Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Debating what’s new after Israel’s daring raid of Tehran warehouse | WhatsApp founder Jan Koum stepping down | BDay: Abe Foxman

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TALK OF THE VALLEY — “WhatsApp founder plans to leave after broad clashes with parent Facebook” by Elizabeth Dwoskin: “The billionaire chief executive of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, is planning to leave the company after clashing with its parent, Facebook, over the popular messaging service’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption… Koum, who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for more than $19 billion in 2014, also plans to step down from Facebook’s board of directors…”

“Koum’s exit is highly unusual at Facebook. The inner circle of management, as well as the board of directors, has been fiercely loyal during the scandals that have rocked the social media giant. In addition, Koum is the sole founder of a company acquired by Facebook to serve on its board. Only two other Facebook executives, Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, are members of the board.” [WashPost]

Koum writes on Facebook“It’s been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people. But it is time for me to move on… I’m leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined. The team is stronger than ever and it’ll continue to do amazing things. I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee. And I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside. Thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible.”

— Mark Zuckerberg replied to Koum’s post: “Jan: I will miss working so closely with you. I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people’s hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp.”

DRIVING THE CONVO — Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled evidence gained from 100,000 original Iranian documents — seized by Israeli intelligence — that he said proved Iran was lying about its nuclear program. In a TED Talk-style presentation, Netanyahu claimed Iran has “a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons” despite its claims it has no ambitions to pursue nuclear weapons development. [Video

In an interview with President Trump’s favorite show Fox and Friends this morning, Netanyahu said he presented the information to Trump during their last meeting in March. Netanyahu added that Iran complying with a terrible deal does not justify the U.S. staying in the JCPOA.

HEARD THIS MORNING — CNN’s Chris Cuomo asks Netanyahu in a satellite interview on New Day: Why give this speech in English, and do it in such a big way? Netanyahu: “Well, because I wanted the world to hear it – all of it – and there are only a few million Hebrew speakers and a there are a few billion English speakers.” Netanyahu added, “No one had better intelligence on Iran than Israel.” [Video

Susan Page, Washington Bureau chief of USA TODAY, on CNN’s The Lead: “I think Prime Minister Netanyahu had an audience of one in mind when he gave that presentation and that audience was Donald Trump and he listened to it. I don’t know if he’s assured that the president is going to pull out of the Iran deal.”

Gloria Borger on CNN Newsroom: “I think there’s no way that Netanyahu would have done this in English first, which means he was speaking not only to Trump, but to the American people.”

President Trump confirmed he knew the details Netanyahu shared with the public and that he watched part of the speech, but he refused to rule out a possible diplomatic solution with Iran. Later in the evening, the White House issued a statement saying Netanyahu’s information is “new and compelling.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also told reporters on his flight back to the United States that “these documents are real, they are authentic” and that he discussed the material in his meeting with Netanyahu on Sunday.

— “Iran Gains, Then Loses, Nuclear Weapons Program Thanks to White House ‘Clerical Error’” by Margaret Hartmann: “These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people,” said the statement from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders… Without offering any apology… the White House corrected the line to the past tense when the statement was posted online: “Iran had a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.” When asked for clarification, the White House said it was a “clerical error.” [NYMag

Netanyahu’s presentation was “nothing new,” Senator Bob Corker, the Republican head of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. However, according to Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Netanyahu “did not present a smoking gun, he presented a smoking bomb” and “exposed the fangs of the Iranian wolf.”

BEHIND THE SCENES — by David Halbfinger, David Sanger and Ronen Bergman: “Netanyahu said that Iran had intensified its efforts to hide evidence of its weapons program after signing the nuclear deal in 2015, and in 2017 moved its records to a secret location in Tehran that looked like “a dilapidated warehouse.”
“Few Iranians knew where it was, very few,” Mr. Netanyahu said proudly. “And also a few Israelis.”

“A senior Israeli official… said that Israel’s Mossad intelligence service discovered the warehouse in February 2016, and had the building under surveillance since then. Mossad operatives broke into the building one night last January, removed the original documents and smuggled them back to Israel the same night, the official said. President Trump was informed of the operation by the Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, on a visit to Washington in January.” [NYTimes]

James Stavridis, a retired United States Navy admiral and former NATO Supreme Commander, on Morning Joe: “The first reaction on this one is: damn, the Mossad is good. This would be like us, the CIA, getting into the Kremlin and taking files out.”

HOW IT PLAYED — Israel Said That Iran Lied About Wanting A Nuke And So The Iran Deal Is Garbage [Buzzfeed• Obama team: ‘Nothing new’ in Netanyahu speech [WashExaminer] • Eli Lake: Israel Exposes Iran’s Nuclear Lies, and the Limits of U.S. Intelligence [BloombergView] • Anshel Pfeffer: What the Israeli prime minister presented wasn’t a smoking gun but a photograph of a smoking gun taken years ago [Haaretz] • U.S. Jewish groups hail Israeli intel after Iran nuke revelations [JPost]

REACTION — Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro tells us… “The information in the documents Netanyahu revealed was all known and built into the assumptions of the deal, as was the expectation that Iran would lie about it. The deal was designed to keep them at least a year from that capability, and ensure that they could not achieve it for over a decade. It may be the first time some of it was presented to the public. And so that, combined with Netanyahu’s skill in presenting it, could have some effect on public opinion. But I suspect most deal supporters and opponents remain where they were. The new public quality is useful to Trump when he announces he is leaving the deal by May 12. This presentation, coordinated with his team, will be cited as evidence to justify it.”

FDD’s Mark Dubowitz emails us… “Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed that the Iranian regime lied about its nuclear weapons program. It also retained a vast atomic archive with detailed instructions on how to restart its nuclear weapons program at a time of its choosing. That is new, alarming and inconsistent with its JCPOA pledge not to develop nuclear weapons and only to have a program for peaceful purposes. It is now clear that a fix to the deal must include a US-European pledge to force the regime to do what it didn’t do in 2015: Provide full access to its nuclear scientists, sites and documentation so that the IAEA can use this as a baseline to fully verify Iran’s commitment to the deal.”

Amb. Dennis Ross: “It is not new to say that the Iranians lied. It is not new to say that the Iranians were not required to come clean on their whole nuclear program — something that was a major flaw in the deal, partly because it allowed them to claim they had never worked on a nuclear weapon when we know that they had.” [WashPost]

Hudson Institute’s Mike Doran: “If Netanyahu didn’t tell us anything new today, then why did John Kerry, back in 2015, offer this ludicrous testimony to Congress about the fatwa and how the Supreme Leader was opposed to building a bomb?” [Twitter]

Aaron David Miller on NPR’s Morning Edition: “Netanyahu is on the verge of a major political victory – getting the U.S. to walk away from [the nuclear] deal, and I think Mr. Netanyahu likes to be President Trump’s coach, he likes to be the cheerleader, and he is also – as the prime minister of Israel – a major player in this looming game with respect to an impending confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria.” [NPR]

Sen. Brian Schatz‏ tweets“The reason they want to undo the Iran Deal is Barack Obama.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon writes… “Israel and Its Neighbors Need an Iran Deal Overhaul: After the intelligence revealed Monday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one thing is clearer than ever: The Iranian regime has lied repeatedly about its nuclear program and cannot be trusted. No matter what happens on May 12, May 13 must not see a return to the status quo ante July 2015.” [WSJ]

“Israel’s Netanyahu Can Now Declare War on Iran With Single Vote” by Tom O’Connor: “The Israeli parliament voted in favor Monday of granting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the ability to declare war with the sole approval of his defense chief under certain conditions.” [Newsweek]

“Mattis plays down odds of Syria pullout before peace agreement” by Phil Stewart: “The United States and its allies would not want to pull troops out of Syria before diplomats win the peace, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday, one of the strongest signs yet a full U.S. withdrawal was unlikely anytime soon.” [Reuters]

‘ULTIMATE DEAL’: “Israeli official says Israel should welcome Trump peace plan” by Aron Heller: “Michael Oren, the deputy minister for diplomacy in the prime minister’s office, said the U.S. president’s much-anticipated plan will undoubtedly require Israeli concessions, but that Israel would be foolish to reject it. “I have never known a team to be more favorably disposed to us,” Oren… told foreign journalists. “My own feeling is to strongly recommend that the Israeli government accept this plan with an open mind, if not open arms, that we engage with it energetically and that we certainly don’t reject it out of hand… In the world of business negotiations, the first offer on the table is the best offer, the second offer is a less good offer, the third offer is less than that.” [AP]

Abbas says Jews’ behavior, not anti-Semitism, caused the Holocaust: “In a long and rambling at speech in Ramallah at a rare session of the Palestinian National Council, [Mahmoud] Abbas touched on a number of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories during what he called a “history lesson” … Pointing to Arthur Kessler’s book “The Thirteenth Tribe,” which asserts Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Khazars, Abbas said European Jews therefore had “no historical ties” to the Land of Israel. He went on to claim that the Holocaust was not the result of anti-Semitism but rather of the Jews “social behavior,  [charging] interest, and financial matters.”” [ToI]

MUELLER WATCH — “Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction” by Michael Schmidt: “Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference, has at least four dozen questions on an exhaustive array of subjects he wants to ask President Trump… They also touch on the president’s businesses; any discussions with his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, about a Moscow real estate deal; whether the president knew of any attempt by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to set up a back channel to Russia during the transition…” [NYTimes

IN THE SPOTLIGHT… “Michael Cohen Is Ready to Soldier On” by Emily Jane Fox: “Cohen… had not initially been watching as Trump gave his… phone interview to Fox, in which he contended that Cohen performed “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work. But he was surprised by the comments, which he listened to as the fire alarm in the Regency Hotel… Cohen… was baffled about why Trump even made the remarks in the first place… “But,” one person noted, “knowing him, the fight goes on.” … Another person close to Cohen called Trump’s comments a “stupid” and “unnecessary” blow to his longtime attorney… But, this person added, he is entering a prize fight, and these remarks were not quite a body blow. “I think he is a little bit numb at this point,” this person said.“ [VanityFair] • Trump campaign has paid portions of Michael Cohen’s legal fees: Sources [ABCNews]

** 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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Goldman Sachs president David Solomon says there is no timeline for CEO succession at firm [CNBC] • Kushner Companies received financing from Internet bank that was recently under federal investigation[Newsweek] • Who Is John Galt? Ken Moelis Has 1,000,000,000 Answers[Bloomberg] • Sapir Corp Ltd. Acquires Majority Interest In NoMo-SoHo Hotel, NYC [PRNewswire] • Canyon’s Josh Friedman Laments GSO’s ‘Unseemly’ Hovnanian Swaps Deal [Bloomberg] • How Stewart Butterfield’s Slack Got Ahead in Diversity [TheAtlantic

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: “Toronto vape company Green Tank poised to cash in on cannabis legalization” by David Dias: “Dustin and Corey Koffler, brothers and co-founders of Green Tank Technologies Corp., have been growing their business at breakneck speed over the past year – and the pace is unlikely to slow down as cannabis legalization approaches. Entrepreneurship runs in the Koffler family. The brothers’ grandfather was Murray Koffler, who, in the 1940s, founded the pharmacy chain that came to be known as Shoppers Drug Mart.” [Globe&Mail]

TRANSITIONS — “Billionaire Dan Loeb stepping down as Success Academy chair” by Selim Algar: “Billionaire Dan Loeb is stepping down as chairman of Success Academy, the city’s largest charter-school operator — and will be replaced by… venture-capitalist board member Steven Galbraith on July 1… It is unclear why Loeb — who just recently gave Success $15 million — is stepping down as chairman now.” [NYPost]

Arthur Stark, Chairman of the Board of Friends of the IDF, was elected yesterday to serve as Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations effective June 1, 2018.  

LIFE LESSONS — “Philosophy Prepared Me for a Career in Finance and Government” by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin: “I’m asked from time to time which undergraduate courses best prepared me for working at Goldman Sachs and in the government. People assume I’ll list courses in economics or finance, but I always answer that the key was Professor Demos’s philosophy course… I concluded that you can’t prove anything in absolute terms, from which I extrapolated that all significant decisions are about probabilities. Internalizing the core tenet of Professor Demos’s teaching — weighing risk and analyzing odds and trade-offs — was central to everything I did professionally in the decades ahead in finance and government.” [NYTimes]

HEARD YESTERDAY AT MILKEN CONFERENCE — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a conversation with Frank Luntz: “America has always had dark times, and this is one of them. My goal if I become Majority Leader is to work in a bipartisan way on things we can agree on — infrastructure, immigration — and really get some major things done.” Schumer noted the bipartisan relationships he’s made in the Senate gym, striking up conversations with GOP senators during early morning workouts, but said… “bipartisanship in the abstract, not getting anything done, isn’t going to work.”[AP]

Tony Blair on Netanyahu’s Iran files presentation in interview with Bloomberg TV: “Obviously, we are going to have to examine very carefully what the documents say that has been disclosed by the Israeli government, but plainly on the face of it, it’s very serious. These things have to be investigated whether they constitute breaches of the agreement. But I think more than that, what it does is, it will increase pressure on those who want to keep the agreement to make sure that it is adjusted in order to take in account other things like the ballistic missile program and so on. So I think it’s a further ratcheting up the pressure before the president comes to make his decision.”[Video]

“Antitrust Chief Says AT&T Faces Same Time Warner Deal Condition” by Nabila Ahmed: “AT&T Inc.’s planned takeover of Time Warner Inc. might be approved by U.S. regulators if Turner Broadcasting assets are severed from the merged company, the Justice Department’s top antitrust enforcer… Makan Delrahim said Monday at the conference… The Turner Broadcasting assets include CNN, one of President Donald Trump’s favorite Twitter targets.” [Bloomberg] • Future of AT&T-Time Warner Deal Is in Judge’s Hands [NYT]

HEARD YESTERDAY — Axios’ Mike Allen asked former FBI Director James Comey at a book-signing event at George Washington University: What’s the biggest mistake you made as FBI director that didn’t involve a Clinton or a Trump? Comey: “I carelessly created a problem with the government of Poland in a speech I was giving about the Holocaust, and it was a distraction and just a boneheaded play by me.” [Video

TALK OF THE NATION — “Starbucks drops Jewish group from bias training” by Andrew Hanna: “The ADL, whose mission is to fight anti-Semitism, will play an advisory role in the company’s long-term efforts to combat discrimination, Jaime Riley, a Starbucks spokeswoman, told POLITICO Monday. But the group won’t help develop the curriculum for Starbucks’ May 29 mandatory anti-bias training, as originally planned… “When Starbucks asked for assistance, we agreed to help,” ADL spokesman Todd Gutnick told POLITICO. “As to whether Starbucks may or may not now want to utilize our expertise, you should ask them.” … Starbucks’ Riley denied the company cut the organization loose because of political pressure, saying in an email, “We are architecting a multi-phase approach to addressing bias.”” [Politico]

— Liel Leibovitz writes… “Considering the fact that Jews are, by far, the most prominent targets of hate crimes in America these days, giving in to anti-Semites and removing the ADL from a diversity training initiative of a major American corporation is particularly heinous.” [Tablet

HOLLYWOOD — “Joel Grey is directing ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in Yiddish” by Cindy Adams: 
“Joel Grey is directing. So what’s he know from Yiddish? “Nothing. I was bar mitzvah’d in Cleveland. An Orthodox temple. Saturdays my dad went to shul. But I don’t know the language. It wasn’t spoken in my house. The show’s been translated. Hal Prince, who produced ‘Fiddler’ in ’64, called to suggest me. I thought, interesting. I can’t know each word, but I can be brilliant. Look, I’m a saver. I know the play well. I’ve kept its original program. Love it. Know it by heart. I followed the Yiddish reading with English words in front of me so I know what’s intended. We did casting for three weeks. Gentiles who did other shows elsewhere spoke it perfectly.”” [PageSix

“Actually, Seth Rogen Doesn’t Think North Korea Was Behind the Sony Hack” by Yohana Desta: “Though it does seem that North Korea hacked into Sony’s system in order to view The Interview long before the film’s actual release, the nation may not have been behind the leaked e-mails—because it wasn’t until closer to the film’s premiere that hacked messages began to surface. “Then, months later, when the movie itself finally came out, all this hacking s**t happened,” Rogen said. “This was months after North Korea had probably already seen the movie. Why would they wait [to leak the e-mails]? And they never did anything like that before and haven’t done anything like it since. So things just never quite added up.” [VanityFair]

LongRead: “They Saved Hitler’s Skull. Or Did They?” by Jean-Marie Pottier: “In 2009, Nicholas F. Bellantoni, an archeologist at the University of Connecticut, claimed he had analyzed a sample of the skull in a documentary broadcast on the History Channel, bluntly titled Hitler’s Escape, and concluded that it belonged to a 40-year-old-woman—but probably not Eva Braun, who poisoned herself. His findings gave another impulse to the Hitler-did-not-die-in-the-bunker cottage industry, exemplified by Jerome R. Corsi, the far-right American writer who, in addition to peddling theories about Barack Obama’s birthplace, is the author of Hunting Hitler: New Scientific Evidence That Hitler Escaped Nazi Germany…. The Russian State Archive had then claimed, and still claims, that Bellantoni never got access to its vaults. Both he and that History Channel say he did. Russia’s wariness about letting the French team examine the skull may have been caused by fear they would come to the same conclusion as Bellantoni…” [Slate]

SPORTS BLINK — “Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho opens academy in Israel” by Marcus M. Gilban: “Ronaldinho, who spent last week in the Jewish state, announced Thursday the establishment of the Ronaldinho Soccer Academy for children aged 6 to 16. The goal is to combine the passion and fun of Brazilian soccer with a strong teaching methodology and friendship values. The school will launch in the summer as a camp for some 100 youths before opening in September.” [JTA

BIRTHDAYS: National Director Emeritus of the Anti-Defamation League, head of the Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Abraham Foxman turns 78… Member of the New York City Council (1974-1983) and Commissioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (1983-1990 and a second term from 1994-2000), Henry Sternturns 83… Progressive political activist, pacifist, literary and political journalist, Larry Bensky turns 81… Assistant professor of Bible and Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University and editor of Tradition, an Orthodox theological journal, Rabbi Shalom Carmy turns 69… Attorney specializing in redistricting, voting rights and census law and director of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Jeffrey M. Wice turns 66… Member of the House of Representatives for Colorado’s 7th congressional district since 2007, Edwin George “Ed” Perlmutter turns 65… Political reporter and columnist for The Richmond Times-Dispatch, he has covered Virginia elections and the state Capitol for 30 years, Jeff E. Schapiro turns 63…

Israeli entrepreneur and software engineer, founder and CEO of Conduit, an online platform for app publishers with 260 million users, Ronen Shilo turns 60… Real estate entrepreneur, born in Israel, has lived in Southern California since 1986, a co-founder of the Israeli American Leadership Council (IAC), Eli Tene turns 55… Professor of computer science and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, David R. Karger turns 51… Israeli judoka, she was the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal when she won Silver at Barcelona (1992), she now is a manager of the Israeli operations for Viacom (and its Nickelodeon subsidiary), Yael Arad turns 51… Member of the Washington State Senate where he currently serves as the Senate Democratic Whip, co-owner of minor league baseball’s Spokane Indians, Andrew Swire “Andy” Billig turns 50… Award-winning broadcast journalist for more than 30 years including GM of CBS Radio News, now SVP of communications at University of Maryland University College, Michael Freedman… DC-based political reporter for The Guardian US, previously a reporter for the Daily Beast, Ben Jacobs… Deborah Chin