Daily Kickoff: AIPAC rebukes Trump for anti-Obama comments | Hillary targets Trump | Bernie Sanders gives critical AIPAC speech… in Utah

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Ed Note: Thank you Congressman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-California) for hosting a late night wine tasting from Yitz Applbaum for JI readers in D.C. Full recap to be posted soon… 

AIPAC RECAP: Not a coincidence that presidential hopefuls, including Hillary and Trump, specifically highlighted the PA rewarding the families of terrorists during speeches at AIPAC [JI]… Spotted by a JI reader at the Verizon Center last night for AIPAC’s Leadership Reception: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough [Pic]… As expected, arena stayed full during Trump’s talk. Less a sign of full support, more about curiosity… A major highlight of the conference, mentioned by several speakers, were the over 4,000 campus delegates from 608 campuses…

Moment many are talking about: “Trump got his biggest ovation for declaring it was President Obama’s final year in office: “Yay.” He smiled as the crowd showered him in cheers.” [Politico]

AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus this morning: “We are disappointed that so many people applauded a sentiment that we neither agree with nor condone,” she says. “Let us close this conference with the recognition that when we say come together we still have a lot to learn from each other.” [TheHillToI]

TRUMP SPEECH: “In Speech to Aipac, Donald Trump Affirms Support for Israel” by Janet Hook and Rebecca Ballhaus: “Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump sought to present a more sober and measured profile Monday, as he spoke before one of the largest pro-Israel groups in the U.S. The New York businessman used his address—drafted by his Jewish son-in-law—to try to allay doubts about his support for Israel and about his mastery of foreign policy… Despite threats of protests, the crowd appeared largely receptive to Mr. Trump, save for a few moments.” [WSJCSPAN]

John Podhoretz: “My guess is that Ken Kurson, who edits Jared Kushner’s Observer and wrote for Rudy Giuliani, wrote this speech.” [Twitter]

HOW IT PLAYED: “Trump Connects With AIPAC Crowd” [JI] • “On-Script Trump Clears Low Bar at AIPAC” [DailyBeast] • “Good for the Jews? Trump at AIPAC triggers protests, standing ovations — and debate” [WashPost] • “Donald Trump’s AIPAC Speech Gets Subdued Response” [TimeMag] • “Donald Trump Works His Magic on a Frustrated AIPAC” [Forward] • “Trump slams Obama, Iran deal; assures Jewish voters on Israel” [NYPost] • “Despite Threats of Protests, Donald Trump Wins Over the Pro-Israel Crowd at AIPAC” [ViceNews]

David Suissa: “AIPAC turns Trump into politician” [JewishJournal]

Chemi Shalev: “Trump’s Hypnotic Gig at AIPAC Will Go Down in History – or Infamy” [Haaretz]

Aaron David Miller: “At AIPAC, Unconventional Donald Trump Gave a Conventional Political Speech” [WSJ]

David Horovitz: “The pro-Israel lobby had worried that the divisive Republican candidate would be treated shabbily. Nothing could have been further from the truth.” [ToI]

Yair Rosenberg: “Trump’s Transformation at AIPAC Should Scare You: By reading a speech off a teleprompter for the first time, and replacing his ugliest antics with an unremarkable oration, Donald Trump became a politician capable of winning an election” [TabletMag]

“Adelson Is Right About Trump’s pro-Israel Credentials” by Seth Lipsky: “Michael Steinhardt’s secretary called me one morning in December with a question. Did I know how to get in touch with Donald Trump? Why, I asked, does Michael want to get in touch with Trump? He doesn’t, came the reply. But Sheldon Adelson wants to get in touch with Donald Trump and asked Michael to whether he knew how to do it.” [Haaretz]

CLINTON SPEECH: “Hillary: U.S. Can Never Be ‘Neutral’ on Israel” by Jacob Kornbluh: “We need steady hands and not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who knows what on Wednesday,” she said to loud applause. “Israel’s security is non-negotiable. The U.S. can never be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security and survival. Some things aren’t negotiable.” [JewishInsiderCSPAN]

Hillary references Purim: “On Wednesday evening, Jews around the world will celebrate the Festival of Purim, and children will learn the story of Esther, who refused to stay silent in the face of evil. It wasn’t easy. She had a good life. And by speaking out, she risked everything. But as Mordecai reminded her, we all have an obligation to do our part when danger gathers. And those of us with power or influence have a special responsibility to do what’s right.”

HOW IT PLAYED: “Hillary Clinton Hits Donald Trump For Being Clueless On Foreign Policy” [HuffPost] • “Clinton Targets Trump on Foreign Policy in AIPAC Speech” [TimeMag• “At AIPAC, Donald Trump Is Entirely on Hillary Clinton’s Mind” [Observer] • “Clinton Delights AIPAC with Blistering Attacks on Trump” [NRO] • “At AIPAC, Hillary Clinton takes aim at Trump’s dealmaking: ‘Israel’s security is nonnegotiable’” [WashPost] • “AIPAC attendees: Clinton stronger than Obama on Israel” [WashExaminer]

Shmuel Rosner: “Clinton gave a masterful AIPAC speech. That is, if you believe her…” [JewishJournal]

Eli Lake: “Clinton’s Convenient Evolution on Israel” [BloombergView]

CRUZ SPEECH: “Cruz strikes right chords with AIPAC crowd” by Jared Sichel: “Cruz, the final speaker of the evening, directly followed Trump, opening his speech with an emotional, “God bless AIPAC!” then immediately proceeded to attack the Republican frontrunner. “Let me say at the outset, perhaps to the surprise of the previous speaker, Palestine has not existed since 1948.” Cruz was referring to the two times Trump had referred to “Israel and Palestine,” as opposed to “Israel and the Palestinians.” The Texas senator and Trump’s main competitor covered some of the leading issues on AIPAC members’ minds, including the Iran deal (which he said, as he has before,  he will “rip to shreds” on his first day in office), the BDS movement (university administrations that endorse it should lose federal funding, Cruz said) and the U.S. embassy. He ended his speech by saying “Am Israel Chai!” to a standing ovation.” [JewishJournalCSPAN]

HOW IT PLAYED: “Cruz Nicks Trump, Makes Case to Pro-Israeli Group” [TexasTribune] • “Cruz courts AIPAC, swiping Trump in process” [Politico] • “Cruz chides Trump for ‘Palestine’ references as they vie for pro-Israel support” [DallasMorningNews]

“With an Orthodox focus, Ted Cruz reaches out to Jewish donors and voters” by Katie Zezima: “Cruz, the son of a pastor, has spent several years aggressively courting the support of Jewish voters, particularly those who are Orthodox. Touting his conservative views on Israel, his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and his adherence to traditional values, Cruz has found a conservative niche in the Orthodox community in a Jewish faith that leans Democratic overall.” [WashPost]

KASICH SPEECH: “Kasich Offers Alternative Pro-Israel Policy at AIPAC, Takes Dig at Trump” by Jacob Kornbluh: “The U.S. cannot be “neutral” in defending our allies, Republican presidential candidate John Kasich told the 18,000 attendees at AIPAC’s annual policy conference on Monday. “We cannot be ‘neutral’ in defending our allies,” Kasich said. “We must be counted on to stand by and invest in our friends, instead of abusing them and currying favor with our enemies.” [JewishInsiderCJNCSPAN]

Kasich Highlights: “The American friends of Israel are not fair weather friends. They recognize the strategic hinge with Israel, and that America’s and Israel’s interests are tightly intertwined… You can be assured that, in a Kasich Administration, there will be no delusional agreements with self-declared enemies… If they truly want peace with Israel, then Palestinians cannot continue to promote a culture of hatred and death… We cannot be ‘neutral’ in defending our allies.”

RYAN SPEECH: “Speaker Ryan offers AIPAC policy pledges, announces trip to Israel” by Karoun Demirjian: “Ryan stressed the urgency of giving Israel “more than vague assurances that we’ve got their back” in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal, which he called the “worst in our lifetime — not since 1939 have we seen horrible foreign policy like this Iran deal.” [WashPostPolitico]

SANDERS IN UTAH: “Sanders targets Israeli land seizure in speech intended for AIPAC” by Nicole Gaudiano: “The Vermont independent, the only presidential candidate who did not speak at AIPAC’s conference Monday, said during a campaign stop in Salt Lake City, Utah, that friends must be “honest and truthful” about differences they may have, and the U.S. must be a friend to not only Israel, but to the Palestinians, as well.” [USAToday]

Sanders highlights: “I have a deep personal connection to Israel – and I am fairly certain I am the only U.S. presidential candidate to have ever lived on a kibbutz for a while…  If elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel. But to be successful, we have to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people… Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza… Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked, even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable…”

Samantha Lachman: “Bernie Sanders Delivered A Killer AIPAC Speech … In Utah. The pro-Israel group wouldn’t have liked what he said.” [HuffPost]

**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 [email protected]**

TRANSITION: White House Jewish Liaison Matt Nosanchuk emails… “For almost three years, I have had the incredible privilege and honor to serve President Obama and his administration working in the Office of Public Engagement as the liaison to the American Jewish community. So many aspects of this role have been extremely gratifying… There is a time for everything, however, and the time has come for me to move on. My last day in the Office of Public Engagement will be Friday, March 25. I have a terrific successor who will begin working here within the next few weeks… As for me, I will continue working as an appointee in the Obama Administration and will remain involved with the Administration’s outreach to the American Jewish community.”

CAMPUS BEAT: Divesting of Campus Outrage — “Most days there’s no difference between campus activists and the tenured professors who tutor them in grievance politics, so allow us to note rare courage among the nation’s educators: On Sunday more than 230 members of Columbia University’s faculty sent a letter to the school’s trustees opposing demands that Columbia divest, boycott and sanction Israel.” [WSJ]

STARTUP NATION: “Israel’s mapping apps plot world domination” by Murad Ahmed: “Now, an even bigger Israeli transportation technology company has emerged. Mobileye, the world’s leading supplier of driver-assisted technology is listed in New York and has a market capitalisation of about $6.5bn. It wants to go one better than Waze — by aiming to beat Google in the race to building driverless cars.” [FinancialTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer turns 68… Haaretz’s Charlotte Halle… Mad Magazine’s caricaturist for over 50 years, Mort Drucker, turns 87… Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, William Shatner, turns 85… Rivka Golani turns 70… Beatrice Stein… Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia, E.D. Hirsch, turns 88… Composer Stephen Sondheim turns 86…

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