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Daily Kickoff: Will Obama & Bibi meet in March? | Jeb, Cruz go after Trump for ‘neutral’ on Israel | Profiles: Scooter, Stewart, Sanberg, Steinhardt

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LOGISTICS DEPT: “Obama to meet Raul Castro, dissidents on historic trip to Cuba” by Jeff Mason and Daniel Trotta: “In the first visit by a U.S. president to the Caribbean nation since 1928, Obama will meet entrepreneurs and people from different walks of life during the trip on March 21 and 22, but he is unlikely to see Fidel Castro, the former president and revolutionary leader, U.S. officials said.” [Reuters]

Netanyahu to visit Washington in March: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Washington next month to address the annual gathering of AIPAC, scheduled to take place on March 20-22. As of now, no meeting has been scheduled between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama.” [IsraelHayomJI]

Dan Raviv tweets: “Reporters covering #Israel-U.S. half-jokingly wonder: Is that the scoop why Obama going to Cuba? To avoid Netanyahu (Mar. 21 in DC)?” [Twitter]

Alan Gross tweets: “Critics need to grow a pair: White House sees Cuba visit as chance to consolidate gains. Critics see caving.” [Twitter]

TOP TALKER: “US: Russian fighter jet sale to Iran would violate arms ban” by Bradley Klapper: “The Obama administration said Thursday that a proposed Russian sale of fighter jets to Iran would violate a U.N. arms embargo on Tehran, setting up another standoff related to last year’s nuclear negotiations.” [AP] • “After Nuclear Deal, U.S. Views of Iran Remain Dismal” [Gallup]

“Bratton sees anti-Schumer ‘payback’ in White House comments” by Azi Paybarah: “What the hell does the Iran deal have to do with this issue?” Bratton said. “That’s politics. So basically, what the White House has done is tip their hand — this might be political payback against Senator Schumer for a vote he made a while back.” He said it was now up to the White House to explain how Schumer’s stance on the Iran deal relates to the anti-terrorism funding.”

–Sheinkopf on Schumer’s Play: “Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic consultant, said there was an element of theater to the fight, since “cutting New York anti-terrorism federal funding allows the White House to remind Senator Schumer who’s the boss. And it also allows Senator Schumer to publicly be the New York champion no matter the budget outcome.” [CapitalNY]

2016 WATCH: “Michael Bloomberg Hints at Reasons for Candidacy, but Doesn’t Announce It” by Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns: “Denouncing the “corrupt gridlock” in Washington and wage stagnation across the country, Michael R. Bloomberg bemoaned a lack of solutions from the 2016 presidential candidates on Thursday night, the most explicit rationale he has offered for why he is considering a third-party campaign of his own. “This really has been a race to the extremes,” Mr. Bloomberg said in remarks at his philanthropic foundation on the Upper East Side, as he introduced the veteran Republican speechwriter Peggy Noonan at a celebration of the release of her new book.” [NYTimesCNN]

“Clinton Campaign Briefing for Wall Street Donors Turns Into a Gift to Sanders” by Ed Kilgore: “Jeff Weaver, campaign manager for Bernie 2016 said, “One of the biggest differences between our campaigns is that Bernie’s campaign does not take its marching orders from Wall Street and big money donors. It’s shameful that the Clinton campaign is parroting attacks at Sen. Sanders that The New York Times has documented come right from her big money backers. Now we are beginning to get a glimpse into what goes on in all those closed door meetings with Wall Street interests.” [NYMag] • “Hillary Clinton says she will release closed-door Wall Street speeches ‘when everyone else does’” [WashPost]

OVERVIEW: “US presidential candidates clash over Middle East peace process” by Julian Pecquet: “If an American president were to say … we have no problem with the Israelis incorporating these settlements into the West Bank and Gaza or, frankly, annexing the West Bank or Jerusalem, it would constitute a dramatic, transformative change in American policy, probably rule out the United States as any kind of negotiator … and would have a transformative impact on shutting down what remains of an Arab-Israeli negotiation,” Aaron David Miller said. “But there are all kinds of factors and issues that would intrude, impede and prevent that from happening, even in a Cruz or Rubio presidency.” [AlMonitor]

“Some Israel Supporters Are Troubled by Donald Trump’s Take on the Middle East” by Ross Barkan: “Unlike his past comments on just about any topic, which are often far more heated, Mr. Trump was measured—but it was this restraint that landed him in hot water with Orthodox Jews who typically see the Republican Party as an unflinching ally of Israel.” “Trump’s comments make it clear he doesn’t know or understand the ongoing Arab-Islamic war against Israel,” said Mort Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America. “He continues to prove his knowledge is minimal at best, distorted at worst. He’s willing to make false statements without checking the facts.” [Observer] • “Disclosure:Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.”

Jonathan Tobin: “Trump may oppose the nuclear deal but he seems to be very much on the same page as the president with respect to neutrality about Israel. He also would arrive in the Oval Office with similar illusions about the peace process. Obama believed the magic of his personality could bring peace to the region. Trump thinks his magical deal making skills could do the trick. Neither understood the history of the region or why Palestinians continue to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders would be drawn.” [CommentaryMag]

Jeb on Trump’s comments: “We have to have Israel’s back… For security purposes, for consistency purposes, we can’t say we are going to be a neutral party. It just won’t work.” [TheBlaze]

Heard This Morning — @PatrickSvitek: “Ted Cruz hits Trump for his remarks on Israel and Palestine: “As president, I have no intention of being neutral. When it comes to murderers and the citizens, I am not neutral,” Cruz says.” [Twitter]

Cruz on picking a Secretary of State: “When it comes to State, we have abandoned our friends and allies nationally and we need to – it’s part of the reason I mentioned before. Ripping to shred the Iranian nuclear deal, and moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. Both of those are within the power of the president, but they’re also powerfully symbolic. You know, moving the embassy to Israel tells Israel, it tells all of our allies, it tells our enemies, America is back.” [CNN]

“South Carolina’s Jews Prepare for the Polls” by Rafael Hoffman: “Rebbetzin Ariela Davis, wife of Rabbi Moshe Davis of Charleston’s historic Congregation Brith Sholom Beth Israel, said that despite the small percentage Jews comprise of the general population, the strong influence of Evangelical Christians makes pro-Israel policy among the top criteria for many of the state’s voters. “You see license plates that say ‘South Carolina stands with Israel’ all over, and Cruz and Rubio always talk about it when they speak here,” she said. There are roughly 13,000 Jews in the state, but the community has been a constant presence since the colony’s founding in the 17th century and many Jewish families can trace their presence in the state back for centuries.” [HamodiaJPost]

How Trump Recruited South Carolina Businessman Bill Stern — by Aryeh Werth:“Considered one of the South’s most prominent businessmen, Stern, who is Jewish, is also a player in the state’s political establishment. A few days ago, Stern boarded Trump’s Boeing 757 jet to talk about the state’s primary. “I told him I’m the child of Holocaust survivors — and how concerned I am about Israel,” says Stern, in a phone interview with Mishpacha. “He understood, and was very disappointed how the current president is abandoning Israel. We also talked about the Iran deal and how it’s bad for the country and for Israel.” After 45 minutes, Trump closed the deal. “He asked me if I could play an expanded role in the campaign,” says Stern. “I agreed.” See Mishpacha Mag for full article. [PDF]

“In 2002, Donald Trump Said He Supported Invading Iraq” by Andrew Kaczynski: “For months, Donald Trump has claimed that he opposed the Iraq War before the invasion began — as an example of his great judgment on foreign policy issues.But in a 2002 interview with Howard Stern, Donald Trump said he supported an Iraq invasion.” [BuzzFeed]

“Marco Rubio touts Foreign Relations work but, review shows, he missed 60 percent of hearings” by Alex Leary: “A new, sweeping review of all committees Rubio has sat on since taking office in 2011 paints a bleak picture of participation in the day-to-day responsibilities of the job. Rubio is on the Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Commerce and Small Business and Entrepreneurship committees. The Florida Republican has missed 68 percent of hearings, or 407 of 598 for which records were available.” [TampaBayTimes]

HEADLINE: “Huckabee on Pope: God Told Israel to Build a Wall” [Newsmax]

“The Canadian Parliament Is Going To Condemn The BDS Movement” by Paul McLeod: “The motion to condemn BDS was put forward by the Conservatives, but on Thursday the Liberal majority government announced it would vote in favour. The NDP says the motion is an attack on freedom of expression and is opposing it. Conservative MP Michelle Rempel, who seconded the motion, described BDS as a movement that stifles academic freedom and opposes Israel’s right to exist. “The BDS movement brings physical intimidation and a spirit of demonization into the Canadian discourse of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” she said.” [BuzzFeed]

CAMPUS BEAT: “Brooklyn College to investigate ‘anti-Jewish comments’ at protest” by Conor Skelding: “Brooklyn College will investigate what its president, Karen Gould, called “hateful anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish comments” made by student protestors at a Faculty Council meeting Tuesday evening.” [CapitalNY]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: “Two Days After Losing One, Delek Finds a Buyer for Insurer Phoenix” [Haaretz] Jerusalem-based Glide is #7 on Fast Company’s list of most innovative companies in video for providing a social communication tool for the deaf community [FastCompany] • “Tisch: We Missed Out on Buying Some Hotels” [Bloomberg] • “Eichner at Risk of Losing Harlem Development Site to Creditor” [WSJ] • “Yeshiva U. Gives Away Half Its Endowment To Shed Albert Einstein Medical School” [Forward] • “Kenneth Griffin Joins Elite Rank of Hedge Fund Art Patrons With $500 Million Deal” [NYTimes]

WEEKEND PROFILES: “Joseph Sanberg: A one-man army against poverty” by Danielle Berrin: “Sanberg says his investment in Blue Apron has been more financially rewarding than his time on Wall Street. According to Forbes, Blue Apron now delivers 5 million meals per month and is valued at $2 billion… He is also a major donor to the Jewish Graduate Student Initiative (JGSI), an organization that fosters relationships between Jewish graduate students and Jewish business leaders, including at an annual conference.” [JewishJournal]

“Meet the Powerhouse Behind Justin Bieber’s Success” by Dan Primack: “Scooter Braun says that his business hustle is inspired by his great-grandfather Irving Slavin, a Russian immigrant who eventually moved to the Catskills with his young family and just a few dollars in his pocket. “He worked odd jobs and ended up building bungalows and managing the properties… And he used to go get Fortuneevery month and sit at the table, according to my grandmother, reading stories about entrepreneurs to them… He got to work hard and live out his dream. If his great-grandson can be in Fortune [for being an entrepreneur], well that’s pretty cool.” [Fortune]

“Stewart Butterfield Is Trying His Hardest” by Erin Griffith: “Butterfield does not intend to stop at killing email. (Which, actually, is a mischaracterization—Slack is killing emails within a company, but external emails will never go away. Even he still spends four hours a day emailing.)”  [Fortune]

“The Man Behind Birthright Turns His Attention Toward Day Schools as the Next Frontier in Building Jewish Identity” by Joshua Runyan: “Michael Steinhardt, the billionaire financier who nearly singlehandedly changed the way the Jewish community thinks about the value of an Israel experience for Jewish youth, now wants the professionals, lay leaders and institutions in our midst to have another transformative conversation. This time, he wants to change the way we think about day school education.” [JewishExponent]

SPORTS BLINK: “How Tisch Plans to Improve the NY Giants: Jonathan Tisch, co-chairman at Loews Corporation, discusses the business of sports and the future of the New York Giants.” [Bloomberg

DESSERT: DJ Khaled — “They don’t want you to eat Kosher, gotta eat Kosher” (h/t Dan Smith) [Instagram]

Yitz Applbaum on the Wine of the Week: “Last night I ate at one of my favorite restaurants in Tel-Aviv, Deca. It has a particularly superb fish menu; so once handed the wine list, my eyes went straight to the white wine section. I was surprised to see a Chardonnay-Cabernet blend. It was from the Gvaot winery in Givat Harel. Curiosity got the best of me, so of course, I ordered it.”

“What great fruit. Grapefruit immediately coated the whole of my palate. That was the Chardonnay coming through. The Cab part of the wine came in the second wave and added a slightly bitter and tannic finish—a rare profile for a white wine. After thirty minutes or so the grapefruit (and pear) tastes blended with the tannins and created a toasty and nutty finish. This combination made me feel as if I was drinking two different bottles in one. A great, if not somewhat confusing experience. The wine is made from Chardonnay and Cabernet grapes squeezed immediately after their picking. The blend sits in new oak for six months. A thoroughly enjoyable wine.” [Deca]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS: Andrew Ross Sorkin, Founder of NYT’s DealBook & Co-creator of Showtime’s ‘Billions’, turns 39… Taglit-Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark… Ben Birnbaum… David Friend, Senior VP of News at CBS Television Stations… Film studio executive and philanthropist, David Geffen, turns 74… Former MLB pitcher for the Phillies, Michael Schwimer, turns 30… Actor David Mazouz turns 15… Novelist Jonathan Lethem turns 52… Miriam Fischer… American particle physicist and Nobel Prize winner, David Gross, turns 75… Paul Teller, Chief of Staff to Sen. Ted Cruz… Yale University President Peter Salovey (Soloveitchik) turns 58… Jonathan Cheban turns 42… AEPi Chair of the Board Larry Leider (yesterday; h/t Alex Jakubowski)…

** A message from OurCrowd: OurCrowd is a world-leading equity-based crowdfunding platform, built for accredited investors to provide venture capital funding for Israeli and  global startups. Membership in the community is vetted and offered only to people who meet the stringent accreditation criteria. Accredited investors who are accepted into the community can make minimum investments of $10,000 per deal. Visit [OurCrowd] **

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