Daily Israel Report

Change: Obama’s New Adviser Close to Israel

New US Security Chief has pro-Israel ties.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/13/2010, 5:38 AM

President Obama’s incoming National Security Adviser is well known for his close ties to the Jewish and pro-Israel community.

Thomas Donilon, who will be replacing General Jim Jones in the role, is a business lawyer and former chief of staff for Warren Christopher, who was the Secretary of State for the Clinton administration.

In addition to his extensive legal and political background, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Donilon is also very pro-Israeli. He has close ties to Vice President Joe Biden, who is considered the White House official with the warmest ties to the Jewish community. Donilon’s wife, Cathy Russell, is chief of staff to Biden’s wife, Jill, and his brother, Michael, is a senior adviser to Biden.

In a statement released by Biden after Donilon’s appoint was announced last Friday, he said: “Tom Donilon has been my friend and adviser for nearly 25 years. These past two years, he has been at the heart of our foreign and national security policies. He brings to his new responsibilities a remarkable depth of knowledge about the challenges and opportunities our country faces around the world.”

One of Donilon’s clients during his time as a lawyer was Penny Pritzker, daughter of Hyatt hotel chain founder Donald Pritzker and member of the notable Jewish American Pritzker business family. Penny Pritzker is one of President Obama’s strongest Jewish backers. She was the national finance chair of Obama's presidential campaign and was even considered to be his Commerce Secretary.

Donilon’s appointment has also been backed and approved by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “Tom Donilon understands it’s a dangerous world,” said Committee spokesman Josh Block in a statement. “In every position he has held throughout his career in government, he has been a strong friend of the US-Israel relationship.”

Jones announced his resignation as National Security Adviser on October 8. The New York Times reported that Jones was forced to resign, a decision which was accelerated by White House anger due to his apparent leaks to journalist Bob Woodward, in which he described his disagreements with Obama’s political advisers.