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DRIVING THE DAY -- President Trump will deliver the keynote address at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum's Days of Remembrance ceremony at the U.S. Capitol at 11:20am EDT [CSPAN] At 4:40pm local time (10:40am EDT), Ivanka Trump will visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin.
"Some Jewish Groups Bristle at Thought of Trump at Capitol Holocaust Ceremony" by Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: “I’ve struggled with whether or not I should even go, or to stay away in protest,” said Andrew J. Weinstein, a member of the museum’s board of trustees who was appointed by President Barack Obama. Ultimately, he decided to attend, “despite my deep concerns about the president and the people he’s surrounded himself with. But there are many, many reasons not to,” said Mr. Weinstein... [RJC's Matt] Brooks said that Tuesday’s appearance at the Capitol is a chance for Mr. Trump to put the “absurd” notion that he is “soft on anti-Semitism” to rest. “Could some things have been said somewhat differently” during the campaign, Mr. Brooks asked, answering, “Yes.”" [NYTimes]
“Trump to name Howard Lorber to Holocaust council” by Tara Palmeri: “[Howard] Lorber, the chairman of real estate brokerage Douglas Elliman, is a longtime friend of Trump’s who arranged for him to be the grand marshal of the 2004 Salute to Israel parade on New York’s Fifth Ave The council’s chairs, appointed by the president to five-year terms, have typically been prominent Jewish leaders with close White House ties. President George W. Bush chose Houston businessman Fred Zeidman, a prolific Republican fundraiser, for the council chairmanship. The current chair, developer Tom Bernstein, was appointed to consecutive terms by President Barack Obama.”
“Son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner and other influential Jewish members of Trump’s inner circle—including ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Trump's special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt—pushed for Trump to speak at the museum, according to a former transition official. “Expect a carefully scripted speech by POTUS,” said the transition official, who asked to remain anonymous in order to discuss the plans freely. “He is going to stick to the script.” [Politico]
Yesterday, the President proclaimed April 23 through April 30, 2017, as the ‘Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust’ - “with appropriate study, prayers and commemoration, and to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution by internalizing the lessons of this atrocity so that it is never repeated.” [Facebook]
“Trump Adviser Gorka Walks Off Stage at a Discussion of Fake News” by Nafeesa Syeed: “As [Seb] Gorka took the stage, a group of students at the back of the lecture hall held up homemade signs, including a young man wearing a yarmulke whose poster read: “Gorka’s Gotta Go” next to a crossed-out swastika symbol During his Georgetown presentation, Gorka dismissed accusations that he’s anti-Semitic and called Trump’s White House one of the “most pro-Israeli administrations in U.S. history.” “Every single person holding a placard to protest my parents and myself, I challenge you now go away and look at everything I have said or written in the last 46 years of my life and find one sentence that is anti-Semitic or that is anti-Israeli, because you won’t find one,” Gorka said One student asked Gorka if he was a member of Vitezi Rend After answering a series of questions, Gorka gathered his things and abruptly walked from the stage and exited through a side door.” [Bloomberg]
"The Guide To Becoming Jared Kushner" by Ben Walsh: "When Charles Kushner was heading to federal prison in 2005, his son Jared got some advice from Howard Rubenstein ― the dean of New York damage control ― on how to rehabilitate the Kushner name, Charles would later tell a family friend. Step one: Buy a New York newspaper. Don’t be too particular, Rubenstein told Jared, according to the family friend’s recounting of their conversation with Charles. Any newspaper will do. Step two: Buy a big Manhattan building. Any building will do. Step three: Marry the daughter of a rich New York family. Anyone will do. The younger Kushner went on to do just that... (A Kushner Companies spokesman denied the family friend’s account. Rubenstein said: “That’s preposterous. I never said that or anything like that.”)"
"Long before he could afford the counsel of someone like Rubenstein, Jared’s father had a sense for how to shape perception to his advantage. In the 1990s, Charles Kushner bought a corporate box at New Jersey’s Giants Stadium on the 50-yard line ― right next to the box reserved for the team’s owners, the Tisch family, according to the Kushner family friend. At the time, the Kushner real estate business was still small, and Charles could barely afford the expense. (A Kushner Companies spokesman confirmed that the family had box seats but denies this characterization.) But he found a way, because he recognized that if you can get close enough to powerful and wealthy people, they’ll assume you are one of them. It’s exactly the sort of maneuver Howard Rubenstein would respect." [HuffPost]
"Trump and Pence had a Jewish connection before a political one — and it’s steeped in the Holocaust" by Philip Weiss: "Hart Hasten is a quiet legend of American and Israeli political life. Born in a Polish shtetl in 1931, Hasten barely escaped the Nazis in a wagon that his worried father had had the prescience to engage in June 1941. From the time they were teenagers, Hart Hasten and his older brother Mark resolved that Jews must never be so helpless again... The brothers ultimately made it penniless to the midwest in their 20s, and with the sense that their youth had been stolen, clawed their way into American business life... When it came to Israel lobbying, the brothers divvied up Indiana politics. Mark cultivated Democrats — Evan and Birch Bayh. While Hart cultivated Dan Quayle and Mike Pence."
"The Hastens are related by marriage to another orthodox Jewish family of Holocaust survivors: the Kushner family of New Jersey. Hart Hasten’s second child, Bernard, is married to Laurie Laulicht. Laurie is a first cousin of Jared Kushner... In his memoir, Hart Hasten recalls Passover at the Fontainebleu in Miami Beach in 2001, when Benjamin Netanyahu called his friend Charles Kushner– Jared Kushner’s father– to meet for breakfast to plot his political future... Hart Hasten and Charlie Kushner are kingmakers. I don’t know what role Hart Hasten played when Charlie’s son helped Donald Trump choose Mike Pence as vice president, but it’s a good bet the relatives talked." [Mondoweiss]
“Trump jokes (?) about firing Nikki Haley: ‘She could easily be replaced’” by Aaron Blake: “She's doing a good job. Now does everybody like Nikki?” Trump asked at a meeting of U.N. Security Council ambassadors and their spouses. “Otherwise she could easily be replaced. Right?” Trump added: “No, we won't do that. I promise. She's doing a fantastic job.” [WashPost; CSPAN]
Report: Trump said bidding to defeat new anti-Israel UNESCO resolution -- “Next Monday, UNESCO is set to vote on a resolution that includes clauses denying any Jewish connection to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and that attacks Israel for the killing of children in Gaza, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported Monday. The US administration has issued a démarche to its ambassadors in UNESCO-member countries, telling them to initiate meetings at the host foreign ministries and to convey the US’s hope that those countries will vote against the motion, Channel 10 said. In the note to its ambassadors, the administration describes the upcoming UNESCO motion as one-sided and counter-productive to US efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace.” [ToI]
KAFE KNESSET -- It is either me or them -- by Tal Shalev & JPost's Lahav Harkov: Netanyahu is at war with “Breaking the Silence,” the left-wing NGO which gathers testimonies from IDF soldiers about alleged human rights violations. Breaking the Silence has testified about these alleged violations to international organizations. The NGO is now the at the center of a diplomatic debacle with Germany. After learning that the German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, intends to meet Breaking the Silence representatives during his visit to Israel this week, Netanyahu posed an ultimatum: If you don’t cancel the meeting – I will not be meeting you. So far, the German FM hasn’t budged. According to several sources, he intends to meet with left-wing groups this evening as planned. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s ultimatum sparked a lively political debate, with praise from his right and criticism from his left. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
HEARD YESTERDAY -- Reps. Eliot Engel and Nita Lowey, Democrats from New York, asserted during a panel at the World Jewish Congress’s Plenary Assembly in Manhattan that the time is ripe for a renewed effort to bring to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal -- by Jacob Kornbluh: Engel -- “I think now is the time where it’s ripe for a comprehensive solution for the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.. Some of the Sunni countries in the region are starting to realize that Israel is not their enemy and are beginning to work together to combat the real enemy, ISIS and the Iranians who wish to do them harm. I think that is an opportunity. I hope we can take this time and turn it around.”
Lowey: “I do feel so passionately that there has to be a two-state solution and I am optimistic that perhaps this is the time.”
Lowey tells us... “I am always a cockeyed optimist. Abbas doesn’t have the capacity to lead anything; to make any decisions. But I am hoping that with King Abdullah of Jordan leading the Arab League, if they aggressively work together and work with Israel, then perhaps they can convince Abbas that this is the time. I think President Trump is a dealmaker, and on this he wants to make a deal. Maybe he can make a deal, the deal that no one has been able to make for a long time.”
ON THE HILL -- JI’s Aaron Magid asked Senators yesterday on Capitol Hill whether they believe Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is a partner for peace?
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV): “That’s a tough one. He’s been there 10 years and we don’t have peace yet. Bottom line is they have to understand that Israel has to be recognized, that the Jews have the right to have their own state. He (Abbas) seems afraid to push back. This basically keeps festering. They want Israel to give back lands and it makes no sense to me at all: why can’t they just recognize? I think we can move forward.”
Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM): “There have been times where he has been a partner for peace and there have been times when he has been far less than constructive. My hope is that the President will use his influence to encourage him to be a constructive partner for peace.”
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL): “I met him one time, but I don’t really know him. That’s a tough neighborhood. They would have to show me that they are really interested in peace.”
Senator John Kennedy (R-LA): “I think President Trump has shown a willingness to try. His initial overtures towards Putin, which were rebuffed and it seems to not go anywhere, at least he tried. I can’t speak for the President, but I’m sure he’s asking what’s the alternative? On the other hand, Mr. Abbas is pretty old so he also may be trying to search out where we’re going. It’s a complex situation.”
Senator John Hoeven (R-ND): “Let’s see what he’s willing to do in that discussion. I think that Benjamin Netanyahu has been very open to coming up with a solution and the Palestinians have to be willing to come to the table and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign state. That’s what we need to see from Mahmoud Abbas. I believe he (Abbas) needs to do more in terms of coming to the table and coming up with a two state solution.”
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD): “It’s worth pursuing the conversation, and I’m glad to see the meeting take place. We need to work hard to try and bring the parties together. Ultimately, any decisions will have to be ones they make on their own. I think everybody involved has had both shortcomings and some positive aspects to their approach. Obviously, the fact that we don’t have any dialogue right now indicates the difficulties to bridge the differences.”
“Momentum to delay Senate Iran sanctions bill until after elections” -- by Aaron Magid: “There are many people who believe that we should let the Iranian elections take place so that can’t be used as suggested somehow it (Senate bill) affected the elections,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said yesterday. “I can understand why there’s a universe that feels that way and I don’t think we are going to lose anything in terms of the sanctions and the consequences we want by waiting.”
While Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Bob Corker (R-TN) would prefer that the sanctions bill not wait until after the May 17 Presidential elections, he acknowledged, “I do think there are others who would like to see that happen.” He added that his “counterparts” have urged that the SFRC proceed with both the Russian and Iranian sanctions bills at the same time. [JewishInsider]
“These are the 100-day accomplishments Trump is touting” by Jim Acosta: “...New Iran Sanctions: On February 3rd, 2017, The Department Of The Treasury Sanctioned 25 Entities And Individuals Involved In Iran's Ballistic Missile Program.” [CNN]
HEARD YESTERDAY -- Ohio Governor John Kasich at a live town hall meeting on CNN: “I was a boring candidate for president because I didn't make wild accusations or wild promises ‘We're going to tear up that Iran deal on day one!’ I said, ‘Well, we can't do that.’ Well, that was boring because it wasn't like, yes, you know? And now we begin to see this settling.”
“Report: Trump Plans to Cut Foreign Aid Across World - but Increase Aid to Palestinians” by Amir Tibon: “Internal State Department documents that were published on Monday by Foreign Policy magazine show major cuts in foreign aid to numerous countries in all continents, but a small rise of 4.6% in foreign aid to the West Bank and Gaza, which would go up to $215 million for the 2018 fiscal year The document proposes a 47.4% cut to Egypt's aid - a surprising policy in light of the warm and friendly way in which Trump has treated Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi. It also proposed a 21% cut to foreign aid to Jordan.” [Haaretz; FP]
Dan Shapiro : “Except that Congress will never let that happen. Jordan has too many friends who value it there. Israelis will lend their quiet support too.” [Twitter]
Mark Leon Goldberg : "Sen. Bob Corker re: foreign aid "It's 1% of what we spend. If we spend it wisely is what keeps them out of harms way and out of a hot war."” [Twitter]
NYC 2017 WATCH: “Dietl questions de Blasio's name and heart” by Azi Paybarah: “Independent mayoral candidate Bo Dietl on Monday... accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of changing his name in a cynical ploy to court Jewish voters and of potentially lacking a heartNoting his ex-wife, children and grandchildren are Jewish, he added, “I’ve got Jewish in me.” Then, turning his focus to de Blasio, Dietl added, “Hmm. What was his real name? Warren Wilhelm? Why did he change it? ... I want my Jewish friends to think — and you saw how he came against Israel. He came against Israel. I support Israel. He doesn’t support Israel.” When told of Dietl's comments, de Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan said in a statement, "Bill de Blasio is a strong supporter of Israel and any suggestion otherwise is silly and offensive."” [Politico]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: LeFrak, Roth dish on Trump’s lofty infrastructure goals [RealDeal] Developer Russell Galbut offers Miami-Dade a $300 million courthouse. Rent: $1.8 billion over 99 years [MiamiHerald] Tenants of Crown Heights Jewish Hospital Complex Wary as City and Landlord Work Out Deal [Brownstoner] Aluminum giant is looking to cut a deal with Paul Singer [NYPost] CEO Stewart Butterfield Says Slack Is Evolving Into An 'Always-On Chief Of Staff' [Forbes]
LongRead: "Can Facebook Fix Its Own Worst Bug?" by Farhad Manjoo: "Mark Zuckerberg now acknowledges the dangerous side of the social revolution he helped to start. But is the most powerful tool for connection in human history capable of adapting to the world it created?... “If you look at the history of Facebook, when we started off, there really wasn’t news as part of it,” Zuckerberg went on. But as Facebook grew and became a bigger part of how people learn about the world, the company had been slow to adjust to its new place in people’s lives. The events of 2016, he said, “set off a number of conversations that we’re still in the middle of.” [NYTMag]
TED TALK: "Facing the future without fear, together: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks speaks at TED 2017" by Brian Greene: “These are the times that try men’s souls, and they’re trying ours now,” begins Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, quoting Thomas Paine, in an electrifying talk about how we can face the future without fear if we face it together. It’s a fateful moment in history. We’ve seen divisive elections, divided societies and a growth of extremism — all of it fueled by anxiety, uncertainty and fear. The world is changing faster than we can bear, and it’s looking like it’s going to continue changing faster still. Sacks asks: “Is there something we can do to face the future without fear?”
“The only people that will save us from ourselves is we, the people — all of us together,” Sacks says. Sacks leaves us with a simple suggestion: “Do a search-and-replace operation on the text of your mind. Wherever you encounter the word ‘self,’ substitute the word ‘other.’ Instead of self-help, other-help. Instead of self-esteem, other-esteem. We can face any future without fear so long as we know that we won’t face it alone.” [TedBlog]
"500 Years After Expulsion, Sicily’s Jews Reclaim a Lost History" by Elisabetta Povoledo: "A few years ago, trilingual street signs — in Italian, Hebrew and Arabic — were put up as markers in the area in a nod to the city’s rich past. But “the Hebrew is wrong, it’s botched”— a transliteration that doesn’t read right, according to Maria Antonietta Ancona, a retired anesthetist who goes by her Jewish name, Miriam. “They didn’t translate, but just substituted Italian characters with the Hebrew characters, so it doesn’t make sense,” she said. She should know, she began studying Hebrew 10 years ago as part of her conversion to Judaism. Like other members of the nascent Palermo community, Ms. Ancona, who was raised as a Roman Catholic though her father was Jewish, began recovering her roots 30 years ago as part of a “pressing necessity” to embrace her Jewish identity." [NYTimes]
“Anti-Semitic incidents rose a whopping 86% in the first 3 months of 2017” by Doug Criss and Carma Hassan: “The report, released Monday by Anti-Defamation League, counted 541 anti-Semitic attacks and threats between January and March. There were 281 incidents in the same time period in 2016.” [CNN]
-- “White House spokesman Michael Short said Trump has consistently called for an end to anti-Semitism, as recently as Sunday in a speech on Yom HaShoah, Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day.” [Reuters]
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tells us "We believe that the political climate in the presidential campaign certainly had something to do with the increase in incidents. What appears to be happening is the extremists feel emboldened and are kind of spreading their virus. Look, we had white supremacists media credentialed for events during the campaign. We had means and images coming from white supremacist sources that found their way into Twitter feeds of the campaigns. We had situations that people like Richard Spencer and David Duke found themselves in the headlines. So when we try to understand where this is coming from, I think that contributed to it. The challenge of delegitimization of Israel continues to be prevalent."
"We believe one of the antidotes are strong statements from our elected officials and public figures, whether it's a university president or the U.S. president. So it's notable - we though it was - when President Trump used his remarks before a joint session of Congress and called out anti-Semitism - for the first time on the record - in a very strong way. It was really important. I think his remarks Sunday night at the WJC were important. And we are looking forward to what he says at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum event. That is really important because when he speaks it sends signals."
"Who Does the Anne Frank Center Represent?" by Emma Green: "But just as [Steve] Goldstein’s approach has rankled some people in America—Alan Dershowitz, the emeritus Harvard law professor, told me Goldstein is making “over-the-top, irresponsible, exaggerated statements designed to bring him publicity”—the Anne Frank House’s political activity in the ’70s and ’80s upset folks... Goldstein disagrees that it is “‘politicizing’ our organization to be tough on Sean Spicer,” he told me. “I believe that Donald Trump has an astounding insensitivity to the Jewish community that boggles the mind.” He thinks it would be irresponsible not to call out the administration." [TheAtlantic]
"Wearing Skirts Over Pants Helps Me Straddle Two Worlds" by Shoshana Kordova: "I recognize, of course, that the country I live in is no more a fashion trendsetter than I am, that the elision of the distinction between pants and skirts is not unique to me, to Modern Orthodox Jews, or to Israel... The leggings and pants my daughters and I wear under our skirts mean we don’t have to choose between skirts and pants, between religious conventions and pragmatic considerations, between constriction and liberation." [Racked]
TRANSITION: Ben Sheridan, is leaving J Street to become the Deputy Finance Director on Chris Kennedy's gubernatorial campaign in Illinois. h/t Playbook
BIRTHDAYS: Co-founder of Starbucks and entrepreneurial advisor, Zev Siegl turns 62... Commissioner of the National Basketball Association since 2014, Adam Silver turns 55... Chairman and CEO of Omega Advisors, a NYC-based investment advisory firm, Leon G. "Lee" Cooperman turns 74... Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University since 1973, Rabbi of the Young Israel of Riverdale Synagogue since 1974, Rabbi Mordechai Willig turns 70... Former French Finance Minister and later Managing Director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn turns 68... Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, focused on the international politics of the Middle East, Michael Scott Doran turns 55... Chicago-based bundler for President Obama, US Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2014-2017), clerked for Supreme Court Justice Blackmun (1992-1993), Andrew H. Schapiro turns 54... Actor, voice actor, comedian and producer, voices many roles on the "The Simpsons," descended from a Sephardic family rooted in Thessaloniki, Hank Azaria turns 53...
Beersheba-born director, writer, comedian and infomercial pitchman, better known as Vince Offer, Vince Shlomi, or "The ShamWow Guy," Offer Shlomi turns 53... Democratic member of the Utah House of Representatives since 2000, currently serving as the Minority Leader, David Litvack turns 45... Moscow-born Democratic party strategist and television personality on the Fox News Channel, Julie Roginsky turns 44... Johannesburg-born political commentator, author and senior-editor-at-large for Breitbart News, Joel Pollak turns 40... Deputy press secretary for NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, Jaclyn Rothenberg turns 29... Film and television actress, model and singer, Sara Paxton turns 29... Senior political reporter in Manhattan for the news and media website Mic, Emily C. Singer, née Cahn, turns 28 (h/t Playbook)... Los Angeles-based partner in the energy practice group of the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Beth A. Fox... Attorney, partner in the NYC-based law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP, Sandy A. Liebhard... David Handleman... Mike Sponder...
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