May
22

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Daily Kickoff: Trump trip highlights | Tillerson calls Tel Aviv ‘home of Judaism’ | The Israelis behind Waze Carpool | Seth Klarman wins the Preakness

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ISRAEL WELCOMES TRUMP — Top 5 tweets: 1. Gil Hoffman: “Camera picks up Sara Netanyahu telling the Trumps: Also us the press hates and the public loves.” 2. Amy Spiro: “OMG. MK Oren Hazan to Trump: “They call me the Israeli Donald Trump.” #imnotmakingthisup” • Hazan also took a selfie with Trump much to the chagrin of Bibi [Pic] 3. Dan Shapiro‏: “Jackets on.” [Pic] Flashback to Obama and Bibi on the runway [Pic4. Chemi Shalev‏: “If Trump would learn to stick to script, as he has on much of this trip, he wouldn’t have half the troubles he’s having.” 5. Jason Greenblatt‏: “With U.S. Amb. to Israel, David Friedman, and other colleagues aboard Marine 3. We are so lucky to be here with great care by the Marines!” [Pic]

Small talk: “What is the protocol?” Trump inquired of the Israeli Prime Minister as they walked the red carpet at Ben Gurion airport. “Who knows,” Netanyahu said. “I think they’ll just tell us where to stand.”

Trump in remarks at the welcoming ceremony: “During my travels in recent days, I have found new reasons for hope… We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony prosperity and peace… But we can only get there working together. We love Israel, we respect Israel, and I bring the warmest greetings from your friend and ally, all of the people of the United States of America.” [YouTube]

KAFE KNESSET — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Every minister who was at the airport got a chance to share his or her two cents with POTUS. Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, who often laments that Bibi doesn’t tell Trump what Israel really wants, said “It is the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, and we expect you to be the first President to recognize a united Jerusalem.” Trump responded: “That’s a good one.” Trump also complimented Regev on her dress. And, after introducing him to the first Druse minister Israel has ever had, Netanyahu had to steer Trump away from Ayoub Kara, who was talking too much for the premier’s taste. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

At the start of his meeting with President Rivlin in Jerusalem, Trump put pressure on his aides: “I have some talented people, but in particular, Jason [Greenblatt], you love Israel so much, that you left a very, very, very substantial job to be able to help on a peace treaty, you would like to see that, wouldn’t you. David Friedman, likewise, one of the most successful lawyers.” Trump pointed to Greenblatt and Friedman as his representatives to negotiate peace. “If not, you’ll be blamed because I just put it on record,” he joked.

ADVICE FROM AN ISRAEL TRIP PRO — Dan Senor: “Israel should have cut back on President’s residence ceremony and instead insisted on more time for Trump visit to Yad VaShem” [Twitter]

MAKING HISTORY: Trump becomes the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall [Pic] • Video [YouTube]

David Horovitz: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not join him at the wall. The president was not overly acknowledging Israeli sovereignty at the site. This was not an act of provocation. It was a carefully calibrated signal of respect. And as such, immensely appreciated by his Israeli hosts.” [ToI]

Later today… Trump will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the King David Hotel. In the evening, Netanyahu will host the President and First Lady Melania Trump at his residence in Jerusalem.

Tuesday’s schedule… In the morning, Trump will visit Bethlehem to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The President will visit Yad Vashem at 1:00 pm(Israel time), accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu, and Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. Trump will rekindle the eternal flame and lay a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance. Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev will present the President with a token of remembrance, an exact replica of the original Holocaust-era personal album that belonged to Ester Goldstein who was murdered during the Holocaust at the age of 16. [Livestream]

Trump arrived in Israel at a critical moment in the U.S.-Israeli relations. Eager to broker the ‘ultimate deal’ between Israel and the Palestinians, Trump will have to reassure wary Israelis that he has their back and that the early stumbles of his administration are of the past.

BUT… speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Sec. of State Rex Tillerson said this: “Onto the second stop, Tel Aviv, home of Judaism, obviously, second of the great religions the President is going to also ask to join with all of us in this fight against terrorism.”

Tillerson on whether the Western Wall is part of Israel: “The wall is part of Jerusalem.”

Asked if the President will pressure Netanyahu to freeze settlement activity, Tillerson said: “You know, settlements are part of the overall peace discussion. It’s just there are a number of elements that have presented challenges to the peace process in the past, settlements is clearly one of those.”

Dan Senor on CBS This Morning: “I think the president wants to send a message to Israel: ‘We have your back. You’re not alone.’ And if he can get Israel to lock arms with the United States, and make them feel that the bond is unbreakable – ‘We have your back and you can trust us,’ Israel will be more comfortable making concessions, taking some risks for peace.” [CBSNews]

WHAT TRUMP BRINGS TO THE TABLE: “Can Donald Trump solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?” by Oren Liebermann, James Masters and Ian Lee: “If Trump offers to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights or release Jonathan Pollard, an American convicted of spying for Israel, from the terms of his probation, it would be a political win for Netanyahu, and it would give the Israeli Prime Minister maneuvering room within Israeli politics. Trump could also offer to increase US military aid to Israel from its record level of nearly $4 billion a year. As a last option, Trump can move the embassy to Jerusalem, but such a move would require large concessions to the Palestinians to avoid regional turmoil.” [CNN]

THE PLAYERS — Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner — by Amir Tibon: On Sunday night, as President Donald Trump was concluding a successful two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, the White House distributed a very rare press release: a statement attributed directly, “on the record”, to Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner… The statement was a testament to Kushner’s central role in organizing Trump’s foreign trip… Kushner’s positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain a mystery… The visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority could be the perfect opportunity for Kushner to take the stage and increase his involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian file.” [Haaretz]  

“Can Jason Greenblatt deliver peace for Donald Trump?” by Annie Karni: “Greenblatt, in large part, agrees with Trump, according to interviews with White House officials. He sees the experts trying to persuade him that peace is out of reach as having an outdated view of the region. He has described the current moment as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to broker peace, echoing Trump’s own words – in part because of his deep belief in Trump’s powers of negotiation, in part because of the shared threat of Iran to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. His success in Trump’s orbit has also made some skeptical of his ability to contradict the boss. “His job isn’t to listen to everyone and then come back to Trump and say here is what is possible and here is what is not,” said one outside adviser who has spoken extensively with Greenblatt. “Trump has said getting a deal is easier than it looks, and we’re going to do it. My impression is it’s not really possible to go back to him and say, ‘it can’t be done, not now.’”” [Politico]

–Greenblatt‏ tweeted: “Thanks to @USAinKSA and Ryan Cooper for all of their help during my stay in Riyadh and for getting me kosher food here #Frozenmealscanbegood.” [Twitter] • Pic of his Friday night meal [Twitter]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Behind triumphant Trump visit to Israel, a few old tensions return” by  Anne Gearan and Ruth Eglash: “Privately, Netanyahu has groused that Trump’s personal stake in what the president has called “the deal of the century” puts the Israeli leader in a difficult spot, former U.S. officials and others said. The Trump administration is also poised to disappoint some in Israel and among his own supporters in the United States by reneging on a campaign pledge to quickly move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the capital, Jerusalem… Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said disappointment with Trump is largely limited to members of Israel’s “deep-right wing that were sure that President Trump would be working for them.”” [WashPost]

“Preparations for Trump’s Visit Expose Political Rifts in Israel” by Isabel Kershner: “Some in the Israeli news media have already described the visit as “hysterical,” rather than “historical.” And squabbling within Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition has marred much of the festivity surrounding Mr. Trump’s visit: Right-wing politicians are disappointed that the Trump administration appears to be adhering to longstanding American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and they are agitating for Mr. Netanyahu to take a tougher stance.” [NYTimes

Among those disappointed with Trump: Naftali Bennett — by John Reed: “Throughout the past year, Donald Trump said some very positive statements, such as that ‘We will move the embassy’,” Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister and head of the far-right, pro-settler Jewish Home party… told the Financial Times. “He was very positive about Jewish communities, about Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria,” Mr Bennett added, referring to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. “Over the past few months there is a sense that something may have changed, and the source of the change is unclear.” [FT; INN]

Oded Revivi, Chief Foreign Envoy of the Yesha Council who attended Trump’s inauguration, tells us… “We welcome President Trump to Israel and bless his trip with success. However, if he is going to try the same flawed policies that have failed for decades, he too will fail. The road to peace will begin in the towns and cities of Judea and Samaria and we pray that he will accept our invitation to come and see real peace and coexistence in action.”

“Israelis worry Trump’s changing stands look more and more like Obama’s” by Franco Ordonez: “He’s like any politician,” said Shlamit Lev-ran, 24, an art student at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “They say one thing and then after they’re elected they do another. I see no difference.” “Trump and Obama, they want the same thing,” said Elie Adler, a 60-year-old shopkeeper in downtown Jerusalem. “They just serve it up in a different dish.” [McClatchyDC]

ON THE HILL — Senator Cory Booker  (D-NJ) spoke with JI’s Aaron Magid ahead of Trump’s Israel trip: “I think it’s good for the President of the United States to be going to Israel. I think it’s very important. We need to continue to deepen our ties and cooperation. Everything from our intelligence sharing to economic cooperation.”

JI: What about the two state solution?

Booker: “For me, it’s got to be a priority. I can tell you a lot of things that I hope the President discusses with the leadership of the country — I’m not just talking about Netanyahu but also the Palestinian leadership — that can help encourage the right things to happen. I think that it is very important that he (Trump) play a role in supporting an ultimate two state solution.”

TOP TALKER — Ivanka’s rabbi said to deny permitting Shabbat travel: “Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who heads Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, is said to have told Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog that speculation he granted the couple the rabbinical dispensation was “fake news.” The Yedioth Ahronoth daily quoted Lookstein telling Herzog he has not been in touch with Ivanka for “several weeks,” and that the information was false.” [ToI]

“Does Flying On A Plane On Shabbos Make You Not Orthodox?” by Allison Josephs: “To clarify some of the halachic and historical reasons why many rabbis were defending Jared and Ivanka, we asked Rabbi Professor Jeffrey Woolf who teaches in the Talmud Department at Bar Ilan University… “One of these rare exceptions is for a person who fills a key, even unique, position in a Gentile government. Such an individual is described as being Karov l’Malchus (Literally, ‘close to the King or Kingdom’)… Since their unique status required them to make themselves available to the ruler, they were allowed to violate various rabbinic prohibitions… It is crucial to realize that their actions can be understood and justified within the parameters of the unique status of Karov l’Malchus, a position that they certainly hold.” [JewInTheCity

SAUDI VISIT: “In Saudi Arabia, Trump Reaches Out to Sunni Nations, at Iran’s Expense” by Ben Hubbard and Thomas Erdbrink: “In his speech on Sunday, Mr. Trump… spoke of a stronger alliance with mostly Sunni Muslim nations to fight terrorism and extremist ideology and to push back against Iran. “From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region,” Mr. Trump told dozens of Muslim heads of state. “It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this very room.” That pointed to a departure from the policies of Mr. Obama, who pushed Persian Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia to move toward greater self-sufficiency in defense while pressing for the agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program.” [NYTimes]

“Trump’s Visit Cements Saudi Support, Avoids Thorny Regional Issues” by William Mauldin: “This is someone who is making it clear that we’re making common cause with those who are prepared to take on ISIS and the Iranians,” said Dennis Ross, a former U.S. envoy in the region and senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy… “He got in and out of the speech conundrum fairly well,” Aaron David Miller said. “He made a few of the right points, missed many of the bad ones, dodged the bullet on formulations of ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ that could be seen as terribly offending.” [WSJ

HEARD YESTERDAY — Elliott Abrams on CNN: “The idea that you can call him, you know, bigoted against Islam, I think, takes a big hit today. His first foreign trip he goes to Riyadh. You have all of these visuals of him meeting with Muslim leaders, not only from that region but from around the world, so I think he comes out looking better, not only as presidential, but as reaching out to Muslim leaders from around the world. I think he has helped himself a lot in pushing back against the idea that the origin of his position is some kind of prejudice.” [MediaMatters

“Trump’s Politically Correct Speech in Saudi Arabia” by Peter Beinart: “Trump criticized terrorist groups like ISIS for their “persecution of Jews,” and he condemned Iran for pledging “the destruction of Israel.” But since ISIS and Iran are Riyadh’s most bitter foes, those condemnations won’t have bothered the Saudi monarchs at all. Unlike Obama, Trump avoided the broader problem of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in Islamic countries, a problem in which his Saudi hosts are deeply complicit. Nor did he even hint at the fact that Saudi Arabia still does not recognize Israel.” [TheAtlantic

“Saudi King Confident Trump Can Solve Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Foreign Minister Says” by Daniel Marans: “The king “expressed the kingdom’s optimism that President Trump, with a new approach and determination, can bring a conclusion to this long conflict,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al] Jubeir said, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “He certainly has the vision and we believe the strength and the decisiveness,” Jubeir continued. “And the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands prepared to work with the United States in order to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and Israelis and Arabs.”” [HuffPost

“High Fives in Riyadh as Trump Leaves Woes Behind for Deals” by Margaret Talev and Jennifer Jacobs: “At one point, senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner was seen high-fiving National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.” [Bloomberg

“Saudis pledge $20 billion to U.S.-focused infrastructure fund” by Dan Primack: “Saudi Arabia on Saturday made a tentative commitment of $20 billion to a new infrastructure investment fund that would be managed by The Blackstone Group, the private equity and real estate giant led by Trump economic advisor Steve Schwarzman.” [Axios

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — “Israeli minister expresses concern over U.S.-Saudi arms deal” by Ori Lewis: “Israel gave a muted response on Sunday… “This is a matter that really should trouble us,” said Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz prior to the weekly cabinet meeting, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of the deal in his customary public remarks… “We have also to make sure that those hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia will not, by any means, erode Israel’s qualitative edge, because Saudi Arabia is still a hostile country without any diplomatic relations and nobody knows what the future will be.” [Reuters

–When asked about Steinitz’s comments, Sec. Tillerson responded during a gaggle on AF1: “There has been nothing entered into with the arms sales agreements with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or any of the other countries that do not fully allow us to fulfill our commitments to Israel and the longstanding security arrangements we have with Israel. I’m sure we can answer those questions and address the concerns they have.”

Asked if the president plans to apologize for sharing Israeli intel with the Russians, Tillerson said, “I don’t know that there’s anything to apologize for. To the extent the Israelis have any questions, or clarification, I’m sure we’re happy to provide that.”

“Why Israel Thinks Trump Is Focusing on the Wrong Enemy in Syria” by David Wainer: “Islamic State “is being decimated,” said Avi Dichter, chairman of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and a former head of the Shin Bet internal security agency. “They no longer have that many men on the ground. Iran, on the other hand, is a major regional threat.” If that threat is present in Syria and directed at Israel, he said, “that’s a casus belli.” … Now Israel is pinning its hopes on Trump.” [Bloomberg Israeli Officers to Trump: You’re Doing ISIS Wrong [Politico]

“How Trump could deal a blow to Iran — and help save Syria” by Josh Rogin: “Those who support the Syrian opposition in Washington are also noticing a shift in the U.S. approach toward confronting Iran in Syria. Whether that represents mission creep or a deliberate change in approach on a policy level is unclear — and ultimately irrelevant. Perhaps by accident, Trump is moving toward a Syria policy that is tougher on Iran and the Assad regime, and it’s having real effects on the ground.” [WashPost]

PROFILE: “James Mattis, a Warrior in Washington” by Dexter Filkins: “Late in 2011, the Obama White House was worried about Iran’s nuclear-weapons program and concerned that the Israeli military might launch a preëmptive strike. At a briefing for American diplomats in Qatar, Mattis was asked to discuss the possibility of a confrontation in the waters of the Persian Gulf. According to a senior American diplomat who attended the briefing, Mattis declared that, if the Iranians attacked American forces, he was authorized to defend them—and that he expected retaliation. “Mattis was basically saying, ‘I’m ready. If I respond, Iran will respond in an escalatory fashion—and I will be rocking and rolling,’ ” the diplomat told me. “It wasn’t what they wanted to hear. It scared them. Mattis was not reckless—he was the straightest guy in the room. He’s just way more honest than most people would be in a situation like that.”” [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 Editor@JewishInsider.com **

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Investors Think Twice About Deals With Trumps and Kushners [Bloomberg] • Kushner keeps most of his real estate but offers few clues about potential White House conflicts [WashPost

AVOIDING THE SPOTLIGHT — “Why Trump’s No. 2 donor isn’t asking for much” by Theodore Schleifer: “Trump and [Bernie] Marcus are not friends. But observers of the relationship say his absence from Trump’s network is unusual for a Republican who gave so much to support Trump during the campaign and implored other donors to do similarly. “He does not relish the game,” said Mike Leven, formerly Adelson’s chief deputy who now works for Marcus projects. In fact, despite all his contributions ($7M), Leven described Marcus as not politically energized until this cycle. “Bernie was never involved like Sheldon was involved,” he said, adding, “I don’t think it’s been fun for him at all.” … Marcus, an avid golfer even as he turned 88 last week, has told his team recently that he has no interest in hitting the links with the commander-in-chief. They have never even dined together… “He’s never had such access to a president,” said one person close to Marcus. But as of this month, he has yet to even visit the White House.” [CNN

STARTUP NATION: “Waze Wants to Help You Hitch a Ride” by Adam Satariano and Mark Bergen: “Di-Ann Eisnor, Waze’s head of growth, says she was languishing inside the Google behemoth; her stock options payout didn’t make her feel much better. “I had just made a bunch of money. I should have been happy,” she says. In 2015, two years in, her feelings hadn’t changed much. Eisnor says she and other executives huddled in Waze’s Tel Aviv offices to ask, “How the hell are we going to stay here if we’re bored?” Instead of leaving the company, the group decided to expand Waze beyond avoiding traffic accidents and speed traps. Waze Carpool, a separate app, started as a small pilot in Israel that year and is now also available in San Francisco and, soon, Brazil.” [Bloomberg]

“Can this contraption really help you sleep on a plane?” by Thomas Heath: “[Ephi Zlotnitsky] and a business partner have invested three years and $350,000 to create the JetComfy. The pillow is the size of a purse and sells for $39.99. About 10,000 units have been sold since it went on sale in January. Zlotnitsky said he has plans to open the first JetComfy comfort sales center in Dulles International Airport in August and hopes to expand to 25 locations at larger airports in a year. The pillow is available now on Amazon Prime and at Luggage Plus stores and will be offered online by Walmart later this month.” [WashPost

SPOTLIGHT: “Caught in White House Chaos, Justice Dept. Official Seeks Neutral Ground” by Julie Hirschfeld and Rebecca R. Ruiz: “[Rod] Rosenstein, 52, is an improbable character in the theatrics surrounding Mr. Trump. Reserved and bookish, he spends most of his time, friends say, working or spending time with his wife and children, including frequently shuttling his two teenage girls to soccer and softball games… He and his wife, Lisa Barsoomian, a former prosecutor who later worked as a lawyer for the National Institutes of Health and took time off to raise their daughters, live in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Md., in a brick raised ranch house. Mr. Rosenstein’s quirks, according to friends and colleagues, include handing out books by the management guru Peter Drucker to colleagues and sending lengthy emails to his staff before federal holidays, documenting their history and little-remembered factoids about their observance.” [NYTimes

TALK OF THIS TOWN: “Gingrich spreads conspiracy theory about slain DNC staffer” by David Weigel: “Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a stalwart supporter of President Trump, used a Sunday-morning appearance on “Fox and Friends” to spread the conspiracy theory that former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was killed last year to cover up the true story of how WikiLeaks obtained tens of thousands of hacked Democratic Party emails… Gingrich confidently made claims about Rich that have not been proven and that the family has denied.” [WashPost]

HOLLYWOOD: “Comic Adam Sandler turns tables on critics with Cannes triumph” by Deborah Cole: “Sandler… plays the unemployed son of a New York sculptor (Dustin Hoffman) who suffers in the shadow of his successful young brother (Ben Stiller). The picture by Noah Baumbach (“When We Were Young”) garnered enthusiastic applause at a press preview ahead of its red-carpet premiere at the world’s top film festival… Sandler looked moved as he was greeted with a cheer by Cannes reporters and thanked Baumbach for an “amazing script.”” [Yahoo]

SPORTS BLINK: “After attending race growing up, Baltimore-raised owner Seth Klarman soaking in Preakness victory” by Don Markus: “The victory by Cloud Computing — one of several horses Klarman owns that he gave names related to finance, technology and “other names that make sense in a business or economics content” — eclipsed his two most lasting sports memories. Along with the win by Secretariat, which Klarman watched from the infield, there was the four-game sweep by his beloved Orioles over the favored Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1966 World Series. “I was only nine when that happened,” said Klarman, who will celebrate his 60th birthday Sunday. Beth Klarman smiled at the memory of her husband’s involvement in horse racing, coming about a decade after they were married in 1983.” [BaltimoreSun]

MAZEL TOV — Jamie Stelter tweets: “It’s a girl! Sunny Ray Stelter was born yesterday weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces and 100% sunshine. Brian Stelter + I are over the moon” [Twitter]

BIRTHDAYS: President of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Sanford Ronald (“Sandy”) Cardin turns 6-0… Actress, producer, model and singer, Noa Tishby turns 42… Co-founder of Facebook in 2004 and Asana in 2008, Forbes reported him to be the youngest self-made billionaire in history, worth more than $10 billion, Dustin Aaron Moskovitz turns 33… US economic and business columnist for The Sunday Times in London and The Courier-Mail in Australia, holder of a Ph.D in economics from Cornell University, Irwin M. Stelzer turns 85… Award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker since 1989, Connie Bruck turns 71… Cognitive scientist, former CEO of Haskins Laboratories in New Haven and director of the White House neuroscience initiative (2012-2015), Philip E. Rubin turns 68… Member of Knesset from the Zionist Union party, previously a Major General in the IDF where he served as commander of the military colleges and deputy commander of the Northern Command, Eyal Ben-Reuven turns 63… Democratic member of the US House of Representatives from Arizona’s 1st district (1993-1995), now a business and transactional attorney in Phoenix, Sam Coppersmith turns 62… Former head coach of the NBA’a Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-2016), winning coach of the EuroLeague Championship in 2014 with Maccabi Tel Aviv, now coaching an Istanbul team in the EuroLeague, David Blatt turns 58… British writer, philanthropist and documentary filmmaker, a member of the Rothschild banking family and daughter of Jacob Rothschild, the 4th Baron Rothschild, Hannah Mary Rothschild turns 55…

Chicago attorney clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist (1996-1997), then served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago (1998-2005) and Chicago Inspector General (2005-2009), David H. Hoffman turns 50… Former Major League Baseball relief pitcher, played from 1996 to 2005 for the White Sox, Rangers, Angels, Devil Rays, Royals, Tigers and Giants, Alan Brian “Al” Levine turns 49… Harvard Law School professor since 2007, clerked for Supreme Court Justice David Souter (1998-1999), Noah Feldman turns 47… Israeli cookbook author, food journalist, culinary editor and TV cookery show host, Shaily Lipa turns 43… Charismatic wide receiver and kick returner for the NFL’s New England Patriots since 2009, member of two Super Bowl winning teams, Julian Edelman turns 31… Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, Michael Wilner turns 28… Program manager at the Aspen Institute, Peter Kaplan… Emma Kaplan (h/ts Playbook)… Sacramento resident, Gloria Woodlock… Rebecca Weiss… Charles Scott… Benjamin Weiss… Aryeh Jacobson… rising political star Alex Friedman

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May
19

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Daily Kickoff: Jared Kushner, the Saudis’ Personal Shopper | Shabbat Force One | Facebook snooping on Israeli Houseparty App | Israeli judge on emojis

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IF YOU SAY SO — “Ivanka and Jared get a rabbinical pass to fly Air Force One” by Annie Karni: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner will be flying aboard Air Force One to Saudi Arabia with President Donald Trump on Friday, after receiving a rabbinical dispensation to travel on the Jewish Sabbath, according to a White House official… The rules can be broken in life-threatening situations, or if there is a safety concern, according to Jewish law. It was not clear on what grounds the exception was made to accompany the president on his first international trip.” [Politico] • Ivanka Trump is going to Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Israel with Trump as a senior adviser [BusinessInsider]

–Flashback to February‘s Public Radio International story — “Does Israel recognize Ivanka Trump’s Jewishness? It does now” [PRI]

PERSONAL SHOPPER: “$110 Billion Weapons Sale to Saudis Has Jared Kushner’s Personal Touch” by Mark Landler, Eric Schmitt and Matt Apuzzo: “On the afternoon of May 1… Jared Kushner welcomed a high-level delegation of Saudis to a gilded reception room next door to the White House… The two sides discussed a shopping list that included planes, ships and precision-guided bombs. Then an American official raised the idea of the Saudis buying a sophisticated radar system designed to shoot down ballistic missiles. Sensing that the cost might be a problem… Mr. Kushner picked up the phone and called Marillyn A. Hewson — the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, which makes the radar system — and asked her whether she could cut the price. As his guests watched slack-jawed, Ms. Hewson told him she would look into it… The package also includes “maritime assets,” meaning ships, so the Saudis can assume more of the burden of policing the Persian Gulf and Red Sea against Iranian aggression. It does not include high-end items like the advanced F-35 fighter, whose sale to Saudi Arabia would alarm Israel.” [NYTimes]

ON THE HILL — Dem Senators undecided on imminent Iran sanctions vote — by Aaron Magid: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to advance legislation next week tightening sanctions against Iran with a vote possibly coming as early as Tuesday, according to multiple legislative sources who spoke with Jewish Insider. Leading Democrats remain undecided. “It continues to be a work in progress. Congress clearly retains the right in the wake of the nuclear agreement to apply new sanctions for Iran’s non-nuclear provocative behavior in the region,” Chris Murphy (D-CT) explained. “It’s a matter of right-sizing those sanctions to the actions Iran has taken.” When asked by Jewish Insider, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) explained, “I’m still looking at it. We are looking at it trust me, But, it’s a little bit premature.” On a similar note, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said, “We’re holding lots of conversations about it. There are a lot of amendments that are being considered. We don’t know the shape of the bill and I’m looking forward to what actually comes before the committee.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a member of the SFRC, signaled her opposition to the legislation, telling Jewish Insider, “I have reservations about it. I am particularly concerned that we are acting on it when it’s more critical for us to act on Russia sanctions right now. I’m concerned about the impact it will have on the JCPOA.” [JewishInsider

TRUMP’S ISRAEL TRIP COVERAGE (there’s way too much of it, but here goes)

PRIOR TIES: “Trump’s Business Ties to Middle East Precede Him” by Steve Eder and Jesse Drucker: “Mr. Trump has come close to a major development deal in Israel…Last year, his executives were discussing a deal to be a partner on a 61-story tower in Tel Aviv that would have included residences and a hotel, according to Eric Danziger, the chief executive of the Trump hotel division. But Mr. Danziger said Mr. Trump’s election had prompted the Trumps to withdraw to comply with the ban on foreign deals. “We had to retreat, period, simply because of the election,” Mr. Danziger said. “Had he not won, we would have done” the deal. Eric Trump, one of the Trump sons now managing the company, said in an interview in February that the Israel deal was emblematic of the new realities facing the company. “You can’t build the tallest building in Tel Aviv and try to negotiate peace in the Middle East,” he said.”

Jared Kushner… who is expected to be part of the presidential delegation, has his own deep ties to Israel as a real estate developer and investor… The firm he ran until January, Kushner Companies, has taken out at least four loans from Israel’s largest bank, Bank Hapoalim… Another Kushner lender from Israel, Bank Leumi, admitted in 2014 that it had conspired to help American taxpayers hide income using offshore accounts. Kushner’s firm has also worked in partnership with Harel, a large Israeli insurance company, and almost bought another Israeli insurance company, Phoenix. Kushner Companies also bought several floors of the former New York Times building from Lev Leviev, an Israeli businessman and philanthropist.” [NYTimes]

“Israelis on edge before Trump visit” by Oren Liebermann: “Only days before President Donald Trump visits Jerusalem, Israeli politicians describe an atmosphere of “nervousness” and “confusion.” One politician put it more bluntly. “No one has any idea what the plan is.” A changing schedule and shifting locations have made planning for the visit difficult… An impulsive President, liable to make spontaneous statements, has only heightened the sense of anxiety… “Something will go wrong. That we know, but we don’t know what,” said one politician half-jokingly. “A successful visit right now is for it to be over.” [CNN] • Presidential visit to Israel, 43 years after Nixon’s, stirs memories of another era [LATimes]

Schedule as of Thursday evening: “The official visit is set to begin at 11:00 AM, when Trump’s Air Force One is expected to land at Ben-Gurion Airport. From the airport, Trump will fly via helicopter to his first stop in Jerusalem- the President’s Residence… From the President’s Residence, the Trump family will travel to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall. They will then make their way to the King David Hotel for a two-hour rest period… The Trump family will attend a celebratory dinner at the Prime Minister’s Residence in the evening… The second day of Trump’s visit will begin with his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem. After this meeting, Trump will return to Jerusalem and visit Yad Vashem. At 1:30 PM on Tuesday, Trump is expected to deliver a highly-anticipated speech at the Israel Museum.” [JerusalemOnline]

THE CARROT — Gil Hoffman: “Settlements are not an obstacle to peace, Donald Trump will tell Israelis in Jerusalem next week, according to 2 Ayala Hasson on Channel 10.” [Twitter]

THE STICK — “US source: Trump will ask Benjamin Netanyahu to curb West Bank settlement activity” by Michael Wilner: “[Trump] has expressed a general concern” with ongoing Israeli settlement activity, the [senior WH] official noted. “He will reiterate that,” the official said. “He has not abandoned the two-state solution.” Trump first outlined his concerns with Israel’s settlement construction outside of existing settlement blocs in February… Now Trump expects “assurances and signals from the Israeli government that they’ve heard his views,” the senior official said.” [JPost

“Shaked vexed by White House map missing WB” by Moran Azulay: “Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) voiced her disapproval Friday against a map of Israel recently circulated by the White House… which failed to include the West Bank and the Golan Heights. “I hope this is just ignorance and not policy,” Shaked said.” [YNet]

KAFE KNESSET — Pressure on Bibi — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: This week, ahead of Trump’s visit, 800 members of the Likud’s Central Committee signed a petition demanding a vote on a decision to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. The signatures were collected by Shevach Stern and Natan Engelsman, heads of the Likud settler lobby, and will be brought to a vote within 30 days. Other senior Likud Ministers like Zeev Elkin and Yuval Steinitz gathered with hundreds of party activists this morning for a special event held by Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat under the title “Unite with Jerusalem.” Barkat referred to the US Embassy move and said “I hear that there are people whispering to President Trump that moving the Embassy to Jerusalem will harm peace efforts … the truth is the opposite. Only US and international recognition of Israeli sovereignty will bring us closer to peace. President Trump, there is no deal without a unified Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty – move the Embassy to the capital.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Michael Oren’s advice for Trump: Connect with Israelis and reassure them” by Raphael Ahren: “The sight of the president of the United States with a kippah on his head at the kotel is a powerful message to Israelis,” Oren said. “We cannot underestimate the depths of Israelis’ sense of threatened security in our region… and when the president of the United States comes here and makes a show of love and support for Israel, you’re going to see a bump up, not a bump down, in his popularity.” [ToI Poll: President’s popularity plummeting among Israeli Jews [JPost]

Aaron David Miller:“Lessons for Trump and Kushner From My 20 Years of Failing at Middle East Peace” [ForeignPolicy]

JI INTERVIEW — Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry and a Middle East expert at the Center for a New American Security, shared his thoughts about Trump’s trip and push for peace in a phone interview yesterday. “The first thing is, he just needs to avoid stepping in any stage management problems,” Goldenberg explained the complexity of Trump first visit to the Jewish State. “I’m worried about that. Whether it’s going to the Western Wall and messing around that… I just think you need to get that stuff right. And it’s delicate, difficult and hard to do as the President, especially when you’ve never done it…

Goldenberg on why Trump is investing so much time on peace process: “I think there are a few things that appeal to him about the issue. The first is, even though this Israeli-Palestinian issue is not what it used to be in terms of the importance of national interest, it’s still the international diplomatic holy grail. It’s still the peace deal that every leader wants to bring home. It still gets disproportionate amounts of coverage in the press. And so, somebody like Trump is probably attracted to the idea of being that guy, especially since he sees himself as the deal-maker… I feel like this is probably also a foreign policy issue that he’s been a lot more exposed to than others and therefore something that resonates more with him. And you can see by the company he seeks whether it’s Ron Lauder or [Sheldon] Adelson or whoever he’s talking to, this is part of his world and this issue comes up a lot.”

Goldenberg responds to the ZOA’s Mort Klein who called his former colleague Kris Bauman ‘pro-Hamas’: “First of all, Kris is a military professional. Ninety percent of people who work in any president’s National Security Council are career officials. Their job is to present the options themselves, and then it’s up to the political appointees and the people at the very top to really make the decisions about where the policy goes. Our whole report was about how to keep the West Bank from becoming Gaza. It seems hard to me to characterize somebody as “pro-Hamas” — it’s just ludicrous. This notion that he is this far-outside-the-mainstream official is just silly. I think that his views, and everything I’ve ever seen, reflect what is the real debate inside of Israel and what is the real debate inside the United States.” Read the entire interview here [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — in some circles at least — The Economist’s Cover Story: “Why Israel needs a Palestinian state” — “Most Israelis are in no rush to try offering land for peace again. Their security has improved, the economy is booming and Arab states are courting Israel for intelligence on terrorists and an alliance against Iran. The Palestinians are weak and divided, and might not be able to make a deal… A Palestinian state is long overdue. Rather than resist it, Israel should be the foremost champion of the future Palestine that will be its neighbour… The reason Israel must let the Palestinian people go is to preserve its own democracy… Israel is too strong for a Palestinian state to threaten its existence. In fact, such a state is vital to its future. Only when Palestine is born will Israel complete the victory of 1967.” [Economist]

BEHIND THE SCENES: “The Trump Administration’s Tug-of-war Over the Israel Embassy Move” by Barak Ravid and Amir Tibon: “The group urging Trump to refuse to sign the waiver and finally move the embassy is headed by Bannon himself. A number of these sources told Haaretz that Bannon doesn’t see the embassy move as a promise by Trump to Israel, but as a promise to the president’s right-wing nationalist base that put him in the White House… Another dominant figure in the group pushing for the embassy move is new U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman… “Friedman is working on the embassy issue all the time,” one [administration official] said… The administration’s internal debate is expected to continue right up until the June 1 deadline. Haaretz has learned that the camp which supports the embassy move, understanding that the other side currently has the upper hand, is now trying to push Trump to “compensate” Israel for the move’s postponement.” [Haaretz]

OVAL OFFICE INTERVIEW FOR SHELDON’S PAPER: “Trump says hasn’t ruled out visiting Western Wall with Netanyahu” by Boaz Bismuth: “U.S. President Donald Trump… told Israel Hayom in an exclusive interview Thursday: “We have great respect and friendship for [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.” … The decision to visit the Western Wall “with the rabbi is more traditional, but that could change,” Trump told Israel Hayom Editor-in-Chief Boaz Bismuth at the White House Thursday, when asked why Netanyahu would not accompany him… Q: You say that you still want to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but considering the pressure coming from Arab leaders, some Israelis are worried that you might not do it. [Trump:] “We have some very interesting things in the works, we will be talking about that in the future.”” [IsraelHayom]

TOP TALKER: “Lieberman Is a Finalist for F.B.I. Director, Trump Says” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “President Trump… told reporters on Thursday that he was “very close” to choosing a successor to James B. Comey, and he named Joseph I. Lieberman… as a finalist. But members of Mr. Trump’s staff — alarmed by his rapid embrace of Mr. Lieberman, a charming 75-year-old political operator with no federal law enforcement experience — have quietly urged him to take more time to make such a critical hire. By late Thursday, the president appeared increasingly likely to leave Friday for a nine-day foreign trip without picking a new director… Mr. Trump and Mr. Lieberman had good chemistry when they met privately, one White House aide said — a key ingredient for Mr. Trump in hiring people. He is also friendly with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.” [NYTimes; CNN]

DERSHOWITZ’S ADVICE — “How Trump Can Get Out of His Jam” — “If I were President Trump, I would jump on the proposal to have Congress appoint an independent commission. If he’s innocent, it’s the best way to exonerate him. And even if he’s not, it’s the best way to discover the whole truth and not the partisan, partial truths favored by many politicians, journalists and pundits—and, most important, prosecutors.” [Politico]

JARED’S ADVICE — Kushner urged Trump to attack Mueller appointment — by Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Kushner — who had urged Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Comey — was one of the few dissenting voices, urging the president to counterattack, according to two senior administration officials.” [NYTimes]  

** Good Friday 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: Cammeby’s taps Suffolk Construction for Coney Island’s tallest tower [TRD• Activist investor Paul Singer goes after Athenahealth [Axios] • Jessica Lessin built a business to prove information doesn’t have to be free [Recode] • Bill Rudin to replace Rob Speyer as REBNY chair [RealDeal]  WeWork founder Adam Neumann donates $1 million to help find bone marrow donors [CNN

STARTUP NATION: “Facebook wants to know why teens are using Israeli group video app Houseparty” by Kurt Wagner: “Facebook issued the survey to find teenagers who would come to Facebook headquarters to participate in a study about “texting and messaging apps,” including Houseparty. They offered participants $275 in Amazon gift cards to participate… Before Houseparty existed, the company’s main product was a live video streaming app called Meerkat. CEO Ben Rubin basically threw in the towel on live video broadcasting in part because Facebook’s live video efforts were starting to pick up and Twitter had recently bought a rival service, Periscope. So it’s possible that a survey like this means Facebook is preparing to get into group video calls.” [Recode]

SPOTLIGHT: “Mark Cuban Is Tired of Your ‘Uber of Something’ Pitch” by Adam Grant: “In his first Original Thinkers column, Adam Grant talks to the brash Shark Tank star and Dallas Mavericks owner about the ideas that shape him, from his take on ball hogs to the importance of after-work drinks.” [EsquireMag]

NYC 2017 WATCH — “Controversial Hedge Fund Giant to Host Fundraiser for NYC Mayoral Candidate Bo Dietl” by Will Bredderman: “Steven A. Cohen—whose multibillion-dollar S.A.C. Capital Advisors collapsed amid insider trading allegations—will host a May 23 fundraiser for the mayoral campaign of ex-NYPD cop Bo Dietl… A source forwarded the Observer an invitation to the “cocktail reception” to be held at the Beacon Court condominium complex on East 58th Street in Manhattan, where Cohen owns a duplex unit he has unsuccessfully sought for years to sell… In 2013, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and the Securities and Exchange Commission accused S.A.C. Partners—although not Cohen personally—of profiting unfairly from illicitly gained insider information.” [Observer

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Emojis prove intent, a judge in Israel ruled” by Ephrat Livni: “Emoji have become an integral part of postmodern dialogue, so it’s only natural that the cute and convenient images are sneaking into lawsuits… The happy exchanges between parties, with pictograms, indicated an intent to do business, according to the ruling by Judge Amir Weizebbluth in a Tel Aviv small claims court about the apartment deal gone awry. He wrote in the opinion: The…text message sent by Defendant…included a smiley, a bottle of champagne, dancing figures and more. These icons convey great optimism. Although this message did not constitute a binding contract between the parties, [it] naturally led to the Plaintiff’s great reliance on the Defendants’ desire to rent his apartment…These symbols, which convey to the other side that everything is in order, were misleading.” … The judge awarded the misled landlord 8,000 shekels, covering damages and legal fees, which amounts to about $2,200.” [Quartz]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAYSenior Counsel in the DC office of Blank Rome LLP specializing in government contracts law, Harvey Sherzer turns 73… A New York State judge since 1995, later serving as Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals (2009-2015), now of counsel in the NYC office of Latham & Watkins, Jonathan Lippman turns 72… Clinical psychologist, author, teacher, public speaker and ordained rabbi, Dennis G. Shulman turns 67… A nurse by profession who served as member of the Wisconsin State Assembly (2009-2015), Sandy Pasch turns 63… Harvey D. Harman turns 61… Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces since 2015, Gadi Eizenkot turns 57… Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic rabbi, born in Milan, now Chief Rabbi of Russia, friend of Vladimir Putin, Shlomo Dovber Pinchas Lazar (better known as Berel Lazar) turns 53… Journalist, teacher and playwright, now  deputy managing editor for news and a columnist at the New York Daily News, Gersh Kuntzman turns 52… Author of 23 novels that have sold over 14 million copies in 34 languages, four of which have been adapted into Lifetime Original Movies, Jodi Picoult turns 51… CEO of Bend the Arc, a Jewish partnership for justice, Stosh Cotler turns 49… Professional baseball player who pitched for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Zachary “Zack” James Thornton turns 29… Professional ice hockey forward for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, Brendan Leipsic turns 23…

SATURDAY: Canadian businesswoman and elected official, she served in the Ontario Legislative Assembly (1985-1997) and as an MP in the Canadian House of Commons (1997-2004), Elinor Caplan turns 73… Democratic member of the New York State Assembly since 2007, representing the 97th Assembly District in Rockland County, Ellen Jaffee turns 73… Former member of the US House of Representatives from Connecticut’s 2nd district (1981-2001), Sam Gejdenson turns 69… Director of international affairs, policy and planning at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Michael Alan Salberg turns 65… President of the Aspen Institute, former CEO of CNN and former Managing Editor of Time, Walter Isaacson turns 65… Born in upstate NY as Michael Scott Bornstein, former Israeli ambassador to the US (2009-2013), now a member of Knesset for the centrist Kulanu party, Michael Oren turns 62… Chief Legal Affairs Anchor for ABC News (and son of First Amendment scholar Floyd Abrams), Dan Abrams turns 51… Executive Director of Business Forward and Deputy National Finance Director for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, Ami Copeland turns 45… Program Associate at the Michigan-based William Davidson Foundation, Vadim Avshalumov turns 32… Legislative Director for Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA 30), Lauren Wolman turns 31… VP of Austin-based digital agency Harris Media, Josh Canter turns 25… National Chair of the High School Democrats of America — and one of JI’s avid young daily readers — Aylon Berger turns 17… Ilene Leiter… Abraham Eckstein… Harold Fox

SUNDAY: Former MLB pitcher, played (1957-1967) for the White Sox, Indians, Angels and Astros, an All Star in 1961 and 1962, Barry Latman turns 81… US Senator from Minnesota since 2009, previously a comedian, actor and writer, Al Franken turns 66… Guitarist and composer, Marc Ribot turns 63… Billionaire hedge fund manager and philanthtropist, CEO of the Boston-based Baupost Group, Seth Klarman turns 60… Bestselling author, staff writer at The New Yorker and legal analyst at CNN, Jeffrey Toobin turns 57… Actress and playwright Lisa Edelstein turns 51… Head of Dewey Square’s sports business practice, author and former AP journalist, Frederic J. Frommer turns 50… Chief program and strategy officer at the Michigan-based William Davidson Foundation, Darin McKeever turns 43… CBS Interactive’s executive producer, Mosheh Oinounou turns 35… Los Angeles-born, raised in Israel, international fashion model for Versace and others, Sharon Ganish turns 34… Director of Global Affairs at 1776, a global incubator and seed fund, Brandon Pollak… Ron Solomon

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Daily Kickoff: Israel decides it can keep extra US funding | Jewish groups kvetch about White House access | Inside the battle to buy Loria’s Marlins

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KAFE KNESSET — Mo Money, No Problem — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Israeli officials adamantly brushed off any embarrassment yesterday, after Kafe Knesset pointed out that Senator Lindsey Graham recently passed $3.175 billion in assistance to Israel under the Omnibus Appropriations bill for the remainder of FY2017. This amount exceeds the commitment set forth in the MOU by $75 million. The excess challenges the Israeli commitment not to ask for any extra funding from Congress under the new MOU signed last year with the Obama administration.

Two officials involved in the MOU told Kafe Knesset that “since President Trump has already signed the budget law, there is no problem with the addition. According to the officials, the Israeli Appendix Letter commitment that was attached to the landmark military aid agreement last year indeed included a commitment to refund to the Administration any money the Congress would choose to transfer independently over the next two years, but “the letter said explicitly that the demand was only in case the Administration objects. Since the President signed the budget, he apparently does not oppose it, so Israel does not have to return the money,” the official said.

Senator Graham, on the other hand, appears to be happy to have made his point. In an email to Kafe Knesset his office stated that “Sen. Graham is no fan of the MOU. He was quite outspoken against it. He has long made it clear that Congress was not bound by the MOU.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

SIREN: “Trump donors closely watch the daily fracas, whether it’s Comey or Israel” by Theodore Schleifer: “Trump perhaps threw fuel to the fire on Wednesday when Trump administration officials said he would not soon announce his move of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “People think it’s a disaster. Wouldn’t mind seeing (Vice President Mike) Pence take over,” said one fundraiser close to pro-Israel givers, including Sheldon Adelson, Trump’s largest single benefactor… Matt Brooks, the head of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group funded heavily by Adelson, said he took comfort in that the White House decision was not final… “At the end, I believe that President Trump will eventually honor his commitment to move the embassy,” Brooks told CNN. He said the RJC did not receive a heads up from the administration.”

“On Tuesday, Adelson, 83, was seen entering the Capitol Hill office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — it is unclear what message he delivered in the rare in-person visit. Adelson is said to be closely watching Trump’s upcoming trip to Israel — the casino magnate will be in the country at the same time as Trump, and the person close to him said that while he may be “disappointed” now, the overseas trip will be “telling.” Thirty-five RJC donors and leaders are expected to be in Israel at the same time.” [CNN] • ‘People are in meltdown mode.’ Inside the GOP donor class panic about Trump [McClatchyDC]

GUESS WHO’S IN VEGAS — “Pro-Israel leader scolds Trump over embassy delay” by Jonathan Swan: “The influential conservative pro-Israel leader, Morton Klein, says President Trump is making a terrible mistake by shelving his conspicuous campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Klein, who I caught up with Wednesday at the SALT conference in Las Vegas, was responding to a Bloomberg report today that Trump had decided to delay moving the embassy.” [Axios]

TOP TALKER: Mort Klein Calls White House Staffer ‘Pro-Hamas’ — by Jacob Kornbluh and  Aaron Magid: “The ZOA has asked General McMaster, Director of the National Security Council, to reconsider his appointment of new National Security Council advisor on Israel-Palestinian matters, pro-Hamas Kris Bauman,” [Mort] Klein said in the lengthy statement. “This administration should be “cleaning out the swamp” from proponents, architects, and protégés of the Obama administration’s dangerous Middle East policies.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro tells us… “Kris Bauman is a veteran, a patriot, and a dedicated friend of Israel. He has worked for years, side-by-side with senior IDF leaders, to develop arrangements that would ensure Israel’s security in a two-state solution. To equate such efforts with being ‘pro-Hamas’ is beyond offensive — it’s ridiculous. It means that anyone who works for a two-state solution with provisions to protect Israel’s security is a terrorist supporter. That’s the majority of Israeli citizens, American Jews, Members of Congress, and IDF officers.” [JewishInsider]

“White House Is ‘Shutting Out’ Jewish Groups — Even As Crisis Mounts” by Nathan Guttman: “Now is the time to get people on a conference call and explain what’s happening,” said an official with a Jewish organization… But they have no easy line into the White House, many Jewish groups have found, disappointing expectations that insider allies would give them access to the halls of power. The administration has yet to forge a Jewish outreach operation, and is relying on a handful of Jewish billionaires and inner-circle advisers instead of the organized Jewish community. “When it comes to Israel issues, we’re not needed in this White House,” said a representative of a major Jewish organization. “Jared, Greenblatt and Friedman think they don’t need any advice.” [Forward]

AIR ‘FORCED’ ONE: “Foreign Trip Comes at Crucial Time, but Trump Is a Reluctant Traveler” by Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman: “In recent days, Mr. Trump has groused to several friends that he is not looking forward to leaving his new White House cocoon for high-profile, high-pressure meetings with dozens of world leaders in unfamiliar settings. At one point, he barked at an aide that he thought his first tour abroad should be only about half as long…  A visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, was cut short at his request.” [NYTimes]

“Saudi Arabia’s Plan to Win Over the White House” by Elizabeth Dickinson: “It’s up to Mohammed bin Salman, the deputy crown prince and favorite son of King Salman, to spearhead the effort to regain Riyadh’s lost influence in Washington… “The main guy for us is Jared Kushner, the secretary of everything,” [Salman al-]Ansari says. “And since we have our own Minister of Everything, I think it can work well. They both have a vision and the same mindset of reform.” [FP] • Saudi Arabia working to dazzle Trump in busy overseas visit [Reuters]

“Once hoped for as a reset, Trump’s foreign trip now bogged in White House crises” by Kevin Liptak: “Both speeches (in Saudi Arabia and Israel) are being drafted by Trump’s policy adviser Stephen Miller, who helped write Trump’s convention and inaugural addresses, with input from the large collection of advisers who are helping to plan the trip: son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, McMaster and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell. That group met last with with Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to discuss aspects of the trip, Corker’s office said… Kushner has led daily morning meetings to discuss the trip’s agenda and objectives, according to a senior administration official speaking on the condition of anonymity. Ordinarily heavily involved in nearly all West Wing happenings, Kushner has become largely consumed by the foreign trip and not as involved with day-to-day White House matters.” [CNN]

IRAN DEAL — “Iran Nuclear Deal Will Remain, for Now, White House Signals” by Gardiner Harris and David Sanger: “While acknowledging that the deal would remain in place, the administration imposed modest new sanctions against several Iranian individuals and four other organizations, including a China-based network that supplied missile-related items to a key Iranian defense entity.. “The U.S. and its partners will continue to apply pressure on Iran to protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms for everyone in Iran,” said Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, who will be traveling with President Trump to the Middle East.” [NYTimes; BuzzFeed

“Iran Nuclear Deal in Play as Hard-Line Candidate Gains on President” by Asa Fitch and Aresu Eqbali: “If [Ebrahim] Raisi wins, Iran’s foreign policy would likely break from the Rouhani-led engagement that yielded Iran’s agreement to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. A victory by Mr. Raisi also could change Iran’s view on foreign investment… Mr. Raisi has promised to abide by the deal. But he might not be willing or able to persuade the Revolutionary Guard—which sees foreign competition as a threat to its economic power—to give up any market share, [analyst Behnam Ben] Taleblu said.” [WSJ

STATUS QUO: State Department on responds to Nikki Haley’s remarks about the Western Wall — by Josh Lederman: “Haley initially appeared to be voicing her personal view about the wall, but that’s a distinction ambassadors don’t get to make. As the nation’s envoy to the United Nations, her public comments on foreign policy issues generally are assumed to be statements of U.S. policy. That policy, that “the Western Wall is in Jerusalem,” hasn’t changed, a State Department official said following Haley’s comments. Since Israel’s founding, the U.S. has maintained that “no state has sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem” and that it’s a “final status” issue that must be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiation, the official said.” [AP

NEW DETAILS: “Israeli Source Seen as Key to Countering Islamic State Threat” by Shane Harris: “Inside the White House, Mr. Trump’s exposure of a vital source shocked some staffers. According to an account… Mr. Trump discussed with the Russians the information obtained by Israel, without identifying the country… Believing that the president had shared highly-classified information, staff who know about the Israeli source alerted the president’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert… Mr. Bossert then called officials at the CIA and the National Security Agency to inquire whether written records documenting the president’s meeting now needed to be given a higher classification marking… The Israeli source added to a mosaic of recent information about threats from Islamic State.” [WSJ

“Intel spat adds to Israeli concerns about Trump visit” by Josef Federman: “With Trump backing away from his earlier support for hard-line Israeli positions and talking about a peace deal with the Palestinians, Israeli officials say they have no idea what ideas he may bring or concessions he may demand. “I get the sense that there are certain questions indeed,” said Michael Oren, a deputy government minister involved in visit preparations, addressing the question of jitters on the Palestinian issue. “What is not a question (is) that they are serious and … they want to see progress soon,” said Oren… “I hope we can move without any pressure.”” [AP

Does Trump understand the nuances of the decades long conflict? — by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason: “One Republican official… said after meeting Trump recently he did not think the president had a firm enough grasp on the nuances of the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I don’t think he understands it,” said the official, adding that Trump needed more detailed briefings before leaving on Friday. “I think it’s a very difficult challenge and I hope he’s going to talk to a lot of smart people.” White House advisers insisted Trump was up to speed on the Middle East, having already hosted Arab, Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the White House.” [Reuters

Orly Azoulay: “@realDonaldTrump Saudis refused me visa to come on your trip because I am an Israeli reporter. Humiliating? Take me on AF1!” [Twitter]

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Why Israelis Don’t Care Whether the U.S. Moves Its Embassy to Jerusalem” by Shalom Lipner: “If the president wants to land in Israel bearing gifts, there are plenty of other things that take rightful precedence for Israelis anyway… He could authorize the move because he wants to keep his campaign promise, because America prides itself in doing the honorable thing or just because it makes sense. But he shouldn’t do it as a misplaced favor to the people of Israel. They can live without it.” [Politico]  

“AJCongress head: Trump disruption could advance peace process” by Tamara Zieve: ““US President Donald Trump understands that sometimes being provocative and disruptive has some merit in negotiation,” American Jewish Congress president Jack Rosen told The Jerusalem Post… In recent weeks he went to Saudi Arabia where he met with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, to Qatar where he met with senior officials, and to Egypt where he met with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He sees a shift in attention in the region away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…. “They are looking for opportunities to have more dialogue and security and business cooperation, and I think President Trump could push them in that direction – either he will take a provocative move, or a regional effort to find a solution to the conflict,” Rosen concluded.” [JPost]

THE DIRECTOR: “Joseph Lieberman and 3 Others Interview to Be F.B.I. Director” by Glenn Thrush: “Mr. Lieberman’s name surfaced publicly for the first time on Wednesday after Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, added him to the list of candidates Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions were scheduled to interview before the president departs for a nine-day trip to the Middle East and Europe… Mr. Lieberman, 75, who served three terms in the Senate as a Democrat and one as an independent, is friendly with Mr. Sessions.” [NYTimes

“Mueller’s law firm’s clients could cause ‘wrinkle’ in appointment” by Josh Gerstein: “Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner are all clients of Wilmer Hale, the firm Mueller is leaving to assume the position of special prosecutor overseeing the high-profile Russia election probe.” [Politico

ON THE HILL — Republicans struggle to address Trump at Jerusalem Celebration — by Aaron Magid: Attending an event marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem on Capitol Hill, several GOP lawmakers declined to discuss President Trump’s Israel policy. When asked about Trump’s campaign promise to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA) told Jewish Insider, “I’m not going to conduct foreign policy for the President. We have separate branches: We have the executive branch and legislative branch. We’ll see what he does.” Similarly, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) preferred not to specifically address the White House’s specific comments on the Western Wall or the intelligence leaks. “There will be some hiccups along the way but the President’s position being solidly pro-Israel is profound and unwavering,” she stated.

Democrats, however, jumped at the opportunity to criticize the administration. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told Jewish Insider, “The President is incredibly careless and that may risk the lives of several people in the Mossad. It’s a terrible thing to happen. The President should not be so reckless. Everybody else is going to have to be more careful about sharing intelligence with us.” [JewishInsider]

NYC 2017 WATCH: “Ari Emanuel contributes to NYC mayor, but not to his own brother” by Bill Ruthhart: “Ari Emanuel’s $4,950 check to de Blasio, who is up for re-election in November, surfaced in a campaign finance report released this week… But in Chicago, none of the $42.6 million Rahm Emanuel has raised since he first ran for mayor has come directly from his brother’s wallet. Emanuel also did not receive any political contributions from his brother during his time as a North Side congressman, records show… All told, the mayor has collected more than 380 political donations from California donors totaling nearly $2.7 million. That includes contributions from Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, media mogul Haim Saban, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David and music executive David Geffen among many others.” [ChicagoTribune

** Good Thursday 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: Oculus developers start feud over signage [NYPost] • Marc Lasry Says He’s Investing in Oil Assets [Bloomberg• Crescent Heights developer Russell Galbut offers to rebuild historic courthouse [TRD] • Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner could come to Long Branch [APP] • Delek Group Buys Canadian Energy Operator for $590m [Oil&Gas StoreDot unveils electric-vehicle battery that can charge in five minutes [JPost] • Israel to test roads that will charge EVs as it drives on it [Po&Po]

SPOTLIGHT: “Jon Steinberg’s Financial News Startup Cheddar Raises $19M in New Funding” by Matt Lopez: “Cheddar’s existing investors, which include Comcast Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Ribbit Capital, also participated in the Series C round. Additionally, Gordon Rubenstein, managing partner of Raine Ventures, has joined Cheddar’s board.” [VideoInk

“In the Cannes superyacht-off, size isn’t everything” by Peter Bradshaw: “The plutocrats are squaring up to one another with some serious luxury yacht length. Roman Abramovich’s Eclipse, at 533ft, is expected to win; but actually size isn’t everything, so Lady Beatrice, the Barclay Brothers’ bijou 200-footer, might gain some approving nods among the seaborne Croesus community; and Oasis, the elegant little craft of Google chief Eric Schmidt – just under 200ft – should make an impression.” [TheGuardian]

“What 40 Mayors, Techies, and Investors Are Cooking Up At an Italian Villa” by Laura Bliss: “Mayors tend to think about the complexity of their cities, and think about scale right away, which inhibits innovation,” says Michael Eisenberg, a founding partner at the Israeli VC fund Aleph, via email. “One of the key areas of focus here is getting the mayors to think smaller. Get a win on innovation, gain expertise and momentum, and only then focus on scaling it citywide.” [CityLab

MEDIA WATCH: “Family of slain DNC staffer demands retractions from Fox News, local TV station” by Oliver Darcy: The family of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was fatally shot last July, is demanding retractions from Fox News and WTTG-TV on Wednesday for their inaccurate reports on the unsolved murder… This week, both Fox News and WTTG-TV published and aired reports, sourced to private investigator Rod Wheeler, that said evidence showed Rich had been in contact with Wikileaks before his death. Wheeler later told CNN he had no such evidence.” [CNNMoney

“U.S. court urged to relax convicted Israeli spy’s parole conditions” by Brendan Pierson: “Lawyer Eliot Lauer argued to a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan that the conditions, which require [Jonathan] Pollard, 62, to wear an electronic tracking device, adhere to a curfew and submit his computers to monitoring, serve no legitimate purpose… Circuit Judge Reena Raggi, however, pressed Lauer to explain why Pollard’s crime was not enough to justify the conditions… Rebecca Tinio, a lawyer for the government, said the conditions imposed by the U.S. parole commission were “well within in its broad discretion.” … “We’re optimistic,” Lauer told reporters after the argument. “I think it went well. I thought the court understood the issues, and I have great faith in American justice.”” [Reuters

TALK OF THE TOWN: “92Y Gala Sparks Debate On What’s Kosher” by Stewart Ain: “The decision by the 92nd Street Y to use a non-kosher caterer for its annual gala Monday night sparked a small protest and ignited a broader debate about the propriety of Jewish institutions in the city serving non-kosher food… “People have been writing and calling,” said Zev Brenner, whose Talkline radio program reaches a heavy concentration of Orthodox listeners. His Saturday night show discussed the Y’s decision. “People — even those who are not religious — are saying it is a shonda [shameful],” Brenner said… In the gala invitation, the Y stated that the event would be “kosher style.” Its website also noted, “No meat will be served at the gala — only fish and dairy — and as is our tradition, no treif will be served.” Someone close to the situation said “the entire event was kosher,” citing the above description of the menu.” [JewishWeek

“14-Year-Old Boy Charged With Setting Fire to LES Synagogue, Police Say” by Allegra Hobbs: “A 14-year-old boy was arrested Tuesday evening… and charged with third-degree arson for the blaze that tore through Beth Hamedrash Hagodol at 62 Norfolk St., according to authorities… police recovered video footage of three teens fleeing the area near the synagogue around the time the fire broke out.” [DNAInfo

“Wow Air to start L.A.-Israel service in September. Tickets on sale now for $199 each way” by Mary Forgione: “Super budget carrier Wow Air is now selling $199 one-way flights between L.A. and Tel Aviv. The service to Israel starts in September for the Iceland-based airline that charges fees for carry-on bags, seat selection and other flying “frills.” … Flights connect through Reykjavik, making this a really long haul…  The combined flight time, with a four-hour 40-minute layover at Reykjavik’s Keflavik International Airport, is almost 21 hours. A return trip… costs $399 and also takes close to 21 hours. Total cost of the ticket without adding fees for luggage or seat selections: $568. Note too that tickets are nonrefundable.” [LATimes]

SPORTS BLINK: “Inside the Battle to Buy the Miami Marlins” by Matthew Futterman: “In late April, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said the Miami Marlins would be sold in a matter of days, not weeks or months. Some 24 days later, the Marlins current owner, Jeffrey Loria, appears no closer to a deal. That is what happens when the leaders of the groups bidding can’t afford the pricetag on their own, even when their last names are Bush, Jeter, Romney and Glavine. Loria, who reportedly had a handshake deal earlier this year with the Kushner family that blew up over political considerations, can’t afford for the process to drag on much longer.” [WSJ]

DESSERT: “A Jewish hipster haven in the heart of Chabad’s Brooklyn territory” by Ben Sales: “Manhattanville Coffee, opened two years ago, merges two of Crown Heights’ communities: It’s a chic artisanal cafe with strict kosher certification” [JTA]

BIRTHDAYS: Founder in 1972 of Kroll, Inc., the pioneer of the modern corporate investigations industry, which he sold in 2004 to Marsh & McLennan Companies for $1.9 billion, Jules B. Kroll turns 76… Best-selling author of spy thriller novels including a prequel to the TV series “Homeland” and the “Scorpion” series, Andrew Gary Kaplan turns 76… Longtime New York Times columnist and reporter, Clyde Haberman turns 72… Los Angeles-based attorney, board member of American Friends of Nishmat, past president of Westwood Village Synagogue, Linda Goldenberg Mayman turns 69… Member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 1983 and adjunct professor at both of Baltimore’s law schools, University of Maryland and University of Baltimore, Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg turns 67… Senior Advisor at Moelis & Company, previously a Major General in the IDF, then CEO of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (2007-2012), Shlomo Yanai turns 65… Co-founder, editor and columnist for the news website Vox, blogger and journalist who writes about economics and politics from a liberal perspective, Matthew Yglesias turns 36… The AP’s White House reporter Josh Lederman turns 32… Senior director for intelligence programs at the White House National Security Council, Ezra Asa Cohen-Watnick turns 31… Analyst for financial services clients at Invariant (formerly known as Heather Podesta + Partners), Lauren DePinto turns 24… Netanel Levitt turns 24… Co-Founder of Rebelmail, Joe Teplow… Alan Kitey

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Photo credit: Avi Ohayon (GPO)

Kafe Knesset for May 22

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Eagle Has Landed: President Donald Trump arrived in Israel Monday. He was welcomed on the tarmac at Ben-Gurion Airport by almost all of the government’s ministers and…

Photo by Center for a New American Security

Interview with Ilan Goldenberg on Trump, Peace Process

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry and a Middle East expert at the Center for a New American Security, shared his thoughts about Trump’s trip and push…

Photo by Dov and Shmuel Lenchevsky

Republicans Struggle to Address Trump at Jerusalem Celebration

Thursday, May 18, 2017

WASHINGTON – In an overflowing room on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon, a bipartisan group of Senators and House Members — including Ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Kafe Knesset for May 18

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Lowering expectations for Trump’s visit: Just four days before the President’s arrival,…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Kafe Knesset for May 17

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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Family of Terror Victim Files Lawsuit Against Pro-Palestinian Groups

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Over two decades after their son was killed in a terrorist attack in Israel, a U.S. couple is returning to court to fight against Palestinians organizations that they…