The Daily Kickoff: White House Opposes Proposal to Increase Military Aid for Israel

Today's Daily Kickoff was crafted in Israel on the road from the Bedouin town of Hura to the city of Yerucham, one expression of the Negev Renaissance envisioned by David Ben Gurion.

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President Barack Obama speaks at the Treasury Department in Washington following a meeting with his National Security Council on June 14, 2016
President Barack Obama speaks at the Treasury Department in Washington following a meeting with his National Security Council on June 14, 2016Credit: Susan Walsh, AP
Jacob Kornbluh, Jewish Insider

This article was originally published on Jewish Insider.

The White House announced its opposition to a Congressional proposal to increase funding by $445 million for Israel’s missile defense program in the 2017 budget. In a statement, AIPAC said it was “deeply disappointed.” 

Dem Strategist Aaron Keyak emails...
"More accurate, however, would be to say that the Obama administration is continuing a longstanding tradition of Presidents lowballing requests for missile cooperation funding.... Congress has for years substantially upped the presidential 'ask.'"

KAFE KNESSET -- by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: The talk of the Knesset yesterday was the wedding of Speaker Yuli Edelstein to Irina Nevzlin, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Diaspora Museum (Beit Hatfutsot), and the daughter of the exiled Russian businessman Leonid Nevzlin.

The ceremony, which was closed to the media, started at the Western Wall and continued to the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Temple Mount. Approximately 180 guests attended – including the Jewish Agency's Natan Sharansky and businesswoman Ofra Strauss. But few high profile politicians joined the festivities as many of them, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, will celebrate with the power couple next Monday.

Netanyahu was busy convincing the Israeli public that the headlines about a new crisis with the United States over a potential military aid increase are exaggerated. He sent his lead negotiator and Deputy National Security Adviser, Ya'akov Nagel, to conduct rare radio interviews, in which Nagel insisted that all is well in the field of security cooperation between the two countries, and the a new MoU (Memorandum of Understandings) will soon be signed.

The Israeli Prime Minister also hinted that his political opponents are using every minor disagreement with the United States to portray the relationship as failing. This accusation was probably aimed at Yair Lapid, who was the first politician in Israel to respond to the news reports from the U.S., using the occasion to once again call on Netanyahu to sign the MoU with the Obama administration without delay, instead of taking the risk of waiting for the next administration.

Lapid has made this a flagship issue for the last few weeks. In recent talks with "Some of Israel's best friends in Washington," Lapid said, he heard "real concern about the inability of both sides to close the deal already."

"Israel's Prophet of Freedom Gives In to Middle East Reality" by Eli Lake: "When I met with Sharansky this week at his office at the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, he was more understanding of Netanyahu's foreign policy than I thought he would be. "Israel is in a special position," he told me. "It is not like France or the United States, Israel is in a permanent struggle for its survival. The cooperation with Sisi in the Sinai is not a matter of ideology, it is a question of physical survival."

"Sharansky also warned that Israeli and American leaders make a mistake if they believe their relationships with dictators will last. "When we have al-Qaeda in the Sinai and he is fighting with us, of course Sisi is our ally at this moment," he said. "At the same time, as someone who puts in jail every dissident from the Muslim brothers to the most liberal activists, I have no doubt he will fall in the years to come if he doesn't change." Sharansky knows of what he speaks. He's a former political prisoner who has had the pleasure of seeing the regime that jailed him collapse." 

RHETORIC WARS -- Giuliani Defends Trump Over Obama Comments: “I am very disturbed by the president’s failure to use the word Islamic terrorism,” Giuliani said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day” morning program. “And I do believe that the president’s rhetoric has something to do with the fact that some of the people in San Bernardino didn’t turn in the suspicious acts of terrorism that they saw in the days before the attack in San Bernardino.

The words that the president uses are important. And he is creating a feeling, particularly among maybe more liberal members of society, you can’t say Islamic terrorism.”

President Obama: “What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is - none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away." 

Trump responds: “I watched President Obama today. And he was more angry at me than he was at the shooter and many people said that,” Trump said during a campaign rally in North Carolina.

“The level of anger, that's the kind of anger he should have for the shooter and these killers that shouldn't be here.” 

"What Obama Actually Thinks About Radical Islam" by Jeffrey Goldberg:
"Privately, Obama expresses the deepest loathing for ISIS and other radical Islamist groups. ISIS, he has noted, stands for — quite literally — everything he opposes. Nevertheless, his approach to the challenge of Islamist terrorism is sometimes emotionally unsatisfying; it is sometimes insufficient to the challenge; and he himself is sometimes too fatalistic about the possibility of change in the Middle East." 

Trump on Hannity:
Obama treats others far better than he treats Israel. He treats Israel so badly. I have many Jewish friends and they raise money for him, and they raise money for the Democrats. I say, ‘What are you people doing? Why would you do this?’ That Iran deal was the end of it -- Hillary was a part of it; she started it. It was her and then John Kerry took over -- it is the worst deal for them that I can imagine.”

"Iran's Khamenei threatens to 'set fire' to nuclear deal if West violates"  the agreement. 

“Republican Donor Singer Won't Take Part in Convention” by Zachary Mider: “Add Paul Singer's name to the list of prominent Republican donors and officials who won't take part in the party convention next month, where Donald Trump is expected to be annointed the presidential nominee. The billionaire New York hedge-fund manager won't donate to the convention in Cleveland or attend events there, according to a person with knowledge of his plans who spoke on condition of anonymity.” 

POLLING: "Clinton Has 12-Point Edge Over Trump in Bloomberg National Poll." 

Tevi Troy and Lanhee Chen -- "The Mystery of Jewish and Asian-American Democratic Loyalty" in the WSJ: "Jewish and Asian parents have long pressed their children to attend top universities. Despite obstacles like higher standards for admissions, both groups are disproportionately represented at those schools. Once there, these students—who have heard for their whole lives about the importance and perhaps even near divinity of these elite schools—are exposed to unrelenting progressive messaging from many of their professors, administrators and fellow students." 

SCENE LAST NIGHT: The Weekly Standard celebrated its 1,000th issue on the rooftop of their 15th St. offices in D.C. next to the old Washington Post building. Tevi Troy joked to Bill Kristol that "I must have read 950 of the 1000 issues" to which Kristol quipped "and what was wrong with the other 50?"

Spotted: Sen. Ben Sasse, NBC's Chuck Todd, Fred Barnes, Jonah Goldberg, Matt Continetti, Mark & Mollie Hemingway, Andy Ferguson, Howard 'Extreme' Mortman and Scooter Libby (meeting for the first time, acc. to Tevi), Hillel Fradkin, Steve Scully, Alex Rosenwald, Elliott Abrams, Ron Radosh, Lee Smith, and Byron York.

**Good Wednesday Morning! Enjoying the Daily Kickoff? Please share us with your friends & tell them to sign up here. 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: "Sun Valley Showdown Looms for Shari Redstone, Philippe Dauman" .

"Report: Norman Pearlstine in Talks to Leave Time Inc. Role"

"Samueli Foundation donates $10 million for endowed engineering chairs" 

"Second largest German bank shuts anti-Israel BDS account"

"Iran’s Return Isn’t Helping Hezbollah Pay the Bills"

"Iran Said to Have Deal With Boeing to Buy Passenger Planes"

STARTUP NATION: "User-generated content marketing platform Yotpo picks up $22M Series C" by Steve O'Hear: "Yotpo, a platform that lets companies solicit content from their users and customers in the form of reviews, Q&As, and photos and videos, for use across various marketing channels, has picked up $22 million in Series C funding.

Leading the round in the Tel Aviv and New York-based startup is Bessemer Venture Partners along with participation from existing investors."

"Here's why Israel could be the next Silicon Valley"

Spotted in Tel Aviv: Eric Schmidt: "Israel has matured as the Startup Nation in recent years," said Alphabet, Executive chairman Eric Schmidt last night during a visit to Israel to mark the tenth anniversary of the founding of Google Israel's R&D center. "I can't think of a place where you could see this diversity and the collection of initiatives aside from Silicon Valley."

STARTUP SPOTLIGHT: "It’s Yelp for sheitels — the first-ever wig review site" by Lisa Keys: "ShayTell may be the first-ever online customer review site for wigs. It’s certainly the most cleverly named. And if you’ve never considered the demand for such a site, consider this: When was the last time you bought, say, a computer, without knowing a thing about its quality, components and warranty? That’s a predicament facing many observant Jewish women, says ShayTell’s founder, Myriam Schottenstein. After all, some wear sheitels every day, and the wigs typically cost from $1,000 to $4,500, she says. Backed by her brother, “serial entrepreneur” David Schottenstein, ShayTell launched in the spring."

MEDIA WATCH: "Amid Challenges to Digital Media, Thrillist CEO Ben Lerer Says 'It's the Golden Age Right Now'" by Jeremy Barr: "Thrillist Media Group is "not meaningfully profitable," Lerer said. "But we're profitable. And I'd like to stay profitable. Stressful is running out of money and needing to raise money," he added.

"Stressful is feeling like you don't know what success looks like. That's what's stressful. That's not where we are today. I've been there. Plenty of times." The 34-year-old Mr. Lerer, who co-founded the male-focused Thrillist back in 2004, spoke to Ad Age at a moment when digital media is facing growing scrutiny and pressure." 

HOLLYWOOD: "'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Returning to HBO" by Michael O'Connell: "Making good on years of tentative "we'll sees" from both the creator and network, Curb Your Enthusiasm will indeed return to HBO.

The network on Tuesdayannounced a ninth season for the beloved Larry David comedy, though a formal return date was not included." 

TALK OF OUR NATION: "The Real Jewish Revenge Story" by Eugene Robinson: "Tavor, dead just four weeks after giving this interview back in 2006 at the sprightly age of 89, was speaking specifically about his time as a member of the Jewish Brigade, a Winston Churchill–directed subunit of the British Army that chased Germans out of Italy in that last year of war. For them, the war continued as Tavor, along with eight other soldiers from the brigade, rendered judgment in a way that best suited the crime: with executions." 

"‘The Evidence Room’: Architects Examine the Horrors of Auschwitz" by Jennifer Schuessler: "It was built on the basis of historical documents introduced in the 2000 libel case brought by the British historian and Holocaust denier David Irving, at which Mr. van Pelt, a leading authority on the construction of that Nazi death camp, was an expert witness. Now it is also a centerpiece of “The Evidence Room,” a haunting installation that stands as a reminder of architecture’s potential both to do unspeakable harm and to argue for truth against lies." 

TALK OF THE TOWN: "New York congregation set to appeal Touro Synagogue decision" by Michelle Smith: "Congregation Shearith Israel, of New York, said in a filing that it would appeal to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in its fight over who controls the 250-year-old Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, and who owns a set of ceremonial bells worth millions." 

TRANSITIONS -- Jordana Cutler, longtime senior advisor and chief of staff to Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, is moving back to Israel to join Facebook's Israel office as head of Policy & Communications.

AIPAC's Evan Philipson is leaving DC after nearly five years at headquarters, most recently as New Leadership Network Director, to be the organization's Florida Regional Political Director. "His friends will miss him, but they hope he has luck in Florida finding a nice Jewish girl who laughs at his Dad jokes." H/T Grant Dubler

DESSERT: "The Israelis Who Hipsterized a New York Restaurant Chain" by Haim Handwerker: "It’s an evening at the restaurant Westville in Chelsea. The place is packed and a long line stretches outside – a half-hour wait. The crowd, as befits the neighborhood, is stylish. Once they called it yuppie. Now they call it hipster."

BIRTHDAYS: CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash turns 45... Two time Pulitzer Prize winner who manages the NYT's digital platforms Clifford J. Levy turns 49... Businessman and philanthropist Matthew Bronfman turns 57... Swedish author and psychologist, a survivor of both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen Hédi Fried turns 92... Birthright Israel Foundation's Jackie Saxe Soleimani... Joel Winton of the Singer Family Office ... ABC News' Ali Rogin...

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