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

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: The surprising Trump Whisperer for the Palestinians | Adelson ‘waiting patiently’ on Embassy | Snap buys patent from Israeli Mobli

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THE TRUMP WHISPERERS — NYTimes Names 20 Key Outside Advisors:“Trump Reaches Beyond West Wing for Counsel” by Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: “The media mogul Rupert Murdoch is on the phone every week, encouraging Mr. Trump when he’s low and arguing that he focus on the economy rather than detouring to other issues… Murdoch even called the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, to buck him up after Mr. Spicer was savaged for a remark about Adolf Hitler.”

“The Clubgoers: Ike Perlmutter, the chief executive of Marvel Comics, who is so reclusive that there are few public photographs of him, has been informally advising Mr. Trump on veterans issues. The two men are old friends, and Mr. Perlmutter has been a presence at Mar-a-Lago. Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots is a Democrat, but his loyalty to Mr. Trump, Mr. Kraft once said, dates partly to the president’s thoughtfulness when Mr. Kraft’s father died.”

“Childhood Friend: Richard LeFrak. Their fathers were developers together in New York, and the two men have been friends for decades. Mr. LeFrak is a Mar-a-Lago member, and he agreed to be part of an infrastructure effort that Mr. Trump hopes to put forward. Mr. Trump has turned to him to vent frustrations about the slow pace of bureaucracy.” [NYTimes]

–The NYTimes credits Trump’s thoughtfulness when Bob Kraft’s father died but it was really when Kraft’s wife passed away: “When [Kraft’s wife] Myra died [in 2011], Melania [Trump] and Donald came up to the funeral in our synagogue, then they came for memorial week to visit with me,” Kraft told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. “Then he called me once a week for the whole year, the most depressing year of my life when I was down and out. He called me every week to see how I was doing, invited me to things, tried to lift my spirits. He was one of five or six people that were like that. I remember that.” [CBSSports]

LEFT OFF THE LIST — Ronald S. Lauder, the man who we’re told currently has Trump’s ear on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. According to multiple sources, Lauder is the one who has convinced Trump that ‘the ultimate deal’ between Israelis and Palestinians is achievable, a deal that has eluded each of Trump’s immediate predecessors. Lauder is said to have told the President that the Palestinians are ‘desperate’ for a deal and that ‘Israel is the problem.’ One prominent JI reader in the know even went so far as to characterize Lauder as “the Palestinian’s man in D.C.” According to the folks who think Lauder may be in over his head, there’s the belief that no matter what deal is presented to the Palestinians, it will be rejected. “They could put the ’08 Olmert deal before Abbas right now and he’d reject it,” another insider told us.

We reached out to Lauder’s representatives for comment and we’re still waiting for a response.  

Our guess: Look for some other Trump whisperers, including those on the Times list and officials in the administration, to share their skepticism over ‘the ultimate deal’ in the coming weeks with Trump himself.

FLASHBACK to ’99: “New York cosmetics tycoon Ronald Lauder played a dramatic backstage role trying to broker a peace pact between Israel and Syria, but failed to seal a deal over the Golan Heights. Israeli and Syrian officials said Lauder, a former diplomat and mayoral candidate, frequently shuttled between Damascus and Jerusalem in the past year taking sensitive messages between Syrian President Hafez Assad and then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” [NYPost]

BACKSTORY: Ron Lauder’s relationship with Trump goes back decades to when the young real estate developer from Queens crossed the East River seeking to gain acceptance into Manhattan society. While not everyone accepted the brash developer, Ron’s mother Estée Lauder did. In 2004, Trump even partnered with Estée Lauder, the company, to launch ‘Donald Trump, The Fragrance.’

When the Trump administration was widely condemned by Jewish groups, including the Republican Jewish Coalition and the ZOA, for omitting any mention of Jews from their official White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ron Lauder was the sole Jewish leader who defended Trump. “It does no honor to the millions of Jews murdered in the Holocaust to play politics with their memory,” Lauder wrote.

During the transition, Lauder met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach [Pic]

Last night, in a video message to the World Jewish Congress, Trump told delegates that “I want to thank Ronald Lauder, not only for his many years of friendship – and he truly has been my good friend, he even predicted early that I was going to win the presidency – but also for his leadership of this organization. He has done a fantastic job.”

Trump on Holocaust, anti-Semitism: “On Yom HaShoah, we look back at the darkest chapter of human history. We mourn, we remember, we pray, and we pledge: Never again. I say it, never again. The mind cannot fathom the pain, the horror, and the loss. Six million Jews, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe, murdered by the Nazi genocide… Today, only decades removed from the Holocaust, we see a great nation risen from the desert and we see a proud Star of David waving above the State of Israel. That star is a symbol of Jewish perseverance. It’s a monument to unyielding strength… We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found. We must defeat terrorism, and we must not ignore the threats of a regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction. We cannot let that ever even be thought of.” [WJC

HAPPENING TODAY — The World Jewish Congress will celebrate 80 years of activities at a gala on Ellis Island. Speakers include WJC’s Rabbi Joel Meyers and Israeli Consul General Dani Dayan, among others. Panels during the day at the Midtown Hilton include a discussion on what it means to be a Jewish legislator today by Reps. Nita Lowey, Eliot Engel and Lee Zeldin, and Israeli successes in Hollywood moderated by Israel’s Consul General in LA Sam Grundwerg with the participation of actress Moran Atias, film and TV producer Howard Rosenman, and Adam Berkowitz, Co-Head of the TV dept. at Creative Artists Agency.

March of the Living — Today on Yom Hashoah, the March of the Living is commencing in Poland with over 10,000 participants from 30 countries. Over 250,000 students, survivors, and educators have participated in March of the Living to Poland and Israel since its inception in 1988. This year’s international march from Auschwitz to Birkenau is being dedicated to the memory of Joseph Wilf who passed away this past summer. Joe was the founding North American President of the March and, we’re told, always had a great pride in being part of its creation and watching its tremendous growth over the years. [MOTL

POTUS SCHEDULE — President Trump will have a working lunch today with Ambassadors from countries that are on the U.N. Security Council, and at 2:30 pm, he will sign a proclamation on Holocaust Remembrance in the Oval Office. On Tuesday, the President will speak at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Day of Remembrance.

YESTERDAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE — Jason Greenblatt: “Torah study in the Indian Treaty room at the EEOB/White House. Thank you Benjamin B!” [Pic]  

Will Trump visit Israel this summer? — Report by Ariel Kahana: “The U.S Administration and the Israeli government have begun to coordinate a possible presidential visit to Israel. Senior administration officials told their Israeli counterparts that President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley intend to visit Israel in the coming months, as none of them have ever been to Israel. No date has been set yet and at the moment the trip is only at the initial planning stages.” [NRG] • Worth noting: NRG is an Adelson-owned publication

ADELSON ‘WAITING PATIENTLY’ — “Republicans sound alarm on Trump’s troubles ahead of 2018” by Alex Isenstadt: “Adelson, the Las Vegas casino mogul, has privately complained about Trump’s failure to fulfill his campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, three people close to the billionaire said. Adelson is also rankled that some people he recommended for administration posts haven’t yet been tapped. More fundamentally, Adelson is dismayed by what he sees as a state of chaos in the new administration, these people said… An Adelson spokesman, Andy Abboud, said the billionaire is “overall not angry or unhappy” with the president and is pleased with his decisiveness on certain issues. Adelson, he said, is waiting patiently for action on the embassy.” [Politico]

IRAN DEAL: In an interview with the Associated Press, Trump said “it is possible” that the U.S. will pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal over Iran’s activity in the Middle East region — AP: [Do] you believe that they are complying with the agreement? Trump: “No, I don’t say that. I say that I believe they have broken the spirit of the agreement. There is a spirit to agreements, and they have broken it.” AP: In terms of what they are doing elsewhere in the Middle East? Trump: “In terms of what they are doing of all over.” AP: When you talk to European leaders… what do they say about the nuclear deal? Do they want you to stay in that deal? Trump: “I don’t talk to them about it… I mention it, but it’s very personal when I talk to them, you know, it’s confidential. No, they have their own opinions. I don’t say that they are different than my opinions, but I’d rather have you ask them that question.” AP: At this point, do you believe that you will stay in the nuclear deal? Trump: “It’s possible that we won’t.” [AP] • Resistance group alleges Iran grossly violating nuclear deal [FoxNews]

DEEP DIVE: “Obama’s hidden Iran deal giveaway” by Josh Meyer: “Through action in some cases and inaction in others, the White House derailed its own much-touted National Counterproliferation Initiative at a time when it was making unprecedented headway in thwarting Iran’s proliferation networks. In addition, the POLITICO investigation found that Justice and State Department officials denied or delayed requests from prosecutors and agents to lure some key Iranian fugitives to friendly countries so they could be arrested. Similarly, Justice and State, at times in consultation with the White House, slowed down efforts to extradite some suspects already in custody overseas… And as far back as the fall of 2014, Obama administration officials began slow-walking some significant investigations and prosecutions of Iranian procurement networks operating in the U.S.” [Politico]

“State Dept. official reassigned amid conservative media attacks”’ by Nahal Toosi: “Some State Department officials believe the individual, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, was shifted because of the media attacks… Nowrouzzadeh, a Civil Service officer who helped shape the controversial Iran nuclear deal, had been detailed since last July to the secretary of state’s policy planning team, where she handled ongoing issues related to Iran and Gulf Arab countries… The State Department said in a statement that Nowrouzzadeh has returned to the Office of Iranian Affairs… Nowrouzzadeh is “very smart, deeply knowledgeable about Iran,” said Philip Gordon, who served as a top Middle East adviser to Obama… “If Donald Trump hasn’t torn up the Iran nuclear deal, it may be because he realized that would be a bad idea. And it’s not because one of his policy planning staffers has a family of Iranian origin.”’ [Politico]

OVER THE WEEKEND — Bibi was interviewed by Sean Hannity: “Netanyahu theorized to Sean Hannity about what the outcome would be in a confrontation where an “Islamist terror state” has nuclear weapons. He warned of irreparable damage and said “we cannot allow that to happen.” … Netanyahu told Hannity that his problem with Iran is not merely that it will violate the deal. He said if Iran does not violate the deal, in 12 years, it will “walks into unimpeded enrichment of uranium.”” [FoxNews]

KAFE KNESSET — ‘The strong survive’ — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Israel came to a standstill at 10:00 this morning for the Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) siren, as it does every year. Last night, at the opening ceremony at Yad Vashem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the lesson he learned from the Holocaust, which he said he keeps in mind when he shapes strategy for Israel: “The simple truth is that in our world, the existence of the weak is in doubt. When facing murderous countries and organizations, their chances of survival are not great. The strong survive; the weak are erased… The lesson is that we must be able to defend ourselves, by ourselves, against all threats and all enemies. Those who plan to annihilate us are placing themselves in danger of annihilation.” Despite that message, Netanyahu managed to surprise observers by only mentioning Iran once, far less frequently than in previous years.

President Reuven Rivlin also gave a powerful speech, in which he denounced those who see the Holocaust as just another example of mass murder and racism. Rivlin also said that Israel does not just exist to prevent another Holocaust and argued against those who think Jewish identity is just about escaping attempted genocide. “The Jewish People were not born in Auschwitz,” Rivlin pointed out. Read today’s Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

FRENCH ELECTION — “French Jews Fear What’s Next After Marine Le Pen Makes It To The Second Round” by Annabelle Azadé: “Although most pundits predict that Macron will defeat Le Pen, Rabbi Moché Lewi was less relaxed. “In the next two weeks, everything could change. Who knows who the Mélenchon and Fillon supporters are going to vote for … They could vote for Le Pen,” he said… Bernard Abouaf, co-organiser and Director of Radio Shalom, said that he had been discussing the French elections with a friend, who told him a Jew who voted for Le Pen on the eve of Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — “is a Jew that has lost his soul.”” [BuzzFeed French Jews Relieved by Macron’s Success, but Remain Conscious of Le Pen [Haaretz]

Putin’s Rabbi? “Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar warns French Jews: ‘If Marine Le Pen is elected President of France, you should leave the country'” [EJPress]

PROFILE: “How the Financial Collapse Steeled Gary Cohn for the White House” by William D. Cohan: “What Cohn has, that Trump wants, is a record of notching wins in adversarial circumstances, and that’s something that Bannon has not achieved in the early days of the administration. The dyslexic grandson of Jewish immigrants from a suburb of Cleveland, Cohn attended four different schools by the time he got to sixth grade. In high school, he worked part-time in the warehouse of the family’s electrical supply business. When he graduated from American University in 1982, during the peak of the Reagan Recession, he had no job or job prospects.” [Politico

–Connie Bruck’s latest: “How Hollywood Remembers Steve Bannon: He says that, before he became a senior adviser to the President, he was a successful player in the film industry. But what did he actually do?” [NewYorker]

“Former Trump aide: Trump fired me many times and sued me. I still think he was a great boss” by Allison Michaels: “One thing about Donald Trump, I don’t know if I’m ever going to have another boss like this,” Sam Nunberg told White House bureau chief Philip Rucker. “He’s able to make you excel and push yourself. Part of it is because you want to please him.” [WashPost]

“Ivanka Trump adds a chief of staff” by Annie Karni: “Julie Radford — who like her boss is a mother of three young children — was chosen to work for the first daughter after being recruited in February by [Dina] Powell.” [Politico]

2018 WATCH: “Menendez raises $20K from Kushner family” by Herb Jackson: “The $20,000 contributions — $5,000 each from Lee, Marc, Jonathan and Aryeh Kushner — all came from the same address in Livingston, and were made on the same day in January. Lee Kushner is the wife of Murray Kushner, who has a long-running and well-publicized feud with his brother, Charles, who is Jared’s father. Marc and Jonathan are the sons of Lee and Murray Kushner… Marc and Murray Kushner also gave $15,600 in 2013 to the campaign of Sen. Cory Booker.” [NorthJersey]  

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Sheryl Sandberg’s Accidental Revolution: How Sandberg’s grief became the catalyst for a new, emotionally honest management style at Facebook and beyond [Backchannel] • Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Capital is eyeing CIM’s James Hotel in Los Angeles for close to $975,000 a key, bringing the total prospective sale price to nearly $280 million [RealDeal] • Teddy Sagi Takes London’s Camden Market Owner Private [CND] • An Israeli startup armed with $45 million is taking on Google and Apple in the race to sell your personal data [BusinessInsider]

SPOTLIGHT: “Snap acquires the crucial geofilter patent from Mobli for a record $7.7M” by Mike Butcher: “According to sources, serial entrepreneur and investor Moshe Hogeg, who co-founded Mobli, sold Mobli’s Geofilters patent to Snap this month for $7.7 million. This is believed to be the highest amount paid for a patent from the Israeli tech industry. The news was confirmed in an email to Mobli’s 100 shareholders.” [TC]

“Video Shows Palantir CEO Ridiculing Trump And Slamming His Immigration Rhetoric” by William Alden: “In a Palantir staff meeting in August 2015, the video shows, [Alex] Karp derided Trump’s “fictitious wealth,” called him a bully, and condemned his campaign rhetoric on deporting immigrants. He also said he had given Trump a brush-off… “Like, you could almost make up someone that I find — it would be hard to make up someone I find less appealing,” Karp said of Trump.” [BuzzFeed]

Mike Bloomberg talks 2016 election on 60 Minutes — “If I thought we could win, or had a reasonable chance, I would have done it.” But, “It would be totally unlikely, very unlikely that an independent could win,” Bloomberg added… He told “60 Minutes” that he called to congratulate his fellow New Yorker after he won the election. “We joked about my speech in Philadelphia. And before he finished the conversation, he gave me his personal phone number, his cellphone. I haven’t called him, so I don’t know if — whether he’d answer it now. But … I hope he does a good job,” Bloomberg added.” [TheHill; CBSNews] • Bloomberg gave 60 Minutes a helicopter tour of New York City [CBSNews]

THE AXE FILES — David Axelrod interviewed former Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro on his podcast: Highlights — When describing his time in Israel during the Yom Kippur war as a child, Shapiro recalled: “I remember going to the bomb shelters, blacking out the apartment, and the confusion that my parents were dealing with of just trying to understand what was going on. They immediately got pressure from their parents, bring the grandchildren home. What are you doing there? Get out of Israel. But, they decided to stay and help volunteer anywhere they could where people had gone to fight so my father was on a Moshav in a chicken coop. He was in a school teaching. That is what began the sense of identification. This was more than a semester abroad. It turned into something much more meaningful. I can remember playing tag in the bomb shelters with the other kids in the apartment building.”

Shapiro on his Jewish identity: “I grew up in a Reform Jewish household, nowadays I consider myself a Conservative Jew. All those years of religious studies, Jewish summer camps definitely imbued in me a feeling that I as a Jew had a special connection with this country far away. I felt a connection to that history and to the story of return to that story of people who had been exiled from their homeland and finally found their way back home. That spoke to me very personally.”

Regarding the controversial Obama administration decision to abstain from the December UN Security Council resolution 2334, Shaprio emphasized, “I can defend it. It was actually not my preference. Had we been able to shape a resolution to be more like a Quartet report that had been issued over the summer that applied the responsibilities to all the different parties a bit more evenly, that could have been more constructive product.”

While critiquing much of Trump’s foreign policy, the former US Ambassador praised the new administration’s handling of the Israeli-Palestinian file. Shapiro explained that Jason Greenblatt “has made an impressive debut. He didn’t only meet with Netanyahu and Abbas. He met everybody: Israelis of all political stripes, Palestinians of many political stripes: refugees, students, settlers, businessmen.” Listen to the full episode here [CNN]

“Justice Dept. charges man in threat hoaxes to Jewish Community Centers” by Tom Winter and Phil Helsel: “Michael Ron David Kadar, 18, who was arrested by Israeli police in March, is charged in Florida and Georgia with making threatening interstate communications, making interstate threats related to explosives, conveying false information and perpetuating a hoax, and cyberstalking… “Today’s charges into these violent threats to Jewish Community Centers and others represent this Department’s commitment to fighting all forms of violent crime,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.” [NBCNews] • Israel refuses to extradite teen JCC bomb hoaxer to US [ToI]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Jerusalem hotels: Unlikely hotbeds of furtive, meticulous romance” by Tracy Frydberg: “It’s the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Central Jerusalem and these young men and women are engaged in “shidduch dating,” a system of matchmaking used by religious Jews, from the liberal Modern Orthodox to the ultra-Orthodox Haredim. Tourists sharing the lobby stare openly at the daters… Daters in Jerusalem typically start simple and build up their repertoire of hotels as the relationship progresses; the Prima Kings, Leonardo or King Solomon are considered respectable-yet-modest choices for a first date. If things go well, perhaps the Inbal will come next. When things get serious, the nascent couple will move on to the Waldorf or King David, where the patio is really nice during the summer.” [ToI]

DESSERT: “Can You Keep Kosher or Halal in Space?” by Sarah Lewin: “According to Vickie Kloeris, manager of NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory, purely kosher meals (food prepared according to Jewish law) or halal (food prepared according to Islamic law) aren’t currently possible for the space station fliers. “We have a single packaging room on the U.S. side. All of the food that’s part of our standard menu that we provide — from what I understand, in order for them to be kosher and halal, they have to be done in separate, unique facilities. Therefore, everything we package would not meet that requirement.” Kloeris noted that it’s possible to travel with a limited allotment of kosher or halal foods, in order to honor an astronaut’s heritage.” [Space.Com]

BIRTHDAYS: Film director, Richard Donner (born Richard Donald Schwartzberg) turns 87… Yeshiva of Brooklyn student who went on to become an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony and Peabody Award winning singer and actress, Barbra Streisand turns 75… Board chairman of financial publisher TheStreet, also on the board of directors of Gannett and MDC Partners, previously president and publisher of USA Today, Larry Kramer turns 67… Israeli architect and artist, Ron Arad turns 66… President of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards of the NBA since 2003, himself an NBA player (1977-1986), Ernest “Ernie” Grunfeld turns 62… Award winning author and journalist and the former national editor for Politico, Michael Hirsh turns 60… President of Kirtzman Strategies in NYC, previously a journalist, political reporter and television news anchor (2002-2008), author of books about Bernie Madoff and Rudy Giuliani, Andrew Kirtzman turns 56… Television writer, producer and film screenwriter, known as the co-creator and showrunner of the television series “Lost” (2004-2010), Damon Lindelof turns 44… Director of public relations at the Jacksonville office of the Dalton Agency, Brandon Hersh turns 34… President of Cincinnati-based Standard Textile since 1986, VP of JINSA and the Israel Policy Forum, Gary Heiman… Delray Beach, FL resident, Phyllis Dupret… Jeffrey Wohlberg… Mark Waldman… Elaine Berke

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Former Cruz Spox: Sheldon Could Sit Out Trump/Hillary Matchup

Thursday, March 3, 2016

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House Members Introduce Bill to Ensure Resolution for Jewish Refugees

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

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Top Senate Dems Hit Obama’s Objection to Anti-BDS Provisions on Settlements

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

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NY Republicans Call on State Assembly to Pass Anti-BDS Legislation

Sunday, February 28, 2016

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A Congressman, Israeli Ambassador and Hall of Fame Running Back Celebrate Black History Month

Thursday, February 25, 2016

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Obama Signs Anti-BDS Bill, Objects to Pro-Settlement Provisions

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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