New US ambassador to Israel is Obama insider


The nomination of White House adviser Daniel Shapiro as US ambassador to Israel has won praise across the spectrum from US Jewish organistions which saw Shapiro as the best man for the job-and one who has the President's ear.

Mr Shapiro, 41, will replace Bush appointee James Cunningham. The nomination must be confirmed by the US Senate.

Mr Shapiro is a member of President Obama's inner circle, having served on the 2008 presidential campaign, where he worked hard to win votes among Jews in Florida, and is currently senior director for the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council. He would be the first Jewish ambassador to Israel since Daniel Kurtzer left the post in 2005.

An Illinois native, the future ambassador speaks Hebrew, sends his children to a Jewish day school and graduated from Brandeis University. He has worked as a staffer for Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, and for Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Jason Isaacson, director of government and international affairs for the American Jewish Committee, thinks he is "a proud American Jew who has dedicated himself to public service." He said that Mr Shapiro was "a very close confidant of the President.

"He has been the administration's ambassador on Middle East issues to the American Jewish community," he said. "It will be the role he will assume in a different location and to a different constituency."

The selection of Daniel Shapiro won rave reviews from both the right and left among American Jewish groups.

Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organisation of America, said Mr Shapiro was deeply committed to Israel's safety and security. "He speaks fluent Hebrew, his beautiful daughters all have Hebrew names, and his parents would openly admit that they're kvelling!" Mr Klein said.

More sedately, JStreet President Jeremy Ben-Ami called Mr Shapiro "an outstanding choice" and Debra DeLee, president of Americans for Peace Now, said:"Dan has the professional aptitude and the personal attitude needed to excel as ambassador to Israel."

Mr Shapiro does not air his personal politics on Middle East issues, Mr Isaacson said. "He is the classic congressional staffer" who keeps his views private, he said, adding: "He abhors extremism in general and champions Middle East peace and a secure Israel."

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