Daily Kickoff: Billionaires regroup at Milken | Previewing Abbas’ visit | Pence to host Jewish leaders | Ray Allen’s other passion | Abe Foxman BDay

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HAPPENING TODAY: The 20th Annual Milken Institute Global Conference kicks off in Los Angeles. With over 3,500 attendees from 50 countries, the theme of this year’s gathering is “Building Meaningful Lives.”

SCENE YESTERDAY — at a welcome reception hosted by WorldQuant at the Beverly Canon Gardens, between the Montage Hotel and Bouchon Restaurant. Spotted: Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), super-lobbyist Norm Brownstein, Michael Milken, David Rubenstein, Barry Sternlicht, former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Eddie Trump, Nouriel Roubini, Simone Friedman, Joel Mowbray, and AIC’s Mike Sommers.

Speakers at today’s portion of the conference include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House senior advisor Reed Cordish, Apollo’s Joshua Harris, real estate developer Richard LeFrak, Yahoo’s Katie Couric, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt, UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Wilson Center’s Jane Harman, CFR’s Richard Haas, USC’s Willow Bay, Carlyle’s David Rubenstein, Sam Zell, Emanuel Friedman, Related’s Stephen Ross.

“Off target in 2016, global elite regroup at Milken conference” by Lawrence Delevinge: “Most attendees expected Hillary Clinton to beat Trump, as Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein noted during a panel discussion in May 2016. The four-day meeting this year at the Beverly Hilton hotel will once again mix big investment industry names such as Jamie Dimon, Stephen Schwarzman, Leon Black, Jonathan Sokoloff and Kenneth Griffin along with political, business and entertainment celebrities…”

“Most conference goers pay at least $12,500 if they are not from event sponsors. Some repeat attendees told Reuters they come less for the investment advice and more for the chance to network, sell product and learn about far-flung topics. “It’s about connections and to be seen,” said a staffer at a large money management firm who asked not to be named. “Are there a large number of people actually taking notes and implementing them? No.” [Reuters; Bloomberg]

DRIVING THE WEEK — Pence meeting with Jewish leaders a day before Abbas visits the White House: Vice President Mike Pence will be hosting a White House reception to mark Israel’s 69th Independence Day on Tuesday, according to an invitation obtained exclusively by Jewish Insider. The event will take place in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. President Donald Trump will host Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday. [JewishInsider

“If Trump has a strategy on Israeli-Palestinian peace, it’s remaining a secret” by Josh Rogin: “Last week, a high-level Palestinian delegation led by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat traveled to Washington to prepare for the visit. The group met with Trump’s envoy on Middle East peace, Jason Greenblatt, as well as with White House and State Department officials. Both sides are keeping expectations for the Trump-Abbas meeting low. Palestinian officials tell me the Trump team doesn’t seem to know exactly what Trump wants to discuss or propose. White House staff declined to say anything at all about their goals for the meeting.” [WashPost]

JI PREVIEW — What to expect from the Trump-Abbas Meeting — by Aaron Magid and Jacob Kornbluh [JewishInsider] • Below is a sampling of some of the responses from JI experts…

Aaron David Miller — “Both Trump and Abbas need — and will have — a successful meeting. Abbas needs to maintain his relevance and Trump to at least maintain the illusion that he’ll broker the ‘ultimate deal’ between Israel and Palestinians. Now that he’s planning a trip to Israel later in May, the meeting takes on an added importance if… he’s thinking — as Trump might — about getting Netanyahu and Abbas together in a trilateral meeting.”

Elliott Abrams: “Presumably, the President’s request from Abbas will be to stop the glorification of terrorism and the payments to those who have committed acts of terrorism, in line with the Taylor Force Act. If you are going to ask Bibi to do things that are hard, you need to ask Abbas to do things that are hard. I think Abbas wants a process that will consist of endless meetings. I don’t think he actually wants a peace negotiation that is serious because it will force him to make decisions that he is not prepared to make… I suppose if there are public statements by the President that are very complimentary of Abbas, it will annoy the Israelis. Because, what is the record here? He said no to a generous offer by Olmert. He said no to Kerry and Obama, So, there is no particular reason why he should get lots of compliments without his commitment to a peace agreement.”

Hussein Ibish: “I think a reaffirmation of the Trump administration’s intention of re-engaging seriously with an issue that the Obama administration gave up on and that few people expected the Trump administration to engage seriously with. This is all surprising and good. During the campaign, many people thought it would be difficult for this administration to form a mutually respectful relationship with both the Israelis and the Palestinians. I think they have done that in short order in a very pragmatic and impressive way. On the other hand, going beyond that to the stage to find some sort of workable formula to move the parties forward, that is a whole other story.”

“If the whole discourse goes back to the question of settlements and public Israeli commitments — even just to the US — I think we are going to be in a very difficult situation because I don’t think Netanyahu feels inclined or is feeling empowered to do that. The thing to do is move the conversation to another register and somehow get the Palestinians to rely on an American-Israeli understanding to ensure that settlement activity is limited at most and that’s doable if it all operates in a diplomatic rather than a political register.”

FDD’s Grant Rumley: “Abbas will probably come out and say: we want negotiations. He will bring up the prisoners, the 1967 lines as the basis of the negotiations, settlement construction. Trump will probably bring up payments to terrorists, the Taylor Force Act, incitement. I think the biggest concrete thing that came out was Trump’s proposal that the aid to the Palestinians would actually go up, despite cuts across the board at State. That is to me tangible right now. I think they will come out of this meeting and Trump will reassure Abbas that he’s his primary address. There is ultimately a disconnect in vision for what the US and Palestinians want from this relationship. Trump wants the deal. Abbas wants peace talks and the process of peace talks: photo ops in the White House, in large part out of domestic consideration. Nobody can challenge Abbas’ relevancy at home if he is in the White House with Trump and Kushner, meeting with Tillerson in Europe.”

“Trump’s Mideast plan starts taking shape” by Uri Savir: “A senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official in the know on Israeli-US relations told Al-Monitor that in recent days Israel has been approached by senior officials in the Trump administration about a possible US policy initiative… The US officials did say expressively that in any case Israeli security interests will be taken care of “as never before.” What concerned the senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official was a request to know Israel’s position on a possible qualified acceptance of parts of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.” [Al-Monitor

KAFE KNESSET — Netanyahu’s Memorial Day message — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Today is a solemn day – Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror. After last night’s national ceremonies at the Western Wall and the Knesset and a well attended ceremony in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, Israel’s politicians spent the day at cemeteries and comforting the bereaved. Many politicians are remembering their own relatives.

One of the many events Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended today was the memorial for victims of terror. On his mind was the Taylor Force Act, a bill to cut US funding to the Palestinian Authority for funds being used to pay terrorists and their families. The bill is currently on the docket of the US Congress and could come up in Trump and Abbas’ meeting this week. Bibi had a message for the two Presidents: “Do you want to take a real step towards peace? Cancel the payments to the murderers. Cancel the law that requires the payments. Fund peace and not murder.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

TOP TALKER: “Ros-Lehtinen to retire from Congress” by Patricia Mazzei: “She said the prospect of another two or four or more years in Congress just didn’t appeal to her anymore. “There was no epiphany. There was no moment, nothing that has happened that I’ve said, “I’ve got to move on,’” Ros-Lehtinen said. “It was just a realization that I could keep getting elected — but it’s not about getting elected.” … In Congress, Ros-Lehtinen staked her ground as a foreign-policy hawk, becoming the first woman to chair a standing congressional committee: the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. She currently chairs the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, and sits on the intelligence committee… In her remaining 20 months in Congress, Ros-Lehtinen said she will keep pushing for one of her long-running goals: for Germany to offer restitution to Holocaust victims. “And I will continue to stand up to tyrants and dictators all over the world,” she said.” [MiamiHerald

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen sent us a message to share with JI readers… “It has been a high honor indeed to have represented the many Holocaust survivors who call South Florida home and I will continue to fight for their justice. Chairing the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee has been a privilege and I will keep assuring that Israel maintains her military edge.”

CHA-CHING: “Ivanka Trump Ski Trip To Canadian Resort Brings Big Secret Service Bill” by by Rich Gardella: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner took their kids to a five-star Canadian ski resort during Passover in April. According to newly available data from the federal government, the Secret Service costs for hotel accommodations and ski passes during the family’s trip to the Four Seasons Resort and Residences in Whistler, British Columbia were at least $66,538.42. Of that amount, government purchase order records show, $59,654 covered hotel costs for Secret Service agents at the resort near Vancouver, while $6,884 paid for “multi-day ski passes.”” [NBCNews

DRIVING THE MONTH: President Donald J. Trump Proclaims May 2017 as Jewish American Heritage Month… “From Admiral Hyman G. Rickover to Albert Einstein, Richard Rodgers to Irving Berlin, Jerry Siegel to Bill Finger, Mel Brooks to Don Rickles, and Levi Strauss to Elie Wiesel, American Jews have transformed all aspects of American life and continue to enrich the American spirit. This month, I celebrate with my family ‑‑ including my daughter, Ivanka, my son-in-law, Jared, my grandchildren, and our extended family ‑‑ the deep spiritual connection that binds, and will always bind, the Jewish people to the United States and its founding principles.” [Twitter]

TRUMP TEAM: “Baltimore developer Reed Cordish has big job in the Trump administration: Fix the government” by John Fritz: “His group, mostly unnoticed amid the blaring controversies over Russia and stalled executive orders, is quietly working on everything from how to boost U.S. manufacturing to modernizing decades-old IT systems at the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies. “We’re not approaching this from an ideological slant. We’re approaching this in terms of what’s good for American business and what’s good for the American worker,” Cordish said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun… Cordish said he’s confident the effort will yield results, in part because it has the president’s attention. “He asks about these initiatives all the time. He cares deeply about them,” he said. “Some of these initiatives are not ones that are politically easy. When you fix IT, you don’t necessarily get credit for it. But he wants to improve government.”” [BaltimoreSun]

“Trump plans summit with tech titans” by Mike Allen: “President Trump is establishing an American Technology Council to help the government deliver better digital services. The administration is bringing big names from the Silicon Valley to the White House in early June, to try get ideas and cooperation from a group that has been skeptical… The council will be run by two of Kushner’s lieutenants, Chris Liddell and Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intra-governmental and technology initiatives.” [Axios]

“Sebastian Gorka to accept role outside White House” by Sarah Westwood: “Gorka’s new role will deal with the “war of ideas” involved in countering radical Islamic extremism, a senior administration official said, and will entail an appointment to a federal agency… A source told the Washington Examiner that Gorka’s role in SIG (Strategic Initiatives Group) was always meant to be temporary… An official said Gorka has been in a “holding pattern” while he waited for the position, which will not be at the State Department, to be established.” [WashExaminer; DailyBeast]

ON THE HILL — House Members confused about Trump’s position on the Iran deal — by JI’s Aaron Magid: “One of the challenges for this administration is you get four or five different answers on controversial issues, like the Iran deal, depending on who is speaking: whether it is the President, Secretary of State, or White House spokesman,” Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX) told Jewish Insider. “Our allies don’t know who really speaks for the President. I would like a clear answer for what he believes is the future of that agreement if he intends for the US to stick by it: whether he still sees that as essential to Iran getting rid of its nuclear program.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler was unable to articulate the President’s stance on the nuclear agreement. “I don’t know. I can’t judge any more than you can,” the New York lawmaker emphasized.

Even Republican Members of Congress who are supportive of the President’s agenda could not offer a clear answer regarding the President’s position. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) noted, “I’m not sure he’s (Trump) coalesced around his thoughts.” When pressed if he understood the President’s viewpoint on Iran deal, Farenthold, replied, “I don’t.” Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) explained, “It is my observance that the Trump administration has opposed that deal from the rhetoric that they have said. As to the exact specifics, I would want you to ask them to articulate their position.” [JewishInsider

HEARD YESTERDAY — National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster discussed new Iran sanctions on Fox News Sunday: “I think all we have to do is pull the curtain back on Iranian behavior… Our allies will be interested in doing that, and I think what you’ve seen is, if what has happened in the last eight years, is U.S. policy has unwittingly maybe empowered Iran across the greater Middle East and beyond… And so, what’s critical now is a shift in that policy to confront Iran and what you’re seeing is because of the president’s leadership, really strong relationships across the Arab world, for example, and I think that there’s going to be a tremendous opportunity to confront Iran’s destructive behavior in the region and beyond the region.”

“Chuck Schumer Sees Himself As Trump’s Chief Opponent — But Hey, At Least They’re Talking Again” by Kate Nocera: “I was totally down in the dumps for three days [after the election], as was my wife and my two daughters, particularly my daughter who had worked in the Hillary campaign. I taught them the old Shirelles song: Mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this, mama said,” Schumer recalled. “But on the fourth day I had an epiphany, like a message from the heavens, and it went like this: ‘Look, if Hillary had been president and you had been majority leader, the job would have been a lot more fun, a lot easier, and you’d get some good things done, which is why we’re here,’” he said. “‘With Trump as president and you as minority leader, your job is much more important. You are really the only backstop to Trump.’ That has fueled me the whole way through.” [BuzzFeed] • Trump Calls Schumer an Incompetent ‘Fool’ Just When Need Him the Most [Yahoo]

2020 WATCH: “Emboldened by Trump but Divided by Generations, Democrats Look to 2020” by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin: “High-profile city executives — like Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, 46… may also consider the race. Allies of Mr. Garcetti acknowledged that national donors had broached the subject of 2020 but said that was the extent of his attention to the race. Mr. Garcetti is weighing a campaign for governor of California next year.”  [NYTimes

Eric Lesser‏: “IDEA FOR DEMOCRATS: Let’s put a moratorium on gossiping about 2020 Presidential, and instead focus on building our grassroots bench.” [Twitter

** 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 **

SPOTLIGHT: “Renaissance Feud Spills Over to Hedge Fund Poker Night” by Gregory Zuckerman: “When [Rebecca] Mercer saw [David] Magerman hovering nearby, he said she became agitated. “You’re pond scum,” Ms. Mercer told him, repeatedly… “You’ve been pond scum for 25 years; I’ve always known it.” Shaken, Mr. Magerman walked around the table to be next to Ms. Mercer. She told Mr. Magerman that his criticism of the Mercers’ support for Mr. Trump had put her family in danger, he said. “How could you do this to my father? He was so good to you,” she said… Mr. Magerman told her he felt bad, adding that her family had played a supportive role when he joined Renaissance more than two decades ago… Ms. Mercer told him to leave…”

“A security member approached, telling Mr. Magerman to back away from the table. He refused, dodged the security and approached [James] Simons, asking for help. Mr. Simons said he thought it best if Mr. Magerman left… Security forced him outside to the curb, Mr. Magerman said. “I’m not denying I was a little impacted by the alcohol,” Mr. Magerman told The Wall Street Journal several days after the event. “But that doesn’t change what she said to me, or what I said to her. I didn’t start the fight, and I didn’t resort to the petty name calling like she did.” On Friday, his lawyers discussed final terms of a potential departure with Renaissance representatives though his fate was still uncertain.” [WSJ

“Ohio family surprised when Mark Zuckerberg comes to dinner to talk about Trump” by Associated Press: “The Vindicator of Youngstown reports… Zuckerberg had asked his staff to find Democrats who voted for President Donald Trump in November. The family says not all the dinner chat was political. Daniel Moore says he and his wife, Lisa, talked about their work with an orphanage in Uganda and that Zuckerberg says he’s now planning a fundraiser to benefit the orphans.” [NYDailyNews

“What Ron Lauder, Trump’s boyhood friend, knows about the president may surprise you” by Philip Boas: “Trump says a lot of things that sound off the wall, acknowledged Lauder, but “The Donald I know is very smart. He’s talking for the Americans… The fact is that one thing Trump gave people is hope. And when Hillary ran her campaign, what she said basically was, ‘I will continue what Obama started.’” Those same people saw something in Trump that Lauder’s mother saw in him many years ago, he said. “My parents, my mother particularly, liked him a lot because of his style, because she (created) a business by fighting people and building it, and so did Donald Trump.”” [AZCentral]

“Ray Allen talks about his passion for teaching others about the Holocaust” by Kelley Evans: “It all started at the University of Connecticut in 1993, when a young Allen developed a curiosity about the Holocaust. He began to frequent the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and his education there fueled a full-on passion project. Now he has chosen to lead by example. He encourages those close to him, and anyone who will listen, to learn about Holocaust education through his dedication to the cause… Officially sworn in Tuesday four months after being appointed to the position by President Barack Obama, Allen raised his right hand and took the council member’s oath in a ceremony at the museum during Days of Remembrance, the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. “I want to inspire people to break down stereotypes, and treat one another — regardless of race, religion or anything else — like family. It’s more important now than ever,” [Allen said.]” [TheUndefeated

“People are furiously canceling their New York Times subscriptions after an op-ed disputing climate change was published” by Sonam Sheth: “In his column, [Bret] Stephens compared the “certitude” with which Hillary Clinton’s advisers believed she would win the 2016 election to climate scientists’ repeated warnings about climate change risks. As evidence, Stephens said that inaccurate polling data during the 2016 campaign proves that science can miss the mark in other fields as well… Stephens’ column evoked a swift and angry response from many of the paper’s subscribers, who promptly canceled their subscriptions and bashed the Times’ decision to hire Stephens as a writer.” [BI• Who’s Afraid of Bret Stephens? [Politico

SPORTS BLINK: “The Bonds of Baseball, From My Dad to My Son” by Lee Siegel: “In my own Jewish family, where religion was more a matter of sentiment than a spiritual framework, baseball was the true religious bond between my father and me.” [WSJ

BIRTHDAYS: National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (1987-2015), now National Director Emeritus, Abraham Foxman turns 77… Member of the New York City Council (1974-1983) and Commissioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (1983-1990 and a second term from 1994-2000), Henry Stern turns 82… Progressive political activist, pacifist, literary and political journalist, teacher of Proust and other topics, national affairs correspondent for Pacifica Radio (1987-1998), Larry Bensky turns 80… Chair of Bible and Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University and editor of Tradition, an Orthodox theological journal, Rabbi Shalom Carmy turns 68… Attorney specializing in redistricting, voting rights and census law and director of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Jeffrey M. Wice turns 65… Member of the House of Representatives for Colorado’s 7th congressional district since 2007, Edwin George “Ed” Perlmutter turns 64… Political reporter and columnist for The Richmond Times-Dispatch, he has covered Virginia elections and the state Capitol for 30 years, Jeff E. Schapiro turns 62…

Israeli entrepreneur and software engineer, founder and CEO of Conduit, an online platform for app publishers with 260 million users, Ronen Shilo turns 59… Real estate entrepreneur, born in Israel, has lived in Southern California since 1986, a co-founder of  the Israeli American Leadership Council (IAC) and supporter of FIDF, Eli Tene turns 54… Professor of computer science and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, David R. Karger turns 50… Israeli judoka, she was the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal when she won Silver at Barcelona (1992), she now is a manager in Israeli operations for Viacom (and its Nickelodeon subsidiary), Yael Arad turns 50… Member of the Washington State Senate where he currently serves as the Senate Democratic Whip, co-owner of minor league baseball’s Spokane Indians, Andrew Swire “Andy” Billig turns 49… Award-winning broadcast journalist for more than 30 years including GM of CBS Radio News, now SVP of communications at University of Maryland University College, Michael Freedman… DC-based political reporter for The Guardian US, previously a reporter for the Daily Beast, Ben Jacobs (h/ts Playbook)… Deborah Chin

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Daily Kickoff: Inside Trump’s prior 1989 visit to Israel | Sergey Brin’s Secret Zeppelin | How Ivanka met Dina Powell | Justice Kagan’s BDay

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TOP TALKER: “State Department Wants to Clear Nikki Haley’s Remarks Before She Speaks” by Somini Sengupta and Gardiner Harris: “An email drafted by State Department diplomats urged Ms. Haley’s office to rely on “building blocks” written by the department to prepare her remarks. Her comments should be “re-cleared with Washington if they are substantively different from the building blocks, or if they are on a high-profile issue such as Syria, Iran, Israel-Palestine, or the D.P.R.K.,” added the email… Ms. Haley has by no means replaced Mr. Tillerson as the administration’s preferred voice on foreign affairs, according to a top White House aide… Indeed, some in the White House see her as seeking a bit too much attention as the administration formulates its foreign policy, the official said.” [NYTimes]

“All 100 senators sign letter asking for equal treatment of Israel at the U.N.” by Anne Gearan:“The senators asked [UN Sec. General  António] Guterres, who assumed leadership of the U.N. in January, to seek such institutional changes as the removal of a standing agenda item for U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees sessions that has been used as a forum to denounce Israel… The letter praises [Amb. Nikki] Haley for that effort, which she has said is intended to show that the United States will not “put up with” the bashing of its close ally… “Since it is rare for all 100 Senators to agree on an issue, this letter sends a powerful bipartisan message to the UN that its anti-Israel bias must end,” said Marshall Wittmann, spokesman for AIPAC.” [WashPost]

“Israel Releases ‘Trump File’: The U.S. President’s Little-known 1989 Visit to the Jewish State” by Ofer Aderet: “Trump, who was 43 at the time, arrived in Israel on July 29, 1989 on his private jet… The next morning Trump had breakfast with Beilin and Teddy Kollek, the mayor of Jerusalem. They then went on a tour of Jerusalem’s Old City, several museums and Bethlehem… After lunch Trump flew to the Dead Sea, accompanied by [Shimon] Peres, where the billionaire was presented with a development project… Trump started his second day with a dive at the coral reef reserve in Eilat. He then attended to business, visiting several potential sites for investment – including an airport – and examined opportunities for investing in Tel Aviv and Herzliya. After meeting with then-Prime Minister Shamir, Trump returned to the U.S. by the end of the day.” [Haaretz]

“Trump complains Saudis not paying fair share for U.S. defense” by Stephen J. Adler, Jeff Mason and Steve Holland: “In an interview with Reuters, Trump confirmed his administration was in talks about possible visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel in the second half of May… “Frankly, Saudi Arabia has not treated us fairly, because we are losing a tremendous amount of money in defending Saudi Arabia,” he said… “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians,” he said. “There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians – none whatsoever.” Trump brushed aside a question of whether he might use a possible trip to Israel to declare U.S. recognition of the entire city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a reversal of longstanding U.S. foreign policy likely to draw international condemnation. “Ask me in a month on that,” he said, without elaborating.” [Reuters

“Israel Believes Trump Will Not Seek to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem for Now, Officials Say” by Barak Ravid: “Senior Israeli figures say that it is highly likely that Trump will renew the current presidential waiver, postponing a decision on the matter for at least another six months. The president is not likely to use the potential upcoming visit to change policy, the senior figures said. They added that Trump wants to try to jump-start the peace process with the Palestinians and a decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem could significantly compromise such an attempt.”

“The new American ambassador, David Friedman, is expected to arrive in Israel on May 15. A senior Israeli official said that in light of the possible presidential visit, the Americans have asked that the date of Friedman’s presentation of his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin be moved up so that he will have officially taken up his post in time for the American president’s arrival in Israel.” [Haaretz

ON THE HILL — At an event announcing the establishment of the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus, Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL)  discussed his March visit to Jerusalem where he explored the logistics for transferring the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Florida lawmaker emphasized that Trump “promised that he was going to do it (move the Embassy to Jerusalem) and this is a guy that is very interested in keeping his promises. So, we are assuming that it’s going to happen.” [JewishInsider] • Full video of the event [Facebook

NEW IRAN DEAL: “US presses for Americans’ release in direct talks with Iran” by Bradley Klapper: “U.S. diplomats used a meeting with their Iranian counterparts to press the release of Americans being detained in Iran, the Trump administration said Thursday. It is the first public acknowledgment of direct U.S.-Iranian discussions since President Donald Trump took office. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the talks occurred on the sidelines of a meeting in Vienna this week that focused on implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.” [USNews] • Bob Levinson’s wife asks Trump to make a deal with Iran to free her husband [FoxNews

“The nuclear deal takes center stage as Iran’s election campaign gets underway” by Carol Morello and Erin Cunningham: “All six candidates on Friday will participate in the first of three debates, focusing on social issues. That exchange will be followed by debates on politics and the economy. The nuclear deal will probably be raised in all three, and that could hurt Rouhani, 68. “Rouhani is suffering in part from his own success,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group. “Expectations skyrocketed after the deal. But if you ask the average citizen the Ronald Reagan question — Is your life better than it was yesterday? — you’re going to get no. That’s his potential vulnerability.”” [WashPost] • Iran says potential deal for early jet delivery falls through [Reuters

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Elliott Abrams and Jake Sullivan addressed a group of AIPAC’s Minyan members in a panel moderated by Mike Sachs at the St. Regis in NYC [Pic]

NEXT THURSDAY Hear Jake Sullivan discuss America’s role in Israel and the Middle East in a conversation with Jordan Hirsch, Visiting Fellow, The Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University [EventDetails

HEARD YESTERDAY — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an interview with Fox News on reports Trump intervened to toughen language in Iran deal certification letter: “I understand the White House’s perspective was we cannot think about Iran in terms of the JCPOA alone, and I agree with that. And I think one of the flaws behind the entire JCPOA process is it seemed to have been carried out to the exclusion of all the other aspects of Iran’s behavior as a state sponsor of terrorism, their disruptive behavior throughout the region… And I think there the concern was that issuing a 90-day statutory requirement indicating compliance on the JCPOA was going to signal that somehow everything was okay with Iran and us, and it is not okay between Iran and us.”

“‘I was all set to terminate’: Inside Trump’s sudden shift on NAFTA” by Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker, Damian Paletta and Karen DeYoung: “The president, meanwhile, was hearing a similar message from some of his own senior advisers. Ross, the commerce secretary, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, scrambled to persuade Trump to back down… In the Oval Office interview, however, Trump repeatedly insisted that he was ready to pull out of NAFTA. At one point, he turned to Kushner, who was standing near his desk, and asked, “Was I ready to terminate NAFTA?” “Yeah,” Kushner said, before explaining the case he made to the president: “I said, ‘Look, there’s plusses and minuses to doing it,’ and either way he would have ended up in a good place.”” [WashPost]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein was “personally hurt” by an initiative of an MK. No, it wasn’t Oren Hazan implying that Edelstein is a drug addict (because that’s how the KGB framed Edelstein the refusenik in the 1980s) again. It’s because MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint (Arab) List decided to book a conference room in the Knesset to hold an event marking “50 years of the occupation.” According to a report in Yediot Aharonot today, Edelstein took the unusual move of blocking the conference, which he said was “insulting” to most Israelis and to him, personally… The strangest thing about this story is that in February, four MKs from the Zionist Union and Joint (Arab) List co-hosted a conference on the exact same topic without any trouble – it must have flown under Edelstein’s radar. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

** Good Friday 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 **

SPOTLIGHT: “ hit with privacy suit over alleged sale of user data” by Steven Musil: “Consumers aren’t quite ready to forgive for its alleged practice of selling users’ email data. The inbox cleanup service was sued Wednesday in Northern California District Court for failing to adequately disclose how it allegedly harvests valuable data from its users’ accounts. The lawsuit (PDF) accuses and its parent company, Slice, of violating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Stored Communications Act. “It was heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service,” CEO Jojo Hedaya said on the blog.” [CNet]

“Sergey Brin’s Secret Zeppelin” by Adrienne Lafrance: “Being a billionaire means sometimes having a secret side-project big enough to necessitate an actual NASA hangar. That appears to be the case for the Google co-founder Sergey Brin, anyway. Brin is building a huge airship inside of Hangar 2 at the NASA Ames Research Center, according to a report from Bloomberg, but it’s unclear whether the covert project is a business effort, a very impressive hobby, or something else.” [TheAtlantic]

STARTUP NATION: “Israel FinMin says to ease path for institutions to invest in tech” by Steven Scheer: “Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said on Thursday he would work to reduce regulations that prevent Israeli institutions investing in technology companies. Hampered by regulatory constraints, as well as being harmed by the bursting of a tech bubble in 2000, Israeli pension funds and insurance companies have stayed away from high-tech, while billions of dollars have been generated from high-profile takeovers or flotations. With the public missing out and leaving most funding coming from abroad, Kahlon is under pressure from the tech sector to make it easier for institutions to invest.” [Reuters]

PROFILE: “Within Israel’s cauldron of conflict, George Deek wants to redefine the future” by Danielle Berrin: “After graduating from law school, Deek began applying for jobs and for months received nothing but rejection letters. “I got replies like, ‘Thank you, but we’re not recruiting,’ ” he recalls… He performed a little experiment by sending out resumes with a “Jewish Ashkenazi name” and eliminated the note of his proficiency in Arabic. He says he heard back from about half of the law firms… The day after I first met Deek for an interview, at a Coffee Bean in Los Angeles, we coincidentally wound up on the same flight to Israel… When I next saw him, sitting a few rows behind me on the connecting flight from New York to Tel Aviv, he was reading “The Book of Aron” by Jim Shepard, a World War II story about a Jewish boy whose Polish family is driven by the Germans into the Warsaw Ghetto. “What can I say?” he says, a little embarrassed. “I’m an Ashkenazi Arab.”” [JewishJournal

“The Inside Story of How Ivanka Trump Met Her Women’s Empowerment Guru Dina Powell” by Valentina Zarya: “Powell, then head of Goldman Sachs’s Impact Investing team and president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, was in her office one day when she was told: “Ivanka Trump’s on the phone.” “She was doing a tremendous amount of research,” Powell told the audience… “She is a numbers person. She had seen 10,000 Women… and some of the other programs and she said, you know, ‘I want to understand how that program works. How do you measure success?’ She was really thinking about, you know, how she could lend her voice.” Despite the surprising start, the relationship between the two women quickly took off.” [Fortune]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Some New England Jews, Wary Of U.S. Politics, Reclaim German Citizenship” by Shannon Dooling: “A small group of Jewish-American citizens from around New England reclaimed their own dual German citizenship at an understated ceremony Wednesday at the German consulate office in Boston. One of those in attendance was 59-year-old Larry Klein, of Newton, whose parents were German refugees from Nazi Germany… Ralf Horlemann, the consul general of Germany in Boston, says in the first quarter of 2016, 13 people of Jewish origin reclaimed their German citizenship through the Boston consulate. That number nearly quadrupled — to 49 — in the first quarter of 2017.” [VPR

“A Face Off Between Anne Frank and Donald Trump” by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “[Steven Goldstein] is just abusing the name. Every time I read that he says something under her banner, I feel uncomfortable,” said Abe Foxman, who was, like Anne Frank, a hidden child. He survived and went on to lead the Anti-Defamation League for 28 years. Today, Foxman, retired from the ADL, runs a center for the study of anti-Semitism in New York. “You want to engage in politics? Do so in your own name,” said Foxman, adding, “Don’t ride a Holocaust victim for your purposes.” Goldstein has “a different agenda. It wasn’t [Anne’s]. She innocently loved everybody.” [Haaretz]

SPORTS BLINK: “The one speech I wrote for Obama that I didn’t believe in: Praising the Penguins” by Stephen Krupin: “As a political speechwriter, I’m asked one question more than any other: Do you ever have to draft words with which you disagree? I’ve been fortunate. I’ve believed in every leader I wrote for in the White House, State Department and Senate, and never was asked to promote a policy that contradicted my conscience or violated my values. With one exception: Last October, I helped President Obama honor the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. And I hate the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m a lifelong Capitals fan.” [WashPost]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYAssociate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Elena Kagan turns 57… Austrian-born, Canadian chemist, businessman, philanthropist and collector of fine art, Alfred Bader turns 93… White House Chief of Staff for Presidents Reagan and Bush 41, Secretary of the Treasury (1985-1988) and Secretary of State (1989-1992), James Baker turns 87… Businesswoman, philanthropist, art collector and co-founder of Mirage Resorts and Wynn Resorts with her former husband, Steve Wynn, Elaine Wynn turns 75… Retired four-star United States Marine Corps general, Robert Magnus turns 70… American-born Israeli writer, translator, editor of The Tower Magazine and a senior member of The Israel Project, David Hazony turns 48… Associate judge of the Baltimore City Circuit Court, Karen Chaya Friedman… Andrew Zucker, son of CNN’s Jeff Zucker and host of WHRB’s show “Zucker,” turns 19 (h/t Playbook)… Actress and film critic, Catherine Reitman turns 36… Israeli artist and photographer Neta Cones turns 29… Digital Content Manager at Tribe Media Corp Jeffrey Hensiek… Extra special birthday shoutout to Ahron Fragin

SATURDAY: Inmate #61727-054 at the Butner Federal Correctional Institute in North Carolina, Bernard Madoff turns 79… Nobel Prize-winning economist, professor at MIT, known for his analysis of Social Security policy, nominated in 2010 to the Federal Reserve by President Obama but never confirmed by the Senate, Peter Diamond turns 77… Comedian, actor, writer, producer and director, best known for playing a semi-fictional version of himself in the 180 episodes of the sitcom “Seinfeld,” Jerry Seinfeld turns 63… London-born highly acclaimed actor, knighted at Buckingham Palace in 2014, Sir Daniel Day-Lewis turns 60… Sportscaster, best known as the radio and television play-by-play announcer for MLB’s New York Mets, Gary Cohen turns 59… New York City Comptroller since 2014, previously Borough President of Manhattan (2006-2013), Scott M. Stringer turns 57… Co-chairman of 20th Century Fox since 2014, previously a senior executive at DreamWorks and Universal Pictures, Stacey Snider turns 56… Professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight and author of many books including “Predictably Irrational,” Dan Ariely turns 50… NYC-based award-winning artist who works with sound, kinetics, optics, magnetism and other materials to make sculptures and photographs, Julianne Swartz turns 50… Israeli-born, NYC resident, stand-up comedian, actor and sometimes chazzan, Modi Rosenfeld turns 47… Russian-born Israeli model and actress, has appeared in many American movies, TV shows and advertisements, Bar Paly turns 35… Real estate developer in the Mid-Atlantic region, Samuel Neuberger… Political Director at AIPAC, Rob Bassin… Marcy Smith

SUNDAYSocial critic, political activist, author of over 20 books, philosopher, co-founder of the DC-based the progressive Institute for Policy Studies and professor of public policy at GWU, Marcus Raskin turns 83… Rabbi, scholar, associate professor at Yeshiva University, adjunct professor at Columbia University Law School, Saul J. Berman turns 78… US Ambassador to Portugal (2010-2013), distinguished professor at UMKC, former City Commissioner of Tallahassee, Allan J. Katz turns 70… Former model, now a psychologist, author of several children’s books and self-help books and a philanthropist, president of the Saban Family Foundation, Cheryl Saban… Tunisian-born, Israeli Supreme Court justice since 2014, previously Attorney General of Israel (2004-2010), Menachem “Meni” Mazuz turns 62… Commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since 2010, previously a US Supreme Court law clerk and then a professor at Georgetown Law Center, Chai Feldblum turns 58… Professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and president of Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Eva Illouz turns 56… Democratic member of the New York City Council and chair of the New York City Council Jewish Caucus, Mark D. Levine turns 48… Guitarist and DC-based senior program officer for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, David Rittberg turns 37… One of the highest earning fashion models in Israel, she has appeared in the movies as Wonder Woman and starred in the Fast and the Furious film series, Gal Gadot turns 32… Growth strategy editor at The New York Times, previously an assistant press secretary at the White House / Office of Management and Budget, Ari Isaacman Bevacqua turns 32… Manager of Digital Strategy at the Podesta Group, Daniel Wolman turns 27… Press secretary for Senator Mark R. Warner, previously deputy press secretary for Senator Barbara Boxer, Rachel Cohen… Founder of Lubin Strategies, former director of the Obama White House Office of Digital Strategy, Nathaniel (Nate) Lubin (h/ts Playbook)… Jenna Luks… Idan Megidish… Noam Aricha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Yorker Profiles Jewish ‘Oligarch’ Len Blavatnik

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