Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Trump to Masada? | How the Abbas meeting played in Jerusalem | Where Amb. Friedman plans to work from | Jared officiates weddings too!

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BREAKING — Trump’s Trip: “President Donald Trump will visit Israel, the Vatican and Saudi Arabia later this month on his first foreign trip as president, according to two White House officials. Trump’s tour will conclude with his stops at a NATO meeting in Brussels on May 25 and at the G7 summit in Sicily the following day. The first foreign visit is typically a milestone for a new president. The stakes are high for White House staff, who are seeking to firm up alliances overseas.” [Politico]

STAGECRAFT: “Big speech in Israel by DonaldTrump will be delivered at the ancient fortress Masada, reports Channel 2 News” [Twitter]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — In his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday, President Trump demonstrated a carrot and stick approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the same way he urged Israel to hold off on settlement construction while hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their first meeting in February.

THE CARROT — Trump declares Abbas as a partner for peace: “Mr. President, you signed your name to the first Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement (Oslo Accords). You remember that well, right? And I want to support you in being the Palestinian leader who signs his name to the final and most important peace agreement that brings safety, stability, and prosperity to both peoples and to the region… I know President Abbas has spoken out against ISIS and other terrorist groups, and we must continue to build our partnership with the Palestinian security forces to counter and defeat terrorism. I also applaud the Palestinian Authority’s continued security coordination with Israel. They get along unbelievably well.”

THE STICK — What Israel and Republicans wanted to hear: “But there cannot be lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate. There’s such hatred. But hopefully there won’t be such hatred for very long. All children of God must be taught to value and respect human life, and condemn all of those who target the innocent.”

— “Mr. Trump did not publicly press Mr. Abbas to end financial payments to the families of suicide bombers and to other Palestinians who attack Israelis and Americans… Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Trump later raised the issue in private.” [NYTimes]

WH readout: “President Trump emphasized the importance of making a clear commitment to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and to stopping incitement, and to continue strengthening efforts to combat terrorism. President Trump raised his concerns about payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed terrorist acts, and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue.”

“Palestinian Authority Rejects Trump’s ‘Mad’ Request to End Terrorist Payments” by Yasser Okbi: “The demand that Ramallah stop payments to the families of security prisoners is mad,” Shaath told the broadcaster, adding that “such a requirement is designed to destroy any chance for a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.” [JPost

“Trump: Middle East Peace Is ‘Not as Difficult as People Have Thought’” by David A. Graham: “We want to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We will get it done,” Trump said… At a lunch later on, he was even bolder: “It is something that I think is frankly, maybe, not as difficult as people have thought over the years.” … His confidence on this issue is even more peculiar because it comes just days after Trump made the frank admission that being president was tougher than he realized.” [TheAtlantic

Why the optimism? — Press Sec. Sean Spicer: “I think the man is different… This President’s style is one to develop a personal bond with individuals. And I think you saw that today with President Abbas, him talking so kindly about the President. You saw that. The relationship that exists and is only getting stronger between him and Prime Minister Netanyahu. You have two individuals who, because of this President, are increasing their desire for peace… I think both of these leaders have very publicly expressed the confidence they have in the President’s negotiating skills, in the President’s desire to work to get peace… Obviously, there’s a lot of issues that have to get covered, but the President understands that they respect his ability to want to get this done.”

“Trump, Bullish on Mideast Peace, Will Need More Than Confidence” by Peter Baker: “Braggadocio, of course, has been at the center of Mr. Trump’s persona for decades, and arguably helped make him into a swaggering celebrity real estate tycoon and reality television star… In the White House, though, it has historically been more problematic. Presidents who make bold predictions often come to regret them. All Mr. Trump would have to do is ask those who, for decades, have banged their heads against the Middle East brick wall.” [NYTimes]

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Abbas spoke at a reception hosted by Husam Zomlot, the new PLO representative to DC, at the Mandarin Oriental, which was attended by leaders from J Street, ADL, the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), as well as State Department officials and think tank experts. “Abbas, more or less, said the same things he said at the White House – a shorter version of it – but he left out the stuff about refugees,” Michael Koplow, IPF’s Policy Director in Washington, who attended the event, told us. “He was very effusive in thanking President Trump and the American people and their support for peace.”

SPOTTED: Jeremy Ben-Ami, Susie Gelman, Harry Reis, Tamara Cofman Wittes, Paul Wolfowitz, Natan Sachs, Rob Danin, Ilan Goldenberg, and Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen.

ON THE HILL — House Members Divided about Trump’s Optimism on Middle East Peace – by JI’s Aaron Magid: Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) told Jewish Insider, “This is not a real estate deal you are putting together. An effort without content and just blowing smoke is a huge mistake given his reversal of positions on foreign affairs, it begs the question whether he can handle it or not.” Rep. James Comer (R-KY), however, expressed appreciation for the President’s commitment on the issue. “He’s our leader and does things a different way and maybe that’s what we need in foreign policy,” he said. “As a leader of the strongest nation in the world, he is an appropriate negotiator.”

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MS) warned, “Moses would have great difficulty getting a deal as would Abraham so this is not a business deal. This is the Middle East and it involves people who have been at war for almost a millennium. We can only hope that [Sec. of Defense James] Mattis and some of the people of knowledge will give him a Middle East lesson” [JewishInsider

“The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same” by Barak Ravid: “Compared to his predecessors, Trump’s rhetoric is a bit different and more comfortable to the ears of the Israeli right. He speaks of achieving a “peace agreement” rather than speaking of a “Palestinian state.” He speaks of “restraint” in settlement constructions and not about “freezing” it, and he speaks publicly about issues that previous administrations preferred to refer to in quiet conversations, like the transfer of money to the families of terrorists or battling incitement.” [Haaretz] • David Horovitz: Trump’s welcome for Abbas is so warm he might have been hosting an Israeli leader [ToI]

REACTION FROM JERUSALEM — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Despite the President’s eagerness to reach a deal, sources told Kafe Knesset that Netanyahu was encouraged by the fact that Trump stressed that no agreement can be imposed on the sides. “That’s the most important thing for Netanyahu and that is the main difference between the Trump and Obama administrations,” one of them said.

Michael Oren tells Kafe Knesset: “The President obviously wants a deal and so do we. A deal that provides real peace, security, and recognition. The Palestinians have said no to that deal repeatedly, and most recently when it was offered by Barak and Olmert. Still, I believe we must exhaust all diplomatic paths.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

Netanyahu’s old friend becomes Trump’s new ally” by Ben Caspit: “According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Lauder has been whispering more than idle nothings into Trump’s ear. As one of the people closest to Netanyahu told Al-Monitor recently, on the condition of anonymity, “If there are any two people who believe that it is possible to reach an arrangement in the Middle East, they are Donald Trump and Ronald Lauder.”” [Al-Monitor] • Read our original scoop on Lauder serving as Trump’s whisperer for the Middle East [JewishInsider]

Notable: “Ron Lauder, who attended the White House’s Israel Independence Day event, did not attend Amb. Dermer’s reception, per source. Rift with Bibi seems real.” [Twitter

TEHRAN WATCH — “Rouhani Rival Airs Iran Campaign Video Highlighting Inequality” by Ladane Nasseri: “Iranian presidential candidate Ebrahim Raisi released a campaign video that purports to show drastic income inequality under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani and portrays his government as being biased toward the rich. Coming during an election campaign centered around the economic benefits — or lack of them — from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, the 30-minute video broadcast on state television… also criticizes large shopping malls it says are used to display and sell foreign brands even as local plants are being shut and Iranian workers left jobless.” [Bloomberg

“Iranians must give Rouhani second term to make good on nuclear deal: vice president” by Alissa de Carbonnel: “With unilateral U.S. sanctions still in place, [Masoumeh] Ebtekar said voters understood that it was not Rouhani’s fault that the nuclear deal had yet to improve their daily lives.” [Reuters

INTERVIEW – Former Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), discussed the Iranian elections and the nuclear deal going forward in a phone interview with JI’s Jacob Kornbluh. “I would guess that whoever wins the election in Iran will stick to the nuclear agreement to the same extent because it benefits Iran so much,” Lieberman said about the May 19 elections. “But they need constant monitoring and inspection to guarantee that they’re keeping their part of the bargain. The problem obviously is that they’ve already received as a result of sending the agreement, billions of dollars that they’re using to strengthen themselves militarily and politically.”

“I think the more significant change is the election of President Trump in the US. And I speak as a supporter of Hillary Clinton, but I think the change, let’s put it this way, from President Obama to President Trump, with regard to the nuclear agreement, is very significant. Unlike President Obama, President Trump is not committed to sort of protecting this agreement and in some sense bending over backward or closing our eyes to what the Iranians are doing in order to sustain the agreement. President Trump as you know has been a critic of the agreement from the beginning. And I think we can count on his administration to demand full compliance, not only with the agreement, but as he’s recently said when he said the Iranians were not keeping the spirit of the agreement.”

Lieberman on whether he thinks his friend Ambassador David Friedman will work from Jerusalem when he formally assumes his position in Israel: “I don’t know. I’m going to leave that one to President Trump. I mean, clearly I hope that the President when the next waiver date comes up, which is June 1st, announces that one, the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which it self-evidently is, and two, that we’re beginning the process of moving our embassy there… It’s very important to me from an American point of view because this is still, I believe, the only country in the world where we don’t have our embassy in a city that the host country designates as its capital. And when you think that this is Israel, one of America’s closest allies in the world, it is a sign of American weakness that we don’t go ahead and put our actions where our principles are and our policies. So I hope before long David Friedman will be Ambassador Friedman working out of Jerusalem and before long moving there as well.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

— Sources tells us that Friedman will start working from the embassy in Tel Aviv and will hold official ceremonies and festivities – such as the annual Fourth of July celebration – at the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya until a final decision whether or not to move the embassy is reached. According to a source with direct knowledge, Friedman will primarily work out of the King David Hotel when in Jerusalem for meetings with government officials.

TRUMP TEAM: “Trump Taps Kris Bauman, Expert on Peace Process With Palestinians, as New Israel Adviser” by Amir Tibon: “During the 2013 to 2014 peace talks, Bauman was the chief-of-staff for General John Allen, who was appointed by the Obama administration to devise a comprehensive security plan for the day after a peace agreement is signed… Lempert, who held the Israeli-Palestinian file in Obama’s National Security Council, will leave the White House after an extention of three-and-a-half months… She participated in Trump’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, making it her last event before returning to the State Department in the coming days.” [Haaretz

SPECIAL ELECTION WATCH: “Ossoff attracting surprising levels of GOP support in Georgia special” by Scott Bland: “Based on the final results of the jungle primary, most independents and a small but relatively sizable portion of Republicans voted for Jon Ossoff,” said Alex Alduncin, an analyst with Optimus… Optimus partner Scott Tranter said the crossover vote was an unwelcome sign for the GOP, but one the party had time to correct. “Generally speaking, losing more than 10 percent of your own party to the opponent is not a good trend, and Ossoff got close to that in the jungle primary,” Tranter said. “We do not expect that to be the case in the runoff.” [Politico

HEARD ON THE HILL: Speaker Paul Ryan telling representatives of American summer camps, including the Foundation for Jewish Camp, that “Being a Camp Counselor was the best preparation for this job” [Pic] h/t Daroff

** 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: Barry Sternlicht, chairman and chief executive officer at Starwood Capital Group, discusses the retail sector, the Trump administration and his thoughts on investing. [Bloomberg] • Leviev buys huge Jerusalem burial plot [Globes] • On Israeli bond market, US real estate players are now mishpacha [RealDeal] • Patriots Owner Bob Kraft Says Trump Doesn’t Mean Everything He Says [Bloomberg]

SCENE & HEARD AT THE MILKEN GLOBAL CONFERENCE — Facebook’s Campbell Brown discussing ‘false news’ not ‘fake news’ at a panel moderated by USC Annenberg’s Willow Bay [Pic] … Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies’ Simone Friedman and Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian on a panel titled “Mission Driven- How NextGen Leaders Use Business Tools to Create Social Change” [Pic] Eli Groner, Director General at Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office, on a panel titled “Start Up Nations: Creating Laboratories for Developing Economies” [Pic] … Former California Gov. Gray Davis; Groner and Glenn Yago, senior fellow at the Milken Institute and senior director at its Israel Center. [Pic] … Richard and Ellen Sandler at the conference. Richard is executive vice president of the Milken Family Foundation. Ellen serves on its board of trustees and said one of her favorite panels of the multi-day conference was Tuesday’s “L.A. as Entertainment Capital: Chasing Global Markets or Global Talent?” [Pic] … L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin (right) was one of the presenters at the conference [Pic… Israeli young professionals attending Milken got to meet actor Chris Tucker. Tucker told the group he wants to visit Israel and received an invite in return [Pic] Photo h/t: the Jewish Journal’s Ryan Torok

“How to Make the Heritage Foundation Great Again” by Tevi Troy: “At a time when conservatism is in the midst of an identity crisis – and sorely needs a powerful convening institution – a Heritage that seeks once again to be a unifying rather than dividing force on the right could be a powerful entity… In these days of conservative divisions, Heritage might have the chance to play this role again, seeking out and even establishing areas of conservative agreement” [Politico]

LongRead: “Can Jonathan Greenblatt Fill Abe Foxman’s Shoes at the ADL—and Does He Want To?” by Paul Berger: “Many Jewish organizations, even on the left, have remained silent or raised only tepid criticisms of Trump’s statements and policies. A senior Jewish communal professional, who did not wish to be identified, said some groups are circumspect because of a justifiable fear that it will reduce their chances of attracting a senior administration official to their annual conference or that they will lose government funding for their programs… Yet as Greenblatt positions the ADL in stark contrast with the administration, he risks alienating those who worry that the group is becoming an extension of the Obama wing of the Democratic Party. Marvin Nathan, the ADL national chairman, said that the ADL has lost “a substantial number” of longtime donors. Nathan said the reasons were so varied that he did not want to get into specifics, but they included Foxman’s departure, the ADL’s criticism of certain political candidates, and a feeling that the ADL was not sufficiently supportive of Israel.” [Tablet]

“The most revealingly unrevealing quotes from Ivanka Trump’s new book” by Annie Karni: “From sundown Friday to Saturday night, my family and I observe the Shabbat. During this time, we disconnect completely — no emails, no TV, no phone calls, no Internet. We enjoy uninterrupted time together and it’s wonderful,” writes Ivanka, whose family is very private about how it practices its Jewish faith. “It’s enormously important to unplug and devote that time to each other. We enjoy long meals together, we read, we take walks in the city, we nap, and just hang out.”

“Jared and I have introduced seven couples who’ve gotten married. Seven! (We joke that our hidden talent is matchmaking, but that we don’t give guarantees. So far, so good, no divorces!).” [Politico]

OFFICIATING WEDDINGS? Jared can do that too… “Joe and Mika Are Getting Hitched” by Emily Jane Fox: “Wedding plans are still up in the air, too. They have already ruled one idea out, however. In January, when they went to visit Donald Trump in the White House just a little more than a week after his inauguration, Scarborough and Brzezinski sat down for lunch with the president, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner, ostensibly to talk to their longtime friend about his first week in office and issues related to women. Once the fish and scalloped potatoes had been served, and special sauces delivered directly to Trump were placed on the table, the couple said that the president came up with an idea: If they planned on getting married, they should consider doing so at Mar-a-Lago or the White House, they recalled. “That’s when Jared interrupted and said, ‘Hey, you know what? I’ve got my license. I could marry you,’” Scarborough said. According to Scarborough, that’s when Trump snapped from the end of the table, saying: “Why would you marry them? They could have the President of the United States marry them.” [VanityFair]

MEDIA WATCH: “Former Jared Kushner Employees Are Trying To Create ‘The Breitbart Of The Left’” by Steven Perlberg: “Elizabeth Spiers, previously the editor-in-chief of the New York Observer and the founding editor of Gawker, is attempting to fundraise for the effort… Spiers, who worked under Kushner at the Observer, has been a vocal critic of the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser. In March, she wrote in the Washington Post that Kushner was the wrong person to try to reinvent government… While Spiers is attempting to fundraise around town, one source said the creation of the new property isn’t yet a sure thing.” [BuzzFeed]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “A One-Day Crossword Internship” by Will Shortz: “In March, a teacher at SAR High School in the Bronx wrote to me about a student, Chloe Rosenfeld. Seniors there are required to spend time pursuing a special area of interest, and Chloe had chosen puzzles. The teacher wondered if Chloe could meet with me and Joel and see how The New York Times Crossword is put together. I said yes… Below is the report on her experience that she wrote for school… “As I walked into Will Shortz’s home, I was greeted with a warm and welcoming smile. I felt immediately comfortable. One of the main things Mr. Shortz does, with the assistance of Joel Fagliano, is edit the daily crossword clues. We sat in his office with shelves lined with books on everything from music to sports to mythology to other subjects.”” [NYTimes]

“Israel’s Invisible Filipino Work Force” by Ruth Margalit: “To support their families back home, women from the Philippines have found work and a new way of life in Israel. But at what price?” [NYTimes]

SPORTS BLINK — $5 Yankees Game Draws Unexpected Prayer Crowd — by Laura Adkins: “The New York Yankees played the Toronto Blue Jays the evening of May 3 in Yankee Stadium, and because of a special promotion with Mastercard, some tickets were available for only $5. According to one Orthodox attendee, Samuel Weiss, these low prices have brought some unexpected traffic to the unofficial “Jewish Quarter” of the stadium: “Not to promote stereotypes, but it’s a 5 dollar game at Yankee Stadium and the upper deck maariv minyan has 100 people at it…” Weiss posted on Facebook.” [Forward

BIRTHDAYS: Former chairman and CEO of American International Group, once the largest insurance company in history, now chairman and CEO of the Starr Companies, Maurice Raymond “Hank” Greenberg turns 92… Best-selling Israeli author, Amos Oz (born Amos Klausner), turns 78… Member of the New York State Assembly (1983-2010), now a Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Public Service at NYU, Richard L. Brodsky turns 71… Congregational rabbi (1974-1977), then executive director of the Texas A&M Hillel (1983-2013), now a consultant for the tourism industry, awarded a Ph.D. in sociology, Peter E. Tarlow turns 71… US Special Envoy for Climate Change in the Obama administration, chief negotiator at the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, helped negotiate the earlier Kyoto Protocol, Todd Stern turns 66… EVP and Global General Counsel of the Las Vegas Sands since 2016, previously Group General Counsel and Senior EVP of News Corporation (1996-2011), Lawrence “Lon” A. Jacobs turns 62… Baltimore-born triathlete, earned a Ph.D. in 2001 from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, winner of international ironman competitions, Joanna Sue Zeiger turns 47… Executive Director of Surprise Lake Camp, previously URJ’s Director of Youth Engagement, Bradley Solmsen turns 47… State Attorney for Palm Beach County, Florida since 2013, he was the youngest member of the Florida Senate when he was elected in 2002, Dave Aronberg turns 46… Member of the New York City Council since 2006, a 2000 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Daniel Garodnick turns 45… Secretary of State of Missouri (2013-2017), founder of “Let America Vote” dedicated to ending voter suppression, now a CNN contributor, Jason Kander turns 36… Senior strategic communications adviser at the United States Agency for International Development during the Obama administration, Allison Bormel Ament turns 30… Speechwriter at the US Department of State, Shana Mansbach turns 25… Graduate student in the MFA program at American University focused on film and electronic media, Steven Rosenberg (h/ts Playbook)… Mechal Wakslak

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