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HEARD LAST NIGHT -- At J Street's gala dinner honoring the group's president Jeremy Ben-Ami, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) thanked J Street for working closely with the Obama administration to get 42 Democrats to support the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. “Two years ago, I came to J Street to thank you for supporting President Obama when he called for an historic understanding with Iran. It was an incredible achievement -- not just for the President and the U.S., but for Israel and the world, and you were part of it.”
"J Street exists to support those of you strong enough and courageous enough to lead us in a different direction," Ben-Ami told the members of Congress and candidates that participated in the group's 10th-anniversary celebration.
The evening also featured a conversation between former Mideast envoy George Mitchell and Susan Glasser. "Is America out of the peace-making business?" Glasser asked. "I don't think we can, or will be, or should be out of the peace-making business," Mitchell replied. Addressing Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Mitchell said, "Jerusalem was, is, and will be forever the capital of Israel. There's no doubt about that. Nobody questions that. The only question is: will there be in East Jerusalem a Palestinian capital of a Palestinian state? ... In fact, what [Trump] has done -- which I call an unwise and premature decision -- has made getting negotiations started and getting an agreement far more difficult than it was in the absence of that." The former peace envoy added that he hopes Jared Kushner succeeds in his role to bring peace. [Video]
SPOTTED: Ben Rhodes, Reps. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Ed Perlmutter, (D-CO), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and Jerry Nadler (D-NY); Sen. Angus King (I-ME), MK Merav Michaeli, Dan Helmer, Amy Rutkin, Daniel Schwartz, Debra Shushan, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Aaron Weinberg, Steve Rabinowitz, Aaron Keyak, Michael Koplow, Dan De Luce, Ron Kampeas, Natan Guttman, Jillian Jones, and Amir Tibon.
HEARD EARLIER AT THE J STREET CONFERENCE -- Former UN Ambassador and National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned that a possible U.S. withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal would likely lead to the collapse of the international accord. "Iran will be in a position to say quite truthfully that they upheld their obligations and the U.S. did not," Rice explained. "That would leave them free -- if they chose -- to resume their nuclear program and pursue it without constraints." [Video]
Rice also mocked the Trump Administration Middle East peace negotiation team, casting doubts that Jared Kushner, Ambassador David Friedman, and all "these Middle East experts" could craft a viable peace plan. "It's highly unlikely to be sort of a balanced bridging proposal that could yield progress," she said.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) shared his party's critique of Trump's policies, while also noting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress in 2015 and his policy on African refugees as lines crossed requiring Congress to "speak out." Friends of Israel, Cardin said, have “a responsibility to speak out against the policies of Israel or the United States that are not consistent with our Jewish and Democratic values.” [CSPAN]
-- "Cardin received a frostier reception than [Bernie] Sanders, the only keynote speaker to receive a thunderous standing ovation as he delivered a speech that was scathingly critical of Israel’s use of force against Hamas protesters in the Gaza Strip... By contrast, Cardin received scattered boos and sparse applause when he defended controversial anti-boycott legislation that J Street opposes." [Al-Monitor]
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): "As someone who believes absolutely and unequivocally in Israel's right to exist, and to exist in peace and security; as someone who as a young man lived in Israel for a number of months and as is very proud of his Jewish heritage; as someone who is deeply concerned about the global rise of anti-Semitism and all forms of racism; we must say loudly and clearly that to oppose the reactionary policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu does not make us anti-Israel."
"At J Street, Palestinian Ambassador Says Trump Peace Plan Must Include Jerusalem" by Amir Tibon: "Palestinian Ambassador to the U.S. Husam Zomlot told the J Street conference... that the Palestinians will not accept any Trump administration peace plan that does not include East Jerusalem or address the issue of refugees... With regard to the Trump administration's upcoming peace plan, he said the Palestinians will not accept a "state minus" or a "state in provisional borders." He also said they will not accept a state "with one Israeli soldier on its soil." ... "The two-state solution was never a Palestinian demand, but a concession. Painful, but essential for the cause of peace. We have done our share. We will continue doing our share... We have recognized the State of Israel on 78 percent of historic Palestine," he said." [Haaretz]
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI): "If you look at my positions and put them in the '80s or '90s, they would be mainstream. If you compare my views on Israel to the views of the American public, right now, I'd probably be right in the middle. But in Congress, I am on the left edge. That cannot hold. And so I'm committed to making the Democratic Party a big tent, a pro-Israel party where there's room for everyone from Bernie Sanders to me, to Chuck Schumer, and I'm committed to growing the number of progressives who care about Israel."
-- "Sen. Brian Schatz Calls on Fellow Progressives to Fight Anti-Semitism Within Their Ranks, Not Just On Right" by Yair Rosenberg: “In one year, anti-Semitic incidents have increased by nearly 60 percent,” he noted. “And frankly, it’s coming from all sides.” This crosspartisan bigotry, Schatz continued, has historical precedent that should disturb us... “It’s easy for us to look at another country or another political party and say: ‘Enough! Do better!'” Schatz observed. “It is a tougher conversation when the problem is in our own tent. But we know that we cannot look the other way when people who would otherwise be our progressive allies speak out of ignorance or fear or convenience and they cross a moral line.” [Tablet]
Aaron David Miller and Steven Simon write... "Partisanship is compromising our special relationship with Israel: A United States divided regarding Israel might forgo intervention on its behalf in a crisis, in a way that could create doubts about American reliability while forsaking a solemn commitment to a people that had passed through the gas chambers and crematoria. Israel is especially significant to American Jews, a diverse religious and ethnic community. A partisan approach to Israel essentially cuts off many American Jews from a focus of their emotional and historical roots. It devalues some American Jews while privileging others." [WashPost]
SIGHTING -- The NYC Council delegation visited Efrat today and met with Yesha Council's Chief Foreign Envoy Oded Revivi as part of a week-long mission to Israel. [Pic] Yesterday, the group met with Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog [Pic] and Regional Cooperation Minister Tzahi Hangebi. [Pic]
PIC OF THE DAY -- Anthony Scaramucci, The Mooch, met yesterday with Jewish students at Rutgers University Chabad House to discuss countering anti-Israel and BDS campaigns on campus. The event was co-hosted by the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce and Rabbi Mendy Carlebach [Pic; Pic]
“I am a one state solution person,” Scaramucci said. ”I know there are places like J Street [that push the two state solution] but they don’t really understand the issue. They are not spending enough time in the area understanding the history, and they certainly are not spending enough time understanding that people want to take that state out in the worst possible way. And you cannot let that happen.”
DRIVING THE CONVO -- "The News Is Too Much With Us, Late and Soon" by Gail Collins and Bret Stephens: "Bret: I’m surprised to find myself writing this, but I think the [Syira] strike was a waste of perfectly good cruise missiles. We did nearly the exact same thing last year, and it did nothing to stop Bashar al-Assad from slaughtering his own people and using chemical weapons on them... The strike really was classic Trump: A show of force mainly for the sake of show, without any strategy behind it. Iran has entrenched itself in Syria alongside Russia, while Israel is quietly preparing for war on its northern front. The administration looks likely to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal next month, but little thought seems to have been given to what comes after. In all, just another reminder that the Trump disaster is global." [NYTimes]
TALK OF THE MIDDLE EAST -- "Saudi king uses Arab Summit to adjust Riyadh's stance toward Trump" by Bruce Riedel: "The Saudis are uncomfortable that they have been widely perceived in the Arab World as colluding with Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, to undermine the Palestinians’ claim to the holy city, a perception that damages the Saudi mantle as the defender of the holy mosques, which is crucial to the royal family’s legitimacy. Pictures on TV of protesting Gazans burning Saudi flags and pictures of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have been blocked in the kingdom... To the Saudis, Trump increasingly sounds like Barack Obama in advocating a strategy that leaves the Arabs to take care of themselves. Riyadh was mystified when Trump claimed Salman was ready to pay for America to stay in Syria." [Al-Monitor]
--Martin Indyk tweets: "Saudi King Salman’s “Jerusalem Summit” puts it back on the table after Trump claims he took it off. Stark demonstration of the counterproductive consequences of Trump’s Jerusalem embassy decision. And a reminder to Jared that the King is still in charge."
"Trump still intends to get U.S. troops out of Syria as soon as possible, White House says" by Karen DeYoung, James McAuley and William Booth: "The White House said Monday that President Trump still intends an early exit for U.S. troops in Syria, as French President Emmanuel Macron attempted to walk back his suggestion that he had convinced Trump to keep them there for the “long term.” ... Speaking at a news conference during a visit to New Zealand, Macron said defeating the militants remains the military objective for France and the United States, and that the mission would end on “the day” that is accomplished." [WashPost] "Israel disappointed over US-led strike on Syria" by Ben Caspit [Al-Monitor]
"U.S. Seeks Arab Force and Funding for Syria" by Michael R. Gordon: "The Trump administration is seeking to assemble an Arab force to replace the U.S. military contingent in Syria and help stabilize the northeastern part of the country... John Bolton... recently called Abbas Kamel, Egypt's acting intelligence chief, to see if Cairo would contribute to the effort, officials said. The initiative comes as the administration has asked Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to contribute billions of dollars to help restore northern Syria. It wants Arab nations to send troops as well." [WSJ]
"Trump jokes about being jealous of Bolton" by Jordan Fabian: "President Trump on Monday joked that new national security adviser John Bolton could lose his job if he receives “all the credit” for last week’s airstrikes on Syria. Trump acknowledged Bolton... where the president was participating in a tax event. The crowd gave Bolton a raucous standing ovation. “John, that’s pretty good. I didn’t expect that. I’m a little jealous,” Trump said. “Are you giving him all the credit? Uh oh, you know that means the end of his job.” [TheHill]
-- "Bolton era begins with exits and anxiety at National Security Council" by Jenna McLaughlin, Jeremy Diamond and Evan Perez: "Even as the White House cites Bolton's desire -- and right -- to build his own team, he has yet to announce a single senior hire to replace the departing officials. Instead, he has kept his new staff guessing -- feeding a sense of uncertainty and anxiety that has filled NSC offices since his arrival... "No one knows what's going on," one source close to the NSC told CNN. "It's a bit chaotic."" [CNN]
IRAN DEAL -- "EU fails to agree to new Iran sanctions as Trump deadline nears" by Gabriela Baczynska and Peter Maushagen: "The European Union failed to agree new sanctions against Iran on Monday amid Italy’s opposition and fears that punishing Tehran for its missile program and regional role would not stop U.S. President Donald Trump from abandoning a separate nuclear deal. Speaking on the sidelines of EU foreign ministers’ discussions in Luxembourg, some diplomats said the outcome meant the EU might not make the U.S. President’s May 12 deadline to “fix” the 2015 nuclear accord." [Reuters]
ON THE HILL -- "Bob Corker is free to speak his mind about Donald Trump, if he could only make it up" by Ben Terris: "Corker, who gets along with everyone, grew close with Trump and his team. As the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, they often sought his advice on world affairs... On one occasion last June, Corker was at the White House... when Trump called him into the Oval Office. There, surrounded by top aides, the president sat in front of a speakerphone talking to King Salman of Saudi Arabia... In a photo of the call taken by a White House photographer, Corker leans on the Resolute Desk, whispering in the president’s ear. But when the king opened with lavish praise for Trump, the president’s fortitude melted away and he told aides, “I like the king.” Around this time Corker started to get regular calls from Trump staffers from “what sounded like the inside of coat closets,” often just to gripe about how things were run at the White House."
"But it was precisely this proximity that lead him to make his first viral criticism of Trump. After the President refused to fully condemn the white nationalists who had marched on Charlottesville, an upset Corker held forth with the press, offering a sound bite he knew would make waves: The President had not shown “the stability, nor some of the competence” to lead, he said. That same week, Corker found himself summoned to the Oval Office once again... “The President says, ‘Bob, you said I was incompetent,’ ” Corker recalled... By the end of the meeting, Corker said, Trump had offered to endorse him if he changed his mind and decided to run for another term. (The president has denied this on Twitter.) “Despite everything,” Corker said, “we do have a very, very warm relationship.” [WashPost]
“The CEO of Cambridge Analytica's parent company compared Trump propaganda tactics to Hitler” by Alexandra Ma: “[Nigel] Oakes told Emma Briant in recorded interviews, which were released by the UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Monday: "Of course, Hitler attacked the Jews. He didn't have a problem with the Jews at all, but the people didn't like the Jews... so he just leveraged an artificial enemy. Well, that's exactly what Trump did. He leveraged a Muslim."” [BusinessInsider]
IN THE SPOTLIGHT... "Sean Hannity Is Named as Client of Michael Cohen, Trump’s Lawyer" by Alan Feuer, Michael Grynbaum and John Koblin: "Now, Mr. Hannity finds himself aligned even more closely with the president. During a hearing at a packed courtroom in Lower Manhattan on Monday, he was named as a client of Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen... The courtroom disclosure about Mr. Hannity occurred during the expanding criminal investigation into Mr. Cohen by the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan." [NYTimes]
-- "The Michael Cohen legal sideshow: Gasps, pratfalls and paparazzi" by Hunter Walker: "After the hearing... Cohen and many of the other lawyers remained in the courtroom... Cohen was preoccupied with the courtroom sketch artists. He asked to see the drawings they made of him. “I’m better-looking,” Cohen declared after reviewing a sketch." [YahooNews]
"Dershowitz confronts Hannity: 'You should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen'" by Brett Samuels: "I really think you should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen," [Alan] Dershowitz said, calling it a "complicated situation." "It was minimal," Hannity responded. "I understand that, and you should've said that," Dershowitz... replied. "You were in a tough position because, A, you had to talk about Cohen, and, B, you didn't want the fact that you had spoken with him to be revealed." "I have the right to privacy," Hannity interjected. "It was such a minor relationship." "You should have said that," Dershowitz said." [TheHill]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR -- "Prosecution moving toward indicting PM on gifts probe — report" by Jacob Magid: "The prosecutor in charge of overseeing the graft probes into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is moving “in the direction” of an indictment over gifts he received from wealthy businessmen, Channel 10 reports. However, the indictment in the so-called Case 1000 will be on the lesser charges of breach of trust rather than bribery as recommended by police earlier this year... A breach of trust indictment would mean that Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan would likely not face charges along with Netanyahu." [ToI]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Rothschild Names Heir as Chairman, Elevating Next Generation [Bloomberg] Carl Icahn All But Exits Casinos With Tropicana Entertainment Sale [WSJ] Steve Cohen Thinks He Can Dance. Lincoln Center Is Ready for Him [Bloomberg] Well known U.S. activist investors including Nelson Peltz and William Ackman took a hit from the first-quarter U.S. stock market slump, while some smaller players delivered gains [Reuters] Lerer Hippeau’s takeover of Binary Capital is now complete [Recode] Les Moonves demanded control of CBS/Viacom in 2016 [Axios] Israeli Government Divided On Required Response to U.S. Tax Reform [Calcalist]
STARTUP NATION -- “U.S., Israeli Space Agencies Join Forces to Protect Astronauts From Radiation" by Andy Pasztor: "U.S. and Israeli space officials have teamed up with a Tel Aviv-based technology startup to combat one of the gravest threats confronting future astronauts: excessive radiation exposure. StemRad Ltd., a closely held Israeli company that already supplies a different type of personal radiation-protective gear to a limited numbers of soldiers, nuclear plant workers and emergency responders, developed the space version of its product in conjunction with Lockheed Martin Corp." [WSJ]
SPOTLIGHT -- Ariela Wertheimer on Art and Letting Go: "The artist Ariela Wertheimer says her visibility as a member of the wealthiest family in Israel compounds the vulnerability that nearly every artist faces when showing their work. "I was painting and doing things all my life, but I was afraid to be exposed, because of my family name, because, I don't know why, many things," Wertheimer said Monday on Cheddar TV. "The moment you show your art, your work, you expose yourself." Wertheimer is preparing for her first New York exhibition, "The Freedom to Let Go", which will be featured at ArtExpo New York from April 19 to 22. Wertheimer is married to Eitan Wertheimer, the son of Stef Wertheimer." [Cheddar; Video]
TOP TALKER: "After Giving Them the Finger, Birthright Co-founder Slams ‘Stupid Left-wing Jews’ at Protest" by Debra Nussbaum Cohen: “I find it really peculiar that so many Jews are supporting BDS and events like their protest,” Steinhardt told Haaretz. “I don’t really understand it, but that’s my age catching up with me, I guess... I passed this group of protesters behind a barrier and it was clear these were young Jews,” Steinhardt said later. “Birthright is such a warm, welcoming, nonpolitical enterprise you’d think they could find better things to protest. They were screeching something and I gave them the finger, and that was that." [Haaretz] Adelsons Donate $70 Million to Help Connect Young Jews to Israel [Bloomberg]
"Sarah Lawrence to honor Barbara Walters with new building" by Cindy Adams: "Barbara Walters put “20/20” on the map and created “The View.” She’s interviewed royals, stars, every president... No. 1 for a lifetime, she’ll now stay No. 1 for everyone’s lifetime... In 2019, her Sarah Lawrence alma mater honors B.W. with its first new building in a decade — the Barbara Walters Campus Center. Cost — $35 mil. Donors included [Michael] Bloomberg, Hugh Jackman, Leonard Lauder, David Geffen. State of the art facilities include archives, photos, memorabilia, stories, reading room, 800-seat assembly hall." [PageSix]
"Barry Diller Talks About His 5-Year Battle for NYC's Pier 55 Park" by Peter Kiefer: "Scheduled to open in fall 2020, Pier 55 — aka "Diller Island" — will be an undulating 2.7-acre green space, featuring a 700-seat amphitheater and two other performance spaces, built atop 132 concrete mushroom-like pots... When the park opens, 51 percent of the tickets for the performances will either be free or under $30 dollars... Since the plans were first revealed back in 2014, the project’s budget grew from $35 million to more than $250 million. When asked how he plans to address the costs, Diller said he was open to suggestions. “Other than write checks there’s nothing much we can do. We want to build it right. And yes, it’s true — the delay was costly. But my family’s lucky. We have the resources and we’re gonna do it,” he says. " [HollywoodReporter]
MEDIA WATCH -- "The Times and The New Yorker Share the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service" by Michael Grynbaum: "Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on Monday to the news organizations that drove two of the biggest stories of the year... The prize for public service, considered the most prestigious of the Pulitzers, went to The New York Times and the New Yorker magazine for their revelations of sexual harassment and abuse that had gone on, unheeded and unpunished, in the spheres of Hollywood, politics, the media and Silicon Valley. The national reporting prize went to The Times and The Washington Post for their coverage of Mr. Trump’s possible ties to Russia." [NYTimes]
ACROSS THE POND -- "It backed Israel before Balfour: Corbyn stance is stark shift from early Labour" by Robert Philpot: "Labour proved itself a steadfast supporter of the establishment of a Jewish homeland. Its own annual conferences, and those of its allies in the trade union movement, repeatedly endorsed this principle during the 1930s. In May 1939, Labour opposed the Conservative government’s White Paper, which sought to halt Jewish immigration to Palestine and effectively reneged on the undertakings made by Arthur Balfour nearly 20 years before... Even at the height of its power in the early 1980s, the hard left was no more than a noisy, disruptive and electorally toxic minority. Today, its power is deeply entrenched: it has elected one of its own to the leadership." [ToI]
TRANSITION -- Christians United for Israel (CUFI) announced that Diana Hagee, the wife of CUFI founder Pastor John Hagee, and Shari Dollinger will take on the roles of Co-Executive Directors. David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force, continues to serve on CUFI’s Executive Board.
SPORTS BLINK -- “Josh Rosen is Jewish. And a ‘millennial.’ Does the NFL care?” by Jacob Bogage: “Josh Rosen sat for an interview for an ESPN The Magazine cover story and was immediately confronted with the flaws that seemingly will undo him as an NFL quarterback. “You’re a cocky, jerkish, overly opinionated rich kid who’s too smart and has too many outside interests for his own good,” ESPN senior writer Sam Alipour posed to the UCLA junior. That characterization stemmed from remarks made by former Bruins Coach Jim Mora, who claimed Rosen would not “fit” in some NFL cities because of a lack of a “blue-collar, gritty attitude.” “This is classic anti-Semitism,” ESPN personality Tony Kornheiser said on his podcast last week. “Absolutely classic anti-Semitism that says, ‘We don’t want this guy. This guy’s too smart.’”” [WashPost]
DESSERT -- "The Curse Of The Dairy Kosher Restaurant in Manhattan" by Shira Feder: "Basta, the high-end Manhattan eatery, with its selection of Israeli style dairy dishes, was only open for a scant few months before closing its doors again... From Cafe K to the iconic va Bene to SoomSoom to Prime’s Pizza da Solo, the decline of defunct kosher dairy institutions continues to spread... Kosher meat restaurants like Reserve Cut and Le Marais will always be safe... So what’s causing this curious discrepancy in the future prospects of kosher dairy versus meat restaurants? It’s because many Jewish Manhattanites will deign to eat dairy in non-kosher restaurants, but will stick to strictly kosher places for meat." [Forward]
"A Cousin of the Martini, the Alaska, Strikes Gold" by Robert Simonson: "A gin mind-set led Kayla Quigley, the bar and beverage manager at Our Fathers, a new Boston restaurant that serves contemporary Jewish cuisine, to the cocktail. “We knew we wanted this to be a gin bar,” she said. “We knew we wanted to truly elevate the spirit.” She did this two ways: by stocking more than 90 gins, and by mixing the spirit into a host of cocktails, both celebrated and less so, like the Alaska." [NYTimes]
BIRTHDAYS: Cynthia Kugler turns 82... Retired Los Angeles cardiologist and active Yiddish enthusiast, Martin Bobrowsky, MD turns 78... NYU professor and noted legal scholar, Richard Allen Epstein turns 75... Barry Schreiber turns 75... Sports historian, author, publisher and cultural commentator. he has been the official baseball historian for Major League Baseball since 2011, John Thorn turns 71... Talk radio host best known for his work on NYC's sports radio station WFAN, his nickname is "The Schmoozer," Steve Somers turns 71... CEO and EVP of B'nai B'rith International, Daniel S. Mariaschin turns 69... Rosh Yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, NJ, Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler turns 67... French billionaire, based in Geneva, he and his brother own the House of Chanel perfume company as well holdings in vineyards and a thoroughbred horse racing stable, Gérard Wertheimer turns 67... Actress, screenwriter and film director, Daphna Kastner turns 57...
Winner of two Super Bowl rings during his career with the San Francisco 49ers (1984–1988), he is now a physician and an inductee in the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Dr. John E. Frank turns 56... Director of Rutgers University Press since 2016, following 15 years at Temple University Press. Micah Kleit turns 48... Professor of politics and Russian studies at New York University and co-author of The Monkey Cage, a politics and policy blog at The Washington Post, Joshua A. Tucker turns 47 (h/t Playbook)... White House correspondent at The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis turns 43... Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering industrial companies and conglomerates, she previously was a reporter at Quartz and the Wall Street Journal, Shelly Banjo turns 34... Communications director for Congressional candidate Rufus Gifford (MA-3), he was previously a spokesman at the State Department, the Senate and the National Security Council, Dean Lieberman turns 29... Brian T. Earll turns 26... Senior director at Bully Pulpit Interactive, Alex Kellner... Communications manager at the Center for Responsible Lending, Matt Kravitz...
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