Trump has an astounding insensitivity to the Jewish community that boggles the mind.” He thinks it would be irresponsible not to call out the administration.” [TheAtlantic

“Wearing Skirts Over Pants Helps Me Straddle Two Worlds” by Shoshana Kordova: “I recognize, of course, that the country I live in is no more a fashion trendsetter than I am, that the elision of the distinction between pants and skirts is not unique to me, to Modern Orthodox Jews, or to Israel… The leggings and pants my daughters and I wear under our skirts mean we don’t have to choose between skirts and pants, between religious conventions and pragmatic considerations, between constriction and liberation.” [Racked]

TRANSITION: Ben Sheridan, is leaving J Street to become the Deputy Finance Director on Chris Kennedy’s gubernatorial campaign in Illinois. h/t Playbook

BIRTHDAYS: Co-founder of Starbucks and entrepreneurial advisor, Zev Siegl turns 62… Commissioner of the National Basketball Association since 2014, Adam Silver turns 55… Chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors, a NYC-based investment advisory firm, Leon G. “Lee” Cooperman turns 74… Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University since 1973, Rabbi of the Young Israel of Riverdale Synagogue since 1974, Rabbi Mordechai Willig turns 70… Former French Finance Minister and later Managing Director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn turns 68… Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, focused on the international politics of the Middle East, Michael Scott Doran turns 55… Chicago-based bundler for President Obama, US Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2014-2017), clerked for Supreme Court Justice Blackmun (1992-1993), Andrew H. Schapiro turns 54… Actor, voice actor, comedian and producer, voices many roles on the “The Simpsons,” descended from a Sephardic family rooted in Thessaloniki, Hank Azaria turns 53…

Beersheba-born director, writer, comedian and infomercial pitchman, better known as Vince Offer, Vince Shlomi, or “The ShamWow Guy,” Offer Shlomi turns 53… Democratic member of the Utah House of Representatives since 2000, currently serving as the Minority Leader, David Litvack turns 45… Moscow-born Democratic party strategist and television personality on the Fox News Channel, Julie Roginsky turns 44… Johannesburg-born political commentator, author and senior-editor-at-large for Breitbart News, Joel Pollak turns 40… Deputy press secretary for NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, Jaclyn Rothenberg turns 29… Film and television actress, model and singer, Sara Paxton turns 29… Senior political reporter in Manhattan for the news and media website Mic, Emily C. Singer, née Cahn, turns 28 (h/t Playbook)… Los Angeles-based partner in the energy practice group of the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Beth A. Fox… Attorney, partner in the NYC-based law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP, Sandy A. Liebhard… David Handleman… Mike Sponder

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Photo via Facebook/Sen. Ben Cardin

Senate Churns Into High Gear on Syria

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution on Thursday morning that condemns the Assad regime for launching the grisly strike. The resolution was introduced just one day…


Kafe Knesset for April 6

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day As news of a second chemical attack in Syria came out today,…


House Members Dispute Abdullah’s Assertion Israeli-Palestinian Conflict ‘Core’ Regional Issue

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

WASHINGTON – At Wednesday’s press conference with President Donald Trump, Jordan’s King Abdullah asserted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “essentially the core conflict in our region.” The Jordanian…

Bibi Knesset

Kafe Knesset for April 5

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Here comes trouble: A day after former Likud Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced…

screenshot via CSPAN

Mounting Senate Concern on Tillerson’s Human Rights Commitment

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

WASHINGTON – During Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s January nomination hearing, the toughest questions didn’t come from a Democrat, but rather a lawmaker from the administration’s own party….


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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Netanyahu’s alternative news: We remain in the midst of the never-ending IBC…