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FROM THE RJC WEEKEND: "Sheldon Adelson and top GOP donors retreat to the sidelines" by Alex Isenstadt and Katie Glueck: “Burnout’s real. People spent a lot of time and energy traveling on their own nickel, asking friends for money from different candidates. There’s only so many times you can go back to the well,” said Jay Zeidman, a Texas executive who has thrown his support to Cruz after initially backing Jeb Bush... Ronald Krongold, who has yet to endorse another contender following Bush’s departure, added: “I’m a little disappointed as to how the race has evolved.”

"On Friday night, Cruz courted over a dozen RJC members at AquaKnox, a dimly lit seafood restaurant just off the casino floor. He schmoozed with attendees including Texas businessman Fred Zeidman and California venture capitalist Yitz Applbaum, both former Bush supporters, and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. Among the topics discussed, according to one person briefed on the informal get-together: how the ongoing delegate fight will play out." [Politico; CNN]

Where was Sheldon?
"On Thursday evening, Adelson hosted some of the organization’s top officials at his palatial mansion. While former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper discussed how fractured parties can unite, Adelson listened but said little, according to three people who were present. And on Friday, rather than preside over the deliberations, Adelson and his wife, Miriam, departed for a wedding... in Baltimore." [Politico; Guardian] • Which Wedding? Ariel Garber & Scott Goldstein [TheKnot]

Ari Fleischer tweets: "Ted Cruz helped himself a lot at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting.  He's going to leave here with a lot of support." [Twitter]

David Frum tweets:
"At @RJC weekend in Las Vegas, Ted Cruz moved a number of important party leaders from “I guess … ” to “yes!!" [Twitter]

Cruz woos pro-Israel coalition as backers seek to build on momentum” by Peter Stone: “Roughly a dozen wealthy board members of the RJC hosted a roundtable discussion with the Texan, giving him a chance to woo donors in a more intimate setting. “The Cruz train is looking appealing,” said Michael Epstein, an RJC board member and commercial estate developer from Maryland who only recently joined the campaign’s finance team, after initially backing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and then Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Epstein told the Guardian he and a dozen other board members – including the California venture capitalist Elliott Broidy, the New York real estate investor Ben Heller and the Houston businessman Fred Zeidman – organized the roundtable, which drew about 75 people, giving Cruz a chance to “welcome everybody” to become supporters. “Obviously money is important, and we’re talking to everybody else” about the campaign’s needs, he said.” [TheGuardian]

HOW IT PLAYED: "At Meeting of Jewish Donors, Cruz Talks Up Electability" [TexasTribune] • "In Las Vegas, Cruz touts his support for Israel and ability to defeat Clinton" [LasVegasSun] • "Cruz Rails Against Trump as Republican Jews Ponder Options" [AP] • "Cruz tells Jewish Republicans Trump is 'a disaster'" [ArutzSheva] • "Cruz to Jewish Republicans: I'm perfectly electable" [CNN]

"Trump aide Manafort: Cruz campaign using ‘Gestapo’ tactics" by Jeremy Herb: "Donald Trump’s convention manager on Sunday accused the Ted Cruz campaign of using “Gestapo tactics” in its hunt for delegates. â€œYou go to these county conventions, and you see the Gestapo tactics — the scorched-earth tactics,” Trump aide Paul Manafort said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”" [Politico]

"Hillary Defends Israel’s Actions in Gaza” by Jacob Kornbluh: “When your soldiers are under attack, you have to respond,” Clinton told CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday’s “State of the Union” program. “Hamas provokes Israel. They often pretend to have people in civilian garb acting as though they are civilians who are Hamas fighters. It’s a very different undertaking for Israel to target those who are targeting them.” The former Secretary of State refused to call out Sanders for his misstatements, but emphasized, “Israel has had to defend itself, has a right to defend itself.” [JewishInsider; Politico]

Hillary tells NY Daily News editorial board that settlement expansion is ‘not helpful’: “Administrations - both Democrat and Republican - have all adopted the same position that settlement expansion is not helpful,” Clinton said. “I am in line with prior Republicans and Democrats.. I am a friend. And I wouldn't be much of a friend if I did not share my opinions, which I have done, and believe me it has been reciprocated. But I think any disputes or disagreements should be handled in respectfully, and preferably, in a private way so we don't give any aid and comfort to Israel's adversaries or drive any wedges between us.” [JewishInsider]

Sanders doubles down on Israel’s military campaign in Gaza: “Was Israel’s response disproportionate? I think it was,” Sanders said on CNN. “Israel has a 100% — and no one will fight for that principle more strongly than I will — has the right to live in freedom, independently, and in security without having to be subjected to terrorist attacks. But I think that we will not succeed to ever bring peace into that region unless we also treat the Palestinians with dignity and respect, and that is my view… You can’t ignore that fact. And you can’t just be only concerned about Israel’s needs. You have to be concerned about the needs of all of the people of the region.” 

Jake Tapper: “It is interesting … that the first Jew in American history to win a delegate, much less a primary, is taking this position with Israel. Usually in American politics, everyone just supports Israel whatever Israel wants to do, but you are taking a more critical position.”

Sanders: “I’m taking a more balanced position. Whether you’re Jewish or not Jewish, I would hope that every person in this country wants to see the misery of never-ending war and conflict ended in the Middle East. It’s a difficult issue and good people have tried to deal with it for years.” [CNN] • Highlight: “Who is Mr. Oren?” Sanders asked Jake Tapper [WashTimes]

"Bernie Sanders Berated With Questions About ‘Zionist Jews’ at Harlem Forum" by Will Bredderman: “You went to Israel for a year. As you know, Zionist Jews—I don’t mean to offend anybody—they running the Federal Reserve, they running Wall Street, they’re running everything,” John Prince, wearing a Black Lives Matter pin, yelled out towards the end of a forum on race and social justice issues at the iconic Harlem theater. “What is your affiliation to your Jewish community?” “No, no, no, no, no, that’s not what you’re asking. No that’s not what you’re asking. I’m proud to be Jewish,” Sanders said to applause. “I may be Jewish, but you’re not going to find any candidate running for president, for example, to talk about Zionism and the Middle East.” [Observer; JewishInsider] • Watch the clip [YouTube]

Sanders’ press secretary Symone Sanders told the protester after the event: “We can talk about it tomorrow. I think where we couldn’t have a conversation about it any more came is when you asserted he speaks for all Jewish people—let me finish—Barack Obama doesn’t speak for all black people, he’s the black president. Bernie Sanders cannot speak for all Jewish people, but he’s more than willing to have a conversation.” [Observer]

Yair Rosenberg:
"Bernie Sanders Was Asked an Anti-Semitic Question. Here’s How He Should Have Answered" [TabletMag]

Andrea Peyser:
"If you’re Jewish, don’t vote for Bernie Sanders" [NYPost]

Peter Weber: "Bernie Sanders is Jewish. He also might be the most Christian candidate in the 2016 race." [TheWeek]

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Kate McKinnon playing Hillary: "See, New Yorkers, I'm just like all of you. I never sleep, I'm in a hurry to get to work and when I'm running, I really hate it when a slow old Jew gets in my way." [YouTube] H/T Playbook

“Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Bring Their Battle to Brooklyn” by Yamiche Alcindor: “Rabbi David Niederman, president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, said that late last year a friend called him asking him to support Mr. Sanders. He responded that he wanted to learn more; he had supported Mrs. Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary. Rabbi Niederman said he had never heard from the Sanders campaign directly and eventually decided to vote for Mrs. Clinton again after speaking with her twice... Rabbi Niederman was one of several Jews interviewed for this article who expressed disappointment that Mr. Sanders was playing down his Jewish heritage." [NYTimes]

Politico's Jake Sherman tweets:
"Hyper local message. [Cruz campaign leaves out Israel in Brooklyn neighborhood messaging.] The satmars don't believe Israel should exist as a Jewish state." [Twitter]

"The time Hillary Clinton came to the rabbi’s family seder – and stayed for hours" by Uriel Heilman: "How was Helene and Bob Fine’s family seder in 2000 different from every other Passover night? First lady Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea came. (President Bill Clinton would have joined, too, if not for Yasser Arafat, but we’ll get to that.)" [JTA]

VERY FOREIGN POLICY: "Trump Wants To Sell Faulty Missiles to Iran" by Jacob Kornbluh: “When we hand them 150 billion dollars, we should take the prohibition off for a little while,” Trump told thousands of supporters during a campaign rally at a airport hanger in Rochester, New York, on Sunday. “We will sell them missiles that don’t work correctly. Right? Let them sue us. ‘Oh, I’m sorry they don’t work. Gee, that’s too bad.’ We will take in about $12 billion for missiles and they will say, ‘These missiles are terrible.’ And I will say, ‘Yup, that was the purpose of it.'" [JewishInsider]

IRAN DEAL: "Nuclear deal puts US between Iran and a hard place" by Matthew Lee:
"Eager that a successful deal and a new era in the U.S.-Iran relationship be part of President Barack Obama's legacy, his administration finds itself encouraging foreign trade with Iran even as it forbids most American commerce with the Islamic Republic. Those efforts are complicated by the fact that the United States continues to condemn and try to punish Iranian actions in non-nuclear arenas such as Tehran's support of terrorist groups and belligerence toward Israel." [AP]

Lara Friedman writes in the NYTimes... "Supporters of an Israeli-Palestinian peace, however, have reason to hope that Mr. Obama, having achieved nothing by shielding Israel, is now ready to embrace constructive Security Council action related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." [NYT]

TOP TALKER: "Terrorism Victims’ Multimillion-Dollar Lawsuit Award Faces Appeals Test" by Nicole Hong: "A multimillion-dollar award for terrorism victims will face a legal test in a New York federal appeals court this week, the latest development in a case that has pitted a group of American families against the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization for more than a decade... The Palestinian Authority and PLO, the government and political representative of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, say the U.S. doesn’t have jurisdiction in this case." [WSJ]

"Israel’s president is known as a voice of reason, but can he unite the country?" by Ruth Eglash: "When a Jewish lawmaker tweeted that his wife did not want to share a hospital room with an Arab woman after giving birth, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin responded: “When we come to the hospital to give birth, we don’t come as a Jew or an Arab, we come as a human being.”" [WashPost]

Daniel Gordis: "How American Jews Have Detached Themselves from Jewish Memory: In recent years they’ve let go of both ancient communal memory and recent political memory. No wonder they’re now letting go of Israel." [MosaicMag]

Aryeh Bourkoff and Ari Hoffman: "Want to Absorb Refugees? Follow Israel’s Lead: Our approach to the current refugee crisis cannot only be a matter of numbers, quotas, and background checks. We have to consider our basic values." [Observer]

LongRead: "The Assad Files: Capturing the top-secret documents that tie the Syrian regime to mass torture and killings." [NewYorker]
**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**

PROFILE: "From Pound Ridge To Pennsylvania Ave—And Back" by Jerry McKinstry: "Since leaving the White House in 2003, former presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer has continued to thrive on politics, sports, family, and his beloved Westchester hometown." [WestchesterMag]

TRANSITION: "Netanyahu Appoints Sam Grundwerg as Israel's Consul General in L.A." by Barak Ravid:
"Grundwerg, who serves as the director general of the World Jewish Congress in Israel, is a close friend of Ambassador Ron Dermer, the prime minister's confidant." [Haaretz]

STARTUP NATION: "Can Israel build big, sustainable companies?" by Zach Abramowitz:
"Eden Shochat certainly knows something about early exits. Facial recognition company Face[dot]com, which he co-founded, sold to Facebook for a reported $60M after raising just $5 million in investment. But now, as a founding partner at Aleph, a $150 million early stage VC in Tel Aviv, his goal is to fund Israeli entrepreneurs who want to build global businesses." [TechCrunch]

TALK OF OUR NATION: "how orthodox jewish modest wear is going high fashion" by Krithika Varagur: "Coogee Beach, Australia is one of many perfect, sun-blessed suburbs that fan out from the center of Sydney. It's the kind of neighborhood where it's hard to find a restaurant in which flip-flops aren't actively encouraged. And it was a weird place to grow up as an Orthodox Jew. Orthodox women usually dress conservatively, covering their collarbones, knees, and elbows according to the Torah's principle of tzniut, or modesty. For sisters Chaya Chanin and Simi Polonsky, whose father was an Orthodox rabbi in Coogee Beach, that meant they had to become resourceful dressers early on." [i-d.Vice]

Jay Leno gave a 30-minute performance at United Hatzalah’s “Evening for Israel” held at the Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC. “I am your gentile host tonight,” Leno started off after taking the stage riding a United Hatzalah ambucycle. “I am Israel’s Shabbos goy - that’s what they call me. You see, I don’t like the word ‘gentile.’ It sounds so goyish to me.” On 2016: “Ted Cruz: I don’t want to say that he’s right wing, but he feels that Netanyahu is not pro-Israel enough... Bernie Sanders is upset because, he says, his fundraisers don’t raise as much money as Hillary’s. Of course not. Nobody want’s to eat dinner at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.” The performance was preceded with a music performance by Lipa Schmeltzer and the 8th Day, and emceed by radio personality Nachum Segal.

REVIEW: "Alex Edelman in Everything Handed To You" by Mikey Cahill: "Alex Edelman is hungry. He’s ravenous for success. The endearingly neurotic Jewish comic from Noo Yawk is no yawn. Wait up, he’s from Boston, he just has that jumpy Woody Allen energy, a compliment he would probably absorb, then question, then oscillate wildly on its merit, then finally settle on two opinions." [HeraldSun]

BIRTHDAYS: William Lauder, Executive Chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies, turns 56... Actress Louise Lasser, who played the title character on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” turns 77... Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman turns 75... 
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