Have our people email your people. Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here
HEARD YESTERDAY -- U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in an interview with News 10's Barak Ravid: "President Trump is working on the ultimate deal and it is certainly too soon to write the postmortem on that. We believe this will, in the long run, facilitate a peace deal because it is a policy which is based on truth and reality. Those are the pillars upon which a deal will have to be made... I think primarily he is looking for that win-win structure where everybody looks at it and says, 'we are better off than before.'"
Friedman on lack of Dems at Jerusalem Embassy opening: "We would have been delighted to host as many Democratic congressmen and senators as would have come. The invitation was open to all, or I should actually say we made it clear that everybody was welcome. We didn't specifically invite anyone... I would have been more than happy to host Democratic leaders and I hope they come in the future. From my perspective, American support for Israel needs to be bipartisan and I am going to do everything I can to support visits from legislators — blue or red." [Axios; Video]
Friedman to Hadashot TV: "I think if the Palestinians don’t sit down, refuse to come to the table, I can’t imagine that would be well received in the White House and certainly we would express our dismay with that conduct."
-- "He said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not aware of the contents of the mooted plan, but that due to a "common view of some of the things that are essential to Israel’s security" he doesn't think "there will be any surprises" in it for the Israeli premier." [i24News; Mako]
Max Boot writes... "Trump is inflicting long-term damage on the U.S.-Israel alliance: That Trump sees Israel primarily in a domestic political context — as a way to win Republican votes — was evident at the ceremony to open the new embassy... Entirely missing were any Democrats... This exclusionary attitude stands in contrast to the efforts of previous presidents to maintain bipartisan backing for Israel. The Obama administration, for example, included Republican lawmakers and former national security adviser Stephen Hadley in the U.S. delegation to Shimon Peres’s funeral in 2016. Trump is, with Netanyahu’s connivance, exacerbating a dangerous trend: the end of the bipartisan consensus on Israel." [WashPost]
"Israelis Don't Think Netanyahu's Government Should Listen to U.S. Jews, Survey Shows" by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: "A new study of Israeli Jews’ attitudes toward their American peers shows... that slight majorities of Israeli Jews do not want their government to consider the views of American-Jewish leaders on matters of conversion, prayer at the Western Wall... When it comes to the peace process with the Palestinians and expanding the settlements, Israeli opinion is even starker: 64 percent of Israeli Jews say their government should not take into any or much consideration American-Jewish leaders’ views on peace negotiations... The study, titled “Together and Apart: Israeli Jews’ Views on their Relationship to American Jews and Religious Pluralism,” was commissioned by UJA-Federation of New York." [Haaretz]
TOP TALKER -- Jared Kushner receives permanent security clearance, an indication he may no longer be a focus of the special counsel" by Philip Rucker, Carol Leonnig, Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett: "Jared Kushner... was notified Wednesday that he has been granted a permanent security clearance to view top-secret material — an indication that he may no longer be under scrutiny by the special counsel... Last month, Kushner sat for about six hours of questioning by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team on a wide range of topics... Mark Zaid... said the decision... “is a very positive sign for Kushner that he is substantively in the clear with the special counsel’s office.”" [WashPost]
-- "The clearance announcement will not drastically change Mr. Kushner’s ability to play peacemaker in the Middle East. Even without a top-secret clearance, he was able to attend meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli officials." [NYTimes]
Aaron David Miller tweets: "Whew! I was getting worried. Now there's nothing standing in the way of an Israeli-Palestinian deal."
TALK OF THE REGION -- Israel defense chief plans 2,500 new West Bank settler homes" by Ilan Ben Zion: "Israel’s defense minister said Thursday he will seek approval next week to fast-track construction of 2,500 new West Bank settlement homes in 2018... In addition to the 2,500, [Avigdor] Lieberman said he will advance another 1,400 units that are currently in preliminary planning stages." [AP]
"Israel said to consider long-term cease fire with Hamas" by Jacob Magid and Stuart Winer: "Israel is considering agreeing to a long-term cessation of hostilities with Hamas after rejecting the offer for weeks, Channel 10 news reported... Israel has given up on its demand that Hamas, the terror group ruling the Gaza Strip, demilitarize and that the Palestinian Authority replace it in governing the coastal enclave... Egyptian and Qatari officials are each proposing and mediating their suggestions for an agreement that would see Israel significantly ease its blockade of Gaza in exchange for the complete cessation of rocket fire and of the digging by terror groups of cross-border tunnels." [ToI]
"Israeli minister says U.S. may soon recognize Israel's hold on Golan" by Dan Williams: "Intelligence Minister Israel Katz described endorsement of Israel’s 51-year-old hold on the Golan as the proposal now “topping the agenda” in bilateral diplomatic talks with the United States... Asked if such a decision could be made this year, he added: “Yes, give or take a few months.”" [Reuters]
ON THE HILL -- Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Doug Collins (R-GA), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced yesterday bipartisan legislation to combat the rising tide of anti-Semitism in schools and on college campuses across the nation. The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act would provide the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights with a guideline for determining whether cases that already rise to the level of actionable discrimination were motivated by anti-Jewish animus.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA) hosted their first ‘Fly In’ board meeting in Washington, D.C. where members of the board met with members of Congress on a wide range of issues concerning Jewish Democrats from gun safety and immigration to Israel and Iran. Over the past two days, the board -- chaired by former Congressman Ron Klein -- met with Senators Ben Cardin, Chris Murphy, Tim Kaine, Brian Schatz, Chris Van Hollen, and Ron Wyden, as well as Reps. Steny Hoyer, Steve Cohen, Susan Davis, Sandy Levin, Ted Lieu, Alan Lowenthal, Nita Lowey, Jared Polis, Jamie Raskin, Jacky Rosen, Jan Schakowsky, Brad Schneider, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and John Yarmuth. [Pic]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT -- - “Trump lawyer 'paid by Ukraine' to arrange White House talks” by Paul Wood: “Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, received a secret payment of at least $400,000 to fix talks between the Ukrainian president and President Trump [Petro] Poroshenko decided to establish a back channel to Mr Trump. The task was given to a former aide, who asked a loyal Ukrainian MP for help. He in turn used personal contacts in a Jewish charity in New York state, Chabad of Port Washington. (A spokesman for the Chabad has asked us [the BBC] to make clear that officials there were not involved.) This eventually led to Michael Cohen, the president's lawyer and trusted fixer The senior intelligence official in Kiev said "Mr Cohen had been helped by Felix Sater, a convicted former mobster who was once Trump's business partner.” [BBC]
“Cohen Distances Himself From Tax-Cheating 'Taxi King'” by Jake Pearson: “Cohen tweeted Wednesday that he was “one of the thousands” of licensed taxi operators who turned to management companies. He wrote, “Gene Freidman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other.” A person briefed on [Evgeny Freidman’s] plea agreement said it requires him to cooperate with any ongoing investigation.” [AP]
"Trump fundraiser launches subpoena blitz in Qatar legal fight" by Nathan Layne and Karen Freifeld: "Lawyers for Elliott Broidy... have sent out more than 40 subpoenas to internet service providers, lobbying firms and others in an escalating legal fight against Qatar for allegedly hacking into his emails." [Reuters]
PROFILE -- "Why Long Island Still Loves Trump" by David Freedlander: "[Rep. Lee] Zeldin’s campaign caught Trump’s eye. The future president robo-called on behalf of Zeldin during his 2014 race, and he called Zeldin after both his primary and general election victories... He defended Trump’s comments after Charlottesville... No Democratic operative I spoke with thinks Zeldin is seriously in danger of losing this fall, a sign of how far to the right the district has shifted." [PoliticoMag]
** 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: CBS claims Redstone blocked possible buyout bid from a rival [NYPost] William Ackman Takes Roughly $1 Billion Stake in Lowe’s [WSJ] Michael Bloomberg Takes On Trump, Pledges $42 Million To U.S. Cities [Forbes] Israel's Bank Hapoalim Q1 profit falls on U.S. tax probe provision [Reuters] Slack founder Stewart Butterfield believes that most office work is '70% wasted output' [BusinessInsider]
STARTUP NATION -- "Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi sees Israeli tech as key to future of cars" by Shoshanna Solomon: "Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi investment arm Alliance Ventures has decided to invest an undisclosed amount of money in an Israeli VC fund focusing on car technologies, Maniv Mobility, marking Alliance’s first investment in Israel... “We have committed to invest in Maniv,” but the deal has not yet been finalized, said Matthieu De Chanville, the deputy head of Alliance Ventures." [ToI]
PODCAST PLAYBACK -- Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ronan Farrow discussed his reporting about Black Cube, the Israeli intelligence firm that Harvey Weinstein hired to go after his accusers on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast with Terry Gross: “They were, through that firm and an array of other firms that Harvey Weinstein had retained, aggressively going after both women with allegations and also reporters working on the story, both in an effort to smear us and also in an effort apparently to uncover sources so that, presumably, they could in turn go after them... This continues to be a facet of the system employed by powerful people hoping to distort the news cycle. You know, I reported just in the last few weeks that Black Cube was also involved in an apparent effort to undermine the credibility of Obama-era officials who were involved in brokering the Iran deal This is a system that is still very much intact and is very relevant not only to these important stories about sexual violence but also to our political future.” [NPR]
CAMPUS BEAT -- "UN Ambassador Nikki Haley addresses University of Houston campus, sparks protest" by Cristobella Durrette and Michael Slaten: "Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, voiced Tuesday afternoon during a speech at University of Houston’s Cullen Performance Hall that the United States needs to end divisions in order to make progress. Moments earlier, dozens of students protested her visit, shouting “Nikki Haley you will see, Palestine will be free” before exiting the building... Brandishing the Palestinian flag, participants proceeded outside to the lawn behind police barricades where the chanting continued." [TheDailyCougar]
"How My Graduation Was Ambushed" by Morin Zaray: "I was drawn to the master’s program in nonprofit management at Hebrew Union College because I thought it could be a springboard to pursue my passion for deep, thoughtful Israel advocacy... My mother flew from Israel to join me for the graduation ceremony on May 14... Our commencement speaker, author Michael Chabon, took the stage. Very quickly, it was clear that Chabon, as eloquent as he was, viewed Israel in black-and-white terms. He condemned Israel’s security wall... Chabon also demonized a group of Israeli Jews: “I have never seen a sorrier and more riotous group of convicts than the Jews of present-day Hebron,” who he asserted lived behind a “wall made from the bodies of teenage soldiers.” ... I asked my mother if not seeing me graduate would disappoint her. She responded that she would feel ashamed to see me walk on that stage after what had been said. We stood up and left the sanctuary." [JewishJournal]
"Stuart Eizenstat Shines Light on Carter’s Achievements" by Michael Jacobs: "The native Atlantan and Ahavath Achim Synagogue member who served as Carter’s chief domestic policy adviser has produced a thousand-page book, “President Carter: The White House Years,” to set the record straight on the credit his ex-boss deserves for Middle East peace... [Eizenstat] shows us how Carter saw an early ally, Ted Kennedy, torpedo both their presidential dreams with a primary challenge that carried on to the Democratic convention largely because the United States didn’t veto an anti-Israel U.N. resolution right before the New York primary, a result of Carter’s mistaken belief that Jerusalem wasn’t included... Still, it was Iran that sank Carter, Eizenstat said, and he hopes a deeper understanding of what happened will help him, such as the revelation that bending visa rules saved tens of thousands of Jews from being sent back to Iran." [AtlantaJewishTimes]
HOLLYWOOD -- "Gal Gadot Producing, Possibly Starring in Fidel Castro Journalism Drama" by Dave McNary: "Gal Gadot is on board to produce and possibly star in a movie based on Peter Kornbluh’s Politico article “‘My Dearest Fidel’: An ABC Journalist’s Secret Liaison With Fidel Castro.” Warner Bros. has acquired movie rights for Sue Kroll on behalf of Kroll & Co. Entertainment through her exclusive deal. Kroll has partnered with Gadot and Jaron Varsano in developing the material. Kroll, Gadot, and Varsano will produce the film." [Variety]
PLAY BALL -- In celebration of Israel's 70th anniversary, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer threw out the first pitch at last night's Washington Nationals game. [Video]
SCENE THIS MORNING: Mrs. Nechama Shemtov threw a celebration for her husband Rabbi Levi Shemtov's upcoming 50th birthday (his Hebrew birthday is today). The breakfast, held at American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) HQ in DC, included a video produced by Bill Knapp that featured greetings from former Sen. Joe Lieberman and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent birthday letters. The politically diverse crowd prayed together prior to breakfast [Pic]
SPOTTED: Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer, Rhoda Dermer, Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, Mark Penn, Nancy Jacobson, Howard Friedman, Norm Eisen, Tevi Troy, Leon Wieseltier, Ken Weinstein, Tim Cohen, Ezra Friedlander, Louis Mayberg, Manette Mayberg, Steve Rabinowitz, Laura Blumenthal, Jeanie Milbauer, Michael Landau, Dan Rosenthal, Max Berry, Tom Kahn, Mitch Silk, Rabbis Mordechai Newman, Shalom Raichik, Shalom Deitsch, Berel Wolwosky, Menachem Shemtov. [Pic]
BIRTHDAYS: Professor at Brooklyn College and painter, Philip Pearlstein turns 94... Co-founder of the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, a premier firm known for complex transactions and litigation, he is discussed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book "Outliers," Herbert Wachtell turns 86... Film director and daughter-in-law of Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, Joan Micklin Silver turns 83... Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, his Hebrew name is Shabsi Zissel, he is one of the most influential singer-songwriters of his generation, Bob Dylan turns 77... Member of Congress since 2007 [D-TN-9], Tennessee's first Jewish congressman, Stephen Ira "Steve" Cohen turns 69... Former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs (2000-2003), Jorge Castañeda Gutman turns 65... First-ever Jewish member of the parliament in Finland, first elected in 1979, in 2011 he was elected as the acting speaker of the Finnish parliament, Ben Zyskowicz turns 64...
Constitutional historian, lecturer and writer, Richard B. Bernstein turns 62... Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer, one of his novels is "The Yiddish Policemen's Union," Michael Chabon turns 55... US Ambassador to Singapore (2010-2013), member of the the Georgia State Senate (2003-2010), now a partner in the global law firm Reed Smith, David Adelman turns 54... Senior Development Director in AIPAC's Northeast Region, Nora Berger turns 51... Founding partner at Rosemont Seneca Partners and former board chair of DC-based non-profit 826DC, Eric D. Schwerin turns 49... Ukrainian businessman, patron of the Jewish community in Ukraine, collector of modern and contemporary art and politician, Hennadiy Korban turns 48... Actor, who starred in the HBO original series "How to Make It in America," Bryan Greenberg turns 40... Chief of Staff at The National September 11 Memorial and Museum, previously Deputy Chief Of Staff at the Department of the Interior during the Obama administration, Benjamin E. Milakofsky turns 34... Director of Development at Schwarzman Scholars, previously VP for Development at ProPublica and SVP for Development at the Center for American Progress, Debby Goldberg...
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now