Obama-Malley: Positioning Against Israel?

Robert Malley

Yasser Arafat

President-elect Barack Obama

In May 2008, TimesOnline reported that Barack Obama had “sacked” Robert Malley, his foreign policy adviser, who admitted to “regular contact” with Hamas, a U.S. State Department designated terrorist organization.

November 5, 2008 Middle East Newsline’s Washington office quoted Obama aides saying that he had dispatched his “senior foreign policy adviser Robert Malley” to Egypt and Syria “over the last few weeks.

The aides said Malley, who served in the administration of President Bill Clinton, relayed a pledge from Obama that the United States would seek to enhance relations with Cairo as well as reconcile with Damascus. “The tenor of the messages was that the Obama administration would take into greater account Egyptian and Syrian interests,” an aide said.

IsraelNationalNews.com’s Arutz Sheva, using the Middle East Newsline’s report attributes this quote to a Robert Malley aide:

“The tenor of the messages was that the Obama administration would take into greater account Egyptian and Syrian interests,” an aide to Malley was quoted as saying. The aide said Obama plans to launch a U.S. diplomatic initiative toward Syria. Malley met both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad “to explain Obama’s agenda for the Middle East.”

Israel National News November 11, 2008:

(IsraelNN.com) Hamas is claiming close and ongoing ties with America’s upcoming Obama Administration, according to a report published Tuesday in the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat. The relationship was kept under wraps until after the U.S. elections so as not to harm Obama’s election prospects. The U.S. has classified Hamas a terrorist organization.

The London-based publication interviewed Gaza-based political chief Ahmad Yousuf, advisor to Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas regime in Gaza, which seized power in a bloody coup d’etat in 2007. Yousuf declared that Hamas has been in regular contact with President-elect Barack Obama’s advisers for months.

“We were in contact with a number of Obama’s aides through the internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza,” the Hamas official was quoted as saying, “but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as that may have had a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain.”

Contacts allegedly began during the presidential race and Yousuf expects the relationship to continue. He has also predicted that there will be “a change” in American foreign policy in the Middle East once Obama enters the White House.

So was Malley fired by Obama for close ties to Hamas, or told to lie-low until the name Malley was off the political radar? And does Malley deserve scrutiny? Here’s a look at Robert Malley’s well-documented background:

American Thinker
by Ed Lasky
January 23, 2008

[Robert Malley’s father] Simon Malley was born to a Syrian family in Cairo and at an early age found his métier in political journalism. He participated in the wave of anti-imperialist and nationalist ideology that was sweeping the Third World. He wrote thousands of words in support of struggle against Western nations. In Paris, he founded the journal Afrique Asie; he and his magazine became advocates for “liberation” struggles throughout the world, particularly for the Palestinians.
Simon Malley loathed Israel and anti-Israel activism became a crusade for him-as an internet search would easily show. He spent countless hours with Yasser Arafat and became a close friend of Arafat. He was, according to Daniel Pipes, a sympathizer of the Palestinian Liberation Organization — and this was when it was at the height of its terrorism wave against the West. His efforts were so damaging to France that President Valerie d’Estaing expelled him from the country.
Malley has seemingly followed in his father’s footsteps: he represents the next generation of anti-Israel activism. Through his writings he has served as a willing propagandist, bending the truth (and more) to serve an agenda that is marked by anti-Israel bias; he heads a group of Middle East policy advisers for a think-tank funded (in part) by anti-Israel billionaire activist George Soros; and now is on the foreign policy staff of a leading Presidential contender. Each step up the ladder seems to be a step closer towards his goal of empowering radicals and weakening the ties between American and our ally Israel.
Robert Malley’s writings strike me as being akin to propaganda. One notable example is an op-ed that was published in the New York Times (Fictions About the Failure at Camp David). The column indicted Israel for not being generous enough at Camp David and blamed the failure of the talks on the Israelis.
Malley has repeated this line of attack in numerous op-eds over the years, often co-writing with Hussein Agha, a former adviser to Yasser Arafat (see, for example, Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors ). He was also believed to be the chief source for an article by Deborah Sontag that whitewashed Arafat’s role in the collapse of the peace process, an article that has been widely criticized as riddled with errors and bias.
Malley is a revisionist and his views are sharply at odds with the views of others who participated at Camp David, including Ambassador Dennis Ross and President Bill Clinton. Malley’s myth-making has been peddled in the notably anti-Israel magazine, Counterpunch and by Norman Finkelstein, the failed academic recently denied tenure at DePaul University . Malley’s Camp David propaganda has also become fodder for Palestinians, Arab rejectionists, and anti-Israel activists across the world.

Lasky on [Robert] Malley’s involvement with the International Crisis Group (ICG):

Robert Malley is the Director of the Middle East/North Africa Program at the International Crisis Group (ICG). Given the impressive title of the group, one might expect it to have along and impressive pedigree — say long the lines of the well-regarded Council of Foreign Relations. In fact, the group is rather small and it has a short pedigree. More importantly, it has ties to George Soros. Soros is a man who has supported a wide variety of groups that have shown a propensity to criticize America and Israel; a man who has made clear his goal is to break the close bonds between America and Israel ; supported the views of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer whose work on the issue of the “Israel Lobby” has been widely criticized for factual inaccuracies, shoddy research, and has been called “anti-Semitic” in the Washington Post; a man who has taken steps to counter the supposed political influence of the pro-Israel community in America; a man who has also been a key financial backer of Senator Obama’s; and a man who can activate a wide variety of 527 (c) and other activist groups for any politician he supports.
Soros is a funder of the ICG through his Open Society Institute ; he serves on its Board and on its Executive Committee. Other members of the Board include Zbigniew Brzezinski (whose anti-Israel credentials are impeccable) and Wesley Clark (who called US support for Israel during the Hezbollah War a “serious mistake; who has flirted with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories; and who has been the direct beneficiary of donations made by Soros ; Wesley Clark has defended the actions of George Soros.

Lasky, five months before the supposed sacking of Malley from the Obama team, asks these questions:

Why would Barack Obama have on his foreign policy staff a man who has been widely criticized for a revisionist history of the Middle East peace process sharply at odds with all other accounts of the proceedings?
Why would Barack Obama give credibility to a man who seems to have an agenda that includes empowering our enemies and weakening our friends and allies?
How did Robert Malley, with a record of writing that reveals a willingness to twist facts to serve a political agenda, come to be appointed by Obama to his foreign staff?
Was it a recommendation of Zbigniew Brzezinski to bring on board another anti-Israel foreign policy expert?
What role did the left-wing anti-Israel activist George Soros play in placing Robert Malley (or for that matter, Brzezinski himself) in a position to influence the future foreign policy of America?
What does it say about Senator Obama’s judgment that he appointed a man like Malley to be a top foreign policy advisor?

Or does it speak more to his true beliefs?

From another Lasky American Thinker article, Barack Obama and Israel:

One seemingly consistent theme running throughout Barack Obama’s career is his comfort with aligning himself with people who are anti-Israel advocates...Early on in his career he chose a church headed by a former Black Muslim who is a harsh anti-Israel advocate and who may be seen as tinged with anti-Semitism. This church is a member of a denomination whose governing body has taken a series of anti-Israel actions.

As his political fortunes and ambition climbed, he found support from George Soros, multibillionaire promoter of groups that have been consistently harsh and biased critics of the American-Israel relationship.

As his political fortunes and ambition climbed, he found support from George Soros, multibillionaire promoter of groups that have been consistently harsh and biased critics of the American-Israel relationship.

Obama’s soothing and inspiring oratory sometimes vanishes when he talks of the Middle East. Indeed, his off-the-cuff remarks have been uniformly taken by supporters of Israel as signs that the inner Obama does not truly support Israel despite what his canned speeches and essays may contain.

Lasky discusses Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright:

Wright routinely compares Israel to apartheid South Africa and considers blacks “The Chosen People”. Wright sees his role not just as a religious counselor but also as an educator and political activist. As part of his schooling, he has posted [this] tutorial

Some in the media have taken notice. The New York Times did have one front-page article on Wright by Jodi Kantor in which Wright was quoted as saying that should more information come to light about himself, “a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell”. After the article came out Wright attacked Jodi Kantor, referring to her Jewish heritage in a way that might create discomfort.

So the question is, do we believe the Middle East Online report that Malley has continued to be a close adviser to Obama, even after he was supposedly sacked? Has Malley been in the Middle East recently on behalf of President-Elect Barack Obama.

Bloggers repeatedly attempted to draw attention to the risks an Obama presidency posed to Israel, while the MSM refused to cover it, even knowing that Malley was a life-long anti-Semite. It’s curious that American Jews didn’t hesitate to vote for Barack Obama.

Obama’s Israel-Hating Advisor – Robert Malley

The Robert Malley – Arafat Connection