September 16, 2020

MAYBE IT WASN’T ACTUALLY WISDOM: The ‘Coffee Boy’ Makes Peace in the Middle East: Trump’s negotiators buck the wisdom that led to decades of bipartisan failure.

Avi Berkowitz’s elevation to a top negotiating position on President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace team was met with near-universal derision by so-called experts and the mainstream press.

Martin Indyk, who served as ambassador to Israel under President Bill Clinton, mocked the appointment of Jared Kushner’s onetime “assistant.” The Brookings Institution’s Natan Sachs declared the then 29-year-old Berkowitz “young and inexperienced.” The media were less diplomatic: Politico derided Berkowitz as Kushner’s “mini-me”; Vanity Fair dubbed him a “coffee boy.”

On Tuesday, Trump oversaw the signing of the Kushner- and Berkowitz-orchestrated Abraham Accords that officially normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, as well as an agreement between Israel and Bahrain—the first such deals in over four decades. Pretty good for a coffee boy.

Criticisms of Berkowitz and Kushner were never about their age or experience, given that they came from the same crowd that celebrated the ascendance of the 30-something failed novelist Ben Rhodes to the highest reaches of power in the previous administration.

Rather, the criticisms were about the unwillingness of the two men, publicly Jewish and proudly Zionist, to kowtow to the same tired experts who have made their careers pushing the same conventional wisdom that produced nothing but stalemate. The success of the youthful Berkowitz on a project where the so-called experts have met little success is all the more proof of the intellectual bankruptcy of the experts President Donald Trump has so often dismissed—in this case, rightly so.

It’s been a bad millennium for the expert class.

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