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BREAKING: “Trump ousts Tillerson, will replace him as secretary of state with CIA chief Pompeo” by Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker:“President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him as the nation’s top diplomat… Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside, and the embattled diplomat cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.” [WashPost]
— “He had no idea that this was occurring,” said Steve Goldstein, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. “He did not know.” [Bloomberg]
QUICK REACTIONS — Elliott Abrams emails us… “Mike Pompeo has been a very successful CIA Director. Morale at CIA is very good, and he has established a very close relationship with the President. All that bodes well for him at State.”
Former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro: “Tillerson was an ineffective Secretary of State, who did not value the professionals of the State Department, and was disrespected by the President. The timing of his ouster is terrible, because it appears to punish him for speaking the truth about Russia’s chemical attack in the UK. But overall, it will be better to have a Secretary of State who can speak authoritatively for the President. With respect to Israel, Tillerson was irrelevant. It seems unlikely that Pompeo, who has visited Israel many times as a Member of Congress, will accept being completely cut out of that relationship. Look for a more traditional conduct of the U.S.-Israel relationship to emerge.”
Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official under John Kerry and a Middle East expert at the Center for a New American Security, tells us… “Tillerson was a historically weak Secretary of State because of his bad relations with the President and total mismanagement of the department. So it’s not surprising, but the timing is odd. It means the administration will be without a real Secretary of State just as they are supposedly planning this big North Korea conference. Pompeo will be better at managing the department and have a better relationship with Trump – both good things. But Pompeo’s policy instincts, especially on Iran, worry me. I could see his voice helping end the nuclear agreement.”
MEANWHILE, IN ISRAEL — U.S. Ambassador David Friedman tweets: “Thrilled to host State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert and Dr. Victoria Coates along with amazing staff in beautiful Israel. Wishing them an incredible trip!” [Pic]
HEARD LAST NIGHT — Paul Singer, founder of Elliott Management, kicked off the Jewish Funders Network conference in Jerusalem: “In my day job, I manage a multi-strategy hedge fund. What that means, in practice, is that I manage risk. Nobody can time the markets or predict the future, but our investors expect us to have an acute awareness of the history of the markets, the macro variables that could impact these markets and a deep understanding of human behavior… But frankly, to succeed in my business, you need more than just risk awareness. Great opportunities come along from time to time. When they do appear, you need to get smart, get conviction, make a real commitment, and make it work. You need to make big bets when you spot a great opportunity — and to size those bets to ensure maximum rate of return.”
“So… you may be wondering: what does this have to do with the price of halvah in Machne Yehuda market? (laughter) Or, if you wish, how does this apply to Jews at this particular moment in history? My starting point is that Israel and the Diaspora need to strengthen one another. While we all hope that Jews will continue to thrive across the globe, this prayer does not guarantee the Jewish future. Israel is the only country in the world where Jews are the majority, and… the only context in which Jews experience political sovereignty. It’s the birthplace of our memories and the home of our destiny… I feel strongly that diaspora Jews need an economically and militarily strong Israel. The challenge for all Jews is to stay connected and committed. If we break our links with Israel and/or our Jewish traditions, diaspora Jews are at risk of walking down the path of complete assimilation, or worse. History has reminded us that Israel may be the only insurance policy all Jews, everywhere, can rely upon for the safety and continuity of Judaism.”
“In the face of a global situation with risk at every level, Israel is both our once-in-a-millennium opportunity, and our great hedge. It is a beautiful and tiny country, composed of the human capital of not quite nine million people — but upon this beautiful and tiny place so many hopes for our people and our children depend. Winston Churchill said that “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, and an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” As a hedge fund manager, I’m a little of both. That’s how I think about managing money — and that’s how think about my philanthropy in Israel and for the Jewish people.” [Pic]
DRIVING THE DAY — The Trump administration will host a “brainstorming session” at the White House today to address deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza. Members of the international community, including representatives from Israel and neighboring Arab states, White House advisors Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and members of the National Security Council will present specific proposals for consideration to help the people of Gaza, according to a senior White House official. The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the meeting.
“The Trump administration believes that deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza require immediate attention,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “Solving the situation in Gaza is vital for humanitarian reasons, important for the security of Egypt and Israel and is a necessary step toward reaching a comprehensive peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, including Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank. We are pleased with the committed list of attendees which includes many of the relevant parties and anticipate a robust dialogue. The challenge will be determining which ideas can be realistically implemented in light of the fact that the Palestinians of Gaza continue to suffer under the authoritarian rule of Hamas.”
ON THE GROUND — “Explosion strikes Palestinian PM’s convoy in Gaza” by Fares Karam: “An explosion struck the convoy of the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah Tuesday as he was making a rare visit to Gaza, in what his Fatah party called an assassination attempt it blamed on Gaza militants. The explosion went off shortly after the convoy entered Gaza through the Erez crossing with Israel. Hamdallah was unharmed and went on to inaugurate a long-awaited sewage plant project in the northern part of the strip.” [AP]
— “Hamdallah… sent a message to the White House and said: “There is a meeting in Washington today — we will not accept any attempt to bypass the Palestinian Authority and we will not accept any attempts to condition international assistance with political solutions.” [Axios]
David Makovsky’s advice… “Forget the Ultimate Deal: Trump and Netanyahu Should Save Gaza For Now: Halting the economic decline is the best hope to avert a fourth war between Gaza and Israel within this past decade. Ironically, such an American focus could play to the Trump administration’s desire to focus on the economic rather than political dimensions of an issue… Another set of critics may charge that any focus on Gaza is a diversion from the “ultimate deal” as the issues of Gaza and the West Bank should be solved together. However, the ultimate deal is not possible now: in the Middle East, whenever it is all or nothing, it is always nothing. While a plan to avert further economic deterioration in Gaza is not an ultimate deal, it is a necessary one.” [WashInstitute]
“Amid U.S. Cuts, Palestinian Refugee Agency Left in the Lurch” by Colum Lynch: “Two months after the United States withheld $65 million in pledged funding to a U.N. agency that serves more than 5 million Palestinian refugees, no other country has stepped forward to increase its 2018 funding pledge… In an effort to address the sudden cutback in U.S. aid, ministers from nearly 90 countries will meet in Rome Thursday for a major funding conference on Palestinian aid. The conference — which is being convened at the request of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and co-chaired by foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, and Sweden — will test whether [Nikki] Haley’s strategy will shock the rest of the world into meeting the gap created by America’s retreat from Palestinian aid…” [ForeignPolicy]
SCENE LAST NIGHT — Ambassador Nikki Haley hosted National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, Henry Kissinger, and Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon for dinner in NYC. “We discussed the strong bond between our countries over the years & how we continue to stand together in the face of challenges to peace & security,” Danon tweeted. [Pic]
JARED INSIDER — “Jared Kushner’s Pet Project Doesn’t Have A Signature Accomplishment” by Tarini Parti: “Kushner’s allies acknowledge they have yet to report any flashy accomplishments, but say those are not the types of achievements the office is designed for. The office has stayed out of the administration’s major policy fights — tax reform and repealing Obamacare — because they believe their work, is meant to be long-term, “multi-year or even multi-administration,” and largely nonpartisan… But the already small office, which has about five or six people, some of whom also have other White House responsibilities, is already losing key staff… These days [Kushner] is not working on all projects the office is involved in, but he remains most interested in the technology-related tasks and prison reform, which was not originally part of the office’s purview.” [Buzzfeed]
INTERVIEW — “Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, says Robert Mueller is ‘not an unguided missile'” by Kevin Johnson: “The special counsel is not an unguided missile,” [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein said in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY. “I don’t believe there is any justification at this point for terminating the special counsel.” … Appearing upbeat and at ease in his fourth-floor office, Rosenstein said oversight of the inquiry requires only “a fraction” of his daily work. He estimated that less than 5% of his week is related to briefings or other matters involving Mueller’s investigation… He also conceded that the public nature of his job, traditionally carried out in near-anonymity, was un-expected. “I anticipated that this would be a lower-profile job,” he said.” [USAToday]
HAPPENING TODAY —Ambassador Dore Gold, former Director General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, will deliver a multimedia presentation on Jerusalem in the Senate Auditorium at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in the afternoon. The presentation, “Jerusalem: What Is at Stake?,” is co-hosted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Israeli Embassy in DC.
ON THE HILL — Rep. Ted Deutch (FL-22) along with Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) blasted Iran for denying its commitment to help the U.S. in bringing Bob Levinson home. “This is a despicable attempt by Iran to absolve itself of past commitments to help locate Bob and bring him home,” said Deutch. “I urge the Trump administration to immediately call out Iran and pressure them to uphold their commitments to Bob’s case,” added Rubio.
Sen. Lindsey Graham writes… “The Most Unnerving Visit to the Middle East in a Long Time: I have been to the region many times, and this was the most unnerving visit I’ve taken in a long time. With the help of Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad, Iran is winning. Sunni Arabs, Israel and the U.S. are on their heels… This growing threat on the Israel-Syria border must be confronted before it becomes a launchpad for more rockets into Israel. The biggest concern is Hezbollah’s militarization of southern Lebanon. Soon Israel will have to attack these rocket sites, which Hezbollah has integrated into civilian infrastructure… Israeli leaders are concerned that this integration will lead to high civilian casualty rates if the Jewish state has to defend itself. Israeli officials repeatedly reminded us of this fact and expressed hope we would be there for them.” [WSJ]
“After Putin Cites Jews, Democrats Implore Trump to Extradite Russians” by Nicholas Fandos and Matthew Luxmoore: “Among Democrats in Congress, patience with the White House’s silence in the face of such Kremlin provocations is running thin. [Chuck] Schumer and [Nancy] Pelosi were joined by… Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Jerrold Nadler of New York. “While Putin’s stance is not surprising, it is also simply unacceptable,” they wrote in their letter. Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said… “That President Trump has failed to condemn Putin’s statement, just as he equivocated on Charlottesville, undermines America’s moral responsibility to combat the kind of racism and anti-Semitism perniciously re-emerging today.”
“However, Mr. Putin’s comment may well have been lost in translation. Speaking in Russian to the NBC presenter Megyn Kelly, Mr. Putin spoke of “Russkie,” a term denoting ethnic Russians in opposition to other nationalities living in the country… “When I first came to America in 1991 and was asked at J.F.K. airport, ‘Are you Russian?’ I responded ‘No, sir, I’m Jewish,’” said Boruch Gorin, a senior aide to Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, who has been supportive of the Russian leader. “Putin’s comments were lost in translation.””[NYTimes]
BUZZ ON BALFOUR — “Netanyahu may be facing his last stand” by Ben Caspit: “The fate of the current coalition will be decided in the next [few] hours. It is Netanyahu’s decision, and it may have been already decided together with [Avigdor] Liberman. These two men began their political lives together after Netanyahu took control of the Likud in 1993. Since then, they have quarreled, parted ways and also reconciled many times. Now they are renewing their historic alliance. Circumstances have again caused them to be dependent on one another. Netanyahu, besieged by criminal investigations, is desperate for recourse. Liberman failed to generate a massive, growing political support base, so now he needs rebooting. Their plot will come at the expense of all the other senior members of the political system… And as far as Netanyahu is concerned, it may be his very last stand.” [Al-Monitor]
“Netanyahu thinks elections can save his skin. He should just come out and say so” by David Horovitz: “Netanyahu has concluded that the attorney general may be less likely to prosecute a prime minister who has just received a fresh mandate from the voting public… Simply telling Israelis straight out that he’s considering a resort to early elections to further strengthen his position — essentially, an electoral referendum on his fitness for office — would likely help Netanyahu even more.” [ToI]
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: Larry Page’s Flying Taxis, Now Exiting Stealth Mode [DealBook] • Kushner Conflict Cloud Hovers Over Brooklyn Sale Linked to Japan [Bloomberg] • Elbit to Buy Uzi Maker IMI in Major Israeli Defense Merger [Haaretz] • Spotify finally lands in Israel [JPost] • HBO Puts in Series Order for ‘Euphoria,’ Based on Israeli Format [HollywoodReporter] • Haim Saban signs Static and Ben-El to Capitol Records [JPost]
TRANSITION: “The Next Goldman Chief Could Be a Banker Who Moonlights as a D.J.” by Kate Kelly: “David M. Solomon, 56, a longtime investment banker, has been anointed as the sole heir apparent to Goldman’s chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein. The decision was signaled Monday with the abrupt retirement of Mr. Solomon’s lone rival for the job, Harvey M. Schwartz…. Last month, Goldman’s board met at its headquarters and evaluated the two candidates. Mr. Blankfein offered his view, and the directors decided that Mr. Solomon was their man… The anticipated elevation of Mr. Solomon, a Goldman veteran who moonlights under the name D.J. D-Sol, spinning electronic-dance music, marks a strategic shift for the bank…” [NYTimes] • What Solomon’s Ascent at Goldman Signals About the Firm’s Future [Bloomberg]
HEARD AT #INTV2018: “TV Bosses Talk Diversity, Streaming and the Ad Challenge at Jerusalem Conference” by Scott Roxborough: “For the closing panel on day one of the two-day INTV conference, held in Jerusalem, organizers pulled out the big guns on Monday. Top executives from Showtime, TNT, Fox Television Group and HBO sat down with Rick Rosen, head of TV at WME, for a wide-ranging discussion on the present, and possible future, of the small-screen business… [Gary] Newman and the other members of the panel —“all white males, though not all straight,” as [Casey] Bloys put it —talked up their companies’ achievements in addressing gender and racial inequalities in house, but all acknowledged the need to do more.” [HollywoodReporter; Variety]
“CBS News President David Rhodes on Stormy Daniels Interview, Fake News & Charlie Rose” by Debra Kamin: “CBS News boss David Rhodes hasn’t seen Stormy Daniels’ “60 Minutes” interview with Anderson Cooper, but he promises that it’s coming soon. Its delay is due to good-old boots-on-the-ground journalism, he says, rather than a flurry of legal action from the 45th president of the United States. “The only reason it hasn’t run is that there’s still a lot of journalistic work to do,” Rhodes told the crowd at INTV, Keshet International’s annual gathering of small-screen talent and management in Jerusalem.” [Variety; Deadline]
PODCAST PLAYBACK — “When the President of the United States Calls You a ‘Son of a Bitch’” by Susan Glasser: “Since Trump won the White House, Trump has blasted [Chuck] Todd publicly and privately — but often, at least in off-the-record settings, he has also seemed to be seeking his approval… I asked Todd in our interview Friday why he thought the president had such an obsession with him. His nasty tweets about Todd—including calling him “sleepy”—go back to 2011… Todd told me that was the year Trump was repeatedly calling him, trying to sell him on the idea of a Trump-led ticket against President Barack Obama… In one off-the-record group session that was later reported on, Todd recalled, “Trump one second called me a monster and the other second [was] going, ‘And I love this guy.’”‘ [Politico]
HAPPENING TODAY — “President Trump will help his party raise $5 million at a fundraising dinner in Beverly Hills… The fundraiser is being hosted by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, national finance chairman Todd Ricketts and deputy national finance chairman Elliott Broidy.” [LATimes] • Few Stars Expected at Trump’s Hollywood Fundraiser [HollywoodReporter]
TRANSITION — Former Congressman Gary Ackerman and Shai Franklin, former World Jewish Congress’s director of international organizations, have joined NY-based Gotham Government Relations as partners.
SXSW SCENE — Guy Oseary’s venture fund held one of the most exclusive and bonkers parties at SXSW — by Melia Robinson: “Sound Ventures, a tech-investment firm founded by Ashton Kutcher and the talent manager Guy Oseary held one of the most exclusive and lavish parties at the SXSW film festival and tech conference on Saturday night. Powerful forces from Hollywood and Silicon Valley came together for the event — dubbed “The Party” — set on a rooftop bar in Austin.” [BusinessInsider]
BIRTHDAYS: Pop singer, pianist, composer of over 500 songs and record producer, whose family name derives from the Hebrew word for charity, Neil Sedaka turns 79… Syndicated columnist whose weekly column appears in more than 400 publications worldwide, author, political commentator and non-practicing physician, Charles Krauthammer turns 68… Former Florida congressman, Alan Grayson turns 60… Former US Ambassador to the United Nations and deputy national security advisor to President Bill Clinton, currently president and CEO of Soderberg Global Solutions, Nancy Soderberg turns 60… Ordained by Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1986, he now serves as a rabbi and as a faculty member at HUC-JIR Los Angeles, Rabbi Neal S. Scheindlin turns 58…
Founder and CEO of MediaBistro which she sold in 2007, now managing partner of Supernode Ventures (formerly Flatiron Investors), a NYC-based investors syndicate, Laurel Touby turns 55… Heavy metal songwriter, vocalist for the band Disturbed as well as for the band Device, former yeshiva student, David Draiman turns 45… Member of the California State Senate since 2014, Benjamin Allen turns 40… Senior advisor for Senator Bernie Sanders, former host of daily SIrius XM program “The Agenda,” Ari Rabin-Havt turns 39… Television and film actor, Emile Hirsch turns 33… Director of business development and general manager of Nefco, a distributor of construction and industrial supplies, Matthew Gelles turns 30… Television and film actor, Emory Cohen turns 28… Social Media Manager at NBC Universal, Jessie Rubin… Gabriel Romano… Robert Smith…