Jewish Leaders Back New White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough

Obama's Jewish Liaison Leaving Post

getty images

By JTA

Published January 27, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

President Obama named as his new chief of staff a security official, Denis McDonough, who has strong ties to the Jewish organizational community.

McDonough, until now the deputy to National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, handled much of the National Security Council’s Israel-related traffic and has strong ties with Jewish groups, speaking for instance to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy just weeks before the last presidential election.

“Over the last four years, in speaking privately with me, and more publicly with Jewish Federation leaders, McDonough has steadfastly and vigorously defended the Administration’s Middle East policies,” William Daroff, the director of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office, said in an email Saturday night to JTA.

“He has been out-front and very available to discuss and debate the intricacies of policy matters - always in a fair and respectful manner - and in a way that makes clear that he has no doubt about the commitment of President Obama to a strong US-Israel relationship,” Daroff said. “When he speaks, it is obvious that he has the President’s ear, and that he has had a tremendous influence over policy matters.”

In a Twitter posting, Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s Washington director, called McDonough a “person of great savvy and candor.”

McDonough takes over from Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew who has in his various capacities been the senior staff member taking calls from Jewish community leaders. Obama has nominated Lew to become Treasury Secretary.

Also announced on Friday was the departure of Jarrod Bernstein, the White House’s liaison to the Jewish community for the last two years.

In an email, Bernstein, who formerly ran specialty outreach for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said he was returning to that city.

Bernstein was Obama’s third Jewish liaison; previously, the job had been handled jointly by Susan Scher and Danielle Borrin.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.