Obama World’s Fingerprints Are All Over Campus Chaos

REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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A who’s-who of Obama administration alumni are seemingly behind a concerted push to drive a wedge between President Joe Biden and Israel.

For weeks, stories of chaos across the nation’s college campuses dominated the media. Anti-Israel protestors set up encampments, ignored charges of trespassing and ripped down the American flag to replace it with the Palestinian flag, all to protest the United States’ pro-Israel stance in the country’s war against Hamas. Recent reporting by Tablet Magazine, as well as public statements from former White House officials, reveal that members of the Obama administration are stoking the flames of anti-Israel sentiment in the Democratic Party, exacerbating a headache for Biden.

During the chaos, Biden avoided the press for nine days before publicly stating that the protests were not influencing his policy. But the damage was done, and some began to question the president’s commitment to Israel.

“I think by forcing Biden to this dilemma, the outside folks are in practice hurting him,” a former Trump administration official, granted anonymity in order to speak freely about the matter, told the Daily Caller. “They probably don’t view it that way. They probably view themselves as being trying to be advocates for certain anti-Israel policies. But the net effect of it is, yes, they are undermining Biden by sort of railing against him on this wedge issue.”

Tablet identified several organizations, like Students for Justice in Palestine, that have had their hand in backing the students and individuals protesting. The magazine named financial backers like the WESPAC Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund among the groups that are funding the activist organizations on the ground. The WESPAC Foundation and Within Our Lifetime (WOL), an anti-Israel group, have received significant donations from the Tides Foundation, a major progressive dark money group.

“Indeed, scratch a pro-Palestinian radical organization, and you are likely to find Tides’ involvement somewhere. The Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), which organized an illegal blockade of the Port of Tacoma in November and an anti-Israel walkout of high school students in San Francisco—where AROC contracts with the unified public school district—is a fiscal sponsorship of the Tides Center,” the Tablet piece read.

One less-talked-about phenomenon Tablet identified is the prominence of Obama administration alumni at these organizations.

Dylan Orr, a board member of Tides, was a part of the Obama administration, working in the Department of Labor. Cheryl Alston, another board member of Tides, was previously appointed to the advisory committee of the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation by Obama, where she sat for two years. Former secretary of the Tides board, Suzanne Nossel, was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations in the Obama State Department.

“I think there was a time in the party’s history – early in the Obama years – when there was a Clinton Democrat and an Obama Democrat, with the former considered to be more hawkish and centrist. But by the time the Clinton Democrats graduated from Obama U, that distinction had become harder to discern,” Richard Goldberg, senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Caller. “And the merger was completed during the Trump years as they coalesced in defense of the Obama foreign policy legacy of cozying up to Iran and undermining Israel.”

The Obama-protest ties run deeper.

Tim Wang, another board member of Tides, is a managing partner at Westley Group, which was founded by Steve Westley, Tablet noted. Westley was the former California co-chair of Obama for America.

Lori Chatman, also a Tides board member, is the president of the capital division of Enterprise Community Partners, which is run by Shaun Donovan, Tablet reported. Donovan was Obama’s Housing and Urban Development Secretary and also the director of the administration’s Office of Management and Budget.

“It is here that the outsize role of Tides in funding the protests may be especially significant. More than any of the dark-money giants on the left, Tides has become tightly integrated with the ascendant Obama faction of the Democratic Party,” Tablet stated.

In the immediate weeks after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel, reports surfaced of previous conflict between Obama and Biden when it came to handling the Middle East, and specifically Israel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama’s foreign policy was largely defined by an attempt at detente with Iran, much to the chagrin of Netanyahu. Biden took a more pro-Israel path during his first several years in office, although the limits of his relationship with Israel’s prime minister have been tested. (RELATED: ‘Not A Vassal State’: Netanyahu Reportedly Explodes In Meeting After Biden Sets ‘Red Line’ For Israel Support)

Privately, the president had reportedly been touting his strong pro-Israel stance compared to that of Obama, despite backlash from within his party and even his own administration, five people familiar with Biden‘s comments told NBC News.

Biden recounted a story from his vice presidency where Obama and some of his staffers apparently denounced Biden‘s belief that the best way to treat Israel was to “hug them close but not criticize them,” the sources told NBC News.

But after reflecting on the moment, the president said that he was correct on his stance in 2014 and he continues to be right now, NBC reported.

Other reports detailed how Obama was “breaking” with Biden on his pro-Israel stance and their strained relationship.

“I think they are looking to reshape the Democrat Party long term. And so I think if you look at that movement, if you look at the Detroit, the Dearborn boycott movement, what they are ultimately doing is saying, we’re willing to actually lose one election. If in doing so, it sends a long-term message to the Democrat party, that it’s my way or the highway, and they want party discipline going forward. To show this you have to take this anti-Israel position or we will cause you to lose in that election,” Gabriel Noronha, executive director of Polaris National Security and a former State Department official, told the Daily Caller.

“I think something like the Soros types are more willing to play in that long term view of ‘we want to reshape the party’, and that this is Biden’s last election, but that there are many, many more to come in the Democrat party,” he added.

As the war in Gaza has progressed, high-profile Obama staffers have become more vocal, taking to social media to criticize the president and his pro-Israel stance.

“The President doesn’t get credit for being ‘privately enraged’ when he still refuses to use leverage to stop the IDF from killing and starving innocent people. These stories only make him look weak,” Jon Favreau, a former assistant to Obama and director of speechwriting, tweeted.

“I’m voting for Joe Biden, campaigning for Joe Biden, love most of what Joe Biden has done, but hate his Israel policy and want it to change. Not sure why that’s hard to get,” he added.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser and speechwriter, also spoke out on social media about Biden’s Israel stance.

“The U.S. government is still supplying 2 thousand pound bombs and ammunition to support Israel’s policy. Until there are substantive consequences, this outrage does nothing. Bibi obviously doesn’t care what the U.S. says, its about what the U.S. does,” he wrote.

Foreign policy experts pointed out that the same types of staffers for Biden’s former boss who are holding his feet to the fire also make up his own administration.

“In some respects, they’re all Obama alumni, with Biden’s senior officials having served as senior officials during Obama. Sullivan was on the secret trip to Oman to start the Iran nuclear deal talks. McGurk was a senior architect of Obama’s Mideast realignment. Bill Burns was a key architect along with Wendy Sherman (now departed from the Biden administration) in cementing the interim nuclear deal with Iran, and then Blinken was instrumental in securing the final nuclear deal,” Goldberg said. 

“The vice president’s national security advisor was also part of the JCPOA dream team. Let’s not forget Colin Kahl at Department of Defense until recently, another Iran echo chamber key actor. Oh, and lest we forget Rob Malley was appointed by this president to be special envoy for Iran – working with his close childhood friend Tony Blinken.”

The White House insists that its relationship with Israel is “ironclad” — but the president drew his red line on the Israel-Hamas war during an interview with CNN.

Biden said if the country chooses to invade Rafah, where more than one million Palestinians are seeking refuge, he will withhold aid to Israel. The administration also withheld shipments to the country in an apparent effort to send a political message. To some degree, the Obama wing of the party seems to be making headway.