New U.S. security chief has solid pro-Israel ties


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama replaced his national security adviser with a longtime political operative who has close ties to the Jewish community.

Gen. Jim Jones will be succeeded by his deputy, Thomas Donilon, the White House announced last Friday.

Donilon, a former chief of staff for Clinton administration Secretary of State Warren Christopher, has solid ties with the pro-Israel community.

"Tom Donilon understand it’s a dangerous world," Josh Block, the spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said in a statement. "In every position he has held throughout his career in government, he has been a strong friend of the U.S.-Israel relationship."

Donilon has been especially close to Vice President Joe Biden, considered the White House official with the warmest Jewish community ties. Donilon’s wife, Cathy Russell, is chief of staff to Biden’s wife, Jill, and his brother, Michael, is a senior adviser to Biden.

"Tom Donilon has been my friend and adviser for nearly 25 years," Biden said in a statement. "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."

Donilon also has served as a business lawyer. Among his clients was Penny Pritzker, the hotel magnate who is one of Obama’s longest-standing Jewish backers.

According to The New York Times, the decision to push out Jones was accelerated by White House anger at his apparent leaks to journalist Bob Woodward describing his disagreements with Obama’s political advisers.

Jones also was believed to be of the camp that set out Arab-Israeli peace as a necessary component to securing broader U.S. interests in the region.

Before assuming the job heading the National Security Council, Jones had led efforts under President Bush to bolster the Palestinian Authority through military training and economic assistance.

Obama and Jones reportedly clashed over a number of issues, including Jones’ more leisurely work pace.

Recommended from JTA