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White House names Gabriel Barnett interim Jewish liaison

Barnett’s appointment comes at a crucial time, given the Jewish community’s attention on Israel’s war against Hamas amid growing concerns over antisemitism

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Gabriel Barnett attends SummerFest After Dark At Southampton Arts Center on September 1, 2022 at Southampton Arts Center in Southampton, New York.

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The White House has appointed a new official to temporarily oversee the Biden administration’s relationship with the U.S. Jewish community, a key constituency for President Joe Biden, particularly as Israel’s war with Hamas continues and antisemitism is on the rise in the United States.

Gabriel Barnett, a White House advisor for public engagement who served as the deputy Jewish outreach director on the Biden campaign in 2020, will serve as White House Jewish liaison in an interim capacity while Shelley Greenspan, who has held the role since the summer of 2022, is on maternity leave. Barnett joined the White House in 2022 as a legal assistant. 

Barnett steps into the role at what is likely a busy — and fraught — moment for the Jewish liaison, a position that dates back to the Carter administration. 

The White House is still implementing its national strategy to counter antisemitism, which was unveiled last year after a monthslong drafting process that Greenspan helped shepherd. Meanwhile, the ongoing war in Israel and Gaza has sparked volatility in the Democratic ranks, with Biden attempting a delicate balancing act between constituencies who applaud his support for Israel and others on the left who are more critical. 

The Jewish liaison is responsible for communicating White House priorities to the Jewish community — and making sure that the White House understands the perspectives and priorities of a diverse range of Jewish community stakeholders. 

Prior to joining the White House, Barnett worked at Israel Policy Forum and as a staffer for Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on the House Judiciary Committee. He is still working in the White House Counsel’s Office while also serving as Jewish liaison. 

Barnett did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

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