Daily Kickoff: Did Menendez kill Israel bill to save it?; State Dept. defends Hamas-friendly Bank; Z Street’s Suit vs. IRS OK’d; Kinky Friedman Loses

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By Jacob Kornbluh & JI Staff

HAPPENING TODAY: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) & Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer will spend the day with Christians United for Israel as they celebrate the 47th anniversary of Jerusalem’s unification[JewishInsider]…. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem…. Knesset Members will attend a Jewish function on Capitol Hill. The group includes MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), MK Hilik Bar (Labor), MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), MKs Yitzhak Vaknin and Yitzhak Cohen (Shas), MK Zvulun Kalfa (Jewish Home), and MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua)….FIDF Long Island Chapter to Honor Israel’s Soldiers tonight at 7PM. Prominent criminal defense lawyer, Ben Brafman, will serve as master of ceremonies for the third year in a row…. Jeff Gewirtz, Brooklyn Nets VP, will address the JNF’s Lawyers for Israel Society Luncheon at 3PM… The Gatestone Institute hosts a luncheon with Gerald Steinberg on “How Europe Funds the Destruction of Israel.”…. Sen. Ted Cruz will host a conference call this evening to update the media on his current trip to Israel & Ukraine…. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will deliver the keynote at the US-Israel CONNECTED Summit in Herzliya

WEST POINT SPEECH: “Obama will omit Mideast peace process in major speech on U.S. foreign policy” by Michael Wilner: “While nuclear proliferation in Iran, chemical weapons use in Syria and the erasure of borderlands in Ukraine will all be discussed as part of a broader strategy, Obama does not plan on discussing the Middle East peace process, sources told The Jerusalem Post. That decision marks a departure for this president: in the past year, Obama instructed US Secretary of State John Kerry to prioritize peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and has referred to such a peace as one of his two greatest foreign policy goals.” [JPost]

POWER LUNCH: Obama holds private lunch with foreign policy journalists: “President Barack Obama held a private ninety-minute lunch meeting with foreign policy journalists on Tuesday, just before delivering a public address at which he announced plans to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2016. Those present at Tuesday’s meeting included: New York Times columnists Tom Friedman and David Brooks; Times editorial board member Carol Giacomo; Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne; Bloomberg View’s Jeffrey Goldberg; Wall Street Journal Washington bureau chief Gerald Seib; CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria and national security analyst Peter Bergen; POLITICO Magazine editor Susan Glasser; and Atlantic contributor Peter Beinart.” [Politico]

Obama administration defends Hamas-friendly bank, asks Supreme Court to turn away Arab Bank case: “The Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to turn away a case over whether bank secrecy laws protect Arab Bank from supplying documents in lawsuits accusing it of providing services to groups the United States brands as terrorist organizations. In April, the New York Times reported that State Department lawyers favored supporting Jordan-based Arab Bank in the case in part because Jordan is a U.S. ally…

—Arab Bank is challenging a federal judge’s ruling against it for failing to turn over documents in lawsuits that accuse the bank of providing banking services to Hamas and other militant groups the United States has put on its list of terrorist organizations. The lawsuits were brought by U.S. citizens and foreign nationals who were the victims, or the family members of victims, of attacks blamed on Hamas in Israel and the Palestinian territories between 1994 and 2005.” [Reuters]

IRS Political Discrimination Suit by Pro-Israel Group OKed by Court: “After nearly four years of litigation, U.S. federal district court Judge Ketanje Brown Jackson instructed the IRS to cease “struggling mightly” to thwart a lawsuit filed by the pro-Israel organization Z STREET. That lawsuit alleges the IRS violated Z STREET’s First Amendment Constitutional rights. The judge ordered the IRS to file a substantive answer to Z STREET’s Complaint within 30 days.

—On July 19, 2010, when counsel for Z STREET spoke with the IRS agent to whom the organization’s application had been assigned, that agent said that a determination on Z STREET’s application may be further delayed because the IRS gave “special scrutiny” to organizations connected to Israel and especially to those whose views “contradict those of the administration’s.” Several years after Z STREET challenged the IRS in court, several tea party and other conservative groups also claimed the IRS had discriminated against them on the basis of their political viewpoint. On May 10 of last year, the floodgates of criticism burst open when then Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division Lois Lerner admitted that the IRS had engaged in certain activity that disadvantaged conservative groups.”[JewishPress]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: “NYC Mayor de Blasio blasts anti-Semitism, defends Israel at ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel’s 92nd annual dinner”: “Mayor de Blasio paid tribute on Tuesday night to some of his strongest backers since his time as a Brooklyn councilman, blasting anti-Semitism and defending Israel in front of ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel. De Blasio spoke at the group’s 92nd annual dinner, which honored Brooklyn resident and wealthy real estate investor and landlord Rubin Schron. De Blasio came gave a similar speech in January to the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, getting into trouble with some liberal Jewish groups that supported him.” [DailyNews

–“At City Hall, we consider it our obligation to work closely with the [Jewish] community,”he told the gathering of about 800 people at the Hilton New York Midtown. “It’s natural for us. There’s a friendship. There’s a human connection. There’s an appreciation for all this community does for the city.” New York City is home to one of the world’s largest Jewish populations, providing an “instantaneous link” to Israel, de Blasio said. [NewsDay] [YouTube]

Israel Agrees to Spend Half of Iron Dome Funds in the U.S.: “Funds going to U.S. contractors for components of the Israeli-built, Pentagon-funded system will jump to 30 percent this year and 55 percent next year from 3 percent previously, according to a U.S. Missile Defense Agency report to Congress obtained by Bloomberg News. That amounts to at least $97 million of $176 million requested by the Defense Department for the coming fiscal year.” [Bloomberg]

JNS – Dmitriy Shapiro: Did Sen. Menendez kill the pro-Israel bill to save it? “Menendez toldJNS that Corker’s amendment, which had nothing to do with Israel, could have hurt bipartisan support for the pro-Israel bill. The bill would bolster the U.S.-Israel relationship by reaffirming previous policy and pursuing greater cooperation on defense, homeland security, energy, and cyber security. It declared Israel “a major strategic partner.” The bill was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2013, gained bipartisan support, and was lobbied for by AIPAC as part of its legislative agenda.

–“Senator Boxer asked us to take it down, and I agreed with her,” said Menendez, who explained that the bill had been worked on “for the better part of a year.” “We finally had broad bipartisan support for [the bill], solved some of the visa waiver issues [for Israelis seeking to enter the U.S.], and then in the last minutes, without any heads up, we get an amendment that in my mind, while maybe worthy of debate, is not worthy to put into this bill and take this bill down,” he said… The Corker amendment would have Congress voting on an Iran nuclear plan before the administration agrees to it, rather than overseeing a sanctions adjustment post-agreement, as stipulated in the Menendez-Kirk bill.

—“We put sanctions in place to get them to the table so I’m disappointed that it appears that there’s not going to be a role for us in weighing in on the overall deal,” Corker told JNS, explaining the reasoning behind his amendment. Had Menendez not withdrawn the bill, committee Democrats would have been required to make a tough vote for or against the amendment. Going against the amendment could have put into question Democrats’ support for Israel, which is highly skeptical of the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran and therefore in favor of congressional oversight. Two days after Menendez killed the bill, he received the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) Defender of Zion Award. Considered by some the most uncompromising pro-Israel organization, the ZOA received Menendez warmly… Boxer has said she plans to “hotline” the bill—bypassing the committee for a vote on the Senate floor. The process requires the bill, which has 62 co-sponsors, to receive a unanimous consent.”[JNS]

AIEF TRIP: “U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will continue his five-day, fact-finding trip to Israel on Wednesday with a scheduled meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister. It’s a trip that also includes sitdowns with other senior government officials, tours of Holy sites and meetings with business and energy leaders. “It’s learning to see if there’s a pathway to peace,” said Manchin of the trip, from Israel, on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.” “Basically, it’s for me to understand the very complex environment over here and that we’re very much involved in, the United States, with our greatest ally, Israel.” Manchin’s trip was organized through the American Israel Education Foundation.” Radio Interview [WV MetroNews]

—National Journal: Which Organizations Spend the Most on Congressional Travel? The American Israel Education Foundation holds a strong lead: “The AIEF, which came in first, is the charitable arm of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC—a pro-Israel lobbying group. “AIEF-sponsored trips help inform members of Congress about the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship through firsthand experiences in Israel, briefings by experts on Middle East affairs, and meetings with Israeli political leaders,” a spokesperson for AIEF said in a statement to National Journal. Since the beginning of 2013—when the current session of Congress began—the American Israel Education Foundation has spent more than $2.2 million on travel for both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.” [NationalJournal]

“Israeli Knesset Members to meet with Gov. Deval Patrick, treasurer Steve Grossman in Boston,” by Shira Schoenberg: “Six members of Knesset, the Israeli parliament, will visit Boston this Sunday through Tuesday to meet with Jewish communal leaders and with the state’s political leaders. The group is sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a Jewish foundation that focuses on inclusion of Jews with disabilities and on the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community. The Israeli delegation will have lunch on Monday at the Harvard Club with Gov. Deval Patrick, treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano and members of the state Legislature.” [MassLive]

DAILY NEWS PROFILE – Dr. Joseph Frager: “Doctor works hard to save lives — and Israel”: “Frager — who performs colonoscopies and other procedures at Montefiore Medical Center — is the chairman of the annual Raoul Wallenberg Heritage Foundation Dinner, pushes back against a boycott of Israeli goods and next Sunday will help stage the Celebrate Israel Parade and concert. This year, noted lawyer Alan Dershowitz will introduce keynote speaker Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). Also planning to speak are former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton and Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon. A long list of local pols have also been invited, Frager said.” [DailyNews]

MIDTERMS: Jewish politician Kinky Friedman drubbed in Democratic runoff race last night for Texas agriculture commissioner: In March, Richard “Kinky” Friedman, a cigar-chomping, cowboy-hat-wearing humorist, crashed the Texas Democratic state party. He knocked out the establishment Democrats’ favored candidate, Hugh Asa Fitzsimons III, in the primary for agriculture commissioner, a powerful position that oversees an agency with 700 employees and a $550 million annual budget. Friedman, who is Jewish, years ago formed a country band called Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, which became known in the 1970s for songs such as “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore.” Insurance salesman and former farmer Jim Hogan defeated Friedman last night 55.6% to 44%.

Josh Rogin: Exclusive Pictures of Syria’s Oldest Synagogue, Destroyed by Assad: “Syrian Arab Army forces flattened the Eliyahu Hanabi Synagogue in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus over the weekend. The attack not only wrecked a site that’s at least 400 years old. It may have destroyed thousands of irreplaceable Jewish artifacts contained inside the synagogue, according to opposition leaders and photos obtained at the site.” [DailyBeast]

Israel rescues Ukrainian Jews stranded by fighting: “Israel’s Jewish Agency came to the rescue of two Jewish Ukranian families after rebels seized control of Donetsk airport as they were waiting to emigrate to Israel. The two families, numbering six people, were stranded at the airport when it was shut down on Monday. The agency then launched a “fast-paced operation, spokesman Avi Mayer said.”

–“The families were driven to the Ukrainian city of Dnepropetrovsk then flown to Kiev where they boarded a plane for Tel Aviv, Mayer said. Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident who was born in Donetsk, said in a statement: “Due to the current situation in the country we have significantly expanded our activities, assisting those who wish to immigrate to Israel.” An estimated 11,000 Jews live in Donetsk and about 130,000 in all of Ukraine.” [Reuters]

**Good Morning! 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**

Iran Judge Calls Mark Zuckerberg to Testify in Court: “The Zionist director of the company of Facebook, or his official attorney must appear in court to defend himself and pay for possible losses,” Ruhollah Momen-Nasab, an Iranian Internet official, was quoted by ISNA news agency. The judge also reportedly ordered the Iranian government to block Instagram and WhatsApp. [Mashable] —— Pharrell: ‘Happy’ Iranians should be free to dance [AP]

Top Tweet: Justin Timberlake, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday, visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem ahead of his concert on Wednesday in Tel Aviv. @JTimberlake – “The Holy Land… What an experience. I will never forget this day. #Israel [instagram]

Start-Up Nation Spotlight: Israel’s SiSense sees surging demand for data analytics software [Reuters] —- Israeli Security Officials Warn Against Over-Investment by China [FreeBeacon] — Intuit to buy Israeli Check Inc for $360 million [Reuters] — AOL to invest in Israeli start-ups [Reuters] — Mini Israel Creator Eiran Gazit Wants to Create Mini NYC [WSJ]

Could Henry Ford Have Dreamed a Jew Would Run His Car Company?: “When Ford named Mark Fields as its president and CEO, the 53-year-old executive became not just the first Jew to run that company, but also the first Jew to head any of the major U.S. automakers. Said Jeffrey Gurock, a professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University: “I don’t think Henry Ford would have dreamed of a day where a Jew would [be] the head of his motor company. Part of his anti-Semitism was that Jews control but don’t work. He never would have dreamed that there would be a Jew putting people to work in the Ford Motor Company.” According to former Ford PR executive Bill Carroll, Fields’s grandparents immigrated to America from Russia and Romania, and in America the family name, Finkelman, was changed to Fields. His parents were members of a Conservative synagogue in Paramus, New Jersey, Carroll reported. In an earlier interview, Fields emphasized that he had never experienced any anti-Semitism during his quarter of a century at Ford.” [Forward]

Jewish Philantropist & Parking Lot Magnate Lewis Katz Buys the Philadelphia Inquirer:“Lewis Katz, parking lot magnate and the former owner of the then-New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils, and his ally — cable mogul H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest — on Tuesday won control at an insider auction of the company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com.”[NYPost] Three separate JCCs in New Jersey are named after his parents, Betty and Milton Katz. Lenfest, is not Jewish but has donated significantly to Jewish causes and is often mistaken for being Jewish.

WATCH: Jared Kushner, CEO of Kushner Properties and the Observer Media Group, recently gave the commencement address at Hofstra University’s graduation. Kushner spoke about his Jewish upbringing and how its immigrant, hard-working mentality helped shaped who he is today. [LiveStream]

Yeshiva University Cedes Control of Money-Losing Einstein Medical School: “Montefiore Medical Center is set to take over greater control of the running and financing of Yeshiva University’s money-losing Albert Einstein College of Medicine in a move aimed at easing the medical school’s heavy financial burden on Y.U.” [Forward]

SPORTS BLINK: Steve Ballmer Is Said to Be Among Clippers’ Suitors as Sterling’s Wife Meets With Potential Buyers: “Ballmer joined a growing list of people who have expressed an interest in buying the Clippers, who are on the market after Rochelle Sterling reached an agreement with her husband last week to negotiate a sale of the team. While it remains unclear if the N.B.A. will authorize Rochelle Sterling to control a sale, O’Donnell said she had been in regular contact with league officials, including Jason Cahilly, the league’s chief financial officer, who spent the weekend in Los Angeles.”[NYTimes] — BofA Said to Be Hired by Sterlings to Sell NBA Clippers [Bloomberg]

DESSERT: High-Tech Mevushal Wine: “Flash détente” is a novel process for producing mevushal wine. The highly regarded Covenant Winery has released a new line of mevushal wines using this technology. “After a decade of making only non-mevushal wines, we decided to use a new flash-heating technology called ‘flash détente’ to create mevushal wine,” said Jeff Morgan, Covenant’s co-owner and head winemaker. “It allows us to flash-heat whole grapes before they become wine.” This technology has been used for more than a decade in Europe, South America and Australia, though it only hit the U.S. in 2009. The OU-approved system is actually used widely by non-kosher winemakers: initially developed for problematic vintages and then for “green” or under-ripe grapes.” [JewishWeek]

That’s all folks, have a great Wednesday!

**Have a tip, suggestion, or even an op-ed? We’d love to hear from you. Email  editor@jewishinsider.com**


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