Jewish Insider's Daily Kickoff: September 15, 2016

Obama prods Bibi after MOU | Cutting Congress out of the aid game? | Jeffrey Katzenberg's Shabbat Dinner at Burning Man

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement on Middle East Peace talks as U.S. President Barack Obama looks on in the East Room of the White House in Washington September 1, 2010.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement on Middle East Peace talks as U.S. President Barack Obama looks on in the East Room of the White House in Washington September 1, 2010. Credit: Jason Reed, Reuters

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Ed note: Today's Daily Kickoff comes to you from the Motor City where we're covering the Detroit Homecoming conference. It was great to catch up with JI readers including Matt Nosanchuk and Darin McKeever. Last night, NBA owners Steve Ballmer and Dan Gilbert engaged in a Q&A where Ballmer told attendees "I'm very fired up today about Detroit," in his loud, enthusiastic voice that helped make viral sensations of his talks at Microsoft events before he retired in 2014. [Crains]

Adam Finkel, one of the pioneers of Detroit Homecoming, tells us: 
"The Detroit Homecoming was initiated when Detroit was coming out of bankruptcy two years ago as a way to reconnect the most influential Detroit expats with their hometown - from Steve Ballmer to Eli Broad, and hundreds of others. This is an intense 2.5 day event that welcomes its 500th expat in our third year. We are now tracking $200 million in pending economic development and have created a model that will be scaled to other cities. Featured expats this year include Jeffrey Seller, the Producer of Hamilton, who received the Governor's Arts Award last night."

DRIVING THE CONVERSATION: "Senior Official: U.S. Military Aid to Israel Is the 'Biggest Possible'" by Barak Ravid: "Jacob Nagel, the acting head of Israel's National Security Council who led the team that negotiated the new defense aid agreement with Washington, told reporters on Wednesdaythat Israel had won the biggest U.S. aid grant possible. Even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct over the nuclear agreement with Iran had been different, the deal could not have been better, Nagel added. “I’ve heard statements that Israel could have achieved more,” Nagel said in a conference call with reporters shortly before signing the agreement. “As the one conducting these talks since 2013, I can say that at no stage of the negotiations was there a higher American offer on the table than the one we ultimately received.”" [Haaretz]

"Obama and Israel cut Congress out of the aid game" by Josh Rogin: “As part of this deal, Israel has signed a letter to this administration saying they will not accept the money above the MOU amount and they would return it,” [Sen. Lindsey] Graham said. “I said, ‘I think y’all have lost your mind. You’ve been trying to get a foreign government to help you take over the appropriations process.’ ” Administration sources confirmed to me that the arrangement exists and said that the Israeli government had “volunteered” to give back any money above the deal’s limits. “You know the White House pressured them into writing that letter,” Graham said. “It is a level of antagonism against Israel that I can’t understand.” [WashPost "Graham to introduce $1.5 billion bill for Israel" [TheHill]

Martin Indyk tweets: "Josh Rogin uncovers the Israeli promise to return any Congressional appropriation above the deal. AIPAC can retire." [Twitter]

"Obama Prods Netanyahu After Signing of U.S.-Israel Aid Deal" by Julie Hirschfeld: "
Obama renewed his call for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and argued that it was crucial to Israel’s security, using the completion of a new agreement to provide $38 billion in American military aid as an occasion to prod Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a long-running dispute... The strongly worded statement raised anew the possibility, the subject of a long-running debate at the White House, that Mr. Obama might make an effort after the November election to lay out terms of a possible peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, perhaps through introducing a resolution at the United Nations Security Council. In an interview on Wednesday, Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, who led the talks on the aid agreement, said the negotiations had been “completely unrelated” to the debate over whether the president should weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We don’t have any plans to do anything particularly dramatic at this point,” she said." [NYTimes]

Hillary Clinton statement: 
“America’s commitment to Israel’s security must always remain rock-solid and unwavering. That’s why Senator Kaine and I applaud the agreement on a new memorandum of understanding regarding American security assistance to Israel, and congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama on this important diplomatic achievement As president, I will work with our partners to implement this agreement, ensure that Israel always maintains its qualitative military edge, and take our alliance to the next level.” [JI]

Former ADL head Abe Foxman emails us: 
"Regardless how one feels about the Obama Administration's policies vis-a-vis Israel, the MOU signed yesterday with the State of Israel should erase the 'anti-Israel' label some have tried to attach to this administration. The MOU sends a clear message to the world, to Israel's friends and foes alike, of the very special security and beyond relationship between our two countries." 

Tom Friedman in an interview with Israel's Channel 10: "Bibi is the Prime Minister of Israel-Palestine. He wants it; I think he should own it. I think the New York Times should change our stylebook and we should call him, 'The Prime Minister of Israel-Palestine.' He won. He outdebated all of us. He won the debate... And you will be known in history as the father of one-state Israel." [Nana10]

"Trump adviser says GOP nominee won’t push Israel on peace deal if elected" by Tamar Pileggi: “He is not for or against per say a two-state solution,” Friedman told Channel 10 on Wednesday. “What he’s for, is respecting the independence of the Israeli government and their democratically elected leadership to reach — without pressure from the United States — their own vision on how the Israelis and Palestinians should live side by side,” he said. “Mr. Trump is not going to have his finger on the scale trying to push Israel in a particular direction,” Friedman added. “He has great confidence in the Israeli government and the Israeli people. And unless they come to him seeking help, I think he’s going to respect their views." [TimesofIsrael]

KAFE KNESSET -- Shelach vs. Bibi vs. Barak -- by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: 
MK Ofer Shelach (Yesh Atid), a member of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, tells us that the signing of the MoU is a good development overall, but it isn't as big a cause for celebration as some in Jerusalem and Washington make it seem. "It's definitely a sign and proof of the depth and stability of the US-Israel relationship, and it shows that our mutual interests go beyond the personal relationship between a certain President and a certain Prime Minister," says Shelach. However, he adds, "a different approach and a better sense of timing could have produced a better agreement for Israel. The agreement that was eventually signed contains some hazards and limitations that will affect the Israeli economy in the coming years.”

Shelach refers mainly to the limitations that will be put on Israel's ability to use the aid money within its own defense industry. Netanyahu is accused by his critics from the opposition of failing to negotiate better terms on that front. Shelach does not see any linkage between the MOU and any future steps by the Obama administration on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Regarding Susan Rice's comments yesterday at the signing ceremony on the need to solve the conflict, Shelach explains: "It showed the frustration the White House seems to have regarding the stalemate in the peace process. As an Israeli politician, I agree with the sentiment - time isn't on our side. But I don't agree with making a linkage between this issue and the MoU. I don't think there is one. The MoU represents our shared values and interests, and I don't think it should be linked to a certain policy on other fronts."

Sources close to Prime Minister Netanyahu, meanwhile, put out a strong-worded statement attacking former PM Ehud Barak for his criticism of Netanyahu in the Washington Post yesterday. The statement also answers part of Shelach's criticism, by declaring that "the agreement reached yesterday is optimal and historic, and shows the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Barak, who told the whole world that Netanyahu damaged the relationship with the U.S., should eat his hat instead of publishing lies in the international press.”

HAPPENING TODAY: At 12:30PM, WINEP hosts former Israeli defense minister Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon for "An Inside Look at Israeli National Security Strategy" [LiveStream]

“Colin Powell Called Trump A ‘Know Nothing’ And Compared Him To Jerry Springer" by Andrew Kaczynski, Nathan McDermott and Christopher Massie: 
“In one September 2015 email exchange with his daughter, Linda Powell, the former secretary of state said Republicans – who he characterized as “idiots” – were upset with him about supporting the Iran nuclear deal, championed by President Obama. “I did MEET THE PRESS this morning about Iran deal. Pissed off the GOP, but they really are idiots,” Powell wrote.” [BuzzFeed]

-- “Powell called Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense who spearheaded the Iraq invasion, “a f--king liar” after reading an interview in which Wolfowitz blamed Powell’s State Department for what many experts allege were the United States’ two largest post-invasion blunders: the disbanding of the Iraqi army and the decision to expel members of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist Party from the civilian government.” [Politico]

"Donald Trump’s campaign believes it’s finally hitting its stride after staff and strategy changes" by Hunter Walker: 
"Miller is willing to give some credit for Trump’s policy push to Stephen Miller, a former aide to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions who is a senior policy adviser on the campaign. The spokesman said Trump’s policy shop has “really grown” under Stephen Miller’s “guidance.”" [Yahoo]

"Mark Cuban rips into Clinton campaign for media strategy" by Allan Smith: "The Clinton staff sucks at spin and at anticipation and driving the message or driving the topics, driving the conversation," he continued. "Horrible at it. Horrible." [BI]

"Clinton dares Trump to mingle with world leaders" by Nahal Toosi: "Clinton's teams said she plans to see Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko... Foreign leaders are unlikely to resist an invitation to meet with either Trump or Clinton, even though Trump in particular has infuriated many of them...  Still, the possibility that Trump might win, coupled with a desire to avoid looking like they are taking sides in the U.S. election by snubbing him, will likely compel any foreign leader he invites for a chat to show up. "I think most of the leaders are not really going to be in the mood to deeply insult him," said Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations." [Politico]

**A message from the Israeli-American Council: It’s less than two weeks until the 3rd annual Israeli-American Council National Conference! Join thousands of activists, policymakers, diplomats, journalists, Jewish communal leaders, and business innovators from the U.S. and Israel to dive deep into the most pressing issues facing the Jewish people today. All will convene in Washington, DC from 9/24-9/26. [IsraeliAmerican] **

"House panel approves bill prohibiting cash payments to Iran" by Richard Lardner: "
The committee's chairman, Rep. Ed Royce of California, said President Barack Obama made it easier for Iran to funnel money to Hezbollah and other terrorist groups by delivering Tehran virtually untraceable cash. "We are basically doing their money laundering for them, in a sense," Royce said. Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the money belonged to Iran "whether we like it or not." Engel said there will be future financial transactions with Iran and what's most important is that Congress be alerted before they happen." [AP]

“New York City Council votes to denounce Israel boycott” by Erin Durkin: “In a debate that divided largely along racial lines, several members objected that they had tried to introduce resolutions on topics like the kidnapping of Nigerian girls by Boko Haram and the treatment of Haitians in the Dominican Republic but were told no international resolutions were allowed, yet the Israel resolution was allowed to proceed.“You have the right to free speech, and that includes the most hateful forms of speech,” said Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan). “But we also have the right, and actually an obligation, to denounce the kind of hateful attacks which are being leveled on people in this city who express any support for Israel.” [NYDailyNewsJewishInsider]

**Good Thursday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up at [JI].  Have a tip, scoop, or op-ed? We'd love to hear from you. Anything from hard news and punditry to the lighter stuff, including event coverage, job transitions, or even special birthdays, is much appreciated. Email**

BUSINESS BRIEFS: Greenspan Worries That ‘Crazies’ Will Undermine the U.S. System [Bloomberg] Martin Selig finishes Belltown building on Third: a ‘gem in a haystack' [DJC]  Stephen Ross' $150 Million Stairway to Nowhere on the Far West Side [NYTimes]

FIRST LOOK: "What’s Hebrew for ‘When in the Course of Human Events’?" by Jodi Rudoren: "Israeli and American officials often speak of the two countries’ shared values. It turns out that early drafts of the Jewish state’s founding document borrowed liberally from the American Declaration of Independence. They were written in English by a little-known, Ukrainian-born lawyer, Mordechai Beham, who confided to his in-laws over lunch in Tel Aviv on Saturday, April 24, 1948, that he had been enlisted to write the defining manifesto and had no idea where to begin." [NYTimes]

HOLLYWOOD: "Jeffrey Katzenberg and Son Host Massive Shabbat Dinner at Burning Man" by Chris Gardner: "Shabbat dinner may not be the first thing to spring to mind when Burning Man is mentioned, but it was one of the highlights during the father-son bonding time experienced by Jeffrey and David Katzenberg at this year's fest. The two hit the festival together for the second year in a row, and their camp, Merkabah, hosted nearly 700 people for the special meal. "Anyone and everyone is welcome," he tells The Hollywood Reporter of the hospitality of their camp, known as Merkabah. "We hosted nearly 700 people this year. Everyone in our camp equally contributes their time, energy and resources to making the Shabbat dinner work."" [HollywoodReporter]

TALK OF OUR NATION: "Simply Stunning Jewish Baby Name Ideas" by Lauren Levy: "In Judaism, it's tradition to name a newborn child after a loved one. However, unlike many other religions, it's customary not only to name after the deceased instead of someone still living, but also to only use the first letter of the person you're honoring — and not their full moniker — to inspire your baby's name. Whether you're looking for a modern Hebrew name or traditional biblical inspiration, here are some stunning Jewish options worthy of your little one." [PopSugar]

World's oldest man, Yisrael Kristal, 113, to hold bar mitzvah: "Yisrael Kristal, who lives in Israel, will celebrate the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony with family and friends in a synagogue in Haifa, his daughter said. Mr Kristal was born in Poland in 1903 and survived being in the Auschwitz death camp during World War Two. He was recognised by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest man in March this year." [BBC]

SCENE THE OTHER NIGHT -- in Tel Aviv: An A-list crowd came together in Tel Aviv for the launch of the Hebrew edition of Seth Siegel's bestseller book Let There Be Water ("Maavak al Kol Tipa"). Toasting Siegel at the packed soirée were former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Tzipi Livni, US ambassador Dan Shapiro and many of Israel's leading water experts. Many media were present including Yediot columnist Nahum Barnea, and Channel 2's Dana Weiss and Udi Segal. Israeli tech giant Yossi Vardi interviewed Siegel before the audience, weaving in comic comments and offbeat questions. The Hebrew edition is one of 12 foreign language versions from Spanish to Slovakian and from Chinese to Burmese.

BIRTHDAYS: Borscht Belt comedian known as "The Master of Malaprop," Norm Crosby turns 89... Nobel Prize laureate in Physics and professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology Murray Gell-Mann turns 87... Professor of Education at Wheelock College in Boston Diane Levin turns 69... PW Communications' Amanda Bresler... NYC-based composer and multi-instrument musician Ned Rothenberg turns 60... NPR's Media Correspondent who previously spent 10 years reporting at the Baltimore Sun David Folkenflik... Politico's New York City education reporter Eliza Shapiro...

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