Daily Kickoff

Daily Kickoff: Will Trump recognize the Golan before the Israeli elections? | Gantz to address AIPAC | Jake Tapper turns 5-0

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ON THE GOLAN — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said during a tour of the Golan Heights yesterday that he will work with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on legislation to recognize the Golan “as part of the State of Israel now and forever.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who accompanied Graham on the tour, along with Ambassador David Friedman, thanked the senior Republican lawmaker for his support. “The Golan is part of Israel. The Golan must stay part of Israel forever. I think it’s very important that the international community recognize this fact and accept it, and most especially, our great friend the United States,” Netanyahu said. [PicVideo• Watch: Bibi and Graham on the helicopter ride to the Golan [Video]

Speaking to reporters on the conclusion of his trip, 
Graham said that the main purpose of the weekend visit to Israel was “to make a statement that from an American point of view, a safe, secure and prosperous Israel is in our national security interest and Israel cannot be safe, secure and prosperous unless it has the Golan.” 

Graham added that he’s hoping that the administration will be receptive to the idea. “I’ve been told that in the State Department there’s a map that has the Golan as a disputed area. I’d like to urge President Trump to change that map,” he said. “I’m going to go back and tell the president about my visit.” 

Asked if the president could announce such a move before the Israeli election on April 9th — a move that would benefit PM Netanyahu — Graham said: “I don’t know about timing, but I hope he will do it quickly. Everything that we can do we should do, in terms of making statements about Israel. The state of Israel is under siege right now, and I don’t know what’s wrong with coming now versus April 10th.” 

Kevin Bishop, Sen. Graham’s communications director, told Jewish Insider that Graham hopes to pass the legislation “as soon as possible.” [JewishInsider]

Netanyahu rival thinks Trump could recognize Golan Heights to swing Israeli election — by Barak Ravid: 
“Benny Gantz’s aides told me they think Trump could announce U.S. recognition of the Golan Heights during Netanyahu’s visit to the White House two weeks from now. Gantz’s aides told me that if Trump does this, it will give Netanyahu a huge achievement to campaign on.” [Axios]

FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer tells Jewish Insider
“The move itself is long overdue. But Trump should probably wait another four weeks until after election day to avoid injecting White House decisions into the Israeli political process. One month won’t change much, if anything. And this probably does not need to wait until after the coalition is formed.” 

CFR’s Martin Indyk tweets“Not that anyone in Trump or Netanyahu land cares, but for the U.S. to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights would be a direct contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 242, which the United States co-authored, and Israel accepted… Like it or not, the Golan Heights are Syrian territory. Israel cannot give them up now given its legitimate security concerns. But to recognize Israel’s annexation of territory that is not its own is to play with fire for partisan political purposes. No Arab state will accept it.”

HEARD YESTERDAY — PM Netanyahu, responding to questions on Likud TV, suggested that Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid would not get along with President Trump. “They supported the Iran nuclear deal, and they will get along with Trump? Trump, to my joy, believes in the things I believe in. But regardless, they will also have to face a less-sympathetic administration. I stood up for eight years against an administration that wanted to push us towards the 1967 borders and uproot settlements. I withstood pressure that no other prime minister withstood. And therefore, the challenge is not only to face a friendly president, that I have a special relationship with, but the challenge is with a president that you have to tell him the short word: ‘No.’ And I did both.”[Video]

During a press briefing at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Graham also commented on Trump’s remarks about the Democratic Party being ‘anti-Jewish’: “I wouldn’t agree with that. I would say that the Jewish members of the House and Senate, for the most part, have expressed disappointment and disgust with some of the statements coming from younger members of the freshman class of the Democratic House… There are elements within the Democratic Party that are getting more and more hostile toward Israel, and that disturbs me, but I would not say that the party is anti-Jewish.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders deflects when asked about Trump calling Democrats ‘anti-Jewish’ — by Kevin Liptak: “‘Democrats have had a number of opportunities to condemn specific comments and have refused to do that,’ she said. ‘That’s a question you should ask Democrats, what their position is, since they’re unwilling to call this what it is and call it out by name and take action against members who have done things like this.'” [CNNVideo]

— CNN’s Jim Acosta to Sanders: 
“Democrats don’t hate Jewish people. That’s just silly. It’s not true.” [Video]

Ilhan Omar Can’t Break the U.S.-Israel Bond — by Walter Russell Mead: 
“The theory that ‘the Jews’ control American foreign policy by distributing Benjamins to elected officials isn’t a theory only about rich and unscrupulous Jews. It is a theory about stupid gentiles unable to perceive the devious purposes of the hooknosed Master Race. This reflects not just anti-Semitism but contempt for the American people as a whole.” [WSJ]

No one loses a debate over anti-Semitism. Except Jews — by Seth Mandel: 
“Please stop with the predictions that the Jewish vote in 2020 is suddenly up for grabs. Democrats may have thrown Jews who were offended by Omar under the bus, but they’ll file provisional ballots while looking up at the rear axle if they have to. And Republicans who think they don’t play a role in that are fooling themselves. ‘We finally censured Steve King after he won his ninth term’ isn’t the bumper sticker of a party that’s done everything in its power to reach Jewish voters — especially when it’s still led by a president who infamously equivocated on racist, anti-Semitic marchers in Charlottesville.”[WashPost]

J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami, CAIR’s Nihad Awad, Nathan Guttman and professor Deborah Lipstadt discussed how can one criticize the government of Israel, without being antisemitic on NPR’s 1A. [NPR]

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) writes… “Congress missed the point with watered-down resolution on anti-Semitism: 
We had an opportunity to condemn anti-Semitism in strong, specific terms. We had the chance to reassure our Jewish brothers and sisters, in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and amid an overall rise in anti-Jewish attacks, that we will support and defend them… We could have explained that the U.S.-Israel relationship is special, not for nefarious reasons, but because our two countries have shared values, shared security interests, and a deep historical connection… Congress could have done all this, but didn’t.” [OrlandoSentinel]

Cheney roils GOP leadership on anti-Semitism vote — by Melanie Zanona and John Bresnahan: 
“Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was upset last week that the Republican Conference chairwoman, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, along with 22 other Republicans, voted against the anti-hate resolution… Members of leadership typically vote together as a pack. But other members of McCarthy’s leadership team were frustrated that there wasn’t better communication about the GOP’s strategy on the resolution.” [Politico]

LePage suggests Democrats’ money comes mostly from Jews: 
“‘The Jewish people in America have been great supporters of the Democratic Party,’ Former Gov. Paul LePage told WGAN-AM. ‘In fact, that’s where their money comes from for the most part. They should be absolutely insulted for what she’s been saying.’ … LePage said he is ‘skeptical’ that Jewish voters would break away from Democrats. ‘I think what they might do, the fundraising might get hurt a little bit,’ LePage said. ‘But I don’t think they’re going to desert the Democratic Party.'” [APPolitico]

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE — Book Describes Ivanka Trump’s Defense After Charlottesville — by Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman: 
“When Gary D. Cohn was considering resigning as the top White House economic adviser after President Trump blamed ‘both sides’ in a deadly white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Va., his first stop was a meeting with Mr. Trump’s children. In a conversation in August 2017 with Ivanka Trump, Mr. Cohn was shocked by her reaction to his concerns, according to a new book about Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. ‘My dad’s not a racist; he didn’t mean any of it,’ Ms. Trump said… Appearing to channel her father, she added, ‘That’s not what he said.'” [NYTimes• Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were repeatedly rejected when they tried to fly on Air Force planes, so they found a workaround [BusinessInsider]

ON THE HILL — by JI’s Laura Kelly: 
Pro-Israel groups are scheduled to testify in front of the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, advocating how funds in the president’s 2020 budget should be appropriated. AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr will ask the committee to approve $3.3 billion in security assistance to Israel while also supporting continued U.S. aid to Egypt and Jordan as nations that contribute to stability in the Middle East — funding outlined in the 2016 U.S.- Israel Memorandum of Understanding. J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami will ask the committee to appropriate a similar amount for aid to Israel, but with an extra almost $600 million to be directed towards Palestinian assistance programs and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). 

Representatives David Kustoff (R-TN) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), both members of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced a bill on Monday that would name and shame Iranian individuals and entities that are getting rich off their proximity to the regime. Called the ‘Stop Corrupt Iranian Oligarchs and Entities Act,’ it mirrors previously passed legislation that identifies corrupt Russian officials for sanctions. “It is unacceptable that the leaders in Iran have continued to accumulate hundreds of millions of dollars of wealth from their positions as their people suffer,” Rep. Kustoff said in a statement. Rep. Gottheimer said, “In recent years, Iran has capitalized on sanctions relief, bankrolling terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, Hamas and military adventurism across the region, while enriching corrupt, regime-connected officials back at home.”

SCENE YESTERDAY — Former Shin Bet head Yaakov Peri and former director of the CIA Mike Morell attended a lunch on Capitol Hill to discuss the ‘new Middle East’ and how enduring threats posed by Iran, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups are further complicated by the involvement of competing world powers — specifically Russia and China. “No doubt that the Russian involvement in Syria is ‘heavy,’ I haven’t got another description,” Peri said. “I wouldn’t trust Putin. I’m not a Bibi follower, but in this case, I’m trusting Bibi more than his counterpart.”

Morell warned against the withdrawal of American troops in Syria as allowing domestic politics to dictate foreign policy. “But the lesson of World War II is, you pay now or you pay a lot more later,” said Morell. “We either pay now and return to our traditional leadership role in the world, or we, again, will be paying a lot more later. I guarantee you.”  

On Netanyahu’s personal attacks against Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, Peri told Jewish Insider, “I’m against personal attacks. Mr. Gantz was appointed by Mr. Netanyahu to be the Chief of Staff and together they have fought the last operation in Gaza [Operation Protective Edge in 2014] and when you read the farewell letter that Mr. Netanyahu wrote to Gantz, you’d be amazed… Now it’s politics… I wouldn’t say that everything is allowed… Personally, I think that Gantz and Kachol Levan [the Blue and White party] will face difficulties to compose a government, but there [is a chance], and I am a supporter of this group.” 

KAFE KNESSET — Gantz Answers Questions From the Public — by Neri Zilber: In his first real engagement with the public, Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White, held a town hall meeting last night at the Be’er Sheva Cultural Hall alongside his running mate Yair Lapid. The event drew about 1,000 supportive local citizens and party activists, with space at a premium inside the cramped hall. Aside from Gantz (finally) answering questions from voters, the most interesting aspect was his interplay with Lapid. Coming out to Israeli pop music, clapping and smiling feverishly, the two casually dressed co-leaders did well playing off one another. Yet it was clear that Lapid was there in a support role — adding much-needed charisma and energy to Gantz’s more rigid delivery. Gantz kicked off the event with highly scripted remarks delivered from a podium, slamming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his looming indictments and calling on him again to resign for the good of the country.”

Gantz Confirms AIPAC Speech: Blue and White confirmed this morning that Gantz will be speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference later this month in Washington. The speech is planned for March 25, and will focus, according to Blue and White, on “rebuild[ing] the relationship with American Jewry and ensur[ing] that Israel will once again enjoy the support of its friends across the spectrum in the United States.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset newsletter by subscribing here [KafeKnesset]

Ayman Odeh sets out terms for helping Gantz’s Blue and White defeat Netanyahu — by Adam Rasgon: “’We would be willing to recommend Gantz and Lapid to Rivlin to stop the formation of a right-wing government, but they need to show us they are willing to negotiate peace with the [Ramallah-based] Palestinian leadership, support equality for all citizens including Arabs, increase budgets to the local authorities in Arab villages and cancel the nation-state law,’ Odeh said.” [ToI]

ULTIMATE DEAL WATCH — Pompeo, Kushner, Greenblatt discuss Middle East with Jordan king: source — by Steve Holland: 
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House senior advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt discussed Middle East peace prospects with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Monday… The 45-minute meeting took place at the Jordanian ambassador’s residence in Washington.” [Reuters]

2020 WATCH — All eyes on Milwaukee: The 2020 Democratic National Convention is coming to Wisconsin — by Mark Sommerhauser: “Milwaukee will host the Democratic National Convention in 2020… A centerpiece of Milwaukee’s DNC bid is the new Milwaukee Bucks arena, Fiserv Forum, which will host the convention. Milwaukee Bucks vice president Alex Lasry — who along with Barrett and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, helped oversee the city’s bid for the convention — hailed the news. In a statement, Lasry said the convention ‘is an unprecedented opportunity to put Milwaukee on the international stage like never before.'” [Madison]

In a shifting party, Joe Biden maintains strength with South Carolina’s black Democrats… Beto O’Rourke to make first trip to Iowa ahead of possible 2020 run… Is Beto the front-runner or already a flop?… Facebook backtracksafter removing Warren ads calling for Facebook breakup… Larry Hogan, potential Trump primary challenger, is headed to New Hampshire in April… Former House Speaker Paul Ryan said during a lecture Monday in Vero Beach on Monday that he believes there are some Democrats who could beat President Donald Trump next year. 

** 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: Sam Altman plans to build what he is calling a ‘capped-profit’ company that could be a model in Silicon Valley [Recode• Lear Invests in Israel-Based Maniv Mobility Venture Capital Fund [Newswire• Jonah Peretti face pressure from inside BuzzFeed amid concern for the company’s financial future [CJR] • Pam Wasserstein’s New York Media lays off 32 workers [NYPost• New York’s business elite decamps to millennial-friendly Hudson Yards [FinancialTimes] •  NY Lawmakers Support ‘Pied-à-Terre’ Tax on Multimillion-Dollar Second Homes [NYTimes• An oil boom is transforming the eastern Mediterranean — and changing relationships, especially with Israel [LATimes]

SPOTLIGHT — Gov. Ron DeSantis hitches ride to New York on South Florida gambling mogul’s jet; GOP picks up tab — by Steve Bousquet: “Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Feb. 28 excursion to New York — paid for by the Republican Party of Florida — was on a plane owned by Jeffrey Soffer, an Aventura real estate executive who owns the Fontainebleau resort hotel in Miami Beach and the Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach.” [SunSentinel]

A Russian Is Now London’s Richest Man: 
“Mikhail Fridman’s net worth of $15 billion knocked billionaire investor Len Blavatnik from the top of the list, Forbes Russia reported Tuesday. Fridman is one of 55 billionaire Londoners, who have a combined net worth of $226 billion… Forbes Russia named Fridman its businessman of the year in 2017. That year, Buzzfeed published the infamous ‘Trump Dossier,’ accusing the oligarch of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections on President Vladimir Putin’s orders.”[MoscowTimes]

JERUSALEM SCENE —  Global TV executives descend on Jerusalem — by Ami Spiro: “Top-level decision-makers from Netflix, CNN, CBS, Amazon Studios and more took part in interviews and panel discussions during the first day of Keshet INTV’s sixth annual conference at the YMCA in the capital… Academy Award-nominated director Julie Cohen also appeared on a panel Monday to discuss her recent documentary, RBG, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” [JPost]

TALK OF THE TOWN — ‘Cooking is our expression’: the ultra-Orthodox foodies stirring the pot — by Miriam Berger: “Michael Zilbershlag started a new brand, Kosher and Tasty, joining a wave of Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, women in Israel mixing old rules with new Instagram filters as they promote and refine their communities’ traditional food. About once a month Zilbershlag holds catering classes in her home in Hemed, a religious community in central Israel, drawing women from all over the country. While the kitchen is a traditionally acceptable space for women in conservative societies, Zilbershlag and Haredi female food entrepreneurs like her describe their work as a kind of consumer-driven outreach to combat the image of Haredim as anti-modern.” [TheGuardian]

DESSERT — Iconic kosher deli in Amsterdam closes after 62 years — by Cnaan Liphshiz: 
“Amsterdam’s iconic kosher deli Sal Meijer has been shuttered after 62 years because of financial difficulties and a lack of trustworthy kashrut supervisors. The deli closed this month without fanfare, and faithful patrons like Ron Eisenmann of Amsterdam learned about it from reading a sign on the door of the eatery in southern Amsterdam that read ‘Sal Meijer is closed from now on,’ he wrote on Twitter.” [JTA]

BIRTHDAYS: Chief Washington correspondent for CNN and anchor of the Sunday morning program “State of the Union,” Jacob Paul “Jake” Tapperturns 50… Attorney, real estate developer and former president of AIPAC (2014-2015), he is the founder and CEO of R.A. Cohen & Associates, Robert A. Cohen turns 64… Founder and CEO at Miller Strategies, LLC and a principal of the Ryan Advocacy group, he was previously an advisor for Kevin McCarthy and Rick Perry, Jeff Miller… Born in Venezuela, raised in Israel, now residing in New Jersey, Rabbi Yitzchak Abadi turns 86… Sam Cohen turns 86… Photographer, musician and author of 15 children’s books, she is married to Alan Alda since 1957, Arlene Weiss Alda turns 86… Carol Margolis turns 74… Director, producer and screenwriter of movies and television including “The Fast and the Furious” film franchise, Rob Cohen turns 70… Born in Bombay, British sculptor who in 2017 won the $1 million Genesis Prize for “commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and the State of Israel,” Sir Anish Kapoor turns 65…

Member of the Knesset for the Likud party, he is from the Israeli Druze community and serves as Israel’s Minister of Communications, Ayoob Kara turns 64… Lynne Blumenthal turns 61… Director of the Initiative on Holocaust Denial and Antisemitism and Director of Survivor Affairs, both at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Diane Saltzman turns 56… Sportscaster for ESPN since 1993, host of SportsCenter best known for his work broadcasting NHL hockey, Steve Levy turns 54… VP for media affairs at USTelecom – The Broadband Association, he was previously the Democratic communications director for the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Brian T. Weiss turns 43… Iraq Analyst at Tesla Government Inc., Aaron Magid turns 30… Israeli figure skater who won the 2016 World Junior championship, he competed for Israel at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Daniel Samohin turns 21… Chief Marketing Officer at Consensus Systems, better known as ConsenSys, a blockchain software technology company, Amanda Gutterman… Founder of, and designer for, a NYC-based eponymous clothing line that features successful women as its fashion models, Carrie Hammer