Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs: Who Is David Schenker?

Friday, May 04, 2018
David Schenker

David Kenneth Schenker, who worked in the Department of Defense during the George W. Bush administration, was nominated April 9, 2018, to head the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the State Department. The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs deals with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. diplomatic relations with Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.


Schenker was born in 1968 to mother Linda and father Michael Schenker. He grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey, graduating from Ridgewood High School in 1986. Schenker earned a B.A. at the University of Vermont in 1990, then an M.A. at the University of Michigan.


Schenker has spent most of his career at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank that supports the Israeli government, starting as an analyst after graduate school.


In 2002, Schenker temporarily left the Washington Institute to be Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine) country director in the Bush Defense Department under Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Schenker returned to the Washington Institute in 2006 and has been there since. At the time of his nomination to the State Department, Schenker was director of the institute’s Program on Arab Politics.


Schenker is a prolific writer, often on Hezbollah in Lebanon and about Syria. He has written two books, Dancing with Saddam: The Strategic Tango of Jordanian-Iraqi Relations (2003) and Palestinian Democracy and Governance: An Appraisal of the Legislative Council (2000).


Schenker married Jodi Danis, a career attorney in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in 2003. Since the beginning of the Trump Administration, Danis has been acting deputy special counsel in the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division, They have two young sons.


Schenker, who travels frequently to the Middle East, speaks Arabic.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

David Schenker (Washington Institute)

David Schenker Media Mentions 2006-2017 (Washington Institute)

Celebrations: Jodi Danis-David Schenker (New York Times)


J. Sadick 4 years ago
A more fair and informative way to characterize the Washington Institute for Near East Policy is to mention its program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, which hosts and sponsors research by the most senior U.S. government officials responsible for guiding U.S. efforts to defeat terrorism. Its Military and Security Studies program offers useful insights and analysis on the role of U.S. military forces in harm's way in places like Iraq. The Institute supports Israel -- and anyone in the region who shares U.S. values -- and not necessarily any particular "Israeli government." Another clarification: Schenker's marriage to Danis ended in divorce.

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