Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Weekend Edition —Saban Raised $34M For FIDF Last Night; Heads to DC to Launch Inaugural IAC Conference | Abe Foxman’s Successor

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TRANSITIONS: White House aide Jonathan Greenblatt to succeed Abe Foxman as ADL Chief:  “The Anti-Defamation League’s new national director will be social entrepreneur Jonathan Greenblatt — a special assistant to President Obama who earlier in his career co-founded the bottled water brand Ethos. Greenblatt, 43, will succeed Abraham Foxman, who announced in February that he would be stepping down effective July 2015. Foxman, 74, has been the ADL’s national director since 1987.”

““Choosing Greenblatt is phenomenal for the ADL,” said Jarrod Bernstein, former Obama administration liaison to the Jewish community. Bernstein, who worked with Greenblatt at the White House, described him as “really smart, really technologically savvy,” and added: “He knows that Jewish organizations need dramatic change in order to stay relevant.” “I’m confident that ADL will continue to thrive and grow under Jonathan’s leadership,’ Foxman said in a statement. ‘I look forward to working with him to ensure a successful and smooth transition.'” [ADLJTAForward]

TOP TALKER: OBAMA’S SECRET LETTER TO KHAMENEI: “President Barack Obama secretly wrote to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the middle of last month and described a shared interest in fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria…Mr. Obama stressed to Mr. Khamenei that any cooperation on Islamic State was largely contingent on Iran reaching a comprehensive agreement with global powers on the future of Tehran’s nuclear program by a Nov. 24 diplomatic deadline, the same people say….Mr. Obama’s letter also sought to assuage Iran’s concerns about the future of its close ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, according to another person briefed on the letter. It states that the U.S.’s military operations inside Syria aren’t targeted at Mr. Assad or his security forces. Mr. Obama and senior administration officials in recent days have placed the chances for a deal with Iran at only 50-50. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to begin intensive direct negotiations on the nuclear issue with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, on Sunday in the Persian Gulf country of Oman.” [WSJ]

—In response to the letter’s revelation, House Speaker Boehner “said on Thursday he does not trust Iran’s leaders and does not believe the United States needs to bring them into the fight against Islamic State militants. “I don’t trust the Iranians. I don’t think we need to bring them into this, and I would hope that the negotiations that are under way are serious negotiations, but I have my doubts,” Boehner said at a news conference.” [Reuters] • Sen. McCain Rips The White House For ‘Playing Footsie’ With Iran [TheHill]

TOP-OPS: Sen. Mark Kirk & Sen. Marco Rubio: “Iran’s Horrific Human-Rights Record” [DailyBeast] • Dov S. Zakheim: “Obama’s Dangerous Deal-Making With Iran” [ForeignPolicy] • David Ignatius: “Obama’s fourth-quarter agenda for foreign policy” [WashPost] • JINSA Report by Eric Edelman and Dennis Ross on “Centrifuge Cascades and a Final Deal with Iran” [JINSA] • Malcolm Hoenlein WSJ Interview: “Can Republicans Repair U.S.-Israel Relations” [WSJ]

McDonough: Obama ‘quite angry’ over ‘chicken****” remark: “President Obama was “quite angry” when he read that a senior administration official called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit,” his chief of staff said Thursday. “When I read it, I was quite angry. When the president read it, he was quite angry,” Denis McDonough told MSNBC. “So it didn’t go over well.” McDonough said the White House was less interested in rooting out the individual responsible for the comment, and instead would make clear to Israel that the remark doesn’t represent the president’s own feelings.” [TheHill]

Israel tried to limit civilian casualties in Gaza: U.S. military chief: “The highest-ranking U.S. military officer said on Thursday that Israel went to “extraordinary lengths” to limit civilian casualties in the recent war in Gaza and that the Pentagon had sent a team to see what lessons could be learned from the operation. Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged recent reports criticizing civilian deaths during the 50-day Gaza war this year but told an audience in New York he thought the Israel Defense Forces “did what they could” to avoid civilian casualties.” [Reuters]

CHUTZPAH: Palestinians say term ‘Temple Mount’ counters international law: The Palestine Liberation Organization advises journalists to ‘adhere to international law’ and use the term Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound instead. The statement says the compound is “an internationally recognized part of the Occupied State of Palestine” and that Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem in the 1980 Basic Law on Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community. [Haaretz] • “Explosions at Fatah Sites in Gaza Raise Tensions With Hamas” [NYTimes]

—Meanwhile, “The leaders of Israel and Jordan spoke on Thursday in a bid to calm tensions between the two countries a day after Amman summoned home its ambassador in protest over police clashes with rioters at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque. The conversation between Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marked a rare public departure from the discreet dialogue between the neighbors and U.S. allies and appeared to signal that the 20-year-old peace treaty between them remains resilient for now.” [WSJ]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Saban Raises $34M To Support Israeli Defense Forces: “Billionaire mogul and master fundraiser Haim Saban brought the A-lists of Hollywood and tech together Thursday at the Beverly Hilton to raise $34 million for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces. A tearful Saban told the crowd of more than 1,000 attendees that he discouraged anonymous donations this year because it was important for supporters to “stand with Israel publicly, vocally and very loudly.”

“Notable donations made at the event included $10 million from Larry Ellison, co-founder and chairman of Oracle; $5 million from top Republican fundraisers Sheldon and Miriam Adelson (who received a standing ovation from the liberal westside crowd); $5.2 million from brothers Maurice and Paul Marciano of Guess Jeans; $3.6 million from Saban and wife Cheryl; $2 million from Steve Tisch, chairman and executive vice president of the New York Giants; $1 million from Leo David, founder of the Western Region of the FIDF; and $1.6 million from The Helmsley Charitable Trust. In addition, first-time attendees and donors Michael and Susan Dell gave $1.8 million to fundIMPACT! educational scholarship programs. Other co-chairs and supporters included Marvel Studios founder and former CEO Avi Arad, Electus founder Ben Silverman, Alan Horn and wife Cindy, Barry Meyer, Israeli billionaire Vivi Nevo, Barbra Streisand, developer and Los Angeles Police Commission president Steve Soboroff, Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz, David Foster, Pamela Anderson, Chris Tucker, Jordan Farmar and Spencer Hawes.”[HollywoodReporter]

HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND: The Israeli American Council’s Inaugural National Conference in Washington D.C. – Among the scheduled speakers – Dan Senor will interview Mitt Romney on the midterm elections and the U.S. – Israel relationship; Senators. Lindsey Graham and Bob Menendez, Rep. Ted Deutch, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, former Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman, and sponsors Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban will lead a panel on “the Israeli-American Dream.”

On Sunday, the Jewish Federations’ General Assembly will convene at National Harbor:“Nearly 3,000 participants from 124 communities, including 1,000 first-time attendees, will gather at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor in Prince George’s County beginning Sunday to discuss today’s pressing Jewish issues, including rising anti-Semitism in Europe, Jewish life on college campuses, Jewish education in North America and the ongoing conflict in Israel and the wider Middle East.” Speakers include Vice President Joe Biden, Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Elana Kagan, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Ambassador Ron Dermer, NBC’s Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell.”
**Good Friday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI]. Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email editor@jewishinsider.com**

NYTIMES INTERVIEWS LEE ZELDIN; Lone Jewish Republican Congressman: “In an interview on Thursday, the congressman-elect pledged to be a strong defender of Israel and said he hoped to become a bridge between Jews of both parties. “I’ve had the experience where I would go into a temple, and I may know the secret handshake, I may have been bar mitzvahed down the street,” he said, “but there would be people who didn’t care about a single word coming out of my mouth because I was a registered Republican.” [FirstDraft]

Shmuel Rosner: The Hillary-Jeb gap in support for Protective Edge (and more notes about the 2014 Jewish vote): ” The next time you wonder about the question of whether Israelis truly prefer a Republican to a Democrat, consider the following finding from the J Street poll: 38% of Jews supporting Hillary Clinton for the Presidency in 2016 “strongly approve” of Protective Edge – compared to 74% of Jews supporting Jeb Bush for the Presidency in 2016. The total “approve” figure for Hilary supporters is 77%. The total “approve” figure for Bush supporters is 92%. Some more stats: 33% of Jews who approve of Obama’s handling of his job “strongly approve” of Protective Edge – compared to 66% of Jews who disapprove of Obama’s handling of his job. The approve-disapprove gap in this case is as follows: Obama supporters – 52% more approve of Protective Edge than disapprove of it. Obama opponents – 72% more approve of Protective Edge than disapprove of it.” [Jewish Journal]

2016 WATCH: Mike Murphy on Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and Bobby Jindal. “Mitt Romney Is Like Bloomingdale’s, Bobby Jindal Is Like Your Corner Boutique.” [Businessweek] • “Mitch McConnell Backs Rand Paul in 2016, Giving Him the Kind of Endorsement His Father Never Won” by Shane Goldmacher [NJ]

LONG-READ: “Paul Ryan Could Be a 2016 Contender—So Why Is He Talking About Going Home?” by Tim Alberta in National Journal: “In reporting on Ryan, then, I set out with a narrow objective: to determine whether he’s planning to run for president in 2016. The indicators are there—a book tour, stump speeches and campaign appearances, visits to early primary states. But after dozens of interviews with Ryan and members of his inner circle over several months, I realized something. Ryan isn’t preparing to run for president. In fact, he says he is planning to exit electoral politics altogether. Only he’s reserving for himself one rather large caveat.

“I’M NOT GOING TO be in Congress 10 years from now,” Ryan tells me one September afternoon. “I can be definitive about that.” “You won’t be in Congress in 10 years?” “No. God, no. I’ve already been there 16 years. I don’t want to be a career guy. Even though I’ve been there a long time, where you could already say that … ” He stops himself. “It’s just, I don’t want to spend my adult life in Congress.”… Ryan does little to dispute that exit plan. “If I choose the committee track, that’s six years,” Ryan says. “I want to be an impactful member of Congress. I want to make a big difference. But then I want to leave and go do something else. I want to be young enough where I can go do something else with my life.”[NationalJournal]

FUN-READ: Ben Smith – “Why BuzzFeed Doesn’t Do Clickbait” – “Jon Stewart was asked about BuzzFeed and Vice the other day, and had this to say: “I scroll around, but when I look at the internet, I feel the same as when I’m walking through Coney Island,” Stewart told New York magazine. “It’s like carnival barkers, and they all sit out there and go, ‘Come on in here and see a three-legged man!’ So you walk in and it’s a guy with a crutch.” That may be the best definition I’ve ever heard of what’s referred to as “clickbait.” But it suggests that Stewart, like many people in the media industry, confuses what we do with true click bait.” [BuzzFeed]

That’s all folks; have a great day!

**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**

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