Robert Malley

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Robert Malley
Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs
In office
1998–2001
President Bill Clinton
Personal details
Born 1963
New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Caroline Brown
Children Miles, Blaise, Frances
Alma mater Yale University
Oxford University
Harvard Law School
Profession diplomat, political scientist, advisor to US President
Religion Jewish
Website ICG Middle East and North Africa Program

Robert Malley (born 1963) is an American lawyer, political scientist and specialist in conflict resolution. He is currently a senior director at the National Security Council. Prior to holding that title, he was Program Director for Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group and Assistant to National Security Advisor Sandy Berger (1996–1998) and the Director for Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs at the National Security Council (1994–1996).[1] Malley is considered an expert on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and has written extensively on this subject.[1] As Special Assistant to President Clinton, he was a member of the U.S. peace team and helped organize the 2000 Camp David Summit.[2]

Early life[edit]

Robert Malley was born in 1963 to Barbara (née Silverstein) Malley, a New Yorker who worked for the United Nations delegation of the Algerian National Liberation Front, and her husband, Simon Malley (1923–2006), an Egyptian-born Jewish journalist who grew up in Egypt and worked as a foreign correspondent for Al Goumhourya, a newspaper linked closely to Gamal Abdul Nasser's government. The elder Malley spent time in New York, writing about international affairs, particularly about nationalist, anti-imperial movements in Africa, and made a key contribution by putting the Algerian National Liberation Front on the world map.[3]

In 1969, the elder Malley moved his family—including son Robert—to France, where he founded the magazine Africasia (later known as Afrique Asia), which gave voice to the causes of the newly independent states such as Algeria and Egypt, and to liberation struggles throughout the world. The elder Malley became a well-known journalist, and was posthumously described by The Guardian as "one of the best known Francophone journalists of his generation, with a rare knowledge of Africa's anti-colonial struggles and the dramas of the continent's newly independent states."[3] The Washington Post, on August 7, 1980, reported the elder Malley was a founder of the Egyptian Communist Party and at the time was under investigation by French authorities for pro-Soviet activities.

The Malleys remained in France until 1980, when President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing briefly expelled Simon Malley from the country to New York.[3] A sympathetic crew member on his airline flight did not inform U.S. authorities that Malley was on the plane and instead got him on the first plane back to Europe. The elder Malley spent eight months editing his journal in Geneva, and returned to France after François Mitterrand's election.

Robert Malley attended Yale University, and was a 1984 Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he earned a Ph.D. in political philosophy. There he wrote his doctoral thesis about Third-worldism and its decline. Malley continued writing about foreign policy, including extended commentary about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He earned a J.D. at Harvard Law School, where he met his future wife, Caroline Brown.[4] Another fellow law school student was Barack Obama.[5] In 1991–1992, Malley clerked for Supreme Court Justice Byron White, while Brown clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. As of 2010, the couple has two sons, Miles and Blaise, and one daughter, Frances.[4]

Career[edit]

After his Supreme Court clerkship, Malley became a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations where he published The Call From Algeria: Third Worldism, Revolution, and the Turn to Islam—a book that charts Algeria's political evolution from the turn of the 20th century to the present, exploring the historical and intellectual underpinnings of the crisis in Alegria. His book received critical acclaim, and Malley was described as "exceptionally well read, creative in seeing connections and influences, and gifted with a graceful, if world-weary writing style."[6]

Malley served in the Clinton administration as Director for Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs at the National Security Council from 1994–1996. In that post he helped coordinate refugee policy, efforts to promote democracy and human rights abroad and U.S. policy toward Cuba.[4] From 1996–1998 he was Executive Assistant to National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. In October 1998, Malley was appointed Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs, a post he held until the end of the administration in 2001.[4]

After his service with the administration, Malley became Senior Policy Advisor for the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Development in Washington, D.C. He later became Program Director for Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group in Washington, D.C., directing analysts based in Amman, Cairo, Beirut, Tel Aviv and Baghdad. Malley's team covers events from Iran to Morocco, with a heavy focus on the Arab–Israeli conflict, the situation in Iraq, and Islamist movements throughout the region. Malley also covers developments in the United States that affect policy toward the Middle East.[1] Malley is involved in the J Street project.

According to Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, Malley provided informal advice to the campaign in the past without having any formal role in the campaign.[7] On May 9, 2008, the campaign severed ties with Malley when the British Times reported that Malley had been in discussions with the militant Palestinian group Hamas, listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization.[7] In response, Malley told The Times he had been in regular contact with Hamas officials as part of his work with the International Crisis Group. "My job with the International Crisis Group is to meet with all sorts of savory and unsavory people and report on what they say. I've never denied whom I meet with; that's what I do", Malley told NBC News, adding that he informs the State Department about his meetings beforehand and briefs them afterward.[8] Malley has published many articles in which he calls upon the Israelis (and the international community) to bring Hamas to the negotiating table in order to secure an Israeli–Palestinian cease-fire and insure that any agreement reached with Palestinians will be respected by the Islamist movements in Palestinian society too (see views section).

The New York Times reported on 18 February 2014 that Malley was joining the Obama administration to consult on Persian Gulf policy as senior director of the National Security Council.[9]

Views[edit]

Robert Malley has published several articles on the failed 2000 Camp David Summit in which he participated as a member of the U.S. negotiating team. Malley rejects the mainstream opinion that lays all the blame for the failure of the Summit on Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian delegation. In his analysis, the main reasons were the tactics of then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the substance of his proposal which made it impossible for Arafat to accept Barak's offer.[2]

Malley argues that negotiations with the Palestinians today must include Hamas because the Palestine Liberation Organization is no longer considered the Palestinian people's sole legitimate representative.[10] He describes the PLO as antiquated, worn out, barely functioning, and, because it does not include the broad Islamist current principally represented by Hamas, of questionable authority. Malley favors negotiating with Hamas at least for the purpose of a cease-fire—citing Hamas officials in Gaza who made clear they were prepared for such an agreement with Israel.[11]

He supports efforts to reach an Israel-Hamas cease-fire which would include an immediate end to Palestinian rocket launches and sniper fire and a freeze on Israeli military attacks on Gaza. Malley's arguments rest on both humanitarian and practical reasons. Malley points to the blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip has not stopped Hamas's rocket attacks on nearby Israeli towns and notes that the siege has caused millions of Gazans to suffer from lack of medicine, fuel, electricity and other essential commodities, so cease-fire would avoid "enormous loss of life, a generation of radicalized and embittered Gazans, and another bankrupt peace process."[11]

In addition, Malley calls for Israel, the Palestinians, Lebanon, Syria and other Arab countries to resume negotiations on all tracks based on the Arab Peace Initiative which promises full Arab recognition and normalization of relations with Israel in the context of a comprehensive peace agreement in exchange for a withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Occupied Territories to the 1967 borders, the recognition of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees.[10]

"Today, Malley still stands out for his calls to engage in negotiations with Syria and Iran and for finding 'some kind of accommodation' with Hamas", The Jewish Daily Forward reported in February 2008.[5]

Criticism from Israel supporters[edit]

Malley was criticized by supporters of Israel after co-authoring an article in the July 8, 2001 edition of The New York Review of Books arguing that the blame for the failure of the 2000 Camp David Summit should be divided among all three leaders who were present at the summit, Yasser Arafat, Ehud Barak, and Bill Clinton, not just Arafat, as was suggested by some mainstream policy analysts.[12] "Later, however, other scholars and former officials voiced similar views to those of Malley", according to a February 20, 2008 article in The Jewish Daily Forward.[5]

In 2008 the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported that Hamas engaged in talks with presidential candidate Obama for months through aides. The article quotes Ahmad Yousuf, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s political advisor as saying: “We were in contact with a number of Obama’s aides through the Internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza, but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as they may have a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain (to attack Obama).”[13]

Malley and his views have come under attack from other critics, such as Martin Peretz of the magazine The New Republic, who has opined that Malley is "anti-Israel", a "rabid hater of Israel. No question about it", and that several of his articles in the New York Review of Books were "deceitful."[14] On the conservative webzine The American Thinker, Ed Lasky asserted that Malley "represents the next generation of anti-Israel activism."[5]

Malley told the Jewish Daily Forward that "it tends to cross the line when it becomes as personal and as un-based in facts as some of these have been." While he loved and respected his father, he said, their views sometimes differed, and it is "an odd guilt by association" fallacy to criticize him based on his father's views.[5] Simon Malley was called a sympathizer of the PLO by Daniel Pipes.[15]

In response to what they called "vicious, personal attacks" on Malley, five Jewish, former U.S. government officials—former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, Ambassador Martin Indyk, Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer, Ambassador Dennis Ross, and former State Department Senior Advisor Aaron David Miller—published a letter (dated February 12, 2008) in the New York Review of Books defending Malley.[5] They wrote that the attacks on Malley were "unfair, inappropriate, and wrong", and objected to what they called an attempt "to undermine the credibility of a talented public servant who has worked tirelessly over the years to promote Arab-Israeli peace and US national interests."[16] This view is also shared by M.J. Rosenberg, Director of Policy for Israel Policy Forum and a former editor at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, who condemned the attacks on Malley, writing that Malley is "pro-Israel" and the only reason he is being criticized is because he supports Israeli–Palestinian negotiations.[17]

Published books[edit]

  • The Call from Algeria: Third Worldism, Revolution, and the Turn to Islam, Berkeley: University of California Press (1996), ISBN 978-0-520-20301-3

Selected published articles[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Robert Malley biography page". International Crisis Group. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  2. ^ a b Malley, Robert; Hussein Agha (2001-08-09). "Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  3. ^ a b c Brittain, Victoria (September 27, 2006). "Obituary: Simon Malley". Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  4. ^ a b c d "President Names Statement by the Press Secretary on Robert Malley Appointment" (Press release). Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Guttman, Nathan (February 20, 2006). "Peace Negotiator Who Advised Obama Campaign Strikes Back at Critics". Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  6. ^ "The Call From Algeria". University of California Press. November 1996. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  7. ^ a b Baldwin, Tom (May 10, 2008). "Barack Obama sacks adviser over talks with Hamas". The Times (London). Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  8. ^ "Informal Obama Adviser Steps Aside Over Hamas Talks". First Read blog at MSNBC website, report by Andrea Mitchell. May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  9. ^ "Ex-Clinton aide returns to White House with Persian Gulf brief". Haaretz. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Malley, Robert; Hussein Agha (2007-05-10). "The Road to Mecca". New York Review of Books. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  11. ^ a b Malley, Robert (2008-01-21). "The Gaza Time Bomb". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  12. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/08/opinion/fictions-about-the-failure-at-camp-david.html
  13. ^ http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3620833,00.html
  14. ^ Peretz, Martin (2008-01-31). "Can Friends of Israel — and Jews — Trust Obama? In a word, yes.". The New Republic. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  15. ^ Pipes, Daniel, The Long Shadow: Culture and Politics in the Middle East Transaction Publishers: 1989. ISBN 0-88738-849-3, p 137, as presented in a Google Books search. Retrieved on January 27, 2008
  16. ^ Letters to the NYRB: In Defense of Robert Malley New York Review of Books, March 20, 2008 p. 53
  17. ^ Rosenberg, Michael (2008-02-18). "Smearing Rob Malley". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2008-04-25. 

External links[edit]