REPORT -- Adelson offers to help pay for Jerusalem embassy -- by Josh Lederman: "The Trump administration is considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem... Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the embassy costs... On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended weeks of delay by signing off on a security plan for moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city... One official said Adelson... had offered to pay the difference between the total cost... and what the administration is able to raise...
"Mort Klein, president of the pro-Israel group Zionist Organization of America and a close associate of Adelson, said accepting donations would be ill-advised... “This is a government project. It’s a government-run embassy,” Klein said. “I don’t want people to be able to say it was Jewish money.” ... Expanding the new embassy into a full-fledged complex that houses the bulk of America’s diplomatic staff in Israel would easily cost more than $500 million dollars, officials familiar with the process said... It’s unclear how much of the cost Adelson might be willing to cover." [AP]
Barak Ravid tweets: U.S. embassy to move to Jerusalem on May 14th, Israeli and U.S. officials told me [Twitter]
UPDATE to our exclusive yesterday about Abbas undergoing a medical procedure at Johns Hopkins Hospital -- "Palestinian President Abbas confirms medical checks, says results 'positive'" by Ali Sawafta: “Our presence here was a suitable chance for us to make some medical checks,” Abbas told Palestine TV during a short interview. “We actually made those checks and we are out now and, thank God, all results are positive and are assuring.” Palestinian officials said he would be returning to the West Bank on Friday. They did not disclose when Abbas went into hospital nor the nature of the medical checks." [Reuters] Video of Abbas' 10+ vehicle motorcade [Vimeo/BJLife]
'ULTIMATE DEAL' -- "Nikki Haley says Trump Mideast peace plan is nearly finished" by Anne Gearan: “I think they’re finishing it up,” Haley said during a question-and-answer session at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. Haley added that U.S. negotiators Jared Kushner and Jason D. Greenblatt are “still going back and forth,” and she gave no more specific timeline. “They’re coming up with a plan. It won’t be loved by either side, and it won’t be hated by either side.” ... Institute Director David Axelrod... pressed Haley on whether the United States would propose an independent Palestinian state... “It’s for them to decide,” Haley said of Israel and the Palestinians. She added that “it is hard for me to see how they would want” a single state, and added that she thinks “they are pushing toward a two-state” outcome." [WashPost]
Jimmy Carter warns against one-state for Israel-Palestine: "Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is warning that the two-state solution... “is being overtaken by a one-state reality which will have dire consequences for Israel in the long-term.” Carter concluded that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state “is in Israel’s best interest.”" [AP]
SCENE IN JERUSALEM -- A Senate delegation led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) met with Yesha Council chief foreign envoy Oded Revivi for a special briefing in Jerusalem last night. "While President Trump has proven himself to be the most pro-Israel President in recent history - building in Judea & Samaria even during the first year of the Trump administration has not kept pace from reaching the full needs of our growing population," Revivi told the Senators. [Pic] Revivi also met with Reps. Scott Tipton (R-CO) and David McKinley (R-WV), who will be in Efrat and Gush Etzion for Shabbat [Video]
YESTERDAY IN RAMALLAH -- New York lawmakers evacuated after Palestinian protesters storm building in Ramallah -- by Jacob Kornbluh: A New York State Assembly delegation, led by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York, were meeting with Palestinian pollster and researcher Dr. Khalil Shikaki at the offices of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research Survey (PCPRS) in Ramallah, when a group of protesters burst into the building, holding up signs, and chanting slogans including “Americans are not welcome in Palestine,” as they tried to make their way into the offices on the 4th floor. Palestinian Authority policemen cleared an exit path where the delegation boarded Palestinian security vans to get to an Israeli checkpoint. The vans were pummeled with raw eggs and rocks. [JewishInsider; Video]
HAPPENING TODAY -- Stuart Force, the father of Taylor Force, will speak at CPAC about ending taxpayer funded terrorism at around 11:15 am ET. Force will be introduced by Sander Gerber, known as 'the hedge fund manager behind the Taylor Force Act.' [CSPAN]
PIC OF THE DAY -- A man shows his Trump yarmulke to photographers prior to the opening of CPAC yesterday. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images [Pic]
JI INTERVIEW -- Rep. Dan Donovan, the only New York City Republican in Congress and a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, shared his views on recent developments in the Middle East in a phone interview with Jewish Insider's Jacob Kornbluh. Donovan has been a member of Congress since May 2015 following the resignation of Michael Grimm, who is now challenging him in a GOP primary. The 11th congressional district contains the largest Jewish population that is represented by a Republican, according to a 2013 study.
On cutting U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority: "Does the Palestinian Authority need an incentive to stay at the table? I don't know. I don't know if that's true or not. All I know is that if you aid somebody and allow them to use your dollars to pay the families of suicide bombers, and then you take that money away but give them something else that they're already paying for themselves, then they could use the money that they're using to pay for schools or roads and pay the suicide bomber families because we're paying for their schools and roads. You have to be very careful when you're giving aid to somebody and restrict them on their use that they abide by your restrictions, but then that frees up their own money to use it for those bad acts."
On Democrats refusing to applaud Trump for his Jerusalem decision at the State of the Union: "I have not asked any of those members what their position is, and it could be there are people in Congress who don't want this President to succeed at all, in anything. It very well could be that some people are also supportive of Israel selecting its own capital but don't cheer anything that comes out of President Trump's mouth. But to the general public, general observation as a human being, I would suspect that if you're sitting there mute and not applauding, you're probably not in favor of what was just said."
DRIVING THE CONVO -- NRA chief singles out Soros, Bloomberg as ‘socialists’: “Every time in every nation in which this political disease rises to power,” [Wayne] LaPierre told the CPAC conference on Thursday, describing socialism, “its citizens are repressed, their freedoms are destroyed, and their firearms are banned and confiscated, and it’s all backed in this country by the social engineering and the billions of people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and more.” [JTA]
Bradley Burston: In NRA's Response to School Massacre: Dog-whistle anti-Semitism, a Star-spangled Protocols of Zion [Haaretz]
"Why school shootings are so rare in Israel, where guns are such a common sight" by Ruth Eglash: "Simon Perry, a criminologist at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said there is little opportunity in Israel for someone to carry out a gun attack inside a school. While security guards keep an eye on all those entering schools, Perry said, they do not check students’ bags — mainly because the gun culture in Israel is different... To outsiders, Israel can seem like a heavily armed country. That is in large part because soldiers are a frequent sight on the streets and combat troops, as well as those who serve in what are termed combat areas, carry their weapons with them at all times. But once an Israeli finishes military service, it becomes difficult to obtain a gun." [WashPost]
"Gun control activists need to learn a little sympathy" by John Podhoretz: "What you have to understand is that while you believe you have all the moral force on your side, you cannot make a gun owner believe that he is the Parkland shooter... So if you genuinely want to alter the trajectory of America’s gun culture, stop thinking of yourself as a moral paragon and the people whose rights you are seeking to curtail as potential mass murderers and start thinking of them as fellow citizens you have to convince." [NYPost]
TOP TALKER -- Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri Indicted on Invasion of Privacy Charge" by Mitch Smith and John Eligon: "Gov. Eric Greitens of Missouri was indicted on Thursday on a felony invasion of privacy charge, threatening his hold on the leadership of the state and creating chaos across Missouri’s political landscape in an election year... Mr. Greitens, who was booked into a St. Louis jail on Thursday afternoon and then released on his own recognizance, defended himself in a statement posted to social media accounts, saying he “made a personal mistake” but “did not commit a crime.”" [NYTimes]
Katie Glueck tweets: “Just a few weeks ago, Greitens spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. some folks were happy to see him, but one source in the room told me at the time "it was a mistake not to apologize for letting those of us who supported him down"...and now, indictment.” [Twitter]
"The rise and fall of Eric Greitens, the GOP star whose career is crumbling amid scandal" by Eli Rosenberg: "Greitens’s outsize career plans were evident from his earliest days. He even had a lofty professional goal in mind as a kindergartener... “When I would read the little kindergarten books, ‘What I want to be when I grow up,’ and at the end, I would go around the circle and ask the children what they wanted to be, I remember this: He wanted to be president,” Anne Richardson, Greitens’s kindergarten teacher, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2016. “He was the only kid I ever remember saying that.” ... One friend told St. Louis Magazine that Greitens, after being chosen as a presidential candidate in a mock election, debated his opponent to pieces..." [WashPost]
THE DAILY KUSHNER -- "Sources: Mueller probe stymies Kushner security clearance" by Shimon Prokupecz, Jeremy Diamond and Dana Bash: "[Jared] Kushner... is unlikely to obtain the full clearance as long as the special counsel's probe is ongoing... The White House has declined to confirm whether Kushner's clearance would be revoked on Friday, with Kelly saying only that he has "full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio." Kushner's attorney, Abbe Lowell, also declined to elaborate when pressed by CNN, saying only via a statement that the new policy "will not affect Mr. Kushner's ability to continue to do the very important work he has been assigned by the President."" [CNN]
IVANKA IN SOUTH KOREA - "Ivanka Trump arrives in South Korea ahead of Olympics closing ceremony" by Joohee Cho: "The U.S. delegation is to dine with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a traditional Korean house, a venue used only at special occasions for heads of state visits. The evening banquet in honor of Ivanka will prepare a kosher menu, for Ivanka's strict kosher lifestyle. Raw fish, crustaceans and meat will not be included in Ivanka's menu." [ABCNews; Pic]
Trump tweets this morning: "My daughter, Ivanka, just arrived in South Korea. We cannot have a better, or smarter, person representing our country." [Twitter]
"Ivanka, the Winter Olympics, and the Meaning of Life" by Emily Jane Fox: "Ivanka Trump... shares her father’s instinct to seize opportunities as they present themselves... As an exercise in sheer branding, taking her show on the road is as good as it gets. She will get photographed as a diplomat greeting the South Korean president, much like the vice president of the United States did weeks earlier, and treated like royalty in the stands at Olympic events, as Kim Jong Un’s sister experienced when she attended the opening ceremony." [VanityFair]
HEARD YESTERDAY -- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) denies any contact with Louis Farrakhan on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer: “My political opponents keep pushing this out there in order to try to smear and distract from the key issues, but there’s no relationship... I have a clear record. I have always fought for equal rights for all people. I will continue to do so. I’ve always denounced and been a fierce opponent of anti-Semitism from whatever source." [Video]
2018 WATCH: Bernie Sanders's son considering running for Congress -- by Alex Thompson: "Levi Sanders, Sen. Bernie Sanders only biological child, told VICE News that he is actively considering running for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st District... “Oh absolutely, I’m definitely considering it. I’m excited, motivated, and interested in the race,” Levi said. “I’m just dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s.” The 48-year-old Levi said that he would run on a similar platform of Medicare for all and free college tuition that animated his father’s presidential run in 2016." [VICE]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR -- "Unfazed by corruption allegations, PM declares: Truth will prevail, I will continue to lead" by Mati Tuchfeld: "Netanyahu posted a video on Thursday in which he reassured the nation that business is continuing as usual. The prime minister detailed his activities over the past week and ended with a riposte at those who have said he is unable to fulfill his duties under the current conditions. "I've noticed something that doesn't function," he said, flipping on a light switch." [IsraelHayom] Bibi on the brink: The pressure on Binyamin Netanyahu is growing [Newsweek; Ozy]
** Good Friday 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: Iran May Follow Venezuela In Launching Its Own Cryptocurrency [NPR] Dina Powell, Former Trump Adviser, Weighs Return to Goldman Sachs [WSJ] Joe Sitt’s Thor Equities loses most of its stakes in three buildings to GGP over unpaid debt [TheRealDeal] Max Elghanayan, son of TF Cornerstone co-founder Frederick Elghanayan, died of an accidental drug overdose in January: Medical Examiner [TheRealDeal]
SPOTLIGHT -- "Congo Bribery Probe Puts Israeli Billionaire’s Future on Hold" by Thomas Wilson: "A 20-year friendship that helped turn Dan Gertler into a billionaire has left the Israeli businessman with a lot fewer places to go... Sanctions have shut Gertler out of the American financial system, halting access to the dollars that are the main currency used in Congo and in global raw-material deals. U.S. companies are banned from doing business with him. Former partners are distancing themselves... And then there is Glencore Plc, the global commodity trader that was once Gertler’s most important partner in Congo. Though Glencore bought his share in their two joint-venture mines last February, it is still required to pay Gertler royalties he acquired from Gecamines in earlier deals... While the Swiss company pledged to honor the sanctions, it says it is still reviewing its contractual obligations and if it will continue to make the payments. “We’ve got to follow the correct procedures and we’ll come to the right conclusions,” said Ivan Glasenberg, the chief executive officer." [Bloomberg]
MEDIA WATCH: "Jeter’s media venture drafts new editorial director" by Keith J. Kelly: "Derek Jeter’s media venture, The Players’ Tribune, has apparently landed former Details editor-in-chief Dan Peres as its new editorial director.... Peres’ TPT gig might come as something of a surprise to Gary Hoenig, a former editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine, who has been editorial director of TPT since Jeter launched it in 2014." [NYPost]
Former Obama Speechwriter speaks on Rich Jewish Content: "While at the White House, Sarah Hurwitz connected with Judaism, exploring the wisdom of Jewish law, the power of Jewish spirituality, and the lessons of Jewish history. She is currently writing a book on Judaism and her Jewish journey. She spoke at Beyond the D’var Torah: How to Unleash the Potential of Rich Jewish Content, an event hosted by Jewish Funders Network..." Watch the speech here [eJewishPhilanthropy]
Ben Rhodes tweets: "Some news: I have a book coming out on June 12th: "The World As It Is: A Memoir of the Obama White House" - my story of going to work for Barack Obama's campaign at 29 and walking out the door of the White House on the last day." [Twitter]
"Lightstone Leads the Tech Tribe at SXSW" by Hugh Forrest: "Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone, the director of digital communications at Chabad and founder of the Brooklyn-based Tech Tribe, is returning to SXSW 2018 to host #openShabbat. This event is described as “a place to escape the chaos of SXSW and find a taste of home at the ultimate un-networking event.” He shared some thoughts about his aspirations for #openShabbat, [which] will take place at 7:30 pm on Friday, March 9, at the Hilton Austin... Which sessions at SXSW 2018 are you especially interested in attending? "I’m really interested in hearing Yair Rosenberg, Amanda Quraishi and Eman Aly in Uniting to Fight the -ists, -ites & the -phobes. I love how SXSW brings diverse people together — and look forward to seeing how they tackle the issues of vitriol on the web."" [Medium]
PROFILE: "An Israeli Reporter, Undercover Among Europe’s Muslim Immigrants" by Liel Leibovitz: "After decades spent reporting on the Palestinian Authority, [Zvi] Yehezkeli took his family’s heritage—his parents immigrated to Israel from Iraq—and his rich Arabic and traveled to Europe, to look into the lives of young Muslims there. The result has been a stream of documentaries that began airing on Israeli television in 2012, in which Yehezkeli, often disguised as an Arab, entices his interviewees to admit the kind of inconvenient truth one rarely hears elsewhere. In Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, and England, he mostly meets disdainful men who, having left their faltering nations for the comfort of the European continent, look at their kind hosts with nothing but contempt while adhering to an increasingly radicalized version of Islam... Yehezkeli’s latest production, a five-part series called “False Identity,” premiered on Israel’s Channel 10 last month." [Tablet]
"Iran Finally Let Her See Her Husband. He Was Dead" by Thomas Erdbrink: "The Iranian authorities say that [Kavous] Seyed Emami was a spy working for the United States and Israel. He and the others arrested with him had “installed cameras in the country’s strategic locations to monitor Iran’s missile activities, sending information to foreigners,” the Tehran prosecutor, Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi, said. Mr. Jafari-Dolatabadi appeared on state television on Feb. 11 to say Mr. Seyed Emami had killed himself in his prison cell two days before, after having confessed to his crimes. To Mr. Seyed Emami’s family, those assertions are ludicrous..." [NYTimes]
"Poland Expected To Vote On Banning Kosher Slaughter Amid Holocaust Uproar" by J. Lester Feder and Marcin Krasnowolski: "Poland’s parliament could soon vote to restrict kosher slaughter, potentially pushing its already strained relationship with Israel to the breaking point... This could do permanent damage to Poland’s international reputation, said Rafa Trzaskowski, an MP from the opposition Platforma Obywatelska party and a candidate for Warsaw mayor... Trzaskowski said, “This can really destroy our relation not only with Israel, but also the United States.”" [BuzzFeed]
TRANSITION: Jon Greenfield, a former aide to former Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, has been named Director of Government Relations at Yeshiva University in New York. Most recently, Greenfield served as managing director of communications for Brooklyn-based political consulting firm Red Horse Strategies.
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS -- FRIDAY: Partner in the Baltimore office of DLA Piper, he served as Chair of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Shale D. Stiller turns 83... Lois Copeland turns 74... Philosopher, novelist and public intellectual, earned a Ph.D. from Princeton, winner of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship in 1996, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein turns 68... Billionaire, born in the Soviet Union, now holder of both Kazakh and Israeli citizenship, he served as president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (a regional branch of the WJC), Alexander Mashkevitch turns 64... CEO at NYC-based Puder PR since 3-2014 after 10 years as director of communications and PR for the Jewish Federations of North America, Joe Berkofsky turns 58... Political consultant and pollster, Frank Luntz turns 56... Founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, Michael Dell turns 53... Movie, stage and television actor, comedian and singer, Josh Gad turns 37... Consultant Johnathan Morpurgo turns 33... Head of communications at the Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, Rebecca Chalif turns 32 (h/t Playbook)... Bloomberg political reporter, Jennifer Epstein turns 32... AIPAC alum, now a front-end web engineer at Business Insider, Reuben A. Ingber turns 30... Reporter for the Texas Tribune in Austin covering state politics and the Texas Legislature, Patrick Svitek turns 26... Associate at Arlington, Virginia-based DRT Strategies, Gidon Feen turns 23... Program Associate in the Washington, DC office of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation, Mary Ann Weiss... Barak Daon... Mark Jacobs...
SATURDAY: Attorney General of Connecticut (1983-1989), US Senator (1989-2013), Democratic nominee for Vice President (on the Al Gore ticket) in the 2000 US presidential election, Senator Joe Lieberman turns 76... Founder of WhatsApp, Jan Koum turns 42... At age 42 he became the first-ever Jewish winner of an Olympic medal in sailing at the 1972 Munich Olympics, 30 years later at age 72 he won a US sailing championship, Don Cohan turns 88... Former chairman and CEO of Warner Bros (until 2001), then chairman and CEO of Yahoo (2001-2007), co-chair (emeritus) of the board of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Terry Semel turns 75... Moscow-born professor of mathematics at Yale University since 1991, Grigory Margulis turns 72... Rabbi and author of a book about chocolate and Judaism, she has held a number of leadership positions in the national and regional Reform movement, Deborah R. Prinz turns 67... President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Clifford D. May turns 67... Public relations executive, television pundit, author and lecturer, Howard Bragman turns 62... Member of the Knesset since 2015 for the Likud party, Nurit Koren turns 58... Explorer, author, survival expert, anthropologist and TV host, Josh Bernstein turns 47... Member of the Knesset for the Likud party and Minister for Social Equality, Gila Gamliel turns 44... Professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yuval Noah Harari turns 42... Principal and Director of Investments at MizMaa Ventures Limited, Aaron Applbaum turns 27... Faye Waldman... Mitchell Brown...
SUNDAY: Owner of MLB's Chicago White Sox (since 1981) and the NBA's Chicago Bulls (since 1985), Jerry M. Reinsdorf turns 82... Former talk show host, Sally Jessy Raphael (born Sally Lowenthal) turns 83... President of the Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore (1979-1986), then EVP of the UJA-Federation of New York (1986-1999), then first-ever CEO of United Jewish Communities, Stephen Solender turns 80... Graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, formerly CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (2005-2015), Steve Gutow turns 69... Jerusalem-based attorney who has practiced in the US as well, chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel and a VP of Republicans Overseas, L. Marc Zell turns 65... Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (2007-2011), Gabi Ashkenazi turns 64... Opinion columnist and podcast contributor for the New York Times since 2016, Andrew Rosenthal turns 62... VP of Communications at CNN, Barbara Levin turns 62... CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo since 2015 after a 20-year career at Hillel, Rob Goldberg turns 59... Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who served as the Deputy National Editor of the Washington Post, currently serving as director of strategic communications for Facebook, Anne Elise Kornblut turns 45... Founder and president of Prospect Media Group, Lauren Kapp turns 45... Comedienne, actress and writer, Chelsea Joy Handler turns 43... Actress, comic book author, producer, singer and screenwriter, best known for her roles in NBC's "Parks and Recreation" and Fox's "Boston Public," Rashida Jones turns 42... General manager of Covenant Wines in Berkeley, California, Sagie Kleinlerer turns 41... Lyla Rose Holdstein turns 36... Actor, writer and producer, best known for his portrayal of Malcolm's second-oldest brother, Reese, in Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle, Justin Berfield turns 32... Born in Tel Aviv, raised in Arizona, now at CNN where she is covering European business and media, Hadas Gold turns 30... American figure skating champion, Max Aaron turns 26... Julie Goldman... Michael Smith...
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