Obama Names Malley New Middle East Chief

By James M. Wall Robert-Malley-YouTube-620x372

Three days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, President Barack Obama delivered a stinging response to the latest in a series of Netanyahu diplomatic insults.

The President chose Robert Malley (right) as Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region.

Special Assistant Malley will begin his new assignment April 6. 

The news of the Malley promotion raised hardly a ripple in U.S. mainstream and cable news media, currently obsessing over Hillary Clinton’s email servers.

Pro-Israel media outlets, however, rushed to sound the alarm. The word went out to Israel’s staunch U.S. backers, “Obama has struck back with the dangerous Malley”.

National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice, made the announcement on March 6:

“Philip Gordon, Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region will be stepping down, and will be succeeded by Rob Malley, currently NSC Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf States. Dr. Malley will assume his new position on April 6, 2015.”

And no, newly-minted Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, who feels qualified to lecture the world on U.S. governmental procedures, Malley is not subject to Senate approval. 

Rice was lavish in her praise of Malley:

“There could be no better successor to Phil than Rob Malley, who is already one of my most trusted advisers and ideally placed to provide 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.”

She might have added that Rob Malley has long been a “bete noir” to defenders of Israel’s tightly controlled view of reality.

From 1996 to 1998, Malley served as Executive Assistant to National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. 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.

After directing the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group from 2001 and 2014, Malley joined the Obama staff in 2014.

His promotion played big in Israel, of course, where The Times of Israel reminded its readers of Malley’s background in ominous headline language:

“White House names Israel critic to top Mideast post”; “Robert Malley, to become NSC point person on Middle East, has drawn fire for saying the Palestinians weren’t at fault for the failed peace talks in 2000.”

“Has drawn fire” is Zionist-speak for not being on Israel’s side. 

The Jerusalem Post pointed to Malley’s assertion that the Palestinians had been falsely accused of causing the Camp David talks to “collapse”:

“Malley [US negotiator at Camp David] drew some pro-Israel criticism for his published assessment in 2001 of the 2000 Camp David talks, in which he said that the prevailing narrative, that the Palestinians were at fault for their collapse, was a misapprehension and ignored Palestinian concessions and Israeli failures at the talks.”

The Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) added specifics, pointing to Malley’s breakthrough 2001 article, co-authored with Hussein Agha, for the New York Review of Books, starting with another Zionist-speak term, “some pro-Israel groups”:

“Some pro-Israel groups criticized Malley for his 2001 published assessment of the talks [that] was a misapprehension and ignored Palestinian concessions and Israeli failures.

As the director of the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group, a think tank, he also met multiple times with Hamas officials and said parties to the peace process must at some stage engage with the terrorist group, which controls the Gaza Strip.”

“Some pro-Israel groups” is Zionist-speak that points to two cardinal sins in Lobby  ideology; one, not sticking to the pro-Israel narrative on the 2001 Oslo talks, and two,  advocating talks with Hamas.

The Tablet received Malley’s 2014 arrival at the Obama White House with the “reassuring” word that Malley would not be dealing with Israel-Palestine issues. Sorry, Tablet, that was then, this is now.

The Israel Lobby, which works diligently to promote the policies of every government Israeli voters put in place, has what my Urban Dictionary calls a “tude”, short for “attitude”, as in, “a bad attitude”.

“Tude” is illustrated further in the saying, “Hey, you really got a tude, dude”  The Israel Lobby embeds and enforces that “tude” (attitude) by infiltrating the thought processes, and/or buying off U.S. institutions with “hasbara”, the Hebrew word for “propaganda”.

It was this pro-Israel “hasbara”, that paved the way for the ugly display of anti-Americanism on March 3 when Benjamin Netanyahu brought the U.S. Congress, and visitors to their collective feet, on cue, with a campaign speech that delighted most of the crowd, and pleased one particular visitor.

(Photo By Bill Clark:CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)Bill Moyers and Michael Winship described that visitor:

“Everything you need to know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of one man – Sheldon Adelson (left). The gambling tycoon is the Godfather of the Republican Right.

The party’s presidential hopefuls line up to kiss his assets, scraping and bowing for his blessing, which when granted is bestowed with his signed checks. Data from both the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics  and the Center for Public Integrity show that in the 2012 election cycle, Adelson and his wife Miriam . . ..contributed $150 million to the GOP and its friends . . . .

But Sheldon Adelson was not only sitting in the House gallery on Tuesday because of the strings he pulls here in the United States. He is also the Daddy Warbucks of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu is yet another of his beneficiaries – not to mention an ideological soulmate.

Although campaign finance reform laws are much more strict in Israel than here in the United States, Adelson’s wealth has bought him what the historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg calls ‘uniquely pernicious influence. 

Adelson owns the daily Israel Hayom, a leading newspaper, as well as Makor Roshon, the daily newspaper of Israel’s Zionist religious right and NRG, a news website. He gives Israel Hayom away for free in order to promote his hardline views – the headline in the paper the day after Obama’s re-election was “The US Voted [for] Socialism.”

More important, he uses the paper to bang the drum incessantly for Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party, under the reign of which Israel has edged closer and closer to theocracy.”

It is money of this sort that on October 3, 2014, paid for an ad for Candidate Tom Cotton through a $700,000 contribution to his successful race for the Arkansas U.S. senate seat.

The Washington Free Beacon reported at the time:Ukrainian_presser008_020515

“William Kristol and his Emergency Committee for Israel is boosting Rep. Tom Cotton’s (R., Ark.) bid for U.S. Senate with a $700,000 ad buy in Arkansas. Kristol purchased the ad spots for television, radio, and digital markets in efforts to push support for Cotton (right), who is running against incumbent Democrat Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.).

Politico’s Maggie Haberman reported: ‘We’re for a strong Israel and a strong America,’ said Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard and head of the group. ‘So is Tom Cotton. He’ll be a great senator.’”

Barely two months into his Senate career, Cotton was the author of the letter to Iranian leaders, signed by 47 Republican senators.

In the letter, the senators told Iran that any deal with President Obama is subject to change by a new president and the U.S. Senate.

Responding to that ill-conceived letter from the 47 Republican senators, Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, said, “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy.”

An additional statement from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs took Senator Cotton and his Republican colleagues to school for further study in Government 101:

“Foreign Minister Zarif expressed astonishment that some members of US Congress find it appropriate to write to leaders of another country against their own President and administration.

He pointed out that from reading the open letter, it seems that the authors not only do not understand international law, but are not fully cognizant of the nuances of their own Constitution when it comes to presidential powers in the conduct of foreign policy.”

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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9 Responses to Obama Names Malley New Middle East Chief

  1. Noushin says:

    Thanks for this précis of the situation. We seem to be approaching a fork in the road. Dare we get hopeful?

  2. Roy's Blog says:

    JIim, the President should see this one. He needs all the encourgement he can get. Peace, Roy

  3. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Thanks for a great analysis and for raising awareness about President Obama’s enlisting of Rob Malley, while extremists choose “war”, as their preference for a solution with Iran. It has become more and more obvious that US and Israeli interests are NOT one and the same. In reality, it’s far from it.
    AIPAC, Israel, and pro-Israel “pundits” have deceptively painted this illusion for decades, as a means of justifying many US politicians’ support for Israeli tyrannical occupation, invasions, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and apartheid.
    To the horror of pro-“Israel-right-or-wrong camp”, Rob Malley will actually give priority to “American” interests and place them on a higher pedestal than the goals of Israel’s extremist warmongers. Instead of war that Israel’s leadership desires, Malley and his team will support diplomacy.
    However, will Malley dare raise the most obvious question about Israel’s huge arsenal and monopoly of nuclear bombs in the Middle East?
    Isn’t this the very first question to be asked?

  4. Robert says:

    Jim, thanks. The Malley appointment may be a faint light at the end of the tunnel, yet between here and there, orks and Levithan lurk in the shadows.

  5. abunaalgodon says:

    Just when I thought our Congress could sink no further, along comes this letter to Iran from 47 Republican senators. And should anyone wonder, (I pray) Tom Cotton and I are not even distant relatives. Thanks, Jim. Cotton Fite

  6. Paul Tonello says:

    Appoint whomever you like but the reality deep down is that peace in the region will ultimately reside with the Israeli voters. If Benjamin Netanyahu can speak to the U.S. Congress than the U.S. administration should speak directly to the people of Israel.

  7. Samia Khoury says:

    Thank you Jim. As usual your articles are so perinent, but it won’t be surprising that with the arrogance of the PM, he will find a way to hit back at the appointment of Malley. I know this might sound ridiculous but his speech at the congress said a lot about his ability to call the shots. Very humiliating indeed.

  8. Harris Fawell says:

    Jim: A great article. My thanks for your always very fine reporting!

  9. Louis Asfour says:

    Any chance ancient Jewish revenge is at hand in Iraq/Babylonia, Syria and Iran/Persia? I recall Netanyahu (Milikowski [Wikipedia – Benzion Mileikowsky (later Netanyahu) was born in Warsaw].
    [One of his sons is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.]) giving Pres Obama a copy of the Book of Esther in the past. Does that revenge extend into America? What does “goyim” mean?

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