Martin Indyk

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Martin Indyk
Martin Indyk 2.jpg
United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace
In office
July 29, 2013 – June 27, 2014
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byFrank Lowenstein (acting)
Succeeded byFrank Lowenstein
United States Ambassador to Israel
In office
January 25, 2000 – July 13, 2001
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byEdward S. Walker Jr.
Succeeded byDaniel C. Kurtzer
In office
April 10, 1995 – September 27, 1997
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byEdward Djerejian
Succeeded byEdward S. Walker Jr.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
In office
October 14, 1997 – November 16, 1999
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byRobert Pelletreau
Succeeded byEdward S. Walker Jr.
Personal details
Martin Sean Indyk

(1951-07-01) July 1, 1951 (age 71)
London, England, UK
SpouseJill Collier (divorced)
RelativesIvor Indyk (brother)
EducationUniversity of Sydney (BA)
Australian National University (MA, PhD)

Martin Sean Indyk (born July 1, 1951) is an American diplomat and foreign relations analyst with expertise in the Middle East. He was a distinguished fellow in International Diplomacy and later executive vice president at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C from 2001-2018.[1] He took leave from the Brookings Institution to serve as the U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli–Palestinian Negotiations from 2013 to 2014. He is currently a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.[2]

Indyk served twice as United States ambassador to Israel and also as Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton Administration.


Martin Indyk was born in 1951 in London, United Kingdom, to a Jewish family who had immigrated from Poland.[3] His family moved to Australia, where he was raised, growing up in the Sydney suburb of Castlecrag. His older brother is the Australian academic and publisher Ivor Indyk.

He graduated from the University of Sydney in 1972. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Indyk spent time volunteering in a kibbutz in southern Israel, an experience he has called "a defining moment in my life." He stated he had even considered immigrating to Israel at the time.[4] He returned to graduate school and received a PhD in international relations from the Australian National University in 1977. He married Jill Collier, with whom he had two children, Sarah and Jacob. They have divorced.

Indyk immigrated to the United States by 1982 and started work with a lobbying group in Washington, DC. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1993 a week before joining the United States National Security Council.[5] Indyk is a Reform Jew.[3][6]

Political and diplomatic career[edit]

In 1982, Indyk began working as a deputy research director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington.[7][8] From 1985 Indyk served eight years as the founding Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a research institute specializing in analysis of Middle East policy.[9]

He has been an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he taught Israeli politics and foreign policy. Indyk has also taught at the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, and the Department of Politics at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Indyk has published widely on U.S. policy toward the Arab–Israeli peace process, on U.S.–Israeli relations, and on the threats to Middle East stability posed by Iraq and Iran.

He served as special assistant to President Bill Clinton and as senior director of Near East and South Asian Affairs at the United States National Security Council. While at the NSC, he served as principal adviser to the President and the National Security Advisor on Arab–Israeli issues, Iraq, Iran, and South Asia. He was a senior member of Secretary of State Warren Christopher's Middle East peace team and served as the White House representative on the U.S. Israel Science and Technology Commission.

He served two stints as United States Ambassador to Israel, from April 1995 to September 1997, and from January 2000 to July 2001. He was the first and so far, the only, foreign-born US ambassador to Israel.

He has served on the board of the New Israel Fund.[10] Indyk currently serves on the Advisory Board for DC based non-profit America Abroad Media.[11]

On July 29, 2013, Indyk was appointed by President Barack Obama as Washington's special Middle East envoy for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.[12] Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas favored his appointment.[13] He resigned from this position June 27, 2014, returning to the Brookings Institution as its vice president and director for foreign policy.[14][15] In 2018, he left Brookings for the Council on Foreign Relations.[1]


In 2000, Indyk was placed under investigation by the FBI after allegations arose that he improperly handled sensitive material by using an unclassified laptop computer on an airplane flight to prepare his memos of meetings with foreign leaders.[16][17][18] There was no indication that any classified material had been compromised, and no indication of espionage.[19]

Indyk was "apparently ... the first serving U.S. ambassador to be stripped of government security clearance."[19] The Los Angeles Times reported that "veteran diplomats complained that Indyk was being made a scapegoat for the kinds of security lapses that are rather common among envoys who take classified work home from the office."[19] Indyk's clearance was suspended but was reinstated the next month, "for the duration of the current crisis," given "the continuing turmoil in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza [Strip] and for compelling national security reasons."[19]


Receiving donations from Qatar[edit]

In 2014, Indyk came under scrutiny when a New York Times investigation revealed that wealthy Gulf state of Qatar made a $14.8 million, four-year donation to Brookings Institution, in order to fund two Brookings initiatives,[20] the Brookings Center in Doha and the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World.[21] The Times investigation found that Brookings was one of more than a dozen influential Washington think tanks and research organizations that "have received tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments in recent years while pushing United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors' priorities."[20] A number of scholars interviewed by the Times expressed alarm at the trend, saying that the "donations have led to implicit agreements that the research groups would refrain from criticizing the donor governments."[20]

The revelation of the think tank's choice to accept the payment from Qatar was especially controversial because at the time, Indyk was acting as a peace negotiator between Israel and the Palestinians, and because Qatar funds jihadist groups in the Middle East and is the main financial backer of Hamas, "the mortal enemy of both the State of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party."[22] Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal, who directs Hamas's operations against Israel, is also harbored by Qatar.[20] Indyk defended the arrangement with Qatar, contending that it did not influence the think tank's work and that "to be policy-relevant, we need to engage policy makers."[20] However, the arrangement between Qatar and Brookings caused Israeli government officials to doubt Indyk's impartiality.[23]

Of views on Israel[edit]

Indyk's career has "featured two abiding, and at times competing, characteristics: his support for Israel, and his disdain for Israel's West Bank settlement activity."[24] Indyk's views "have irked both Israel and the Palestinians at various times."[24]

Isi Leibler criticized Indyk in a 2010 Jerusalem Post op-ed, calling him a "anti-Israel apologist."[25] In 2014, Ha'aretz reported that "Indyk is being identified in Jerusalem as the anonymous source" in an article by Nahum Barnea of the Yedioth Ahronoth, 'in which unnamed American officials blamed Israel for the failure of the peace talks."[26] The anonymous source in Yediot Acharonot was quoted as saying: "The Jewish people are supposed to be smart; it is true that they’re also considered a stubborn nation. You're supposed to know how to read the map: In the 21st century, the world will not keep tolerating the Israeli occupation. The occupation threatens Israel's status in the world and threatens Israel as a Jewish state...The Palestinians are tired of the status quo. They will get their state in the end – whether through violence or by turning to international organizations."[26] The remarks angered Israeli officials.[24]

Media appearances[edit]

While promoting his book, Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy, on 8 January 2009, Indyk engaged in a discussion of Israeli–Palestinian peace negotiations with Norman Finkelstein of Democracy Now!. Indyk indicated he felt "sandbagged" by not being informed "that I was going to be in some kind of debate with Norman Finkelstein. I’m not interested in doing that. I’m also not here as a spokesman for Israel".[27]



  1. ^ a b Brookings: MARTIN S. INDYK
  2. ^ Council on Foreign Relations: Martin S. Indyk"
  3. ^ a b Haaretz: "Former 'Meet the Press' host David Gregory writing book on his Jewish faith" by Anthony Weiss August 24, 2014
  4. ^ Nathan Guttman, "Mideast Mediator Martin Indyk Draws Ire From Both Sides of Israeli Spectrum", Jewish Daily Forward (August 2, 2013).
  5. ^ Al Kamen, Inside: State, Washington Post (February 2, 1995).
  6. ^ Thomas Gorguissaian, Al Ahram International 24 September - 4 October 2000
  8. ^ Halsell, Grace. "Clinton's Indyk Appointment One of Many From Pro-Israel Think Tank". Washington Report. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  9. ^ Mearsheimer, John J.; Walt, Stephen M., The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Macmillan, September 4, 2007. Cf. p.152
  10. ^ Guttman, Nathan (July 30, 2013). "Martin Indyk Brings Baggage to Mideast Talks — and That's the Point". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Advisory Board - Martin Indyk". America Abroad Media. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014. Retrieved March 20, 2017.
  12. ^ Ravid, Barak (July 29, 2013). "Obama welcomes renewal of Israeli-Palestinian talks, but says 'hard choices' lie ahead". Haaretz. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  13. ^ Barak Ravid (July 21, 2013). "Report: Martin Indyk to be U.S. representative on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks". Haaretz.
  14. ^ Jackson, David (27 June 2014). "U.S. envoy for Middle East peace resigns". USA Today. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  15. ^ Office of the Spokesperson. "Secretary Kerry Announcement on Ambassador Martin Indyk". United States Department of State. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  16. ^ Koppel, Andrea (September 23, 2000). "U.S. suspends security clearance for ambassador to Israel". CNN.
  17. ^ "Ambassador's Security Clearance Suspended". ABC News. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  18. ^ "Press Briefing by Richard Boucher". U.S. Department of State. September 25, 2000. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  19. ^ a b c d Norman Kempster (October 11, 2000). "U.S. Envoy to Israel Regains Clearance--for Duration of Crisis". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  20. ^ a b c d e Williams, Eric Lipton, Brooke; Confessore, Nicholas (2014-09-06). "Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  21. ^ "Brookings Responds to Tablet Piece on Qatar Funding". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  22. ^ "How Peace Negotiator Martin Indyk Cashed a Big, Fat $14.8 Million Check From Qatar, and No One Noticed". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  23. ^ "Jerusalem doubts Indyk's institute after Qatar funding reports". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  24. ^ a b c Nathan Guttman, How Martin Indyk Went From AIPAC Man To Blaming Israel for Talk's Failure, Jewish Daily Forward (May 14, 2014).
  25. ^ Isi Leibler, From pro-Israel to anti-Israel apologist, Jerusalem Post (April 29, 2010).
  26. ^ a b 'US envoy to resign after blaming settlements for talks failure', Jewish Telegraphic Agency & Times of Israel Staff (May 5, 2014).
  27. ^ "Former Amb. Martin Indyk vs. Author Norman Finkelstein: A Debate on Israel's Assault on Gaza and the US Role in the Conflict". Democracy Now. Retrieved 7 December 2013.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by U.S. Ambassador to Israel
Succeeded by
Preceded by U.S. Ambassador to Israel
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
October 14, 1997 – November 16, 1999
Succeeded by