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 **

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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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 **

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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Daily Kickoff: Iran’s Khamenei calls Soros a ‘rich American Zionist’ | Sam Altman for CA Gov? | Bibi to appear on Harvey Levin’s show | Guten Gefilte!

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FIRST LOOK – In an interview with Susan Glasser on The Global Politico podcast, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed Trump’s visit to Israel on his first trip overseas: “To go to a place like Israel and see what it’s like to be a democracy in a sea of countries that would have destroyed you had it not been for your toughness and your will… And so these are early days and I think the President and many around him have not been in government. Let’s give it a little time.”

Glasser: You write in your book about that moment, that shock when you realized that Hamas, who had not been expected to win was going to win the elections, basically free and fair, more or less, elections to take over Gaza. That dealt a serious blow to your own peacemaking efforts between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It was not expected. You had pushed hard for the elections.

Rice: “Well, my undiminished faith is that elections have to happen, right? … I think one mistake we made with Hamas was we really should have said they had to disarm if they were going to participate in the elections, along the lines of what was done in Northern Ireland, for instance… So that’s one thing. Don’t let armed militias participate in elections because they have a, shall we say, unfair advantage. It would be true, for instance, of Hezbollah in Lebanon. But a more important one is that yes, if you have elections and the only organized forces are Islamists, radical Islamists, then you’re going to get a bad outcome.” [PoliticoMag]

TOP TALKER — Bibi & Lauder talk to Leibler: “Netanyahu says Lauder peace push is his biggest challenge” by Isi Leibler: “When I spoke to the prime minister, it was clear that [Ron] Lauder’s intervention with Trump angered and distressed him. He referred to Lauder as “my biggest challenge to overcome” because he has immense influence on Trump and is promoting a peace program that had been rejected by Israel but was attractive to an American president possibly easily seduced into believing that a quick peace could be achieved…  [Lauder] told me he is being flooded with letters of support including many from former critics…  He insists that if his efforts fail, we will have tried, nothing will have been lost and we will simply return to the status quo.” [JPost]

These Are the Voices Whispering in Trump’s Ear About Israel and How to Make the ‘Ultimate Deal’ — by Amir Tibon: “In addition to Lauder and Adelson, another billionaire with Trump’s ear is Thomas Barrack, a real estate investor with Lebanese roots who is a personal friend of the president and helped arrange his inauguration events. Barrack has reportedly been advising Trump on the Middle East (not specifically the Israelis and the Palestinians), and also used his vast regional network to help the Trump administration in its early days. Barrack said earlier this month that Trump’s “lack of predictability” has “gained respect” in the Middle East and around the world. “Every foreign leader has come to the table for him,” Barrack added.” [Haaretz]

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: “U.S. Secretary of State Signals Caution on Israel Embassy Move” By Dion Nissenbaum: “In an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press with Chuck Todd,” [Rex] Tillerson said the president “is being very careful to understand how such a decision would affect the peace process… I think it’ll be informed, again, by the parties that are involved in those talks,” Mr. Tillerson said. “And most certainly Israel’s view on whether Israel views it as being helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction.”” [WSJ; NBCNews

“Sheldon Adelson “furious” about Tillerson’s comments” by Jonathan Swan: “Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson — a man who has no trouble getting the President on the phone — is “furious” about comments Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made today… The sources say the Las Vegas billionaire doesn’t buy the argument that the embassy move should be contingent on the peace process. He has told Trump that Palestinians are impossible negotiating partners and make demands that Israel can never meet.” [Axios] • Report: Casino Mogul Adelson to Be Questioned in Probe of Israel PM [AP

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM: “Netanyahu Responds to Tillerson: U.S. Embassy Move Would Advance Peace by Shattering Palestinian Fantasy” by Barak Ravid: “Relocating the American embassy would not harm the peace process, on the contrary,” a statement by the Prime Minister’s Bureau said. Moving the embassy, the statement said, “would advance it (the peace process) by correcting a historic injustice and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy according to which Jerusalem isn’t the capital of Israel.” A senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu expressed his desire that the embassy be moved to Jerusalem in his meetings with Trump and Tillerson during his latest visit in Washington. Netanyahu, the official noted, even brought the issue up in several phone calls with Trump since the latter took office as U.S. president in January.” [Haaretz]

Dan Shapiro: “Timing matters. Avoid the emotional 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, and don’t undercut peace initiatives at key moments… Hard to imagine those Arab states lending support to a US initiative at the exact moment when an embassy move could embarrass them… In my 8 years in the Obama Admin, it was never raised seriously with us by Israeli officials: a dozen issues had higher priority for them… The embassy move doesn’t need to wait until the end of the talks. But doing it smartly means a bit more patience.” [Twitter

Education Minister Naftali Bennett: “I call on the Prime Minister to make clear that we expect the US administration to move the embassy to Jerusalem and recognize a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty. Moving the US Embassy to Israel’s capital strengthens the chances of reaching a true peace, because any agreement based on the division of Jerusalem is bound to fail.” [Twitter] • Deputy foreign minister to Trump: Don’t divide Jerusalem [JPost]

KAFE KNESSET — Bibi vs. Bennett — by Tal Shalev and JPost’s Lahav Harkov: The Likud released a special response just for Bennett, claiming he “memorizes the PMs press releases and then quotes them as if they were his demands.” The never-ending battle between Netanyahu and Bennett over the right wing constituency is expected to escalate, if Trump indeed is determined to reach a peace deal which will entail some Israeli concessions. At the moment, Bennett is focusing on Jerusalem, but if the de facto settlement freeze continues after the President’s visit, pressure from the settler base is likely to increase. While both sides are heating their engines, Netanyahu also made a point yesterday that he is not interested in early elections. In the weekly meeting of the coalition leaders, he said that this government will survive until its last day, in November 2019. Read today’s entire Kafe Knesset here [JewishInsider]

“Russia Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital. Why Can’t the U.S.?” by Eugene Kontorovich: “If Mr. Trump nonetheless signs the waiver, he could do two things to maintain his credibility in the peace process. First, formally recognize Jerusalem—the whole city—as the capital of Israel… Second, make clear that unless the Palestinians get serious about peace within six months, his first waiver will be his last… This is Mr. Trump’s moment to show strength.” [WSJ]

SPOTTED:Amb. David Friedman and his wife Tammy have arrived in Israel, according to pictures posted on Twitter by Meron Reuben [Pic]

TRUMP ISRAEL TRIP —  National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster on Friday: “With President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu, [Trump] will reaffirm America’s unshakeable bond to the Jewish state. With President Abbas, he will express his desire for dignity and self-determination for the Palestinians. And so to leaders and peoples alike, across the entire trip, he will demonstrate his hopes for a just and lasting peace.”

On Netanyahu-Abbas summit: “The final plans aren’t set yet… But it will obviously be up to the President and those leaders about how he wants to engage with them. But he’ll engage with both those leaders there as part of the trip.” [CSPAN]

“Top US official to Post: No plans to hold Netanyahu-Abbas peace summit during Trump trip” by Michael Wilner: “A trilateral meeting is remotely possible given the president’s penchant for acting “on the fly,” the aide acknowledged. But several officials intimately involved in planning the trip would be surprised if such a summit took place. “Let’s not get carried away,” a second senior administration official said… “People are taking Abbas’ comments about willing to meet too far.” … The administration is also weighing to what extent Trump should publicly comment on the conflict at all: A speech is not guaranteed, although at minimum, the White House will offer descriptions of his meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas.” [JPost]

JI PREVIEW — What to Expect from Trump’s Israel Visit — by Aaron Magid: Daniel Kurtzer, former US Ambassador to Israel and Egypt, told Jewish Insider, “What Trump is trying to do is contrast his close closeness to Israel with that of Obama. Obama didn’t go for the first four years and Trump is going in the first four months.” … The visit to Israel is part of a long term US strategic investment towards the process, noted Michael Koplow, policy director of the Israel Policy Forum. “Someone in the White House has learned the lesson from the last administration where it was clearly a mistake not to go to Israel early on. (They) realize that if you are going to get the Israelis to make concessions, it’s probably a good idea to actually go to Israel and show the Israelis some love.”

The White House’s showering of love towards Israel is concerning many in Jerusalem, explains Daniel Shapiro, former US Ambassador to Israel from 2011-2017. “When it comes to President Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, both sides are nervous about what this trip, and events beyond it, could produce. Trump is unpredictable, and his team is inexperienced in Middle East negotiations,” he told Jewish Insider… With Trump’s unpredictable nature and the threats of a Twitter war launched against Jerusalem and Ramallah, Kurtzner emphasized the willingness of both sides to please Trump. “They (Netanyahu and Abbas) are going to try and put on the best face they can: neither one wants the responsibility of failure to be on their doorstep.” [JewishInsider]

“Will Trump launch Mideast shuttle diplomacy?” by Uri Savir: “A senior PLO official close to Abbas told Al-Monitor that despite the positive impressions of his meeting with Trump, Abbas came back to Ramallah with more questions than answers… According to the PLO official, it was Abbas who raised the 2002 Arab initiative in the Oval Office, and he received no negative reactions, neither from the president nor from his advisers… He said that Trump also shared with his Palestinian guests that he will continue to resist settlement expansion.” [Al-Monitor

“White House Staffer Scrubs Mention Of “Palestine” From Facebook Post” by John Hudson: “When asked if this explicit mention to Palestine was intentional, White House spokesperson Michael Short told BuzzFeed it was “unintentional” in an email on Friday. Later in the day, [Dan] Scavino edited his original Facebook post — scrubbing the word “Palestine” and replacing it with “Palestinian Territories.” “That’s a junior mistake,” a longtime Middle East diplomat told BuzzFeed News. “The Israelis will catch him up on that for sure.”” [BuzzFeed]

IRAN DEAL: “US may waive Iran sanctions in coming days” by Laura Rozen: “Notification of the waivers might be issued as early as May 17, a day before Donald Trump is due to depart on his first foreign trip as president, sources told Al-Monitor, while cautioning that the anticipated action and timing could change. That is also a couple of days before Iran holds presidential elections May 19.” [AlMonitor

TRUMP TUMULT — “White House ‘systems failed’ with Comey firing, but Trump pushed the buttons” by Philip Rucker: “Much of the internal blame has fallen to the communications operation, with Kushner and other top officials questioning why the small army of press staffers led by Spicer and Dubke took so long to forcefully defend the president’s decision and agree to a set of talking points that could withstand scrutiny… Inside the West Wing, it became a running joke among some staffers that the answer to every question would be “Rosenstein,” referring to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, who wrote a memo outlining a case for Comey’s ouster.” [WashPost]

“Jared and Ivanka stay out of the spotlight amid Comey fallout” by Betsy Klein: “On more than one occasion, the power couple has been seemingly absent when the going gets tough… In April, when leaks of infighting within the administration were on top of the news cycle, they were celebrating Passover at the Four Seasons Whistler in Canada, according to reports. And this week was no exception. Though the President’s daughter and son-in-law remained in Washington and working at the White House, they stayed under the radar and away from the cameras following news of Comey’s departure.” [CNN]

2018 WATCH: “Sam Altman for governor? Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown says it’s a possibility” by Tess Townsend: “Y Combinator President Sam Altman might run for governor of California — or so says Willie Brown, who spent decades in the California State Assembly and served two terms as the mayor of San Francisco. Brown slipped a few comments on Altman’s apparent interest in holding office into his Sunday column for the San Francisco Chronicle. Altman is considering running as soon as 2018, Brown said… The investor and startup founder has a history of political engagement. He’s been a loud critic of President Donald Trump and funds a voter engagement nonprofit.” [Recode]

TEHRAN WATCH: Khamenei warns against election unrest, George Soros” by Rohollah Faghihi: “The issue of security and calm is very important for the country,” [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei said in a May 10 speech to graduates of the Imam Hussein military academy… Khamenei also had a few words to say about George Soros, the billionaire investor who has spent millions of dollars around the world to advance political causes. “That rich American Zionist who said that he toppled Georgia with $10 million started to think he could do the same to Iran in 2009,” Khamenei said. “If anyone wants to rise up against the security of the nation, they will encounter a firm reaction.” [Al-Monitor; NYT] • Wondering how Soros feels to be labeled a ‘Zionist’ by Khamenei … or perhaps this is Khamenei’s way of thanking Soros for his support of the Iran deal in 2015…

“Demonization of Soros recalls old anti-Semitic conspiracies” by Vanessa Gera: “The demonization of the American-Hungarian billionaire and Holocaust survivor has spread across Central Europe, with the 86-year-old increasingly accused by nationalists of using his money to force his liberal values, including support for refugees, on their societies. This groundswell began in late 2015, as large numbers of migrants and refugees were arriving in Europe. A far-right nationalist at an anti-refugee rally in Poland set fire to an effigy of an Orthodox Jew as a crowd chanted slogans against Islam and the European Union. The man said the Jewish figure represented Soros.” [AP]

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Kushner Real Estate Project Still Seeking First Chinese Investor [Bloomberg] • Inside the universe of Kushner Companies [TRD] • Delek completes Ithaca acquisition for $590m [Globes] • Blackstone lends David Bistricer’s Clipper Realty $74M for BK rental [TRD] • Israel’s high-tech sector is thriving, and now China wants in on the action [CNBC] • Iran’s Mining Projects on Hold as Investors Fear New Sanctions [Bloomberg]

TALK OF THE TOWN: “Condo Tower to Rise Where Muslim Community Center Was Proposed” by Ronda Kaysen: “One-bedrooms at 45 Park Place start at $1.92 million; two-bedrooms at $3.725 million; three-bedrooms at $4.595 million; and four-bedrooms at $10.5 million. The second duplex penthouse will be listed for about $39 million. Michel Abboud, a founding partner of SOMA Architects, designed the tower; Piero Lissoni designed the interiors… [Sharif] MEl-Gamal does not see the outcome of his project as a defeat, but instead as proof of his grit. “Real estate in New York is a blood sport,” he said.” [NYTimes]

“Fire Damages New York’s Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue” by Niraj Chokshi:“A fire broke out Sunday at an abandoned Lower East Side synagogue that once housed the city’s oldest Jewish Orthodox congregation. It took the Fire Department about two hours to bring the fire, which started around 7 p.m., under control, a spokesman said. No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire was under investigation. The fire occurred at 60 Norfolk Street, the spokesman said, which is the home of Beth Hamedrash Hagodol, a city landmark built in 1850.” [NYT; Pic]

“Sheryl Sandberg Speaks Out On Judaism — And Grieving” by Jane Eisner: “Sandberg apparently doesn’t pray regularly — she didn’t realize until afterward (her husband’s death) that “Oseh Shalom” is the last line of the Kaddish and the Amidah… But she eagerly embraced the Jewish rituals that shape and structure death and mourning. “Judaism said we should bury soon as possible, so we buried as soon as possible,” she said. “It says we should shovel dirt on the grave, so we shoveled dirt on the grave. I had done that before, for my grandparents. I had been to funerals, I had been to graves, so I found it all incredibly comforting. It gives us a connection to something bigger than ourselves.“ The seven-day period of shiva… was also helpful. “Having your house fill up with the people you love is comforting,” she recalled. So was the constant repetition of the mourner’s prayer: “Jews have been saying it for a long time. Long before I said it for Dave, Dave said it for his father. And before that, for centuries.”” [Forward] • Sheryl Sandberg and Elizabeth Alexander on Love, Loss and What Comes Next [NYTimes

“Elie Wiesel’s Only Son Steps Up to His Father’s Legacy” by Rick Lyman: “Throughout his young life, [Elisha] Wiesel’s father made only one demand — that he marry in the Jewish faith, which he did. But as his father neared death, he made one more request, that his son say kaddish for him. “I was what we call a three-day-a-year Jew,” Mr. Wiesel said. “But I decided that I really wanted to do it, and I wanted to do it correctly.” So, he began to go to synagogue every day, sometimes twice a day. “There was also this moment I remember when I watched my father hold my son during his circumcision,” Mr. Wiesel said. “It was a real sense of connection. My father was terrified of being the end of the line.”” [NYTimes

MEDIA WATCH — “New York Times publisher sends personal appeal to those who canceled over Bret Stephens” by Hadas Gold: “The Times’s Opinion pages remain an independent and unblinking forum for debate from a wide range of viewpoints among open-minded, informed writers and readers. I don’t think, in these polarizing and partisan times, there’s anything quite like it in American journalism,” [the email sent by NYT publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. read]… A New York Times spokesperson… said less than 6 percent of people who canceled their subscriptions to The Times since Stephens’ hire was announced in April cited the hire or the new column as the reason for the cancellation.” [Politico]

“Associated Press Rebuts Charge That It Aided Nazi Regime” by Daniel Victor: “The review acknowledged some missteps, including the news agency’s lack of protest when its photos were used for Nazi propaganda and its employment of German photographers with active political affiliations. But the news organization… said it “took steps to retain its independence and provide factual, unbiased information to the world despite intense pressures from Nazi Germany.”” [NYTimes

“Trump Arranged Meeting Between Harvey Levin and Israeli Prime Minister, All For Reality TV” by Taryn Hillin and Ryan Naumann: “Our sources tell us that Levin asked Trump to call Netanyahu during their infamous Oval Office meeting (a story we broke) and ask if the Prime Minister would be on Levin’s pseudo reality show “Objectified.” … We’re told Trump obliged, placed the call.. and… the Prime Minister agreed… Levin is catching a flight to Israel this week (he was noticeably absent from TMZ Live on Thursday). We’re told he’ll meet with Netanyahu and tape the show in the next few days.” [Entity

— “The Prime Minister’s Office strongly denied the Entity report. Senior officials at the Israeli embassy in Washington also denied the report and said that Trump had no role in organizing Levin’s interview with Netanyahu. Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said in recent weeks that Levin had approached the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, as well as Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesman, David Keyes, seeking an interview with the prime minister for the program. Netanyahu and his advisers considered the request and decided to consent, the officials said.” [Haaretz]

“For Palestinian Hikers In West Bank, A Chance To Enjoy Nature And Escape Tensions” by Daniel Estrin: “Life in the West Bank is tense. That is why four Palestinians started the Shat’ha club about 11 years ago. They wanted to get some fresh air after the violence of the Second Intifada…  “Nature … gives me a lot of power. I found it a very important thing in my life,” says Juwana Rafidi, the hiking organizer for the day… The Shat’ha group has a strict rule for its Palestinian hikers: No Israeli food products — whether they be Hebrew-labeled packs of crackers or Israeli-grown apples — are allowed on the trek.” [NPR

“Noga Erez: ‘I get told by people not to talk about what is happening in Israel'” by Kate Hutchinson: “If you take culture away from places then it doesn’t do good to anyone, it makes that place even worse, because art and culture are the opposition to the political situation,” she says. If anything, she continues, the liberal left needs what positive reinforcement it can get… “It’s so diverse and split,” she says when asked whether young Israelis differ from previous generations about the conflict. “There is a conflict inside Israel about those things because it’s so complicated.” According to Erez, “there is a lot of empathy for the other side,” but she laments how, when it comes to the Netanyahu administration, “the word ‘peace’ is not brought up any more. ‘Hope’ is something that people are cynical about because people have lost hope.” [Guardian]

LongRead: “Seeing with Your Tongue: Sensory-substitution devices help blind and deaf people, but that’s just the beginning” by Nicola Twilley: “In 2007, the Israeli neurobiologist Ella Striem-Amit embarked on doctoral research investigating whether people who are born blind could ever learn to perceive visual information in the way that sighted people do. She joined the lab of Amir Amedi, a neurologist at Hebrew University, in Jerusalem, and they set about training a small group of congenitally blind subjects to use the vOICe. The vOICe translates a camera feed into electronically produced notes according to reasonably simple principles: brightness is mapped to volume, and elevation to pitch… Striem-Amit discovered that teaching people to see using the vOICe required more than simply helping them master the technology. “Congenitally blind people don’t know how vision works,” she explained. “They don’t know principles of occlusion”—that one object can block another—“or that things appear larger when they’re closer.” Yet, after seventy hours of training, her subjects were able to grasp these concepts and to identify shapes, objects, and even faces.” [NewYorker]

DESSERT: “Brut Wine Bar pop-up brings taste of Israel to Tokyo” by Melinda Joe: “The project is the brainchild of LIK Hospitality, launched by Israeli-born expats Ori Kushnir and Sivan Lahat [who] run a startup that develops financial models and trading technologies for companies… Inspired by the serial pop-up restaurant “The Table By” in Madrid, which featured a rotating line-up of Spanish chefs, Kushnir and Lahat teamed up with hospitality expert Aya Ikeda to create a similar project that would help connect chefs looking to open restaurants in Tokyo with potential investors.” [JapanTimes]

“Guten Gefilte! Jewish Delicacies Beguile the German Capital” by Lindsay Gellman: “Gefilte fish can be sexy,” [Jeffrey] Yoskowitz assured the 150 people who gathered in late March in Kreuzberg, in the western part of Berlin, to taste some of the delicacies that had all but disappeared from the city’s shops and restaurants after World War II… “It can’t just be nostalgia; it can’t just be your bubbe’s cooking,” Mr. Yoskowitz said, using the Yiddish word for grandmother. “This is a living food tradition.” [NYTimes

BIRTHDAYS: Canadian molecular biologist and pioneer in human genetics, Louis Siminovitch turns 97… Chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, she was the first woman to serve as US Secretary of State (1997-2001), Madeleine Albright turns 80… Chairman and CEO of The Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States, a human rights organization in NYC, Rachel Oestreicher Bernheim turns 74… CEO of Emigrant Bank, real estate developer, financier and philanthropist, has co-chaired the annual campaign for the UJA/Federation of New York, Howard Philip Milstein turns 66… Actor David Krumholtz turns 39… Noam Finger turns 39… Actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, known for her role as Tony Soprano’s daughter, Meadow, turns 36… Rochelle Wilner… Ofir Richman

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