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LAUDER'S LATEST: "Jewish Trump confidant: US president has convinced Abbas to make concessions" by Gil Hoffman: "Behind the scenes at the [JPost] conference, [Ron] Lauder briefed ministers Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Ofir Akunis, as well as opposition leader Isaac Herzog on his impressions from talking to Trump about how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Trump is very optimistic that he can renew the peace process,” one of the politicians told The Jerusalem Post after speaking to Lauder. “Lauder understands from Trump that he believes Abbas can be convinced by him and Arab leaders to come back to the table and make concessions.” [JPost]
Alan Dershowitz on Lauder's meetings with Abbas: "I think it's very important for all leaders to meet with other leaders. I think you should always extend the hand and find out what they are prepared to offer and see if there are bridges that could be built towards peace. So I commend Ron Lauder for doing that. He is a strong Zionist, a strong supporter of Israel. He would never do anything to undercut the security of Israel under any circumstances."
ITEMS FIRST REPORTED BY JEWISH INSIDER "Mixed Signals From Trump Worry Pro-Israel Hard-Liners” by Mark Landler and Maggie Haberman: “They are particularly concerned about the role of one of Mr. Trump’s closest Jewish friends, the New York billionaire Ronald S. Lauder, who is prodding Mr. Trump  to forge an alliance with Mr. Abbas. Mr. Lauder is in frequent contact with Mr. Trump’s chief Middle East negotiator, Jason D. Greenblatt, who attended a dinner at Mr. Lauder’s Georgetown home with Mr. Abbas  the night before the Palestinian leader went to the White House Later this month, when Mr. Trump will test his ideas on his first foreign trip, to Saudi Arabia and Israel, one of his most powerful donors, the Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson, will be in Israel  when the president is, according to people briefed on his schedule David M. Friedman, the bankruptcy lawyer who is Mr. Trump’s ambassador to Israel, has told people he plans to divide his time between the ambassador’s seaside residence near Tel Aviv and the King David Hotel in Jerusalem , where the State Department keeps an apartment for its envoy.” [NYTimes]
SATURDAY AFTERNOON LIVE... “Jared Kushner’s Sister Highlights Family Ties in Pitch to Chinese Investors" by Javier Hernandez, Cao Li and Jesse Drucker: "On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Kushner’s sister Nicole Meyer made a pitch to attract $150 million in financing for a Jersey City housing development, known as One Journal Square, to more than 100 Chinese investors gathered at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Beijing... The tagline on a brochure for the event: “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.” And the highlight of the afternoon was Meyer, a principal for the company, who was introduced in promotional materials as Jared’s sister Journalists were initially seated at the back of the ballroom, but as the presentations got underway, a public-relations representative asked The Washington Post to leave, saying the presence of foreign reporters threatened the “stability” of the event Asked why reporters were asked to leave, a PR person who declined to identify herself said simply, “This is not the story we want.” [NYTimes; WashPost]
-- “Ms. Meyer’s presentation at the event began “with a history of the family fortune,” said an architect who attended and identified himself by his surname, Wu. The story, Mr. Wu said, included a description of how her grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Germany after making money supplying metalwork to builders. Ms. Meyer afterward could be seen posing for pictures with some attendees.” [WSJ] Kushner family apologizes for mentioning White House adviser Jared Kushner [CNN]
AMBASSADORS UNITE -- Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro met with his successor, Ambassador David Friedman in Long Island on Saturday, according to Eli Beer, Founder of United Hatzalah of Israel, who posted about the impromptu summit on Facebook. Shapiro spent Shabbat as a scholar-in-residence at the Young Israel of Woodmere, the largest Orthodox Jewish congregation in the Five Towns, led by Rabbi Heshie Billet. After morning service, at the behest of Beer – according to his account – Shapiro walked over to the home of Daniel Friedman, who was hosting his parents for Shabbat. “The two men showed great excitement meeting each other” and engaged in a lengthy conversation that was continued when Friedman walked over after the meal to the family that hosted Shapiro, according to Beer. [JewishInsider]
SCENE YESTERDAY -- Israeli cabinet ministers and the leader of the Israeli opposition welcomed President Trump's investment in Middle East peace efforts at the Jerusalem Post's 6th annual conference in New York. On the left, Member of Knesset Isaac Herzog lauded Trump’s desire to bring peace between the Israelis and Palestinians and promised his political support in the event of a peace settlement. “I believe he’s adamantly committed to this cause," Herzog said about the President. "So far, the way he’s handled this mission is impeccable."
On the right, ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) praised Trump for adopting a new approach to the conflict. "I was personally encouraged that the Trump Administration did not automatically adopt the two-state solution narrative," said Shaked, Israel's Justice Minister. "I think the Trump Administration will continue to positively surprise us." Bennett, pointing to the fact that the Palestinians (Hamas faction) already have a state and an army in the Gaza strip, called for the "Trump Plan," an economic development initiative to boost the Palestinian economy, modeled after the Marshall Plan.
Regarding the Jerusalem embassy, Shaked said: "President Trump doesn’t need to do anything. On June 1, if he doesn’t sign a waiver, the embassy will need to move to Jerusalem according to the American law.”
Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) tells us... "Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel, no doubt about that. I think all the previous U.S. presidents recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Moving the embassy is important. I think it's high time to do it. I was very encouraged by Trump's promise to move it during the campaign - he was crystal clear about it - and I hope that this is forthcoming as well."
Steinitz on Trump's push for ME peace: "I am not very optimistic about the ultimate deal. We hope to achieve peace and security, but currently, we don't see that we have a reliable partner. Abu Mazen (Abbas) is talking very nicely about peace in Washington, but if you examine the core messages of his education system, they are very anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli. Without terminating this horrible incitement, this is a non-starter."
White House national security aide Sebastian Gorka, who was greeted by loud applause and a standing ovation, referred to recent news about his imminent departure from the White House as “very fake news.” “I will be there as long as the President has use for me,” Gorka said. He refused to address the controversy over his involvement with a Nazi-linked Hungarian group head-on but stressed: “Nobody, not one person, has found one sentence that I have ever said that is anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.” Noting that his appearance occurred on the same day Nazi Germany surrendered to the Western Allies (May 7, 1945), Gorka compared the fight against ISIS to the battle against Hitler's regime. “When the black flag of ISIS is rejected like the Nazi flag is today, we will have won,” he said.
According to the White House aide, critics of current administration come from pro-BDS and Iran deal supporters. “Because we are pro-Israel, we must be attacked, whether it’s the president, whether it’s Steve Bannon, whether it is Steve Miller or myself, we are friends of Israel,” Gorka said. “Who are the leaders of the slanders against the administration? People who are either connected to BDS or pro-JCPOA [Iran deal].” [JewishInsider; NYPost]
“Trump and Bannon ‘Personally Intervened’ to Save Seb Gorka” by Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng: “After news emerged last week that the Trump administration was setting the stage to move the British-born national security aide out of the White House, President Donald Trump and his chief strategist Stephen Bannon “personally intervened” to put a halt to [Seb] Gorka’s White House eviction, two senior administration sources said According to multiple administration sources, a White House faction led by Jared Kushner isn’t pleased with this development One White House source says Kushner now views him as a “clown” and wants nothing to do with him.” [DailyBeast]
"The Campaign to Rehabilitate Sebastian Gorka” by Rosie Gray: “Pro-Gorka op-eds have popped up in the Jewish press as well as the conservative media, and Gorka is also speaking to the Christians United for Israel conference this summer. Rabbi Heshie Billet, who presides over a large Orthodox congregation on Long Island, this weekend wrote an essay for Algemeiner entitled: “End The Gorka Calumny.” Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein... has taken a leading role in these efforts Klein said he had spoken with two mutual friends: David Goldman, a columnist for PJ Media, and Jeff Ballabon, a Republican activist and lawyer Ballabon said he had not been asked to defend Gorka by anyone in the White House, but that people in the White House had been “appreciative” of his efforts.” [TheAtlantic]
Spotted: Gorka met in private with Education Minister Bennett on the sidelines of the JPost conference.
Prof. Alan Dershowitz on Trump's Israel trip: "I think his message will be that he wants to make a deal, and he wants to see both sides come to the negotiation table and offer compromises in the interest of making peace. That will be his message. I think there will be a combination of carrots to both sides and possibly even some sticks. I think he is going to announce that during his administration, the U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem, but it will take negotiations with U.S. allies to bring about an exact time schedule."
KAFE KNESSET -- Welcome back, Knesset -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: It may feel like the Knesset never left, but, in fact, today is the first full day of the summer session after the Knesset's Passover recess. There is a lot on the agenda for MKs in the coming months and today's busy schedule reflects that. The marathon debates on public broadcasting are continuing, with coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) maintaining his usual bluster. The special committee formed to work on the bill has less than a week to finish its work, but it has been discussing minutiae like specific reporters' jobs, whether or not right-wing reporters have been hired by the nascent Israel Broadcast Corporation or not (they have, but some Likud MKs are in denial), and whether two people have been hired to do the same job. A significant portion of the debate was devoted to major cuts to Radio Reka, which broadcasts in languages other than Hebrew and Arabic; some meeting attendees were amazed to find that there is a daily 15 minute news show in Aramaic.
The Knesset has even more contentious bills planned for the months ahead. Yesterday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved the controversial "Jewish nation-state bill." ... Meanwhile, Netanyahu is expected to give a speech tonight to belatedly mark Herzl Day - the Zionist visionary's birthday - in the Knesset. Maybe he'll confirm reports from the Swiss press that he plans to visit Basel in August for the 120th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress, which Herzl organized in the city. According to the Telebasel news site, the city is not so excited about a possible high-profile visit and its cost. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
HAPPENING TODAY: FBI Director James Comey will address the Anti-Defamation League’s conference in Washington, D.C at 1:30 PM ET [CSPAN]
“For Arab Gulf States, Israel Is Emerging as an Ally” by Yaroslav Trofimov: “This unlikely partnership has gathered steam with the rise of Saudi Arabia’s new deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman... who wants a more vigorous response to Iran. And it has received new momentum since the election of Donald Trump... Pressure from the Gulf—particularly from Hamas’s longtime backer Qatar—played a key role in the Palestinian group’s decision Monday to remove slurs against Jews from its revised charter. Israel scoffed at the changes, noting that Hamas retained its goal of “liberating” all of historic Palestine Still, some Israeli officials have praised the Gulf monarchies’ shift on Hamas Most of the influential TV news channels and pan-Arab newspapers are owned by Saudis, Qatari or Emiratis. “On TV, we no longer hear the usual words ‘Israeli aggression.’ Now, it’s mostly about the ‘Persian aggression,’ ” said Ahmad al-Ibrahim, a Saudi businessman and political analyst.” [WSJ]
ACROSS THE POND: “Prince Charles has visit to Israel cancelled ‘by Foreign Office camel corps pandering to Arab dictators’” by David Willetts and Jack Royston: “Prince Charles was set to pay respects to 16,000 British and Commonwealth troops who died during the Palestine Campaign in 1917. And commemorate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration But the Royal Visits Committee – part of the FCO – who decide where and when Royals will be sent around the world have decided against it. It is understood the invite never even reached the Royal household or Prince Charles. Prince Charles has already visited the country in a private capacity His paternal grandmother Princess Alice of Battenberg – who saved a Jewish family during the Holocaust – is buried at Mount of Olives’ Church of Mary Magdalene.” [TheSun]
“Report: Trump Refused to Delay Israel Visit to Coincide With Six Day War Anniversary” by Jack Khoury: "According to the report, which the [Al-Hayat] paper said was confirmed by anonymous Western sources, the White House's refusal stemmed from schedule constraints and a concern that the visit would cast Trump as a biased negotiator who would take the side of Israel in the conflict.” [Haaretz]
TEHRAN WATCH: “Rouhani: Revolutionary Guards tried to sabotage nuke deal with anti-Israel slogans on missiles” by Eric Randolph and Ali Noorani: “In rare criticism of the elite Revolutionary Guards, President Hassan Rouhani... slammed the decision to write anti-Israel messages on ballistic missiles before testing them. “We saw how they wrote slogans on missiles and showed underground (missile) sites to disrupt the JCPOA (nuclear deal),” he said during the debate, which comes ahead of the May 19 election. “Our nation got through these issues because the majority of society chose morality and Islam from day one,” he added.” [ToI; Al-Monitor]
FRENCH ELECTION: "French Jews Just Helped Vote Down Le Pen. Now They Have Another Fear Under Macron" by Shirli Sitbon: "In Paris’s historic Jewish quarter Rosiers St. most people seemed relieved although not thrilled. “Macron was the best choice we had. His program isn’t good, he’s definitely not a statesman but he seems smart enough to make crucial decisions when necessary,” said Guillaume... Congratulating Macron for his victory Jewish community leader Joel Mergui urged the president-elect to tackle terrorism." [Haaretz] Emmanuel Macron’s foreign policy doctrine(s): The newly minted French president knows Brussels, distrusts Moscow and must learn everything else [Politico]
SPECIAL ELECTION WATCH -- "Georgia 6th: Ossoff is engaged to longtime girlfriend" by Greg Bluestein: "The 6th District candidate popped the question to his longtime girlfriend Alisha Kramer on Friday night. His supporters showered her with congrulatory wishes at a campaign stop on Saturday morning. She and [Jon] Ossoff had been dating for 12 years, and she’s played a prominent role in his campaign. She’s a third-year medical student at Emory University, and Ossoff cites her need to be close to school when he’s pressed about why he doesn’t live in the suburban Atlanta district." [AJC]
"Soros dumps $1.4 million into Philly DA primary" by Chris Brennan: "On April 28, [George] Soros poured that cash into Philadelphia Justice and Public Safety, an independent political action committee running television ads in support of civil rights lawyer Larry Krasner, according to a campaign finance report filed Friday... The Soros funding significantly surpasses what Krasner and the other six Democrats in the May 16 primary election for district attorney had been able to raise. And it fits a pattern that Soros started in 2015, when he began investing heavily in races for district attorney and sheriff across the country." [TheInquirer]
** 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: Paul Singer’s Flagship Fund Raises $5 Billion in 24 Hours [Bloomberg] David Einhorn may be trapped in a terrible paired trade [BusinessInsider] Is PayPal Co-Founder Max Levchin Making The Next Credit Card Killer? [Forbes] Google ranked best place to work in Israel [ToI; JPost] OurCrowd adds Andy Kaye to team as president & CIO [ToI] Arcadi Gaydamak gets prison leave to give evidence in Israel [Globes]
TECH NATION: "Oculus and Vive Headsets Are Taking Israel's Army Underground" by Gwen Ackerman: "In a refurbished building on a military base in central Israel, soldiers are training in underground combat using headsets made by Oculus, the virtual reality headset maker owned by Facebook Inc., and Vive, owned by HTC Corp. The goal is that with Oculus and Vive, more Israeli soldiers will know how to fight in the tunnels Palestinian militant groups dig under the Gaza Strip and across its border into Israel." [Bloomberg]
Scooter Braun visits Israel..."Such an incredible week. Although passions run high in this region I walked away knowing that Israel is a beautiful and open society. Great food, great music, great innovation, and great people. As the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I know the importance of a state where the Jewish people can forever be safe. I met Prime Minister Netanyahu because as I have stated before I believe it's important to listen to all sides in this complex region. Israel isn't a perfect country -- no country is -- but it is an inspiring place which has contributed so much to the world. Thank you Mr. Prime Minister for making the time and for sharing your love for this land and all it's people. I appreciated your honesty and your willingness to debate and share. Thank you to the people of Israel... such an amazing place. The Holy land! Can't wait to return." [Instagram]
"What it's like to have a surprise dinner with Mark Zuckerberg" by Alex Heath: "About two weeks ago, Daniel Moore received a cryptic phone call. The 57-year-old resident of Newton Falls, Ohio was told that a billionaire philanthropist from California wanted to meet and have dinner with his family. “I thought it was a prank phone call," Moore told Business Insider... Facebook's 32-year-old CEO has given himself a personal goal of visiting the roughly 30 U.S. states he hasn't been to yet by the end of 2017... After Zuckerberg asked them why they had voted for Trump, Moore turned the tables and asked if Zuckerberg had spoken with Trump since he was elected. Zuckerberg, who was noticeably absent from Trump's meeting with tech leaders in December, said he had in fact talked with Trump multiple times on the phone." [BI]
PROFILE: "Sam Zell Looks Back" by Alexandra Wolfe: "Mr. Zell learned to take risks in part from his parents, Jews who escaped from Poland just before the Nazis bombed their hometown. His father, a grain merchant, and his mother, a homemaker, moved to Seattle and then to Chicago, where Mr. Zell was born. He remembers once setting up a chess board with the pieces arranged in a way that he thought would stump his father—who checkmated him in one move, shrugged and left the room. “I was crushed,” writes Mr. Zell. “He didn’t make anything easier or softer. That just wasn’t who he was.”" [WSJ]
"How Lakewood became a worldwide destination for Orthodox Jews" by Mark Di Ionno: "While Orthodox Jews will clearly shape Lakewood's future, they have long shaped its history. "This was a Jewish resort as far back as the 1920s," [Rabbi Aaron] Kotler said. "It was the New Jersey version of the Borscht Belt (Catskills)." One of those hotel owners was Lithuanian refugee Betzalel Goldstein. His hotel was located by Shenandoah Lake, one of Lakewood's three large bodies of water along the Metedeconk River. He knew my grandfather from Lithuania and always told him, 'Come to Lakewood,' " Kotler said. The men knew each other in the village of Kletsk, which is now part of Belarus... Once here, he started a yeshiva in White Plains, N.Y., but his old friend Betzalel Goldstein told him of a paradise on the edge of the Jersey Pinelands, where property was cheap and Jews were already part of the landscape." [StarLedger]
BILLIONS: "Why Wall Street can’t stop talking about its favorite show" by Renae Merle: "One comparison Koppelman and Levien are struggling to kill is that the show is based on a showdown between two real-world figures: Bharara and hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen. Bharara (like Rhoades) was an ambitious and aggressive prosecutor who brought headline-grabbing cases against hedge-fund giants. Cohen, like Axelrod, has spent years being investigated by federal prosecutors on accusations of insider trading. Cohen has never been charged. Bharara has a standing offer to join the show as a consultant, Koppelman and Levien say. “We haven’t heard from him,” Levien said. As for Cohen, he is not talking." [WashPost]
BIRTHWEEK: AIPAC National Board Member Yana J. Lukeman... CEO of Austin-based Harris Media, he recently served as Chief Digital Strategist for Senator Rand Paul and assisted PM Netanyahu and the Likud in the 2014 Israeli elections, Vincent Robert Harris turns 29... (both birthdays were yesterday)
BIRTHDAYS: Israel's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Danny Danon turns 46... NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio turns 56 (h/t Jacob Kornbluh)... Retired senior British judge, Baron Leonard Hoffmann turns 83... Former Attorney General of Canada and past president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Irwin Cotler turns 77... MIT Biologist and Nobel Prize laureate H. Robert Horvitz turns 70... Former MLB pitcher (1969-1975) who played for the Angels, Rangers and White Sox, Lloyd Allen turns 67... Born in Amsterdam to a survivor of Auschwitz, now a leading rabbi in both Amsterdam and Rotterdam, dean of the Dutch Israelite Seminary, Rabbi Raphael Evers turns 63... Actor and director Stephen Furst (born Stephen Nelson Feuerstein) turns 62... Director of the Office of Special Investigations at the Justice Department (1994-2010) focused on deporting Nazi war criminals, now the Director of Human Rights Enforcement Strategy at USDOJ, Eli M. Rosenbaum turns 62... NYC-based advertising executive, author and entrepreneur, board member of ArtsConnection, an art program provider to NYC public schools, Richard Kirshenbaum turns 56... Co-founder and CEO of the disability advocacy nonprofit, RespectAbility, based in Bethesda, Maryland, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi turns 53... Canadian social activist and documentary filmmaker critical of corporate capitalism, Naomi Klein turns 47... Stand-up comedienne, writer, actress and author, known for appearing on the 9th season of America's Got Talent, Jodi Miller turns 46... Chief Operating Officer at West End Strategy Team's DC Office, Ari Geller turns 44... Managing principal of Los Angeles-based Lockman Consulting Group, lecturer at USC Law School, fellow with the Truman National Security Project, Josh Lockman turns 35... Chief Financial Officer for The Manischewitz Company, Thomas E. Keogh... Barry Seidman... Daniel First...
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