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HEARD LAST NIGHT IN NYC -- Anthony 'The Mooch' Scaramucci addressed the National Council of Young Israel's (NCYI) Gala celebrating 70 Years of the State of Israel at Terrace on the Park in Flushing, NY. “This is my Bar Mitzvah,” Scaramucci joked as he began his remarks. “I got to tell you, I love the Jews... I grew up in the town of Port Washington, and so there were Jews, Italians, Irish, and African-Americans, and I hung out with everybody, but the family that had the biggest impact on me was an Eastern European Jewish family, where my best friend, who went on to Tufts and law school with me, wasn't allowed to leave the house until he studied. Thank God for that because I studied alongside him and I got good grades, and then the good grades led to Tufts and Harvard, and those other things, it was really the Jewish culture and it was the emphasis on studying and human capital and that push that really helped me in my life.”
Ed note: Shoutout to the Wolasky's Old City Wi-Fi for powering today's Daily Kickoff
COVER OF NEWSWEEK -- "The Fall of Benjamin Netanyahu and the Future of Israel" by Gregg Carlstrom: "Even his allies are starting to whisper that this jubilant visit to Washington was his last. After years of investigations, the police are closing in; the cases against him grow more substantive by the day... The man Time once dubbed “King Bibi” has lorded over Israel’s political scene for 10 years and planned to stay for many more. Now, suddenly, he seems vulnerable... Netanyahu’s resilience seems puzzling, given that he has little to offer his voters. His critics often deride him as “Mr. Status Quo.” ... Netanyahu has done little to address a nationwide housing shortage that has made apartments unaffordable for the majority of young Israelis..."
"Meanwhile, the Prime Minister hasn’t tried to address the constant skirmishes over religion and culture that roil Israeli politics... To some foreign audiences, Netanyahu’s most unforgivable lapse is his inaction on the peace process... If Netanyahu left office tomorrow, it would be difficult to choose a headline for his political obituary. Menachem Begin signed a lasting peace treaty with Egypt, and Rabin did the same with Jordan. Barak ended the decades-long occupation of Lebanon. Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza.... Netanyahu simply survived."
"A senior officer in the Israeli army once called Netanyahu “a character from a Greek tragedy.” (The officer is still in the military and asked for anonymity.) He is both a gifted politician and an educated man, a keen student of world history and contemporary geopolitics. As a man of the right, the son of a prominent Revisionist historian and a former army commando, he had the stature to be a transformative politician in the mold of Begin. But his lust for power led him to pursue short-term tactics instead of grand strategy, and the schisms in Israeli society deepened all the while. “He’s full of hubris,” the officer said." [Newsweek] Cover of Newsweek's March 23 edition [Pic]
REPORT -- “Two major diplomatic postings may become vacant in the summer” by Herb Keinon: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will have to make decisions in the coming weeks on whether to twist the arm of Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and convince him to stay a sixth year in Washington, and what to do regarding Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon in New York. Dermer is in the middle of his fifth year in the US and has made clear that he is interested in returning to Israel in the summer. “He wants to come back,” said one official who has talked to Dermer about the issue. “He has said that he made aliya in order to raise his kids in Israel, and that after five years in Washington, it is time to come home.”
"According to one diplomatic source, whether Netanyahu accedes to Dermer’s request to return will be dependent on whether... Jared Kushner retains his role as Trump’s point-man on the Middle East, and whether the US rolls out its long-awaited peace plan. If Kushner stays in the White House and the plan is presented, Netanyahu is expected to ask Dermer to stay on.” [JPost]
INTERVIEW -- "Meet Yair Lapid, Netanyahu’s Strongest Political Opponent and Maybe Israel’s Next Prime Minister" by Jack Moore: "Newsweek spoke with Lapid in Tel Aviv about his vision for the country and his bid to end the longest single term of any prime minister in Israeli history. Do you represent a true change from Benjamin Netanyahu? When you’ve been in politics for this long, you are first and foremost a politician. What we are offering is a real alternative to that. [Unlike Netanyahu], I truly believe we need to make progress with the Palestinians. I believe in the two-state solution, but in bringing it about cautiously." [Newsweek]
TRUMP TUMULT -- "Trump decides to remove national security adviser, and others may follow" by Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig: "President Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing potential replacements... Trump is now comfortable with ousting McMaster... but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army general is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor lined up... Before The Washington Post report was published, a White House spokesperson checked with several senior White House officials and did not dispute that the president had made a decision. [John] Kelly has also told White House staff that Trump has made up his mind about ousting McMaster." [WashPost; NYTimes]
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back late Thursday on Twitter: “Just spoke @POTUS and Gen H.R. McMaster. Contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC.” [Twitter]
"McMaster Invokes Holocaust to Urge Action in Syria" by Dion Nissenbaum: "Speaking at the Holocaust Memorial Museum on the seventh anniversary of the start of the Syrian conflict, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster... invoked the phrase “never again” to urge world powers not to allow atrocities to unfold in the Middle East. “We cannot stop at remembrance alone,” he told a group that included Holocaust survivors and Syrian refugees. “If we are to fulfill our promise [of] ‘never again,’ we must also act to protect all victims and hold all responsible parties accountable... If Iran and Russia do not stop enabling the regime atrocities and adhere to U.N. Security Council resolutions, all nations must respond more forcibly than simply issuing strong statements,” he said." [WSJ]
FUTURE OF THE DEAL -- "Netanyahu privately predicts Trump will withdraw from Iran deal" by Barak Ravid: "Netanyahu was briefing the security cabinet Sunday on his meeting with Trump... He said Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Chief of Staff John Kelly had all been present for the discussion on Iran. According to the two ministers, Netanyahu said in Sunday's meeting: "I think Trump is very close to withdrawing from the Iran deal. The meeting was very important. Trump spoke in front of all the most senior members of his administration and told me that if the nuclear deal would not change significantly the U.S. will withdraw."" [Axios]
"Iran nuclear deal may be the first casualty of Tillerson’s ouster" by Carol Morello: “Now you have the appointment of someone who has made it an article of faith that the Iran deal is a bad deal that needs to be ripped up,” said Robert Malley, president of the International Crisis Group who helped broker the Iran negotiations under the Obama administration. “It may well be the first casualty of Tillerson’s ousting will be the end of the Iran deal.” [WashPost]
Aaron David Miller tweets: "The Ides of May: Trump withdraws from Iran deal; personally opens the US Embassy in Jerusalem en route to his historic summit with Kim Jong Un; and on way back announces his ultimate deal -- Israel says yes, but; Palestinian say no way; take the hit; and they all live happily ever after."
Bret Stephens writes... "Mike Pompeo Is Good for Diplomacy: Trump isn’t going to be disciplined by someone whose views are dovish or establishmentarian. But he might listen to, and be tempered by, a responsible hawk... It’s good that the State Department may at last get a leader who can persuade — and perhaps even restrain — the president, pursue a policy, manage a department, and make diplomacy effective again in an administration otherwise governed by chaos and Twitter." [NYTimes]
Peter Beinart writes... "Mike Pompeo's Allies on the Anti-Muslim Right: Try this simple experiment. Take Mike Pompeo’s statements about Muslims, and his alliances with anti-Muslim bigots. Then imagine that he had made similar statements about Jews, and forged similar ties to anti-Semites. Then imagine the reaction if he were nominated for Secretary of State... Two of Mike Pompeo’s close allies, Frank Gaffney and Brigitte Gabriel, are to American Muslims what David Duke and Louis Farrakhan are to American Jews." [TheAtlantic]
PROFILE -- "A Tillerson Ally Survives the Purge With Help From Friends" by Nick Wadhams: "[Brian] Hook, the State Department’s director of policy planning, is among the last Tillerson confidants standing... The key to Hook’s survival may be his long-standing reputation in Republican foreign policy circles, bolstered by the access he gained as Tillerson’s liaison with the White House. Even as Tillerson was viewed there with distrust and mounting exasperation, Hook developed relations with top Trump advisers including Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner... Kushner invited Hook along on some of his overseas trips. .. Hook’s most substantial role has been leading the administration’s talks with European allies on overhauling the Iran nuclear deal." [Bloomberg]
TURTLE BAY -- "Haley: Vote With U.S. at U.N. or We’ll Cut Your Aid" by Colum Lynch: “It is the opinion of the U.S. mission to the U.N. that all U.S. foreign assistance should be reevaluated to ensure that taxpayers dollars are spent to advance U.S. interests, not to fund foreign legacy programs that provide little or no return on investment,” according to the 53-page memo... The Palestinian aid cuts “should serve as a fulcrum from which we use our foreign assistance leverage and measure its impact.” The memo, titled “America First Foreign Assistance Policy” and marked sensitive, echoes Trump’s oft-repeated claim that the world takes advantage of U.S. largesse while opposing American goals." [ForeignPolicy] UN gets $100M in new funds for Palestinian aid after US cuts [ABCNews]
"Lebanon Is Boiling. Thousands of Americans Could Get Stuck in the Middle of a War" by Elliott Abrams and Zachary Shapiro: "If war breaks out, it will be far more destructive than in 2006. Hezbollah’s arsenal is larger and more advanced, so the damage it can do in Israel—despite Israel’s greatly improved anti-missile defenses—will be far greater... That damage will lead Israel to strike hard in Lebanon in an effort to stop the attacks as quickly as possible... Members of the Israeli governing coalition have warned consistently that the next conflict with Hezbollah will be much bloodier for the Lebanese side... The U.S. Embassy will not have two weeks or more before ground combat begins—and it was in those first two weeks when most Americans were evacuated last time... The time to work through these problems is right now." [Politico]
TALK OF THE NATION -- "Alan Dershowitz and other prominent Israel advocates warn Netanyahu against expelling Africans" by Ron Kampeas: “We, a group of ardent Zionists, who have devoted our lives to defending the good name of the state of Israel and the Jewish people, write with urgent concern about the situation of the African asylum seekers,” said the letter signed by Dershowitz... [Abe] Foxman, the former national director of the Anti-Defamation League; Rabbi Marvin Hier... Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, a former chair of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, and Rabbi Avi Weiss... “We respectfully urge you, Mr. Prime Minister, to appoint Natan Sharansky to head a committee that would propose a humanitarian solution to the problem that also takes into account the concerns of the government of Israel.” ... "Mr. Sharansky was not a party to this initiative, has no knowledge of its details, and did not grant it his approval,” a spokesman for Sharansky told JTA ." [JTA]
2018 WATCH -- Dan Senor, discussing the outcome of the PA18 special election and the upcoming midterms on CBS This Morning yesterday: "What it is looking like is that the president is very good at motivating the opposition. It is not clear that he's motivating his base in these congressional races. It is another sign that Republicans are facing real headwinds heading into November... I keep telling my Republican friends who are running for office that the opposition's motivation and their energy is not conditions-based... It's all focused on one man - the revulsion against the president. So as long as he is in the frame, they are going to turn out in huge numbers." [Video]
"Jewish talk radio host runs for 9th Congressional District" by Jeff Kronenfeld: "Seth Leibsohn — a talk radio host, author and attorney — is one of five candidates currently registered for the Republican primary for Arizona’s 9th Congressional District... If Leibsohn secures the Republican nomination, he will likely face off against current Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton in the general election in November. The seat’s current occupant, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, is running for the Senate seat left open when Republican Sen. Jeff Flake decided not to seek re-election." [JewishAZ]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Scientist Turned CEO Rachel Haurwitz Wants to Gene-Edit a Way to Cure Cancer [Ozy] Patrick Drahi's debt-ridden telecoms group Altice seeing some recovery in France [Reuters; Bloomberg] Gal Gadot announces sponsorship deal with Reebok said to be worth $10 million [ToI] Casino mogul Steve Wynn may sell his stake in Wynn Resorts [Reuters] Hong Kong’s Richest Man Li Ka-shing Retires [Bloomberg] Flashback: Tycoon Li Ka-shing Looks to Israel [WSJ]
SPOTLIGHT: "The Gamble That Put David Solomon on Top at Goldman Sachs" by Liz Hoffman: "In the spring of 2014, Las Vegas tycoon Sheldon Adelson floated an offer to David Solomon : come run his casino empire. Mr. Solomon, a senior Goldman Sachs executive, had been Mr. Adelson’s banker since the 1990s. He had honed his craps game on weekend jaunts to Atlantic City, N.J. He was 52 years old and seen as a long shot to become chief executive of Goldman. But Mr. Solomon turned down the job, according to Michael Leven, who was Mr. Adelson’s second-in-command at the time. Mr. Adelson wasn’t willing to give up day-to-day control, and Mr. Solomon didn’t want to be an understudy. That patience paid off for Mr. Solomon, who this week was anointed the heir apparent to Goldman Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein." [WSJ]
Hungary’s Orban launches a new attack on Soros at election rally -- by Pablo Gorondi: "Prime Minister Viktor Orban, speaking at a massive rally three weeks ahead of Hungary’s parliamentary election, said Western Europe has surrendered with “its hands up” to a mass migration of people from Africa and the Middle East... Orban also made another of his attacks on George Soros, the Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist. He alleged Soros was seeking to impose his “open society” ideals on Europe and supports critics of the ruling party’s government, and listed Soros among Hungary’s historical foes — the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburgs and the Soviet Union." [AP]
"White Supremacists Are Increasingly Using Public Banners" by Maggie Astor: "White supremacists are increasingly hanging banners in public places, such as from highway overpasses and rooftops, to promote their views, according to a report released on Thursday by the Anti-Defamation League. “While white supremacists have been using banners for some time, the number of banners deployed in the past 10 months marks an unprecedented trend,” the report said. The tactic, it added, is significant because it “can garner widespread attention with very little actual effort involved.” From May 20, 2017, through this Monday, the A.D.L.’s Center on Extremism found, there were 72 such episodes." [NYTimes]
TRANSITION -- "AEI's Brooks to step down in summer 2019" by Blake Paterson: "American Enterprise Institute head Arthur Brooks said Wednesday he plans to step down in the summer of 2019 after more than ten years leading the conservative think tank... Tully Friedman and Daniel D’Aniello, co-chairs of AEI’s board of trustees, said a search committee will be formed in the coming weeks to find a successor." [Politico]
-- PODCAST PLAYBACK -- Brooks recounted hosting PM Benjamin Netanyahu and presenting him with the AEI 2015 Irving Kristol Award in a conversation with Simon Sinek at New York’s 92Y in January of this year: "I was hosting a large gala dinner in Washington, DC, a huge event for 2,000 people two years ago. The guest of honor was Benjamin Netanyahu. It was very controversial. There were protesters outside. It was awesome. I hired a band to play and they were packing up their instruments at the end of the night, and I was feeling very good about myself that it had gone so well, and the drummer came walking up to me and said, 'Are you Arthur Brooks, the French horn player?' And I said, 'Yeah, yeah.' I recognized him. It turned out it was a drummer that I had made two records with in the 1980s. He said, 'Are you the president of all of this now?' And I said, 'Yes, I am.' He looked at me and said, 'What happened to you, man?'" [92YOnDemand]
PREMIERING TODAY -- 7 Days in Entebbe: How The Greatest Rescue Mission Unfolded [USAToday]
"A New Entebbe Movie, Hijacked by Bad Ideas" by Liel Leibovitz: "Like much of Hollywood these days, 7 Days believes that a movie’s primary responsibility is to make progressive statements, not unfettered art. The message is the medium, and the message is best delivered in bursts of political speechifying. Sadly for the bien pensants, however, we unwashed masses go to the movies to be entertained, not educated, which leaves the film in a bind. Disinterested in the true depths of terror, and disdainful of the sheer kineticism of a good action sequence, it opts for something in between. The film’s climactic scene, for example, the raid on the terminal, is shot in infuriating slow-motion and cross-cut with a modern dance performance, forcing you to embrace its sophomoric war-as-metaphor theme one last, frustrating time." [TabletMag]
DESSERT -- There’s a New Kosher Dairy Restaurant at the Sago Hotel on Orchard Street: "Noga is a kosher dairy restaurant from the same owners behind Bison and Bourbon steakhouse in Crown Heights – Duddy Shagalov, Ariel Mangami, and Menachem Wolf. This is the trio’s second venture, which offers a menu of pastas alongside “upscale fish and dairy dishes.” Former Jean-Georges chef John Goullette is reportedly in the kitchen." [BoweryBoogie]
WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS -- FRIDAY: Banker, former CEO and chairman of Citigroup, Sanford I. "Sandy" Weill turns 85... Dean and founder of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Marvin Hier turns 79... Graduate of Harvard Law School in 1964, tax assistant to the Solicitor General of the US (1973-1983), now a NYC tax attorney and litigator, Stuart A. Smith turns 77... Actress and film director, Susan Bay turns 75... Computer scientist, Andrew S. Tanenbaum turns 74... Film, stage and television actor and singer, Victor Garber turns 69... Mathematician, entrepreneur and founder of four technology companies, creator of the first camera phone, Philippe Kahn turns 66... Peabody Award and Emmy Award-winning NPR journalist since 1977, now a host of NPR's Weekend Edition, Scott Simon turns 66... AVP of external affairs at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Amy Kaplan turns 64... Film producer Gail Sonnenfeld turns 63... Adjunct Professor at both George Washington U. Law School and Stanford In Washington, previously a partner at DLA Piper, Andrew D. Eskin turns 61... VP for talent, booking and ABC News' specialized units at Disney / ABC Television Group, Eric Avram turns 53... Philanthropist and president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, Jay Ruderman turns 52... Actor and comedian, best known for playing the role of writer Frank Rossitano on the NBC sitcom "30 Rock," Judah Friedlander turns 49... VP at the BGR Group since 2017, he was previously a principal at the Podesta Group, Andy Lewin turns 44... Partner at West Wing Writers, Jeff Nussbaum turns 43... Founder of Seward Square Strategies, Jason Rosenbaum turns 41... Retired soccer player in the Israeli Premier League who is now the the first team manager in Maccabi Tel Aviv, Yoav Ziv turns 37... Detroit-based founder and managing partner of Ludlow Ventures and Sandwich Fund, Jonathon Triest turns 36... Head of policy and communications at Facebook's Israel office since 2016, previously Chief of Staff at the Israeli embassy in Washington DC, Jordana Cutler turns 36... VP at the Glover Park Group, Adam Blickstein turns 36 (h/t Playbook)... Strategic communications consultant at 42West, Alexandra Stabler turns 29... Legislative assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Nathan Bennett... Customer care manager at CCRA Travel Commerce Network, Judy Karta... Investigative reporter on the Metro desk of The New York Times, Brian M. Rosenthal... Jackie Stern... Jeremy Levin...
SATURDAY: CEO of Wilherst Developers and trustee of publicly traded Ramco-Gershenson Properties Trust, Mark K. Rosenfeld turns 72... Founder, president and CEO of Laurel Strategies, Alan H. Fleischmann turns 53... Lead field/floor reporter for CBS Sports football and basketball broadcasts, she also serves on the board of the JCC in Tenafly, Tracy Wolfson turns 43... VP at Las Vegas-based Gold Coast Promotions, assisting non-profits in fundraising, Richard Metzler turns 41... Hasidic singer, entertainer and composer, Lipa Schmeltzer turns 40... Actor Stephen Kramer Glickman turns 39... Musician and digital strategy executive, Rick Sorkin turns 39... Digital reporter and producer for ABC News including "World News Tonight With David Muir," Emily Claire Friedman Cohen turns 33... Assistant professor at GW University in the School of Media and Public Affairs, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago in 2016, Ethan Porter turns 33... Uber manager, she was previously an analyst at LivingSocial, Annaliese Rosenthal turns 31... Los Angeles-based tech journalist and founder of the TechSesh blog, Jessica Elizabeth Naziri turns 30... Student at the University of Michigan, Zach Sherman...
SUNDAY: Professor emeritus of biochemistry and genetics in the medical school of the University of North Carolina, author of five books since turning 80 years old, Edward Glassman, Ph.D. turns 89... Screenwriter, actor, comedian and film executive, best known for co-writing the screenplay for "Jaws" and its first two sequels, Carl Gottlieb turns 80... Professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University, Deborah Lipstadt turns 71... One-half of the eponymous Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Bennett "Ben" Cohen turns 67... Crisis response team manager for the City of Los Angeles (1998-2013), consultant for non-profit organizations in the areas of event management, administration and development, Jeffrey Zimerman MSW turns 62... Dean of the Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Daniel S. Nevins turns 52... Filmmaker, writer and stand-up comedian, best known as the screenwriter for "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" and for writing the screenplay adaptation of "Battlefield Earth," J. D. Shapiro turns 49... Identical twin brothers, both singers and songwriters who recorded as “Evan and Jaron,” Evan Lowenstein and Jaron Lowenstein turn 44... Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor, record producer and lead vocalist for the pop rock band Maroon 5, Adam Levine turns 39... Consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, Ariel Koschitzky turns 29... Andy Weiss... Michael Shapiro... Jenni Volz...