Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Obama’s ‘No daylight’ between U.S. & Israel | Mike Bloomberg for Mayor of London? Wolfson – ‘rule it out’ | Chuck Schumer’s matzoh brei

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TOP TALKER: “The Obama Doctrine and Iran” — Thomas Friedman interviews President Obama: “Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us. … You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”… Obviously, Israel is in a different situation, he added. “Now, what you might hear from Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, which I respect, is the notion, ‘Look, Israel is more vulnerable. We don’t have the luxury of testing these propositions the way you do,’ and I completely understand that.”

–On being depicted by some as somehow anti-Israel: “This is an area that I’ve been concerned about,” the president said. “Look, Israel is a robust, rowdy democracy. … We share so much. We share blood, family. … And part of what has always made the U.S.-Israeli relationship so special is that it has transcended party, and I think that has to be preserved. There has to be the ability for me to disagree with a policy on settlements, for example, without being viewed as … opposing Israel. There has to be a way for Prime Minister Netanyahu to disagree with me on policy without being viewed as anti-Democrat.”

–“But this has been as hard as anything I do because of the deep affinities that I feel for the Israeli people and for the Jewish people. It’s been a hard period.” You take it personally? I asked. “It has been personally difficult for me to hear … expressions that somehow … this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest — and the suggestion that when we have very serious policy differences, that that’s not in the context of a deep and abiding friendship and concern and understanding of the threats that the Jewish people have faced historically and continue to face.” [NYTimes]

BACKSTORY TO FRIEDMAN PIECE: “Cracks Appear in Democratic-Jewish Alliance” by Peter Nicholas: “A group of Jewish Democratic House members met with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in his office last week and cautioned that for them to help “sell a very unpopular [Iran nuclear] deal to our constituents,” Mr. Obama must “increase his popularity with our constituents,” said a Democratic congressman involved in the meeting… The lawmakers who met with Mr. McDonough last week also urged that Mr. Obama soften his tone toward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and avoid “getting into a daily argument with” him, one participant said.” [WSJ]

“G.O.P.’s Israel Support Deepens as Political Contributions Shift” by Eric Lipton:“Republicans currently in the Senate raised more money during the 2014 election cycle in direct, federally regulated campaign contributions from individuals and political action committees deemed pro-Israel than their Democratic counterparts… The alliances in Congress that pro-Israel donors have built will certainly be tested as they lobby lawmakers to oppose the deal with Iran and perhaps even expand sanctions against the country, despite objections from the Obama administration.” [NYTimes]

“Political Battle Ramps Up Over Iran” by Carol E. Lee: “Senate Republican leaders are planning an April 14 vote on legislation by Mr. Corker that would prevent the Obama administration from lifting sanctions on Iran for 60 days. The delay would allow Congress to review and potentially vote on a final Iran agreement, which envisions removing sanctions. The White House has threatened to veto the bill in its current form, saying it could derail negotiations.” [WSJ] • “White House looks to scientists to sell Iran deal” [Politico]

“One aspect of the sales effort is a bid to assuage lawmakers’ concerns about Israel’s safety. Jewish leaders noted that Obama had pledged on Thursday that there would be “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel on security, a phrase they saw as deliberately chosen. At a meeting at the White House in 2009, Obama said that eight years of “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel had yielded no progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, suggesting that a different approach was needed. “It was significant that the president used that phrase,” said Nathan Diament.” [NYTimes]

REPORT: “Iran is intensifying efforts to support Hamas in Gaza” by Con Coughlin: “Iran has sent Hamas’s military wing tens of millions of dollars to help it rebuild the network of tunnels in Gaza destroyed by Israel’s invasion last summer, intelligence sources have told The Sunday Telegraph. It is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks used to bombard residential neighborhoods in Israel during the war, code-named Operation Protective Edge by Israel.” [Telegraph] • “Pentagon Upgraded Biggest ‘Bunker Buster’ Bomb as Iran Talks Unfolded” [WSJ]

Michael Singh: “How Iran Outmaneuvered the U.S. in Nuclear Talks” [WSJ]

Samuel Berger: “The Fantasy of a Better Iran Deal: The critics are dreaming. Tougher sanctions would only isolate Washington, not pressure Tehran.” [PoliticoMag]

2016 WATCH: “Jeb Bush as Inevitable Choice? Republicans Say Not So Fast” by Nicholas Confessore and Maggie Haberman: “Jewish donors also remain angry at Mr. Bush for a March 23 speech that Mr. Baker, who was secretary of state under Mr. Bush’s father, delivered to J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group. Mr. Adelson, perhaps the single largest Republican donor, quickly complained to Mel Sembler, a Florida developer who has long supported Mr. Bush. And Mr. Bush was pressed again about Mr. Baker’s speech at another California event last week.”

—The officially neutral… “Fred Zeidman, a prominent bundler, said Mr. Bush had attracted an enormous number of supporters outside the family network. “You’re not seeing either of the old Bush teams running this campaign,” he said, “and I think it’s proof positive that people feel very strongly.” [NYTimes]

Adelson-associates for Rubio: “Rubio has an April 7 fundraiser for his leadership PAC and campaign committee in Tallahassee with lobbyists and pro-Israel backers associated with Las Vegas gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson. A source close to Adelson and the lobbyist associated with him who arranged the event, Nick Iarossi, say the fundraiser is no reflection on Adelson’s interest in the race.” [Politico]

“Graham says Hillary would cut a better Iran deal than Obama: “The best deal, I think, comes with a new president,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said. “Hillary Clinton would do better. I think everybody on our side, except maybe Rand Paul, could do better.” [PoliticoCBS News]

“Rand Paul’s Challenge: Charting His Own Course” by Janet Hook: “Asked to comment on the contrast in the senator’s tone and message now versus when he was speaking on his father’s behalf, spokesman Sergio Gor said that “Sen. Rand Paul and his father each attract new people to the party in their own unique ways. Sen. Paul has worked very hard to engage new constituencies.”… The senator has opposed foreign aid in the past but now makes an exception for Israel. He has supported sanctions against Iran, provided it is clear these don’t amount to an authorization of war.” [WSJWashPost]

LongRead: “Is Hillary Clinton Any Good At Running For President? And how much does it matter, anyway?” by Jason Zengerle [NYMag] • “Sneak peek inside Hillary Clinton 2016: There’s no ‘I’ in campaign” [CNN• “Outcome Of Iran Nuclear Pact Has High Stakes For Clinton” [AP]

**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 editor@jewishinsider.com**

Across the Pond: “Michael Bloomberg is being touted as the next mayor of London: The Sunday Times reported that Bloomberg, who is 73 and has a number of ties with the UK, including an ex-wife and two daughters with British citizenship, was “considering” running to mayor in the capital next year, with the political backing of the Conservative Party.” [QuartzSundayTimes• Howard Wolfson: “Run for Mayor of London? Flattered, but rule it out. @MikeBloomberg loves NYC too much to leave – and too tough to succeed @MayorofLondon.” [Twitter] • Michael Bloomberg: Philanthropy should ’embolden government'” [Politico]

“Could Rahm Emanuel Lose Chicago Race to ‘Hanukkah Harry’ Challenger?” by Ron Litke: “At their final debate, held on Tuesday, March 31, Emanuel pulled out the Jewish card by characterizing Garcia as “Hanukkah Harry” for offering a list of expensive proposals without explaining how he would find the necessary revenue.” [Forward] • “How Rahm Emanuel flipped the script on liberal rebels in the Chicago runoff” [WashPost]

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “Columbus-based clothier to suit up athletes for NFL Draft” by Tim Feran: “When the NFL draft starts in late April, Ethan Weisman plans to have plenty of skin — or rather fabric — in the game. Weisman’s Pantheon Custom Clothiers will be providing suits for some of the college athletes waiting to be chosen by a pro team.” [Dispatch]

“Jay Edelson, the Class-Action Lawyer Who May Be Tech’s Least Friended Man” by Conor Dougherty: “When technology executives imagine the boogeyman, they see a baby-face guy in wire-rim glasses. His name is Jay Edelson. Mr. Edelson, 42, is a class-action lawyer. He is also, if not the most hated person in Silicon Valley, very close to it.” [NYTimes

STARTUP NATION: “Playtech buys forex trading platform TradeFX for $224M: Gambling platform software company Playtech is buying a controlling stake in forex trading platform TradeFX for $224 million. Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi holds a controlling stake in both companies.” [Globes• “Israeli tech powers longest-ever driverless car journey” [ToI] • “Made In Israel: Google Supports Moms In Start-Up Nation, Then Other Parts Of The World” [Forbes]

Not Startup Nation… Yet: “Beirut’s Bright Future As A Tech Hub For MENA, If Its Politicians Will Allow It” [TechCrunch]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “How Diller and von Furstenberg Got Their Island in Hudson River Park” by Lisa W. Foderaro: “The talks surrounding the plan had been so secretive, though, that the announcement was a surprise to even the closest observers of the park. And not everyone embraced the way the new 2.4-acre pier — dubbed “Diller Island” by some of its critics — was being presented: basically, as a fait accompli.” [NYTimes]

TALK OF OUR NATION — Tragic: “Israeli police say a man was crushed to death in a stampede during a funeral procession for a Jewish religious scholar. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says more than 100,000 mourners flooded the streets of the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak. While such mass funerals for important rabbis take place regularly in Israel, rarely is anyone ever killed amid the huge crowds.” [AP]

BOOKS: “The System: Two new histories show how the Nazi concentration camps worked.” [NewYorker] • “My grandfather was the Nazi from ‘Schindler’s List’” [NYPost]

OPENING DAY: “Marvin Miller, the executive director of the MLB Players Association from 1966 to 1982, said that when he assumed that post, ballplayers were “the most exploited group of workers I had ever seen—more exploited than the grape pickers of Cesar Chavez.” They were bound by “a reserve clause that made the players prisoners”with “no grievance procedure, no salary arbitration, no nothing.” Robert F. Burk’s book is the first comprehensive biography of Miller, the former steelworkers union official who transformed the toothless Players Association into what may be the nation’s most powerful private-sector union.” [WSJ]

PASSOVER TWEETS: @JoshMalina – “I always plan to lose weight during Passover, and then I end up eating meat and candy for 8 days.” [Twitter]

@HowieLB: “This really happened @TrumpDoral yesterday: #Passover guest told to take feet off coffee table in lobby. Looks up to see @realDonaldTrump” [Twitter]

@SenSchumer: “Time for a #Passover snack: matzoh brei, my mother’s recipe. Delicious!” [Twitter]

@WhiteHouse: “On Friday night, I hosted a Passover Seder at the White House.” —President Obama:[Twitter]

That’s all folks; have a great day!

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