Daily Kickoff: Trump to Masada? | How the Abbas meeting played in Jerusalem | Where Amb. Friedman plans to work from | Jared officiates weddings too!

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BREAKING — Trump’s Trip: “President Donald Trump will visit Israel, the Vatican and Saudi Arabia later this month on his first foreign trip as president, according to two White House officials. Trump’s tour will conclude with his stops at a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and at the G7 summit in Sicily the following day. The first foreign visit is typically a milestone for a new president. The stakes are high for White House staff, who are seeking to firm up alliances overseas.” [Politico]

STAGECRAFT: “Big speech in Israel by DonaldTrump will be delivered at the ancient fortress Masada, reports Channel 2 News” [Twitter]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — In his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday, President Trump demonstrated a carrot and stick approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the same way he urged Israel to hold off on settlement construction while hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their first meeting in February.

THE CARROT — Trump declares Abbas as a partner for peace: “Mr. President, you signed your name to the first Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement (Oslo Accords). You remember that well, right? And I want to support you in being the Palestinian leader who signs his name to the final and most important peace agreement that brings safety, stability, and prosperity to both peoples and to the region… I know President Abbas has spoken out against ISIS and other terrorist groups, and we must continue to build our partnership with the Palestinian security forces to counter and defeat terrorism. I also applaud the Palestinian Authority’s continued security coordination with Israel. They get along unbelievably well.”

THE STICK — What Israel and Republicans wanted to hear: “But there cannot be lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate. There’s such hatred. But hopefully there won’t be such hatred for very long. All children of God must be taught to value and respect human life, and condemn all of those who target the innocent.”

— “Mr. Trump did not publicly press Mr. Abbas to end financial payments to the families of suicide bombers and to other Palestinians who attack Israelis and Americans… Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Trump later raised the issue in private.” [NYTimes]

WH readout: “President Trump emphasized the importance of making a clear commitment to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and to stopping incitement, and to continue strengthening efforts to combat terrorism. President Trump raised his concerns about payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed terrorist acts, and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue.”

“Palestinian Authority Rejects Trump’s ‘Mad’ Request to End Terrorist Payments” by Yasser Okbi: “The demand that Ramallah stop payments to the families of security prisoners is mad,” Shaath told the broadcaster, adding that “such a requirement is designed to destroy any chance for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.” [JPost

“Trump: Middle East Peace Is ‘Not as Difficult as People Have Thought’” by David A. Graham: “We want to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We will get it done,” Trump said… At a lunch later on, he was even bolder: “It is something that I think is frankly, maybe, not as difficult as people have thought over the years.” … His confidence on this issue is even more peculiar because it comes just days after Trump made the frank admission that being president was tougher than he realized.” [TheAtlantic

Why the optimism? — Press Sec. Sean Spicer: “I think the man is different… This President’s style is one to develop a personal bond with individuals. And I think you saw that today with President Abbas, him talking so kindly about the President. You saw that. The relationship that exists and is only getting stronger between him and Prime Minister Netanyahu. You have two individuals who, because of this President, are increasing their desire for peace… I think both of these leaders have very publicly expressed the confidence they have in the President’s negotiating skills, in the President’s desire to work to get peace… Obviously, there’s a lot of issues that have to get covered, but the President understands that they respect his ability to want to get this done.”

“Trump, Bullish on Mideast Peace, Will Need More Than Confidence” by Peter Baker: “Braggadocio, of course, has been at the center of Mr. Trump’s persona for decades, and arguably helped make him into a swaggering celebrity real estate tycoon and reality television star… In the White House, though, it has historically been more problematic. Presidents who make bold predictions often come to regret them. All Mr. Trump would have to do is ask those who, for decades, have banged their heads against the Middle East brick wall.” [NYTimes]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Abbas spoke at a reception hosted by Husam Zomlot, the new PLO representative to DC, at the Mandarin Oriental, which was attended by leaders from J Street, ADL, the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), as well as State Department officials and think tank experts. “Abbas, more or less, said the same things he said at the White House – a shorter version of it – but he left out the stuff about refugees,” Michael Koplow, IPF’s Policy Director in Washington, who attended the event, told us. “He was very effusive in thanking President Trump and the American people and their support for peace.”

SPOTTED: Jeremy Ben-Ami, Susie Gelman, Harry Reis, Tamara Cofman Wittes, Paul Wolfowitz, Natan Sachs, Rob Danin, Ilan Goldenberg, and Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen.

ON THE HILL — House Members Divided about Trump’s Optimism on Middle East Peace – by JI’s Aaron Magid: Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) told Jewish Insider, “This is not a real estate deal you are putting together. An effort without content and just blowing smoke is a huge mistake given his reversal of positions on foreign affairs, it begs the question whether he can handle it or not.” Rep. James Comer (R-KY), however, expressed appreciation for the President’s commitment on the issue. “He’s our leader and does things a different way and maybe that’s what we need in foreign policy,” he said. “As a leader of the strongest nation in the world, he is an appropriate negotiator.”

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MS) warned, “Moses would have great difficulty getting a deal as would Abraham so this is not a business deal. This is the Middle East and it involves people who have been at war for almost a millennium. We can only hope that [Sec. of Defense James] Mattis and some of the people of knowledge will give him a Middle East lesson” [JewishInsider

“The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same” by Barak Ravid: “Compared to his predecessors, Trump’s rhetoric is a bit different and more comfortable to the ears of the Israeli right. He speaks of achieving a “peace agreement” rather than speaking of a “Palestinian state.” He speaks of “restraint” in settlement constructions and not about “freezing” it, and he speaks publicly about issues that previous administrations preferred to refer to in quiet conversations, like the transfer of money to the families of terrorists or battling incitement.” [Haaretz] • David Horovitz: Trump’s welcome for Abbas is so warm he might have been hosting an Israeli leader [ToI]

REACTION FROM JERUSALEM — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Despite the President’s eagerness to reach a deal, sources told Kafe Knesset that Netanyahu was encouraged by the fact that Trump stressed that no agreement can be imposed on the sides. “That’s the most important thing for Netanyahu and that is the main difference between the Trump and Obama administrations,” one of them said.

Michael Oren tells Kafe Knesset: “The President obviously wants a deal and so do we. A deal that provides real peace, security, and recognition. The Palestinians have said no to that deal repeatedly, and most recently when it was offered by Barak and Olmert. Still, I believe we must exhaust all diplomatic paths.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

Netanyahu’s old friend becomes Trump’s new ally” by Ben Caspit: “According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Lauder has been whispering more than idle nothings into Trump’s ear. As one of the people closest to Netanyahu told Al-Monitor recently, on the condition of anonymity, “If there are any two people who believe that it is possible to reach an arrangement in the Middle East, they are Donald Trump and Ronald Lauder.”” [Al-Monitor] • Read our original scoop on Lauder serving as Trump’s whisperer for the Middle East [JewishInsider]

Notable: “Ron Lauder, who attended the White House’s Israel Independence Day event, did not attend Amb. Dermer’s reception, per source. Rift with Bibi seems real.” [Twitter

TEHRAN WATCH — “Rouhani Rival Airs Iran Campaign Video Highlighting Inequality” by Ladane Nasseri: “Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi released a campaign video that purports to show drastic income inequality under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani and portrays his government as being biased toward the rich. Coming during an election campaign centered around the economic benefits — or lack of them — from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the 30-minute video broadcast on state television… also criticizes large shopping malls it says are used to display and sell foreign brands even as local plants are being shut and Iranian workers left jobless.” [Bloomberg

“Iranians must give Rouhani second term to make good on nuclear deal: vice president” by Alissa de Carbonnel: “With unilateral U.S. sanctions still in place, [Masoumeh] Ebtekar said voters understood that it was not Rouhani’s fault that the nuclear deal had yet to improve their daily lives.” [Reuters

INTERVIEW – Former Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), discussed the Iranian elections and the nuclear deal going forward in a phone interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh. “I would guess that whoever wins the election in Iran will stick to the nuclear agreement to the same extent because it benefits Iran so much,” Lieberman said about the May 19 elections. “But they need constant monitoring and inspection to guarantee that they’re keeping their part of the bargain. The problem obviously is that they’ve already received as a result of sending the agreement, billions of dollars that they’re using to strengthen themselves militarily and politically.”

“I think the more significant change is the election of President Trump in the US. And I speak as a supporter of Hillary Clinton, but I think the change, let’s put it this way, from President Obama to President Trump, with regard to the nuclear agreement, is very significant. Unlike President Obama, President Trump is not committed to sort of protecting this agreement and in some sense bending over backward or closing our eyes to what the Iranians are doing in order to sustain the agreement. President Trump as you know has been a critic of the agreement from the beginning. And I think we can count on his administration to demand full compliance, not only with the agreement, but as he’s recently said when he said the Iranians were not keeping the spirit of the agreement.”

Lieberman on whether he thinks his friend Ambassador David Friedman will work from Jerusalem when he formally assumes his position in Israel: “I don’t know. I’m going to leave that one to President Trump. I mean, clearly I hope that the President when the next waiver date comes up, which is June 1st, announces that one, the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which it self-evidently is, and two, that we’re beginning the process of moving our embassy there… It’s very important to me from an American point of view because this is still, I believe, the only country in the world where we don’t have our embassy in a city that the host country designates as its capital. And when you think that this is Israel, one of America’s closest allies in the world, it is a sign of American weakness that we don’t go ahead and put our actions where our principles are and our policies. So I hope before long David Friedman will be Ambassador Friedman working out of Jerusalem and before long moving there as well.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

— Sources tells us that Friedman will start working from the embassy in Tel Aviv and will hold official ceremonies and festivities – such as the annual Fourth of July celebration – at the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya until a final decision whether or not to move the embassy is reached. According to a source with direct knowledge, Friedman will primarily work out of the King David Hotel when in Jerusalem for meetings with government officials.

TRUMP TEAM: “Trump Taps Kris Bauman, Expert on Peace Process With Palestinians, as New Israel Adviser” by Amir Tibon: “During the 2013 to 2014 peace talks, Bauman was the chief-of-staff for General John Allen, who was appointed by the Obama administration to devise a comprehensive security plan for the day after a peace agreement is signed… Lempert, who held the Israeli-Palestinian file in Obama’s National Security Council, will leave the White House after an extention of three-and-a-half months… She participated in Trump’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, making it her last event before returning to the State Department in the coming days.” [Haaretz

SPECIAL ELECTION WATCH: “Ossoff attracting surprising levels of GOP support in Georgia special” by Scott Bland: “Based on the final results of the jungle primary, most independents and a small but relatively sizable portion of Republicans voted for Jon Ossoff,” said Alex Alduncin, an analyst with Optimus… Optimus partner Scott Tranter said the crossover vote was an unwelcome sign for the GOP, but one the party had time to correct. “Generally speaking, losing more than 10 percent of your own party to the opponent is not a good trend, and Ossoff got close to that in the jungle primary,” Tranter said. “We do not expect that to be the case in the runoff.” [Politico

HEARD ON THE HILL: Speaker Paul Ryan telling representatives of American summer camps, including the Foundation for Jewish Camp, that “Being a Camp Counselor was the best preparation for this job” [Pic] h/t Daroff

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Barry Sternlicht, chairman and chief executive officer at Starwood Capital Group, discusses the retail sector, the Trump administration and his thoughts on investing. [Bloomberg] • Leviev buys huge Jerusalem burial plot [Globes] • On Israeli bond market, US real estate players are now mishpacha [RealDeal] • Patriots Owner Bob Kraft Says Trump Doesn’t Mean Everything He Says [Bloomberg]

SCENE & HEARD AT THE MILKEN GLOBAL CONFERENCE — Facebook’s Campbell Brown discussing ‘false news’ not ‘fake news’ at a panel moderated by USC Annenberg’s Willow Bay [Pic] … Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies’ Simone Friedman and Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian on a panel titled “Mission Driven- How NextGen Leaders Use Business Tools to Create Social Change” [Pic] Eli Groner, Director General at Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office, on a panel titled “Start Up Nations: Creating Laboratories for Developing Economies” [Pic] … Former California Gov. Gray Davis; Groner and Glenn Yago, senior fellow at the Milken Institute and senior director at its Israel Center. [Pic] … Richard and Ellen Sandler at the conference. Richard is executive vice president of the Milken Family Foundation. Ellen serves on its board of trustees and said one of her favorite panels of the multi-day conference was Tuesday’s “L.A. as Entertainment Capital: Chasing Global Markets or Global Talent?” [Pic] … L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin (right) was one of the presenters at the conference [Pic… Israeli young professionals attending Milken got to meet actor Chris Tucker. Tucker told the group he wants to visit Israel and received an invite in return [Pic] Photo h/t: the Jewish Journal’s Ryan Torok

“How to Make the Heritage Foundation Great Again” by Tevi Troy: “At a time when conservatism is in the midst of an identity crisis – and sorely needs a powerful convening institution – a Heritage that seeks once again to be a unifying rather than dividing force on the right could be a powerful entity… In these days of conservative divisions, Heritage might have the chance to play this role again, seeking out and even establishing areas of conservative agreement” [Politico]

LongRead: “Can Jonathan Greenblatt Fill Abe Foxman’s Shoes at the ADL—and Does He Want To?” by Paul Berger: “Many Jewish organizations, even on the left, have remained silent or raised only tepid criticisms of Trump’s statements and policies. A senior Jewish communal professional, who did not wish to be identified, said some groups are circumspect because of a justifiable fear that it will reduce their chances of attracting a senior administration official to their annual conference or that they will lose government funding for their programs… Yet as Greenblatt positions the ADL in stark contrast with the administration, he risks alienating those who worry that the group is becoming an extension of the Obama wing of the Democratic Party. Marvin Nathan, the ADL national chairman, said that the ADL has lost “a substantial number” of longtime donors. Nathan said the reasons were so varied that he did not want to get into specifics, but they included Foxman’s departure, the ADL’s criticism of certain political candidates, and a feeling that the ADL was not sufficiently supportive of Israel.” [Tablet]

“The most revealingly unrevealing quotes from Ivanka Trump’s new book” by Annie Karni: “From sundown Friday to Saturday night, my family and I observe the Shabbat. During this time, we disconnect completely — no emails, no TV, no phone calls, no Internet. We enjoy uninterrupted time together and it’s wonderful,” writes Ivanka, whose family is very private about how it practices its Jewish faith. “It’s enormously important to unplug and devote that time to each other. We enjoy long meals together, we read, we take walks in the city, we nap, and just hang out.”

“Jared and I have introduced seven couples who’ve gotten married. Seven! (We joke that our hidden talent is matchmaking, but that we don’t give guarantees. So far, so good, no divorces!).” [Politico]

OFFICIATING WEDDINGS? Jared can do that too… “Joe and Mika Are Getting Hitched” by Emily Jane Fox: “Wedding plans are still up in the air, too. They have already ruled one idea out, however. In January, when they went to visit Donald Trump in the White House just a little more than a week after his inauguration, Scarborough and Brzezinski sat down for lunch with the president, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner, ostensibly to talk to their longtime friend about his first week in office and issues related to women. Once the fish and scalloped potatoes had been served, and special sauces delivered directly to Trump were placed on the table, the couple said that the president came up with an idea: If they planned on getting married, they should consider doing so at Mar-a-Lago or the White House, they recalled. “That’s when Jared interrupted and said, ‘Hey, you know what? I’ve got my license. I could marry you,’” Scarborough said. According to Scarborough, that’s when Trump snapped from the end of the table, saying: “Why would you marry them? They could have the President of the United States marry them.” [VanityFair]

MEDIA WATCH: “Former Jared Kushner Employees Are Trying To Create ‘The Breitbart Of The Left’” by Steven Perlberg: “Elizabeth Spiers, previously the editor-in-chief of the New York Observer and the founding editor of Gawker, is attempting to fundraise for the effort… Spiers, who worked under Kushner at the Observer, has been a vocal critic of the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser. In March, she wrote in the Washington Post that Kushner was the wrong person to try to reinvent government… While Spiers is attempting to fundraise around town, one source said the creation of the new property isn’t yet a sure thing.” [BuzzFeed]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “A One-Day Crossword Internship” by Will Shortz: “In March, a teacher at SAR High School in the Bronx wrote to me about a student, Chloe Rosenfeld. Seniors there are required to spend time pursuing a special area of interest, and Chloe had chosen puzzles. The teacher wondered if Chloe could meet with me and Joel and see how The New York Times Crossword is put together. I said yes… Below is the report on her experience that she wrote for school… “As I walked into Will Shortz’s home, I was greeted with a warm and welcoming smile. I felt immediately comfortable. One of the main things Mr. Shortz does, with the assistance of Joel Fagliano, is edit the daily crossword clues. We sat in his office with shelves lined with books on everything from music to sports to mythology to other subjects.”” [NYTimes]

“Israel’s Invisible Filipino Work Force” by Ruth Margalit: “To support their families back home, women from the Philippines have found work and a new way of life in Israel. But at what price?” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK — $5 Yankees Game Draws Unexpected Prayer Crowd — by Laura Adkins: “The New York Yankees played the Toronto Blue Jays the evening of May 3 in Yankee Stadium, and because of a special promotion with Mastercard, some tickets were available for only $5. According to one Orthodox attendee, Samuel Weiss, these low prices have brought some unexpected traffic to the unofficial “Jewish Quarter” of the stadium: “Not to promote stereotypes, but it’s a 5 dollar game at Yankee Stadium and the upper deck maariv minyan has 100 people at it…” Weiss posted on Facebook.” [Forward

BIRTHDAYS: Former chairman and CEO of American International Group, once the largest insurance company in history, now chairman and CEO of the Starr Companies, Maurice Raymond “Hank” Greenberg turns 92… Best-selling Israeli author, Amos Oz (born Amos Klausner), turns 78… Member of the New York State Assembly (1983-2010), now a Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Public Service at NYU, Richard L. Brodsky turns 71… Congregational rabbi (1974-1977), then executive director of the Texas A&M Hillel (1983-2013), now a consultant for the tourism industry, awarded a Ph.D. in sociology, Peter E. Tarlow turns 71… US Special Envoy for Climate Change in the Obama administration, chief negotiator at the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, helped negotiate the earlier Kyoto Protocol, Todd Stern turns 66… EVP and Global General Counsel of the Las Vegas Sands since 2016, previously Group General Counsel and Senior EVP of News Corporation (1996-2011), Lawrence “Lon” A. Jacobs turns 62… Baltimore-born triathlete, earned a Ph.D. in 2001 from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, winner of international ironman competitions, Joanna Sue Zeiger turns 47… Executive Director of Surprise Lake Camp, previously URJ’s Director of Youth Engagement, Bradley Solmsen turns 47… State Attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida since 2013, he was the youngest member of the Florida Senate when he was elected in 2002, Dave Aronberg turns 46… Member of the New York City Council since 2006, a 2000 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Daniel Garodnick turns 45… Secretary of State of Missouri (2013-2017), founder of “Let America Vote” dedicated to ending voter suppression, now a CNN contributor, Jason Kander turns 36… Senior strategic communications adviser at the United States Agency for International Development during the Obama administration, Allison Bormel Ament turns 30… Speechwriter at the US Department of State, Shana Mansbach turns 25… Graduate student in the MFA program at American University focused on film and electronic media, Steven Rosenberg (h/ts Playbook)… Mechal Wakslak

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Daily Kickoff: Trump ‘not picky on details’ for Middle East peace | Jewish leaders spotted at the White House | David Brooks ties the knot

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DRIVING THE DAY — President Trump will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office at around noon. The two leaders will then deliver statements to reporters in the Roosevelt Room, followed by a working lunch in the Cabinet Room.

“Trump seeks steps from Abbas to promote peace with Israel” by Matthew Lee: “President Donald Trump will press Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails, according to U.S. officials… Other actions include a Palestinian end to anti-Israel rhetoric and incitement of violence… Trump will also use their meeting to recommit the United States to helping the Palestinians improve their economic conditions, said the U.S. officials… They said Trump will reiterate his belief that Israeli settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians does not advance peace prospects.” [AP; Haaretz]

“G.O.P. Pressures Trump to Take Tough Stance With Mahmoud Abbas” by Peter Baker:”A host of Republican senators are lobbying Mr. Trump to use his meeting with Mr. Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, to demand the cessation of financial payments to the families of Palestinians who commit violence against Israelis or Americans. The senators have introduced legislation to cut off American aid if the Palestinians refuse. The Palestinian Authority spends about $315 million a year to distribute cash and benefits to 36,000 families, according to Sander Gerber, a New York hedge fund executive and fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who has studied the issue and brought his research to American lawmakers.” [NYTimes]

Bill Kristol: “Kudos to Sander Gerber and others who’ve brought issue of Palestinian rewards for terrorism front and center” [Twitter]

“Palestinians think Trump can make a deal” by William Booth: “Jibril Rajoub, a top Palestinian official and a leader of the dominant Fatah political party, told The Washington Post on Monday: “We are very optimistic. I was in the States recently, and I was told this conflict is a priority issue for President Trump and he is serious to engage and have the ultimate deal.”” [WashPost] • Palestinians for Trump: ‘He Might Be the One’ [PoliticoMag]

“Palestinian adviser: Abbas hopeful about Trump meeting” by Ian Lee: “The difference with President Trump is that he himself and the White House is engaged. It’s not the State Department,” said Mohammed Shtayyeh, Fatah Central Committee member and presidential adviser. “We now feel that the file itself is in the White House, which gives a very serious political weight for any American initiative because it’s the American President’s reputation at stake… Greenblatt is an envoy of the White House, all others were envoys of the State Department.” [CNN]

“On Middle East peace, Trump wants to get to yes — and figure out the details later” by Brian Bennett and Tracy Wilkinson: “More than three months into his presidency, Trump is fixated on delivering a Middle East peace deal, a person close to the White House said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. But when it comes to what an eventual solution should look like, Trump has told close advisors that he’s not picky about the details, or even the broad outlines.” [LATimes]

Later today: J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami will meet with Abbas following the PA President’s meeting at the White House. Unclear if it will be a private meeting or whether Ben-Ami is just attending a reception for Abbas in DC. A J Street source tells us, “We’re waiting to see if President Trump will talk openly about support for the two-state solution as the end goal of negotiations. Without that commitment, Abbas doesn’t get the credibility that he needs with his own people, and it’s hard to see how this effort would go anywhere.”

LATEST UPDATE ON JERUSALEM EMBASSY — Vice President Mike Pence, celebrating Israel’s 69th Independence Day at a White House reception yesterday, said that “as we speak” the President is “giving serious consideration to moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Addressing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process amid growing “momentum” and the understanding that Israel will be required to undertake compromises, the Vice President assured the Jewish leaders, “President Donald Trump will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel, not now – not ever. Today, America’s support for Israel’s security is at record levels.” [JewishInsider

Ambassador Ron Dermer to Jason Greenblatt: “Jason, I think you will agree with me that we have spent far too much time together over these last few months. You are only working on trying to make peace to the Middle East. How hard can that be? Why all these meetings? Just, let’s get one with this. But seriously, Jason, it is not every day that you meet someone in such a high-profile position who is such a mensch.” [CSPAN; Transcript

SPOTTED: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Jared Kushner, WH advisors Yael Lempert, Victoria Coates and Sebastian Gorka, Pence Advisor Tom Rose, Senators Orrin Hatch and Ted Cruz; Reps. Lee Zeldin, Pete King, Tom Reed, Trent Franks, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Ted Deutch and Brad Schneider; RJC’s Matt Brooks, WJC’s Ron Lauder, Conference of Presidents’ Malcolm Hoenlein, URJ’s Rabbi Rick Jacobs, USCJ’s Rabbi Steven Wernick, AIPAC’s Howard Kohn, Lillian Pinkus and Rob Bassin, ZOA’s Mort Klein, OU’s Allen Fagin and Nathan Diament, Agudath Israel’s Abba Cohen, Shmuley Boteach, Phil Rosen, Marc Goldman, Rhoda Dermer, Yarden Golan, George Klein, Stephen Greenberg, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Tevi Troy, Gary Bauer, Erick Stakelbeck, Steve Schneier, Jeff Ballabon, Noah Pollak, and Josh Katzen.

Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) tells us… “I thought VP Pence’s comments were especially poignant. I know nobody who loves Israel more than Mike Pence: for the same reasons that I do. It’s just a new day. Donald Trump has been more openly committed to Israel than any President that I have seen in a long time. It is a very different White House than it was under Barack Obama.”

Pastor John Hagee of CUFI to JI’s Aaron Magid: “David Friedman is going to be, I think, an Ambassador of historic proportions. I think he will be there when the embassy is moved. He is going to be there as the voice of the President of the United States. He’s been a friend of the President for many years. Never have we had an Ambassador in Israel that had the connection to the President that this man is going to have. The people of Israel to know that when David Friedman speaks, they are hearing from the White House. It was a great day to be there.”

Q: What about Trump’s campaign promise of moving Embassy to Jerusalem?

Hagee: “Keep the faith brother, it’s going to happen. I’m confident. Let’s wait until June 1and we’ll see where we are. I think the embassy is going to move.”

VIRAL: “Bannon’s secret to-do list accidentally tweeted out by Rabbi” by Mark Moore: “Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a Jewish writer, visited the White House on Tuesday to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day and posted photos of him posing with Bannon in front of a white board containing a laundry list of campaign promises. Boteach, who has written for Breitbart News, the website Bannon used to run before joining the Trump campaign, called the White House strategist “a great, stalwart friend of the Jewish State” in his tweet.” [NYPost; Esquire]

HEARD LAST NIGHT — National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster addressed President Trump’s effort to bring peace to the Middle East at Ambassador Ron Dermer’s annual Independence Day celebration held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in DC. “The President is not a super-patient man. I don’t think we can wait 70 years” Mcmaster said, speaking of the extraordinary achievements of the Jewish state after the Holocaust. “Some people have described him as disruptive. They’re right. And this is good – good because we can no longer afford to invest in policies that do not advance the interests and values of the United States and our allies… This is a moment of opportunity. The question is will we be able to take advantage of this moment. Here we are in 2017 and the first day of the 70th year of the great Israeli state, we are presented with arduous circumstances that may allow us to solve what some have regarded as intractable problems.” [JewishInsider]

MENU: St. Peter’s fish, roasted corn slaw salad, potato latkes, and tomato relish were served to the hundreds of guests. The open bar was jam packed throughout the evening. [Pic]

Alice Tan Ridley, the famous contestant from America’s Got Talent sang a moving rendition of the National Anthem with Ninet Tayeb leading Yerushalayim Shel Zahav to the packed crowd.

SPOTTED: Ambassador David Friedman, Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, Reps. Eliot Engel, Ted Deutch, Jacky Rosen, Brad Wenstrup, Donald Norcross, Tom Suozzi and Trent Franks; Jason Greenblatt, Sebastian Gorka, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Malcolm Hoenlein, Alan Dershowitz, ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt‏, Elliott Abrams, David Makovsky, Michael Makosky, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Ziad Asali, William and Heidi Krizer Daroff, Mort Klein, Tevi Troy, Nick Muzin, Richard Foltin, Oren Kessler, Ken Abramowitz, David Lobl, Steve Rabinowitz, Aaron Keyak, Shmuley Boteach, Ezra Friedlander, Jonathan Baron, Dan Mariaschin, Howard Goller, Eli Lake, Jeff Ballabon, John Hudson, Morrie Amitay, and Greta Van Susteren..

“Friedman’s first stop in Israel is the Kotel” by Michael Wilner: “The new US ambassador to Israel will make the Western Wall his first official stop when he arrives at his post on May 14… Senior State Department officials confirmed the ambassador would travel to Israel in ten days, but declined to comment on where he will be taking residence.” [JPost]

TRUMP TEAM — Inbox:”President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to designate Eli H. Miller as Acting United States Director of the Asian Development Bank, and Acting United States Director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, until the positions are filled by appointment or subsequent designation. Mr. Miller currently is the Chief of Staff at the Department of the Treasury. Prior to his current position, he served as Chief Operating Officer (Finance) for the Donald. J. Trump for President Campaign.”

“Putin’s Disappointing Phone Call With Trump” by Julia Ioffe: “After three phone calls and an infinite amount of hope for a Trump-Putin detente dashed against the rocks of American politics, all that Trump and Putin could agree on, according to the readouts provided from each side, was that the war in Syria is bad and that maybe a personal meeting this summer would be good. But even that part about the meeting, it turned out, was just in the Kremlin’s account of the presidential phone call. The White House made no mention of any agreement to meet… In Moscow, hope of Trump ushering in a new era of Russian-American harmony has evaporated… Trump, in the view of the Russian elite, has had his hands tied by the Russia hawks on both sides of the aisle.” [TheAtlantic

“White House aims for Thursday signing of religious liberty executive order” by Timothy Alberta and Shane Goldmacher: “President Donald Trump has invited conservative leaders to the White House on Thursday for what they expect will be the ceremonial signing of a long-awaited—and highly controversial—executive order on religious liberty… Thursday is the National Day of Prayer, and the White House was already planning to celebrate the occasion with faith leaders… The original draft order, which would have established broad exemptions for people and groups to claim religious objections under virtually any circumstance, was leaked to The Nation on Feb. 1—the handiwork, many conservatives believed, of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who have sought to project themselves as friendly to the LGBT community.” [Politico

AT 12PM TODAY: Rabbi Richard Boruch Rabinowitz, Executive Director AISH International, will be the guest chaplain of the House of Representatives and will deliver the opening prayer marking Jewish Heritage Month [CSPAN]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israeli Hotel Tech Startup Fornova Secures $17 Million in New Funding [Skift] • Michael Milken invented the modern junk bond, went to prison, and then became one of the most respected people on Wall Street [BusinessInsider] • The symbolic life of Leonard Litwin [TheRealDeal] • How a ‘brash [Jewish] Jersey boy’ grew 2 businesses to tens of millions in revenue and became a social media super star [BusinessInsider] • Fruchthandler’s FBE buying four-building portfolio for $50M [RealDeal] Wall Street Execs Have Stopped Taking the President of the United States Seriously [VanityFair]

SCENE & HEARD AT THE MILKEN GLOBAL CONFERENCE — Katie Couric telling us, “I’m not exactly sure why, but I read Jewish Insider and I kinda like it. It’s good!” … Lowell Milken, Chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, introduced Jeb Bush, the 43rd governor of Florida, as the panelist to his “far left.” Not missing a beat, Bush replied “Not that far left.” [Pic] (h/t Jewish Journal’s Ryan Torok)… Jeb Bush stopping in the halls to say hi to Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper… Trump confidant Tom Barrack explaining to attendees why he prefers to not take a formal role with the Trump administration and instead remain a friend on the outside… Bloomberg Beta’s Roy Bahat discussing employment in the age of robots [Pic] … Eric Cantor on a panel talking about the political divide in America [Pic] … Moderating the panel, Chuck Todd explaining that “big data is actually bad for politics because it’s now about finding new voters instead of persuading existing ones” [Pic] … Neera Tanden was skeptical that the divide would get better pointing to the fact that Trump did not pivot in the general election and instead focused on firing up his base… YRF Darca and its Chairman Marc Rowan hosted an evening reception for Milken attendees on the rooftop of the Montage Beverly Hills hotel to spread the word about the Darca network of schools in Israel that help improve social mobility for high school students in lower income communities [Pic]

SPOTTED: In the lobby of the Beverly Hilton on Tuesday afternoon, Herbert Simon (second from left), owner of the Indiana Pacers, schmoozing with pollster and political consultant Frank Luntz (far right). They were on their way to a panel titled “Commissioners of Sport: Agile Leadership in a Competitive World.” Photo by Ryan Torok [Pic]

HAPPENING TODAY — 10am PDT: Richard Sandler, JFNA Chair and Executive Vice President of the Milken Family Foundation, hosts a session on “Things That Will Blow Your Mind.” From the preview — “Imagine the possibilities if advances in neuroscience and engineering enabled doctors to peer into the brain with a tool that uses light to manipulate neurons to repair defects or heal injuries. What if there was a wearable device that allowed you to see inside your body with the detail of a high-resolution camera or MRI scanner? Finally, how about a tiny chip that could be implanted in the brain to minimize neurological damage caused by strokes, Alzheimer’s or concussions? In this session, three visionaries will talk about the remarkable things they’re up to — and it’ll blow your mind.” [Livestream]

SPOTLIGHT: “How Glencore AG became a giant in the global agriculture trade” by Eric Reguly: “Like Glencore itself, Glencore AG owes its existence to Marc Rich, the infamous Swiss commodities trader who became America’s most wanted fugitive before his pardon by Bill Clinton on his last day in the White House in January, 2001. Mr. Rich had formed Richco Grain in 1980 and tacked on the international assets of Granaria, a Dutch grain trader, a year later. Exploiting Mr. Rich’s superb Middle East connections, it became a near-exclusive supplier of barley to Saudi Arabia. But trading alone is a risky business. If you lack the infrastructure along the value chain – silos, ports, ships, rail cars, processing and refining plants – you end up paying middlemen all along the way, robbing you of profit at every turn. So in the mid-1990s, after Mr. Rich had sold control of Glencore to his managers, who included Mr. Glasenberg, Glencore AG got into the infrastructure game. “We didn’t want to have to buy commodities from our competitors so we became a logistics business to enable us to buy directly from the farmer,” Mr. Mahoney says. “It’s the chain that makes the money.” [Globe&Mail]

SARTORIAL: “A Facebook Exec’s Guide to Dressing Like a Grown-up in Silicon Valley” by Jacob Gallagher: “At Facebook, Matt Jacobson sticks out like an errant line of code. “You won’t see anybody else with a tie,” said Mr. Jacobson, the company’s head of market development. In the middle of Silicon Valley’s sea of notoriously dressed-down coders, he’s the man in the three-button Kiton suit and Alden monk straps. “When I joined the company almost 12 years ago, I just made a decision that I’m too old to wear ironic T-shirts,” said Mr. Jacobson, 56, of his typically tailored uniform.” [WSJ]

KAFE KNESSET — Opposition has had enough of the IBC drama — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Did you think we were done with the drama over public broadcasting in Israel? Well, it has started up again. Tomorrow, the Knesset is supposed to hold an afternoon debate and vote on the bill enacting part of Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s compromise to restructure the nascent Israel Broadcast Corporation’s news division. But tomorrow is also the last weekday of the Knesset’s Pesach recess – a/k/a the MKs’ break from the Knesset – and the opposition has had enough of these recess meetings. Opposition parties sent a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein demanding that the meeting wait until Monday, when they will be back to work anyway, and he rebuffed them. So today, Zionist Union faction chairwoman Merav Michaeli announced that the opposition will be boycotting tomorrow’s debate. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

WEEKEND WEDDING: “New York Times columnist David Brooks weds his former researcher Anne Snyder” by Emily Heil: “Knot, tied: New York Times columnist David Brooks wed Anne Snyder, his former research assistant, on Sunday. The couple’s relationship sort-of went public in an inauspicious way — Politico noted in a wink-wink 2015 piece that the conservative columnist had devoted an outsized amount of verbiage in the acknowledgements of his book “The Road to Character” to Snyder, who is 23 years his junior. But all’s well that ends with bells, and Atlantic Media owner David Bradley and his wife, Katherine Bradley, threw a rehearsal luncheon for the couple on Saturday, we’re told (that poolside tent saw a lot of activity this weekend), followed by a Sunday ceremony at the Arboretum.” [WashPost; Pic] h/t Playbook

BIRTHDAYS: Southern California-area philanthropist, writer and activist promoting wellness, founder of the New Americans Museum in San Diego, Deborah Shainman Szekely turns 95… Physicist and Nobel Laureate, professor at University of Texas at Austin, Steven Weinberg turns 84… Founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, a Florida-based timeshare firm, the construction of his 90,000-square-foot home in Florida was the subject the 2012 documentary film “The Queen of Versailles,” David A. Siegel turns 82… Pioneer in late night televison advertising for his company Ronco, inventor and marketing personality, known for the phrase, “But wait, there’s more!” Ronald M. “Ron” Popei turns 82… Senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Ely Karmon, Ph.D. turns 76… US Senator from Oregon since 1996, previously served in the House of Representatives (1981-1996), Ron Wyden (original family name was Weidenreich) turns 68… Partner at Jones Day (previously at Patton Boggs), represents political parties, campaigns, candidates, governors and members of Congress on election law matters, Benjamin L. Ginsberg turns 65…

Chair and CEO of Mondelez International, a multinational food and beverage company (including Oreo, Nabisco and Cadbury) with $30 billion in annual sales and 100,000 employees, Irene Rosenfeld turns 64… Real estate attorney, a partner in the Chicago office of DLA Piper, Mark D. Yura turns 64… Veteran of 13 NHL seasons, who in 2005 sat out a hockey game to observe Yom Kippur, now an assistant coach for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, Jeff Halpern turns 64… Partner at Burton Kamins Advocacy since 2013, previously at Prime Policy Group (2010-2013), Deputy COS at the RNC (2009-2010) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, Scott A. Kamins turns 42… Educated at the Hebrew Academy of San Francisco, played as a defensive lineman in the NFL from 2004 until 2011 (Chargers, Cowboys and Dolphins), Igor Olshansky turns 35… Director of SKDKnickerbocker’s Executive Communications practice, previously a senior speechwriter to President Obama and chief speechwriter to Secretary Kerry, graduate of CESJDS, Stephen Krupin… EVP for Program Development and Management at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Susan Steinmetz (h/ts Playbook)…

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Daily Kickoff: Experts downplay expectations for Trump’s Abbas meeting | Ivanka’s West Wing Agenda | Wilbur Ross calls Syria strikes ‘entertainment’

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HAPPENING TODAY — In public debut, F-35 jets streak over Israel for Independence Day: “Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jets soared above cities throughout Israel on Tuesday for the country’s annual Independence Day flyover, marking the first time the public got a look at the Air Force’s state-of-the-art plane. Israel is the first country outside the United States to receive the state-of-the-art F-35, which is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. In total, the country is planning to purchase 50 of the fifth-generation stealth aircraft, known in Israel as the “Adir,” or “mighty one,” and has thus far received five of them.” [ToI]

“UNESCO disavows Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem in 22-10 vote” by Tovah Lazaroff, Herb Keinon: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Tuesday’s “absurd” 22-10 UNESCO vote disavowing Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem still represents a positive diplomatic change: more states abstained or supported Israel than voted against… According to Israeli officials, Germany was a driving force behind a deal that would see all EU states abstain in exchange for the removal of the most incendiary anti-Israel passages. But on Monday, Italy announced that it would vote against the resolution, apparently ending the effort to forge a European consensus.” [JPost; ToI]

“Why Israel Got Into a Dust-Up With Germany” by Daniel Gordis: “Most Israelis are keenly aware that without the IDF, they would not survive. Of all weeks of the year, this was certainly not the moment for a German to come to Israel to meet with an organization that most Israelis believe wants to make Jews vulnerable once again.” [Bloomberg]

“Every Senator Agrees the U.N. Must Change” by Senators Chris Coons and Marco Rubio: “As both the U.N.’s principal founding member and its largest financial contributor, the U.S. must insist on real reforms. We in Congress have a responsibility to conduct rigorous oversight of U.S. engagement at the U.N. and its use of our citizens’ tax dollars… Still, the U.N. continues to fund and maintain many standing committees that serve no purpose other than to attack Israel and inspire the anti-Israel boycott, sanctions and divestment movement. These committees must be eliminated or reformed.” [WSJ

TAYLOR FORCE ACT — “Senators Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Tom Cotton write to Trump that the PA is no partner for peace with Israel as long as it’s ‘spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year funding and incentivizing terror'” [Haaretz; FreeBeacon]

DRIVING THE WEEK — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer offered no clarity at yesterday’s press briefing about Trump’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ahead of the Trump-Abbas meeting on Wednesday. “The President’s ultimate goal is to establish peace in the region,” he asserted. “That’s obviously the goal and the discussion that he’s going to have with the head of the Palestinian Authority. But that’s going to be a relationship that he continues to work on and build with the ultimate goal that there’s peace in that region between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

Asked about newly announced Israeli settlement building in E. Jerusalem, Spicer said, “I’m sure that we’ll continue to have conversations with the Prime Minister and — I’m not going to — that will be something that President will continue to discuss.” [CSPANA possible announcement about moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem “is still being discussed by staff,” added Spicer.

YESTERDAY IN DC — Washington Institute (WINEP) panel calls for lowering expectations from Trump-Abbas meeting — by Aaron Magid: “In spite of the sudden spate of optimism that the Trump administration can do it, I would argue no major breakthrough is available now. No lack of effort or shortage of time prevented the deal so far during the many years since Oslo,” explained Channel 2 Arab Affairs analyst Ehud Ya’ari. “[Abbas] is not the man who is going to sign the deal giving up on the return of many, many refugees. Embarking upon a final status effort is going to once again backfire. It is simply not there now. Therefore, the big question is whether the Trump administration will come to the table with a fallback, which can only be some version of a comprehensive interim (deal).”

Trump’s approach to the meeting with Abbas “needs to be in the first instance to demonstrate the difference from Obama,” argued Ambassador Dennis Ross. “The one thing that can’t be the result of this meeting is that Abbas leaves and feels it’s ok to say no to Trump. He needs to understand that when you say no to Trump, you pay a price.”

At the same time, WINEP Fellow Ghaith Omari advocated that the Trump administration adopt a nuanced approach when setting the goals for the meeting. “If President Trump asks for too much and too quickly, Abbas might shut down and he might retreat to preserve his domestic standing and nothing will come out of the meeting,” Omari said. “On the other hand, if the President asks for too little and is willing to engage on a diplomatic process with no preparation, we might end up with a very familiar story with a peace process where neither or one of the sides is willing or able to reach a deal, and we are just being strung along.” [JewishInsider]

“Can Trump Make Mideast Peace Without Gaza?” by Grant Rumley: “Any feasible peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians will require serious concessions from both sides. And no Palestinian leader sitting in the West Bank can compromise on the most sensitive issues in Palestinian politics – the status of Jerusalem, refugees, borders, etc. – while a rival party controls half the territory of a future Palestinian state… Rather than ignoring Hamas, the U.S. can support a political process that not only diminishes the terror group’s standing but also gives the more pragmatic (albeit flawed) Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority a chance at re-establishing a legitimate claim to Gaza in future negotiations.” [Politico] • In Palestinian Power Struggle, Hamas Moderates Talk on Israel [NYTimes]

“What Trump’s meeting with Abbas means for the Middle East” by Aaron David Miller: “The bottom line on the Abbas meeting — like the Netanyahu visit in February — is that for now the emperor (in this case the peace process) has no clothes. It’s not yet ready for prime time. So whatever Trump’s strategy, and it’s not at all clear he has yet developed one, this meeting with Abbas and the Palestinians will be the first of many if the President is serious about involving his administration in a peacemaking effort.” [CNN]

SPOTLIGHT: “Trump’s Israel-Palestine Negotiator Isn’t Qualified — And that might be exactly why he pulls off a peace deal” by Armin Rosen: “[Jason] Greenblatt is only in the world of Middle East diplomacy because his longtime boss was elected president, but in the context of Israeli-Palestinian affairs, the appearance of favoritism might actually help him… It’s harder to stall an envoy, or to go behind the envoy’s back and appeal to other, friendlier administration officials or congressional allies, when the sides believe that the mediator is a direct extension of the president… Greenblatt is about as personally close to the president as someone in his position could be. And Trump has been remarkably and even uncharacteristically consistent on Israeli-Palestinian peace… Closeness with an engaged president is a powerful tool for an envoy — as long as there’s a policy vision and a sustained commitment from the Oval Office underlying his work.” [FP

“Rodrigo Duterte Says He May Be Too Busy for White House Visit” by Felipe Villamor: “President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines said on Monday that he might not accept President Trump’s invitation to visit the White House, because he was “tied up” with a busy schedule… “I’m supposed to go to Russia, I’m also supposed to go to Israel.” [NYTimes

“Trump’s warm words for strongmen set off alarms” by Annie Karni: “We’ve always had relationships with governments that are problematic, but we hold them accountable on it and we don’t lavish them with praise this way,” said Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry… “It completely undercuts our soft power our influence and our credibility as the leader of the free world… The fear of complicating relationships with the United States acts as a restraint — when Trump lavishes this praise, he implies there is no restraint.” [Politico]

“Ivanka Trump’s West Wing Agenda” by Jodi Kantor, Rachel Abrams and Maggie Haberman: “Ms. Trump is her father’s all-around West Wing confidante… The two trade thoughts from morning until late at night, according to aides. Even though she has no government or policy experience, she plans to review some executive orders before they are signed, according to White House officials. She calls cabinet officials on issues she is interested in, recently asking the United Nations ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, about getting humanitarian aid into Syria. She set up a weekly meeting with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary… Sometimes she seeks out Mr. Trump, telling other staff members, “I need 10 minutes alone with my father.” “A lot of their real interactions happen when it’s just the two of them,” Jared Kushner, Ms. Trump’s husband and fellow aide, said in a telephone interview.” [NYTimes]

“Trump Adviser Jared Kushner Didn’t Disclose Startup Stake” by Jean Eaglesham, Juliet Chung and Lisa Schwartz: “Mr. Kushner’s stake in Cadre — a tech startup that pairs investors with big real-estate projects – means the senior White House official is currently a business partner of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and billionaires including George Soros and Peter Thiel, according to people close to the company. The Cadre stake is one of many interests — and ties to large financial institutions — that Mr. Kushner didn’t identify on his disclosure form, according to a Wall Street Journal review of securities and other filings.” [WSJ]

ON THE HILL — “Senate panel puts Russia sanctions bill on hold” by Karoun Demirjian: “The committee’s ranking Democrat, Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), had hoped that the Russia sanctions bill would advance to a vote alongside compromise legislation to impose stricter sanctions against Iran over a spate of recent ballistic missile tests and the activities of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps… That Iran sanctions bill — compromise legislation that Corker and Cardin unveiled in March after more than eight months of wrangling — could be voted on by the full Senate later this month, Corker said… The Senate does not go on an extended break again until the week of Memorial Day, and Corker said Monday that the Iran sanctions bill “could move at the end of this work period.”” [WashPost

LongRead — FRENCH ELECTIONS: “The Future of Europe Hinges on a Face-Off in France” by Lauren Collins: “I wandered away and started talking to a woman wearing a quilted leather jacket and lots of mascara. “I adore Marine!” she said, identifying herself as Michèle… She had high hopes for the election, particularly after what had happened in America. “Bravo, bravo for Trump!” she said. She was unimpressed by Macron, whom she called “a little opportunistic asshole.” She asked if I knew that he was “a Rothschild banker” (Macron worked for the firm from 2008 to 2012, earning around a million dollars a year), invoking a slur—I heard it repeated over and over, and not just by F.N. supporters—that seemed laser-targeted toward some primal place in the French imagination, where a fondness for conspiracy theory intersected with a suspicion of high finance. “Rothschild banker” suggested, without having to say it, that Jewish influence was at work, making it all the more irresistible for the Front National.” [NewYorker

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Interview with Mitchell Davidson, Managing Partner of Post Capital Partners [LinkedIn] • David Geffen Sells Malibu Home for Record $85 Million [THR] • Media mogul Barry Diller’s IAC to buy Angie’s list [Reuters] • Chinese tycoon who sought stake in Kushner property faces scrutiny [BostonGlobe]

HEARD AT THE MILKEN GLOBAL CONFERENCE — White House advisor Reed Cordish discussed the administration’s plans for workforce development: “We’re going to retrain America to take on the new jobs we need.” Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, who was also on the panel, appeared to endorse the idea. [Pic]

Via the Jewish Journal’s Ryan Torok who is covering Milken this week: At the conference, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke of the effectiveness of policy implementing sanctions against terrorist organizations or countries sponsoring terrorism, including Iran. “These sanctions really do work [on countries such as Syria],” he said in an interview with Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business Network. “When you cut off the money to terrorist organizations, you have a big impact and I think you saw this in the case of Iran. The only reason Iran came to the table to negotiate was because of economic sanctions on them,” he said, “and that’s what created the incentive.””

“Wilbur Ross Says Syria Missile Strike Was ‘After-Dinner Entertainment’ at Mar-a-Lago” by Gene Maddaus: “Just as dessert was being served, the president explained to Mr. Xi he had something he wanted to tell him, which was the launching of 59 missiles into Syria,” Ross said. “It was in lieu of after-dinner entertainment.” As the crowd laughed, Ross added: “The thing was, it didn’t cost the president anything to have that entertainment.” [Variety]

“Unusual Honor for U.S. Jews on Israeli Independence Day Fires Up Local Twittersphere” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “The fact that the speeches of the torch-lighters, billionaire philanthropist Michael Steinhardt and Rabbi Marvin Hier, were in English instead of Hebrew particularly grated on some ears. “Truthfully, it would feel much more natural to me to hear Arabic spoken at the torch-lighting than English,” diplomat Shani Cooper, Israel’s deputy head of mission in Ankara, Turkey, tweeted. Channel 2’s political reporter and commentator Amit Segal went a step further, tweeting that: “The torch should only be lit by those who speak Hebrew and live in Israel. Elementary.” … Several on Twitter joked that the gesture to wealthy American Jews was necessary in order for [Minister Miri] Regev and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to raise sufficient funds for the country’s planned 70th anniversary festivities next year.” [Haaretz] • How a US billionaire’s Jewish spark became an Independence Day torch [ToI]

SPORTS BLINK — Aly Raisman teams up with T-shirt company to remind us Life is Good: “The executives at Life is Good are hoping that Aly Raisman’s gold-medal glory can rub off on the Boston apparel company. The gymnast has signed a two-year partnership with Life is Good, and she played a key role in creating a line of T-shirts being launched this spring. The new Ally Tee Collection is geared to girls and women and features three designs that emphasize kindness, authenticity, and courage.” [BostonGlobe]

DESSERT: “Israeli-born chef strikes gold with top U.S. prize” by Richard Leong: “Philadelphia chef Michael Solomonov, praised for his modern Israeli cuisine, struck gold by winning the top U.S. chef prize from the James Beard Foundation on Monday… Solomonov… turned his focus on Israeli and Jewish cooking after his younger brother David who served in the Israeli army was killed on Yom Kippur in 2003.” [Reuters]

BIRTHDAYS: Former Lord Chief Justice and President of the Courts of England and Wales, Baron Harry Kenneth Woolf turns 84… Professor of international relations and Middle Eastern studies at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, journalist, international negotiator and private consultant, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir turns 80… Author, publisher, president of four radio stations in the Pacific Northwest, conservative political activist, gun rights advocate, Alan Merril Gottlieb turns 70… Former member of the Texas Senate (1993-2013), she was born in NYC to Holocaust survivor parents, Florence Shapiro turns 69… Former US AID contractor, imprisoned by Cuba from 2009 to 2014, Alan Gross turns 68… Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School, previously Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (2014-2016) and Managing Editor of Time Magazine (2006-2013), Richard Allen “Rick” Stengel turns 62… Member of the New York State Assembly, previously a member of the NYC Council and former Deputy Superintendent of the NYS Banking Commission, David Weprin turns 61… Billionaire businesswoman, entrepreneur, civic leader, she served as US Secretary of Commerce (2013-2017), now chairman of the private investment firm she founded PSP Capital Partners, Penny Sue Pritzker turns 58… DC-based CBS News correspondent, once a K-12 student at CESJDS in Rockville, Julianna Goldman turns 36… Campaign director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, previously the executive director of the Young Democrats of America during the 2012 election ctycle, Emily Tisch Sussman turns 35… Communications Specialist at the NYC office of HIAS, previously a Senior Strategist at West End Strategy Team, Gabe Cahn turns 27… Founder & CEO of the Helena Group, Henry Elkus turns 22… Director of communications at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, previously senior director of media relations at the National Retail Federation, Stephen Schatz… Rosalyn Spiegel… Susanna Fried… Israel’s best tour guide Michael Bauer

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