Daily Kickoff: Israel’s World Baseball Classic dream ends | A $1.6B Hoax | Tamir Pardo’s advice | Luxury hotel in lifeguard tower on Tel Aviv beach

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FIRST LOOK: “The 1.6 Billion Dollar Hoax” by Ken Bensinger, Jason Leopold and Craig Silverman: “An elaborate hoax based on forged documents escalates the phenomenon of “fake news” and reveals an audience on the left that seems willing to believe virtually any claim that could damage Trump. In the third week of January, an Israeli named Yoni Ariel flew from Tel Aviv to Rome carrying $9,000 in cash on a secret mission to bring down Donald Trump. There, he met with an Italian businessman… Ariel recalled, he handed over the cash. In exchange he was given a copy of a potentially explosive set of documents. Its 35 pages told the story of a $1.6 billion wire transfer from petroleum giant ExxonMobil to a European office of a Chinese mining company, which a day later transferred 1.4 billion euros to the Trump Organization…”

“The transfers appeared to have taken place in mid-June, at the exact same time that Exxon’s then chief executive, Rex Tillerson, was in St. Petersburg at an economic forum, which Russian President Vladimir Putin also attended. To Ariel, who is married to an American and calls Russia’s tampering in the elections “an act of war,” the implications of these billion-dollar transfers were clear: Exxon had secretly bribed Trump to name Tillerson to the powerful cabinet post. Alarmed, Ariel passed the documents to a network of Democratic and anti-Trump activists who in turn shared them with prominent news organizations including BuzzFeed News. The only problem: The documents were phony. The wire transfers never occurred, and the entire set of documents appear to have been forged as part of an elaborate scam.”

“Ariel is 60 years old and also goes by the name Jonathan Schwartz… He said he first heard about the Exxon documents late last year from Sheldon Schorer, an attorney who until recently was legal counsel and spokesman for Democrats Abroad–Israel… Schorer, in turn, said a former Israeli ambassador to Italy contacted him in the fall and asked if he might be interested in the documents. Both Schorer and Ariel declined to name the retired Israeli diplomat, but two sources confirm it was Gideon Meir, who from 2006 to 2011 held the Rome posting.” [BuzzFeed

“Tillerson To U.N. Rights Council: Reform or We’re Leaving” by Colum Lynch and John Hudson: “The Trump administration is threatening a withdrawal from the U.N. Human Rights Council if it does not undertake “considerable reform,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned a group of nine non-profit organizations in a letter this week… “If they don’t make these reforms, we’re going to question the value of our membership,” said a senior aide to Tillerson. “We’re not taking withdrawal off the table.” … For the time being, Tillerson wrote, the U.S. will participate in the ongoing session of the Human Rights Council, to “reiterate our strong principled objection to the Human Rights Council’s biased agenda against Israel.” “Our aim is to fix the organization,” the Tillerson aide told FP.” [FP]  Tillerson’s Shrewd Ultimatum to UN Human Rights Council: Reform or We Withdraw [Tablet]

ON THE HILL — Sen. Ted Cruz talks with JI’s Aaron Magid regarding the delay of his and Sen. Graham’s bill to defund the UN in response to the December UNSC vote: “The decision about what to bring to a vote is a decision for leadership in both houses. I believe it is critically important that we vote on the legislation that I introduced along with Lindsey Graham to defund the UN unless and until they rescind this anti-Israel resolution. I know a great many people are urging leadership to bring this up for a vote and get every Senator on record. It’s very easy for Democratic Senators to pretend they disagree with the Obama administration’s anti-Israel agenda. Bringing this to a vote allows every Senator to go on record. I believe bringing this to a vote would deliver a major foreign policy victory for the Trump administration.”

Asked if he discussed his Taylor Force Act legislation with Trump when he met him for lunch at the White House the other week, Sen Lindsey Graham told us: “No, I didn’t but I will. That is a good point, I’ll bring that up to him.”

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Trump rejects push to oust NSC aide” by Kenneth Vogel and Eliana Johnson: On Friday, McMaster told the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence programs, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, that he would be moved to another position in the organization… But Cohen-Watnick appealed McMaster’s decision to two influential allies with whom he had forged a relationship while working on Trump’s transition team — White House advisers Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. They brought the matter to Trump on Sunday, and the president agreed that Cohen-Watnick should remain as the NSC’s intelligence director.” [Politico] • Defense Secretary Mattis withdraws Patterson as choice for undersecretary for policy [WashPost

“‘People are scared’: Paranoia seizes Trump’s White House” by Alex Isenstadt and Kenneth Vogel: “It’s an environment of fear that has hamstrung the routine functioning of the executive branch. Senior advisers are spending much of their time trying to protect turf, key positions have remained vacant due to a reluctance to hire people deemed insufficiently loyal… One senior administration aide said the degree of suspicion had created a toxicity that was unsustainable. “People are scared,” he said, adding that the Trump White House had become “a pretty hostile environment to work in.” [Politico]

“Trump Wins Saudi Praise for ‘Turning Point’ After Meeting Prince” by Nafeesa Syeed and Glen Carey: “Sunni Arab leaders are embracing Trump with praise the president isn’t finding from other U.S. allies in the world, reflecting an eagerness to reset ties after feeling shunned by President Barack Obama, who crafted the 2015 nuclear deal with their Shiite rival Iran. The Saudi statement said Trump had a “great understanding” of the bilateral relationship. The president and the prince “share the same views on the gravity of the Iranian expansionist moves in the region,” the adviser said.” [Bloomberg; NYTimes]

PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department‏ tweets: “Statement attributed to Dr. Saeb Erekat (about ‘historic’ Trump offer to Abbas next month) was never made. We expect a correction from Times of Israel.” [Twitter

TOP TALKER: “Prerequisite for Key White House Posts: Loyalty, Not Experience” by Sharon Lafraniere, Nicholas Confessore and Jesse Drucker: “President Trump’s point man on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is a longtime Trump Organization lawyer with no government or diplomatic experience… Mr. Greenblatt’s ties to Mr. Trump have translated into more striking levels of power and prestige… A sign of Mr. Greenblatt’s expansive role came last month, not long after he traveled to Capitol Hill with Peter Navarro — a Harvard-trained economist who is head of Mr. Trump’s newly created National Trade Council — to discuss trade policy with staff aides of the Senate Finance Committee. Mr. Greenblatt missed a follow-up session with senators because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was visiting the White House that day.”

“He’s got to negotiate Middle East peace,” Mr. Navarro quipped to the senators, according to a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “So he can’t be here today.” Although Mr. Greenblatt has not been given the title of special envoy to the Middle East, he appears to be acting in that role too. Visiting the region this week, he met Mr. Netanyahu in Israel… and Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. A State Department spokesman said Mondaythat a senior National Security Council official was accompanying Mr. Greenblatt, but was unsure whether a State Department official had been included… In a brief telephone interview, Mr. Greenblatt suggested calling back later when “I’ll have something to actually say that’s meaningful.”” [NYTimes

Greenblatt’s second day on his first visit to the Middle East region included a lengthy meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, touring a Palestinian refugee camp, and a roundtable with Palestinian university students in Bethlehem. The U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, in a joint readout of the meeting, noted that “President Abbas committed to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and incitement… President Abbas assured Mr. Greenblatt that he is fully committed to creating an atmosphere that is conducive to making peace and would heighten his outreach efforts to the Israeli public.”

“Trump sends his real estate lawyer-turned-diplomat to meet Netanyahu, Abbas” by Ruth Eglash: “In Ramallah, the de facto headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, feelings toward Trump and his intentions have been positive since the Friday phone call… “We received Greenblatt as a representative of the U.S., and we appreciate and welcome the fact that he is open and wanting to listen to the Palestinian side,” said Husam Zomlot, a senior adviser to Abbas. “This is a good start.” Zomlot will take up the post of the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to the United States next month. Zomlot said Greenblatt was attentive and spent hours in Ramallah meeting with the Palestinian president and many of his senior advisers. “It is crucial that they are consulting, and that is why we believe this is an opportunity for us,” he said.” [WashPost]

Netanyahu commented on his meeting with Greenblatt during a press conference yesterday: “I must say that they were good, in-depth talks. I cannot tell you that we finished. We agreed, we are in a process, but a process of genuine mutual, very frank dialogue, in the good sense of the word. Very open and very frank, just not open to the press. You will need to wait a little, I do not think for long.”

“Netanyahu Expects to Reach Deal With U.S. on Restrained Settlement Construction” by Barak Ravid: “Netanyahu and Greenblatt are expected to meet again this week before the envoy leaves the country… An Israeli official who has been involved in Israel-U.S. contacts on the settlements said the Trump administration had proposed to Netanyahu that he renew the understandings that had been in place between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.” [Haaretz]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: As the Trump administration is reportedly still deliberating between the outside-in or inside-out approach in order to renew Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Greenblatt can get some advice from former Mossad head Tamir Pardo. “Nothing in the region will move without progress on the Palestinian track,” Pardo said today. Pardo’s remarks were offered at a special conference sponsored by the Knesset Caucus for a Regional Solution and the Institute for National Security Studies focusing on regional security. Pardo and other experts agreed that there is a rare and unique opportunity with moderate Arab states based on mutual interests, but he stressed that “whomever thinks we can make any regional progress without moving towards the Palestinians is a fool. Israel needs to determine its own end-game. What do we want? Where are we going? Unfortunately Israel does not decide, and cannot decide, because of the political divide. As long as Israel does not define what it wants, nothing will happen.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) also spoke briefly at the meeting. “Last year I was in the middle of a huge regional move which would have changed the Middle East forever,” Herzog said, referring to the recent Ha’aretz revelations about attempts to jump-start the peace process and forge a unity government in Israel last year. “Now is the time to turn this opportunity into reality,” he added, stating that he will be meeting with Greenblatt tomorrow. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Advice for Trump’s would-be peacemaker” by David Horovitz: “You have a clean slate. Your administration is deemed unpredictable. And your president relishes deal-making. What would seem to have been logical for years — the need to invest strategic efforts in education in order to create a grassroots Palestinian climate that backs compromise — was ignored by your various predecessors… I urge you to defy conventional wisdom. Do the unexpected. It happens to be the smartest course.” [ToI]

NORPAC Passes On AIPAC Conference This Year — by Jacob Kornbluh: NORPAC, which calls itself the nation’s largest pro-Israel political action committee, is hosting a fundraiser for Senator Bob Menendez — at the same time as AIPAC’s annual Washington Policy Conference — in New Jersey. NORPAC President Dr. Ben Chouake told Jewish Insider that the date, Sunday, March 26, was chosen by Menendez despite the fact that a number of would-be participants are expected to attend the AIPAC gathering in Washington, DC. “We are grateful for all participation in the process and while we regret the date, when a friend asks for help we are inclined to say yes even at difficult time slots,” he explained. “I hope my colleagues at AIPAC will give me a pass on missing the conference.”

— Menendez, a frequent speaker at the pro-Israel gathering since 2013, is expected to address AIPAC attendees on Tuesday, the third day of the conference, according to the Senator’s spokesperson. Although AIPAC has yet to list him as a speaker on their website. Yesterday, AIPAC announced U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley as a confirmed speaker. [JewishInsider

TALK OF OUR NATION: “A Tide Turns as Israelis Pray for American Jews” by Daniel Gordis: “In Jerusalem this past Friday evening, we listened as the rabbi noted that we would be adding a newly written mi she-beirach. “For years,” the rabbi said, “communities across the globe have been praying for us, for our safety, for our children serving in the army and defending this country. But now, we are the ones who are secure, and they are the ones facing danger. It is time that we began to pray on their behalf.”” [Bloomberg

2018 WATCH: “Pritzker establishes exploratory committee to consider a run for governor” by Rick Pearson: “Raising the potential cash stakes in next year’s race, billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday formally created a fundraising committee to explore a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor… Pritzker says he is contributing $200,000 to cover day-to-day expenses of the exploratory committee, but he has indicated he could be willing to self-fund a campaign for governor.” [ChicagoTribune

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Paul Singer Is Reopening His Flagship Hedge Fund to New Capital [Bloomberg] • Jann Wenner’s Us Weekly likely going to American Media after Tronc talks fall through [NYPost] • Talking Fifth Avenue Rents With Thor’s Dana Baines [Observer] • Aby Rosen is hosting star-studded blowout parties again [NYPost]

SPOTLIGHT: “Steve Cohen Is Trying to Teach Computers to Think Like Top Traders” by Saijel Kishan: “Steven A. Cohen got rich by going with his gut on big trades. Now the billionaire trader is experimenting with another path: automating the decisions of his best money managers. Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management, which oversees his $11 billion fortune, is parsing troves of data from its portfolio managers and testing models that mimic their trades, according to people familiar with the matter.” [Bloomberg]

STARTUP NATION: “Intel deal for Mobileye fuels Israel’s drive to become automotive tech hub” by Rory Jones: “This [Intel] deal will be looked at as the new phase for the industry,” Eran Shir, chief executive of Israeli startup Nexar Ltd., said of the Mobileye buyout. “Data is now the new oil.” … “We believe the auto industry is being transformed,” said Emanuel Timor, a partner at Vertex Ventures, which originally bought a stake in Israeli mapping firm Waze, purchased by Google in 2013 for $1 billion. “There’s a great opportunity for startups.” [WSJ] • Davidson Foundation grant helps Henry Ford collaborate with Israeli innovators [JewishNews]

“Ivanka Trump to End Fine Jewelry Line in Favor of Mass-Market One” by Rachel Abrams: “Jewelry, however, was Ms. Trump’s first major foray into licensing her name. She partnered with Moshe Lax, a New York-based diamond wholesaler, who helped Ms. Trump open a retail location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in 2007. In 2011, her boutique moved to a sprawling store in the city’s SoHo neighborhood. That location, however, was ultimately not profitable enough to stay open and closed in 2015.” [NYTimes

TRANSITION: “Walter Isaacson to Step Down as President and CEO of the Aspen Institute: Isaacson will be joining the history department of Tulane University as University Professor effective January 2018, and will become an Advisory Partner focusing on technology and the new economy with the global financial services firm Perella Weinberg Partners, where he currently serves on the board.” [AspenInstitue]

HOLLYWOOD: “On Netflix, the Borders Remain Open” by Mike Hale: “A pair of series added to the service in December without much fanfare, “Fauda” from Israel and “Nobel” from Norway, are both better than and distinctively different from most of the American TV you’re watching at the moment. “Fauda” is the latest gritty, naturalistic thriller turned out by the Israeli TV industry, a major supplier of ideas and concepts for American TV. (Other examples, like “Hostages” and the wonderful “Prisoners of War,” the model for “Homeland,” can be streamed from Netflix and Hulu.)” [NYTimes]

Adam Krief, whose battle with cancer united community and attracted celebrities, dies at 32 — by Oren Peleg: “Adam Krief, the cancer-stricken Jewish man from West Los Angeles whose search for a bone marrow transplant rallied the community and gained the notice of international celebrities, died on March 14. He was 32. Donor drives to find a match for the father of three young children were held all over the United States and in France, Israel and Mexico. Several matches resulted and Krief underwent a bone marrow transplant in December. But in a tragic turn of events, his body rejected the transplant and his condition deteriorated quickly, according to Jeremy Braun, a family friend… “Big Bang Theory” actress Mayim Bialik and reality television star Kim Kardashian West were among those who helped publicize a search for a matching donor.” [JewishJournal]

SPORTS BLINK: “Israel’s World Baseball Classic dream ends while Japan advances” by Marc Normandin: “Just making the World Baseball Classic tournament was an accomplishment for Israel. That’s not to be condescending to the team or country at all: it’s just that baseball in the country is still in the early stages of development, and the roster was filled out by American minor-league and role players. Despite this, Israel qualified for the main WBC tournament by winning their fourth of a smaller tournament a year ago, then they advanced to the second round after going undefeated in Pool A action. Now their journey is at an end following an 8-3 loss to Japan that gave them a 1-2 record, but the tournament has given Israel hope for 2021. Israel doesn’t need to win entry into the next World Baseball Classic, as their standing in the first round granted them automatic qualification.” [SBNation]

“Team Israel Is a Hit, but Barely Registers in Tel Aviv” by Jared Diamond and Rory Jones: “Israel is benefiting from the WBC’s lenient rules, which allow players to compete for a country if they are eligible to become a citizen there. In the case of Israel, that extends to anybody with at least one Jewish parent or grandparent. As a result, Team Israel is comprised almost entirely of American minor-league players with a bit of Judaism somewhere in their bloodlines. Most native Israelis wouldn’t know which way to run to first base… [Leah] Rosen (bartender at Mike’s Place), who originally hails from Chicago, spoke on Monday afternoon in Israel at the bar, where just a handful of Israelis and Americans sipped beers and ate burgers during Israel’s contest against the Netherlands. Most of the people there were dual citizens.” [WSJ

DESSERT: “Want good sea views? Stay in a luxury lifeguard tower” by Yuval Ben-David: “The mayor of Tel Aviv rushed to help the German travel blogger lift her luggage away from the incoming tide as she made her way into the city’s newest beachfront digs — a wooden lifeguard tower refurbished as a pop-up luxury suite. As part of an effort to market Israel as a winter tourist destination for Europeans, the city of Tel Aviv and Israel’s tourism ministry have teamed up with a local hotel chain to temporarily transform the tower into a two-storey suite, with hot tub, room service and very unobstructed ocean views.” [Reuters]

BIRTHDAYS: Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. “Notorious RBG,” turns 84… Theoretical chemist and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, professor emeritus at Harvard University and Director of the Biophysical Chemistry Laboratory in France, Martin Karplus turns 87… Physicist and winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics, inventor of the heterotransistor and an influential member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Zhores Alferov turns 87… Emmy Award and Tony Award-winning actor, active in film, television and on the stage, Judd Hirsch turns 82… UCLA professor, biochemist and biophysicist, David Eisenberg turns 78… First-ever New York City Public Advocate (1994-2001), winner of Democratic primaries for NYC Mayor (2001), the House (1980) and the Senate (1986) but lost each general election, author of 23 books, Mark J. Green turns 72… British billionaire and philanthropist, chairman of retail conglomerate Arcadia Group, Sir Philip Nigel Ross Green turns 65… Animator and director of The Simpsons, David Silverman turns 60… Retired MLB infielder, currently a special assistant to the Chicago Cubs GM Theo Epstein, Kevin Youkilis turns 38…

Deputy Director of Government Relations, Advocacy and Community Engagement at the DC office of the Anti-Defamation League, Mindy Beth Reinstein turns 34… CEO and co-founder of Bandura Games Justin Hefter… Director of Early Childhood programs at the Chicago JCC, Wendy Platt Newberger … CEO and Executive Vice President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis since September 2013, Debra Barton Grant… Ze’ev Bar-El… Max Schindler… Shirley Hoffner Sam Treynor… Robert Rosner… Lida Dannevig


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Daily Kickoff: Palestinians say Trump to make ‘historic’ offer to Abbas next month | Meet Josh Gottheimer | Shabbat dinners in Vogue | Matzo Makeover

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JI INTERVIEW — This Freshman says he ran for Congress so that Jewish Insider would interview him — by JI’s Aaron Magid: “Why did you run for Congress,” we asked New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer… “So I could do an interview with Jewish Insider. It was my entire objective,” Gottheimer joked. He added, “I ran because I was in business, worked most recently at Microsoft, and I started my career working for President Clinton and it was a very different time. People actually were willing to work together and sit at the table: Democrats, Republicans and some independents and find some common ground. Too many people I thought were only going to Washington to scream at each other and not solve problems. Like most people, I was frustrated… I flew home one day. I had just worked on developing a product and finished an hours-long marathon meeting. I took the red-eye home from the West Coast that night, walked-in and saw my wife the next morning and said I got this idea and then she sent me out of the room onto the couch for a couple of days.”

The Democrat from New Jersey cited five policies in which he agreed with Trump during the February 28 address: “infrastructure, tax reform, aspects of regulatory reform, a strong foreign policy, and standing by veterans and law enforcement.” While objecting to Trump’s immigration stance, Gottheimer stressed that remaining objective was critical to maintaining credibility. “You have to call balls and strikes,” he asserted… Even during a round of voting, Gottheimer insists on speaking with his young children, Ellie and Ben via FaceTime at 6:30 each evening. He starts his day with an early morning workout session led by former Mixed Martial Arts fighter Markwayne Mullin. His family is a “split household” with the Congressman an ardent Yankees fan while his wife Marla supports the Mets. Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “White House Seeks to Cut Billions in Funding for United Nations” by Colum Lynch: “State Department staffers have been instructed to seek cuts in excess of 50 percent in U.S. funding for U.N. programs… It remains unclear whether the full extent of the steeper U.N. cuts will be reflected in the 2018 budget… or whether, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has proposed, the cuts would be phased in over the coming three years… The U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, has long been the target of Israeli and congressional criticism on the grounds that it has a pro-Palestinian bias. But one diplomat said UNRWA might be spared because it relieves Israel of the obligation to care for some Palestinians and because Israel sees the program as ultimately promoting stability.” [FP]

ON THE HILL — A bipartisan group of 167 Members of Congress are calling on President Donald Trump to keep the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in a letter released yesterday. “As Members of Congress who care deeply about anti-Semitism at home and abroad, we urge you to maintain and prioritize the appointment of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism,” the letter states. [JewishInsider]

‘GREAT’ DEAL: Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for five hours yesterday on his first visit to the region. “In meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu, discussed regional situation, how progress towards peace with Palestinians can be made and settlements,” Greenblatt tweeted following the meeting. In a readout, the PM’s Office said the two “continued discussions relating to settlement construction in the hope of working out an approach that is consistent with the goal of advancing peace and security.”

— “In a photo op at the start of their meeting, Mr. Netanyahu greeted Mr. Greenblatt warmly, addressing him as Jason, and said, “I hope we can do some good things together.” Mr. Greenblatt replied, “I think we are going to do great things together.” Once seated, he thanked Mr. Netanyahu for reorganizing his schedule, throwing in a “todah,” Hebrew for thank you.” [NYTimes]

“Trump adviser makes first foray into Middle East peace process” by John Reed: “[Greenblatt] will also meet students, religious leaders and businesspeople in the first of what US officials say will be “numerous visits” to the region. “This is a visit where Mr Greenblatt will be listening to Israelis and Palestinians about their views and perspectives, and hearing their thoughts about how peace is possible,” a US embassy official in Tel Aviv said.” [FT] • Palestinians say Trump to make ‘historic’ offer to Abbas next month [ToI]

“Advice to Trump’s Middle East Envoy: Don’t Stop with Netanyahu and Abbas” by Daniel Shapiro: “These early visits… represent a unique opportunity to get out of the prime minister’s office and the Muqata’a, and hear the views of other Israeli and Palestinian officials and civilians who will be relevant players in the success or failure of any diplomatic effort… Much of the work outlined above will be carried out between envoys’ visits by our diplomats on the ground. But the more the knowledge these engagements produce penetrates the most senior levels of the U.S. government, the more informed and realistic our policy decisions will be.” [FP

COMING SOON: House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer will all speak at AIPAC’s Policy Conference on March 26-28, AIPAC announced yesterday. Vice President Mike Pence will deliver the keynote address.

KAFE KNESSET — Bibi and Sarah’s day in court — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Dozens of journalists and cameramen gathered this morning outside the Tel Aviv Court to accompany the PM and his wife Sarah to a hearing in a libel suit the couple filed against journalist Yigal Sarna. The Netanyahus are suing Sarna, who writes for Yedioth Aharonot, for over $75,000 as a result of a Facebook post he wrote last year, in which he alleged that the PM’s motorcade stopped in the middle of the main highway and Netanyahu, according to Sarna’s post, was kicked out of the car by his wife.

Netanyahu tried to avoid today’s testimony and asked the court to postpone the hearing due to his “many international political tasks” but the judge rejected his petition and obliged him to arrive in court today… Netanyahu took the stand, insisting that everything that Sarna described “never happened and is a total lie.” His testimony lasted 23 minutes, and judging by the tweets coming from the reporters inside the courtroom, Bibi was well prepared for the show and engaged in back and forth comments during the cross-examination. “New media today is very popular and as influential and strong as what I call classic journalism. Facebook is everything for the young generation,” Sarah explained from the witness stand. “We are being slaughtered by the media. If I would sue over every lie that slandered my name in the last 20 years I would spend all my days in court. I choose a case once in a while,” she said. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

INTERVIEW – Member of the Knesset Yair Lapid, who is visiting the U.S. to lobby against funding for the UN’s Human Rights Council, spoke with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh last week in the Knesset about holding the UN accountable for its bias against Israel and the need for Israel to maintain bipartisan U.S. support for Israel. Regarding the Trump Administration’s policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lapid said, “We are in the middle of what is known as the PPR (Presidential Policy Review), and I think it will take some time before we know where exactly this administration is going. Yet, this is obviously a very friendly administration. I mean, emotions matter and it is so obvious that this is an administration that is very fond of Israel, and, of course, we are happy about this. Now, how this is going to be translated into policy, we don’t know yet.”

Lapid on the Taylor Force Act: “The idea that the Palestinian Authority is taking U.S. taxpayer dollars and using it to pay the families of terrorists as a compensation for them sitting in jail is an absurdity. This is mocking the American idea of what is justice. Yet, we need to remember that Israel has a security coordination with the Palestinian Authority which is helpful for us, and nobody thinks it’s a good idea to allow the Palestinian Authority to collapse. And therefore, you have to be firm on your attitude towards terror and flexible on your attitude towards the PA. But if you ask me on moral grounds, this bill is the right bill.”

TOP TALKER: “Can You Be a Zionist Feminist? Linda Sarsour Says No” by Collier Meyerson: “The latest fissure making its way into public consciousness is about the role of Zionism in feminism, raised last week by Bustle politics editor, Emily Shire, in a New York Times op-ed… In the days after its publication, Shire’s piece has reignited a debate among feminists about the tenets of the movement. I spoke with Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American feminist activist, who disagrees with Shire’s claim that feminist actions shouldn’t take a hard line on Israel.” [TheNation; JPost]

“Is Intersectionality a Religion?” by Andrew Sullivan: ““Intersectionality” is the latest academic craze sweeping the American academy. On the surface, it’s a recent neo-Marxist theory that argues that social oppression does not simply apply to single categories of identity — such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. — but to all of them in an interlocking system of hierarchy and power. At least, that’s my best attempt to define it briefly. But watching that video helps show how an otherwise challenging social theory can often operate in practice…”

“It operates as a religion in one other critical dimension: If you happen to see the world in a different way, if you’re a liberal or libertarian or even, gasp, a conservative, if you believe that a university is a place where any idea, however loathsome, can be debated and refuted, you are not just wrong, you are immoral. If you think that arguments and ideas can have a life independent of “white supremacy,” you are complicit in evil. And you are not just complicit, your heresy is a direct threat to others, and therefore needs to be extinguished. You can’t reason with heresy. You have to ban it. It will contaminate others’ souls, and wound them irreparably.” [NYMag]

“Republican Congressman Steve King Sparks Row Over Support for Geert Wilders” by Conor Gaffey: “King’s tweet also drew condemnation from Democrats. Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of defeated 2016 U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said: “Clearly the Congressman does not view all our children as, well, all our children. Particularly ironic & painful on Purim.” Purim is a Jewish festival commemorating the biblical story of the deliverance of the Jewish people from annihilation by an ancient Persian emperor.” [Newsweek]

2018 WATCH: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s finance guy Paul Egerman signs on to Setti Warren’s potential 2018 bid for governor” by Gintautas Dumcius: “Paul Egerman, a top supporter of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is ready to back Newton Mayor Setti Warren if he mounts a campaign against Gov. Charlie Baker in 2018… Joshua Boger, founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, is serving as the finance committee’s chair.” [MassLive

** 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: LeFrak to buy Dumont hotel for $120M, eyeing resi conversion [TRD] • Engie, the Israeli car diagnostics app and mechanic marketplace, launches in UK [TC] • How Larry Silverstein hustled to rebuild the World Trade Center [RealDeal]

“Zvi Scheiber’s Freightos Born Out Of Frustration With Archaic Freight Business” by Bruce Rogers: “Freightos is a fast-growing, Israeli-headquartered SaaS software company designed to simplify the complicated and archaic shipping business. Founded by software engineer and serial entrepreneur Zvi Schreiber in 2012, the firm works with 90 percent of the top freight forwarders and automated 60,000 price quotes in the last quarter… “We are very much like an Expedia for freight,” says Schreiber.” [Forbes

Kushners Set to Get $400 Million From Chinese Firm on Tower” by David Kocieniewski and Caleb Melby: “The planned $4-billion transaction… provides them with both a sizable cash payout from Anbang Insurance Group for a property that has struggled financially and an equity stake in a new partnership… The deal would value the 41-story tower (at 666 Fifth Ave) at $2.85 billion, the most ever for a single Manhattan building: $1.6 billion for the office section and $1.25 billion for the retail section. The new partnership will refinance $1.15 billion in existing mortgage debt. “This is a huge, huge exit strategy for an office building,” said Joshua Stein, a New York real estate lawyer. “It does sound like a home run of a transaction for Kushner and his group.” … . A company spokesman, James Yolles, said that Jared Kushner sold his ownership stake in 666 Fifth to family members so the transaction poses no conflict of interest with his White House role.” [Bloomberg

“Why Glencore bought Israeli tycoon out of Congo mines” by Tom Burgis: “Glencore’s announcement last month that it would pay $534m to [Israeli mining tycoon Dan] Gertler to buy him out from their shared prize assets in the DRC — two giant copper mines — is designed to insulate the London-listed mining cum trading behemoth from the fallout of a widening corruption investigation involving the Israeli businessman, say people who have followed the saga. The decision by Ivan Glasenberg, Glencore’s chief executive, highlights the risks of doing business in the resource-rich, war-torn central African country, where Mr Gertler wields influence by virtue of his close friendship with Joseph Kabila, the DRC president.” [FT

MEDIA WATCH: “Is Trump Trolling the White House Press Corps?” by Andrew Marantz: “The next day, the President held another two-and-two, this time with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump’s two questions went to the Christian Broadcasting Network and to Townhall. On the way back to the briefing room, three cameramen stopped outside for a cigarette. “Who’s gonna get the next question at one of these?” one of them said… “At least the Israeli press got to ask tough questions,” another said. “I guess Israel’s still a democracy.” [NewYorker]

“How a Wonky National-Security Blog Hit the Big Time” by Emily Bazelon: “A little over a year ago, Benjamin Wittes, the editor in chief of the blog Lawfare, made the case that Donald Trump, as a Republican presidential candidate, represented nothing less than a national-security threat… The warning was an early sign of the opposition to Trump that has since hardened among the national-security professionals and observers for whom Lawfare serves as a kind of bulletin board.” [NYTimesMag]

“Veteran journalist Willow Bay named dean of USC Annenberg” by Beth Shuster: “Willow Bay is exactly the right person to lead USC Annenberg at this important time, given the dramatic changes in communications and journalism,” [USC Provost Michael] Quick said… “Our students, faculty and staff will greatly benefit from Willow’s expertise as they grapple with the ever-evolving world of social media, print and broadcast journalism and converged communication.” [USC]

“I Went To Turkey To Interview The President And (Almost) All I Got Was A Meeting With A Conspiracy Theorist” by Jessica Schulberg: “According to [Ankara Mayor Melih] Gökçek, the U.S. and Israel had collaborated to “trigger” a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in the Gulf by sailing up to a coastal fault line and attempting to extract energy. “They couldn’t manage it, just like an atom bomb, the energy inside the ground exploded and it turned into an earthquake,” he said. There’s no evidence of such an occurrence.” [HuffPost

TALK OF OUR NATION: “How to Host a Shabbat Dinner and Why You Should—Even if You Aren’t Celebrating” by Ariel Feldman: “About halfway through each week, I implore anyone and everyone to “come over for Shabbat.” My requests are often met with blank stares or responses of “but I’m not Jewish?” from friends and coworkers. While I am Jewish, I’m not Orthodox or extremely observant—yet the rituals of this Friday night tradition have become so much more than a religious experience to me. What’s better than winding down the week at home filled with your favorite people and the scent of a chicken roasting in the oven?” [Vogue]

SPORTS BLINK: Meet the Jewish MVP leading Princeton to the NCAA Tournament” by Marc Brodsky: ““We’re battle tested,” [Spencer] Weisz told Jerry Carino of the New Jersey Hoops Heaven website following the victory over Yale and a day after beating Penn in overtime. “These two games kind of give you that feeling of sudden death.” Weisz will be looking to add to a trophy case that includes the gold as a member of the U.S. junior team that won at the 2013 Maccabiah Games, the Olympics-style competition held every four years in Israel. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.” [JTA

DESSERT: “The Definitive Guide to Kosher Dining in New York City” by Gayle L Squires: “New York City is a haven for the kosher eater. There are at least 300 kosher restaurants in the city (more if you include those with less-stringent supervision), running the gamut from special-occasion steakhouses, to one of the city’s best new BBQ spots, to a burger joint that rivals its non-kosher brethren. Focusing primarily on Manhattan, where there’s the highest per-capita concentration of kosher spots, we’ve put together this guide to the city’s best kosher restaurants — making it easy for kosher-law observers to find something for every occasion.” [Thrillist]

“Matzo Makeover: Can The Bread Of Affliction Become A Snack Addiction?” by Larissa Zimberoff: “Finally, a piece of matzo you can Instagram. No one has ever been all that excited about matzo, the bread of affliction. But two New Yorkers, Kevin Rodriguez and Ashley Albert, are looking to make matzo — the unleavened bread that Jews eat during the eight days of Passover — as ubiquitous as that other cracker that jumped the cultural hurdle: the pita chip. “The Matzo Project” was born two years ago, about the same time that Streit’s was abandoning its century-old home in exchange for the more economical expanse of New Jersey.” [NPR]

BIRTHDAYS: One-half of the eponymous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Ben is four days younger), Jerry Greenfield turns 66… Professor emeritus of Chemistry at Tel Aviv University, winner of the 1982 Israel Prize, Joshua Jortner turns 84… Founder and President of Los Angeles-based Skirball Cultural Center since 1995, previously EVP and Dean of HUC-JIR (1975-1995), Rabbi Dr. Uri Herscher turns 76… Actor, writer, producer, director, comedian and television host, Billy Crystal turns 69… Member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 1995, representing Howard County, Shane Elizabeth Pendergrass turns 67…  Eliezer Barak turns 66… President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and a senior rabbinic fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute, Denise (Davida) Eger turns 57… Microgrid architect at Urban Ingenuity, a DC-based consulting firm for advanced clean energy infrastructure projects, Shalom Flank PhD. turns 52… Heiress, together with her brother and cousins, to the Hyatt Hotels fortune, philanthropist, former child actress, Liesel Pritzker Simmons turns 33… Managing Director of Investments at Hefter, Leshem, Margolis Capital Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Steven Hefter… Sophie Galant… Phil Liebman


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Daily Kickoff: Largest ever Israeli tech acquisition — Intel buys Mobileye for $15B | Trump advisor visits Israel | Team Israel’s first WBC loss

BIG DEAL: “Intel to Buy Jerusalem-based Mobileye for About $15 Billion in Car Tech Push” by Ian King: “Intel Corp. plans to buy Israel’s Mobileye NV for about $15 billion, its second-biggest acquisition and a bold attempt to dominate technology for self-driving cars. The U.S. chipmaker will pay $63.54 per share in cash for Jerusalem-based Mobileye, according to a statement Monday from both companies. Mobileye shares closed at $47.27 on Friday in New York.” [Bloomberg; CNBC] • Intel will move its automotive unit to Israel [TechCrunch]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: Trump’s ‘ultimate deal’ — by Jonathan Swan: “Influential figures in the conservative pro-Israel community have concluded that President Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have convinced themselves that their dealmaking talents can clinch this “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians… The Trump administration alienated some allies in conservative pro-Israel circles by allowing the State Department to hire Michael Ratney, who was a senior U.S. diplomat in Jerusalem under John Kerry. In recent days, a number of influential conservatives have reached out to White House officials, urging them to fire Ratney… A conservative pro-Israel leader tells me Trump’s aspirations “will run up against the reality of dealing with the Palestinians.”” [Axios

“Trump invites Palestinian leader Abbas to White House” by Luke Baker: “Trump on Friday invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House, in a first phone call between the two leaders since Trump took office.” [Reuters]  

White House readout: “The President emphasized his personal belief that peace is possible and that the time has come to make a deal… He underscored that such a peace agreement must be negotiated directly between the two parties, and that the United States will work closely with Palestinian and Israeli leadership to make progress toward that goal.  The President noted that the United States cannot impose a solution on the Israelis and Palestinians, nor can one side impose an agreement on the other.”

“Abbas: Trump told me he wants two-state solution” by Sue Surkes and Alexander Fulbright: “Speaking in Ramallah, Abbas on Sunday said that his phone conversation with Trump… was “constructive” and that Trump “confirmed his full commitment to the peace process and the two-state solution.” He added: “We will continue to cooperate with [Trump], in order to arrive at a comprehensive and just peace that will bring security and stability to everyone.” Other Palestinian sources said that Trump told Abbas he wanted to broker a deal, and that he referred to Abbas as a “partner.”” [ToI]

KEY QUESTION FOR PRO-ISRAEL FOLKS —How much of this is driven, perhaps with encouragement from the Israelis, by the White House’s desire to be viewed by the Palestinians as an ‘honest broker’? According to Michael Herzog’s extensive recap of the last major round of negotiations, the Israeli’s central issue with Kerry wasn’t so much the ‘honest broker’ aspect as it was with the lack of coordination, with the US holding back info and misleading both the Israelis and the Palestinians. To the extent there is currently very high levels of coordination between the White House and the Israelis, another question is how long will it last?

“Trump Envoy Jason Greenblatt to Visit Israel on Monday” by Barak Ravid: “[Jason] Greenblatt will be getting together Monday with President Reuven Rivlin and will then meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ron Dermer… On Tuesday, Greenblatt will go to the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Palestinian officials… Accompanying Greenblatt on his trip is Yael Lempert, who held the Israel portfolio for the National Security Council at the White House during the Obama administration and has remained in the position under President Trump.” [Haaretz

Greenblatt created a new Twitter account @jdgreenblatt45, promising followers that he’ll be tweeting updates from his trip such as this one: “Time for morning prayer (shacharit) at unexpected stop in Frankfurt. Pray for peace.” [Twitter]

QUICK PREVIEW — by the Kafe Knesset team: Just a few hours before Jason Greenblatt landed in Israel, Minister of Defense Liberman conveyed his message to the Trump administration envoy. “Ahead of another attempt to launch Israeli Palestinian negotiations, we should learn lessons from the past and the first lesson is that any attempt to solve the Palestinian issue by the ‘land for peace’ formula is doomed to fail. The only way to reach a viable agreement is a broad regional agreement which will include territory and population exchange,” he wrote on Facebook this morning. Liberman will not be meeting Greenblatt during his Israel trip, though Kafe Knesset has learned that during his visit to DC last week, the Israeli Defense Minister and the President’s special advisor did have a chance to sit down, during Liberman’s meeting with NSC Director McMaster. [KafeKnesset]

“Tillerson Leads From State Dept. Shadows as White House Steps In” by David Sanger: “Henry A. Kissinger slipped into the State Department last week for a quiet lunch in his old office with Rex W. Tillerson… “The normal tendency when you come into that job is to increase your visibility and to show that you are present and in charge,” he said in an interview. “He wanted to first inform himself of all the nuances. I was impressed by the confidence and self-assurance that he showed.” … “He’s won status and respect of the president, of McMaster, and talks all the time to Jared,” [Senator Bob Corker] said.”

Mr. Kissinger, at 93, is philosophical about most things, including Mr. Tillerson. “I would expect that as foreign policy evolves, Rex Tillerson will become an increasingly prominent exponent of it,” he said. “When I first came to Washington” as national security adviser to President Richard M. Nixon, “you would find me mentioned in The New York Times maybe 10 times.” A computer index suggests that the actual number in his first year was around 228.” [NYTimes]

“Foreign leaders try to find their footing with a mercurial yet crucial ally: Trump” by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker: “Some leaders who had strained relations with Obama welcome the chance to turn the page. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was greeted in Washington last month like a conquering hero, and he made a point to celebrate his long personal history with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.” [WashPost

In an interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh, Israel’s Minister for Public Security Gilad Erdan commented on Trump’s settlements policy: “Look, the American administration is not the Israeli government. I don’t expect them to see everything eye to eye. And after saying that I think there is still a huge improvement in the way that the new administration sees many issues concerning Israel and it’s challenges compared to what we had in the Obama administration… We heard things from the White House that we didn’t hear for many years. For example when they announced that they understand that the settlements are not the real obstacle for peace and that shows a deep understand of the conflict, because it’s true. When all the settlements are between 2-3 percent of Judea and Samaria, no serious guy can believe that this is what is stopping us from achieving peace.”

“I think that we should do whatever we plan to be coordinated with the new administration. About the settlements, we established a team. Let’s give this team a chance for — I hope for a short time — to try to agree on the policy concerning the building in the settlements. But, personally, I believe that for many years the Palestinians heard from everyone that time is running out only against Israel. So why should they make concessions? They can wait and the world and the American administration would put pressure only on the Israeli side… I hope that we will convince the administration that putting pressure or limiting our construction in the settlement… that will be a mistake because again that will put the pressure on Israel instead of putting the pressure on the Palestinian side to come to the table without preconditions and to challenge us around the table with talking to us and not by boycotting us.”

“Blair did offer to help Trump in the Middle East” by Simon Walters: “US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has confirmed to the British Government that Tony Blair has offered to help Donald Trump win a Middle East peace deal… and the Trump administration had ‘taken his approach seriously’… A senior diplomatic source said: ‘Blair has offered to help Kushner and the White House and they are very interested. They think his general diplomatic and Middle East background could be useful.’” [DailyMail

ON THE HILL 115 House Members Sign Letter Warning About One-State Outcome — by JI’s Aaron Magid: Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) have circulated a letter calling on President Donald Trump to “reaffirm” America’s support for the two state solution while warning against a one state scenario. At least 115 Members of Congress have co-signed the letter including two Republican Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and John Duncan (R-TN). “There are those who argued that this is just a party line letter, so when we got two Republicans, I was able to say, ‘not anymore,’” Rep. Connolly told Jewish Insider. [JewishInsider]

KAFE KNESSET — UN Human Rights Council, Yair Lapid is coming to get you — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The Yesh Atid leader, and likely leading challenger to Netanyahu in the next election, headed to Washington D.C. on Monday to advocate for the US to stop funding the panel. Lapid recently called the UNHRC “the rotten core of [the] antisemitic campaign” to delegitimize Israel. Lapid plans to meet with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Congressional Israel Allies Caucus chairmen Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Trent Franks (R-AZ).  Lapid will also meet with Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and others in Congress and make appearances in the American media. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

Lapid tells us: “In the last decade, in the UNHRC, there were 61 resolutions regarding global events. In the same decade, they had 67 resolutions about Israel. They had more resolutions about Israel than they had about the entire world. In the past, the U.S. left the organization and came back. And on top of being part of it, the U.S. is its main sponsor. American taxpayers are actually paying the organization on a day-to-day basis for horrible unbalanced, anti-Semitic propaganda. We want to bring this to the attention of Congress and tell senators and House Members: ‘It’s time to leave and take your money with you.’” The friendship between the U.S. and Israel is so firm that I think it’s ok for us to at least make sure that the U.S. administration is aware of what is going on.”

“Trump’s Middle East diplomacy is complicated by Palestinian terror incitement” by Josh Rogin: “Even some longtime advocates of Palestinian institution-building are now on board with defunding. “We have been doing the same thing for decades, and it isn’t working to change Palestinian political culture, and that political culture has to change if we want peace,” said Elliott Abrams, a former White House and State Department official… [Sen. Lindsey] Graham said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on board. An Israeli embassy official wouldn’t confirm that but told me that the government thinks it very important to shine a spotlight on the issue, especially as the peace process gets going again… Robert Danin, a former Middle East negotiator now at the Council on Foreign Relations, said Graham’s legislation is too blunt an instrument but could be useful as leverage, if and when a more comprehensive strategy takes shape.” [WashPost]

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

SPOTLIGHT: “A New York startup shakes up the insurance business” by The Economist: “Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger, tech entrepreneurs with no insurance background, spotted that the industry is huge… distrusted, antiquated and hopelessly unreformed. In September they started Lemonade, a New York-based insurer for homeowners and renters. Some describe it as a peer-to-peer insurer (“Spiritually we’re a tech company,” says Mr Schreiber). Most agree that its app makes insurance a lot easier. This appeals to the digital generation: of 2,000 policies sold in its first 100 days, over 80% were to first-time buyers.” [Economist]

“Mark Cuban on running for president: ‘I wouldn’t say never'” by Michelle Castillo:“”I wouldn’t say never, but it’s not my lifelong dream,” Cuban told CNBC at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. “It depends on how things turn out.” … At the very least, Cuban said he could do better at being president than Trump is doing right now. “Yeah I think I could,” he said to CNBC, smiling.” [CNBC

“CNN’s Jake Tapper Says His Son Has Adapted “Fake News” Line From Trump” by Natalie Jarvey: “Tapper noted that even his 7-year-old son has picked up on the phenomenon, explaining with a laugh that he “now does an impression where whenever I’m bothering him he says, ‘fake news.'”” [THR

“ADL plans Silicon Valley center to fight cyberhate” by Jon Swartz: “The center on cyberhate, technology and society will leverage technology and experts to “monitor, analyze and mitigate hate speech and harassment” across the Internet. The facility, which should open somewhere south of San Francisco  in the next three to six months, received seed funding through eBay founder Pierre Omidyar‘s philanthropic investment firm, Omidyar Network… Greenblatt called the center the “first of its kind” in the civil rights era. Brittan Heller, a former Justice Department official who leads ADL’s anti-cyberhate efforts, will be founding director of the new center.” [USAToday]

“Gaza tailor makes prayer caps for Jewish worshippers” by Nidal al-Mughrabi:“It’s not easy doing business from Gaza but tailor Mohammad Abu Shanab has found a demand he can supply — his sewing factory is churning out religious skull caps, for devout Jewish men. Since Israel resumed importing clothing from Gaza in 2015, Abu Shanab has renewed commercial contacts to sell merchandise to neighboring Israel. With salaries in Gaza much lower, Abu Shanab’s costs are very competitive. “We make all kinds of clothes and recently began making the skull caps that are worn by Israeli rabbis and Christian priests,” said Abu Shanab.” [Reuters]

YESTERDAY’S HEADLINE: “Israel Wins Again in the W.B.C., Beating Cuba to Stay Undefeated” by Ken Belson: “The victory kept Israel undefeated in its first W.B.C. appearance and pushed the team one step closer to a berth in the semifinal round in Los Angeles… Former and current New York Mets played a big role in the game for Israel… Israel will then play host Japan, which includes some of the elite players from the country’s top league.” [NYTimes

TODAY: “Israel falls to first defeat in World Baseball Classic” by Allon Sinai: “Another victory over the Netherlands would have put Israel on the verge of advancing to the last four at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. However, Monday’s lopsided defeat complicates Israel’s position, especially considering it faces favorite Japan in its final Pool E game on Wednesday.” [JPost]

DESSERT: “DC cafe becomes ‘second White House cafeteria’” by Richard Johnson: “Cafe Milano in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, is the favorite restaurant of the Trump administration. On Wednesday night, at three separate tables were Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “It’s like the second White House cafeteria,” said one regular at the Italian eatery.” [NYPost]

WEEKEND WEDDING — Lauren Weinstein, Eli Kintisch: “Lauren Beth Weinstein and Eli Steven Kintisch were married March 12 at Hotel Monaco in Washington. Lilah L. Pomerance, a friend of the couple who received authorization from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, officiated, with Cantor Benjamin Kintisch, the groom’s brother, participating. The bride, 32, who is keeping her name, is a leadership and career coach at the Washington site of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, where she helps candidates find jobs in the Jewish nonprofit sector… The groom, 39, is based in Washington as a contributing correspondent covering climate change at Science magazine, published by Association for the Advancement of Science.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Futurist, social engineer, industrial designer and director of the Venus Project, Jacque Fresco turns 101… Pop singer, pianist, composer of over 500 songs and record producer, whose family name derives from the Hebrew word for charity, Neil Sedaka turns 78… Syndicated columnist whose weekly column appears in more than 400 publications worldwide, author, political commentator and non-practicing physician, Charles Krauthammer turns 67… Former Florida congressman (2009-2011 and again 2013-2017), 1983 graduate from Harvard Law School magna cum laude, Alan Grayson turns 59… Former US Ambassador to the United Nations and deputy national security advisor to President Bill Clinton, currently president and CEO of Soderberg Global Solutions, Nancy Soderberg turns 59… Founder and CEO of MediaBistro which she sold in 2007, now managing partner of Flatiron Investors, a NYC-based investors syndicate, Laurel Touby turns 54 (h/ts Playbook)…

Heavy metal songwriter, vocalist for the band Disturbed as well as for the band Device, former yeshiva student, David Draiman turns 44… Senior advisor for Senator Bernie Sanders, former host of daily Sirius XM program “The Agenda,” Ari Rabin-Havt turns 38… Television and film actor, Emile Hirsch turns 32… Television and film actor, Emory Cohen turns 27… Social Media Manager at NBC Universal, Jessie Rubin… Gabriel Romano… Neil Scheindlin Matthew Gelles… Robert Smith

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