Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Tillerson, Haley to join Trump’s Israel trip | Inside the Netanyahu Lauder Trump trio | Israeli ride-sharing apps merge: Gett buys Juno

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KAFE KNESSET — POTUS Prep — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: News of President Trump’s trip to Israel spread like wildfire yesterday… Israeli officials stress that the plans are far from final. The likely trip was kept under a veil of secrecy and news of it actually came about in an unexpected way: Channel 2’s Udi Segal, who broke the story yesterday afternoon, told Kafe Knesset that the first tip arrived from the channel’s chief producer, Oded Bino, who heard that his American counterparts are starting to prepare special satellite broadcasts ahead of a presidential visit.

Let’s make a deal: Israeli officials confirmed that a special US delegation is arriving to discuss the logistical details of what appears to be a snap visit of less than 24 hours. The current date being discussed by the preliminary US team visiting here today is May 22nd, for one night. There are lingering questions in Jerusalem over Trump’s ultimate Mideast goals, and what he plans to do to reach the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians. Several sources close to Netanyahu told Kafe Knesset that Bibi is “showing growing concern” in recent days and is following the upcoming Trump-Abbas summit very closely.

Before reaching the ultimate deal, Trump might be aiming to present a mini-deal. “The Trump Initiative,” was the headline of the Yedioth Aharonoth daily today, stating that Trump intends to use his Israel visit to present a new US policy. According to the report, Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel, as well as call for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Trump will not move the US embassy to Jerusalem for the time being, until the “conditions ripen.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

BEHIND THE SCENES: “The definition of the occasion—state or work—will bear significance on its character, with the former meaning that President Reuven Rivlin would be the official host, and the latter meaning that Prime Minister Netanyahu would host Trump. In the event that President Trump does ask to address the Knesset, the visit will have to be defined as a state visit. Moreover, while a state visit would require that Trump take a tour of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, it is likely that he will be asked to visit the museum regardless of how it is defined.” [Ynet

“Tillerson, Haley and Friedman to join Trump’s Israel visit” by Itamar Eichner: “The Trump administration reported Wednesday that the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will accompany the president on his upcoming visit to Israel… Also joining President Trump on his visit… will be the new US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Friedman is scheduled to arrive on May 15and will submit his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin a month later. Almost immediately after his arrival in Israel, Friedman will begin arranging plans for his boss in the White House.” [Ynet]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer hosted a reception at his Maryland residence for new U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Attendees included Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), White House negotiator Jason Greenblatt, RJC Chairman Norm Coleman, Pastor John Hagee, the Orthodox Union’s Nathan Diament (pictured here with Friedman), prominent lobbyist Norm Brownstein, and Diana & Michael David Epstein. [Pic]

“Ronald Lauder Cozies Up to Trump as His Estranged Ally Netanyahu Watches and Worries” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “The current chapter appears to be one in which Lauder has the ability to unsettle Netanyahu, once his close friend and key supporter, with his ability to whisper in Trump’s ear. This is increasingly problematic for the prime minister and his supporters in the U.S. since Lauder, pro-Israel Republican he may be, makes no secret of the fact that he believes a negotiated two-state solution should move forward. Jewish Insider reported Tuesday that Lauder has “convinced Trump that ‘the ultimate deal’ between Israelis and Palestinians is achievable… Trump likes people familiar to him and Lauder is a face he has known for 50 years. If Netanyahu had ever dreamed that Donald Trump could win the White House, and Lauder – Trump’s friend for half a century – would be one of his trusted voices on Middle East policy, he would never have allowed the cosmetics tycoon to drift so far for so long.” [Haaretz]

NEW FRONT: “Israel seeks U.S. backing to avert permanent Iran foothold in Syria” by Matt Spetalnick and Mark Hosenball: “I want to achieve an understanding, an agreement between the U.S. and Israel … not to let Iran have permanent military forces in Syria, by air, by land, by sea,” Israel Katz told Reuters, saying this should be part of any future international accord on ending Syria’s six-year-old civil war. Katz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, insisted, however, that Israel was not asking Washington to commit more forces to Syria, but to “achieve this by talking to the Russians, by threatening Iran, by sanctions and other things.” … Katz was due to meet President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt.” [Reuters] • Israel suggests it was behind Damascus airport blast [TheGuardian]

ON THE HILL — Bipartisan Congressional consensus against reducing aid to Jordan — by Aaron Magid: Representative Blake Farenthold (R-TX) told Jewish Insider yesterday, “I think we need to take an overall look at foreign aid but as far as allies in the Middle East go, once you get beyond Israel, Jordan has been a major player in keeping the region stable. There are places I would look to cut foreign aid before I look to Jordan.”

When asked if he supports such cuts, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said, “No. Jordan is an ally. She sustained tremendous economic burden by taking in a lot of Syrian refugees. Anything that would potentially destabilize the Hashemite Monarchy would only strengthen ISIS and every force we don’t like in the Middle East. A budget cut to Jordan seems very short sighted.” [JewishInsider]

PALACE INTRIGUE: “Ivanka Trump Parts Ways With Her Father on Syrian Refugees” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “I think there is a global humanitarian crisis that’s happening, and we have to come together and we have to solve it,” Ms. Trump told NBC when asked about the refugee crisis in Syria… Asked whether that would include admitting Syrian refugees to the United States, she replied: “That has to be part of the discussion. But that’s not going to be enough in and of itself.” … Two advisers to Mr. Trump, who declined to be identified talking about an internal White House dispute, described the statement as a political misstep. Her comments, they said, revealed a simmering private policy debate in the White House that pits Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, against hard-core nationalists like the president’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, and the policy adviser Stephen Miller.” [NYTimes]

“The education of Donald Trump” by Josh Dawsey, Shane Goldmacher and Alex Isenstadt: “[Trump invited] a pair of POLITICO reporters into the Oval Office for an impromptu meeting. He sat at the Resolute desk, with his daughter Ivanka across from him. One aide said the chat was off-the-record, but Trump insisted, over objections from nervous-looking staffers, that he be quoted. He addressed the idea that his senior aides weren’t getting along. He called out their names and, one by one, they walked in, each surprised to see reporters in the room—chief of staff Reince Priebus, then chief strategist Steve Bannon, and eventually senior adviser Jared Kushner. “The team gets along really, really well,” he said… Several senior administration aides said Trump loves nothing more than talking to reporters.”

“Kushner, too, sometimes calls TV personalities and executives, in particular MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, according to people close to the Trump son-in-law. (It didn’t go unnoticed in the West Wing that, at the height of the Kushner-Bannon war, the Drudge Report and Scarborough’s Morning Joe had an anti-Bannon flair to their coverage.).” [Politico]

“State Department Understaffing Is Likely to Linger Into 2018” by Gardiner Harris: “State Department veterans reacted to Mr. Tillerson’s timetable with incredulity. “There is a crisis with North Korea now, at a time neither State nor Defense have the bench of senior leaders needed, and with State facing a massive budget cut,” said Wendy R. Sherman, a top diplomat in the Obama administration. “How do you execute a policy with the quality you need in that circumstance?” … Elliott Abrams, a neoconservative whom President Trump rejected as Mr. Tillerson’s pick for a deputy, said delays in appointing new leaders meant that career diplomats — most of whom lean ideologically toward the Democratic Party, he said — might remain in charge for nearly a quarter of the president’s term. “The Republican Party won the election, and Republicans should be in charge,” he said.” [NYTimes]

TRANSITION — Fred Zeidman, former Chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, spoke to us about the expected appointment of Howard Lorber as new Chair: “I think it’s a fantastic pick. He is really dedicated to the cause. This is what he wanted to do, and the President has awarded him by allowing him to do that. It is my guess that Howard could’ve been anything he wanted, and this is what he wanted. Knowing his history in the Jewish community, knowing his history as a philanthropist, and with his exceptional skills, I think the President has made an absolutely excellent choice. The museum is under unbelievable leadership right now with Tom Bernstein (who was appointed by President Obama in 2010). Tom, Josh Bolten, and subsequently Allan Holt (vice chairman) have done an incredibly marvelous job of leading this museum. To the extent that the President gets to pick a new chairman, I don’t think he could’ve made a better pick to succeed Tom than Howard Lorber.”

NYC 2017 WATCH: “‘Anti-Semitic’ politician tricks critics into raising money for him” by Carl Campanile: “A GoFundMe called “Stop Thomas Lopez-Pierre Hate Campaign” suddenly popped up and was so successful it raised $5,781. But anyone who donated hoping to actually stop Lopez-Pierre is going to be sorely disappointed — because the page was created by the candidate himself to scam money from his foes. “I call it bait and switch,” Lopez-Pierre actually bragged to The Post. “I intend to use the money to pay for my marketing expenses. The people who are doing this [donating] oppose me. I thank them for their support.” Lopez-Pierre is trying to win a council primary election for a seat in upper Manhattan that is now held by heavily favored incumbent Mark Levine, who is Jewish.” [NYPost

Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) tells us… “This kind of anti-Semitism, the anti-Semitic propaganda is not new. It’s something we have been dealing with literally for thousands of years… As long as I have an ounce of energy in me, I will do everything in my power to make sure that anti-Semites like this candidate are not only not welcome here in the New York City Council but have no chance of even getting in. I will do everything I can, and I will use every resource I have, to make sure that this disgusting individual who wants to seed and sow hatred will in fact never be able to walk into this august body as a member of the New York City Council.” [YouTube

Brian Stelter spotted this interaction at the Time 100 Gala: “At one point I overheard new DNC chair Tom Perez exchanging contact info with Linda Sarsour and the other Women’s March leaders who were there.” [CNNReliableSources

** 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: Bribe Cases, a Jared Kushner Partner and Potential Conflicts: President Trump’s son-in-law, a top adviser, had help building a real estate empire from a member of one of Israel’s wealthiest families [NYTimes] • US tax cuts to hit Israeli tax collection hard [Globes• A New York hotel deal shows how some public pension funds help to enrich Trump [Reuters] • Harvey Krueger, Lehman’s Pioneer of Israeli Market, Dies at 88 [Bloomberg] • A new hedge fund started by a Steve Cohen protégé David Fiszel is off to a strong start [BI]

SPOTLIGHT: “On-demand ride service Gett confirms acquisition of Juno for $200M” by Ingrid Lunden: “Gett has announced that it has acquired Juno, a rival in the New York market. Separately, Gett’s CEO and founder Dave Waiser has told TechCrunch in an interview that the price of the deal was $200 million, although the companies are not disclosing other terms such as whether the deal was in cash, shares or a combination of the two… Juno was co-founded late last year by Talmon Marco, the co-founder of Viber (which sold to Rakuten for $900 million), and pitched itself as the driver-friendly app.”

“Its primary appeal was a stock program that would award restricted stock units to drivers who used the platform for 30 or more hours a week. However, in an email sent to drivers announcing the acquisition, Juno says it’s doing away with the program as part of the acquisition. Drivers who’ve already earned shares would be cashed out. Several of the drivers who forwarded their emails to Recode are receiving around $100 for their shares, regardless of how many shares they had accumulated. One had roughly 1,600 shares, another more than 3,500 and another had more than 6,000. Drivers are outraged. One said that while the low commission of 10 percent was a nice bonus, the real reason he drove for Juno was the stocks.” [Recode; TechCrunch]

“WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum: “Most of startup ideas are absolutely stupid” by Darya Luganskaya: “I do not have any plans of investing into startups: I am not the man who would do this. I think that most of startup ideas are absolutely stupid. At this moment, I am busy working on WhatsApp and I keep thinking all the time how I can make this product better. I am not interested in any other projects at the moment…  For the moment, we do not have the task to earn money. The deal with Facebook helped us to channel our resources into growth and product development. In coming future we do not plan to focus on monetization. Our aim is to attract more than 1 billion users.” [TechandtheCity]

PERSON OF INTEREST: “The return of Joe Lonsdale: How the cofounder of multibillion-dollar company Palantir was vilified in Silicon Valley, then bounced back” by Julie Bort: “Joe Lonsdale was a little bit nervous as he shook my hand and flashed his trademark wide grin. His tall, broad-shouldered frame, in a white dress shirt and black dress slacks, towered over my 5-foot-3 self. No jeans. No hoodie. He dressed respectfully for this rare interview with a journalist. I got the impression that this moment sums up his personality perfectly: a ton of confidence thanks to smarts and preparation, mingled with a touch of nerves, the kind of nerves that make you want to step up to a challenge, not back down. Lonsdale is like the living embodiment of Silicon Valley all rolled up into one person: young, smart, geeky, financially successful, optimistic, passionate, outspoken, and, at times, controversial, not to mention his involvement in some pretty scandalous lawsuits.” [BusinessInsider]

Bret Stephens defends a column he wrote, “The disease of the Arab mind,” which has gotten some attention since he was hired by the NY Times… “The column was about the refusal of an Egyptian judoka during last summer’s Olympics to shake the hand of an Israeli athlete. I used it as an occasion to talk about anti-Semitism in the Arab world. By any measure, the Arab world is the most anti-Semitic part in the world. If you want to talk about denialism, the failure of many people — including, I’m afraid, many of those in my profession — to point out the ubiquity of anti-Semitism in Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, you name it, both state-sponsored and private, is a real form of denialism… The whole thing struck me as a made-up controversy, which in an attempt to indict me as a racist — which I most certainly am not — wound up eliding and evading the rather important subject I was trying to address, which is the extraordinarily prevalent anti-Semitism throughout the Arab world.” [Vox

BIRTHDAYS: US Senator from New Jersey since 2013, previously mayor of Newark (2006-2013), perhaps the only Senator who regularly and publicly recites verses from the Torah in Hebrew, Cory Booker turns 48… Former refusenik in the Soviet Union, made aliyah in 1987, now a political activist in Israel, Ida Nudel turns 86… Physician and a NASA astronaut, Chief of the Education/Medical Branch of the NASA Astronaut Office, Ellen Louise Shulman Baker, M.D., M.P.H. turns 64… Entertainment industry businessman, former model, founder of nightlife companies including restaurants, bars and lounges worldwide, Rande Gerber turns 55… Author, political analyst and columnist for The Washington Post, Dana Milbank turns 49 (h/t Playbook)… New York City-born actor David Benger turns 26… Associate Area Director for AIPAC’s Baltimore office, Leah Berry… Officer at Covington Fabric & Design, Donald Rifkin… Harvey Hirsch… Jonathan Glidden

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