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

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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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