Biden & Israel: What it’s Like to Make Policy in the White House


In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP Fellow Peter Beinart is joined with Steven Simon, former Director of the National Security Council in the Obama Administration. The two discuss what the conversation in the White House in regards to U.S. policy towards Israel, as it was in the Obama Administration and possibly now in the Biden Administration.

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Recorded on March 8, 2024

Watch this conversation on YouTube:

Panelist Biographies

Peter Beinart is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. He is also a Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York, a Contributing opinion writer at the New York Times, an Editor-at-Large at Jewish Currents, and an MSNBC Political Commentator.

Steven Simon is visiting professor of practice in Middle East Studies for the academic year 2023-2024. Previously he was the Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow in International Affairs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. He served as the National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism in the Clinton White House and for the Middle East and North Africa in the Obama White House and in senior positions at the U.S. Department of State. Outside of government, he was a principal and senior advisor to Good Harbor LLC in Abu Dhabi and director of the Middle East office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Manama. Prior to this, he was deputy director of the IISS in London.He managed security-related projects at the RAND Corporation and was the Hasib Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has taught at Princeton, Dartmouth, Colby and Amherst and held fellowships at Brown, Oxford and the American Academy in Berlin.He is the co-author of The Age of Sacred Terror (Random House, 2004), winner of the Arthur C. Ross Award for best book in international relations and of The Next Attack (Henry Holt, 2006), a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize, and one of the “best books of the year” in the Washington Post and Financial Times, which focused on the U.S. response to 9/11. He also co-authored Iraq at the Crossroads: State and Society in the Shadow of Regime Change (Oxford, 2003); Building a Successful Palestinian State and The Arc: A Formal Structure for a Palestinian State (RAND 2005); The Sixth Crisis (Oxford, 2010); The Pragmatic Superpower: The United States and the Middle East in the Cold War (W.W. Norton, 2016); Our Separate Ways (Public Affairs, 2016); and Grand Delusion: The Rise and Fall of American Ambition in the Middle East (Penguin/ Random House, April 2023), selected as a best book of 2023 by the New Yorker and Financial Times.Mr. Simon has published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Politico, New York Review of Books, Survival, and Haaretz, and has appeared on the PBS NewsHour, ABC News, CNN, and al Jazeera.