Daily Kickoff: Biden to visit Israel amid MoU negotiation | Axelrod: Scalia requested Kagan nomination | How Harvey Levin & TMZ get their digital dirt

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DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “Israeli Official: Significant Disagreement Between U.S., Israel Over Military Aid Sum” by Barak Ravid: “At the latest round of talks in Jerusalem a week ago, the Americans agreed to increase the aid by no more than $400 million a year, a senior Israeli official said. Israel, however, is expecting an additional $1-2 billion per year. An Israeli official said the impasse is a result of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “unsuccessful navigation” vis-à-vis the White House. He said Israel could have obtained a bigger aid package had Netanyahu agreed to negotiate the deal when U.S. President Barack Obama offered to do so, in April and again in July last year.” [Haaretz]

HEARD LAST NIGHT: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to the Conference of Presidents mission gathered at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem: “I want to say emphatically that we have no illusions that America remains the best friend of the State of Israel. The U.S. and Israel are the greatest allies. And I deeply appreciate the support of President Obama, the Congress, the American people. We’re working together today on an MoU. I hope that we can complete it soon, and we certainly will welcome Vice President Biden, who will come to visit us. I think it’s another reflection of this deep friendship between our countries. And I think the American people understand that in this turbulent Middle East and this turbulent world, America has no better friend than Israel and Israel has no better friend than the United States of America.” [Transcript] • “U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is expected to visit Israel in two weeks.” [IsraelHayom]

Flashback: “Biden’s last visit to Israel sparked a diplomatic spat with Washington in 2010, when Israel announced settlement construction plans during Biden’s visit.” [ABCNews]

“New Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen Secretly Visited Washington” by Barak Ravid: “Cohen, who assumed new position last month, met with CIA chief John Brennan and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, among others, 10 days ago.” [Haaretz]

“British ambassador to Washington: I had a hard time over the Iran deal” by Ruth Sherlock: “The retiring British ambassador to Washington Sir Peter Westmacott has described how became involved in “tetchy” arguments with American congressmen as he tried to promote the Iranian nuclear deal, demanding they listen to their “closest allies” as much as the Israeli prime minister.” [Telegraph]

LATEST HILLARY EMAILS — Sid Blumenthal (10-04-12): “My son, Paul, the one who covers money & politics at the Huffington Post, told me the following story: According to Paul, another reporter at Huff Post told him that he was informed by a staffer on the NSC that Barak was at the White House recently having a secret meeting with the President. At the same time, Michael Oren had finished some meeting at the NSC and somehow heard that Barak was in the building. Oren raced around the West Wing searching for Barak, opening doors and looking in rooms. Donilon heard about Oren’s frantic snooping and raced after him, catching him, and escorted him out. Apocryphal? True? If false, it still reflects the split between Bibi and Barak. What is true is that a reporter at Huff Post was told this story by an NSC staffer.”

–Hillary replied: “Doubt that it happened, but, these days, who knows???”

Haim Saban (06-12-12): “Massive miscommunication on the timing between laura and me. S000000 sorry! Very much was looking forward to hangin’ Tx again for today. Love u. See u soon I hope,,,,,with the hope that I don’t mess it up again.”

–Hillary replied: “Not to worry. Loved seeing you and Cheryl and looking forward w Bill to the White House tonight. See you then.”

Gefilte Fish update — Richard Verma, Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs (03-05-10): “Here is a summary of where we stand on the gefilte fish issue: Rep. Manzullo is appreciative of the work we’re doing to free up the two containers stuck in Haifa, but is still concerned about the remaining seven containers and the longer-term issue. Of note, Rep. Weiner has become engaged on this issue as well, and co-wrote a letter with Manzullo to the Israeli ambassador last week urging Israel to reverse its decision to impose duties on U.S. carp.” [JewishInsider]

Jake Sullivan to Hillary (11-19-10): “If you get a chance to pull aside the Icelandic PM — you might try to lock down this JUSCANZ issue: Our goal is to gain agreement from Icelandic Prime Minister Sigurdardottir to support Israel’s bid for membership in JUSCANZ for the United Nations’ Third Committee in New York.”

“Major Donors to Clinton Include Napster Co-Founder” by Maggie Haberman: “Sean Parker was one of several donors in recent months to give to the Hillary Victory Fund. Others include the media mogul Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl, and the billionaire trader and philanthropist George Soros; all gave more than $300,000. The Chicago-based entrepreneur J.B. Pritzker gave more than $350,000.” [FirstDraft]

GOP DEBATE HIGHLIGHTS — by Jacob Kornbluh: Kasich joins Trump and Cruz on foreign policy — While Trump and Jeb Bush were going back and forth, arguing whether it was a mistake for President George W. Bush to invade Iraq, Kasich weighed in saying that their dispute was ‘nuts.’ “I gotta tell you, this is just crazy, huh? This is just nuts, okay?” Kasich said. “The fact is, we got ourselves in the middle of the civil war. The Sunni, the Shia, and the Kurds never got along. And frankly, if there weren’t weapons of mass destruction, we should never have gone. I don’t believe that the United States should involve itself in civil wars. The fact is that we should go to war when it is our direct interest, we should not be policemen of the world. But when we go, we mean business, we’ll do our job, we’ll tell our soldiers, our people in the service, ‘Take care of your job, and then come home once we’ve accomplished our goals.’ That’s what we need to do.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, Kasich clarified his position: “I would only go to Syria to destroy ISIS. I would not use U.S. troops to depose Assad. But I would support the rebels there. It’s OK to support those people who share your view. But for the United States to be embroiled in a civil war in Syria against Assad I think is a big mistake.” [HuffPost]

For the second debate in a row, Rubio was the only candidate to mention Israel: During closing statements, Rubio said, “We are going to be loyal to our allies like Israel, not enemies like Iran.”

Ann Coulter at it again: “Rubio closing: “We will be loyal to our allies like Israel …” HASN’T SHELDON ADELSON PICKED A CANDIDATE YET????” [Twitter]

Jeffrey Goldberg: “If you have a Jewish name and say something about Trump on Twitter, expect to be hit by a wave of anti-Semitic invective.” [Twitter]

“Why GOP elites just became even more nervous about a Trump nomination” by David Weigel: “If five of the remaining six Republican candidates win the nomination, they’ll be well-positioned to argue that Obama lost Iraq… But a contest between Trump and any Democrat would pit against one another two people who agree that the Middle East was basically stable until the folly of removing Saddam Hussein. It would align Republican voters with what Trump has argued through the campaign — that the last Republican president was a disaster and his advisers are discredited.” [WashPost]

Lindsey Graham on Trump’s debate performance: “We saw the Michael Moore Republican candidate emerge” [MorningJoe]

HAPPENING TODAY: “Jeb Bush Adds a Weapon (His Brother) Despite Worries It Could Misfire” by Ashley Parker: “The brother who was never expected to become president — but did — will be trotted out Monday as a lifeline to the brother who was always expected to become president, but now may not. Former President George W. Bush will take the stage Monday evening alongside Jeb Bush for a highly anticipated rally in North Charleston, S.C.” [NYTimes]

REMEMBERING SCALIA: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Bids Farewell To Her Unlikely Friend Antonin Scalia” by Salvador Hernandez: “The two built their law careers roughly during same period, but took significantly different paths. Scalia, who spent nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court’s bench, died Saturday at the age of 79. “From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies,” Ginsburg said in a statement on Sunday. “We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation.” [BuzzFeedWashPost]

“A surprising request from Justice Scalia” by David Axelrod: “Justice David Souter, Scalia’s longtime colleague on the court, had just announced his retirement, creating a vacancy for President Obama to fill. Scalia figured that as senior adviser to the new president, I might have some influence on the decision — or at least enough to pass along a message. “I have no illusions that your man will nominate someone who shares my orientation,” said Scalia, then in his 23rd year as the court’s leading and most provocative conservative voice. “But I hope he sends us someone smart.” He wasn’t done. Leaning forward, as if to share a confidential thought, he tried again. “Let me put a finer point on it,” the justice said, in a lower, purposeful tone of voice, his eyes fixed on mine. “I hope he sends us Elena Kagan.” [CNN]

From 2007: “Number of Orthodox Court Clerks Jumps Thanks to Scalia: Lewin recalled a fellow classmate and colleague on the Harvard Law Review who was impressed by his Jewish background: the Italian Catholic, staunchly conservative Scalia. “He has commented at times on the fact that he thought that people who had a talmudic training had a head start,” Lewin said of Scalia.” [Forward• Scalia with a few of his Jewish clerks [Pic]

“American Orthodox Jews Will Miss Scalia, Their Great Defender” by Seth Lipsky: “Religious Americans of all creeds will feel the loss of The Great Scalia, but his passing is a blow for the Orthodox Jewish community, who saw the justice as protecting their right to stand apart.” [Haaretz]

“The Chutzpah and Yiddishkeit of Justice Antonin Scalia” by Allison Kaplan Sommer: “Though dubbed ‘bad for the Jews’ for his stance on religion and state, the fiery Italian Catholic judge was a friend of the former Israeli Chief Justice, and brought ‘chutzpah’ into the Supreme Court.” [Haaretz]

“How Will Antonin Scalia’s Death Affect 2 Cases of Jewish Interest?” by Michael Helfand:“The coming debates and machinations over his replacement will probably provide a glimpse into how the Supreme Court will address these high-profile church-state cases going forward — cases that remain of vital interest to the American Jewish community.” [Forward]

**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: “Victoria’s Secret CEO resigns, Les Wexner takes over” [ColumbusBusinessFirst] • “Billionaire Investor John Paulson Thinks the Stock Market Is ‘Overreacting'” [Fortune] • “Bill Ackman just broke an unwritten rule of the business” [BusinessInsider• “Citi expects Israel to use negative interest rates” [JPost] • “Netanyahu Defends Natural-Gas Plan Before Israel’s High Court” [WSJ] • “Barry Diller: Data is the new cable” [CNNMoney] • “Designer Rebecca Minkoff on the Secret of Mastering the Millennial Mindset” [Fortune] • “Mark Zuckerberg hired 16 bodyguards to protect him at home” [NYPost] • “How the Nazis Annihilated a Jewish Businessman’s Condom Empire” [ViceNews] • “Longtime Perry Ellis CEO to be recognized by Greater Miami Jewish Federation” [MiamiHerald]

STARTUP NATION: “The Dash-Cam App That Aims to Prevent Car Crashes” by Elliott Gotkine: It’s an app that plans to rate every car on the road, and predict and prevent accidents before they happen. Nexar, which just launched on Apple’s App store, is based in Tel Aviv.” [Bloomberg]

LongRead: “The Digital Dirt: How TMZ gets the videos and photos that celebrities want to hide” by Nicholas Schmidle: “TMZ resembles an intelligence agency as much as a news organization, and it has turned its domain, Los Angeles, into a city of stool pigeons. In an e-mail from last year, a photographer reported having four airport sources for the day, including “Harold at Delta, Leon at Baggage service, Fred at hudson news, Lyle at Fruit and nut stand.” On the Fox News program, Kurtz asked Levin whether his willingness to buy material “tarnished” TMZ’s integrity. Levin was unapologetic. “There’s nothing wrong with it,” he said. “The video is still the video. So who cares whether you pay money for it?”

“In July, 2006, a tipster called a TMZ employee to say that he had just seen Mel Gibson on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway. Levin made some inquiries, and learned that Gibson had been pulled over for driving under the influence… Gibson also had launched into an anti-Semitic tirade, saying, “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.” Levin went to the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department for confirmation. He was told that his account was “absolutely untrue.” But later that day he secured a copy of the original police report, which contained four pages, excised from the version on file, detailing Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant. The document supplied both evidence of Gibson’s bigotry and proof that the sheriff’s department had attempted to cover it up. After TMZ published images of the four pages, the story made national headlines. Citron said, “That was the moment the rest of the world discovered TMZ.” [NewYorker]

WEEKEND WEDDINGS: “Lauren Sara Boxer and Ari Jack Ackerman [were] married Feb. 14 at the Mandarin Oriental in New York. Rabbi Haskel Lookstein… lead the ceremony. Until last year, the bride, who is 35, ran Fashion Finery, a designer clothing and accessory consignment business on eBay. The bride is a paternal granddaughter of the late Leonard Boxer, a founder of Liz Claiborne, the New York fashion company. Mr. Ackerman, 44, is the founder and the chief executive of Bunk1.com, which enables online communication between parents and their children at summer camp; he also created Tribe, a Jewish dating app initiated last October.” [NYTimes]

“Sadie Weiner and Zachary Wineburg: ‘The Tide Goes in, the Tide Goes Out’ — The bride, 28, who is known as Sadie, is the communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington. The groom, 35, is an account executive on the Democratic elections marketing team at Google, helping candidates target voters and supporters online.” [NYTimes]

BIRTHDAYS: Alex Siegel, RJC Deputy Executive Director, turns 3-0 (h/t Matt Brooks)… Nachum Segal, President of the Nachum Segal Radio Network, turns 53… Cartoonist Art Spiegelman (born Itzhak Avraham ben Zeev) turns 68… NIF’s Washington Director Karen Paul-Stern… British actress, Claire Bloom, whose paternal grandfather shortened his name from Blumenthal, turns 85… Cognitive scientist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Douglas Hofstadter, turns 71…

** Iron Dome developer completes $20M raise: mPrest, the company behind Israel’s Iron Dome command and control technology, completed a $20 million Series A round of funding led by GE Ventures and OurCrowd, a world-leading equity-based crowdfunding platform. OurCrowd is a startup investing platform built for accredited investors to provide venture capital funding for Israeli and global startups. Membership in the community is vetted and offered only to people who meet the stringent accreditation criteria. Learn more at [OurCrowd] **

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