By C. Coffey
Major Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called into question today the appointment of Robert Malley to a key position in the White House.
“In politics, in general, and especially in the Middle East, perception is reality,” Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told The Algemeiner. “Given Mr. Malley’s previous comments and actions related to the Middle East process, Israel and the Palestinians, there is concern how unfolding events in the area, including moves by Hezbollah and Hamas, will be treated by the Administration.”
On March 6, the Obama Administration named Malley as Special Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region. Malley is scheduled to begin his new role on April 6, 2015.
Malley’s appointment has also drawn renewed attention to previous criticisms directed against him, in addition to the Administration’s position on Israel and terrorist organizations.
Malley made headlines back in 2008 for meetings he held with the terrorist organization Hamas while working in the private sector. These meetings prompted Malley’s public resignation as an informal advisor to the Obama presidential campaign.
Malley is also known for a 2001 article in The New York Review of Books which critics consider a defense of Yasser Arafat following the breakdown of the Camp David peace negotiations.
In 2014, critics jumped on the Obama Administration after it named Malley to the National Security Council. The Republican Jewish Coalition called the appointment “disturbing” and out of sync with “mainstream pro-Israel and Jewish community positions…”
National Security Advisor Susan Rice defended the appointment, calling Malley one of most respected experts on the Middle East.
One White House official told JTA that White House officials last year assured pro-Israel groups after Malley’s hiring that he would not deal with Israel and the Palestinians
Malley’s new role comes after an extensive career in the public and private sectors. He is currently serving in the Obama Administration as NSC Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf States. He also served in the Clinton Administration under National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, and was later named Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs. According to the White House, Malley worked for the International Crisis Group between 2001 and 2014.
In the past, Malley’s colleagues vociferously defended him from charges of anti-Israel bias. In 2008, former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and a group of former diplomats, published a letter labeling attacks against Malley as “unfair, inappropriate, and wrong.”