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Bahbah: “Coffee Boy” or “Glorified Intern"...Trump’s New Middle East Envoy?

posted on: Sep 9, 2019

“Coffee Boy” or “Glorified Intern"...Trump’s New Middle East Envoy?

By: Bishara Bahbah/Arab America Featured Columnist

I feel sorry for Avraham “Avi” Berkowitz–Trump’s new Middle East envoy!

Recent articles that anonymously quoted White House officials and other lawmakers questioning the mental stability of President Donald Trump no longer come as a surprise to most well-read and educated people, let alone world leaders.  The president has either lost his mind or is in the process.

To his credit, Mr. Berkowitz graduated from Harvard Law School in 2016. I, for one, have a lot of respect for people who attend top universities, such as Harvard University.  I received my MA and Ph.D. from Harvard and I taught there as well.  And, to get through Harvard’s degreed programs is beyond torture for a qualified student.  However, Harvard admits three types of students – students with intellectual power or potential, students who come from tremendous wealth to feed its endowment, and students who come from political dynasties who give it the political clout that it has.

I am not sure of which bucket Mr. Berkowitz comes from. However, when a former White House employee said on Twitter that Mr. Berkowitz was “not very impressive and needed significant hand-holding to handle simple assignments.  But Mideast peace?  I’m sure he’s got this!”  While another Arab states expert described him in an article in The Telegraph as “a glorified intern.”  Now, I think we all know the answer to my earlier question.

What is the significance, if any, to Berkowitz’s Appointment as US Middle East Envoy?

“Coffee Boy” or “Glorified Intern"...Trump’s New Middle East Envoy?
Photo: Avi Berkowitz/Right Side Broadcasting
  • It is possible that Jared Kushner did not want someone in that position who would outshine him.
  • It is also possible that Kushner wanted someone who is fiercely loyal to him.
  • Some Middle East experts have speculated that Trump was downgrading the position given the dismal reception with which the economic version of the US Israel-Palestine peace plan was received.
  • Former Middle East advisor to the US Defense Department, Jasmine El-Gamal, told The Telegraph, that the appointment “demonstrates lack of seriousness” in the administration’s approach to the peace plan and the administration “is not even pretending otherwise by hiring a qualified person as an envoy.”
  • Maybe Trump and Kushner have found the sacrificial lamb in the likely event that the political version of the peace plan, which is expected to be released within weeks, is also doomed to the dust bins of history.
  • Ron Kamepas of The Jewish Telegraphic Agency predicted that asking Brian Hook, the State Department official on Iran, to join the peace-brokering team suggests that Trump “sees containing Iran and forging peace between Israel and the Palestinians and other Arab states as of a piece.”

Whatever the significance of Berkowitz’s new appointment might be, a number of things have not changed:

“Coffee Boy” or “Glorified Intern"...Trump’s New Middle East Envoy?
Photo: Avi Berkowitz/Twitter
  1. The US peace plan has been drafted and is ready, with or without, Berkowitz.
  2. Adding a non-Zionist Jew to the drafters of the plan, Brian Hook, at this late stage, will not change the fact that all those who have been involved thus far are Zionist Jews whose religious commitment to the Greater Land of Israel is central to their beliefs. These include the departing Jason Greenblatt, Jared Kushner, and the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.
  3. All those who have been involved in the drafting of the “peace plan” if one is to call it a peace plan, have had no diplomatic experience, and are well known for their undying support of Israel.
  4. They all have familial or very close personal ties to President Trump.

Given what we know, we should take it easy on Mr. Berkowitz.  Let him enjoy his moment in the limelight.

Soon enough, he will suffer, along with his teammates and his bosses, the humiliation of the failure of a much-touted, one-sided, unfair, and unjust plan that could have easily been dictated by Benjamin Netanyahu himself.  It is a failed plan that will ultimately lead to further bloodshed and turmoil, rather the hoped-for peace among Israelis and the Palestinians.



Prof. Bishara Bahbah was the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem based “Al-Fajr” newspaper between 1983-84. He was a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Peace Talks on Arms Control and Regional Security.  He taught at Harvard and was the associate director of its Kennedy School’s Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Arab America.

Reproduction of this article is permissible with proper credit to Arab America and the author.