Daily Kickoff: Trump is mad at the Israeli government…. Jules Trump that is | How Kushner got the UK to thwart the Obama admin | Wolf Blitzer BDay

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SPOTLIGHT: “Another Trump hopes Israel can make ammonia great again” by Shoshanna Solomon: “Trump is mad at the Israeli government. Not Donald Trump, the president of the United States. The other Trump — Jules Trump, a 73-year-old South African-born US citizen and real estate tycoon who holds a controlling stake in the Israeli fertilizer maker Haifa Chemicals. He is no relation to Donald, but the real estate tycoon who is now US commander-in-chief did sue the “other” Trump to stop him from using the name. “Trump never won,” Jules Trump said with a chuckle, sitting on the couch in a Tel Aviv hotel suite last week. “I still operate under the name Trump. Our relationship with him now is fine.” But, to get back to Israel, Jules Trump, who with his brother Eddie owns a controlling stake in Haifa Chemicals, has a huge problem.”

“An Israeli court has ordered that a huge ammonia tank on the bay be emptied by April 1 following concerns that damage to the storage facility could endanger the lives of tens of thousands of people in Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city. The tank stores the compound that Haifa Chemicals and others use in their production lines. Haifa Chemicals is the main consumer of the imported ammonia, which it uses to make potassium nitrate, a fertilizer used by farmers in Israel and globally to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables… Last year, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to target Haifa’s ammonia facilities with rockets in the next conflict with Israel… The report warned that if ruptured, the vast ammonia storage tank would suffocate 16,000 victims under a toxic cloud.” [ToI]

FIRST LOOK: “Jared Kushner Struck Out in His First Foray Into Middle East Diplomacy — But Trump’s son-in-law succeeded in coaxing the U.K., America’s closest ally, into thwarting the Obama administration” by Colum Lynch: “Shortly before the Dec. 23 vote on Israeli settlements… Kushner contacted Kim Darroch, Britain’s ambassador to the United States… to push back the vote on the resolution until after the inauguration… Britain rebuffed Kushner’s appeal… “He gave the Brits a tough time because of their vote on the settlements resolution,” said a senior Western diplomat. On Dec. 30, May delivered an extraordinary rebuke of Secretary Kerry… Kushner was said to be simmering over May’s remarks, which failed to fundamentally alter London’s views on the virtues of the settlements resolution. One diplomat suggested the statement may not have put enough daylight between Britain and the Obama administration. “Or maybe he’s just always angry,” the diplomat said.”

Trump’s advisors were alarmed by French plans to host a high-level Middle East meeting the next week in Paris, which would have reinforced international opposition to settlements. Johnson declined to go to Paris, sending a lower level British official in his place. British officials subsequently blocked the adoption of European Union statements in Brussels and the U.N. Security Council endorsing the Paris communique, which had reinforced international denunciation of Israel’s settlements.”

“Thomas Barrack Jr., a Lebanese-American fundraiser and advisor to Trump, praised Kushner’s role in trying to block the settlements resolution. His “instinct of sensing a moment in time in which this president might put his fingerprints on a peaceful solution to decades-old issues was timely and appropriate,” he said.” [ForeignPolicy]

Netanyahu: ‘Significant Progress’ in Talks With Trump Administration on Curbed Settlement Activity — by Barak Ravid: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesdayto journalists before he left China for Israel that there has been “significant progress” in recent talks between U.S. and Israeli negotiators in recent days regarding curbed settlement construction. Netanyahu noted that talks have not ended despite the recent progress, which he will be updated on upon his return.” [Haaretz] • Netanyahu: Building in East Jerusalem is non-negotiable [ToI]

HEARD YESTERDAY — State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Michael Ratney’s role in the peace process: “He is following this issue very closely from his perch in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. This is a team effort. We’re going to continue to look at the way forward and we’re analyzing. Much of what Mr. Greenblatt did in the region last week, as we’ve said, was geared towards listening to perspectives on both sides of this or on all sides of this issue and trying from that to find ways of commonality, common goals, and try to set the environment we believe is necessary to begin a peace process.”

“Defense Minister warns of EU diplomatic ‘assault’ against Israel by end of the year” by Dana Somberg: “[Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman] also made references to the relatively new American administration, saying Israel could ill-afford to disrupt relations with US President Donald Trump. “We do not have an option to quarrel with the Trump government … we had eight difficult years with [former US president Barack] Obama and now there is a Republican administration – the Senate, Congress and of course the White House lead by a sympathetic Republican president.” [JPost]

“Former Ambassador Dennis Ross: Trump will face Middle East test” by Michael Reschke: “Trump was highly critical of the Obama-era deal, but it seems clear he’s not planning to walk away from it. “That’s the smart thing to do,” Ross said… The focus should be on Iran and its bad behavior, Ross said, but if the U.S. pulls out, the focus would shift. “We become the issue,” he said.” [HeraldTimes]

“Trump’s secret plan against ISIS? A lot like Obama’s” by Aaron David Miller and Jason M. Brodsky: “On ISIS, President Trump is operating within the parameters set by his predecessor. Redux on the fact that the Trump White House has decided to retain President Obama’s special presidential envoy, Brett McGurk, so he will continue to be the point man for the US in countering ISIS. Now removing the caps on the number of US forces deployed to these battlefields is a change. Still, if reports are accurate, President Trump’s much-promised “secret plan” to defeat ISIS looks very similar to the Obama playbook, albeit with increased tempo.” [CNN]

“Calling On a Few Good Men” by Thomas Friedman: “Trump inherited a “daunting inbox” in foreign policy, but unfortunately “he is making it much worse,” said Richard Haass… Without an urgent course correction, added Haass, we could end up “not with America first, but with America alone. If you say and do nothing when the nation’s leader smears his predecessor — and then maintains his fantasy as fact — not only will he never have the credibility to call on any other country to uphold the highest standards for rule of law, democracy and human rights, but neither will all of you.” [NYTimes]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Carbon tax debate exposed rift among Trump’s aides” by Josh Dawsey, Annie Karni and Andrew Restuccia: “After Zeke Emanuel, one of the Affordable Care Act’s architects, came to the White House for a meeting with Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Monday, conservatives and some White House aides were displeased, including Bannon… The strategist skipped the meeting, even though other top White House officials attended. “Why would he be in here?” one adviser said of Emanuel. “We are trying to pass a new law, not promote theirs.” “That is why the Hill thinks Cohn is not conducive to getting any legislation passed,” one White House official said, when asked about the meeting, accusing Cohn of orchestrating the meeting.” [Politico

“Why Letting Go, for Trump, Is No Small or Simple Task” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “One of the only other people whom Mr. Trump views as a peer is his top economic adviser, Gary Cohn… In a recent meeting in the Oval Office, Mr. Cohn was speaking when Mr. Trump interrupted him. “Let me finish,’’ Mr. Cohn interjected, according to a person with knowledge of the interaction. Mr. Trump, unaccustomed to ceding the floor, let him make his point.” [NYTimes

“As Ivanka Trump’s White House role expands, her company is sued for unfair competition” by Matea Gold: “Norman Eisen, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama, said he expects other such suits to crop up. “None of them is a layup, but I do think the courts are going to take them seriously,” he said, adding, “I do believe that the Trump family businesses are engaged in unfair competition. The ways in which the whole Trump family uses the White House and the presidency as the world’s greatest infomercial does strike me as unfair.”” [WashPost] • How first daughter Ivanka Trump’s role at the White House has grown [ABCNews]

Maggie Haberman:“Apparently the office Ivanka is taking has been held aside for her since Trump took office, per two people briefed.” [Twitter

“Trump pushes policy on Alan Dershowitz during Mar-a-Lago visit” by Oli Coleman: “When Trump arrived, “He walked over to us and he started schmoozing,” Dershowitz said. “He said, ‘If I can get you to vote for me in 2020, that’ll be the real accomplishment because you’ve probably never voted for a Republican.’ It’ll be very uphill, but I have an open mind.” … Trump returned to the table soon after. “He picked the subjects. I didn’t have an agenda, but he had an agenda,” Dershowitz said. “He said, ‘I want to talk about this, this and that,’ and talked about six subjects or something,” including the travel ban, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Israel, “wiretaps” and “leaks.”” [NYPost]

IRAN DEAL — White House Adviser Says Will Honor Iran Nuclear Deal, Ensure Iran Complies: “Christopher Ford, the White House National Security Council’s senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, told a conference in Washington on March 21 that the U.S. administration accepted the deal despite repeated criticism by Trump. “Until otherwise decided, the United States will adhere to the Iran nuclear deal and ensure that Iran also does,” Ford told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.” [RFE]  Trump administration to review goal of world without nuclear weapons: aide [Reuters

TEHRAN WATCH: “Rouhani, the Deceiver” by John Hannah and Saeed Ghasseminejad: “For the Trump administration, that means at a minimum taking action to demonstrate to the Islamic Republic’s two most powerful political actors, the Supreme Leader and the IRGC, that their Rouhani ruse is up. His diplomatic fan dance has effectively shielded their expanding aggression from renewed Western political, economic, and military pressure. The Trump team should make clear that that game is now over.” [FP]

“Family of C.I.A. Consultant Sues Iran Over His Disappearance” by Barry Meier: “The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in Washington on behalf of the wife of the missing man, Robert A. Levinson, and their seven children. The action is seeking unspecified damages from Iran for its alleged role in, among other things, inflicting emotional distress on the family of Mr. Levinson.” [NYTimes

ON THE HILL — Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican who has already voted against one Trump nominee, told Jewish Insider yesterday that she is “inclined to support” David Friedman to be US Ambassador to Israel. In a brief interview on Tuesday, Collins explained, “I called Joe (Lieberman) to find out his views and he (Lieberman) speaks very highly of him (Friedman). That certainly is a good endorsement… I’m inclined to support him.” [JewishInsider]

“Evoking Holocaust, Lawmakers Demand ‘Never Again’ for Syria” — by JI’s Aaron Magid: When displaying the photos of “Caesar” — the codename of a Syrian military defector who smuggled out of the country over 28,000 images of torture and death in Assad prisons — Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee explained, “When you see the images of the Holocaust in the 1940s and the images of Syria in the 21st century, one can just get chilled to think that what has humanity learned all these years? We used to think things couldn’t happen here or any place else and now we see, we were really wrong.”

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (D-CA) recalled his father who took photos of the Dachau Concentration Camp after it was liberated in 1945. “When high school students would hear his lecture, they would ask why was the world so asleep to Hitler’s concentration camps? He would explain there was very little visual evidence at that time until those camps were liberated,” the California lawmaker noted. “That’s why he (Caeser) ran that risk so that the visual evidence would be right here in front of us. So, what is our excuse?” [JewishInsider]

“GOP Takes Up Russia-Aligned Attack On Soros” by Isaac Arnsdorf, Andrew Hanna and Kenneth Vogel: “So far, the Republican lobbying against Soros’s efforts in Macedonia has not resulted in much. But the involvement of several high-profile Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, is raising eyebrows within the U.S. foreign policy community, who see the baleful influence of Moscow making inroads on Capitol Hill… Russia’s state-controlled English-language websites rushed to trumpet [Sen. Mike] Lee’s and [Rep. Chris] Smith’s letters, holding them up as proof that the U.S. is guilty of exactly what it accuses Russia of doing in 2016 — interfering in another country’s politics.” [Politico]

“Democratic Donors Gather in D.C. to Plot the Resistance” by Lachlan Marka: “Donors in attendance will include Michael Vachon, a top aide to billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros; health care technology mogul Paul Egerman; Dallas philanthropist Naomi Aberly; Susan Sandler, the daughter of subprime mortgage pioneer Herb Sandler; and Ian Simmons, the husband of Hyatt hotel fortune heiress Liesel Pritzker Simmons.” [DailyBeast]

“George Soros-aligned group weighs funding anti-Trump activists” by Fredreka Schouten: “Ezra Levin, a former congressional aide who helped start Indivisible with his wife, Leah Greenberg, and other ex-Capitol Hill staffers, said the group is “is very much led on the ground” by activists who are determined to take action against Trump and is not under the sway of any one donor or group. Levin said the group has received more than 10,000 donations totaling more than $500,000 since last January through ActBlue… “We’re certainly not looking for anybody to own it by providing like some kind of enormous amount,” he said. “That’s not our model.”” [USAToday]

SPECIAL ELECTION WATCH: “Ossoff aims for knockout blow in Georgia special election ” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein: “Democrat Jon Ossoff has transformed the race for suburban Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District, and his soaring donations and groundswell of support from energized Democrats have fast painted a shiny target on his back as he scrambles to flip Tom Price’s ruby-red turf. Just about every candidate in the crowded April 18 special election to represent the district, which spans from east Cobb County to north DeKalb County, has assailed the 30-year-old former congressional aide. And Republicans determined to keep a GOP stronghold are readying more attacks. But even Ossoff’s Republican adversaries marvel about his campaign’s field operations and the more than $3 million he’s raised in 10 weeks – and worry about their own fractured field of 11 GOP candidates battling each other for their own slice of the electorate.” [AJC] h/t Playbook

Background: “Ossoff is indeed a white guy, though he is not from Scotland. His father is a Jew of Russian-Lithuanian descent who owns a specialist publishing company, and his mother is an Australian immigrant and management consultant who co-founded a nonprofit aimed at electing women—of either party—to political office in Georgia. “Our name was probably truncated at Ellis Island,” Ossoff told me. “From something like Ossoffsky.” [NewYorker] • Campaign ad: ‘Jon Ossoff: The Truth Strikes Back’ [McClatchyDC

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Intel now employs 10,000 people in Israel [Bloomberg] • Patrick Drahi’s Altice snaps up advertising platform Teads [FT] • How Jessica Lessin used her reporting chops to build The Information [Digiday] • Nazarian family sells Century penthouse for $15.2M [TRD] • Hedge fund Millennium hires portfolio manager from Steve Cohen’s firm [Reuters]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Jared Kushner’s White House Role Complicates Skyscraper Deal” by Peter Grant: “After reports of the talks surfaced last week, Anbang said in statement that they weren’t correct. The company… might decide whether or not to stay or go as early as this week, people familiar with the matter said. “Contrary to recent reports, Anbang has no investment in 666 Fifth Avenue,” said an Anbang spokesman in an email. “Any suggestion that Anbang has signed a contract or made any kind of financial commitment is inaccurate.” A collapse of the Anbang talks, which began last July, wouldn’t necessarily doom the elder Mr. Kushner’s dream. Mr. Kushner believes he could raise the necessary equity from investors other than Anbang, according to people involved with negotiations.” [WSJ

“Guardian Ditches Move To Kushner Building After Newsroom Revolt” by Steven Perlberg: “The plan to move rankled The Guardian’s reporters, who feared their sources might not have full confidence that they could communicate securely with journalists in the new office. Reporters wondered openly whether the next Edward Snowden would feel safe leaking to The Guardian if it was headquartered in a building linked to the president’s son-in-law, according to one source… A spokesperson for Guardian US said that the company changed plans when it learned of Kushner’s ties to the building.” [BuzzFeed]

“Magerman: How ‘instant billionaires’ threaten America” by Joseph N. DiStefano: “David Magerman, the Penn Valley computer scientist, was suspended from hedge fund Renaissance Technologies after challenging co-CEO Robert Mercer’s patronage of Breitbart News, Donald Trump, and Breitbart boss-turned-Trump adviser Steve Bannon… His status at the firm remains unresolved. I asked Magerman about what he calls the “Instant Billionaire” phenomenon — the role people with big fortunes like his Renaissance bosses play in shaping America… Magerman: “Imagine Bill Gates (Microsoft’s founder, now a philanthropist) running the government. He’s done very healthy things with his money. Solving health problems in Africa. Addressing water pollution. I think that’s an unusual success story. But what if I don’t like democracy — I’ll go out and buy authoritarianism? That’s not a good thing… A lot of this kind of wealth can go to very idiosyncratic projects. And not necessarily be good. When you are that wealthy, you can make a platform to drown out everyone else’s voice.”” [Philly

“The original plan for the Mall of America was bananas” by Tracy Mumford: “As MPR News reporter Stephen Smith detailed at the time, the plans called for a 12-story roller coaster… landscaped gardens, an 18-hole golf course, an ice rink, night clubs, theaters and a giant indoor lake filled with exotic sea life that you could tour in a submarine. According to Nader Ghermezian, one of the family members behind the Triple Five Corporation, it would be the world’s largest indoor lake. At 360 feet wide, with six-foot-high waves, visitors would be able to surf and water ski on it. “Can you imagine, in January, you walk out of your house and you come and do surfing? This is what we’re proposing for you today,” Ghermezian said in 1985.” [MPR

RICH FAMILY LAUNCHES GOFUNDME EFFORT — The family of Seth Rich, a DNC staffer whose July murder remains unsolved, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise money to continue efforts to solve the case. The family is seeking $200,000 it says to “give the family independence in helping to direct the investigation as a direct response to ongoing conspiracy theories and a lack of credible evidence that has surfaced in the case.” [Gofundme]

“Lawyer for Family of Sergei Magnitsky, Dead Russian Whistle-Blower, Is Seriously Injured” by Andrew Higgins: “Russian news organizations said the lawyer, Nikolai Gorokhov, fell while helping movers carry a hot tub up to his fourth-floor apartment… The financier, William F. Browder, said Mr. Gorokhov was to appear in a Moscow court on Wednesday to appeal on behalf of Mr. Magnitsky’s mother for an investigation into new evidence relating to the fraud scheme first exposed by Mr. Magnitsky.” [NYTimes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Rolling Stone Turns 50…. and Bucks Print Media Trends to Become Debt Free” by RealClear Life: “According to Bloomberg, the magazine will finally be debt-free for the first time in the last decade, after parent company Wenner Media’s recent sale of Us Weekly for $100 million… Also, the company has its sights set on the future with 26-year-old Gus Wenner, founder/publisher Jann Wenner’s son, heading up Rolling Stone digital. Though largely inexperienced in the ways of media, some in the company see him as just what the company needs to reach a new, lucrative millennial audience. “ [RCL]

“NY Times’ Maggie Haberman on Secret to Covering Trump White House: Her Tabloid Experience” by Brian Flood: ““In terms of covering him over the last two years, I mean, I knew him,” Haberman said. “One of the things that I think is very important to the president is a sense of a familiar… I do think the fact that he knows me from a previous life has helped in terms of an ongoing relationship with him.” … Haberman’s father, Clyde Haberman, was a longtime New York Times reporter, often stationed overseas and away for most of her childhood. However, a career in journalism wasn’t among the topics of conversation when Haberman traveled to visit him abroad… Haberman was interested in writing, but wanted to land at a magazine as opposed to following in her father’s footsteps. After failing to find exactly what she was looking for, Haberman started her professional career at the New York Post in 1996 and never looked back… “I think he is very proud of me,” she said.” [TheWrap]

“Met Opera Auditions Yield a Young Star: Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen” by Zachary Woolfe: “At just 23, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, a baby-faced countertenor from Brooklyn, already possesses a remarkable gift for intimate communication in a vast hall, combined with a voice of velvety gentleness — surprisingly penetrating given the tenderness of its texture — and a taste for adventure. In a competition that hews toward the standards, Mr. Cohen chose a harrowing aria from Jonathan Dove’s 1998 opera “Flight,” based on the true story of an Iranian refugee stranded for years in a Paris airport. While most young performers in the National Council Auditions concentrate simply on nailing their high notes, Mr. Cohen — his diction superb, his acting alert without overplaying — provided an eloquent reflection on a current international crisis.” [NYTimes]  

BIRTHDAYS: CNN’s lead anchor, and longtime JI reader, Wolf Blitzer turns 69… Professor emeritus of education and humanities at the University of Virginia and founder and chairman of the Core Knowledge Foundation, E.D. Hirsch turns 89… Mad Magazine’s caricaturist for over 50 years, Mort Drucker turns 88… Composer and lyricist, winner of eight Tony Awards, eight Grammy Awards, an Academy Award and a Pulitzer Prize, Stephen Sondheim turns 87… Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, William Shatner turns 86… Born in Iran, came to the US as a teen, elected to the Beverly Hills city council in 2003, elected Mayor of Beverly Hills in 2007 and 2010 (each time for a one-year term), Jamshid “Jimmy” Delshad turns 77… Dentist, born in Tel Aviv, raised in NYC and practicing in Norwalk, CT, Murray Bruckel, DDS turns 72… Academy Award-winning screenwriter, his work includes “Forrest Gump” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” Eric Roth turns 72… Israeli viola player and teacher, she has performed as soloist with many orchestras world-wide, Rivka Golani turns 71…

Manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund (1992-1996) then started his own highly successful hedge fund, current owner of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning and arena football’s Tampa Bay Storm, Jeffrey N. Vinik turns 58… Popular musical entertainer in the Orthodox Jewish community, Avraham Shabsi Friedman, better known by his stage name, Avraham Fried turns 58… Former corporate secretary, EVP and general counsel at Hertz Corporation until 12-2014, J. Jeffrey Zimmerman turns 58… Senior director for CEO Communications at PepsiCo, former Obama speechwriter (2009-2011), a Fulbright scholar who earned an M.A. at the London School of Economics, Adam Perecman Frankel turns 36… Creator and director of the Yehi Ohr program at Jewish Community Services of South Florida, Zisa Levin… MLB first baseman now in the LA Dodgers organization, has played for the Mets, Pirates, Athletics and Yankees, he starred for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Isaac Benjamin “Ike” Davis turns 30… NYC correspondent for Haaretz, contributing editor of The Forward and author, Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Managing director of Mercury Public Affairs focused on government relations, public affairs and politics in NYC, Jonathan Greenspun… Editor of the English language edition of Haaretz, Charlotte Hallé… CEO of BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre), previously spokesman for the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, James Sorene… Brooklyn, NY resident who is a general assignment reporter for DNAinfo, Ben Fractenberg… News reporter and editor at The Daily Signal, a publication of The Heritage Foundation, where he covers foreign policy, immigration and criminal justice issues, Josh Siegel… EVP of public affairs at the Federation of American Hospitals, representing the investor-owned hospital industry, Jeff E. Cohen (h/ts Playbook)… Beatrice Stein… Mike Orkin

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]




Daily Kickoff: Congress crafting Iran sanctions for AIPAC week | Israelis grumble about US official | Ivanka joins West Wing | Rabbi Lookstein BDay

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TOP TALKER: “Billionaire-Backed Jewish Settlement Emerges as New Battleground” by Jonathan Ferziger: “As U.S. policy frowned on settlement construction, money kept flowing to Beit El from billionaires abroad. Among the top contributors are American Eagle Outfitters Inc. Chief Executive Jay Schottenstein, Duty-Free Americas Inc. President Leon Falic, Jordache Jeans founder Joe Nakash and Renco Metals Inc.’s Ira Rennert… Inside the settlement, [David] Friedman’s name is everywhere, starting in the study hall where a brass plaque identifies his father, Rabbi Morris Friedman, as one of the founding trustees. Then there is the Rabbi Morris Friedman Center for Computer Sciences, the Friedman Faculty House and the Friedman fitness center at the settlement’s pre-army academy… Ultimately, said Gilead Sher, a former Israeli peace negotiator, the settlers in Beit El are likely be disappointed in Trump who will “bow to reality” and work toward a two-state solution that keeps Israel and the Palestinians from hurting each other. “We’re looking for a divorce, not a real estate deal,” he said.” [Bloomberg

“Top Palestinian official: Trump committed to two states” by Aron Heller: “Jibril Rajoub told foreign reporters that President Donald Trump made clear to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a recent phone call that he was his “strategic partner” in making a “real and serious” peace between Israelis and Palestinians… Rajoub, a former West Bank security chief, said Trump’s “America First” slogan also indicated that he would be less prone to supporting Israel by default. “I have to understand that it means he is not in the pocket,” he said.” [AP

REPORT — Israeli officials have increased their criticism of Yael Lempert who accompanied Trump advisor Jason Greenblatt on his visit to Israel — by Ariel Kahana: “According to Israeli sources, Lempert “strained the atmosphere.” Diplomatic sources revealed that Lampert tried to prevent a meeting between Greenblatt and the heads of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, and only counter-pressure from Netanyahu’s office eventually led to Greenblatt holding the meeting. They added that it was evident that Greenblatt himself had come to listen, as he has said in public, but Lempert’s influence was on display, and not in a positive way.”

“Among other things, Greenblatt repeated statements that were heard many times during the Obama administration – that Israel is the stronger side in the conflict and therefore there are expected to first take conciliatory measures towards the Palestinian Authority. Israel concluded that this argument, and the human rights issues raised by Greenblatt, echoed similar comments made in the past by Lempert, who holds similar views to those of J Street.” [NRG-Hebrew; Twitter]

–Worth Noting: Sheldon Adelson purchased the NRG website in 2014 for 17 million shekels ($4.86 million).

“The Liquidator From Washington Comes Calling on Netanyahu” by Aluf Benn: “Into this morass stepped Trump, with his demand for a settlement freeze and renewed negotiations with the Palestinians about a “deal.” Netanyahu can’t stave off the current president with the help of Congress the way he did with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama; he is totally dependent on Trump. Thus he would rather avoid conflict with the White House and risk elections, after which he can form a coalition that would be less confrontational toward Trump.” [Haaretz

KAFE KNESSET — The Crisis Is Still On — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Political crises in Israel tend to be hectic and chaotic, but they usually last somewhere between 24 and 48 hours. The current coalition crisis over the Israeli Broadcasting Authority vs. the Israeli Broadcast Corporation is now entering its fourth day. The crisis is not likely to be resolved until Thursday when Netanyahu returns from his visit to China… In Israel, Netanyahu’s surrogates – Likud minister Yariv Levin, who’s filling in as Prime Minister in Netanyahu’s absence, and Shlomo “Momo” Filber, director of the Communication Ministry – are attempting to bridge the differences between Netanyahu and Finance Minister Kahlon, but in Beijing, so far, it appears there is no room for compromise. Levin and Filber are trying to work out a creative solution that would merge the IBC and the existing IBA – whatever it takes to bring the sides closer.

The Geula factor: The IBC crisis, by the way, already has a new name – “the Geula Crisis” – named for the chief anchor on the new channel, Geula Even. Even’s appointment was announced yesterday, in the midst of the mediation attempts. Yedioth Aharanoth coined the term Geula Crisis this morning with a widespread front-page headline and photo of Even. Even, aside from being a gifted and talented journalist also happens to be married to Netanyahu’s rival, former Likud minister Gideon Saar, considered one of the biggest enemies on Balfour Street. The appointment is widely considered one of the reasons Netanyahu’s aides dismissed reports about a settlement last night, and clarified that Bibi still insists that the IBC will not go on the air. But Kahlon also didn’t like the timing of the announcement, and is fuming at IBC directors for breaking the news while he is trying to save the channel. So the only way out of this mess seems to be a one-on-one meeting between Netanyahu and Kahlon and that cannot even occur for a few more days.

A source close to Netanyahu tells Kafe Knesset: “All the mediators running around right now are just the prelude. Bibi and Moshe have to settle this between themselves.”

A senior minister summed up the political game: “Netanyahu and Kahlon are in a zero sum game right now. One of them will end this crisis as a loser, because the IBC will either go on air, or not. If Kahlon caves he will lose all credibility and will be the joke of the Knesset. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has climbed up a very high tree – so this is basically a game of chicken.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Congress races to craft Iran sanctions bills ahead of AIPAC conference” by Julian Pecquet: “Rep. Eliott Engel, D-N.Y., told Al-Monitor last week he has “confidence” he can hammer something out with Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif. “We’re still negotiating it, and like everything I do with the chairman I’m hopeful we’ll have a meeting of the minds,” Engel said… Meanwhile in the Senate, Democrats have yet to coalesce around a single vision that can get the backing of Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn. The top Democrat on the panel, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., is insisting that any sanctions bill preserve President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement, while his more hawkish colleague Robert Menendez, D-N.J., is publicly signaling that he’s ready to make the necessary concessions to get a deal done… The internal congressional politics have left AIPAC lobbyists discreetly pushing both parties to compromise and avoid a repeat of the highly partisan Iran deal debate of 2015.” [Al-Monitor

Trump once again criticized the Iran nuclear deal — by AP’s Vivian Salama and Robert Burns: “In brief remarks in the presence of reporters during al-Abadi’s White House visit, Trump raised his frequently stated objections to the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor… “One of the things I did ask is, ‘Why did President Obama sign that agreement with Iran?’ because nobody has been able to figure that one out,” Trump said. “But maybe someday we’ll be able to figure that one out.”” [AP

“Backing UN moves and Iran deal, China shows Netanyahu it’s not (only) about the money” by Raphael Ahren: “Premier Li has expressed that China does not have its own interest in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. We’d like to see the issue properly solved in line with the UN resolution and international consensus,” Deng Li, the director-general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Department of West Asian and North African Affairs, told reporters… Deng said that the two premiers also discussed the Iran nuclear deal… “China’s position has always been clear. That is, we need to strictly implement the JCPOA,” he said… “And the starting point of this implementation is to safeguard the nonproliferation system and world peace. Also, the JCPOA will be very conducive for regional and international peace.” [ToI

“Israel, U.S. Trying to Persuade Western Countries to Oppose Five anti-Israel UN Resolutions” by Barak Ravid: “Israel contacted the Trump administration and asked to coordinate activity in Geneva and other capitals around the world against the resolutions. A request to this effect was also transferred to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who undertook to help. Israel’s permanent envoy to the UN and other international institutions in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, has been working in recent days with American representatives to influence Germany, Britain and other countries, hoping to persuade them to oppose the resolutions or abstain.” [Haaretz]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Ivanka Trump set to get West Wing office as role expands” by Annie Karni: “The powerful first daughter has secured her own office on the West Wing’s second floor — a space next to senior adviser Dina Powell, who was recently promoted to a position on the National Security Council. She is also in the process of obtaining a security clearance, and is set to receive government-issued communications devices this week… except she is not being sworn in, will hold no official position, and is not pocketing a salary, her attorney said. Ivanka Trump’s role, according to her attorney Jamie Gorelick, will be to serve as the president’s “eyes and ears” while providing broad-ranging advice.” [Politico

“Despite a Trust, Ivanka Trump Still Wields Power Over Her Brand” by Rachel Abrams: “Even if Ms. Trump is trying to tread carefully, her trust raises questions about how effectively a voluntary arrangement can minimize conflicts, said Norman L. Eisen, the chief White House ethics adviser under President Barack Obama. “There’s no enforcement,” he said. “If this is voluntary, what if she voluntarily decides not to do it?” … Mr. Eisen praised the appointment of Ms. [Jamie] Gorelick as an ethics adviser… “Whatever questions I and others may have about the arrangement,” Mr. Eisen said, “I think it speaks well of Ivanka and of the process that has been set up to manage the conflicts that the trustees’ monitor is one of the most prominent Democratic lawyers in the country.”” [NYTimes

“Ivanka Trump enjoys some mother-daughter time on the slopes in Aspen” by Chris Spargo: “Ivanka and the children could not leave until after sundown on Saturday as the family observes Shabbat.” [DailyMail

Another Trump MOT… “Eric and Lara Trump Expecting Their First Baby” by Gilliam Telling: “Eric Trump and his wife Lara are expecting their first child this September—and they’re having a boy… The couple, who dated for six years before marrying at Mar-A-Lago in 2014, note that their pregnancy was starting to become a hard secret to contain: “Eric’s dad was so excited,” says Lara, “that we were worried he’d blurt it out at a press conference.”” [People

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Gas Talks With Turkey May Wrap Up in Summer, Says Israel Energy Minister [Bloomberg] • For Every Mobileye, 600 Israeli Start-ups Crash [Haaretz] • Is there a new wave of Ponzi schemes coming? There’s a possibility [MiamiHerald] • Israel’s tallest planned building approved [Globes]

MEDIA WATCH: “Tech’s Biggest Consumer Is Not Who You Think It Is” by Jessica Abo: “Does the thought of using tech for your business want to make you swipe left? Jessica Naziri, the CEO and founder of TechSesh wants to change that. When the former Los Angeles Times technology reporter started covering tech for her job, she discovered most of the people reviewing gadgets designed for women were men. Named as one of the most influential women in technology, the former journalist turned entrepreneur is empowering women in technical fields. Her reviews give women a voice in an industry that needs to know “pink is not a strategy.”” [Entrepreneur]

“Good Schools Aren’t the Secret to Israel’s High-Tech Boom” by Naftali Bennett: “Unlike quiet Western libraries, the Jewish beit midrash—house of study—is a buzzing beehive of learning. Since the Talmud is one of the most complex legal codes ever gathered, the idea of a verdict is almost irrelevant to those studying. Students engage in debate for the sake of debate. They analyze issues from all directions, finding different solutions. Multiple answers to a single question are common. Like the Talmud itself—which isn’t the written law but a gathering of protocols—the learning process, not the result, is valued.” [WSJ

“Tim Samuels’ Sleepover: Inside the Israeli Hospital” by BBC Radio 4: “On the children’s ward, a mother who has brought her son for treatment describes how her trip to Israel must remain a secret – or she fears she could be killed when they return. On the Syrian border, Tim sees two badly wounded fighters smuggled into Israel by the IDF as they are rushed to Ziv for emergency attention. In the hospital – staffed by Jewish, Muslim and Druze medics – the doctors talk about the psychological toll of treating the war wounded. A hospital social worker describes waking up repeatedly through the night at home to check that his young son wasn’t injured. The doctors at Ziv say they hope their work is at least a sliver of humanity in a dark region.” [BBC]

TRANSITIONS — Rabbi David Saperstein Joins URJ and RAC as Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy: “President Rabbi Rick Jacobs announced today that Rabbi David Saperstein will return to the URJ senior staff as Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy. He will assume this new position as of April 1, 2017.”

Josh Lipsky, an Obama White House and State Department alum, is heading to the International Monetary Fund, where he will serve as speechwriter and advisor to IMF chief Christine Lagarde. In January, Lipsky finished a tour at State working as special advisor to Rick Stengel, who was under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. h/t Playbook

“Trump immigration lawyer on travel ban: ‘What happens to Muslims can happen to Jews'” by Danielle Ziri: “As an observant Jew, [Michael] Wildes added he believes the Jewish community has a responsibility to stand up for marginalized people. “We are historically people of the passport and we need to make sure that we get this right,” he told the Post. “What happens to a Muslim can happen to a Jew and we have to take our responsibility to our biblical cousins very seriously.” Michael Wildes’ brother, Rabbi Mark Wildes added that the travel ban is “complicated from a religious perspective.”” [JPost]

“This Jewish Photographer Documented a Nazi-Controlled Ghetto” by Clyde Haberman: “More than 200 of his photos, along with dozens of related objects are part of an exhibition, “Memory Unearthed: The Lodz ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross,” that will open March 25 at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston… Not all of his images were grim. There are pictures of birthday parties, of a young woman smiling in a garden, of a little girl on a swing, of a couple kissing… Still, some things are eternal. One photo in the exhibition is particularly striking. It is also, appropriately, the last image in a book of Mr. Ross’s work that the Ontario gallery published with Yale University Press in 2015. It shows a man standing atop the rubble of a destroyed synagogue in Lodz. He is carrying a Torah scroll that he had managed to save from the ruins.” [NYTimes]

“Israel’s Rich Culinary Legacy Revealed in a New Film” by Front Burner: “In the new feature-length documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” the chef Michael Solomonov travels from one end of Israel to the other sampling food and talking to cooks in a narrative style reminiscent of Anthony Bourdain. After watching this film, one has to conclude that with more than 100 nationalities living within the country’s borders, an Israeli cuisine resists easy definition… While exploring the food mosaic, the film also points out the simmering tension between Arabic and Israeli cooking. Who can claim ownership of falafel, shakshuka or chopped salad?” [NYTimes

“How to make the best Israeli pita bread: ingredients, method and tips” by Samantha Gross: “There are lots of Middle Eastern restaurants in the capital, but for Israeli-born chef Eran Tibi, none of them the embodied the cuisine of his homeland. Earlier this year, Tibi brought his version of Tel Aviv-style eating to London, when he opened Bala Baya in Southwark. “London is the perfect blend of cultures where people are curious, adventurous and expect excellence,” he says. “It’s a fantastic way to challenge myself and the team.” [EveningStandard]

BIRTHDAYS: Yale Law School graduate in 1954, who in 1978 became the first woman appointed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, Ellen Ash Peters turns 87… Rabbi emeritus of Manhattan’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun (active 1958-2015) and principal of the Ramaz School (1966-2015), Rabbi Haskel Lookstein turns 85… Co-founder of Wynnefield Capital Management, on the Board of Directors of S.A.R. Academy in Riverdale, NY, Joshua H. Landes turns 55… Harvard professor, biochemist, physicist, molecular biology pioneer and winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Walter Gilbert turns 85… Scholar of Jewish mysticism and founding dean of the non-denominational rabbinical program at the Hebrew College in Boston where he still teaches, Arthur Green turns 76… First Jewish member of the US House of Representatives from New Hampshire (2007-2011), later on the boards of the ADL and NJDC, Paul Hodes turns 66… Acting Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, previously Israel’s ambassador to Australia, Yuval Rotem turns 58…

Award-winning film, stage and television actor and singer whose roles include the title role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and the adult voice of Simba in Disney’s The Lion King trilogy, Matthew Broderick turns 55… Hedge fund manager, philanthropist and chairman of the board of the New York City Opera, Roy Niederhoffer turns 51… Senior editor of the National Review, syndicated columnist, author and commentator, Jonah Jacob Goldberg turns 48… James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef from Miami who is known for her culinary skills as an expert in Latin-style flavors of cooking, Michelle Bernstein turns 47… Digital marketing guru and president and founder of Bully Pulpit Interactive, Andrew Bleeker turns 32… Student activist at Miami University of Ohio, worked in the Office of Community Engagement at the Democratic National Committee, Addison Caruso turns 21… Samuel Gross

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Daily Kickoff: Bibi sends Chief of Staff Yoav Horowitz to DC | Elliott Abrams on Dina Powell | Saban’s Star | Schottenstein bids for Maccabi Tel Aviv

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DRIVING THE WEEK: “He believed in ‘Power Rangers’ when nobody else did, and it turned him into a billionaire” by Meg James: “For Saban, the Power Rangers have long been his trusty sidekicks, catapulting him into the Hollywood limelight. To coincide with the movie premiere, the Israeli American mogul on Wednesday will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — another notch in his noisy and kinetic career. A shrewd deal maker, Saban has parlayed audacious bets into vast wealth and political influence. Forbes estimates his worth at $3 billion. His empire includes interests in real estate, apps and online games, an Israeli phone company, Asian TV channels and an ownership interest in the struggling Spanish-language media company Univision Communications…”

“Many people underestimate him,” said fellow mogul Peter Chernin, the former Fox president who now runs his own entertainment firm. “But if you look at his career, Haim [Saban] has been at the forefront of where big trends and opportunities are heading.” … Since the election, he has been busy forging a new relationship — with Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President Trump who has a prominent role in the White House, helping steer foreign policy… “At first I thought, maybe it was a mistake, a kind of Oscar-snafu where they give the prize to the wrong person,” Saban said. “I consider myself a cartoon schlepper, and for a cartoon they gave me a star. I’m humbled and grateful.” [LATimes]

–Flashback: Connie Bruck profiled Saban in the New Yorker in 2010 — “The Influencer: An entertainment mogul sets his sights on foreign policy” [NewYorker]

JUST IN: “US boycotts UN rights council debate on Israel, Palestinians” by The Associated Press: “The State Department says the United States is boycotting a session at the U.N. Human Rights Council that focuses on Palestine and other Arab occupied territories, saying it is biased against Israel. State Department spokesman Mark Toner in a statement took aim at a recurring agenda item at the council, which focuses on Israel and the Palestinian territories — the only one of its kind to focus on a single country at every HRC session… Toner also said the United States would vote against every resolution that might be put forward under the agenda item.” [AP]

TEHRAN WATCH: “Here’s one country where hard-liners might not be poised for election success: Iran” by Shashank Bengali and Rabin Mostaghim: “Iran’s conservatives have been vocal in their criticism of President Hassan Rouhani, dismissing his outreach to the West as naive and the nuclear deal he championed as an economic failure. But when it comes to challenging the moderate Rouhani for reelection in May, the hard-liners, who oppose expanding political and social freedoms, are struggling to agree on a message or candidate.” [LATimes] • Trump Policy Uncertainty Clouds Iranian-Americans’ Investment Plans [Bloomberg]

INBOX …in response to the Jewish leader who told us last Thursday: “This [Dina Powell appointment] is the worst. She was responsible for the money that was supposed to go to Iranian dissidents and she gave it to NIAC (National Iranian American Council), which is one of the worst of the worst groups. The Deputy NSA is not a minor position.”

Elliott Abrams, who served as deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration, emails us… “The line (or accusation) “she gave it to NIAC” is false. In 2007 the National Endowment for Democracy gave a grant to NIAC. I have checked carefully, and neither State nor Dina had anything to do with that grant. No one at State recalls any State grant to NIAC, not from any part of State under Dina nor from any part of State at all. So your informant has almost certainly — and erroneously — attributed the NED grant to State and to Dina. My memory is that all of us in the Bush administration, including Dina, had a dim view of NIAC and would not have given it a dime. We at the NSC worked closely with Dina and would have consulted on such a proposal—and rejected it.”

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — Trump Fails to ‘Shoot Iran’s Little Boats Out of the Water’ — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Speaking at a crowded campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida last September, then Republican nominee Donald Trump issued a stern threat to Tehran. Responding to a recent incident where Iranian ships harassed a US navy patrol, Trump warned, “With Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures — that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water.” Only months into Trump’s presidency, Iran has continued its provocative actions, south of the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard ships were not “shot out of the water.”

Jonathan Schanzer, VP for Research at the Foundations for the Defense of Democracies: “What we are looking at is an evolving Iran policy… We’ve certainly seen tougher rhetoric and an inclination to use sanctions, but I don’t think a policy has fully taken shape yet… We have seen a President who is rather committed in following through on his campaign promises. This, I think, has been a point of pride for this Administration. I wouldn’t discount the possibility of a US challenge to the Iranians in this regard… The context of [Mike] Flynn putting Iran on notice and reportedly having a very robust policy regarding Iran and then his exit shouldn’t be ignored. It’s not to say that there isn’t continuity between Flynn and McMaster but some of this still remains to be seen.”

JINSA’s Michael Makovsky: “That is the difference between campaigning and governing. I think he’s right what he said and it’s very important that we do such things and signal the Iranians that there is a new sheriff in town. I just don’t think they are ready yet to embark on such a policy… The key is if they harass our ships, we have to sink them. He’s (Trump) right. We can’t look like we’re afraid of a confrontation. On the contrary, we need to show that we are not afraid and we are fully prepared for one. If the Iranians misbehave, then we’re going to push back.” Read in full here [JewishInsider

HEARD YESTERDAY — The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg on CBS’s Face The Nation: “On matters of life and death, I’m not confident yet that these guys can handle a crisis, because, remember, nothing really has happened yet in the Trump administration. There’s been no terror attacks, nothing of North Korean magnitude.” [Mediaite]

“Trump’s foreign policy doctrine: Escalate to de-escalate” by Josh Rogin: “Trump may want to escalate in certain areas to force a negotiation where actors might not be interested or willing to negotiate otherwise.” [WashPost] • While Trump talks tough, US quietly cutting nuclear force [AP]

WAR ROOM: “In One Rocky Week, Trump’s Self-Inflicted Chaos on Vivid Display” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Maggie Haberman: “The public outbursts are mirrored by internal tensions… A new realignment has emerged in a West Wing already rived by suspicion and intrigue. Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs executive who serves as the president’s top economic policy adviser and who is decidedly more liberal than the rest of Mr. Trump’s inner circle, is on the rise, and has the ear of the president’s powerful son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Kushner also gained an ally on the National Security Council with the appointment of Dina Powell… as a deputy for strategy.” [NYTimes

“Inside Trump’s White House, New York moderates spark infighting and suspicion” by Philip Rucker and Robert Costa: “Kushner and Cohn are particularly close with the Cabinet’s industry barons — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — as well as Chris Liddell and Reed Cordish, two businessmen recruited by Kushner to work on long-term projects… Many people inside and outside the White House frequently note the growing visibility of Cohn and Powell and wonder if they might eventually gain influence over Trump’s message and moderate it from Bannon-style populism… Sometimes when staffers feud, Kushner summons them to his office, a few doors down from the president’s, where the 36-year-old adviser sits them on the couch and mediates as though he were a couple’s therapist, officials said.” [WashPost]

President-in-law: “What China wants from Trump” by Jonathan Swan: “The Chinese ambassador in Washington — Cui Tiankai, a silky operator — has been focusing intensely on the White House rather than the State Department, particularly cozying up to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. One source says Cui has been dealing mostly with Kushner, and has been AWOL at State.” [Axios

Spotted at the King David yesterday: Sen. Tom Cotton. Our source did not see Senators Rubio or Cornyn, although they were with Cotton in Beirut on Saturday [Pic] • Cotton joined Jake Tapper’s State of the Union show from Jerusalem [Pic]

STATE-SIDE VISIT: “Netanyahu chief of staff heads to US to sort out settlements” by Marissa Newman: “Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz… will join Ron Dermer, Israel’s Washington ambassador, to continue discussions with US special envoy Jason Greenblatt in an attempt to reach an understanding between Israel and US President Donald Trump’s administration about building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Netanyahu left Israel on Saturday night for a three day trip to China, and the fact that Horowitz did not accompany the prime minister but went instead to Washington highlights the importance of the negotiations with the US.” [ToI]  

“Ahead of First Mideast Visit, Trump’s Peace Envoy Met With Obama Negotiators to Seek Advice” by Amir Tibon: “[Jason] Greenblatt reached out to Frank Lowenstein, who was the special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in John Kerry’s State Department from 2014 to 2017, and Dennis Ross… In his conversations with these former negotiators, just like during his visit to the region last week, Greenblatt mostly listened and took notes.” [Haaretz

“All Trump wants is an Israeli-Palestinian deal” by Nahum Barnea: “Greenblatt… worded the White House statement during Netanyahu’s visit to Washington. In the statement, Israel was urged to restrain its settlement policy… “Why did you include this paragraph?” he was asked by a friend. “Did Netanyahu imply that he needs it in order to curb the pressures from the Right?” Greenblatt appeared surprised by the question. “We didn’t even think about it,” he said. “I included the paragraph because I thought it was the right thing to do.”” [Ynet

VIEW FROM SHOMRON: “’Trump may condemn Israel at some point – and that’s ok’” by Shimon Cohen: “Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, one of the regional heads who met with Greenblatt, spoke with Arutz Sheva about his meeting… When asked how optimistic his meeting with Greenblatt left him, Dagan answered: “I’m not euphoric, because my expectations and demands as an Israeli citizen are aimed at our Prime Minister… I [anticipate] that the Trump Administration may condemn Israel for the settlements and possibly for other things. I have no requests from the US administration, but I am confident that he won’t ‘go to war’ over condemning [construction] and that he won’t pick a fight over it.”” [INN] • Slightly higher number of Jews approve Trump’s job performance than had voted for him [Gallup

KAFE KNESSET — Crisis not averted — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Did you think the public broadcasting crisis was behind us? Think again. We are definitely still in crisis mode. Netanyahu is currently in China, celebrating 25 years of Sino-Israeli diplomatic relations. But just before he took off Saturday night he dropped a political bomb and left his confidants to deal with the consequences. “Either the Israel Broadcast Corporation is cancelled – or we will go to elections,” the premier announced on Saturday. This posed a crystal-clear ultimatum to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and backtracked from previous understandings between them. The whole political system was thrown into havoc, and Bibi – well, he got on the plane, leaving everyone back in Israel wondering what exactly he wants. Is he serious about elections? Will he bring down the government because of a public broadcast channel? And why does he keep on picking fights with Kahlon, after making a point of getting close to him last month over a plate of hummus? Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“U.N. Diplomat Behind Report Accusing Israel of Apartheid Quits” by Rick Gladstone and Somini Sengupta: “Rima Khalaf’s resignation also reflected the pressure from the Trump administration on her boss, Secretary General António Guterres. President Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, has assailed what she and Israeli officials regard as a strong anti-Israel bias at the organization. “When someone issues a false and defamatory report in the name of the U.N., it is appropriate that the person resign,” Ms. Haley said in response to Ms. Khalaf’s resignation.” [NYTimes

PROFILE: “Can Chuck Schumer Check Donald Trump?” by Elizabeth Kolbert: “Schumer, who’s sixty-six, is an optimist, a trait that he says he inherited from his father, Abe. Abe, for his part, inherited an exterminating business from his father, Jack, a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine. The family lived in Flatbush, Brooklyn, and Schumer, growing up, would sometimes lend a hand killing roaches… In 1974, the State Assembly seat for the district that included Flatbush came open. Fresh out of Harvard Law School, Schumer decided to run for it. His mother, Selma, urged her neighbors not to vote for him. Schumer had an offer from the prestigious law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Selma didn’t want him wasting his time when he could be making good money.” [NewYorker]

“Al Franken may be the perfect senator for the Trump era — a deadly serious funnyman” by Karen Tumulty: “Nearing the halfway mark of his second term, Franken said, he feels “a little freer to be myself, and so every once in awhile, something comes out.” … He has many sides. During slow periods in committee hearings, Franken sometimes sketches elaborate portraits on a notepad. If he does not take them when he leaves, Senate staffers scoop up the Franken doodles as collector’s items… But he is also part of the club. When the bells rang for a vote on a recent afternoon, Franken and four colleagues crowded onto a Senate subway car. “We have Franken here to make us laugh!” Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) announced. Which they all did.” [WashPost

“Eric Greitens, Missouri’s First Jewish Governor, Is Eyeing The White House” by Nathan Guttman: “After Greitens’s speech at the RJC conference last month, a major Jewish Republican donor walked over to the press area to make sure reporters listened to the governor’s address dedicated to the recent spate of anti-Semitism in his state. “That’s our guy,” he said, “you’ll be hearing about him.”” [Forward

** 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: For developers trying to influence the president, the White House is no Trump Tower [TRD] • Hedge Fund Titan William A. Ackman’s Surefire Bet Turns Into a $4 Billion Loss [NYTimes] Why Music Mogul Irving Azoff Is Snapping Up Tiny Trade Magazines [WSJ] • CEO Stewart Butterfield says Slack is growing up, but maybe not going public [Axios]

“Lemonade Is Using Behavioral Science To Onboard Customers And Keep Them Honest” by Ainsley O’Connell: “That deceptively simple claims process is the byproduct of academic research on psychology and behavioral economics conducted by Dan Ariely, one of the field’s most prominent voices and Lemonade’s chief behavioral officer… “There’s a lot of science about when people behave and misbehave that has not been put to use,” says Lemonade cofounder and CEO Daniel Schreiber. Some of that science would suggest design tweaks like signature placement; other ideas are more fundamental to Lemonade’s B Corp business model, like the decision to donate surplus premiums to charity.” [FastCompany]

“Salt Bae set to sprinkle at new Midtown restaurant” by Christopher Cameron: “The restaurant is being backed by Turkish billionaire Ferit Sahenk, the media mogul behind the conglomerate, Dogus Group. Real estate moguls Alex Sapir and Rotem Rosen are also said to be backing the restaurant, according to the New York Post. Sahenk, Sapir and Rosen also own Zuma at 261 Madison Avenue and the Nomo Soho Hotel.” [TRD]

Trump spent Saturday night with Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter… “A Saturday pool report indicated Trump would be dining Saturday night with Perlmutter and his wife, with the dinner closed to press. Perlmutter, an Israeli-American who served in the Israeli Army and who advises Trump on veterans affairs, has previously met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago.” [Politico]

Trump on Friday: “Ike Perlmutter is an amazing man — Marvel — is one of the great, great businessmen of our time.” [WhiteHouse]

“Robert Kraft flew on Air Force One with Donald Trump” by Hayden Bird: On Sunday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft flew on Air Force One with President Trump from West Palm Beach to Washington D.C., according to the White House press pool report. And, as the report noted, Kraft wore his Air Force 1 sneakers: A pair of black canvas Nikes. The pool report didn’t specify why Kraft was on Air Force One, but it said that Trump briefly introduced “Bob Kraft” before making a comment about North Korea.” [Boston]

BOOK REVIEW: Elliott Abrams reviews “Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman” by Itamar Rabinovich…“Mr. Rabinovich explains the steps by which the tough military leader came to abandon his promises to Israeli voters, but not his underlying motivation. The only deeper explanation we are offered is striking: “In private conversations with confidants Rabin expressed concern over the Israeli public’s and the IDF’s ability to shoulder the price of a long-term, seemingly endless conflict.” Rabin had collapsed in the lead-up to the 1967 war from nervous exhaustion and been out of action for two days. Did he project his own fatigue onto the nation? If so, he greatly underestimated Israel’s stamina… Mr. Rabinovich acknowledges that while it is “quite realistic” that Rabin would have won the 1996 elections, “that he would have come to an agreement with Arafat is less so.”” [WSJ

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Prague’s Old-New Synagogue gets first new Torahs since World War Two” by Jiri Skacel: “Prague’s medieval Old-New Synagogue received two new Torah scrolls on Sunday, the first ones since World War Two shattered the country’s once-thriving Jewish community. The Torahs, funded by donations to the Prague Jewish community, were written in Israel and brought into the synagogue in a ceremony that included scripting of the final letters by guests and members of the community, and a street dance. The Old-New Synagogue is over 700 years old, one of the oldest existing synagogues in Europe. Apart from its significance to the community, it is the main attraction of Prague’s Jewish Town, a popular destination for visitors.” [Reuters]

“Law partners call themselves ‘Double Trouble’ and always wear pink outfits to court” by Graham Rayman: “Sartorial twins [Sara] Shulevitz and [Mindy] Meyer are both Orthodox Jewish women practicing criminal law — a rarity in the gritty hallways of the city’s legal world. “We comply with Orthodox Jewish rules of modesty, but we like to wear pink,” Shulevitz said… “They say a woman’s place is in the house,” said Meyer, who in 2012 became the youngest person ever to run for state Senate as a Republican. “I say it’s in the courthouse, but I remain steadfast to my values.”” [DailyNews

“Inside a Met Director’s Shocking Exit and the Billion-Dollar Battle for the Museum’s Future” by William D. Cohan: “Then there was the series of unfortunate events that began, in April 2013, with Leonard Lauder’s extraordinary gift of his unmatched collection of 78 Cubist paintings, drawings, and sculptures… valued at more than $1 billion. “In one fell swoop this puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art,” [Thomas] Campbell said at the time… According to the former administrator, Lauder got the better of Campbell over the terms and conditions of the donation. “If you put Leonard Lauder and Tom Campbell in the room in a negotiation, I don’t think Tom Campbell would emerge victorious,” this person says.” [VanityFair

SPORTS BLINK: “American Eagle’s Schottenstein Negotiating to Buy Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball” by David Israel: “Jay Schottenstein, chairman of American Eagle Outfitters and DSW (formerly Designer Shoe Warehouse) is in talks to acquire control of the basketball club Maccabi Tel Aviv, at a value of $35 million, Calcalist reported on Sunday. The club’s major shareholders are David Federman, controlling shareholder of publicly traded Petrochemical, and the Recanati family, the former controlling shareholder of IDB – each of whom holds 29% of the club’s shares. American businessman Richard Dietze holds 17.5% of the shares, American real estate magnate Ben Ashkenazi holds 10% of shares. The team’s annual budget is about $75 million.” [Calcalist; JewishPress]  

DESSERT: “San Francisco’s Frena is the kosher bakery you’ve been waiting for” by Jessica Yadegaran: “Israeli owners Isaac Yosef, Avi Edri and fourth-generation baker Yanni (who goes by first name only) had little idea just what a niche they were about to fill with their baked goods… “The focus in San Francisco is on sweets,” Yosef says. “It’s hard to find a good sandwich in a bakery anymore. So we decided to do something about it.” The mother of all sandwiches is their sabich ($10.49), which is filled with mashed potatoes, oven-roasted eggplant, hard-boiled eggs, Israeli pickles, tomatoes, tahini and tangy amba, a mango condiment.” [MercuryNews]

BIRTHDAYS: Philanthropist, visionary, pioneer in corporate social responsibility, former CEO of family-owned Timberland which was sold in 2011 to VF Corporation, Jeff Swartz turns 57 (celebrating both English and Hebrew birthdays today)… Senior advisor to the family office of Charles Bronfman, previously President of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies and SVP and COO of UJA-Federation of New York, Dr. Jeffrey R. Solomon turns 72… Actor, director, producer and writer of comedy whose career spans nearly seven decades, Carl Reiner turns 95… Stage and screen actor, television director and musician, best-known role as the title character in the television comedy series “Barney Miller,” Hal Linden (born Harold Lipshitz) turns 86… Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences as a geologist and oceanographer, but known popularly as poet and performer, Alexander Gorodnitsky turns 84… Australian award-winning writer of Portuguese Sephardi descent, author of fiction, non-fiction, screenplays and poetry collections, David George Joseph Malouf turns 83… Award-winning author of 25 children’s books, Louis Sachar 63… Israel’s Chief of Police (since 2015) after a 27 year career at Shabak (a/k/a the Shin Bet), Roni Alsheikh turns 54… Chilean businessman and philanthropist with substantial mining interests, Leonardo Farkas turns 50… Journalist, author, and lecturer and Editor-at-Large for Esquire, Arnold Stephen “A. J.” Jacobs, Jr. turns 49… Actor, podcast host, director and comedian, has acted in more than forty films, Michael Rapaport turns 47… Development associate at Urban Investment Partners, a multi-family and mixed-use development firm in the DC area, holder of both a B.A. and MBA from GWU, Jason Lifton turns 28… Director at West Wing Writers since 2014, previously director of online content at the super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, Matt Finkelstein (h/ts Playbook)… Ehud Lazar… Hyman Grossman

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