Daily Kickoff: Israeli right thinks Bibi will go left | Netanyahu: ‘No blank check’ from Trump | Steven Cohen’s comeback fund | Franken’s Senate jokes

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Ed note: In honor of Shavuot, there will be no Daily Kickoff on Wednesday or Thursday. Chag Sameach!

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “White House faces deadline for clarity on Israel embassy move” by Michael Wilner: “Once every December and June since 1998, the White House has exercised its authority to waive an appropriations requirement that would suspend 50% of the State Department’s buildings maintenance budget until the Secretary of State verifies he has opened a Jerusalem embassy. Given that the law requires confirmation of an embassy opening – not simply of a president’s general intent – it seems likely that US President Donald Trump will issue his first of these waivers later this week. But conservative American Jewish groups and Israel advocacy organizations in favor of the move hope that he will attach an addendum to the waiver notice, outlining his plans to relocate the embassy in due time… White House officials told The Jerusalem Post they have nothing yet to announce on the matter.” [JPost]

“What Trump not signing a Jerusalem embassy waiver would really mean” by Eugene Kontorovich: “The law says nothing about “moving” the embassy. Rather, the requirement is to “officially open” an embassy, which can be done with a mere declaration upgrading the status of one of the existing consular facilities in the city… Non-waiver would be a wise tactical move for Trump. If he signs a waiver, he is certain to face deep pushback from his base at a time he needs its support the most… But if Trump simply does nothing, he gets a clear and easy win on a campaign plank at a time when his agenda seems to have gotten bogged down.” [WashPost]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: “Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner taking ‘heads down’ approach” by Betsy Klein: “The official said the two share a “healthy understanding that there’s attention on you when you’re at this level,” adding that they are “unfazed” by the scrutiny of the past week… The couple spent the weekend at Trump’s Bedminister Golf Club, where they married in 2009, for a planned trip with their three small children. Back in Washington on Sunday afternoon, Ivanka Trump was spotted outside the White House, chatting with lawyer Marc Kasowitz before boarding an SUV together.” [CNN]

“Investigation Turns to Kushner’s Motives in Meeting With a Putin Ally” by Matthew Rosenberg, Mark Mazzetti and Maggie Haberman: “[Hope] Hicks said the meetings were part of an effort by [Jared] Kushner to improve relations between the United States and Russia, and to identify areas of possible cooperation. After the first meeting with Mr. Kislyak, she said at the time, the Russian ambassador asked for a follow-up discussion to “deliver a message.” Mr. Kushner sent Avrahm Berkowitz, a longtime associate and now a White House aide. At that session, Mr. Kislyak told Mr. Berkowitz that he wanted Mr. Kushner to meet Mr. Gorkov, Ms. Hicks said…. She said then that during Mr. Kushner’s meeting with Mr. Gorkov, there was no discussion about the Kushner company’s business or about American sanctions against Russian entities.” [NYTimes]

REPUBLICANS TURNING ON KUSHNER? “John McCain fires at Jared Kushner” by Jonathan Swan: “I don’t like it, I just don’t,” McCain told ABC’s Leigh Sales… Why this matters: This is a break from the GOP line. McCain’s hawkish ally in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, said he didn’t believe the news reports about Kushner, and national security figures in the administration are unified in saying they’re not concerned about Kushner’s conduct. What’s next: The risk for the White House is that McCain could be paving the way for others to condemn Kushner… [McCain:] “I don’t think it’s standard procedure prior to the inauguration of the President of the United States by someone who is not in an appointed position.” [Axios] • Republican Senator Chuck Grassley calls for probe into promotion of Kushner Cos deal [Reuters]

“The Politics of Clan: The Adventures of Jared Kushner” by David Brooks: “We tell young people to serve something beyond self, and Kushner seems to have been fiercely, almost selflessly, loyal to family. But the clannish mentality has often ill served him during his stay in government. Working in government is about teamwork, majority-building and addition — adding more and more people to your coalition. It is about working within legal frameworks and bureaucratic institutions. It’s about having a short memory and not taking things personally… We don’t know everything about his meetings with the Russians, but we know that they, like so much other clan-like behavior, went against the formal system.” [NYTimes]

ON THE HILL — Bipartisan bill introduced to bolster sanctions against Hamas — by Aaron Magid: Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Brian Mast (R-FL) introduced new bipartisan legislation to increase sanctions on foreign governments who assist Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Democratic Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) and chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) all support the legislation. The “Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act” does not mention Fatah or the Palestinian Authority (PA) unlike the Taylor Force Act pushed by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which would cut off all US assistance to the PA if they don’t quit paying terrorists and their families, that has stalled in committee. [JewishInsider• Report: After years of stagnation, Iran to resume funding Hamas [IsraelHayom

ULTIMATE DEAL UPDATE: “Israeli right convinced Netanyahu will soon swerve left” by Ben Caspit: “A popular conspiracy theory making the rounds on the right has it that the deal between Netanyahu and Trump has been finalized… Zero hour is supposed to occur after the Labor Party primaries in July. Netanyahu is supposed to push through his Cabinet controversial measures, such as handing over some West Bank territory that is now wholly under Israeli control (known as Area C) to Area B, administered by the Palestinian Authority under Israeli security control. This move, along with a declaration by Netanyahu of the resumption of talks with the Palestinians on a two-state solution, is expected to result in Bennett pulling out of the coalition. When he does, the Zionist Union will immediately take his party’s place… Knesset member Tzipi Livni, [Isaac] Herzog’s partner… will be named justice minister and tasked with responsibility for the negotiations with the Palestinians. Herzog will be appointed foreign minister.” [Al-Monitor

BEHIND THE SCENES: “American plan is to deal with northern Samaria first” by Alex Fishman: “A secret and very politically sensitive tour was scheduled to take place last Thursday, under the media’s radar. Jason Greenblatt… requested to tour an area in northern Samaria which Israel had evacuated during the 2005 disengagement from Gaza. The Trump administration has already marked northern Samaria as a possible area for an Israeli move, which would convey to the Arab world that Israel is committed to recognizing the two states… The news that the American administration had raised the idea of handing lands over to civil Palestinian responsibility was leaked to Channel 10 on Wednesday evening, and Greenblatt’s tour of Samaria was called off.” [Ynet]

KAFE KNESSET — Blank Check — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Hearing the Right wing’s loud and vocal celebrations of Trump’s pro-Israel stance during the visit, Netanyahu used the Likud weekly faction meeting yesterday to bring his colleagues back to reality and clarify that some tough decisions may be underway. “We do not have a blank check with the Administration,” he told the MKs and ministers. “It is true that there is a warm relationship and a great understanding of our fundamental positions but we are not in a blank check reality.”

Moving on to the White House peace plans, Netanyahu stressed that “we do not have a blank check on the political level… You heard President Trump, he came here and did very important things here and touched the core of our soul, but he also said that he believes that Abbas wants peace. He said that I wanted peace and he said that he believed that an agreement could be reached and that we should reach it. We are in this situation and I am dealing with this right now. Over the years I have proven that I take care of our vital interests in a responsible and clever manner and I will continue to do so, but if anyone thinks we have a blank check – he is mistaken.”

Netanyahu’s comments come after Jason Greenblatt’s follow-up tour in the region last week, in which he continued discussions on the Israeli Palestinian issue. While many of Greenblatt’s talks on the Israeli side focused on economic initiatives and confidence building measures, a senior Israeli source told Kafe Knesset that Greenblatt stressed that the President wants to deal with the core issues of a final status agreement such as borders and security. “We are serious and we mean business,” Greenblatt said, according to that source. Another well informed source said that the Administration has already given Israel its position papers on some of the issues, but the PMO declined to confirm. Greenblatt did not reveal what the next US step is and senior Israeli officials said that, in contrast to reports about a Netanyahu-Abbas summit in the coming weeks, Jerusalem is under the impression the Administration needs more time to work out a formula that will bring the sides back to the negotiation table. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Ex-UN envoy Bolton to JPost: Trump has no chance at ultimate peace deal – Arab-Israeli Conflict” by Yonah Jeremy Bob: “Speaking just before he received the Guardian of Zion Award from Bar-Ilan University’s Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Bolton said Trump “is an optimistic man and can take a good shot at it, but I don’t think the conditions exist. I don’t think the two-state solution is viable anymore. It is not a question of personality or effort, it is just undoable. There has been a 70-plus year effort for the two-state solution,” which has failed, he said, adding, “You can’t put it back together again.”” [JPost

Michael Oren: ‘If we give the Palestinians a state tomorrow, it will fail in days or even hours’ — “While Oren, a member of the centrist Kulanu party, hopes and believes that Trump’s efforts could succeed in bringing Israel and the Palestinians to the negotiating table, he warned against expectations for an immediate positive outcome. “If we give them a state tomorrow, it will fail in days or even hours,” he said. In fact, while espousing negotiations, Oren questioned whether the Palestinians could ever be ready for a state. “I know this may be controversial,” he said, “but not every society organizes itself according to nation-states. We are seeing today the failure of European efforts to impose a nation-state on people who don’t organize themselves like that.” [ToI]

2018 WATCH: “Democrats are pushing an unlikely source — Jerry Springer — to run for governor in Ohio” by Allan Smith and Maxwell Tani: “Influential Ohio Democrats are pushing former Cincinnati mayor and daytime TV host Jerry Springer to run for Ohio governor in 2018, more than half-a-dozen Democrats familiar with the race told Business Insider… Springer’s proponents have highlighted his ability in the era of President Donald Trump to provide his own funding for a campaign, and to connect with working-class voters familiar with his television show and history in Ohio politics.” [BusinessInsider]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Steven Cohen’s Hedge-Fund Comeback Shoots for a Record Target: $20 Billion [WSJ] • Alec Litowitz’s Old School Hedge Fund Is Going Quant [WSJ] • A Kazakh dirty-money suit threatens to reach Trump’s business world [McClatchy] • Andy Rubin, the Father of Android Is Back, and He’s Built the Anti-iPhone [Wired; TechCrunch] • Germany’s Merck KGaA chooses Israeli deception technology [CNBC]

STARTUP NATION: “Israeli ‘Solar-Power’ Tree Is Charging up a Small French Town” by Jack Moore: “An Israeli company is charging up a small French town with a solar-powered eTree that allows residents to power their phones, sit in the shade or enjoy free Wifi. On Sunday, the Sologic eTree, created by Israeli entrepreneur Michael Lasry and designed by Israeli artist Yoav Ben Dov, was “planted” in the central French town of Nevers for its population of 37,000 to enjoy. The project, made of solar panels shaped like leaves, is the first to be installed in Europe, with other prototypes operating in 10 Israeli and American cities.” [Newsweek]

“Rich People Don’t Want Ivanka Trump’s Fashion” by Kim Bhasin and Lindsey Rupp: “At its heart, Ivanka Trump is a celebrity brand, not a designer fashion house, industry analysts say. It’s the messy discount rack, not the gleaming glass jewelry case. Her company’s moves over the past few years reflect that. And as it turns out, targeting the masses has worked… Ivanka Trump, the fashion label, polarizes shoppers because of the same political divisions that polarize America… Nevertheless, Trump’s goods seem to be selling well since her father’s campaign began. Sales were up 21 percent in 2016, the company said in February.” [Bloomberg]

“Al Franken Has Been Sitting on Jokes for a Decade. Now He’s Ready to Tell Them” by Molly Ball: “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate” is, in part, the story of how Franken became a giant phony — how he pretended to be a serious person in public even as his inner comic monologue never stopped running… Franken’s staff, as he tells it, has been his best ally in stifling his funny side, sternly responding “O.K., that’s for inside the car” to his quips, and nixing his hilariously offensive responses to constituent letters… Franken’s press secretary once threatened to write her own campaign memoir, entitled “‘Oh, C’mon!’ Said Franken.” … Being in the Senate, Franken admits, has softened his own partisanship, though not everyone is treated gently. “I like Ted Cruz more than most of my other colleagues like Ted Cruz,” Franken writes. “And I hate Ted Cruz.” [NYTimes] • Al Franken Tells You What He Really Thinks About Donald Trump’s Lying [VanityFair]

“How Stephen Miller Rode White Rage from Duke’s Campus to Trump’s West Wing” by William D. Cohan: “Despite Miller’s penchant for outrageous provocation, his family was very much like others in Santa Monica. His mother, Miriam, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, came from a well-known Jewish family that had made a fortune in retailing. His father, Michael, a Stanford graduate, was a lawyer and real-estate mini-mogul. These days, the Millers together own Cordary Inc., a real-estate investment company, of which Michael is the president and Miriam is executive vice president… Ironically, the family would not have made it to the United States had someone like Stephen Miller been in the White House a century ago. Facing religious persecution, Miriam’s family—the Glossers—fled Belarus, arriving in New York in 1903… As a youngster, Stephen was obsessed with Star Trek. He watched the show for hours. And he and his younger brother, Jacob, used to dress up in Captain Kirk uniforms. “He really liked this kind of macho alpha-male thing that was going on with Kirk,” remembers Jason Islas, a friend of Miller’s in middle school.” [VanityFair]

“U.S. Synagogues Experience ‘Trump Bump’ as Congregants Turn to Prayer, Activism” by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “Since the presidential election, 45 new households have joined Shir Tikvah Congregation in Minneapolis, said Rabbi Michael Adam Latz. “Trump may be bad for the world, but he’s great for shul membership,” quipped Latz… The wait list to join New York City’s Central Synagogue has more than doubled since the election, from 250 families to over 540. Friday night service attendance is also up, said Rabbi Angela Buchdahl… “We also seem to be consuming more Scotch at kiddush. That may reflect the real Trump bump.”” [Haaretz]

MAZEL TOV: Josh Kraushaar, political editor at National Journal, and Hannah Kraushaar, program manager at National Defense University, have welcomed Avi Ethan Kraushaar, who was born on Wednesday. [Pic] h/t Playbook

WEEKEND WEDDING: Joel Mowbray, founder of Fourth Factor Consulting, on Sunday married Valeria Bystritskaia, who was Miss Germany 2011. The wedding was held at the Aspen Historical Society. According to Joel, Valeria speaks five languages and shares the same immigration attorney as Melania Trump, Michael Wildes. Festivities kicked off Friday night with a Shabbat dinner at the Chabad JCC in Aspen. The couple met at a NYC synagogue over Kiddush last May. [Pic]

Spotted: Senator Ted & Heidi Cruz, David Panton, Congressman Ed & Marie Royce, Larry Mizel, Martin & Rivka Rapaport, their children Ezi & Penina, Sander & Tracy Gerber, Eric & Yvette Edidin, Arie Lipnick, RNC Deputy Finance Chair Elliott Broidy, NRA Board Member & Past President Dave Keene & wife Donna, NYT Bestselling author Rich Miniter, CA Assemblyman Travis Allen, Rabbi Mendel Mintz, Ami Horowitz, Strategy Group CEO & Founder Rex Elsass, and David & Hila Brog.
BIRTHDAYS: Long-time former member of the New York State Assembly from Queens, (1983-2011), Nettie Mayersohn turns 91… Santa Monica-based historian of Sephardic and Crypto-Jewish studies, Dolores Sloan turns 87… Philanthropist and real estate developer, landlord of the World Trade Center until 9-11, former chair of UJA-NY, Larry Silverstein turns 86… NYC attorney who represented Bernard Madoff, he is also a leader in American Friends of the Hebrew University, Ira Lee Sorkin turns 74… Agent at Creative Artists Agency, an entertainment and sports agency based in Los Angeles, he is a visiting professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Alan Louis Berger turns 67… Chief Rabbi of France (2009-2013), Gilles Uriel Bernheim turns 65… Encino, California-based business attorney, Andrew W. Hyman turns 64… Author of a novel, a memoir and collection of essays, contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, contributing editor to Tablet magazine, resident of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Daphne Miriam Merkin turns 63… Former member of the US House of Representatives (2001-2017) and former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (2010-2014), Steve Israel turns 59… Science editor for BBC News and author of six books, David Shukman turns 59…

Contributing editor at The Atlantic since 2015, previously at The New Republic, The Daily Beast and Newsweek, Michelle Cottle turns 47… Member of the Knesset for the Yisrael Beiteinu party since late 2015, Oded Forer turns 40… Director of Marketing and Communications at NYC’s Jewish Community Project Downtown, Scott Hertz turns 37… Communication and marketing coordiator for the San Francisco office of AIPAC, Alina T. Katz… Press secretary for Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va), Miryam Esther Lipper turns 26… Digital news writer at CNN, Eric Levenson turns 26… Healthcare and pharmaceutical associate at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Ashley Bender (h/ts Playbook)…

WEDNESDAY: Professor emeritus at Princeton, Bernard Lewis turns 101… United States Postmaster General (1988-1992) under Presidents Reagan and Bush 41, Anthony M. Frank turns 86… Morgan Stanley’s Alfred Phillip Stern turns 84… Billionaire Ira Rennert turns 83… Food critic at Vogue magazine Jeffrey Steingarten turns 75… Founder of the Democratic Leadership Council (1985-2009), Alvin “Al” From turns 74… Bernard Richard “Bernie” Goldberg turns 72… Comedienne, actress, and TV producer, Susie Essman turns 62… Canadian billionaire Daryl Katz turns 56… Reality television personality Patti Stanger turns 56… CEO of CyberArk Software, one of Israel’s leading software companies, Alon Nisim Cohen turns 49… Toronto-born investor and entrepreneur, Andrew Rivkin turns 48… Democratic mayor of Annapolis, Maryland, Joshua Jackson “Josh” Cohen turns 44… Assistant Director of Community Outreach at the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Melissa York turns 41… Attorney and NYT-bestselling author of the Mara Dyer Trilogy, Michelle Hodkin turns 35… Technical project manager at Twilio, Zoe Goldfarb turns 34… Senior Director of Audience Solutions at Politico, Brad E. Bosserman turns 32… Rabbi in residence at GatherDC, ordained in 2013 at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Aaron Potek turns 31… Assignment manager, coordinating producer and correspondent for i24News, Amital Isaac turns 28… Brad Goldstein… Stephanie Oreck Weiss

THURSDAY: Actress Joan Maxine Miller Copeland turns 95… Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, pianist and conductor, Yehudi Wyner turns 88… Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and Chairman of Yad Vashem, he is a Holocaust survivor who served as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel (1993-2003), Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau turns 80… NYC-based attorney, author of two books regarding the history and operations of El Al, owner of 40,000 plus pieces of memorabilia related to El Al, Marvin G. Goldman turns 78… Pediatrician in the San Francisco Bay area, long-time AIPAC activist, Elliot Charles Lepler, MD turns 69… Gail Stone turns 67… Founding editor of The American Interest, Adam M. Garfinkle turns 66… Former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, Matthew Winkler turns 62… Former IDF officer and now a London based political scientist and journalist, Ahron Bregman turns 59… Billionaire, majority owner of MLB’s Oakland Athletics, his parents were the co-founders of Gap, Inc., chair of  Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Foundation, John J. Fisher turns 56… Founding editor and publisher of the Dayton Jewish Observer, Marshall J. Weiss turns 50… US national security editor at The Guardian, Spencer J. Ackerman turns 37… Comedienne, writer, actress and producer Amy Schumer turns 36… Executive Director of MoveOn[dot]org Political Action since 2013, Ilya Sheyman turns 31… Naomi Kadish turns 22… Indianapolis native, now a student at George Washington University, Isabel Keller… Sarah Shallmen

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Bipartisan Bill Introduced to Bolster Sanctions Against Hamas

WASHINGTON – Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Brian Mast (R-FL) introduced new bipartisan legislation to increase sanctions on foreign governments who assist Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In contrast to many partisan bills introduced that never make it out of committee, this bill appears likely to advance given its influential bipartisan backers. Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA), Ranking Democratic Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) and chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) all support the legislation.

The bill requires the President to submit a report on each government that provides material support to the Palestinian terror organizations. At this point, the Federal government must end any foreign assistance to such country for a year along with preventing any munitions export. Iran and longtime US ally Qatar provides Hamas with significant financial assistance. After the outbreak of the 2011 Syrian civil war, Hamas’ key sponsor — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — cut its support for the Palestinian terror organization after a break due to a dispute over the Assad regime’s killing of Syrian civilians.

“Our bipartisan bill will ensure that anyone who provides assistance to this enemy of the United States and our vital ally Israel will face the strength and determination of our country,” Gottheimer said. Since entering Congress in January, both Gottheimer and Mast have been extremely active promoting pro-Israel legislation. A US Army vet who lost his legs from an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan, Mast volunteered with the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in January 2015 packing medical kits at a military base near Tel Aviv.

The  “Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act” does not mention Fatah or the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by President Mahmoud Abbas unlike the Taylor Force Act pushed by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), which would cut off all US assistance to the PA if they don’t quit paying terrorists and their families, that has stalled in committee. Hamas has murdered over 400 Israelis and at least 25 Americans since its establishment during the First Intifada. “This bipartisan bill is proof that confronting hate – and supporting our ally Israel – is not an issue of left versus right; it always will be an issue of right versus wrong” Mast explained.




Daily Kickoff: Kushner’s Father-in-Law Troubles | Will the WH recognize Jerusalem at Capitol Hill event? | New Yorker on the Children’s Intifada

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PALACE INTRIGUE: “Kushner’s Relationship With Trump Tested as Russia Accusations Swirl” by Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman and Sharon LaFraniere: “Mr. Kushner, an observant Jew, spent the Sabbath in fretful seclusion with his wife, Ivanka Trump, at his father-in-law’s resort in Bedminster, N.J., unplugged, per religious custom, from electronics… In a statement to The New York Times on Sundaynight, Mr. Trump said: “Jared is doing a great job for the country. I have total confidence in him. He is respected by virtually everyone and is working on programs that will save our country billions of dollars. In addition to that, and perhaps more importantly, he is a very good person.” But in recent weeks the Trump-Kushner relationship, the most stable partnership in an often unstable West Wing, is showing unmistakable signs of strain.”

“The most serious point of contention between the president and his son-in-law… was a video clip this month of Mr. Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, pitching potential investors in Beijing on a Kushner Companies condominium project in Jersey City… For Mr. Trump, Ms. Meyer’s performance violated two major rules. Politically, it undercut his immigration crackdown, and in a personal sense, it smacked of profiteering off Mr. Trump… In the following days, the president made several snarky, disparaging comments about Mr. Kushner’s family and the visas during routine West Wing meetings that were clearly intended to express his annoyance, two aides said. Mr. Kushner did not respond, at least not in earshot.”

“Mr. Kushner sees his role as a freelance troubleshooter, but he has focused on foreign policy, friends say, because he saw a gap in the White House structure in that area. Top administration officials know the importance of cultivating him… and he serves as a sounding board for officials like Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, according to Elliott Abrams… “I hear more worries about the president than about Jared,” he said. “In fact, I never hear complaints about Jared.” But Jason D. Greenblatt, the White House adviser on international negotiations, said that on the Middle East at least, Mr. Kushner is not just a sounding board, but an adviser who helps shape policy options for the president… He said Mr. Kushner deserves a substantial part of the credit for Mr. Trump’s recent trip to the Middle East. “Jared put together all the moving parts,” he said. “It went great.”” [NYTimes]

Jeffrey Goldberg‏: “Inadvertent byproduct of Kushner controversy: People are learning about the little-known but v. important holiday of Shavuot.” [Twitter]

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: “Why Would Jared Kushner Trust Russian Officials So Much?” by Adam Serwer: “What is unusual and borderline disturbing about this is less that it cut out the State Department or cut out the intelligence community; I think there is a precedent for both of those things in back-channels,” said Jon Finer, former State Department chief of staff under John Kerry. “It shows a level of trust in Russian intelligence, and Russian diplomatic personnel beyond the level of trust afforded to American intelligence and American personnel.” [TheAtlantic

FRUSTRATED… “Russia scandal casts uncertainty over Kushner’s future role” by Annie Karni and Josh Dawsey: “The spotlight on Kushner’s involvement with the Russians comes at a time when the powerful son-in-law has been telling associates that he is frustrated with his job. Two associates who have spoken to Kushner in recent weeks described him as “unhappy” and “miserable,” in part because he has not been able to make the changes he wants to under his father-in-law.” [Politico]

BUT NOT QUITTING… “Trump Returns to Crisis Over Kushner as White House Tries to Contain It” by Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “[Jared] Kushner… has no plans to step down from his role as senior adviser or to reduce his duties, according to people close to him. Still, there are signs that he is tiring of the nonstop combat and the damage to his reputation. He has told friends that he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, have made no long-term commitment to remain by Mr. Trump’s side, saying they would review every six months whether to return to private life in New York.” [NYTimes

“A high-stakes gamble: How Jared Kushner reacted to previous crises” by Michael Kranish and Jonathan O’Connell: “Taking charge of the business after his father went to prison, Kushner, 25 at the time, paid $1.8 billion in 2007 for the nation’s most expensive office building. Then the market went south, the debts piled up, and Kushner spent years pushing banks to renegotiate the loans. But after one disgruntled lender had tried to block him, Kushner had an unusual weapon at his disposal: He owned a newspaper. Kushner, who had purchased the New York Observer in 2006, walked into his editor’s office and suggested a story exposing potentially embarrassing details about the uncooperative lender. “I could tell he was angry at the guy,” said the editor, Elizabeth Spiers, who resigned in 2012… That followed a separate incident in which Kushner wanted a “hit job” on another foe, a second Observer editor told The Washington Post.” [WashPost]

TRUMP’S TRUTH-O-METER — Trump in speech to U.S. troops and their families at Naval Air Base in Sigonella, Italy: “I went to Jerusalem, where I reaffirmed our unbreakable bond with the State of Israel… I visited Bethlehem, a city so precious to so many, and met with the Palestinian leader, President Abbas. He assured me he is willing to reach for peace with Israel in good faith — and I believe he will — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who assured me that he, too, was ready to reach for peace. He’s a friend of mine, and he means it.” [YouTube]

“‘Trump rebuked Abbas over Palestinian incitement'” by Daniel Siryoti: “According to Channel 2 News, Trump… angrily accused Abbas of lying “about your commitment to peace,” saying, “You lied to me in Washington when you talked about commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me you were personally responsible for incitement.” … The Palestinian official said Abbas responded by saying that “in the past, there was a joint Palestinian-Israeli committee that sought to deal with incitement on both sides, but it has not met for years…” The officials said that at this point, Trump lost his patience and interrupted Abbas, banging his fist on the table and admonishing him, saying, “You can talk about how much you want peace, but that’s empty [rhetoric].”” [IsraelHayomToI]

“Palestinians Dismiss Reports of Yelling During Trump-Abbas Meeting as pro-Israel Propaganda” by Jack Khoury: “A senior Palestinian figure privy to the content of the meeting told Haaretz that the conversation was practical and there was a feeling that Trump arrived with great drive to push peace forward. “It’s no secret that Trump has a group of advisers around him whose main goal is to serve Israel. Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Ambassador David Friedman are also Netanyahu’s advisers, not just Trump’s, so our feeling is that they will try to prevent any move that harms Israel’s position, and we’re certain that the goal of these kind of reports is to serve this interest.”” [Haaretz]

“What Did Trump Accomplish on His First Foreign Trip?” by Eliot A. Cohen: “The visit to Israel was merely silly… The Israelis welcomed his protestations of friendship, shrugged their shoulders at his chumminess with Bibi Netanyahu, quietly resolved to be more judicious in the future about what intelligence they share with the Americans, and after likely heaving a sigh of relief when Trump’s plane took off, went about celebrating the 50th anniversary of their 1967 victory.What Trump certainly did not do, because it is impossible, is advance a long-term Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. At the moment, no Palestinian leader will accept an agreement that does not re-divide Jerusalem and provide for a right of return, but will acknowledge the legitimacy of the Jewish claim to the land of Israel. No Israeli leader can accept the former or conclude an agreement without the latter.” [TheAtlantic

COMING SOON: “The $1.4 billion bet on a new Palestinian future” by William Booth: “Rawabi is the first planned city in the West Bank built by Palestinians for Palestinians, a $1.4 billion metropolis constructed over the last nine years from bare rock… When he was a teenager, [Bashar] Masri shot the finger at Israeli soldiers. Now he is one of the richest men in the Palestinian territories. When he was young, he went to the United States, got his degree in chemical engineering at Virginia Tech, married an American, had two daughters, and was awarded U.S. citizenship. “I love America,” Masri said. But he came home to the West Bank in the 1990s. “I dreamed there would be a Palestinian state,” he said. He thought everyone would come home to build it. “But honestly there weren’t many,” he said.” [WashPost

ALTERNATIVE: “Why the Palestinian Authority Should Be Shuttered” by Diana Buttu: “To remove this noose that has been choking Palestinians, the authority must be replaced with the sort of community-based decision making that predated the body’s establishment. And we must reform our main political body, the Palestine Liberation Organization, which Mr. Abbas also heads, to make it more representative of the Palestinian people and their political parties, including Hamas. Hamas has long indicated that it wants to be part of the P.L.O., and its revised charter, recently released in Doha, Qatar, affirms this aspiration.” [NYTimes

Aaron David Miller: “A bold Palestinian proposal for ending the PA likely to leave Palestinians worse off than they are now.” [Twitter]

Amb. Dani Dayan‏: “BTW, both NY Times and Diana Buttu failed to mention she is an Israeli citizen and as such she enjoys full civil rights.” [Twitter]

KAFE KNESSET — Is the White House recognizing Jerusalem? — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Next week, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are co-hosting a bi-country simultaneous event with live video between the Capitol and the Knesset. The event honors 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem and was organized by Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer… and there could be interesting diplomatic implications. Sources tell Kafe Knesset that either President Trump or Vice President Pence will speak at the event, while Netanyahu will speak on the Israeli side. The US government has never recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — not east, not west, not united, not divided. Having the executive branch take part in an event celebrating a united Jerusalem is a new development that could be seen as tacit recognition. On the other hand, the event will take place several days after Trump’s deadline to sign a waiver postponing the US Embassy’s move — it falls on Thursday, the second day of Shavuot for those of you outside of Israel — so we will know if the recognition is just tacit or out in the open before that.

Dore Gold, the former Foreign Ministry Director General, brought up the Taylor Force Act at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this morning. He discussed how some politicians in DC say they do not support it because Israel does not support defunding the PA. Gold was adamant that, while Israel normally would not get involved in pending legislation in other countries, Jerusalem should make it very clear that it supports the Taylor Force Act. He said that when he ran the Foreign Ministry, they put out position papers against Palestinian incitement. MKs in the committee expressed frustration that, while everyone knows the Palestinians incite, the Israeli government is not doing enough to stop it – just complaining. They pointed to a bill by Yesh Atid’s Elazar Stern that would cut tax money transferred to the PA by the amount given to terrorists. Yet, at this point, it does not look like the government will support the bill.

Lapid strikes back: One possible explanation for Lapid’s drop in the polls is that he has been awfully quiet lately. His voice was not heard at all during Trump’s visit. Today in the Knesset, he offered an explanation, that he did not think it was appropriate to criticize the government while a foreign leader was in town. However, Lapid did not hold back this time. The Yesh Atid leader said he is very concerned about the arms deal Trump signed with the Saudis. He called on AIPAC to ensure that Israel’s friends in Congress make all elements of the deal transparent, and that the Defense Ministry must talk to the Pentagon to make sure Israel is adjusting in order maintain its qualitative edge. Lapid saved his sharpest barbs for Netanyahu, who he said is not taking the Saudi threat seriously enough: “The Prime Minister needs to stop worrying about the President’s short fuse. For [Trump] the deal is about jobs and money – for Israel, it is a matter of life and death.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Dems to tie Russia to Iran on sanctions” by Jonathan Swan: “A well-placed Senate Democratic aide emails this tip: “Expect many Senate Dems to push for the Senate to not do Iran sanctions without Russian sanctions.” What this means: Democratic leaders will exploit the ties between Iran and Russia — and the administration’s weak position with regard to anything concerning Russia — to demand that no new sanctions are imposed on Iran without additional sanctions to Russia. Our thought bubble: Democrats who support the Iran nuke deal, like former Secretary of State John Kerry… are anxious that imposing these sanctions could unravel the Iran deal.” [Axios]

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the SFRC spoke of her opposition to the sanctions, telling Jewish Insider last week, “I have reservations about it. I am particularly concerned that we are acting on it when it’s more critical for us to act on Russia sanctions right now. I’m concerned about the impact it will have on the JCPOA.” [JewishInsider]

“As Iran and U.S. Leaders Trade Barbs, Big Deals Proceed” by Thomas Erdbrink: “Tough talk from both sides, but back in Iran, they are awaiting the delivery of a fleet of American-made Boeing airliners, the result of two deals worth $22 billion for the United States company… Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s recently re-elected president, suggested that the two sides could possibly arrange talks after the Trump administration had more time in power and Tehran had more time to evaluate the American leader…” [NYTimes

“U.S. Sees a Vital Iraqi Toll Road, but Iran Sees a Threat” by Tim Arango: “Filtered through the prism of Iraq’s many media outlets that are linked to militias supported by Iran, the highway deal has become seen here as a conspiracy by the United States and Israel to occupy the country. One report claimed that the American security company involved in the highway “belongs to the Zionist Mossad.”” [NYTimes]

UK ELECTION WATCH: “Jeremy Corbyn describes banned terror group Hamas as ‘serious and hardworking'” by Kate Ferguson: “Jeremy Corbyn described the Palestinian terror group Hamas as ‘serious and hardworking’ and called for the EU trade with Israel to be suspended. The Labour leader also said Hamas should not have to recognise the state of Israel before peace talks can begin, according to the newly-resurfaced 2010 radio interview… During the recording, broadcast by LBC, he said: ‘It is not a question of whether one agrees or disagrees with Hamas on its political strategies or indeed its social strategies. You have to recognise that the reality is they have a great deal of support… they are serious, hard-working and they are not corrupt.”” [DailyMail• Jeremy Corbyn attended ceremony honouring Munich terrorist [TheJC]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Israel’s resilient economy can use a tune-up [CNBC] • Ronald Lauder’s RWL Water to merge with Israeli firm Emefcy [JPost] • Jeff Morr: Israel-Miami real estate connection stronger than ever [MiamiHerald• Israel’s tech startups are giving Silicon Valley a run for its money [NYPost] • Cornell Tech’s Climate-Conscious Urban Campus Arises [NYTimes] • Partner Communications to offer Netflix on new Israeli TV service [Reuters]

TOP TWEET — Jake Sherman: “Today is a sad day. Roman Abromovich, whose plane i’ve been tracking for years, has blocked his tail number from being tracked!!” [Twitter]

TRANSITION: “Boardroom to bimah” by Lisa Wangsness: “Now, at age 50, [Jevin Eagle] the Harvard Business School graduate, corporate executive, and one of those responsible for turning the “Easy Button” into a workplace sensation is about to finish rabbinical school. And next month, he will begin as executive director of Boston University’s Hillel.” [BostonGlobe

PROFILE: “Homework? First I Need to Get to the Bottom of This Comey Story” by Stuart Emmrich: “Gabe Fleisher is not a Washington pundit or a producer for CNN, but a 15-year-old freshman at a St. Louis high school. The free newsletter (Wake Up to Politics), which he has been writing in some form since he was 8, is a surprisingly sophisticated, well-researched summary of the day’s political news… “To think that, at his age, that I would be waking up every morning, to do what he is doing, there are no words to describe how that would never happen,” said his father, Randy Fleisher, 53, a rabbi, sitting in the living room of the family’s two-story brick home in University City, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, as Gabe sat across from him, checking his phone. “It’s a pretty remarkable thing.”” [NYTimes

“Hillary Clinton Is Furious. And Resigned. And Funny. And Worried” by Rebecca Traister: “When I mention MSNBC’s hiring of conservatives including George Will, and the New York Times’ new climate-change-skeptic opinion columnist, Bret Stephens, her brow furrows. “Why … would … you … do … that?” she says. “Sixty-six million people voted for me, plus, you know, the crazy third-party people. So there’s a lot of people who would actually appreciate stronger arguments on behalf of the most existential challenges facing our country and the world, climate change being one of them! It’s clearly a commercial decision. But I don’t think it will work. I mean, they’re laughing on the right at these puny efforts to try to appease people on the right.”” [NYMag

Bret Stephens responds: “I voted for HRC. Said so on FNC. Will left GOP on account of DJT. If this is how she now speaks of NeverTrumpers, no wonder she fell short..” [Twitter]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “‘Is This Even About Seth Rich At All?’” by Olivia Nuzzi:“Ed Butowsky, a Dallas businessman and personal friend to senior White House official Steven Bannon, got in touch with the Rich family…. He used Facebook to find a connection to the Rich family, he told me, by writing a post that said, “’Does anybody know anyone who is Jewish in Omaha?’ Now, I’m a Jew so I can do this, ok?” Through this method, he was eventually put in touch with the Richs, and he provided them with the information on the phone. They weren’t convinced it was legitimate. But when they complained that the D.C. police had been slow to move on their investigation of the murder, Butowsky suggested they hire a private investigator, which he offered to pay for when they said it wasn’t financially feasible.” [NYMag

LONG-READ — PERSONS OF INTEREST: The Dovekeeper and the Children’s Intifada — How a thirteen-year-old boy charged with taking part in a knife attack in Jerusalem became a Rorschach blot for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” by Geraldine Brooks: “In CCTV footage captured soon after, Ahmed and Hassan are seen strolling together toward the shopping district of Pisgat Ze’ev, an easy walk from their home once you get across the busy highway. They appear relaxed and unremarkable—two kids out for a walk after school. They amble out of the shot. Then, suddenly, the camera captures a very different image. A young man, wearing the white shirt and black trousers of the Orthodox, runs past the camera, desperately glancing behind him as the two boys, long knives now unsheathed, chase after him. Although Hassan had already stabbed the man, Yosef Ben Shalom, age twenty-one, in the upper body, he managed to outrun them.”

“A few blocks away, Hassan Manasra was already dead, shot at close range by police officers as he’d rushed at them with his knife. Farther down the tram tracks, his cousin Ahmed lay where a car had struck him. The impact had sent him sprawling, his lower legs twisted up on either side of his body in a grotesque and unnatural shape, like an action figure cast aside by a careless child… The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was the first to cite the boy, erroneously claiming in a televised address that Israelis had summarily executed him. In answer, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released footage of Ahmed in Hadassah Medical Center, his head bandaged, being fed puréed food.”

“Before Ahmed first appeared in court, he faced a difficult choice. Since he was below the age of criminal responsibility, if he pleaded guilty to attempted murder at his first hearing, the case would be closed and he could not be sent to prison. But had this happened, Tsemel believed, the Israeli outcry would have been such that the law would have been changed. “They would have found a way to detain him,” she said. In any case, Ahmed’s family would not allow a guilty plea. He had not touched either of the victims in the attacks. Forensics confirmed that his knife had not been used, and he maintained that he never had intent to kill. So Tsemel took the case to trial, knowing that on January 20, 2016, Ahmed’s fourteenth birthday, his protections as a minor would expire… On May 10, 2016, Ahmed Manasra was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to twelve years in prison.” [NewYorker]

BIRTHDAYS: Jewish Insider’s tireless NYC-based reporter, Jacob Kornbluh Member of AIPAC’s National Council and a Vice Chair of its New Leadership Network, board member of the Israel on Campus Coalition, former White House staffer, Alex Berger turns 34… Investment banker, previously US Ambassador to France (1997-2000), in the 1970s he was chairman of NYC’s Municipal Assistance Corporation which kept the city out of bankruptcy, Felix Rohatyn turns 89… Board member of the Colliers County chapter of the Florida ACLU and the Naples Florida Council on World Affairs, Maureen McCully “Mo” Winograd turns 71… Actor, composer, singer, songwriter and record producer, Danny Elfman turns 64… Television writer, producer and actor, best known as the creator of the sitcom “Arrested Development” as well as the co-creator of “The Ellen Show,” Mitchell Hurwitz turns 54… Ellen Ginsburg Beren turns 52… Economist on the faculty of the University of Chicago, co-author the best-selling books in the Freakonomics series, Steven Levitt turns 50…  CEO and Executive Editor of 70 Faces Media, the parent company of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Amiram “Ami” Eden turns 44… Fashion designer and the founder and creative director of the fashion label Shoshanna (launched in 1998), style director for Elizabeth Arden, Shoshanna Lonstein Gruss turns 42… New York State Policy Director for the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center, Jacob “Jake” Adler turns 31… Israeli-born baseball player and coach, now working in the Seattle Mariners’ player development program, he coached for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Alon Leichman turns 28… Paul Morton

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