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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May
18

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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

Gratuity not included. We love receiving news tips but we also gladly accept tax deductible tips. 100% of your donation will go directly towards improving Jewish Insider. Thanks! [PayPal]

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Daily Kickoff: Will Israel return money exceeding MOU? | Mixed messages from Trump admin on status of Western Wall | How Bronfman’s booze empire began

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SIREN: “At a Besieged White House, Tempers Flare and Confusion Swirls” by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman: “Mr. Trump’s… own mood… has become sour and dark, turning against most of his aides — even his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — and describing them in a fury as “incompetent,” according to one of those advisers… There is a fear among some of Mr. Trump’s senior advisers about leaving him alone in meetings with foreign leaders out of concern he might speak out of turn. General McMaster, in particular, has tried to insert caveats or gentle corrections into conversations when he believes the president is straying off topic or onto boggy diplomatic ground. This has, at times, chafed the president.” [NYTimes]

“White House on edge: ‘We are kind of helpless'” by Josh Dawsey and Matthew Nussbaum: “In interviews, multiple White House officials indicated they feel under siege – unsure who in the intelligence community was leaking, how much damaging information was out there, when the next proverbial shoe would drop and what Trump might say… Trump was furious about the story, one of the officials said, but retreated to the White House residence within 75 minutes of it going online.” [Politico]

TOP TALKER: “Trump Called Netanyahu, but White House and Israel Kept Mum” by Barak Ravid: “U.S. President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday and discussed his upcoming visit to Israel. The call, which took place shortly after Trump called Jordan’s King Abdullah II… was not publicized by either the White House or by the Prime Minister’s Office. Netanyahu’s office confirmed the phone call took place. A senior official noted that the call… lasted for about twenty minutes. The senior official noted that the call did not touch on reports that Trump leaked intelligence information in his meeting with the Russian foreign minister last week.” [Haaretz]

FIRST LOOK: “New US envoy: America won’t demand a settlement freeze” by Shlomo Cesana and Erez Linn:“We have no demand for a settlement freeze,” David Friedman, the new U.S. ambassador to Israel told Israel Hayom… “I am fairly confident that the president will not come to Israel with any particular plan or road map or with any specifics on peace,” Friedman told Israel Hayom… Asked whether the U.S. will pressure Israel to make concessions by promising more benefits, Friedman said, “I don’t know if he [Trump] will ever ask Israel to make concessions in the first place.” … The ambassador, who has raised money for the settlement enterprise as a private citizen, indicated that he plans to visit Judea and Samaria to meet with Jewish settlers.” [IsraelHayom]

MIXED MESSAGES — U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tells The Brody File last night: “I don’t know what the policy of the administration is but I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how we’ve always seen it and that’s how we should pursue it…we’ve always thought the Western Wall was part of Israel.” [CBN

H.R. McMaster, Press Secretary Sean Spicer won’t say if Western Wall is part of Israel — Reporter: Can you tell us if Prime Minister Netanyahu would join President Trump at the Western Wall? And does the President believe that the Western Wall is part of Israel? McMaster: “No Israeli leaders will join President Trump to the Western Wall.” Reporter: I want to follow up on Jennifer’s question which you didn’t answer about the Western Wall being part of Israel? McMaster: “Oh, that sounds like a policy decision, you know — and that’s the President’s intention. And I did answer the question in terms of what his intention is whether to go with Israeli officials.” [CSPAN

Spicer during an off-camera press briefing: “The Western Wall is obviously one of the holiest sites in Jewish faith. It’s clearly in Jerusalem. But there’s been — it’s an issue that’s had serious consideration. It will be a topic that’s going to be discussed during the President’s trip between the parties that he meets with.”

“US Consulate’s political counselor named as official who told Israelis: Western Wall is not yours” by Raphael Ahren: “The American official who sniped at his Israeli counterparts that the Western Wall… is not part of Israel… was named Tuesday in a TV report as David Berns, the political counselor at the US Consulate in Jerusalem. A second US official, the consulate’s economic counselor Jonathan Shrier, was also involved in the bitter diplomatic incident.” [ToI

Trump Inauguration Rabbi Slams Administration’s Jerusalem Confusion — by Ben Cohen: ““The notion that there is a question as to whom the Kotel belongs to is just preposterous,” [Rabbi Marvin] Hier said. “This is an unnecessary blunder on the part of, firstly, low-level officials, and then McMaster. To leave open the suggestion that the sovereignty of the Kotel is attached to the West Bank is just mind-boggling to me.” Hier restated his conviction that the policy confusion on Jerusalem would end soon after Trump lands in Israel. “When President Trump arrives in Israel, I don’t think there will be any doubt over who has title over the Kotel,” he said.” [Algemeiner]  

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — “Israel Was Source of Secret Intelligence That Trump Gave to Russians, Officials Say” by Adam Goldman, Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo: “The classified intelligence that President Trump disclosed in a meeting last week with Russian officials at the White House was provided by Israel…  In a statement… Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, reaffirmed that the two countries would maintain a close counterterrorism relationship. “Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump,” Mr. Dermer said… At least some of the details that the United States has about the plot came from the Israelis, the officials said. The officials… said that Israel previously had urged the United States to be careful about the handling of the intelligence that Mr. Trump discussed.” [NYTimes; NBCNews

— “The information that Israel provided in this case was considered so sensitive that it wasn’t shared even with the closest U.S. allies, known as the “Five Eyes,” a group of countries that includes the U.K. and Canada, the officials said.” [WSJ] • Trump’s disclosure endangered spy placed inside ISIS by Israel, officials say [ABCNews]

“Israeli Official: Trump Sharing Intelligence With Russia Is “Worst Fears Confirmed”” by Sheera Frenkel: “”We have an arrangement with America which is unique to the world of intelligence sharing… To know that this intelligence is shared with others, without our prior knowledge? That is, for us, our worst fears confirmed,” [said an Israeli intelligence officer] … A second intelligence officer, who spoke to BuzzFeed News via encrypted app… said Israeli intelligence officers were “boiling mad and demanding answers” as to whether Israel’s military would continue its current intelligence-sharing agreement with the US.” [BuzzFeed] • Former Mossad chief: Israel will “think twice” before sharing sensitive info [CBSNews]

“Trump’s intelligence gaffe creates tension with Israel” by Annie Karni: “Nobody expects Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to confront Trump in public. Weakened politically at home and dependent on his far-right coalition government, the embattled Israeli politician needs to use Trump’s visit to project a tight bond… “The Israeli government won’t want to blow up the issue,” a former senior U.S. official said in an email. “But behind the scenes I would assume that the Mossad is very upset and will want some ironclad assurances from its American counterparts about the handling of similar information before they share it again (like a promise that it won’t be shared with the president!).”” [Politico]

“Israel lauds US security ties following Trump disclosures” by Aron Heller: “The security relationship between Israel and our great ally the United States is deep, meaningful and unprecedented in its scope and contribution to our strength,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted. “That is how it has been and that is how it will continue to be.” … Avi Dichter, a lawmaker in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and a former head of the Shin Bet security service, said that even if what was reported was true it did not deliver a damaging blow. “The current president has been serving for slightly over 100 days. This is not enough time to accumulate experience that is as bad as it is described by the media,” he told Israel’s Army Radio. “I am familiar with a few other cases over the years in other countries where they made use of materials – perhaps even in a more scandalous manner than was described by the media in this case.” [AP]

TRUMP ISRAEL TRIP: “The President will meet with President Rivlin and lay a wreath at Yad Vashem. The President will then deliver remarks at the Israel Museum… Later that day, he will meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu. That night, the President and the First Lady will join the Prime Minister and Mrs. Netanyahu for a private dinner. The following morning, the President will meet President Abbas in Bethlehem… And he will visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and say a prayer at the Western Wall.” [JewishInsider

NO MASADA VISIT: “Why isn’t Trump visiting Masada?” by Judith Abramson: “According to Channel 2 News, the reason behind this decision is the result of an Israeli Air Force (IAF) defense regulation, which prohibits helicopters from landing on Masada’s summit… It was placed into effect following a past visit at the site by a US Defense Secretary and upon landing, the wind and rocks damaged both to the historical site and to the helicopter’s propellers. However, Israeli officials contacted their American counterparts offering an alternative: Trump may land at the bottom of the historical site and go up on the cable cars as former US President George W. Bush did… The offer was turned down by the Americans.” [JerusalemOnline

PREVIEW: “Trump to unveil plans for an ‘Arab NATO’ in Saudi Arabia” by Josh Rogin: “When President Trump arrives in Riyadh this week, he will lay out his vision for a new regional security architecture White House officials call an “Arab NATO,” to guide the fight against terrorism and push back against Iran. As a cornerstone of the plan, Trump will also announce one of the largest arms-sales deals in history. Behind the scenes, the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia have been conducting extensive negotiations, led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman…  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is now heavily involved.” [WashPost]

“Trump’s overseas trip must be canceled. The risks are too great” by Sarah Posner: “Trump’s team has managed, over the past several days, to alarm Israeli officials with bizarre lapses in basic protocol and erratic statements on Trump’s own policy positions… Given Team Trump’s lack of preparedness and expertise in the White House and State Department, it’s not unreasonable to expect that further gaffes of this nature are possible during his trip abroad.” [WashPost

“Trump’s Russia-Israel disaster” by Rob Eshman: “The evidence was building that Trump was not going to be the hand puppet Sheldon Adelson thought he bought Bibi for Chanukah. Now, flying across the Atlantic with a self-inflicted puncture to his competence and credibility, Trump needs Bibi more than ever to keep his credibility afloat.” [JewishJournal]

SCENE YESTERDAY — How Progressive Democrats Are Approaching Israel — by Aaron Magid: Hundreds of liberal activists gathered at the Center for American Progress’ (CAP) 2017 Ideas Conference on Tuesday. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was hardly mentioned, Jewish Insider’s Aaron Magid spoke with attendees about how they see Israel fitting into the progressive cause going forward. John Podesta, former campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, told Jewish Insider, “There is a commitment to a two state solution as an ongoing part of what the progressive worldview is in the Middle East.” Read the full report here [JewishInsider]

KAFE KNESSET — MOU Round 2 — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: Remember when Senator Lindsey Graham held up the conclusion of the negotiations on the landmark $38 billion military package because of the provision barring the Israeli government from lobbying Congress for additional money? Senator Graham told Bibi in a phone call “the Obama administration can go f— themselves”… Well, Senator Graham might have gotten his revenge, because under the radar, he recently passed $3.175 billion for assistance to Israel under the Omnibus Appropriations bill for the remainder of FY2017. This amount exceeds the commitment to the existing MOU by $75 million. Last year, when Senator Graham’s objections were stalling the final announcement of the MOU, Netanyahu’s national security advisor, Yaakov Nagel, suggested to accompany the agreement with an Israeli appendix letter of commitment to return any extra funding allocated by Congress during 2017-2018, the two years remaining in the current MOU package. The President already signed the Omnibus appropriations bill, so now, the question is whether Israel will need to live up to its commitment and refund the excess appropriation.

Several well-informed sources told Kafe Knesset the incident “is somewhat embarrassing.” One of them added: “Trump may not demand the money back, and both sides can always claim that this is a commitment given to the Obama administration and does not apply to relations with the Trump administration. But it will also be difficult for Netanyahu to keep the money, because it undermines a written commitment he made, and Israel usually abides by these kinds of commitments.” Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Larry Krasner wins Democratic nomination for Philly District Attorney” by Maryclaire Dale: “A civil rights lawyer who has defended Black Lives Matter and Occupy Philadelphia protesters is poised to become Philadelphia’s next district attorney. Larry Krasner has never worked as a prosecutor but benefited from a $1.5 million donation from liberal billionaire George Soros to an independent political action committee that ran commercials and sent out canvassers in support of his candidacy.” [ABC6]

2018 WATCH: “Tiberi won’t run for Senate, making Mandel leading GOP hopeful” by Jack Torry: “Rep. Pat Tiberi said he will skip a run for the U.S. Senate next year, making it more likely that Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel will face Sen. Sherrod Brown for the second consecutive general election… “I certainly don’t have the baggage of losing to the current incumbent already,” said Tiberi, in a none-too-subtle jab at Mandel, who lost to Brown in 2012 after a bitter and expensive race. “I haven’t thought about endorsing Josh at this point,” Tiberi said when asked if he would support Mandel. “Who else is going to be in the race? That’s not a discussion for today.”” [Dispatch]

TEHRAN WATCH: “Forget the politics. Iran has bigger problems” by JI reader Seth M. Siegel: “Due to gross water mismanagement and its ruinous impact on the country, Iran faces the worst water future of any industrialized nation.. Beginning in 1987, as the war with Iraq was ending, the special military force of the Iranian regime — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)… were given control over major engineering projects throughout the country. Recklessly, these companies began damming major rivers, changing the historical water flows of Iran… Sooner or later, the music will stop. Mother Nature is forgiving only up to a point. Once aquifers are pumped dry and begin collapsing on themselves, there is no engineering project — corrupt or otherwise — that can save them. The presidential election won’t change any of that. Reining in the IRGC and reallocating the country’s water is, like much else, not in the hands of Iran’s president.” [WashPost] • In Iran Election, Even Hard-Liners Turn to Instagram [NYTimes]

** Good Wednesday 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: Hedge Fund Managers Don’t Always Beat the Market, but They Still Make Billions [NYTimes• Investors should be all smiles at this year’s SALT conference [NYPost] • Value investing giant Seth Klarman who takes after Buffett just bought big stakes in two Apple suppliers [CNBC] • Kushner Cos. takes another shot at massive Monmouth Mall redesign [APP Howard Milstein wants to reimagine the office building [NYPost

SPOTLIGHT: “Disney’s Iger Isn’t About to Let Go as CEO” by Ben Fritz: “Some people who know [Bob] Iger believe he simply doesn’t want to retire yet, despite stating repeatedly that he intends to. A contract extension signed in March runs through July 2, 2019. That is the fourth date he has announced for stepping down as CEO. Disney ’s board of directors and investors seem happy to back Mr. Iger for as long as he wants to stay. Under his widely acclaimed leadership, the Burbank, Calif., company’s share price has nearly quintupled, increasing the stock-market value of Disney to about $170 billion… On a conference call with analysts last Tuesday, Mr. Iger said that “more has been made about our succession than it really deserves.”” [WSJ

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Fulop distances himself from Kushners as mayor’s race nears” by Terrence McDonald: “It was a sunny morning in May 2014 and Steve Fulop and Jared Kushner were all smiles. The two men… were showering each other with praise at the groundbreaking for Trump Bay Street, a Waterfront high-rise Kushner was developing with KABR Group… Three years and one stunning presidential race later, Fulop, a Democrat seeking re-election in this liberal bastion where President Trump’s name is nearly an expletive, is sprinting from his connection to Kushner… “If Fulop has political ambitions beyond where he is today, it probably is not going to hurt him too much, trying to create some daylight between himself and the Kushners,” said Krista Jenkins, a professor of political science at FDU.” [JerseyJournal]

“Mini Israel comes to Manhattan” by Itamar Eichner: “Israeli entrepreneur Eiran Gazit—one of the founders of Mini Israel—has set up a large scale miniature model of Jerusalem in the heart of Times Square in Manhattan. The model of Jerusalem is part of Gazit’s $40 million project called “Gulliver’s Gate,” which includes meticulous miniature models of other world cities… The area upon which Gulliver’s Gate will stand has its own “Jewish history,” as it were. The property once belonged to Haredi billionaire Lev Leviev, before eventually being acquired by none other than Jared Kushner.” [Ynet] 

TALK OF THE NATION: “Family of Terror Victim Files Lawsuit Against Pro-Palestinian Groups” by Jacob Kornbluh: “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 claim fund terror… Last week, 17 years after the first suit was filed, attorneys Nathan Lewin, Alyza Lewin and Stephen Landes filed a new lawsuit against American Muslims for Palestine and Americans for Justice in Palestine Educational Foundation, groups they allege are alter egos and successors of HLF, AMS, and IAP, that were originally found to be liable under the Anti-Terrorism Act. In an interview with Jewish Insider, the attorneys representing [Stanley and Joyce Boim] asserted that the date picked to file the new lawsuit was symbolic – exactly seventeen years after they filed the first lawsuit and in memory of David who was seventeen years old when he was killed. “The Boims did not do this to make money,” Landes told Jewish Insider. “Mrs. Boim testified in court during the trial that if she could prevent another penny going to these organizations so the tragedy won’t be inflicted on others, then she would have accomplished a great deal.”” [JewishInsider]

“Little Havana’s First Museum, El Museo de Little Havana, Is Coming to Calle Ocho” by Nicole Lopez-Alvar: “If you’ve ever argued with your friends over whether Jewish people or Cuban people resided in Miami first, you’ll soon have your answer. Little Havana’s first-ever museum, El Museo de Little Havana, is set to open and tell the rich story of the area, through its Cuban history and beyond…. “The museum will depict the history of the area going back to the beginning, when you had people from the south, Bahamians, who were fairly prevalent in the area,” said [Dr. Paul] George. “And then it morphs through the late ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s into a large Jewish presence…” … So who first resided in Little Havana: Cuban or Jewish immigrants? George has the answer: Jewish people immigrated to Miami first. “I mean, my gosh, within a three-mile radius at one point in the ’50s, you had four synagogues!” said George.” [MiamiNewTimes

HOLLYWOOD: “How Barry Levinson and Robert De Niro Captured Bernie Madoff, the $65 Billion Con Man” by Julie Miller: “When Robert De Niro tapped him to direct an adaptation of The Wizard of Lies for HBO, [Barry] Levinson and his son Sam, who wrote the film’s screenplay, embarked on their own quest to create a more complex portrait of [Bernie] Madoff… With De Niro playing Madoff and Michelle Pfeiffer playing Ruth Madoff, Levinson also made the unusual choice to cast author Henriques—the only person involved in the production who had interacted directly with Madoff—as herself in his adaptation.” What were you and Robert De Niro trying to accomplish with this movie? [Levinson:]I think to try to look inside of the scandal and to see how all the systems failed as well… There is a scene where one agent from the S.E.C. asks Bernie’s son, “How could you not know about your father’s misdoings?” And the son turns to the S.E.C. and asks, “How could you not know?” That’s what it’s really about.”” [VanityFair]

DESSERT — “Samuel Bronfman’s booze empire began with bootlegging in Saskatchewan” by Pamela Cowan: “Born in Russia in 1889, Bronfman and his family fled anti-Semitic pogroms to make their home in Canada. They settled in Wapella, Sask., before moving to Manitoba where the family bought a hotel business. While working there, Bronfman recognized the potential of the alcohol business and founded Distillers Corporation in Montreal in 1924. Four years later, he purchased rival distiller Joseph E. Seagram and Sons and the firm became the Seagram Company. Once the world’s largest distilling firm, Seagram had many links with Saskatchewan… In later years, Bronfman is said to have blended 600 samples of whiskey before creating the prestigious Crown Royal brand in honour of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Canada in 1939.” [LeaderPost]

SCENE LAST NIGHT: AIPAC’s New York Venture Tech division hosted a Shark-Up Nation event at the DGA Theater in midtown Manhattan. Over 300 attendees watched as Israeli startups pitched some of NYC’s top venture capitalists. Sharks included New York Angels Chairman Brian S. Cohen, HDS Capital’s Haim Dabah, ff Venture Capital’s John Frankel, and Alnitak Capital’s Stanley Stern who also serves as Chairman of the Board of Sodastream. [Pic]

BIRTHDAYS: Canadian philanthropist and the first woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia (2000-2006), Myra Freeman turns 68… News anchor for WPVI-TV (ABC Channel 6) in Philadelphia since 1977, Jim Gardner (born James Goldman) turns 69… Billionaire, investor and philanthropist, his family owned Dexter Shoe Company which it sold in 1995 for $433 million of Berkshire Hathaway stock (greatly appreciated since), Peter Alfond turns 65… Comedian, actor, and television host, Bob Saget turns 61… Founder and president of ENS Resources, a DC-based consulting and lobbying firm focused on natural resources and sustainable energy, Eric Sapirstein turns 61 (h/t Playbook)… Host of “Marketplace Morning Report” on public radio and “Now on PBS,” a public television news magazine, David Brancaccio turns 57… Author of the 2005 book “Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish,” Abigail Pogrebin… and her identical twin sister, Robin Pogrebin, art and auction reporter for The New York Times, both turn 52…

General Manager for Corporate Strategy at Microsoft, friend and classmate of President Obama at Harvard Law School, strategist, consultant, author, lawyer and former White House Fellow, Kinney Zalesne turns 51… CPA and founder of the Baltimore Hunger Project, it provides food packs for the weekend that are discretely slipped into poverty-stricken public school children’s backpacks each Friday, Lynne Berkowitz Kahn turns 48… Reporter in The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau since 2014, covering national politics, Reid J. Epstein turns 38… Labor Party / Zionist Union member of Knesset, when elected in 2013 she became the youngest female Knesset member in Israel’s history, Stav Shaffir turns 32… Heather Renetzky turns 24… Digital Director of Hillary for America, Jenna Lowenstein… Senior political writer at Cosmopolitan Magazine, Rebecca Nelson (h/t Playbook)… Robert Pollock… Randolph Koch

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Photo by GPO

Kafe Knesset for May 1

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Netanyahu’s Memorial Day message: Today is a solemn day – Yom Hazikaron,…

Israel Caucus

Congressional Israel Caucus Formed to ‘Impose Will on Enemies’

Thursday, April 27, 2017

WASHINGTON – Representatives Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Bill Johnson (R-OH) announced the establishment of the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus on Thursday morning.  “Historically, wars end when one side…

Photo credit: Avi Ohayon (GPO)

Kafe Knesset for April 27

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day POTUS prep: News of the US President’s possible arrival to Israel spread…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Bipartisan Congressional Consensus Against Reducing Aid to Jordan

Thursday, April 27, 2017

WASHINGTON –  The Trump Administration is proposing a 21% cut in US economic aid to Jordan, according to an internal State Department memo obtained by Foreign Policy. After…

Photo credit: Kobi Gideon (GPO)

Kafe Knesset for April 26

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Welcome President Trump: Israeli sources tell Kafe Knesset that there are early…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Senate Panel Calls for Cutting U.S. Aid to Egypt

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

WASHINGTON – In overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion on Tuesday, Senators and three panelists invited by the Appropriations Committee called for Congress to reexamine its $1.3 billion annual funding to Egypt….