Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: May 14

Scene in Jerusalem for Embassy opening; Republican Senators on lack of Dems | Profile: Mark Dubowitz | Tepper set to buy NFL's Panthers

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greet each other on stage during the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP

Have our people email your people. Tell your friends to sign up for the Daily Kickoff here

DRIVING THE DAY -- Seventy years after President Harry Truman recognized Israel’s independence, the U.S. will formally open its embassy in Jerusalem, now recognized by the U.S. government as Israel’s capital. Representing the Trump administration are Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Jason Greenblatt. President Donald Trump has recorded a message that will be played at the event and the White House will be hosting a watch party in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. [Livestream; CBS]

Meanwhile.. "At Least 28 Palestinians Die in Protests as U.S. Prepares to Open Jerusalem Embassy" by David Halbfinger, Isabel Kershner and Declan Walsh: "A mass attempt by Palestinians to cross the border fence separating Israel from Gaza quickly turned violent, as Israeli soldiers responded with rifle fire. By 3 p.m., 28 Palestinians, including several teenagers, were dead and at least one thousand were injured in Gaza, the Health Ministry said, as seven weeks of demonstrations reached a climax there." [NYTimes]

"Controversial US pastors to take part in embassy opening in Jerusalem" by Matt Korade, Kevin Bohn and Daniel Burke: "Monday's ceremony marking the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem will break with tradition in more ways than one. Besides the political concerns over the move itself, a pair of Christian evangelical leaders will be on hand whose words have caused their own share of controversy. Pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel, will deliver the benediction at the ceremony, a spokesman for his organization confirmed to CNN." 

"Meanwhile, another controversial evangelical pastor, Robert Jeffress, will say a prayer at the embassy opening, a US official confirmed to CNN. Some might remember Jeffress for his frequent condemnations of Mormonism as a "cult" during the 2012 presidential campaign and his urging of Christians not to vote for Mitt Romney, a Mormon, during the Republican primary." [CNN]  Evangelical pastor who said Jews going to hell to give prayer at Jerusalem embassy opening [DailyNews; Haaretz]

Mitt Romney tweets"Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,“ and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem." 

-- "Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, the Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, spoke at a reception held in honor of the U.S. delegation at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem on Sunday, offering high praise for President Trump... After the speech White House advisers Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner approached Yosef and asked for his blessing... In March, Yosef was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League after using the term “kushi,” a derogatory Hebrew word for black people, in a sermon, and comparing them to monkeys." [NYMag; DailyBeast

"U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Opens to a Fraught Climate" by Felicia Schwartz: "U.S. officials this weekend said they would press on with their still-secret plan to secure what Mr. Trump has called “the ultimate deal” for Middle East peace. The plan is mostly finished, they said, and the administration is seeking the right time and place to present it. “The peace process is most decidedly not dead,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday.” [WSJ]

Jason Greenblatt tweets"More than two decades of waivers delaying the Embassy move brought us no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians."

"Trump’s Jerusalem bet defies direst predictions" by Nahal Toosi: “Elliott Abrams... said the absence from the event in Jerusalem of Trump and Pompeo "suggests a desire not to escalate the issue into a problem with Arab governments or with the Palestinians.” [Politico 

-- "Alan Dershowitz said he did not believe the move undercut the process of reaching peace between Israelis and Palestinians. “Obama did that by not vetoing the U.N. resolution against Israeli settlements. Trump has revived the status quo and is ready to restart the process. But the Palestinians won’t get a state without negotiating." [WashPost]

PODCAST PLAYBACK -- Former U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk on Foreign Policy's podcast: “The Israelis -- I think it’s more true of the Right than the Left -- have seen Congress as a playing field that they can influence in their direction Jerusalem is such an emotional issue for American Jews, and therefore for the pro-Israel community, and it’s an easy one for politicians to say, ‘I support moving the embassy to Jerusalem.’ I think it just became the easiest way for politicians to appeal to the Jewish vote, and I always thought that we, in the Jewish community, were selling ourselves short by accepting that as some kind of litmus test because it was so kind of obvious -- pandering that had no consequence And it’s true to this day. Sheldon Adelson made it the condition for his support for Trump that he had to move the embassy to Jerusalem.” [ForeignPolicy]

RJC's Matt Brooks tweets: "Can I make an observation about the Embassy opening in Jerusalem?  There will be 4 Sens and 10 Congressman coming out... all Rep and NO Dems.... Hmmmm. Discuss among yourselves."

Jewish Insider's Jacob Kornbluh, who is covering the ceremony on the ground in Jerusalem, asked the Republican Senators at the King David Hotel if they thought their Democratic colleagues were invited or not. 

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "I want to note that Democrats voted for the [Jerusalem Embassy Act] in 1995. This has been the policy on the stump. Every campaign fundraiser that is hosted by the pro-Israel community, every member of the Senate and the House, who cares about these issues, says 'Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.' Now the day is here and there are only a handful of Republicans. I'd just assume that Republicans who didn't come had conflicts, but I am disappointed that not one Democrat came. It hurts me as someone who works across the aisle on a regular basis. I think it was a mistake. If just one had come it would have been a different scene."  

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): "None of us were invited. This trip started two weeks ago when I was walking down the Senate hallway and I turned to Lindsey and said, 'Hey, in two weeks we are moving the embassy, why don't we go to Jerusalem and go there together.' Lindsey said, 'Fantastic. Great idea. Let's do it,' and we put together this trip, and Dean [Heller] and Mike [Lee] both said, "I want to be there.' You look at the 10 House members who came, any member of Congress could have come here as part of the congressional delegation. There was no administration invitation. There was no one in the White House who decided who they want. There were Senators who decided to show up. Former Senator Joe Lieberman chose to be here. It wasn't a formal invitation. I'm gratified by those who came, but I am saddened. Support for Israel should not be a partisan issue, and it's worrisome that the fallout of President Obama's Iran deal is that more and more we are seeing a divide along partisan lines. That's not good for Israel, and it's not good for America." 

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV): "Let me assure you that Washington, DC is becoming more partisan and I don't think Israel has anything to do with that. I've been in Washington, DC for 10 years and - maybe outside the Department of Defense - no other issue did I find to be more bipartisan. I know that the Left probably doesn't want this president to succeed, and perhaps that's some of the reasons why they are not here. I can't answer for them, but I can kind off see the writing on the wall on all this. I have a hard time believing that in the future Republicans and Democrats won't come together to defend the state of Israel." 

Joe Lieberman: "That's a mistake. [Alan] Dershowitz and I are representing the real Democratic Party." 

Former Ambassador Daniel Shapiro emails us... "I honestly don’t know who was invited or not, whose transportation was facilitated or not. I would say that the administration -- if it chose -- could certainly have invited a broad bipartisan delegation and set that tone. I’m not sure that they did so. It is also clear that there is broad bipartisan support in Congress for moving the embassy." 

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: "I find it astonishing that we have not done enough to show the President public recognition of his move, and even allowing this to become a political football rather than something where there's unanimous consent. Let's go back to Jewish values and show gratitude." 

HEARD THIS MORNING -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the Orthodox Union's (OU) breakfast this morning at the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem: "This is a day I will always remember. It's a day seventy years in the making. It's a day twenty years after Congress passed a law to move the embassy to Jerusalem... Us being here and moving our embassy is a big step in our relationship with Israel... There is another reason to move the embassy. As some of you know, the President was a real-estate developer, and he wanted the American embassy real-estate on the right side of the town, here in Jerusalem... I am personally waiting for my big part in the embassy this afternoon: I get to unveil the plaque, and I am told I do that by pulling a little cord. The Ambassador asked, 'Are you sure you know how to pull the cord?' I said I've been doing this in Temple my whole life." 

SPOTTED: Jason Greenblatt, Florida Governor Rick Scott, Penny Nance, Michael Oren, Moishe Bane, Allen Fagin, Jerry Wolasky, Joe Lieberman, Rabbi Menachem Genack, Rabbi Marvin Heir, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Rabbi Steven Burg, Mort Fridman, Sol Werdiger, Ralph Herzka, Louis Mayberg, Jerry Reitberger, Michael Fragin, Jeff Ballabon, Dov Lipman, Nachman Caller, Moshe Friedman, Lee Samson, David Makovsky, Louis Mayberg, Sander Gerber, Lauri Barbanel, Steven Burg, Isaac Herzog, Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, and MK Elazar Stern. 

SCENE LAST NIGHT IN JERUSALEM -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted a lavish reception in a tent at Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to welcome the presidential delegation and celebrate the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. 

In his remarks, Netanyahu implored other countries to follow Trump's lead and move their embassies to Jerusalem. Following a round of speeches, Netanyahu presented Ambassador David Friedman with a letter of appreciation for his role in moving the embassy to Jerusalem. 

Netanyahu: "And of course a special welcome to Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka. I’ve known Jared for 105 years, and there’s a special bond between our families, but I think the fact that you and Ivanka are here is a special, personal testament, but also a national and international statement. It is one that touches our hearts, and we are all delighted by your presence at any time, at any day, but especially on this day.” [VideoReport: Kushner briefs Netanyahu on US reluctance to present peace plan [ToI]

SPOTTED IN THE TENT: Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer (who is hosting a celebration in DC later today), Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog, Tzipi Livni; cabinet ministers Israel Katz, Yuval Shteinitz, Ze’ev Elkin, Ofir Akunis, Gila Gamliel; former ambassadors Dan Shapiro, Michael Oren, Danny Ayalon, Dore Gold and Ron Prosor; Senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Dean Heller, and Mike Lee; Reps. Lee Zeldin, Ron DeSantis, Rep. Mario Diaz Balart; former minister Silvan Shalom, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, Phil Rosen, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, Jay Sekulow, Alan Dershowitz, former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, Safra Catz, Sander Gerber, Ralph Herzka, Lee Samson, Trever Perlman, Mort Fridman, Lillian Pinkus, Pastor John Hagee, Mort Klein, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Yitz Applbaum, Aaron Applbaum, Aryeh Lightstone, David Milstein, Rabbi David Lau, MKs Yehudah Glick, Yoel Hasson, Oren Hazan, Ksenia Svetlova, Aliza Lavie, Eyal Ben Reuven, Merav Michaeli, Amir Ohana and Revital Swid; Lior Weintraub, Oded Revivi, Natan Eshel, Rivka Faluch, David Keyes, and Ari Berman.

SNAPS -- Jay Sekulow and Joe Lieberman [Pic] Sheldon Adelson at the halva station [Pic] Mort Klein and Adelson [Pic] Retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice studying Jewish law at the celebration [Pic] U.S. Amb. to Italy Lew Eisenberg with Yitz Applbaum [Pic] Yossi Cohen and Dan Shapiro [Pic] Mort Klein and Dan Shapiro [Pic]  former AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus [Pic] Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham and Phil Rosen [Pic]

"Casino magnate and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson... had earlier this year offered to contribute funds to build a new embassy, but on Sunday, in a brief interview at the reception, he said “that hasn’t been finalized.” ... “I don’t think it’s going to be necessary,” he said." [WSJ]

THE DAILY KUSHNER: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's first day in Israeli included dinner at the Prime Minister's residence with the rest of the U.S. delegation and Ambassador Ron Dermer, an award at the Friends of Zion Gala, and a blessing from Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef. 

-- This morning: Jared and Ivanka had breakfast with the Senate delegation in the King David Hotel's lobby. 

REPORT -- "Dinner diplomacy: Netanyahu’s unusual run-in with UAE envoy" by Josh Lederman: "The venue back in March was Cafe Milano... Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in town for an annual pro-Israel policy conference, was midway through dinner with his wife, Sara... By coincidence, the Emirati ambassador to the U.S., Yousef al-Otaiba, was at the restaurant hosting Brian Hook, the State Department’s policy planning chief, and a group of U.S. journalists, along with Bahrain’s ambassador, Sheikh Abdullah bin Rashed bin Abdullah Al Khalifa..."

"Word was sent to see if the Israeli would mind making an appearance at their dinner. That request first passed through the restaurant’s owner, then one of the journalists... It wasn’t long before Netanyahu and his wife came over to say hello on their way out. They lingered, answering a few questions from the group about Iran and other issues. There were smiles, a few laughs about the oddity of the situation, and Netanyahu shook hands with the two ambassadors before leaving the restaurant." [AP] 

IRAN DEAL -- “Clashing Views on Iran Reflect a New Balance of Power in the Cabinet” by Mark Landler: “Mr. Trump’s cabinet was hardly dovish before [John] Bolton’s arrival. [James] Mattis, in particular, nursed a grudge against Iran that dates to his days as a Marine commander. But he was opposed to leaving the deal Even if Mr. Mattis had wanted to fight for the deal, it is not clear how much he would have been heard. Mr. Bolton, officials said, never convened a high-level meeting of the National Security Council to air the debate. He advised Mr. Trump in smaller sessions, otherwise keeping the door to his West Wing office closed In future such debates, [Mike] Pompeo may end up standing somewhere between Mr. Mattis and Mr. Bolton As secretary of state, he impressed European diplomats with his willingness to keep negotiating fixes to the deal “Pompeo was not a nixer,” said Mark Dubowitz.” [NYTimes

-- “Bolton struck a more hawkish tone with his comments in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” program than Pompeo did when he was interviewed on “Fox News Sunday.”” [Reuters

HEARD YESTERDAY -- Bolton on CNN’s State of the Union: “The consequence of the United States getting out of it [of the nuclear deal] to reimpose all American sanctions as they were before the deal came into effect. And I think what we’ve seen is that Iran’s economic condition is really quite shaky, so that the effect here could be dramatic.”

Jake Tapper: But still, the United States imposing economic sanctions is a far cry from the United States and China and Russia and Europe imposing economic sanctions. The U.S. essentially, at least as of now, is going it alone. How will that force Iran back to the table?

Bolton: “We’re not going it alone. We have the support of Israel, we have the support of the Arab oil producing monarchies and many others.”

Dov Zakheim writes “Trump could make a deal with Europe regarding Iran: Trump has yet to implement his withdrawal from the Iran deal. He can rethink how he might avoid a clash with Europe. He could exempt European firms from sanctions in much the same manner as he has exempted several nations from the tariffs on goods they export to America. Beyond that, he should reconsider his rejection of the approach that French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed — which is to expand the agreement to resolve the issues that the Obama administration was reluctant to address.” [TheHill

HAPPENING TODAY -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will take part in a live-streamed Town Hall panel at 7:00 PM EDT to discuss Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal [Livestream

PROFILE -- "He Was a Tireless Critic of the Iran Deal. Now He Insists He Wanted to Save It" by Gardiner Harris: "[Mark] Dubowitz was the only nongovernmental official routinely consulted by both European and American negotiators in a monthslong back-and-forth over a possible side agreement to the deal, and he sometimes reviewed secret drafts. He wrote, according to two administration officials... parts of a report on Iran that Brian H. Hook, the chief American negotiator in the recent talks, took to White House meetings — a highly unusual step. He advised many of the deal’s most prominent critics on Capitol Hill. Now that Mr. Trump has decided to withdraw from [the] agreement... Mr. Dubowitz’s campaign to draw attention to what he saw as its flaws has taken its place among the most consequential ever undertaken by a Washington think tank leader." [NYTimes]

** 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 **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Billionaire David Tepper Is Close to Deal for NFL’s Panthers [Bloomberg]  “All the rest of my Jewish friends in New York were doing it”: John Catsimatidis to raise money in Tel Aviv [TheRealDeal Ken Kurson, a friend of Jared Kushner, and a former editor of The New York Observer, confirmed on Friday that he is under consideration for an unpaid position with the Trump administration [NYTimes]

¨Bloomberg warns of ‘epidemic of dishonesty’” by Steve Peoples: “[Michael] Bloomberg [in a commencement speech on Saturday at Texas’ Rice University] evoked the legend of the nation’s first president, George Washington, who as a boy said he could not tell a lie when asked if he cut down a cherry tree. “How did we go from a president who could not tell a lie to politicians who cannot tell the truth?” Bloomberg asked Rice graduates and their families gathered in Houston.” [AP

“Netta Barzilai of Israel Wins Eurovision With a Chicken Dance” by Annalisa Quinn: “In a glittery corset and kimono, [Netta] Barzilai, 25, took the stage singing, “I’m not your toy, you stupid boy,” interspersing the verses with arm flaps, beatboxing and chicken noises. The song was “influenced by the #MeToo movement,” Ms. Barzilai said in an interview after a semifinal this week. “Look, it’s an amazing time when women are searching for and finding their voices.” “I’m so happy,” said Ms. Barzilai as she took the stage after she won. “Thank you so much for accepting differences between us. Thank you for celebrating diversity. Next time in Jerusalem.”” [NYTimes]  Eurovision winner Barzilai jubilant: ‘How great we got to change Israel’s image’ [ToI

"Troye Sivan Is a New Kind of Pop Star" by Matthew Schneier: "Earlier this year, Troye Sivan did what pop stars do, and moved to Los Angeles. It’s a long way from Perth, in Western Australia, where he grew up and attended a small modern Orthodox Jewish school, which does not by default set one on the path to pop stardom. But he could sing, started lessons at 7, and in short order was transfixing the congregation at his local shul with his rendition of yigdal at Shabbos service on Friday nights. “I used to try to make all the Jewish mums cry, that was the goal,” he said. From there, he traveled Australia’s equivalent of the borscht belt circuit, singing at High Holy Days services... In April, he threw his first solo Passover Seder, an ad hoc mix of Jewish tradition and takeout Thai food. Ariana Grande, who has a guest appearance on Mr. Sivan’s new album, attended; so did his friend Hari Nef, the model and actress." [NYtimes

“George Osborne speaks of his delight after discovering he is Jewish” by Robert Mendick: “George Osborne, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, has discovered that he is Jewish Theo Osborne, 33, an investment manager, had embarked on the lengthy process to convert in order to marry his American fiancée Justine Fisher in an Orthodox Jewish ceremonyThat allowed him to marry in an orthodox ceremony that took place last Sunday in the grand setting of the Wormsley estate in Buckinghamshire, owned by the Getty family The Osbornes had never known that their grandmother Clarisse - known to all as Klara - was Jewish. She died in 2004 aged 90 without mentioning to her grandchildren that they were technically Jewish.” [Telegraph

SPORTS BLINK -- Beitar Jerusalem announce they will rename club after Trump: "Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem have announced plans to change the club's name to "Beitar Trump Jerusalem" to recognize the efforts of the "courageous" United States president. Beitar Jerusalem, a six-time Israeli league champion, also holds the distinction as the only Israeli team to never sign an Arab player. Its fans are known for singing anti-Arab chants and being “extreme” nationalists." [ESPN; WashPost]

BIRTHDAYS: Facebook's chairman, CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg turns 34; Zuckerberg wished Campbell Brown a "Shabbat shalom!" on Friday after she posted about baking challah... Education program lead of Bloomberg Philanthropies and author of the Your Daily Biscuit newsletter, he is a former Deputy Mayor of NYC, Howard Wolfson turns 51... The Green Party's nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 and 2016 elections, Jill Stein turns 68... Technion professor of computer science, Orna Grumberg turns 66... Founding dean of the University of California Irvine School of Law in 2008, Erwin Chemerinsky turns 65... Los Angeles City Attorney since 2013, previously a member of the California Assembly (2006-2012), the Los Angeles City Council (1995-2001) and executive director of Bet Tzedek Legal Services, Mike Feuer turns 60... Author of five international bestsellers, Robert Greene turns 59... ESPN's SportsCenter anchor, Suzy Kolber turns 54... Managing partner of Alexandria, VA-based MVAR Media, Jon Vogel turns 43... 

Emmy Award-winning executive producer of CNN's political programming and senior broadcast producer of CNN's Situation Room, David Philip Gelles turns 41... Bloomberg Businessweek reporter covering the union movement, labor law and related policies and politics, Josh Eidelson turns 34... Actress who has appeared in nine movies, member of a band called Wardell with her brother Theo, daughter of Steven Spielberg, Sasha Rebecca Spielberg turns 28... Senior staffer on Senate Majority PAC (assisting Democrats in US Senate races), he was previously an aide and speechwriter for Minority Leader Senator Charles Schumer, Alex I. Katz turns 28... Research analyst at SRI International's Center for Education Policy, former track star and then football player at Harvard, Andrew Ezekoye turns 26... Senior defense analyst for Bloomberg Government, Robert Levinson...