Obama names prominent Middle East diplomat Rob Malley as the Special Assistant to Middle East, North African and Gulf Region. The appointment was immediately attacked by pro-Israel extremist groups led by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a group with a history of racist anti-Arab bashing that represents the interests of a foreign country, Israel. (Updated)
By Ray Hanania
President Barack Obama named veteran diplomat Rob Malley as his new Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region in an announcement released this week.
Malley will succeed Philip Gordon, according to a statement released by National Security Adviser and United Nations Ambassador Susan E. Rice. Rice said Malley began the new post on April 6.
“For more than six years, Phil Gordon has been an indispensable member of the President’s foreign policy team, as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2009-13 and as Middle East Coordinator since March 2013,” Rice said.
“At the National Security Council, Phil played a critical role on some of the most important and challenging issues facing this country, including the Iranian nuclear program; our strategic partnership with Israel; Middle East peace; Syria; Iraq; U.S. relations with the Gulf States; and the democratic transitions in Egypt and North Africa. I thank him for his service and wish him all the best as he departs the NSC to spend some well-deserved time with his family and pursue other professional endeavors.”
Rice called Rob Malley one of her “most trusted advisers,” adding, “There could be no better successor to Phil Gordon.”
Rice said she expects Malley will bring about “a seamless transition.”
“One of our country’s most respected experts on the Middle East, since February 2014 Rob has played a critical role in forming our policy on Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the Gulf. I look forward to working with him in his new role,” Rice said.
Rob Malley served as Executive Assistant to National Security Advisor Sandy Berger between 1996 and 1998. In October 1998, he was appointed Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs, a post he held until the end of the administration in 2001. Between 2001 and 2014, he directed the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group.
Malley is a Harvard-trained lawyer who worked, until his appointment to the National Security Council last year, at the International Crisis Group, which is affiliated with the highly respected billionaire and investor George Soros.
Robert Malley attended Yale University and in 1984 was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, where he earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy. He then went on to earn a J.D. at Harvard Law School, which he attended at the same time as Barack Obama. And in 1991–92, Malley clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron White.
Malley also serves on the Advisory Council of J Street, the moderate American Jewish and pro-Israel organization that has rejected extremism and embraced peace between Israel and Palestine through negotiations and Two States. J Street is sometimes described as the moderate, pro-American alternative to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) which has made a foreign country, a greater priority than American interests.
Malley’s father was an activist in Egypt and a close confidant of the late Palestinian President Yasir Arafat who fought and opposed Hamas extremism and crafted the peace accords with the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The Rabin-Arafat agreement served as a basis for a final resolution of the violence between Israel and the Palestinians, until in 2005 when Rabin was murdered by an Israel extremist. Rabin, Arafat and former Israeli President Shimon Peres received the Noble Peace Prize for their efforts to end the conflict and violence and save Jewish and Arab lives.
The highly respected and former U.S. Consul General to Jerusalem, Ed Abington, noted that Malley’s Jewish heritage should be acknowledged.
“He is American Jewish. His father is/was a very prominent French intellectual from Egypt and founder of the very respected journal Afrique-Asia,” Abington wrote. “Rob is one of the most thoughtful people in Washington on the Israeli/Palestinian issue and his appointment is a positive development.”
The appointment was immediately attacked by the Zionist Organization of America and its national president Morton A. Klein, who has put the interests of the foreign nation of Israel above the interests of the United States where his organization actively solicits funds and financial support from donors.
Klein lambasted Malley for having negotiated with Hamas. And, Klein associated Malley with a long line of Americans who have placed the national interests of the United States and best interests of the American people over those of Israel, including former Senator and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; former Secretary of State Zbigniew Brzezinski; former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; former Chief of Staff to President Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, James Baker; and, NS Director Susan Rice.
Said one observer, “The fact that Klein associates Malley with some of the most dedicated and committed American leaders like Hagel,Carter, Brzenzinski, Baker and Rice undermines Klein’s idiotic racist attack against Malley. Klein is a fool who not only undermines peace, he undermines Israel’s best interests, too.”
Leaders of the American Arab community praised Obama and Rice for the appointment.
Tensions between Obama and Israel’s rightwing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were aggravated in recent days following Netanyahu’s speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, which was organized by Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Obama’s Republican foes. And, this week, the Republican leadership sent a letter to Iran that undermined the security of the United States by attempting to undermine the President’s negotiations to encourage Iran to limit its nuclear program to energy and non-weapons needs.
The ZOA has been one of the many pro-Israel organizations that have supported this anti-Obama push and that have put Israel’s foreign interests above the interests of the United States.
A Video of Rob Malley speaking at a conference in 2012:
[Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article identified Malley as being American Arab. His father was a French activist who worked in Egypt, and is Jewish. An earlier edition incorrectly identified Malley in the headline as “American Arab.”]