And you thought tapping Jared Kushner as chief of Middle-East policy indicated a lack of professionalism and care about international relations. You didn’t use enough imagination, nor did I.
Meet Avi Berkowitz, former assistant to Jared Kushner, described as the guy who handled Jared’s messages, now new coordinator for U.S. Middle-East policy. “Mr.” Berkowitz is, well, “new to the scene,” to put it with extreme understatement.
Trump's new Middle East coordinator is Jared's assistant Avi Berkowitz. He's 28. He graduated from law school in 2016.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) September 5, 2019
To be fair, Politico states that Berkowitz is thirty, not twenty-eight, and, of course, we all mature a great deal and learn a tremendous amount of Israeli-Palestinian history and policy in those two years, so it is far less a concern if he is thirty years old versus just twenty-eight.
In fairness, we should note that Berkowitz has the academic prowess and background one would expect in someone charged with handling such a critical position. He graduated from Harvard law, as noted above, just three years ago.
Here is where I will note that I graduated from law school in 1997, and though I do precious little law nowadays, but when I do I am far more experienced in handling various matters and do so much more effectively.
I can also state without equivocation that my experience in life, including academics, writing, research, and this column, in no way prepared me to enact U.S. policy in the Middle East. I would not appoint myself to this position, and I would question the sanity of anyone who would appoint me.
I do, however, believe I am qualified to be president of the United States, if the only alternative is the current one. I would at least appoint a shitload of experienced, smart, and patriotic people. I would then listen to as much of their advice as I could get. I would not appoint this guy.
But, there are more details to the story, right Politico?
“Avi Berkowitz cannot fulfill Jason Greenblatt’s role in this situation,” said Aaron David Miller, who worked on Bill Clinton’s attempts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict as a top member of the president’s negotiating team. “My takeaway from this is that I’m not sure frankly that anyone on this team, including Avi Berkowitz, believes that this initiative has any chance of actually creating a framework that would allow Israelis and Palestinains to negotiate, let alone reach any type of agreement.
Ironic, because I didn’t lead Bill Clinton’s team in this particular area, yet I came to the same conclusion.
Some of the naysayers come from within Trump’s own camp. “People will walk past his desk and he constantly has the Drudge Report and Twitter up. No one thinks of him as a policy person,” said an administration official, who noted another of Berkowitz’s duties: handling Kushner’s press relations in the aftermath of former Kushner spokesman Josh Raffel’s departure from the White House early last year.
“He is in the service of Jared, not Trump,” this person said. “Some people are scratching their heads to watch this guy go from keeping Jared’s schedule and secrets to brokering peace in the Middle East. It’s a big leap.”
God help us all. This guy went from essentially being Jared Kushner’s secretary, to leading the effort toward Middle East peace.
Get ready for the money shot, from glam girl Hope Hicks:
In a 2017 Business Insider profile, then-White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks described Berkowitz’s role as fetching coffee and performing other administrative tasks. But his portfolio has expanded dramatically as the administration has worn on.
This coming from Hope Hicks, former model and assistant to Ivanka. When Hope Hicks describes you as a coffee fetcher, well, you best accept you’re a coffee-fetcher. At least Hope Hicks looked good fetching coffee, or directing White House communications, a qualification that I guarantee mattered to Trump, but one which this guy lacks. I accept that was somewhat … unneeded, but we are discussing the ridiculous here.
This column is a bit too light-hearted, because what is the alternative? Concentrating on it with seriousness? Causing you to bang your head against a brick wall, hoping to stop the nightmare?
I suppose we can take heart in one way. The person who actually calls the shots with respect to American policy in the Middle East is someone with decades of experience, someone taken very seriously on the international scene, Vladimir Putin will not make silly mistakes. He is effective, just not necessarily in enacting favorable U.S. policy.
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