US President-elect has named the first Palestinian-American to a White House staff position. Reema Dodin will serve as deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs and will be responsible for advancing Biden's legislative agenda in Congress.
Dodin, the daughter of a Palestinian-Jordanian couple who immigrated to the US before she was born, had previously served as deputy chief of staff to Democratic Whip Senator Richard Durbin.
Dodin graduated from the University of California in 2002 with a degree in economics and political science, and received a law degree from the University of Illinois in 2006.
In 2002, when she was still in college, Dodin gave a speech in which she defended suicide bombings as "the last resort of a desperate people."
The speech was given at the height of the Second Intifada, a terrorist campaign which saw a wave of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and which claimed the lives of over 1,000 Israelis.
Dodin also called Israel an "Apartheid" state and called on the University of California to divest from the Jewish State, the Berkeley Daily Planet reported.
The Biden transition team stated that Dodin has "grown" since her college days in a letter sent to the Jerusalem Post.
“Reema is the first to tell you she has grown from her youth in her approach to pushing for change, but her core values of fighting to expand opportunity to building a stronger middle class remain her driving force,” the statement said. “She harnessed her activism into action, becoming a well-respected and trusted leader in the U.S. Senate. Her years of Senate experience and perspective will help President-elect Biden and Vice President Harris respond to our nation’s most urgent challenges.”
Dodin's appointment received bipartisan backing, with Monica Popp, the chief of staff for Republican Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, saying that she is respected by both parties.
The Zioness organization, which represents progressive Zionists, posted a tweet criticizing Dodin over her 2002 comments. The tweet was later removed and the organization posted an apology to Dodin.
"We apologize to Reema Dodin for a recent post, which we have now deleted. The comments to which we objected were made 18 years ago, and we understand that people grow. To be clear, we objected to the comments, not the person. We welcome Reema's success as the first Palestinian-American senior White House staffer, alongside so many other remarkable "firsts" being named today. We posted something without having done enough research, we know better, and we will do better. We are genuinely sorry," the Zioness organization wrote.