Daily Kickoff: Pompeo’s weekend includes Jerusalem stop | When Trump humiliated Michael Cohen at son’s bar mitzvah | The new Israeli CEO of Mattel


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WEEKEND TRAVEL — “Pompeo makes debut as Secretary of State” by Carol Morello: “Newly minted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Brussels before dawn on Friday, in a sprightly start to his job as the administration’s top diplomat… On Saturday, he will head to Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman, and on Sunday he travels to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Jordan to see King Abdullah…”

“The official explanation for the trip is that the four stops were chosen to reflect their “importance as key allies and partners in the region,” said Heather Nauert, undersecretary of public diplomacy. Unofficially, the decision to send Pompeo on the road as literally his first act in office sends a strong message to dispirited State Department employees who felt diplomacy and their expertise were sidelined under Tillerson. The trip underscores Pompeo’s resolve to return the State Department to the center of foreign policy in the administration.”[WashPostPolitico]

Aaron David Miller tweets: “Will Pompeo take back the Israeli-Palestinian issue? It’s a dog; if Jared were smart, he’d wrap it up with a big red bow and give it to him.”

INBOX — Following Senate Confirmation, ADL Wishes Secretary of State Pompeo Success; Urges Him to Fulfill Promises: “Now that he is Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo will have an opportunity to play a leading role in shaping American foreign policy – to help build respect for the United States around the world and help to ensure its security,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO… “Given rising anti-Semitism globally, we urge Secretary Pompeo to appoint a qualified person to serve as the congressionally-mandated position of anti-Semitism envoy as one of his first orders of business.”

“Senate confirms Grenell as ambassador to Germany over Democrats’ objections” by Karoun Demirjian: “The vote of 56 to 42 establishes [Richard] Grenell as the U.S. envoy to Berlin just in advance of a planned Friday visit from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the United States… Grenell worked on restrictions and sanctions against Iran over its nuclear ambitions as the long-serving spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration… Since leaving the government, he has been openly critical of the Iran deal.” [WashPost

“Mattis says Iran nuclear deal includes ‘robust’ verification” by Robert Burns: “Without explicitly giving his opinion about whether the United States should stick with the agreement, Mattis said that after reading the full text of the deal three times, he was struck by provisions that allow for international verification of Iran’s compliance… “I will say it is written almost with an assumption that Iran would try to cheat,” he said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “So the verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability to get in” with representatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency to check on compliance. “Whether that is sufficient I think is a valid question,” he said.” [AP]

TURTLE BAY — Nikki Haley drives Trump’s Israel policy at U.N.” by Pamela Falk: “From the time Haley arrived at the U.N. last year, she has made a point of trying to turn the tide of what the Trump administration considers to be overwhelmingly anti-Israel resolutions and debate at the Security Council, at the General Assembly and at U.N. agencies… A Quinnipiac University poll of American voters released Wednesday showed 63 percent approve of the job Haley is doing… We appreciate the strong alliance with America and Ambassador Haley’s steadfast support for the truth at the U.N.,” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon told CBS News.” [CBSNews]

“At UN Mideast debate, Israel shows new evidence of Iran sticking to its militant ways” by Ben Evansky: “As decision time comes closer for President Donald Trump to stay in or withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, more evidence of Iranian intransigence in the region was given to members of the U.N. Security Council by Israel…” [FoxNews]

“Mattis warns of Israel-Iran military confrontation in Syria” by Joyce Karam: “[James] Mattis delivered his warning of yet another military conflict in the Middle East at a hearing in Congress. Asked if Israel and Iran were edging toward military confrontation, he said: “I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where. I think that it’s very likely in Syria because Iran continues to do its proxy work there through Hezbollah.” … Israel, he said “will not wait to see those missiles in the air and we hope Iran would pull back.”” [TheNational]

“US steps up surveillance of Iranian assets in Syria over concerns of strike against Israel” by Barbara Starr: “US satellites, surveillance aircraft, drones and ships have stepped up operations to monitor the movement of suspected Iranian anti-air and ballistic missiles inside Syria due to rising concerns they could be used to strike Israel in the coming days… The US continues to recognize Israel’s right to self-defense… But they are concerned that any Israeli strike could result in a counterstrike by Iranian elements inside Syria.” [CNN]

Israeli Defense Chief Meets Trump Aides Bolton, Kushner During White House Visit” by Noa Landau: “Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visited the White House on Thursday and met with… national security adviser, John Bolton, and with Jared Kushner… The meeting with Kushner was also attended by Trump’s envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt… “I’m glad that the Americans and us see eye to eye when it comes to the Middle East and [I] thank the administration for its support of Israel,” Liberman said in a statement following the meetings…” [Haaretz]

HAPPENING THIS MORNING: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy is hosting a discussion with Liberman on the “urgent challenges for Israel’s security.” [LivestreamCSPAN]  

HAPPENING ON SUNDAY — Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, TV personality Roseanne Barr, and Anthony Scaramucci, The Mooch, will headline the 7th Jerusalem Post Conference at the Marriott Hotel in New York. This will be Olmert’s first U.S. visit since returning to public life after spending 16 months in jail. Ron Lauder will serve as the president of the conference. Other featured speakers include Senators Ben Cardin and Lindsey Graham, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Israeli cabinet ministers Naftali Bennett, Gilad Erdan, Yuval Steinitz, Gila Gamliel, Yoav Galant, Tzachi Hanegbi and Israel Katz; Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar. [Livestream]

ON THE HILL — Approximately 1,000 members of NORPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee, met with Senators and House members on Wednesday during their annual mission to Washington, DC. Among the Senators the group met with included Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [Picand Sen. Ted Cruz [Pic]

REPORT — “New embassy quarter to be built in Jerusalem, could be called ‘Trump Town’” by Gil Hoffman: “Construction Minister Yoav Gallant has instructed the top officials in his ministry to begin the process of planning and approving a new quarter for embassies from countries around the world that will be built in Jerusalem, he revealed on Thursday in an interview… Gallant suggested a couple possible names for the area where the embassies would be located. He initially called it “Embassy Town,” but then said he may decide to instead call it “Trump Town,” after US President Donald Trump, who initiated next month’s move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. [JPost

“The Awkward Exile of Michael Cohen” by Michael Rothfeld, Alexandra Berzon and Joe Palazzolo: “In the 15 months since Donald Trump shut him out of a White House job, Michael Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer, has made a show of publicly dining with a vocal Trump critic, the billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. After lunch at Freds restaurant in New York in April 2017, a gossip item appeared in the New York Post. When they had breakfast at the Time Warner Center in November, paparazzi “somehow” showed up, Mr. Cuban said. “I think he does it to piss off Trump when Trump is ignoring him.” The second meeting, reported by celebrity-news outlet TMZ, did catch Mr. Trump’s attention. He called Mr. Cohen to complain. The attorney sought to reassure him… “No, boss, I had breakfast with him to set him straight. I told him he has to respect the office, to respect you,” Mr. Cohen said.”

“Mr. Trump didn’t always demonstrate respect for his employee. After saying he’d attend Mr. Cohen’s son’s bar mitzvah in 2012, Mr. Trump was late, and the blessings were delayed, according to an attendee. After Mr. Trump arrived, he gave a speech, telling guests he hadn’t planned to come, but he relented after Mr. Cohen had repeatedly called him, his secretary and his children begging him to appear, the attendee said. The guests laughed because “everyone knew it was very realistic-sounding,” the attendee added.” [WSJNYMag] • Cohen loaned millions to Ukraine-born cab mogul [AP]

2018 WATCH — “Steve Cohen joins other billionaires in curbing GOP donations” by Charles Gasparino: “Cohen, who is reportedly worth $15 billion, made a single, $5,000 contribution on Jan. 19 to the Great America Committee, a PAC started by Vice President Mike Pence…  In 2017, he wrote at least two multimillion-dollar checks, including $2 million to the GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund.” [FoxBusiness]

“Secretly taped audio shows how a top Democrat worked to strong arm a progressive candidate out of a congressional race” by Lee Fang: “House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer bluntly told Levi Tillemann that it wasn’t his imagination, and that mobilizing support for one Democratic candidate over another in a primary isn’t unusual… “Staying out of primaries sounds small-D democratic, very intellectual, and very interesting,” said Hoyer. “But if you stay out of primaries, and somebody wins in the primary who can’t possibly win in the general,” the Maryland representative said, citing the surprise victory of Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate election, “I’m not saying you’re that person.” But staying out of primaries, he argued, is “not very smart strategy.”

“Tillemann, while studying for his Ph.D., founded an energy efficient engine design company, and in 2012, was appointed by President Barack Obama to advise the Energy Department. Though he has positioned himself as a grassroots populist aligned with local resistance activist groups, if anything he is simultaneously a legacy of the Democratic establishment, as the grandson ofthe late Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., on his mother’s side and the grandson of former Colorado Lt. Gov. Nancy Dick on his father’s side.” [TheIntercept] • Pelosi defends Hoyer’s comments in secret recording [Politico]

“Rabbis demand congressional candidate stop using Holocaust ‘for political purposes’” by Hunter Woodall: “In a letter, the Rabbinical Association of Greater Kansas City has asked to Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, R-Leavenworth, to stop drawing comparisons between abortion and the Holocaust. “Senator, your words abuse the memory of the murdered victims of the Nazi regime by using their deaths as a political weapon in our national debate,” the letter says. Fitzgerald, who is running to become the Republican nominee in Kansas’ 2nd District… said during an interview Thursday that he would take the rabbis letter “into consideration and under advisement,” and appreciated them sharing their opinion. He would not commit to stop referencing Nazis and the Holocaust in the abortion debate.” [KCStar

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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Elliott Management Buys British Bookstore Chain Waterstones [WSJ• Jeffrey Soffer buys Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach [Bizjournals] • Charles and Murray Kushner Can’t Seem to Avoid Each Other’s Shadow [Bloomberg] • UpWest’s Shuly Galili: Why Israeli startups tackle ‘unsexy’ industries with AI [VentureBeat• Israeli Allegro.AI nabs $11M for ‘deep learning as a service’, for businesses to build computer vision products [TechCrunch]

FIRST LOOK — “Mattel’s New Chief Takes Aim at Hollywood After Four Down Years” by Matthew Townsend: “Ynon Kreiz is clearly cast in the savior role. He’ll face Wall Street for the first time Thursday when Mattel reports first-quarter results after the close of U.S. markets. Kreiz kicks off his reign at a time when Mattel faces formidable obstacles. Toys “R” Us Inc., the toymaker’s second-largest customer after Walmart Inc., filed for bankruptcy in September… And several of Mattel’s big brands, like Fisher-Price and American Girl, are struggling. Investors are looking for a turnaround.”

“Kreiz, an Israeli who’s been described in press accounts as a driven workout junkie, made his first mark in the mid 1990s, just a few years out of business school. Haim Saban, a children’s TV producer known for “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” hired him to start Fox Kids Europe from scratch. Within a couple years, the channel was available in 28 countries and had a $1 billion valuation.” [Bloomberg]

INTERVIEW — “Junk Bond King Michael Milken on Drexel’s Legacy and Negotiating With Carl Icahn” by Tom Metcalf: What are you most proud of? Milken: The diaspora of people that worked for me: Kenny Moelis; Rich Handler, who runs Jefferies; Jon Sokoloff over at Leonard Green. Leon Black, Tony and Richard Ressler and so on. What I’m most proud of is that they are responsible members of the community and have used their wealth creation in the fields of philanthropy and obviously, building successful businesses… How do you approach negotiations? Even if you have a price that a person would want to do the transaction, sometimes you have to let a person feel like they can negotiate. A person like Carl Icahn, for example: It would take the thrill out of it if he couldn’t negotiate.” [Bloomberg]

HOLLYWOOD – “In emotional reunion, Spielberg revisits ‘Schindler’s List’” by Jake Coyle: “[Steven] Spielberg, Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and others reunited for a 25th anniversary screening of “Schindler’s List” at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday, in an evening that had obvious meaning to Spielberg and the hushed, awed crowd that packed New York’s Beacon Theater… Making “Schindler’s List” was a profound, emotional and fraught experience for many of those involved. Kingsley recalled confronting a man for anti-Semitism during production. Spielberg said swastikas were sometimes painted overnight. Recreating scenes like those in the Krakow ghetto and at Auschwitz were, Spielberg said, very difficult for most of those involved. Two young Israeli actors, he said, had breakdowns after shooting a shower scene at the concentration camp.” [AP] • How Robin Williams Helped Steven Spielberg Get Through Schindler’s List [VanityFair]

LongRead: “Barbra Streisand’s Singular Women” by Mayukh Sen: “[Streisand] had been fighting the itch to adapt Isaac Bashevis Singer’s 1962 short story, “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy” since she first read it in 1968. Streisand was utterly transfixed by this story of a shtetl girl in early 1900s Poland who wants to study the Talmud. She faced funding and distribution roadblocks, with Orion Pictures backing out after the titanic failure of 1981’s Heaven’s Gate, until United Artists stepped in. There is something enchantingly preposterous about the notion of Streisand, 40 at the time of filming, playing a teenager in Yentl. But she affects anyway. Streisand exhibits a lightness of touch as a director, threading musical numbers with grace and ease into the film’s tangled story of a teenage girl who cosplays as a yeshiva boy… Yentl suggested that perhaps Streisand knew something her previous directors didn’t, that she could tap into reserves only she knew she had. The film was a critical and commercial juggernaut.” [Hazlitt]

“10 teenagers swept away by flash flood in Israel’s desert” by Ruth Eglash: “A flash flood struck a group of 25 teenagers hiking in Israel’s southern desert Thursday, sweeping 10 of them to their deaths as an unseasonal storm hit the region… The teenagers’ bodies were recovered, officials said, after torrential rains swept over an area that is usually arid and dry… They were members of a post-high-school, pre-military educational academy, part of a group of 25 teens who had set out for a hike Thursday afternoon in an area just south of the Dead Sea… An exchange between one of the girls who was killed and a friend, showing her complaining about having to go on the hike in such weather, was published by Israel’s Hadashot news. “We could end up dying there,” wrote the girl to her friend.” [WashPost• Two Palestinian Children Drown as Rains Flood West Bank and Israel [Haaretz]

Michael Bloomberg and Randi Weingarten write… “We can expect more from teachers when we pay them like pros: Public education is fundamentally a local matter, and states and districts reap what they sow. The federal government can push and prod, but it is up to districts and states — with labor and management working together, bargaining collectively and engaging with community — to drive long-term, sustainable change.” As educators across the country demand better pay and better learning and teaching conditions, elected officials have an extraordinary opportunity to sit down with them to discuss changes that are good for kids, are fair to teachers and benefit communities.” [USAToday]

TRANSITION — Simcha Eichenstein, a senior advisor to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, is leaving his job in City Hall to run for the New York State Assembly. [Hamodia]

SPORTS BLINK — “Motivated’ Josh Rosen is last of top four QBs to go: “The Arizona Cardinals view Rosen as their quarterback of the future after Carson Palmer retired following the 2017 season… Rosen was lauded by many as the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft due to his accuracy and intellect. His brash personality and controversial opinions, however, were viewed as concerns for teams looking for their next leader. “I am more motivated than I have ever been in my entire life,” Rosen told ESPN after being selected.” [NYPost]

DESSERT: “Cleveland Ritz-Carlton opens kosher kitchen with reception, Israeli chefs” by Bob Jacob: “Kobi Ohayon, 33, spent last week in Cleveland – his first time in the United States – to help The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland, inside Tower City in downtown Cleveland, open its new kosher kitchen. His talents were showcased to the community through a bevy of events, including a private reception for about 100 people on April 20, presented by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. He and fellow chef, Adir Cohen, were brought from Israel to Cleveland by Yael Ron, an Israeli who was named general manager of the hotel in July 2016.” [CJN]

WEEKEND BIRTHDAYS — FRIDAY: US Senator from New Jersey since 2013, Senatorial Torah scholar, Cory Booker turns 49… Former refusenik in the Soviet Union, made aliyah in 1987, now a political activist in Israel, Ida Nudel turns 87… Financial executive, he retired in 2014 as head of marketing for money manager Van Eck Global, Harvey Hirsch turns 77… Turkish preacher, former imam, writer and political figure, now living in exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gülen turns 77… Author, attorney and non-profit executive who has managed the 92nd Street Y, the Robin Hood Foundation, the AT&T Foundation and Lincoln Center, he is also the lead director of First Republic Bank, Reynold Levy turns 73… Physician and a NASA astronaut, Chief of the Education/Medical Branch of the NASA Astronaut Office, Ellen Louise Shulman Baker, M.D., M.P.H. turns 65… Director-general of the Israel Antiquities Authority, he was previously a member of Knesset (2006-2014) and deputy director of Shin Bet, Yisrael Hasson turns 63… Officer at Covington Fabric & Design, Donald Rifkin turns 60… Entertainment industry businessman, Rande Gerber turns 56… Managing director at Julius Baer Financial Markets, Elliot Mayerhoffturns 52… Author, political analyst and columnist for The Washington Post, Dana Milbank turns 50… Basketball analyst and writer, profiled by Sports Illustrated in 2018 as “the smartest basketball mind outside the NBA,” Benjamin Falk turns 30… New York City-born actor, David Benger turns 27… Associate Area Director for AIPAC’s Baltimore office, Leah Berry… Jonathan H. Glidden

SATURDAY: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Elena Kagan turns 58… Austrian-born, Canadian chemist, businessman, philanthropist and collector of fine art, Alfred Bader turns 94… White House Chief of Staff for Presidents Reagan (1981-1985) and Bush 41 (1992-1993), Secretary of the Treasury (1985-1988) and Secretary of State (1989-1992), James Baker turns 88… Businesswoman Elaine Wynn turns 76… Retired four-star United States Marine Corps general, Robert Magnus turns 71… Editor of The Tower Magazine and a senior member of The Israel Project, David Hazony turns 49… Associate judge of the Baltimore City Circuit Court, Karen (Chaya) Friedman… Actress and film critic, Catherine Reitmanturns 37… Israeli artist and photographer, Neta Cones turns 30… Ahron Fragin turns 20… Jeffrey Hensiek

SUNDAY: Inmate #61727-054 at the Butner Federal Correctional Institute in North Carolina, Bernard Madoff turns 80… Nobel Prize-winning economist, professor at MIT, Peter Diamond turns 78… Comedian Jerry Seinfeldturns 64… London-born highly acclaimed actor, knighted at Buckingham Palace in 2014, Sir Daniel Day-Lewis turns 61… Sportscaster Gary Cohen turns 60… New York City Comptroller since 2014, previously Borough President of Manhattan, Scott M. Stringer turns 58… CEO and chairman of 20th Century Fox, Stacey Snider turns 57… Professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight and author of many books including “Predictably Irrational,” Dan Ariely turns 51… NYC-based award-winning artist Julianne Swartz turns 51… Israeli-born, NYC resident, stand-up comedian, actor and sometimes chazzan, Modi Rosenfeld turns 48… Russian-born Israeli model and actress, has appeared in many American movies, TV shows and advertisements, Bar Paly turns 36… Real estate developer in the Mid-Atlantic region, Samuel Neuberger… Political Director at AIPAC, Rob Bassin Marcy Smith


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