May
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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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May
17

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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

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: Daylight re-emerges in US-Israel relationship | Gulf States offer Israel stronger ties | Zomlot blames WINEP | Meet Chef Joshua Massin

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WSJ A1: “Gulf States Offer Better Relations If Israel Makes New Bid for Peace” by Jay Solomon, Gordon Lubold and Rory Jones: “Arab Gulf states have offered to take concrete steps to establish better relations with Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make a significant overture aimed at restarting the Middle East peace process… The potential steps include establishing direct telecommunications links with Israel, allowing overflight rights to Israeli aircraft, and lifting restrictions on some trade… The Gulf countries, in turn, would require Mr. Netanyahu to make what they would consider to be a peace overture to the Palestinians. Such steps could include stopping construction of settlements in certain areas of the West Bank and allowing freer trade into the Gaza Strip.” [WSJ]

–One pro-Israel reader emails us: “Wow! That’s a huge, huge win. Those are actually big concessions from the Arabs for relatively little. Seems like something has changed. Can you imagine the Arab states offering those concessions in exchange for mere goodwill gestures on peace in the past?”

HEARD YESTERDAY — Palestinian envoy blames Washington Institute for failed peace process — by Aaron Magid: Speaking at the National Press Club yesterday, Husam Zomlot, the PLO’s Chief Representative to the U.S., called out the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and blamed them for the stalled peace process. “They were a major reason why we failed. Major reason,” he said. “Because they have framed the agenda in a way that was exactly in the opposite direction of peace. An agenda that wanted to build and sustain a process that was designed to prevent the outcome.” [JewishInsider]

Rob Satloff, WINEP’s Executive Director, responds: “Given #PalestineAuthority’s record of rejecting peace deals, this critique is quite a compliment” [Twitter]

Signaling flexibility on the longstanding divide on refugees, Zomlot emphasized that “half of the issue” is Israeli “acknowledgment” of their role in the 1948 war. “The issue of refugees is made to be the mother of all issues and that it would actually be storming the state of Israel with demography. It’s not true. It’s my opinion as a refugee myself,” he explained. “Only one of these options include negotiating with Israel, which is to return to their actual homes. But, the other options do not involve Israel. Why should we wait?”

Zomlot cautioned regarding the White House’s Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, “There is no approach: there is no mechanism. There is nothing by the way. We did not discuss or agree on exactly what would be the way forward.” Zumlot praised the American “deep state” as playing an important role in preserving core Palestinian positions in the period of initial uncertainty. [JewishInsider]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION — Under Trump, Daylight Re-emerges in US-Israel Relationship — by Jacob Kornbluh: Just days before President Donald Trump’s first visit to Israel, the U.S.-Israel relationship is undergoing its first major crisis in the Trump era. Yesterday, in response to a Fox News report that Netanyahu told Trump not to move the embassy right away, the Prime Minister’s Office released partial transcripts of Netanyahu’s White House meeting. “The embassy – the PM supports moving it,” a summary of the Oval Office meeting read. During a working lunch at the White House, “the PM was asked about the embassy and explained [that moving it would not lead to bloodshed in the region, as some were trying to intimidate President Trump into believing.”

Visiting the Wall: According to a report by Israel’s Channel 2, the U.S. advance team rebuffed a request from Netanyahu’s team to accompany Trump while he visits the Western Wall. According to the report, the US team explained that the site is part of disputed territory in the West Bank and not under Israeli sovereignty. An official in Netanyahu’s office expressed “astonishment” over the comment. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel has contacted the administration to discuss the matter.

A White House spokesperson told us: “The comments about the Western Wall were not authorized communication and they do not represent the position of the United States and certainly not of the President.”

“I am very disappointed he hasn’t moved the embassy,” ZOA’s Mort Klein told Jewish Insider. “It’s a mistake. This harms President Trump’s credibility and if the Arabs don’t respect his credibility, it is more likely that they would be making impossible demands. The President is getting bad advice from some of his aides.” Klein said he’s worried about Tillerson, citing the current Secretary of State’s relationship with former Secretary of State James Baker. “I am concerned that Tillerson will begin to pressure Israel to take stands that they can’t take,” he said. “I am worried.” [JewishInsider] Israel wants White House to explain U.S. official’s Western Wall comment [Reuters]

What Trump is hearing regarding the embassy — by Jeremy Diamond and Elise Labott: “Some of Trump’s top advisers are urging him to make good on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announce plans to move the embassy there during his visit next week, and Trump has yet to reach a decision, two White House officials confirmed… Officials are also considering a lesser announcement outlining a US vision for the future of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital without taking any immediate action, designed to help Trump save face on his campaign pledge.” [CNN

Dore Gold, former MFA Director General and current President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, emails us… “The Prime Minister is right to push on Jerusalem. We are commemorating now the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. In the collective memory of this country, when the Arab armies invaded in 1948, they destroyed or desecrated 50 synagogues and yeshivot. The synagogue of the Ramban dated back to 1267 was obliterated The Jewish population was cleared out. In 1967 that historical injustice was corrected. Now that the administration is expressing strong determination to reach a final status deal, naturally Israelis are concerned about what happens to Jerusalem. This is a core value of national identity for Israelis which may not be fully appreciated by the outside world.”

DRIVING THE DAY: “Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador” by Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe: “One day after dismissing Comey, Trump welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak… into the Oval Office… Trump went off script and began describing details of an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft… Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner… Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.” [WashPost; BuzzFeed]

“Trump Revealed Highly Classified Intelligence to Russia, in Break With Ally, Officials Say” by Matthew Rosenberg and Eric Schmitt: “A Middle Eastern ally that closely guards its own secrets provided the information… Mr. Trump’s disclosure does not appear to have been illegal — the president has the power to declassify almost anything. But sharing the information without the express permission of the ally who provided it was a major breach of espionage etiquette, and could jeopardize a crucial intelligence-sharing relationship.” In fact, the ally has repeatedly warned American officials that it would cut off access to such sensitive information if it were shared too widely, the former official said.”

“Jared Kushner… signaled to people outside the White House that he was not closely involved. But internally, Mr. Kushner lashed out at Mr. Spicer, who has been the target of his ire over bad publicity for the president since Mr. Trump fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, last week.” [NYTimes]

HEARD LAST NIGHT — Prof. Alan Dershowitz on MSNBC’s For the Record with Greta: “Let’s take the following hypothetical: What if it was Israel who provided this intelligence because they have spies on the ground in Syria and within the terrorist organization. You have the information that gets to Russia, Russia sends it to Iran – they are allies when it comes to Syria – and Iran sends it to Hezbollah. This could be a real disaster especially on the eve of President Trump’s visit to Israel. I hope it’s not Israel and the information doesn’t get to Hezbollah.” [MSNBC]

Dershowitz on CNN’s Outfront: “This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president of the United States. Let’s not underestimate it… We may have to take emergency action.” [CNN]

Eliot A Cohen‏: “This is appalling. If accidental, it would be a firing offense for anyone else. If deliberate, it would be treason.” [Twitter] • Cohen in more than 140 characters: The Terrible Cost of Trump’s Disclosures [TheAtlantic]

“When the World Is Led by a Child” by David Brooks: “Mentally, Trump is still a 7-year-old boy who is bouncing around the classroom… From all we know so far, Trump didn’t do it because he is a Russian agent, or for any malevolent intent. He did it because he is sloppy, because he lacks all impulse control, and above all because he is a 7-year-old boy desperate for the approval of those he admires.” [NYTimes] • Eli Lake: Trump’s Best Defense on Russia Is Incompetence [Bloomberg]

DRIVING THE WEEK: “Trump will have to navigate diplomatic land mines abroad. Here’s how he’s preparing” by Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker: “As the White House was engulfed by a crisis of its own making — the abrupt firing of the FBI director — President Trump received an unlikely visitor: Henry Kissinger, the Republican Party’s leading elder statesman, who came to deliver a tutorial on foreign affairs last Wednesday… Kissinger was not alone. In the days leading up to Trump’s high-risk debut on the world stage… the Oval Office has morphed into a graduate seminar room, with a rotating roster of policy experts briefing the president… “He’s going to be in the spotlight, under the microscope, and for a lot of people in the world this will be a chance to see him ‘in action,’ ” said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations… The process largely is being overseen by Jared Kushner… as well as [H.R.] McMaster and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell.” [WashPost]

THE MASADA SPEECH — “Netanyahu seeking to speak at Masada alongside Trump” by Raphael Ahren and Alexander Fulbright: “Netanyahu is looking to deliver a speech at Masada together with US President Donald Trump… However, the American delegation organizing Trump’s visit has expressed reservations about the idea, according to Hebrew media reports… The prime minister is currently set give a few short remarks introducing Trump at the Judean Desert fortress, according to Walla.”  [ToI

“Why Trump won’t be able to land helicopter on Masada” by Sharon Udasin: “The Americans will land in the Bar Yehuda landing strip,” Eitan Campbell, director of Masada National Park, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. “They will go up to the mountain by cable car.” … In 2008, when president George W. Bush visited Masada, he took the cable car up to the mountain, which he then toured with prime minister Ehud Olmert… “When Clinton visited in 1998, he came up with the old cable car and walked up 100 steps,” Campbell told the Post. “George W. Bush came by the new cable car. We were saved the 100 steps.” [JPost]

FRIEDMAN ERA: “Controversial new US ambassador arrives in Israel” by AFP’s Mike Smith and Joe Dyke: “After his arrival in Tel Aviv, Friedman visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, praying there and kissing the sacred site… Friedman, a frequent visitor to Jerusalem, did not comment to reporters, but did speak near the wall with Steven Tyler of American rock band Aerosmith, in town for a concert.” [DailyMail]

— Friedman in a recorded statement: “We’re a bit tired, but we wanted to come straight to the holiest place in the entire Jewish world, the ‘Kotel Hama’aravi,’ the Western Wall, so we straight came here. I had the opportunity to say some prayers… I prayed for the president, and I wished him success, especially on his upcoming trip. I hope we all wish him success. We hope it’s going to be an amazing trip.” [Video]

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed Ambassador Friedman today in Jerusalem. “It’s a pleasure to see you and to welcome you to Jerusalem, our eternal capital. I know you went to the Kotel [Western Wall]. It’s deeply appreciated by all our people,” Netanyahu told Friedman. “There was no other place to go,” the Ambassador responded. Netanyahu added, “It was a strong gesture of solidarity. We look forward to receiving President Trump and we want to work with you and with the President these coming years to strengthen our great alliance.” [Pic]

2020 WATCH: Happening today — The Center for American Progress is hosting a daylong “Ideas Conference” at the St. Regis hotel in Washington, DC. Speakers include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA),  Governors Terry MacAuliffe (D-VA) and Steve Bullock (D-MT ); and former UN Ambassador Susan Rice. About half of the speakers are considered potential 2020 presidential candidates. [WashPost]

–Democrats divided on Bernie’s 2020 plans: “Many top Democrats are furious that Bernie Sanders appears to be running for president again, or at least planning to drag out his decision long enough to freeze the race around him.” [Politico]

ELECTION DAY TODAY: “Can the anti-Trump resistance take Philadelphia’s DA office?” by Alice Speri: “[Larry] Krasner’s run has electrified Philadelphia’s progressives and brought to the city the expertise and resources of national racial justice advocates as well as Bernie Sanders alumni… A lot of people have stacked their hopes in such an insurgency at the polls. Others, like billionaire George Soros, are investing more than hope. Soros has been injecting money into DA and sheriff races across the country and gave $1.45 million to a PAC supporting Krasner’s run in Philadelphia, raising some eyebrows among the candidate’s progressive base. “We can’t play by a different set of rules than our opponents because that’s how we have allowed the system to get rigged against us,” said Becky Bond, a former advisor to the Sanders campaign whose group is now working on Krasner’s campaign.” [TheIntercept

–Background: “Krasner says he inherited idealism and sense of justice from his parents. His father, a crime-fiction author, was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, and his mother was an evangelical Christian minister.” [PhillyJewishExponent]

TEHRAN WATCH: “Why I’m Rooting for the Hardliner in Iran’s Elections” by Elliott Abrams: “[Ibrahim] Raisi is the true face of the Islamic Republic, while Rouhani is a façade. Rouhani has shown himself powerless to effect any change in the regime’s conduct and his only role is to mislead the West into thinking “moderates” are in charge. We are far better off, as we were when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was president, when there are no illusions about Iran’s regime and the men who lead it.” [Politico

** Good Tuesday 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: Israel’s Economic Growth Slows as Business Investment Falls [Bloomberg] • Palestinian officials hope to launch e-currency in 5 years [Reuters; IBTimes] • Disney Chief Bob Iger Says Hackers Claim to Have Stolen Upcoming Movie [HollywoodReporter] • Real estate mogul Barry Sternlicht sees an ‘inverse Trump effect’ on the US economy [CNBC] • The 2017 Rich List of the World’s Top-Earning Hedge Fund Managers [IIAlpha] • Entrepreneurial Israeli couple starts two new businesses [Bizjournals] • CEO of Josh Kushner’s Oscar Health believes the U.S. has a moral obligation to provide healthcare to its citizens [TechCrunch]

LongRead: “The People’s Princess: Ivanka Trump is hard at work in Washington — but for whom?” by Caitlin Flanagan: “At her father’s side, Ivanka is a sort of human luxury brand, with her pale makeup and sleek golden hair, her expensive clothes and stiletto heels, her understated jewelry and her stilted, careful way of speaking. Her father stammers away, trying to find the right word and then giving up: “Jared is terrific, he’s … he’s … Jared is terrific!” Daughter pauses, scrolls through her private lexicon, and comes up with a slightly pumped-up version of the right word. She is never “aware” of something; she is “cognizant” of it. Nothing is “unusual”; it is always “unique.” Imagine how impressive this broad command of big-league words would seem to you if you could never manage to locate and deploy the right one yourself. To him, she is a kind of miracle.” [NYMag]

“Inside Corey Lewandowski’s Failed Romp in Trump’s Swamp” by Jason Zengerle: “His fate was apparently sealed when Lewandowski ran afoul of Jared Kushner. According to multiple sources, Lewandowski was discovered not only shopping damaging stories about Trump’s son-in-law to reporters, but also trying to keep Kushner from talking to higher-ups at the RNC. On a Sunday in mid-June—Father’s Day, in fact—Ivanka Trump reportedly insisted to her dad that he get rid of Lewandowski.” [GQ]

KAFE KNESSET — IBC opens with a scoop from Bennett — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The Israel Broadcasting Corporation, known as Kan, began airing TV and radio programming Monday. Kan opened with higher ratings that its predecessor, as people were eager to see if they would succeed and what things would look and sound like. On the first night of Kan’s main news broadcast, Bennett was asked if he would leave the coalition over corruption charges against Netanyahu. Bennett replied that it would depend on their severity – the first time any coalition partner said anything of that nature. The anchor of the 8 o’clock news, by the way, is Geula Even-Sa’ar, wife of former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar, a possible successor to Netanyahu, who the prime minister is not particularly fond of. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Fading Netanyahu Will Be Dumped by Year’s End, Rival Lapid Says” by Michael Arnold and Jonathan Ferziger: “[Yair] Lapid says he expects the current government to last only through the end of the year. “I don’t see a lot of juice in this government,” Lapid, 53, said in an interview Monday… “Our assumption is the government will hold until the end of the year, and not longer.” Lapid also said he’s encouraged by U.S. President Donald Trump’s early efforts to resurrect peace negotiations with the Palestinians… The fact that Trump “wants to be proactive, that after a long time when nothing happens somebody’s trying to push some sort of an envelope, is a good sign,” Lapid said.” [Bloomberg]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Seth Rich, slain DNC staffer, had contact with WikiLeaks, say multiple sources” by Malia Zimmerman: “A federal investigator who reviewed an FBI forensic report detailing the contents of DNC staffer Seth Rich’s computer generated within 96 hours after his murder, said Rich made contact with Wikileaks through Gavin MacFadyen, a now-deceased American investigative reporter… The federal investigator, who requested anonymity, said 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments between Democratic National Committee leaders, spanning from January 2015 through late May 2016, were transferred from Rich to MacFadyen before May 21.” [FoxNews]

–BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith this morning: “Rich family knocks down last night’s story and PI who, they say, doesn’t speak for them and they don’t pay” [Twitter]

TRANSITION — Betsaida Alcantara has been named Vice President of Communications and Digital at the Anti-Defamation League. Betsaida served six years in the Obama Administration as a senior executive leading the communications teams for three large government agencies and on the Clinton/Kaine campaign. Todd Gutnick will now assume his role as Senior Director of Communications and Digital.

TALK OF OUR NATION: “Wow Air to Launch $149 Flights from New York to Tel Aviv” by Ryan Craggs: “Starting September 12, WOW air will begin service to Tel Aviv, flying to Israel four times weekly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays on the new Airbus A321 aircraft… WOW air CEO Skuli Mogensen made the announcement while on a visit to Israel, speaking alongside the country’s Minister of Transport, Yisrael Katz. Of course, the key part of the announcement for Americans looking to get to Israel on the cheap is Mogensen’s announced price points. As Jeruselem Online reports, flights will cost just $149 one-way from New York, Boston, Chicago, Toronto and Montreal; $199 from San Francisco and Los Angeles; and $99 from Iceland. “Our mission is to enable everyone to fly by offering the cheapest prices in Tel Aviv,” Mogensen said.” [CNTraveler]

“Can A New Airline Succeed Flying From The NYC Suburbs To Paris And Tel Aviv?” by Ted Reed: “In March 2018, US Global intends to begin Paris and Tel Aviv flights from Stewart International Airport, about 60 miles north of Manhattan. It would lease Boeing 767s from longtime aviation entrepreneur Connie Kalitta. [CEO Anthony] Koulouris said he is on the path to raising $50 million. The Federal Aviation Administration must certify airlines before they start to fly, evaluating both safety and financial fitness.” [Forbes]

“Brad Grey, who led Paramount Pictures for 12 years, dies at 59” by Ryan Faughnder and Daniel Miller: “Grey was hired by Tom Freston, then the CEO of parent company Viacom, to run Paramount in 2005, replacing Sherry Lansing… Grey developed a reputation as a survivor, leveraging close and often fruitful relationships with Hollywood heavyweights including Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. He also tapped J.J. Abrams to reboot the valuable “Star Trek” franchise. “His genius at picking and identifying talent was unprecedented,” [Harevey] Weinstein said. Grey led Paramount’s acquisition of DreamWorks SKG, the studio created by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg. He is also credited with securing a deal to release movies from Marvel Studios.” [LATimes]

DESSERT: “Is this man the most innovative kosher chef in the metropolitan area?” by Esther Davidowitz: “Joshua Massin, the chef and co-owner of kosher restaurant Nobo Wine and Grill in Teaneck, can vaguely remember what bacon tastes like. The once-secular, today-Orthodox Jewish cook also can recall somewhat the briny tang and slinky texture of oysters, the salty flavor and moist composition of ham and the sweet taste and creamy quality of sheep cheese — even though he hasn’t eaten those, or any other non-kosher foods, for nearly two decades, and won’t ever again. But Massin, who is 37 and lives in Teaneck, has on his menu: bacon, ham, oysters and even a ham-and-cheese dish, which he unhesitatingly and proudly offers to his overwhelmingly kosher diners…”

“To me the challenge isn’t kosher or not kosher,” he said recently, sitting in one of Nobo’s two dining rooms, wearing dark cargo pants, a black chef’s coat and a yarmulke. The room sports exposed brick walls, polished wood floors, and Chilewich-covered tables. “To me, the challenge is to run a really good non-kosher-style kosher restaurant.” In other words, Massin is determined to create dishes that would taste delicious whether the restaurant is kosher or not. “I look at kosher food as another flavor system,” he said,  “In Japanese cuisine, there’s no cream, no butter. In Caribbean cuisine you wouldn’t use blue cheese.” [NorthJersey]

BIRTHDAYS: Real estate developer and ‘mechuten’ of Donald Trump, Charles Kushner turns 63… Former CEO of Warner Music Group, Edgar Bronfman Jr. turns 62… President of Tribe Media, columnist for the Jewish Journal, David Suissa… Special Assistant to VPOTUS Walter Mondale (1977-1981), later Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (1989-1993), Bernard W. Aronson turns 71… Longest serving member of the New York State Assembly (46 years), his district includes portions of Midtown Manhattan and the Upper West Side, Richard N. Gottfried turns 70… Member of the House of Representatives since 2013, representing Florida’s 21st congressional district, previously Mayor of West Palm Beach (2003-2011), Lois Frankel turns 69… Harvard history professor, Emma Georgina Rothschild, a member of the Rothschild banking family of England, turns 69… Proto-punk singer, songwriter and guitarist, Jonathan Richman turns 63… Film and stage actress, noted for “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982) and “Terms of Endearment” (1983), Debra Winger turns 62… Real estate mogul and collector of modern and contemporary art, Aby J. Rosen turns 57… Social entrepreneur, independent scholar and local civic leader, earned a Ph.D in Religious Studies from UCSB, co-founder of non-profit Jumpstart, Jonathan Shawn Landres turns 45… Actress, television personality and author, Tori Spelling turns 44… Actor and Travel Channel personality, Adam Richman turns 43… Lake Worth, Florida resident, Harriet L. Caplan… Esther Bushey

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Photo via Twitter / @hzomlot

Top Palestinian Blames Washington Institute for Failed Peace Process

Monday, May 15, 2017

WASHINGTON – Speaking before a packed crowd on Monday afternoon at the National Press Club, Husam Zomlot, the PLO’s Chief Representative to the U.S., called out the Washington…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Kafe Knesset for May 15

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Bibi Vs Bennett, round….. It is a well known tune, one we have…

ayelet shaked

Kafe Knesset for May 12

Friday, May 12, 2017

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked met her US counterpart Jeff Sessions yesterday for the very first time, concluding a five-day visit to NYC and DC in the midst of…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Kafe Knesset for April 11

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sign up for the Daily Kickoff newsletter to read Kafe Knesset in your inbox each day Raising Jerusalem above all our joys: The Foreign Ministry Workers’ Union, which…

Ayelet Shaked

Israeli Minister: Israel Would be ‘Grateful’ if Taylor Force Act Passes

Thursday, May 11, 2017

WASHINGTON – At a Hudson Institute luncheon on Wednesday, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked endorsed the Taylor Force Act, legislation introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to cut…

PHOTO: REUTERS

Bipartisan Bill for US-Israeli Anti-Ballistic Missile Program

Monday, May 8, 2017

WASHINGTON – Representatives Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Brian Mast (R-FL) are introducing legislation on Monday to increase funding for Arrow 3 system, an anti-ballistic missile defense program. “As…