One of President Trump’s most absurd personnel moves was appointing his real-estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt as special envoy to the Middle East. Greenblatt had no serious foreign policy experience, a fairly serious drawback when the task involves resolving one of the most famously intractable foreign policy challenges in the world.
Greenblatt has reportedly drawn up his plan. But before it’s unveiled, he is leaving the White House, a sequence of timing that should probably not increase one’s confidence in the plan’s prospects of success. Axios reports most of Greenblatt’s responsibilities will be transferred to Avi Berkowitz. Who is Avi Berkowitz? He’s a 29-year-old Jared Kushner friend who graduated from law school in 2016:
— Avi Berkowitz (@AviBerkow) June 9, 2016
From there he joined the Trump campaign as “assistant director of data analytics,” where he was tasked with producing the campaign’s “pre- and post-presidential-debate talk show that became a nightly Facebook Live discussion in the weeks leading up to the election,” according to a 2017 Business Insider profile. The story describes Berkowitz as “Kushner’s 28-year-old protégé,” which is one of the funnier thumbnail résumé descriptions you’ll ever see. He is the protégé to a young political dilettante who married into the family of a reality-television star who was elected president despite knowing almost nothing about public policy.
From there, Berkowitz settled in under Kushner:
Happy Birthday! pic.twitter.com/cHsBt3N3EG
— Avi Berkowitz (@AviBerkow) June 14, 2019
His role was “primarily administrative and involves assisting Kushner in daily logistics.” And now he is reportedly in charge of diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians! Former Middle East envoy Martin Indyk is aghast:
If Avi Berkowitz is @jdgreenblatt45 ‘s replacement it’s a considerable downgrade in the position. He’s Kushner’s 29-year-old assistant. Nice guy but does not have the weight or experience of Trump’s former real estate lawyer. https://t.co/LYMcNzuncd
— Martin Indyk (@Martin_Indyk) September 5, 2019
Obviously, Trump believes being Jewish is not only a necessary qualification to serve as his Middle East adviser, but also a sufficient one. Was Dr. Harold Bornstein unavailable? [More to the point: the peace plan is bogus; drawn up to be rejected by Palestinians, to show that they are the obstacle to settlement, and so it really doesn’t matter who is the point man on it.]