Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Israel Independence Day | Rubio leads polls; Adelson primary | Antony Ressler buys the Hawks | The Secret Slang of the Diamond District

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TOP TALKER: “White House Mending Fences With Netanyahu” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “After simmering tensions gave way to open hostility between the two leaders this year, the White House is working to publicly mend fences with Mr. Netanyahu and demonstrate its support for Israel, including by sending Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to speak at an Israeli Independence Day celebration in Washington on Thursday. The White House is engaged in an aggressive effort… to limit the potential political fallout for Democrats of what has become a bitter rift in the American and Israeli relationship.”

“This administration is nothing if not pragmatic, and the issue on the table now is creating conditions for a reasonable outcome should the Iran agreement be reached,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former American ambassador to Israel and Egypt who is now a professor at Princeton. “There was a moment in the midst of this where you wonder if anger was replacing policy,” Mr. Kurtzer continued, “but they came to their senses and said, ‘O.K., anger is not a policy, now we’ve made our point, it’s time to move on.’ ” [NYTimes]

HAPPENING TODAY: “At 6PM, Vice President Joe Biden will deliver remarks at Israel’s 67th Independence Day celebration hosted by the Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and Mrs. Rhoda Dermer at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC.” • Drop us a note — Editor@JewishInsider.com — if you’ll be attending and we’ll try to say hi.

–As per our scoop in yesterday’s Daily Kickoff, Jeb Bush will be visiting the Ramaz Jewish day school on the Upper East Side today for Israeli Independence Day. According to spokesman Tim Miller, Bush will have a Q&A session with students, teachers and administrators. [JewishInsider]

–At 10:45PM, “The largest Israeli Independence Day party outside of Israel, at the Marquee New York.[JSpace]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Spotted at a United Nations reception in honor of Israel’s Independence Day… the UN’s Ban Ki-moon and Israeli Amb. Ron Prosor enjoying shakshouka, U.S. Amb. Samantha Power, Henry Kissinger, AJC’s David Harris.

–Jewish National Fund hosted an inaugural Israeli Independence Day Celebration at the Park Ave. Synagogue last night with over 500 attendees including Consul Gen. Ido Aharoni, JNF’s Jeff Levine, Laureine Greenbaum, Jonathan German, UJA’s Eric Goldstein, Elliot Cosgrove, and Rachel Ain.

HISTORY DEPT. “When Israel Helped Yemen’s Shiites” by Oren Kessler: “The Houthis see a Jewish conspiracy behind for the campaign against them. But in the Yemeni civil war of the 1960s, Israel helped the Shiite tribes from which the rebels hail.” [PoliticoMag]

“Saudis’ New Yemen War Looks Like the Old One” — by Eli Lake and Josh Rogin: “Obama doesn’t want the new proxy war in Yemen — where Iran supports the Houthi forces being bombed by Saudi Arabia and its allies — to scuttle his negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program… With the Houthis continuing their march on the ground, America’s quiet diplomacy to urge an end to the fighting will also likely continue, even if the old war now has a new name.” [BloombergView]

Thomas Friedman: “Obama’s bet — and it is not crazy — is that if you can get the right verification procedures in place and deprive Iran from making a bomb for a decade (that alone is worth a deal, given the alternatives) then you increase the odds of Iran’s own people changing Iran’s character from within. But then so much rides on implementing a fail-proof verification regime and “snapback” sanctions if Iran cheats.” [NYTimes

Shahrzad Elghanayan “Iran executed my grandfather. Now the regime is trying to hide the way it has treated other Jews: My grandfather Habib Elghanian, born in 1912, became one of Iran’s most famous industrialists, after he and his brothers introduced the plastics industry to the country in the late 1940s… When Khomeini returned from exile in February 1979 as the head of the Islamic revolution, my grandfather was among the first civilians he went after. On May 9, 1979, my grandfather was executed after a 20-minute trial on trumped-up charges that included being a “Zionist spy.” [WashPost]

Aaron David Miller: “A Nuke Deal Too Big To Fail: Five reasons a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is coming soon — whether you like it or not.” [ForeignPolicy]

STILL TALKING: “Richard C. Holbrooke’s Diary of Disagreement With the Obama Administration” by Matthew Rosenberg: “In the summer of 2010, Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, began recording a secret audio diary, detailing his frustrations with a White House that he believed was too willing to listen to the military and too often mistook domestic political calculations for strategic thinking.” [NYTimes] • Tweet: @JonathanGlick – “Having an audio diary so that he could have the last word on how much smarter he was is the most Holbrooke thing ever” [Twitter]

“The New Enemy Within” by Peter Beinart in the Atlantic’s May issue: “Why are conservatives more hostile to Muslims and Islam today than they were in the terrifying aftermath of 9/11? And why have American Muslims, who in 2000 mostly voted Republican, apparently replaced gays and feminists as the right’s chief culture-war foe?” [TheAtlantic]

SHELDON PRIMARY: “Marco Rubio takes lead in Sheldon Adelson primary” by Alex Isenstadt: “Before Iowa and New Hampshire, GOP candidates are competing in the Sheldon Adelson primary, and some will travel to his posh Venetian hotel in Las Vegas this weekend in hopes of winning it. But one candidate — Marco Rubio — has emerged as the clear frontrunner, according to nearly a half-dozen sources close to the multi-billionaire casino mogul.” [Politico] • “Marco Rubio leads GOP field in new national poll” [CNN]

“Gov. Rick Snyder headed to Nevada for Republican Jewish meeting: Spokesman Jarrod Agen said Wednesday Snyder will be in Nevada Thursday and Friday for the Republican Jewish Coalition’s spring meeting before going to Washington for the White House Correspondents Dinner as a guest of Bloomberg News. Snyder will talk informally to attendees and media in Nevada. Official speakers include GOP presidential contenders Sen. Ted Cruz and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.” [AP]

“Republican Jewish Coalition says it sees fundraising boom” by Matea Gold: “Tension between the Obama administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has fueled a fundraising bonanza for a conservative advocacy group that serves as an influential hub of wealthy Jewish donors on the right. RJC officials said the group’s growing ranks reflects a broader dissatisfaction among American Jews with the Democratic party… Democratic Jewish leaders reject the notion that a large swath of the Jewish community is moving to the GOP. “The data is pretty clear,” said Greg Rosenbaum… “The Jewish community still strongly supports Democrats.” [WashPost] • Peter Stone: “GOP Serfs Bow at Feet of Casino King” [DailyBeast]

RJC Schedule — as detailed in the Washington Post: “The meeting kicks off Thursday night with a private dinner at Adelson’s home for the RJC board and top donors. Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, will be a featured guest, along with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. House Speaker John A. Boehner is addressing the group at lunch Friday, while Rep. Edward R. Royce and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, both of California, will speak at a Shabbat dinner Friday night. On Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Texas governor Rick Perry, Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence are scheduled to address the audience, while President George W. Bush will talk Saturday evening.” [WashPost]

“Norman Braman begins financing pro-Rubio Super PAC” by Alex Leary: “Norman Braman is making good on his pledge to provide significant financial support to Marco Rubio. The Miami businessman and philanthropist said Wednesday he’s begun funding a Rubio Super PAC, but he would not be specific. “It will be significant and it will all be public,” Braman said. “You’re just going to have to be patient and wait.”… But Braman doesn’t necessarily like the new era of unlimited money in politics. “It’s what the law is. It’s what the Supreme Court decided,” he said in a telephone interview. “Would I rather see a different system? Of course I would. It’s pathetic that all this money that goes into these political campaigns can’t be channeled (in a different way). But you have to compete.” [TampaBayTimes] • “Braman told BuzzFeed News that he and Rubio have bonded over immigration.” [BuzzFeed]

Norman Braman sues Miami over Jeff Berkowitz’s SkyRise project — by Curt Anderson:“Last August, Miami voters gave developer Jeff Berkowitz permission to lease land on the city’s sparkling downtown waterfront to build a 1,000-foot, hairpin-shaped tourist tower complete with thrill rides, breathtaking observation decks, restaurants and clubs. There was one key promise: No public money would be spent on the $430 million project. Now the city and county are being sued by Raquel Regalado — the 40-year-old daughter of the Miami mayor — and billionaire car dealer Norman Braman. Why? Because Berkowitz is seeking $9 million from an existing county economic development fund to pay for infrastructure improvements, such as streets, marina upgrades and so forth.” [ABC News]

“Major Clinton Foundation backer, a supporter of Jewish causes, trades with Iran: The largest single donor to the Clinton Foundation, a Ukrainian businessman who backs Jewish causes, reportedly also trades with Iran, according to Newsweek. Victor Pinchuk, a Jewish pipeline magnate, has sold his pipelines to Iran, the magazine reported.” [JewishJournalNewsweek]

2016 QUOTE: “Hillary better be nice to him,” warned Dan Calegari, a longtime New Hampshire activist. “He’s going to need a good vice president. First woman vice president.” — in “Martin O’Malley forces ramp up for late May launch” by Gabriel Debenedetti [Politico]

2016 TECH — Vincent Harris Profile: “Netanyahu hired Harris (who won’t say for how much) after he flew to Israel to interview for the gig. “I feel like sometimes in American politics we have lost a sense of pride,” Harris says. “When you hear the prime minister say, ‘This is your country, come back to your country’—I’m not Jewish and I get excited.” In the days leading up to Netanyahu’s victory, Harris’ team relied heavily on Facebook posts (“It’s a Facebook-first country,” Harris says), and aggressively collected voter contacts… Harris believes some of the lessons learned from the Netanyahu campaign will be of use in the run-up to the 2016 election. “I think that where it’s most similar is with a contentious presidential primary because you are trying to push your own message while remembering that you have a coalition that you have to build and that you have to govern once you win,” he says.” [PoliticoMag]

Shimon Peres Profile: “The takeway from my meeting with Peres is that government – which can be a “pain” (friction) – alone can’t do the work, and nor should we expect it to at a time when citizens are clamoring more than ever to participate in civic life. Near the start of our conversation – in the middle of a story about his youth on a kibbutz and as an emerging leader among the people who would help define the early mission of Israel – he paused to reflect. “My only regret is that I did not dream big enough.” Peres, now 91, may be dreaming bigger than ever. But he’s not dreaming — or acting on those dreams – alone.” [Forbes]

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

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Antony Ressler buys the Atlanta Hawks for less than $1 billion: “The Atlanta Hawks today announced that a definitive agreement has been signed for the purchase of the NBA franchise by an ownership group led by Tony Ressler, co-founder of Ares Management. The group also includes seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill, Clayton Dubilier & Rice partner Rick Schnall, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely and Marquis Jet co-founder Jesse Itzler, who are married.” [PressRelease]

–Ressler, who’s Jewish, is the brother-in-law of Apollo co-founder Leon Black. Joshua Harris, another Apollo co-founder, owns the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia 76ers. • In 2002, the Jewish Journal profiled Ressler’s wife, Jami Gertz, a Hollywood actress at the time. [JewishJournal]

FIRST LOOK: “The Secret Slang of the Diamond District: A stroll down 47th Street can be bewildering, if you don’t know the language” by Ben Schott: “The prevalence of Yiddish reflects the historic influence of Jewish craftsmen and dealers. But the diamond business is international, and on Diamond and Jewelry Way it is not uncommon to hear Russian, Indian, Dutch, French, Belgian, Korean and other accents enunciating the mame-loshn (literally, “mother tongue”) of Eastern European Jewry, and a few non-Yiddish phrases as well.” [NYTimesMag]

CAMPUS TALK: “UCLA Jewish Studies head stands behind keynote invitation to Cornel West for Heschel conference” by Jared Sichel: “Amidst objections from some leading Jewish voices at UCLA to an invitation to Cornel West—an author, academic and an outspoken critic of Israel—to serve as the keynote speaker at an upcoming UCLA conference to honor the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Todd Presner, director of UCLA’s Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, said Tuesday he does not plan to rescind the invitation.” [JewishJournal]

–Presner responds: “Why did we invite Cornel West?” [JewishJournal] • Judea Pearl: “An open letter to Cornel West” [JewishJournal] • “The Sad But Self-Inflicted Fall of Cornel West” by Berrett Holmes Pitner [DailyBeast]

SPORTS BLINK: “Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener” by Shiryn Ghermezian: “New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah.” [Algemeiner]

DESSERT: “67 more things I love about Israel” by comedian Benji Lovitt [ToI]

BIRTHDAYS: Rabbi Steven Burg, Eastern Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center… Hadar Susskind, director of Bend the Arc PAC (h/t Playbook)… Michigan’s Jewish QB Alex Swieca…

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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