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HEARD LAST NIGHT -- Wine in Hand, Ana Navarro’s Freewheeling ADL Speech -- by Jacob Kornbluh: Republican strategist and political commentator Ana Navarro, sipping from a glass of wine, veered on and off script as she recounted the controversial moments of the 2016 presidential campaign, concluding that the Jewish community cannot rely on President Trump to stand up against bigotry and anti-Semitism.
Highlights -- “Did you guys hear how Barbra Streisand is blaming her weight gain on Trump? Stop laughing! I am too. It’s like I am pregnant with this baby, Rosemary’s baby. I do not know what to do about this. I cannot stop eating and drinking since this man got elected I should also tell you I am Ashkenazi Jewish — and Sephardic. And I am also the descendant of slaves, and Hispanic. So basically, Donald Trump has offended all of me, every single part of me. "
The one good thing about Trump: “I think he has been supportive of Israel’s right to exist. I am not sure he can find Israel on the map. I am not sure he doesn’t think it’s a deli in the Bronx... Other than liking matzah — in the same way he likes taco bowls — Donald Trump does understand that Israel has the right to exist, and that is – in my eyes – one of his few saving graces.”
On Jared’s Middle East portfolio: “I am not sure how much Jared understands [about the Middle East], but, you know, he’s got a lot on his plate. Keeping Ivanka happy can’t be easy. Getting his family out of financial straits can’t be easy either.”
On Steve Bannon: “They keep saying that Jared and Ivanka are Jewish, so, you know, Trump is good because his daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. Well, go to them. I mean, surely you’ve got friends who know these people. Um. Hell, even I have friends who know these people. That’s why I am not deported yet – yet.” [JewishInsider]
FBI Director James Comey discussed the Holocaust in a speech at the ADL conference -- by Aaron Magid: “Although the slaughter of the Holocaust was led by sick and evil people, those sick and evil leaders were joined by and followed by people who loved their families, took soup to sick neighbors, who went to Church, who gave to charity. Good people helped murder millions I believe the Holocaust is the most significant event in human history. How could such a thing happen? How is that consistent in any way with the concept of a loving God? The answer for me is, I don’t know.” [JewishInsider]
Abe Foxman tells us... “Comey understands what most people fail to comprehend about the Shoa - that six million Jews perished because 'the good people' implemented Hitler's Final Solution. Germans and their accomplices, who loved their families and dogs, and religiously went to Church on Sunday, systematically murdered Jews because of anti-Semitic hatred preached and practiced for hundreds of years Comey says he doesn't know why. We do know why! Hate has consequences; it infects and eventually kills. That is the price of prejudice and the Shoa was the price of anti-Semitic prejudice which is still alive today.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Simon Wiesenthal Center: "I understand what Director Comey wanted to say. But to be clear, any German who participated in or abetted in any way Hitler’s Final Solution could no longer be considered “good people.” By their words and deeds abetting genocide, they voided anything “good” they had previously done."
TOP TALKER: “Washington Loves General McMaster, But Trump Doesn't” by Eli Lake: “In recent weeks, Trump has privately expressed regret for choosing McMaster. Last Monday, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, who was a finalist for McMaster's job, met with Trump to discuss a range of issues with the National Security Council. White House officials tell me the two discussed the prospect of Bolton coming in as McMaster's deputy, but eventually agreed it was not a good fit [Steve] Bannon and Trump, according to White House officials, pressed McMaster to fire a list of Obama holdovers at the National Security Council who were suspected of leaking to the press Trump said in his statement to me that he couldn't be happier with the general.” [Bloomberg]
Joe Scarborough: "Several WH sources say the Gen McMaster stories are coming from Bannon and are false. Trump has full confidence in McMaster. "He loves him." [Twitter]
Bill Kristol : "My read: Bannon going after McMaster, who purged him from NSC. Flynn holdovers helping Bannon. Kushner, Dina Powell allied with McMaster." [Twitter]
Trump's schedule today -- 10:00 AM: "The President meets with National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster."
“Steve Bannon's Former Hollywood Partner Jeff Kwatinetz Breaks Silence: "He's Not a Racist" Q&A by Paul Bond: "I know that he’s not anti-Semitic. I am absolutely positive that he’s not anti-Semitic or racist. It is absurd. I am Jewish, Roy Furman was Jewish, Andrew Breitbart was Jewish. He is not anti-Semitic. Period... Steve and I and a few others at the company had an idea for the future of the music business and spent a year of our lives doing the banking work and analysis for the purchase of Warner Music [from Time Warner] by private equity firms. A dozen private equity firms told us our numbers were fantasy, but a group agreed with us and bought Warner Music for $2.6 billion. Then when Edgar Bronfman was brought in late as executive chairman, we decided not to go ahead because we didn’t believe in his vision, but our analysis of how to finance and purchase the company was highly accurate and it allowed the buyers to make hundreds of millions of dollars, and in the process Steve and I made millions of dollars for putting together the deal." [HollywoodReporter]
"Kushner emerged as conduit for Canada on NAFTA talks" by Julie Pace and Catherine Lucey: "According to a White House official, aides to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called [Jared] Kushner urgently on April 26 after seeing news reports that Trump was considering signing an executive order withdrawing from NAFTA... Kushner told his Canadian counterpart that this was a matter the leaders needed to discuss themselves, according to the White House official... But accounts of Kushner's involvement differed Monday in Canadian media reports. According to The Canadian Press news agency, it was Kushner who first reached out to Trudeau's chief of staff to suggest a call between the two leaders." [AP]
"Kushner Family Stands to Gain From Visa Rules in Trump’s First Major Law" by Eric Lipton and Jesse Drucker: "There is no assertion that Mr. Kushner broke any conflict-of-interest rule; but the law does not prevent his relatives from attempting to exploit those ties to benefit the family business. Mr. Kushner’s portfolio includes a central role on China policy. That role has heightened the Kushner family name in a nation accounting for more than 80 percent of the EB-5 visas issued. Wealthy Chinese see the program as an easy way to legally move to the United States." [NYTimes] The Kushner Project Touted in China Is in Trouble at Home [Bloomberg]
Norm Eisen: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump should recuse themselves from China policy... "It is well past time for this administration to begin drawing real and meaningful lines to avoid catastrophic conflicts of interest. The latest reports make it is even more important that Kushner and Ivanka Trump step forward and do the right thing. A broad recusal on China policy would be a good — and essential — start." [WashPost]
DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Dem rep: State Dept. video ‘edited out’ Israel” by Mark Hensch: “Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) on Monday criticized the State Department for a video posted by the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia that “edited out” mentions of Israel. “I am appalled that the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia disingenuously posted this incomplete and misleading video,” Engel said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “I urge you to immediately instruct the embassy to replace the video with the unedited version that includes the announcement of the President’s planned visit to Israel. We must continue to be true to our values and interests.” Engel... noted how the version posted on the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh’s website and its Arabic-language Twitter account make no mention of Israel. The video and tweet have both been deleted.” [TheHill; Politico]
“Embassy used video of Trump travel doctored by Saudi citizen” by Richard Lardner: “The American Embassy was unaware that the video had been altered, according to the State Department official. The video was immediately replaced on the embassy's social media accounts with the original version that includes Trump stating Israel will be among the countries he'll be visiting. The official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity, said the embassy regretted the mistake.” [AP]
“Erdogan says US debates over Jerusalem embassy move 'wrong'” by AFP: “Speaking at a forum in Istanbul, [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan said everyone should be careful on issues that concerned the status of Jerusalem, warning that even "relocating a stone" in the city could have serious implications. "The debates over the possibility of US moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem are extremely wrong and should certainly drop from the agenda," the Turkish president said.” [DailyMail] Israel slams Turkey's Erdogan over 'apartheid' remarks [MEE]
“Benjamin Netanyahu angry Lauder advised Abbas” by Gil Hoffman: “Confidants who spoke to Netanyahu about Ron Lauder told The Jerusalem Post that he was furious about the American Jewish leader’s meeting. “You don’t understand how much influence he has over Trump,” Netanyahu told a confidant in a private conversation Monday. “Out of the people around Trump, he is my biggest challenge to overcome.”” [JPost] Abbas ready to meet Netanyahu under auspices of Trump [Ynet]
"Abbas Told Trump: Peace Talks Should Resume From Where 2008 Negotiations With Israel Left Off" by Jack Khoury: "Abbas and his staff showed Trump documents and maps from Israel’s talks with the Palestinians near the end of Olmert’s term, explaining the proposal to him... According to Abbas... the U.S. president showed interest and revealed that he wanted to move quickly, “and even said within a year or a bit more.”" [Haaretz] U.S. Pressures Abbas to End Controversial Family Payments [WSJ]
'Read his book' -- WH aide Sebastian Gorka on Trump's 'ultimate deal' in an interview with Israel's Channel 2: “I’ll just repeat what the President has said, okay? It’s always good to stick with what the boss says. He wishes to have a deal in which both sides are satisfied. We’re not going to say what that is. We’re not going to predict it. But I recommend all your viewers - I'm sure it's available in Hebrew - read his book 'The Art of the Deal.' If you want to understand what is possible, read that book... If anybody can bring an agreement that is good for Israel, it will be President Donald Trump. He is the master of the deal." [Mako]
“Bennett: We must tell Trump the 'truth' about peace process” by Ben Caspit: "I am the only person in the government of Israel who ever made a business deal in general and a business deal in America in particular," said [Education Minister Naftali] Bennett. "I lived in the US for years. I know New York and the American business world What I learned about dealmaking in America from this is to tell the truth, even if it is unpleasant. Don't bluff and I am sure that Trump would be able to appreciate that. The truth is that there is no [feasible] deal. The maximum that we are willing to give and the minimum that they are willing to accept don't jive. As for saying that it's possible, creating hopes and then causing disappointments and, later, violence, I don’t see who benefits from that. President Trump is talking about a deal? Let's talk about the real deal. The real deal is economic peace and expanded [Palestinian] autonomy All the rest is an illusion, and it will be shattered." [Al-Monitor]
KAFE KNESSET -- Preparing for Friedman -- by Tal Shalev and JPost's Lahav Harkov: Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz sat down in DC yesterday with new US Ambassador David Friedman for a chat before Friedman embarks on his trip to Israel. During the meeting, also attended by Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, Katz presented the two regional and economic initiatives he has been pushing -- the artificial island off the coast of Gaza and a regional rail network that will connect Israel, Jordan and the Gulf States. Katz told Kafe Knesset that he "was very impressed by my meeting with Ambassador Friedman, by his knowledge, vision and sincere concern for the security and well-being of the State of Israel. I am convinced that his activities in Israel will strengthen and deepen the historic alliance between the United States and Israel. I am happy to find a partner to promote regional economic initiatives that will change the reality for the benefit of all the countries of the region and the Palestinian residents." Today Katz is expected to present the initiatives to members of the National Security Council, and Jason Greenblatt is also expected to participate. Read today's entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]
David Friedman: "I am arriving in Israel on May 15 to represent the United States as Ambassador to Israel.I hope to work out of Jerusalem very soon! " [Twitter]
ON THE HILL -- - Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Brian Mast (R-FL) introduced legislation yesterday to increase funding for Arrow 3 system, an anti-ballistic missile defense program. “As the threat of terror explodes in the unstable Middle East, it’s critical that we defend our vital ally, Israel, and strengthen our military partnership,” Gottheimer said. Mast, who personally volunteered in the Israeli military after losing both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan, emphasized the bipartisan nature of this legislation. “This bipartisan legislation would expedite the development of the Arrow 3 long-range missile defense system, which is absolutely critical to Israel’s defense and stability in the Middle East,” he noted. The measure calls for an increase of $105 million to Israel for fiscal year 2018 to fund the program. [JewishInsider]
“Progressives Need a New Foreign Policy Vision. This Democratic Senator Says He Has One” by Eric Levitz: “One foreign policy issue that Democratic voters have strong — and often, diametrically opposed — views on is the Israel-Palestine conflict. Polls show that younger progressives are much more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than their elders. And many such voters, along with pro-Israel, anti-occupation groups like J Street, believe that the United States should do more to discourage Israeli settlement expansion, and bring an end to the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. Do you agree?
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): “I think that conflict is very hard to resolve given the existing leadership on both sides of the divide. The United States has always had a tricky position. We have to stand by Israel as a sacred friend in that region, but we also know historically that no deals get done unless the United States isn’t willing to tell some hard truths to Tel Aviv. The settlement construction under Netanyahu did make peace less likely because it ultimately carved out sections of a future Palestinian state in a way that wasn’t constructive. I think, I’m a believer in supporting Israel, but also in not being afraid to call them out, when they’re doing something that isn’t ultimately good for peace. I think you can walk that line. I don’t support those that the only way you are a friend to Israel is to support whatever the existing government asks you to support.”” [NYMag]
--Worth noting: Sen Murphy says "to tell some hard truths to Tel Aviv" and not Jerusalem.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Sam Zell on WeWork: "I wouldn't let those virtual office guys near my business 'with a ten-foot pole'" [CNBC] Eliot Spitzer’s marketing campaign puts the ‘high’ in high-rise [NYPost] Sir Philip Green £433 million worse off, according to Rich List [TheJC] Harry Macklowe may be secretly selling artwork amid $2B divorce [NYPost] Hedge fund activist Paul Singer just found his next target [CNBC] Hedgie Gerstner says United Airlines still has much to gain [NYPost] Waze Now Lets You Record Navigation Instructions in Your Own Voice [lifehacker] Has Uber Killed Off Its Self-Driving Trucks? Federal records show that Otto’s 18-wheelers are covering fewer miles than ever before [BackChannel]
“Mercer Sued by former Hedge Fund employee David Magerman who claims he was fired for calling Mercer racist” by Erik Larson: “The complaint by David Magerman, a research scientist who worked at Renaissance Technologies LLC for two decades, alleges he was wrongfully fired April 29 after his relationship with [Robert] Mercer and his family became toxic. For example, Magerman alleges that Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah Mercer, a member of Trump’s transition team, called him “pond scum” at a celebrity poker tournament. The confrontation "just shows the hostility that the Mercers had toward Mr. Magerman because he dared to challenge their political views," his lawyer, H. Robert Fiebach, said in a phone call on Monday"
"The dispute started on Jan. 16 when Magerman called Mercer and asked to have a conversation about his support of Trump... During the chat, Mercer said... that black Americans “were doing fine” in the late 1950s and are the “only racist people remaining in the U.S.,” according to the complaint. “Magerman was stunned by these comments and pushed back,” according to the complaint... Magerman complained about Mercer’s comments to Co-Chief Executive Officer Peter Brown, who "expressed disbelief" and urged the two men to speak again... Magerman agreed and called Mercer back on Feb. 5. "I hear you’re going around saying I’m a white supremacist," Mercer said.” [Bloomberg; WSJ] Robert Mercer, Trump’s Sugar Daddy, Is Being Sued [VanityFair]
"Michael Bloomberg Sounds Off on Trump, Clinton and the Media" by Alexandra Steigrad: "Bloomberg said he had a post-election chat with Trump, in which he said: “Look Donald, you don’t know anything.” “We’ve got to cut him a little slack,” he said, emphasizing that it’s in everyone’s best interest that Trump succeeds as president... Eventually, the chat turned back to politics and why Clinton couldn’t close the deal. “Hillary ran a campaign that was flawed and Obama didn’t really help her,” he said... “Trump woneven if he didn’t win the popular vote. He had a positive message... I’m going to do something.The only thing Hillary said was vote for me because I’m a womanand Trump is bad.”" [WWD]
“Sheryl Sandberg: fighting fake news and Facebook’s future” by Hannah Kuchler: “With her smooth manner, it’s little wonder that there has been speculation that Sandberg could run for political office, but she says that since her husband’s death she feels more tied to Facebook, where people continue to post memories on his page. When she was young, she thought she would work in government or a non-profit, never a company. What changed? “I think when technology happened, that Google, Facebook, these companies have as much of a mission as other organisations,” she says Rumours were fuelled when Mark Zuckerberg embarked on a US tour to meet community groups, churches and businesses that appeared remarkably similar to an election campaign trail. Does she think he might run for president? “No.” And you? “Nope, I’ve said no.” [FT] Inside Zuckerberg's real political strategy [Axios]
RISING STAR: “Jack Schlossberg, the grandson of John F. Kennedy, is ready for his time in the spotlight” by Rachel Shukert: “Last week, in a joint television interview with his mother [Caroline Kennedy] on The Today Show last week, [Jack] Schlossberg, in his first live TV appearance, explained their decision to award this year’s John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage award to former President Barack Obama When asked about his plans for the future on Today—particularly in regards to one day seeking public office—he was non-committal But he also left the door wide open and swinging on its hinges: “I’m inspired by my family’s legacy of public service. It’s something I’m very proud of. But I’m still trying to make my own way and figure things out. So stay tuned—I don’t know what I’m going to do.”” [Tablet]
LongRead -- "Taking Down Terrorists in Court: Zainab Ahmad has prosecuted thirteen international terrorist suspects for the American government. She hasn’t lost yet" by William Finnegan: "Ahmad had a multifaceted upbringing. She grew up in suburban Nassau County, Long Island, with her father and stepmother and two younger brothers, and she also lived part time with her mother, in Manhattan. Her parents had divorced, amicably, when she was an infant, and, as Zainab grew, according to her father, Naeem, “she would play Mom off against Dad, but always for one thing—to buy more books.” “We felt comfortable here,” Naeem told me, when I visited him and his wife, Nasrin, at their home, in East Meadow. “I felt comfortable with my neighbors, and never told my children to avoid kids because they’re Christian, Jewish—none of that.” (Most of Zainab’s friends as a child were Jewish.) Naeem, a retired engineer, is an active member of a local mosque, and has taught Sunday school since the nineteen-eighties. “I am a very religious man,” he said. “But not a religiosity man. I don’t care what other people do.”" [NewYorker]
PROFILE: "A Travel Ban’s Foe: A Young Firebrand and Her Pro Bono Brigade" by Miriam Jordan: "Saying he admired [Becca] Heller’s “chutzpah,” Charles Bronfman, the Seagram heir and an executive whose organization had already given her a $100,000 prize, threw a fund-raiser for her last month at his Fifth Avenue apartment. Ms. Heller, who uses profanity when ranting and raving, kept her promise to Mr. Bronfman that she would sanitize her speech. She drew chuckles from the two dozen guests when she referred with irony to the president’s “excellent” policies, and when she threatened to steal a Chagall mounted on the wall. “We made a lot of money,” she said afterward, declining to say how much. But all the attention has helped triple the IRAP budget this year, to $6.5 million, she said. During a summer in Israel, Ms. Heller quit an internship and traveled to Jordan, where she met Iraqi refugees stuck in a state of limbo that appalled her. After finagling meetings with the United Nations refugee agency and the United States Embassy so she could better understand the resettlement process, she returned to Yale and, with another student, founded IRAP — the “I” then standing for Iraqi." [NYTimes]
TALK OF OUR NATION: “It took a century to create the weekend—and only a decade to undo it” by Katrina Onstad: "The state of the weekend is an ongoing battle in Israel, where the official weekend is the day and a half that constitutes the Sabbath, from Friday evening through Saturday. But Israel’s weekend is changing, too—tensely. Some Orthodox Jews, appalled at Sabbath-breakers, have reportedly thrown stones at Israelis taking the bus on Saturdays. With Arabs and Christians to please, there have been calls for a full, two-day Friday-Saturday weekend to accommodate holy days for all groups." [Quartz]
“Why was this Passover different from all other Passovers?” by Susan Abeles: “I was punished, and effectively forced out of my job of over 26 years, because I observed Passover. So I'm going to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to hear my case As I made in my case, each year during my 26 years at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), I submitted a list of all Jewish holidays on which I would take leave that year, a procedure that was always accepted by my different supervisors In 2013, I followed the same protocol as I had for decades... Then the MWAA placed me on AWOL for the last two days of Passover for violating leave policy and suspended me in May for an additional five days without pay with an added-on insubordination charge for using my own vacation time to worship God.” [TheHill]
TRANSITION: Jonathan Schulman has been hired as AIPAC's National Synagogue Initiative Director. Jonathan originally came to AIPAC in 2006 joining their Southeast office as the first ever regional Synagogue Initiative Director in the country. In 2008, Jonathan moved to Washington, DC to become the National Deputy Director of the Synagogue Initiative.
HOLLYWOOD: "Is “Norman” good for the Jews?" by Jeffrey Salkin: "Norman is a collection of classic Jewish archetypes – a macher (a person who gets things done), a schnorrer (a beggar), and even sometimes, despite himself, a mensch. But, more often, he is a name dropper, a business card distributor, and a people collector. His life is a viral contagion of favors, in which he owes people, people owe him, and people owe each other because they owe Norman... We meet Norman at every major Jewish conference and convention. He hangs out on the fringes, and sometimes on the inside, of every Jewish organization. In fact, the film features a knowing facsimile of an AIPAC policy convention. And so, is “Norman” good for the Jews? Let’s just say this. “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” would have killed my grandmother. And yours, too, come to think of it." [ReligionNewsService]
SPORTS BLINK: “Los Angeles Makes Its Case for 2024 Olympics” by Matthew Futterman: “Casey Wasserman, the sports and entertainment executive chairing the Los Angeles bid, recently said in a conference call with the media that the characteristics that have “made our bid viable and popular remain the same from the beginning, and that is the opposite of what has driven people to criticize other bids.” [WSJ]
BIRTHDAYS: Owner of St. Louis-based Harbour Group Industries, investor in 200 companies in 40 industries, US Ambassador to Belgium (2007-2009), Sam Fox turns 88... Vice President of Global Public Policy at Facebook, previously White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy (2006-2009), law clerk for Justice Scalia (1999-2000), Joel D. Kaplan turns 48... 'Downtown macher' Nathaniel Rosen, a Blackstone associate starting HBS this fall (h/t DB)... Business executive and philanthropist, co-managing partner of Bain Capital, owner of a minority interest in the Boston Celtics, Jonathan Lavine turns 51... Budapest-born philanthropist and social activist, she marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965, Eva Haller turns 87... Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter, James L. Brooks (family name was Bernstein) turns 77... Guitarist and record producer, best known as a member of the rock-pop-jazz group "Blood, Sweat & Tears," Steve Katz turns 72... Winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, professor of structural biology at Stanford University, lives in both Israel and California, Michael Levitt turns 70...
Pianist, singer-songwriter, composer and one of the best selling recording artists of all time, Billy Joel turns 68... Physician in Burlington, Vermont, she was the First Lady of Vermont from 1991 until 2003 when her husband Howard Dean was Governor, Judith Steinberg Dean turns 64... Media, entertainment and technology entrepreneur and inventor, Brian D. Litman turns 63... Film director, film producer, playwright, author, marketing executive and arts philanthropist, Barry Avrich turns 54... DC-based, chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, Mark Leibovich turns 52... Journalist, author, and political commentator, he is currently a co-founder and editor-in-chief at Vox, and formerly wrote for and edited Wonkblog at the Washington Post, Ezra Klein turns 33 (h/ts Playbook)... Mikhael Smits turns 21...
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