Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on March 28. Photo by Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

Daily Kickoff: Trump admin says Iran complying with deal | Israeli Houzz eyeing $5B+ valuation | Netflix says it’s found next ‘Homeland’


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WHILE WE WERE ON PASSOVER BREAK — Betsy Rothstein of The Daily Caller wrote… “If any outlet is going to know how Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are spending Passover, it’s a safe bet that Jewish Insider has located the White House afikomen.” [TheDC]

CNN’s Betsy Klein: “As President Donald Trump grappled with the realities of governing, leaks about infighting within his administration, and multiple international conflicts, two of his top aides, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, were far from the White House. The couple celebrated Passover at the Four Seasons Whistler in Canada, according to an article and exclusive photo in Jewish Insider.” [CNN]

“White House aides grapple with newfound celebrity” by Annie Karni and Tara Palmeri: “The Daily Mail pays photographers a daily rate to sit outside the Kalorama home of Trump’s older daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, tracking them as they come and go, sometimes in their gym clothes, two industry sources said. The fashionable First Daughter, who now is an official White House staffer, is part of the gray area of formerly famous people who are now aides, as opposed to aides who are newly famous.” [Politico]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Trump administration says Iran complying with nuclear deal” by Matthew Lee: “The Trump administration has notified Congress that Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama, and says the U.S. has extended the sanctions relief… The certification of Iran’s compliance, which must be sent to Congress every 90 days, is the first issued by the Trump administration. The deadline for this certification was midnight.” [AP

But… “Trump orders review of lifting sanctions against Iran: Tillerson” by Lesley Wroughton: “President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led interagency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States,” Tillerson said in the statement. “It remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods.” [Reuters]

FDD’s Mark Dubowitz tells us: “It underscores the commitment of the Trump administration to ramp up pressure on Iran, including through the use of increased sanctions tied to terrorism and other malign activities.”

Israeli Consul General in NY Dani Dayan: “As PM Netanyahu said in Congress: ‘[the sunset clause] creates an even greater danger that Iran could get to the bomb by KEEPING the deal’” [Twitter

Ben Rhodes‏: “Every day, the situation in North Korea makes clear just how preferable it is to have the Iran Deal in place.” [Twitter

“Mattis in Riyadh to boost US-Saudi alliance” by AFP: “Mattis arrived in Riyadh Tuesday afternoon, wishing to “reinvigorate” ties by listening to Saudi leaders and learning “what are their priorities”, the official said.” [DailyMail]

“US Defense Secretary to Arrive in Israel Thursday” by Tzippe Barrow: “Mattis begins his meetings in Israel with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who traveled to Washington in early March to reaffirm the strong military ties between the two allies. Mattis will also meet with President Reuven Rivlin and visit Jerusalem’s Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial. On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Mattis.” [CBNNews]

ON THE HILL — JI INTERVIEW: Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD) discusses his political career, including the lessons he’s learn from his unsuccessful campaign for Maryland Governor, and from his military service in an interview with JI’s Aaron Magid. “My takeaway is never stop introducing yourself to the voters, but the other lesson was the same lesson my father taught me as a kid growing up is sometimes in life you are going to get knocked down and you won’t be successful in what you sought out to do,” said Brown. “But, if you believe in what you are doing: that is true whether you are running for office to serve, whether you are a doctor, lawyer, teacher or anything else. You have got to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and stay in the game. Teams that lost the Super Bowl don’t drop out of the NFL. They come back: season after season because that is the nature of life.”

Brown on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process: “My basic framework is that you can’t impose a solution. I do think that there has to be a bilateral agreement reached by the Israelis and Palestinians. Our role should be to encourage, cajole, prompt and incentivize that commitment. But, this is an agreement that has to be struck between the two parties. It cannot be imposed because then it won’t be lasting.” Read the full interview here [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE DAY: “Republicans avoid big loss by forcing runoff in Ga. House race” by Robert Costa: “[Jon] Ossoff could find it difficult to sustain the momentum he witnessed this past week in a traditionally Republican district that has been in GOP hands since 1979….[Republican Karen] Handel’s showing was due to more than name recognition from her long tenure in state politics. She also benefited from $1.3 million in support from Ending Spending, a conservative advocacy group aligned with the billionaire Ricketts family.” [WashPost

“Ossoff Just Misses Flipping the 6th” by David R. Cohen, Michael Jacobs, Patrice Worthy and Sarah Moosazadeh: “The outcome keeps alive the possibility of Georgia’s first Jewish congressman since Democrat Elliott Levitas lost a bid for a sixth term in 1984… Although little was made of it, the election took place on a Jewish holiday, the eighth day of Passover, forcing observant Jews to vote early or not at all. Secretary of State Brian Kemp reported that 55,000 ballots were cast early in the congressional election; about 5,000 of those were mailed-in absentee votes.” [ATLJewishTimes]

2ND BAR MITZVAH? Alexis Levinson: “They’ve apparently hired a bar mitzvah DJ to emcee the Jon Ossoff election night party, where they are now playing ‘Celebration’ … Ossoff’s election night party is legit a bar mitzvah with a cash bar. Ppl are dancing, smiling, hugging. #GA06.” [Twitter

Ben Jacobs: “Pretty sure Jon Ossoff is using the playlist from his bar mitzvah for his election night party.” [Twitter]

“Billionaires, companies power Trump’s record inaugural haul“ by Nancy Benac and Julie Bykowicz: “After giving $5 million, Las Vegas gaming billionaire Sheldon Adelson and his wife had prime seats for Trump’s swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20 and gained access to a private lunch with the new president and lawmakers at the Capitol… Steve Wynn, now chief fundraiser for the Republican Party, gave $729,000 through his Wynn Resorts… Billionaire investor Paul Singer, for example, gave $1 million after long expressing skepticism about Trump. He’s since visited the president at the White House.” [AP]

Jake Sherman: “THE KRAFT GROUP — Robert Kraft’s company — gave $1 million to Trump’s inauguration. he’s at the WH today with his Super Bowl champ patriots.” [Twitter

“Trump’s reliance on billionaire adviser blurs ethics lines” by Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey: “Billionaire investor Steve Schwarzman’s newfound status as a trusted outside adviser for President Donald Trump has created blurred lines in which the Blackstone CEO is offering guidance on policies that could boost the fortunes of his company and his personal wealth. The starkest example was Trump’s reversal last week on labeling China a currency manipulator… While many factors likely played into Trump’s decision, including the president’s desire to encourage China to get tough on North Korea, it also followed extensive advice Schwarzman had given the president on the topic, warning Trump against such a move. Even if Schwarzman was acting in the capacity of an economic expert, those policy changes directly help Schwarzman’s bottom line as CEO of Blackstone, the private equity giant. And Blackstone has gone so far as to warn its investors about the stakes of Trump’s China policy.” [Politico

“Ivanka’s brand prospers as politics mixes with business” by Erika Kinetz and Anne D’Innocenzio: “Ivanka has so many China ties and conflicts, yet she and Jared appear deeply involved in China contacts and policy. I would never have allowed it,” said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama. “For their own sake, and the country’s, Ivanka and Jared should consider stepping away from China matters.” [AP

PROFILE: “Meet The New York City Democrat Flacking For Ivanka Trump” by Steven Perlberg: “New York City political observers say that one of [Risa] Heller’s most striking traits is her fierce loyalty, clearly evidenced by her steadfast aid to Anthony Weiner… “If I had taken her advice at critical junctures even 5% of the time, I would have been infinitely better off. It doesn’t surprise me that people like the Kushners would gravitate toward her,” Weiner told BuzzFeed News… Heller became a rising star in New York political circles in the mid 2000s, when she arrived in Schumer’s office after communications guru Stu Loeser left for Michael Bloomberg’s mayoral reelection campaign. She stood out both for her aggressiveness even by Schumer’s intense standards; as a rare woman in a long line of aggressive young men who came up under the senator; and a fashionable figure in a schlumpy world.” [BuzzFeed

“With the ‘Democratic Invasion of the White House,’ Cuban Starting to Warm Up to Trump Presidency” by Brian Schwartz and Charlie Gasparino: “[Mark] Cuban gives Trump high marks for bringing into his inner circle what he considers moderate Democrats like [Gary] Cohn, Kushner and his daughter Ivanka Trump. “By my guess, 50 percent or more of non-military leadership in the White House are, or were recently, Democrats,” Cuban told Fox Business. “It’s a good balance.”” [FoxBusiness

NEXT MODERATE MOVE? “Top Trump confidant: Trump should make a deal with Ruth Bader Ginsburg” by Allan Smith: “Chris Ruddy, a confidant of President Donald Trump, told Business Insider in a Monday interview that Trump should cut a deal with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. His proposition: Replace her on the bench with Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacated seat in 2016… “They would remove a very liberal Democrat with a moderate, consensus Democrat, who I think Garland is,” Ruddy added. “And I think it would be a huge move and a sign for Trump that he’s willing to break through the political ice.”” [BusinessInsider

OVER THE WEEKEND — “Rex Tillerson and family tour the Holocaust Museum” by Emily Heil: “The nation’s top diplomat, dressed in the weekend business uniform of khakis and a navy blazer, spent a couple of hours touring the permanent exhibit, a spy tells us, accompanied by his wife… Tillerson’s visit came during the holy week of Passover — and just days after White House press secretary Sean Spicer apologized for remarks in which he seemed to forget about the Holocaust.” [WashPost

TRUMP TEAM: “Tillerson’s stock rises in the White House” by Annie Karni: “[Elliott] Abrams argued that while Trump’s veto of his job at State was “taken to be a slap at Tillerson – I think that was a mistake. I don’t think my situation had anything to do with the president’s view of Tillerson. They spend an awful lot of time together.”” [Politico

“Trump learning to love Bush aides” by Tara Palmeri: “Eliot A. Cohen… predicted that more Bush alumni will feel comfortable coming into the administration if it continues to shift to the conservative mainstream… “As the administration is looking a bit more normalish, there will be more people who will be willing to go in,” he said. “What would be transformative would be if Bannon quits or is fired. I think that would be an indication that it will be somewhere closer to a Republican establishment administration. That will change a lot of people’s attitudes,” Cohen added.” [Politico

COMING SOON: “Abbas ready for visit to Washington” by Daoud Kuttab: “Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said April 14 that a Palestinian delegation will visit Washington in the second half of April to plan for the visit, which he said will take place early in May. The London-based al-Hayat said April 14 that the delegation preparing for Abbas’ visit will include senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and intelligence chief Majed Faraj. The lack of a firm date has led some Palestinian media to report that the visit has been postponed, but a US White House source quickly shot down this rumor, insisting that the visit is still on.” [Al-Monitor]

— “Al-Quds said Trump’s team has prepared a draft plan demanding that the Palestinians return to negotiations with Israel without setting any conditions and halt transfer of funds to the besieged Gaza Strip.” [Wafa

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The hottest show in town today was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responding to the State Comptroller’s Report on Protective Edge in the Knesset. Several bereaved parents questioned Netanyahu and said they didn’t get the satisfaction of at least knowing that the mistakes leading to their sons’ deaths won’t be repeated. One bereaved father, Ilan Sagie, said Netanyahu “stabbed me in the heart and twisted the knife,” and pleaded “Why won’t you say you will fix the failures of Protective Edge?” Leah Goldin, mother of Hadar Goldin, a soldier presumed to be dead whose body is held by Hamas, broke down in tears while speaking to Netanyahu. The premier came off as patient, but at some times stern, explaining to Goldin, for example, that he is willing to make sacrifices to bring back her son’s body – but there is a limit. Bibi clearly knew there was no way for him to come out of such an emotional situation unscathed, and looked like he was having a difficult time.

Anyone reading haredi magazine Mishpacha over the last day of Passover in Israel, got to read about how much Netanyahu enjoyed seeing Hamilton on his last trip to NYC. Not only that, but Netanyahu said he made a suggestion to Lin-Manuel Miranda on how to improve the play. As Spamalot taught us, you won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews, so Netanyahu touted Hamilton’s Jewish connection. Bibi says he read that when Alexander Hamilton was a child in the Caribbean, his tutor was a Jewish woman, who taught him to recite the Ten Commandments in Hebrew. Later in life, Hamilton expressed admiration for the Jewish people, saying they have a “unique destiny” that is “part of God’s greater plan.” That, Netanyahu said, should go into the play. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

** Good Wednesday 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 vs. billionaire: Israel’s Steinmetz sues Soros [ToI; Reuters] • Michael Bloomberg to fill event void left by Clinton Global Initiative [Axios] • Jared Kushner in Talks to Sell Stake in Real Estate Technology Company [WSJ] • The PPA Group teams with Israeli investor on Houston apartment complex [Chron• SeatGeek Raises $57M to Buy Israeli Firm TopTix [Billboard] • Bustle acquires Elite Daily from Daily Mail, rebrands as Bustle Digital Group [BI]

SPOTLIGHT: “Houzz Raising Funding at Valuation Above $5 Billion” by Erin Griffith, Leena Rao: “Houzz, an online platform for home remodeling and design services, is in the market raising a large new round of venture funding that could value the company at more than $5 billion, according to several sources familiar with the situation. The talks are early, but sources say the company could raise as much as $500 million. Asked to comment, a Houzz representative wrote, “It’s not true.” Founded in 2009 by Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen, Houzz has raised $213 million in funding to date. The Palo Alto-based company’s latest round, a $165 million Series D in late 2014 led by Sequoia Capital, valued it at $2.3 billion.” [Fortune]

“Sheryl Sandberg: Option B and Life After Grief” by Belinda Luscombe: “The woman who urged the world to lean in is now under­taking a campaign to help people push on, to bounce back from horrible misfortune. Her newest book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, is a primer for those who are bereaved, to help them recover and find happiness. But it’s also a guide for the unscathed on how to help people “lean in to the suck,” as Sandberg’s rabbi puts it.” [TimeMag]

“Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s controversial decision to turn down Yahoo’s $1 billion early offer to buy Facebook” by Mike Hoefflinger: “Curious, [Andy] Grove followed up: “Where does that willpower come from?” Zuckerberg considered the question—possibly for the first time—and concluded simply, “Jewish mother.”” [BI

“Selling Mark Zuckerberg” by Nitasha Tiku: “The Facebook CEO’s likability blitz isn’t a presidential campaign, it’s a focus group for his 1.8 billion constituents — and part of a high stakes campaign to win your likes” [BuzzFeed]

“Here’s Why A Nonprofit Named For Anne Frank Keeps Attacking Trump” by Jessica Schulberg: “Keeping a low profile is not [Steve] Goldstein’s style. When he was 6 years old, he skipped school to stuff envelopes at the local Democratic headquarters for then-presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey, according to a bio he provided. He has worked on Capitol Hill for Democratic lawmakers Frank Lautenberg and Chuck Schumer… Despite his past work on Capitol Hill, Goldstein says “nothing could be farther from the truth” in response to accusations that he’s taken the Anne Frank Center in a partisan direction. The center goes out of its way to point out that it was Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt who denied Anne Frank entry to the U.S., and has defended members of the Trump family when they were unfairly attacked, Goldstein noted.” [HuffPost]

Michael Steinhardt, Birthright Founder and ‘Wall Street’s Greatest Trader’, to Light Torch on Israel’s Independence Day: “Michael Steinhardt, one of the founders of Taglit-Birthright and a man once dubbed “Wall Street’s greatest trader”, has been selected to light an official torch on Israel’s Independence Day, Israel announced on Wednesday. He will join Rabbi Marvin Hier, who took part in U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration, in lighting the torch for the Jewish diaspora.” [Haaretz

Netflix says it’s found the next ‘Homeland’ — “Netflix thinks its new series, Fauda, could rival the success of Homeland across the globe. Lior Raz — lead actor and series co-creator — speaks with CNN’s Samuel Burke in Israel about his own time in the security forces, a tragic terrorist attack that killed his girlfriend, and how Netflix has garnered a once small Israeli series global praise.” [CNN]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Lawsuit targets neo-Nazi ‘troll storm’ against Jewish family” by Phil Drake and Seaborn Larson: “The lawsuit claims Andrew Anglin, publisher of the Daily Stormer neo-Nazi website with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, provoked legions of his followers to send a “tsunami of threats” to Tanya Gersh and her relatives. Gersh is a Montana real-estate agent who fell out of favor with the mother of Richard B. Spencer, considered by many to be the founder of the alt-right movement… A monetary figure has not been attached to the suit although Gersh hopes to win at least $225,000 for three of the four counts asserted in the complaint.” [USAToday

MEDIA WATCH — “Bari Weiss Joins ‘New York Times’ Opinion Section” by Tablet Magazine: “Bari, who edited [Tablet] news and politics section from 2011 to 2013, moves to the Times from the Wall Street Journal, where she worked as associate book review editor and also wrote frequently about topics like political correctness and campus culture.” [Tablet• Hiring Anti-Trump Conservative Is Part Of New York Times’ Effort To Expand Opinion [HuffPost

“An Op-Ed Author Omits His Crimes, and The Times Does Too” by Liz Spayd: “Marwan Barghouti… was given five consecutive life terms after being convicted in an Israeli criminal court of premeditated murder for his role in terrorist attacks that killed five people… On Sunday, he wrote a piece for the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times to draw attention to a mass hunger strike for what he calls Israel’s arbitrary arrests and poor treatment of Palestinian prisoners…  A biographical sentence at the end of the Op-Ed simply says, “Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” I asked Jim Dao, editor of the Op-Ed pages, about the decision not to include Barghouti’s crimes…  I see no reason to skimp on this, while failing to do so risks the credibility of the author and the Op-Ed pages. In this case, I’m pleased to see the editors responding to the complaints, and moving to correct the issue rather than resist it.” [NYTimes• Netanyahu slams New York Times over Barghouti op-ed byline [i24News]

SPOTLIGHT: “CNN’s Jake Tapper Is the Realest Man in “Fake News”” by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: “Tapper is on a diet… His diet consists, as basically all diets do, of pretty much just protein: protein shakes, protein snacks, protein protein. His friend Paul Rudd, who, Tapper says, got “really shredded” for Ant-Man, gave him the diet. Tapper follows it mostly, also doing cardio at the gym five times a week. “The modified Ant-Man” is what he calls it. I wonder what it says about us when Ant-Man is our superhero aspiration, but Tapper is realistic: “Paul’s a fellow 48-year-old Jew. This is achievable.” Fair.” [GQ]

BOOK REVIEW: “The Inside Story of the Clinton Campaign Disaster” by Bess Levin: “As Hillary thumbed through the pages, the [concession] speech struck her as tone-deaf. It’s too charged, she thought, too political… Jake Sullivan, her chief strategist took the lead in defending the tone. ‘Everything you said, we’re going to do in this speech. . . . But you have been saying for many months that he is temperamentally unfit and that he would be dangerous, and, if you meant it, you should say it. And you made a case that all these people’s rights and safety are in danger—if you meant that, you should say it.’ ‘It’s not my job anymore to do this,’ she said, her voice growing more forceful.” [VanityFair; Axios]  

TRANSITIONS — Fred Brown, Communications Director for the Republican Jewish Coalition, was hired by Dezenhall Resources, a crisis management and communications firm, to serve as a senior counselor. h/t Playbook

Sinclair Announces the Addition of Boris Epshteyn: Boris Epshteyn, a former White House aide and Trump campaign chief surrogate, has joined Sinclair Broadcast Group as chief political analyst and will provide analysis and insight on major political stories. [SBGI• Flashback: Kushner: We struck deal with Sinclair for straighter coverage [Politico

BIRTHDAYS: US diplomat from 1962 forward, then President of the Council on Foreign Relations (1986-1993) ultimately becoming the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (1993-1997), Peter Tarnoff turns 80… Literary theorist, legal scholar, author and public intellectual, has taught at Cardozo School of Law, Florida International University and University of Illinois at Chicago, Stanley Fish turns 79… Prominent Israeli criminal defense attorney who also served as the Attorney General of Israel (2010-2016), Yehuda Weinstein turns 73… Comedienne, actress and mental health campaigner in the UK, Ruby Wax (born Ruby Wachs in Chicago)… Overland Park, Kansas resident, Gloria Elyachar turns 57… Angel investment fund manager, who during his 12-year NFL career (1987-1998) won three Super Bowls, Harris Barton turns 53… Jerusalem-born historian, author, screenwriter, political commentator and senior lecturer at the Hebrew University, Gadi Taub turns 52… Israeli entrepreneur best known as the founder and former CEO of Better Place, an electric car company that raised $850 million yet was liquidated in a 2013 bankruptcy, Shai Agassi turns 49… French stand-up comedian and actor, Gad Elmaleh turns 46… Award-winning, film, televison and theatre actor, his official bar mitzvah was in 2015 at age 37, James Franco turns 39… Tel Aviv-born, now living in Toronto, entrepreneur, philanthropist, CEO and co-founder of Klick Health (a digital marketing firm in the medical field), Leerom Segal turns 38… Assistant Director of Campus Affairs at AJC: Global Jewish Advocacy, Seffi Kogen… Arthur Cohn… Jake Gerber

BIRTHWEEK: Editor of Commentary magazine, columnist for the New York Post, John Mordechai Podhoretz turns 56… NYTimes White House reporter Julie Hirschfeld Davis… Chabad Rabbi, founder and executive director of the Aspen Chabad Jewish Community Center, Mendel Mintz turns 42… Political director for AIPAC’s Florida region, Evan Philipson turns 28… RNC’s Jonathan R. Brodo… VP and Deputy General Counsel at Scholastic Inc, Mark Seidenfeld

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