: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: U.S Department of State / Source of Photo: https://www.state.gov/biographies/hady-amr/

Hady Amr

  • Served in the Clinton Administration’s Department of Defense
  • In 2002, he accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” against Palestine.
  • Worked for the Obama State Department, 2014-17
  • Was named by President Biden to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs
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Hady Amr was born on April 8, 1964, in Beirut, Lebanon, and grew up in Saudi Arabia before moving to the United States, where he spent time living in both New Jersey and Virginia. He earned a B.A. in Economics from Tufts University in 1988, and an M.A. in Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1994.

Amr, who proudly describes himself as “a Democrat” with a “Capital D,” served in the Bill Clinton Administration’s Department of Defense, where he helped establish the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University. He then served as the director of ethnic outreach for Al Gore’s unsuccessful 2000 presidential campaign, and from 2001-06 he managed an independent consulting practice, the Amr Group.

Amr’s hostility toward Israel has long been evident in his words and actions. In May 2002, for instance, he accused the Jewish state of “ethnic cleansing” and claimed that “the situation on the ground in occupied Palestine is appalling.” Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, Amr added, could be characterized as a “disgrace” that was rooted in an unquenchable thirst for “revenge” and had little to do with Israeli “security.” Overcoming American support for Israel would require years of effort, he argued as he laid out a plan for action: “[S]upporters of peace and justice in the Middle East need to embark on a 20- or 50-year campaign investing tens of millions of dollars and person hours in political campaigns and TV ads, as they have belated[ly] started doing.”

Amr’s additional prescriptions for Arab advancement included the following:

  • “[C]itizens in the Arab world need to come on speaking tours to American churches and schools, monitor U.S. media ­ writing at least three letters to editors of U.S. papers every week ­– and work in the U.S. on political campaigns as volunteers…. This may be a sacrifice, but it’s really a tiny one. And without it America and the Arab world will never change.”
  • “[T]he Palestinian people need strategic leadership whereby their campaigns are fully coordinated and synchronized with efforts in the U.S., Europe and across the Arab world.”
  • “[P]eople who want to put an end to Israeli injustice need to be willing to put in a few hours each day, on top of their eight-hour-a-day jobs, for the rest of their lives …. Those who curse [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon and his supporters in Congress from the comfort of the couch should be ashamed of themselves. There is no better way to honor the citizens massacred at Sharon’s hands in Sabra, Shatila, Jenin, and elsewhere than to join the struggle for change and participate every day.”

In January 2002, Amr wrote that: “Fourteen years ago, in December 1987, I was inspired by the [first] Palestinian intifada.”

In a column published by UPI on July 27, 2002 — after Sheikh Salah Shahada, the head of Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was killed in an Israeli air strike – Amr warned that both Israel and the United States would suffer dire consequences as a result:

“I have news for every Israeli: a very large proportion of the more than 150 million children and youth in the Arab World now have televisions, and they will never, never forget what the Israeli people, the Israeli military and Israeli democracy have done to Palestinian children. And there will be thousands who will seek to avenge these brutal murders of innocents, instead of wanting to move to Vermont like me in disgust and horror.

“It frightens me to say this, but I also have news for my fellow Americans. Our weapons, our tax dollars and our blessings have enabled Sharon to perpetuate these brutal attacks against civilians. We too shouldn’t be shocked when our military assistance to Israel and our security council vetoes that keep on protecting Israel come back to haunt us. That’s just the way a large part of the Arab World sees it.”

In 2005-06, Amr was a senior advisor for Muslim-West Relations at the World Economic Forum.

Amr founded the Brookings Doha Center (BDC) – a subsidiary of the D.C.-based Brookings institution — in Qatar in 2006 and served as its director until 2010. Lawyers told The New York Times that some of the BDC’s work with foreign governments merited “registration as foreign agents.” “What’s exciting about this project is that it’s a joint project of Brookings and the Qatari Government,” Amr enthused regarding his role running the BDC, which he said was supposed to “inform the American public and American policy makers.”

At the BDC, Amr advocated that the “Muslim [B]rotherhood organizations across the Muslim World should be engaged” by the West, and he repeatedly urged that Israel negotiate for peace with Hamas – even though that organization was firmly and irrevocably dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state and the mass murder of Jews. In 2007 he mused that “in Lebanese and Palestinian society, the faith-based organizations are seen as the least corrupt…. Hamas and Hezbollah are often cited by their populations as being non-corrupt. This needs more analysis. Is this the case?”

The involvement of Qatar — which was aligned with both Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood and was a major state sponsor of Hamas — as a locus of Amr’s activities, was highly significant. Indeed, both al-Qaeda and the Taliban had utilized Qatar for fundraising purposes – such as when 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed established his base of operations there for some time. Moreover, a 2014 New York Times  article titled “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks” reported that Qatar was the single largest foreign donor to the Brookings Institution. Thus, “there was a no-go zone [at Brookings] when it came to criticizing the Qatari government,” a BDC visiting fellow told the Times in 2009.

Following his tenure at BDC, Amr served as Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East at USAID from 2010-13. There, he assumed a leadership role in managing the American government’s development response to the Arab Spring uprisings of 2010-11.

Amr then went to work for the Obama State Department, serving as Deputy to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations for Economics and Gaza, from October 2014 to January 2017.

From February 2017 through January 2021, Amr was variously a nonresident senior fellow, a visiting fellow, and a project director at the Brookings Institution.

In 2018 Amr co-authored a paper that was jointly produced by the Center for a New American Security and the Brookings Institution. In that paper, he argued that the U.S. should “pursue the political and physical reintegration of Gaza and the West Bank in a manner that promotes a two-state solution and avoids the permanent separation of the two territories.”

From September 2019 to December 2020, Amr was an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

When President Donald Trump’s Administration was attempting to craft an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in 2019, Amr co-wrote a Foreign Policy article asserting that the U.S. should try to include Hamas in the negotiations — something to which Trump was firmly opposed. Said the article: “By laying out the terms of a three-way Hamas-Israel-[Palestinian Authority]/PLO deal now, and building an international consensus around it, the United States could create a pathway toward resolution.”

After serving as a bundler for Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign, Amr was a member of the Biden-Kamala Harris transition team in late 2020 and early 2021.

On January 20, 2021 – Biden’s first day in the Oval Office – the new President named Amr to serve as his Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs. Political analyst Daniel Greenfield noted “the troubling connections” between Qatar and the influential Brookings Institution with which Amr had long been associated. “Through Al Jazeera and organizations like Brookings Doha,” wrote Greenfield, “Qatar has worked to support and normalize Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. Brookings Doha’s leadership made no secret of the fact that its goal was to influence policymakers. But, even more troublingly, the veterans of Brookings Doha, like Amr, are becoming policymakers in their own right. Should foreign governments like Qatar be able to exercise such an influence over America?”

In late January 2021, the Biden Administration announced that it was restoring U.S. relations with, and funding for, the Palestinian Authority – after President Trump had slashed financial assistance for the Palestinians and effectively shuttered their diplomatic mission to the United States. On February 1, 2021, Amr spoke by phone with the Palestinian Authority’s Minister for Civilian Affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh, marking the first time in three years that American and Palestinian officials had engaged publicly.

In March 2021, Amr drafted a memo titled “The U.S. Palestinian Reset and the Path Forward,” which indicated that the Biden Administration — in a departure from former President Trump’s decision to dramatically cut American aid to Ramallah — was planning to announce a $15 million aid package in coronavirus-related humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians. “State and USAID are working towards a restart of US assistance to the Palestinians in late March or early April,” said the memo. “We are planning a full range of economic, security and humanitarian assistance programmes, including through UN Relief and World Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Prior to the fuller launch, we plan to announce $15 million in Covid-related humanitarian assistance.” Also in the memo, Amr exhorted the White House to back a two-state framework “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps and agreements on security and refugees.”

On May 13, 2021, the Jerusalem Post reported that the U.S. had dispatched Amr to Israel “to push for de-escalation amid the most intense round of fighting between Israel and Hamas since 2014.”

On May 25, 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced that the American government would reopen its Consulate General (CG) office in Jerusalem, which, prior to being shuttered by the Trump Administration, had handled U.S. diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority for more than 20 years before it was merged into the American Embassy in Jerusalem. Reopening the CG office would help normalize ties between the United States and the Palestinian Authority. As Axios.com reported on May 25, Hady Amr had “raised the consulate issue last week with officials in [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s office and the Foreign Ministry while serving as Blinken’s envoy during the Gaza crisis.”

Further Reading: “Hady Amr” (CNAS.org)


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