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HAPPENING TODAY: The 20th Annual Milken Institute Global Conference kicks off in Los Angeles. With over 3,500 attendees from 50 countries, the theme of this year's gathering is "Building Meaningful Lives."
SCENE YESTERDAY -- at a welcome reception hosted by WorldQuant at the Beverly Canon Gardens, between the Montage Hotel and Bouchon Restaurant. Spotted: Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), super-lobbyist Norm Brownstein, Michael Milken, David Rubenstein, Barry Sternlicht, former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Eddie Trump, Nouriel Roubini, Simone Friedman, Joel Mowbray, and AIC's Mike Sommers.
Speakers at today's portion of the conference include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House senior advisor Reed Cordish, Apollo's Joshua Harris, real estate developer Richard LeFrak, Yahoo's Katie Couric, Alphabet's Eric Schmidt, UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Wilson Center's Jane Harman, CFR's Richard Haas, USC's Willow Bay, Carlyle's David Rubenstein, Sam Zell, Emanuel Friedman, Related's Stephen Ross.
"Off target in 2016, global elite regroup at Milken conference" by Lawrence Delevinge: "Most attendees expected Hillary Clinton to beat Trump, as Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein noted during a panel discussion in May 2016. The four-day meeting this year at the Beverly Hilton hotel will once again mix big investment industry names such as Jamie Dimon, Stephen Schwarzman, Leon Black, Jonathan Sokoloff and Kenneth Griffin along with political, business and entertainment celebrities..."
"Most conference goers pay at least $12,500 if they are not from event sponsors. Some repeat attendees told Reuters they come less for the investment advice and more for the chance to network, sell product and learn about far-flung topics. "It’s about connections and to be seen," said a staffer at a large money management firm who asked not to be named. "Are there a large number of people actually taking notes and implementing them? No." [Reuters; Bloomberg]
DRIVING THE WEEK -- Pence meeting with Jewish leaders a day before Abbas visits the White House: Vice President Mike Pence will be hosting a White House reception to mark Israel’s 69th Independence Day on Tuesday, according to an invitation obtained exclusively by Jewish Insider. The event will take place in the Indian Treaty Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. President Donald Trump will host Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday. [JewishInsider]
"If Trump has a strategy on Israeli-Palestinian peace, it’s remaining a secret" by Josh Rogin: "Last week, a high-level Palestinian delegation led by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat traveled to Washington to prepare for the visit. The group met with Trump’s envoy on Middle East peace, Jason Greenblatt, as well as with White House and State Department officials. Both sides are keeping expectations for the Trump-Abbas meeting low. Palestinian officials tell me the Trump team doesn’t seem to know exactly what Trump wants to discuss or propose. White House staff declined to say anything at all about their goals for the meeting." [WashPost]
JI PREVIEW -- What to expect from the Trump-Abbas Meeting -- by Aaron Magid and Jacob Kornbluh [JewishInsider] Below is a sampling of some of the responses from JI experts...
Aaron David Miller -- “Both Trump and Abbas need -- and will have -- a successful meeting. Abbas needs to maintain his relevance and Trump to at least maintain the illusion that he'll broker the ‘ultimate deal’ between Israel and Palestinians. Now that he's planning a trip to Israel later in May, the meeting takes on an added importance if... he's thinking -- as Trump might -- about getting Netanyahu and Abbas together in a trilateral meeting.”
Elliott Abrams: "Presumably, the President's request from Abbas will be to stop the glorification of terrorism and the payments to those who have committed acts of terrorism, in line with the Taylor Force Act. If you are going to ask Bibi to do things that are hard, you need to ask Abbas to do things that are hard. I think Abbas wants a process that will consist of endless meetings. I don’t think he actually wants a peace negotiation that is serious because it will force him to make decisions that he is not prepared to make... I suppose if there are public statements by the President that are very complimentary of Abbas, it will annoy the Israelis. Because, what is the record here? He said no to a generous offer by Olmert. He said no to Kerry and Obama, So, there is no particular reason why he should get lots of compliments without his commitment to a peace agreement."
Hussein Ibish: "I think a reaffirmation of the Trump administration’s intention of re-engaging seriously with an issue that the Obama administration gave up on and that few people expected the Trump administration to engage seriously with. This is all surprising and good. During the campaign, many people thought it would be difficult for this administration to form a mutually respectful relationship with both the Israelis and the Palestinians. I think they have done that in short order in a very pragmatic and impressive way. On the other hand, going beyond that to the stage to find some sort of workable formula to move the parties forward, that is a whole other story."
"If the whole discourse goes back to the question of settlements and public Israeli commitments -- even just to the US -- I think we are going to be in a very difficult situation because I don’t think Netanyahu feels inclined or is feeling empowered to do that. The thing to do is move the conversation to another register and somehow get the Palestinians to rely on an American-Israeli understanding to ensure that settlement activity is limited at most and that’s doable if it all operates in a diplomatic rather than a political register."
FDD's Grant Rumley: "Abbas will probably come out and say: we want negotiations. He will bring up the prisoners, the 1967 lines as the basis of the negotiations, settlement construction. Trump will probably bring up payments to terrorists, the Taylor Force Act, incitement. I think the biggest concrete thing that came out was Trump’s proposal that the aid to the Palestinians would actually go up, despite cuts across the board at State. That is to me tangible right now. I think they will come out of this meeting and Trump will reassure Abbas that he’s his primary address. There is ultimately a disconnect in vision for what the US and Palestinians want from this relationship. Trump wants the deal. Abbas wants peace talks and the process of peace talks: photo ops in the White House, in large part out of domestic consideration. Nobody can challenge Abbas’ relevancy at home if he is in the White House with Trump and Kushner, meeting with Tillerson in Europe."
“Trump’s Mideast plan starts taking shape” by Uri Savir: “A senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official in the know on Israeli-US relations told Al-Monitor that in recent days Israel has been approached by senior officials in the Trump administration about a possible US policy initiative The US officials did say expressively that in any case Israeli security interests will be taken care of “as never before.” What concerned the senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official was a request to know Israel’s position on a possible qualified acceptance of parts of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.” [Al-Monitor]
KAFE KNESSET -- Netanyahu’s Memorial Day message -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: Today is a solemn day – Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror. After last night’s national ceremonies at the Western Wall and the Knesset and a well attended ceremony in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, Israel’s politicians spent the day at cemeteries and comforting the bereaved. Many politicians are remembering their own relatives.
One of the many events Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended today was the memorial for victims of terror. On his mind was the Taylor Force Act, a bill to cut US funding to the Palestinian Authority for funds being used to pay terrorists and their families. The bill is currently on the docket of the US Congress and could come up in Trump and Abbas' meeting this week. Bibi had a message for the two Presidents: “Do you want to take a real step towards peace? Cancel the payments to the murderers. Cancel the law that requires the payments. Fund peace and not murder.” Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
TOP TALKER: “Ros-Lehtinen to retire from Congress” by Patricia Mazzei: “She said the prospect of another two or four or more years in Congress just didn’t appeal to her anymore. “There was no epiphany. There was no moment, nothing that has happened that I've said, “I've got to move on,’” Ros-Lehtinen said. “It was just a realization that I could keep getting elected -- but it's not about getting elected.” In Congress, Ros-Lehtinen staked her ground as a foreign-policy hawk, becoming the first woman to chair a standing congressional committee: the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. She currently chairs the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, and sits on the intelligence committee In her remaining 20 months in Congress, Ros-Lehtinen said she will keep pushing for one of her long-running goals: for Germany to offer restitution to Holocaust victims. “And I will continue to stand up to tyrants and dictators all over the world,” she said.” [MiamiHerald]
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen sent us a message to share with JI readers "It has been a high honor indeed to have represented the many Holocaust survivors who call South Florida home and I will continue to fight for their justice. Chairing the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee has been a privilege and I will keep assuring that Israel maintains her military edge."
CHA-CHING: “Ivanka Trump Ski Trip To Canadian Resort Brings Big Secret Service Bill” by by Rich Gardella: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner took their kids to a five-star Canadian ski resort during Passover in April. According to newly available data from the federal government, the Secret Service costs for hotel accommodations and ski passes during the family’s trip to the Four Seasons Resort and Residences in Whistler, British Columbia were at least $66,538.42. Of that amount, government purchase order records show, $59,654 covered hotel costs for Secret Service agents at the resort near Vancouver, while $6,884 paid for "multi-day ski passes."” [NBCNews]
DRIVING THE MONTH: President Donald J. Trump Proclaims May 2017 as Jewish American Heritage Month “From Admiral Hyman G. Rickover to Albert Einstein, Richard Rodgers to Irving Berlin, Jerry Siegel to Bill Finger, Mel Brooks to Don Rickles, and Levi Strauss to Elie Wiesel, American Jews have transformed all aspects of American life and continue to enrich the American spirit. This month, I celebrate with my family including my daughter, Ivanka, my son-in-law, Jared, my grandchildren, and our extended family the deep spiritual connection that binds, and will always bind, the Jewish people to the United States and its founding principles.” [Twitter]
TRUMP TEAM: “Baltimore developer Reed Cordish has big job in the Trump administration: Fix the government” by John Fritz: “His group, mostly unnoticed amid the blaring controversies over Russia and stalled executive orders, is quietly working on everything from how to boost U.S. manufacturing to modernizing decades-old IT systems at the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies. "We're not approaching this from an ideological slant. We're approaching this in terms of what's good for American business and what's good for the American worker," Cordish said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun Cordish said he's confident the effort will yield results, in part because it has the president's attention. "He asks about these initiatives all the time. He cares deeply about them," he said. "Some of these initiatives are not ones that are politically easy. When you fix IT, you don't necessarily get credit for it. But he wants to improve government."” [BaltimoreSun]
"Trump plans summit with tech titans" by Mike Allen: "President Trump is establishing an American Technology Council to help the government deliver better digital services. The administration is bringing big names from the Silicon Valley to the White House in early June, to try get ideas and cooperation from a group that has been skeptical... The council will be run by two of Kushner's lieutenants, Chris Liddell and Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intra-governmental and technology initiatives." [Axios]
“Sebastian Gorka to accept role outside White House” by Sarah Westwood: “Gorka's new role will deal with the "war of ideas" involved in countering radical Islamic extremism, a senior administration official said, and will entail an appointment to a federal agency A source told the Washington Examiner that Gorka's role in SIG (Strategic Initiatives Group) was always meant to be temporary An official said Gorka has been in a "holding pattern" while he waited for the position, which will not be at the State Department, to be established.” [WashExaminer; DailyBeast]
ON THE HILL -- House Members confused about Trump’s position on the Iran deal -- by JI’s Aaron Magid: “One of the challenges for this administration is you get four or five different answers on controversial issues, like the Iran deal, depending on who is speaking: whether it is the President, Secretary of State, or White House spokesman,” Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX) told Jewish Insider. “Our allies don’t know who really speaks for the President. I would like a clear answer for what he believes is the future of that agreement if he intends for the US to stick by it: whether he still sees that as essential to Iran getting rid of its nuclear program.”
Rep. Jerry Nadler was unable to articulate the President’s stance on the nuclear agreement. “I don’t know. I can’t judge any more than you can,” the New York lawmaker emphasized.
Even Republican Members of Congress who are supportive of the President’s agenda could not offer a clear answer regarding the President’s position. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) noted, “I’m not sure he’s (Trump) coalesced around his thoughts.” When pressed if he understood the President’s viewpoint on Iran deal, Farenthold, replied, “I don’t.” Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) explained, “It is my observance that the Trump administration has opposed that deal from the rhetoric that they have said. As to the exact specifics, I would want you to ask them to articulate their position.” [JewishInsider]
HEARD YESTERDAY -- National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster discussed new Iran sanctions on Fox News Sunday: “I think all we have to do is pull the curtain back on Iranian behavior... Our allies will be interested in doing that, and I think what you've seen is, if what has happened in the last eight years, is U.S. policy has unwittingly maybe empowered Iran across the greater Middle East and beyond And so, what's critical now is a shift in that policy to confront Iran and what you're seeing is because of the president's leadership, really strong relationships across the Arab world, for example, and I think that there's going to be a tremendous opportunity to confront Iran’s destructive behavior in the region and beyond the region.”
"Chuck Schumer Sees Himself As Trump's Chief Opponent — But Hey, At Least They're Talking Again” by Kate Nocera: “I was totally down in the dumps for three days [after the election], as was my wife and my two daughters, particularly my daughter who had worked in the Hillary campaign. I taught them the old Shirelles song: Mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this, mama said,” Schumer recalled. “But on the fourth day I had an epiphany, like a message from the heavens, and it went like this: ‘Look, if Hillary had been president and you had been majority leader, the job would have been a lot more fun, a lot easier, and you’d get some good things done, which is why we’re here,’” he said. “‘With Trump as president and you as minority leader, your job is much more important. You are really the only backstop to Trump.’ That has fueled me the whole way through.” [BuzzFeed] Trump Calls Schumer an Incompetent ‘Fool’ Just When Need Him the Most [Yahoo]
2020 WATCH: “Emboldened by Trump but Divided by Generations, Democrats Look to 2020” by Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin: “High-profile city executives — like Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, 46 may also consider the race. Allies of Mr. Garcetti acknowledged that national donors had broached the subject of 2020 but said that was the extent of his attention to the race. Mr. Garcetti is weighing a campaign for governor of California next year.” [NYTimes]
Eric Lesser: "IDEA FOR DEMOCRATS: Let's put a moratorium on gossiping about 2020 Presidential, and instead focus on building our grassroots bench.” [Twitter]
** Good Monday 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 **
SPOTLIGHT: “Renaissance Feud Spills Over to Hedge Fund Poker Night” by Gregory Zuckerman: “When [Rebecca] Mercer saw [David] Magerman hovering nearby, he said she became agitated. “You’re pond scum,” Ms. Mercer told him, repeatedly “You’ve been pond scum for 25 years; I’ve always known it.” Shaken, Mr. Magerman walked around the table to be next to Ms. Mercer. She told Mr. Magerman that his criticism of the Mercers’ support for Mr. Trump had put her family in danger, he said. “How could you do this to my father? He was so good to you,” she said Mr. Magerman told her he felt bad, adding that her family had played a supportive role when he joined Renaissance more than two decades ago Ms. Mercer told him to leave"
"A security member approached, telling Mr. Magerman to back away from the table. He refused, dodged the security and approached [James] Simons, asking for help. Mr. Simons said he thought it best if Mr. Magerman left Security forced him outside to the curb, Mr. Magerman said. “I’m not denying I was a little impacted by the alcohol,” Mr. Magerman told The Wall Street Journal several days after the event. “But that doesn’t change what she said to me, or what I said to her. I didn’t start the fight, and I didn’t resort to the petty name calling like she did.” On Friday, his lawyers discussed final terms of a potential departure with Renaissance representatives though his fate was still uncertain.” [WSJ]
“Ohio family surprised when Mark Zuckerberg comes to dinner to talk about Trump” by Associated Press: “The Vindicator of Youngstown reports Zuckerberg had asked his staff to find Democrats who voted for President Donald Trump in November. The family says not all the dinner chat was political. Daniel Moore says he and his wife, Lisa, talked about their work with an orphanage in Uganda and that Zuckerberg says he's now planning a fundraiser to benefit the orphans.” [NYDailyNews]
“What Ron Lauder, Trump's boyhood friend, knows about the president may surprise you” by Philip Boas: “Trump says a lot of things that sound off the wall, acknowledged Lauder, but “The Donald I know is very smart. He’s talking for the Americans The fact is that one thing Trump gave people is hope. And when Hillary ran her campaign, what she said basically was, ‘I will continue what Obama started.’” Those same people saw something in Trump that Lauder’s mother saw in him many years ago, he said. “My parents, my mother particularly, liked him a lot because of his style, because she (created) a business by fighting people and building it, and so did Donald Trump.”” [AZCentral]
“Ray Allen talks about his passion for teaching others about the Holocaust” by Kelley Evans: “It all started at the University of Connecticut in 1993, when a young Allen developed a curiosity about the Holocaust. He began to frequent the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and his education there fueled a full-on passion project. Now he has chosen to lead by example. He encourages those close to him, and anyone who will listen, to learn about Holocaust education through his dedication to the cause... Officially sworn in Tuesday four months after being appointed to the position by President Barack Obama, Allen raised his right hand and took the council member’s oath in a ceremony at the museum during Days of Remembrance, the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust. “I want to inspire people to break down stereotypes, and treat one another — regardless of race, religion or anything else — like family. It’s more important now than ever," [Allen said.]" [TheUndefeated]
“People are furiously canceling their New York Times subscriptions after an op-ed disputing climate change was published” by Sonam Sheth: “In his column, [Bret] Stephens compared the "certitude" with which Hillary Clinton's advisers believed she would win the 2016 election to climate scientists' repeated warnings about climate change risks. As evidence, Stephens said that inaccurate polling data during the 2016 campaign proves that science can miss the mark in other fields as well Stephens' column evoked a swift and angry response from many of the paper's subscribers, who promptly canceled their subscriptions and bashed the Times' decision to hire Stephens as a writer.” [BI] Who’s Afraid of Bret Stephens? [Politico]
SPORTS BLINK: “The Bonds of Baseball, From My Dad to My Son” by Lee Siegel: "In my own Jewish family, where religion was more a matter of sentiment than a spiritual framework, baseball was the true religious bond between my father and me." [WSJ]
BIRTHDAYS: National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (1987-2015), now National Director Emeritus, Abraham Foxman turns 77... Member of the New York City Council (1974-1983) and Commissioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (1983-1990 and a second term from 1994-2000), Henry Stern turns 82... Progressive political activist, pacifist, literary and political journalist, teacher of Proust and other topics, national affairs correspondent for Pacifica Radio (1987-1998), Larry Bensky turns 80... Chair of Bible and Jewish Philosophy at Yeshiva University and editor of Tradition, an Orthodox theological journal, Rabbi Shalom Carmy turns 68... Attorney specializing in redistricting, voting rights and census law and director of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, Jeffrey M. Wice turns 65... Member of the House of Representatives for Colorado's 7th congressional district since 2007, Edwin George "Ed" Perlmutter turns 64... Political reporter and columnist for The Richmond Times-Dispatch, he has covered Virginia elections and the state Capitol for 30 years, Jeff E. Schapiro turns 62...
Israeli entrepreneur and software engineer, founder and CEO of Conduit, an online platform for app publishers with 260 million users, Ronen Shilo turns 59... Real estate entrepreneur, born in Israel, has lived in Southern California since 1986, a co-founder of the Israeli American Leadership Council (IAC) and supporter of FIDF, Eli Tene turns 54... Professor of computer science and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, David R. Karger turns 50... Israeli judoka, she was the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal when she won Silver at Barcelona (1992), she now is a manager in Israeli operations for Viacom (and its Nickelodeon subsidiary), Yael Arad turns 50... Member of the Washington State Senate where he currently serves as the Senate Democratic Whip, co-owner of minor league baseball's Spokane Indians, Andrew Swire "Andy" Billig turns 49... Award-winning broadcast journalist for more than 30 years including GM of CBS Radio News, now SVP of communications at University of Maryland University College, Michael Freedman... DC-based political reporter for The Guardian US, previously a reporter for the Daily Beast, Ben Jacobs (h/ts Playbook)... Deborah Chin...
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