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Representative Steve Israel

Former United States Representative for NY, 2001-2017; CNN political commentator

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Debates & Panels | Government & Politics | News & Media | World & International

Steve Israel served in the House of Representatives for sixteen years – six as the Democrats chief political and message strategist.  President Bill Clinton called him “one of the most thoughtful Members of the House of Representatives.” An acclaimed political satirist and novelist, the Washington Post called his work “so spirited and funny.” He is now a political commentator for CNN.

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  • Representative Steve  Israel

Steve Israel served in the House of Representatives for sixteen years – six as the Democrats chief political and message strategist. President Bill Clinton called him "one of the most thoughtful Members of the House of Representatives." An acclaimed political satirist and novelist, the Washington Post called his work “so spirited and funny.” He is now a political commentator for CNN.

As a recent senior member of the House Democratic leadership, Israel has a singular behind-the-scenes acumen on how Congress operates. His insights and analyses appear regularly in the New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Affairs and on “Sixty Minutes”, HBO, CNN, FOXNews, MSNBC, among others.

As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for four years, Israel was responsible for the strategies and operations of all competitive House campaigns. Few in Washington have a more granular understanding of Democratic electoral prospects in districts across the country.

Rep. Israel blends that astute political savvy with policy depth in several key areas.

As a member of both the House Armed Services Committee and the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, Israel was a recognized leader on national security and foreign affairs. He maintains strong relationships with military, intelligence and national leaders at home and abroad. His expertise includes missile defense technologies, US-Israeli military cooperation, and professional military education. Israel’s Ambassador to the United States praised him as “a mensch with backbone.” He created the Democratic Study Group on National Security.

Israel is a highly-regarded expert on the issue of the nature of future conflict. He’s lectured at West Point and the National Defense University, and delivered the commencement address at the Navy War College. This expertise helped guide the National Intelligence Council’s forecast of global trends, which is submitted to every incoming President.

Rep. Israel is also considered a leading voice on middle class economic security and Infrastructure investments. The New York Times recognized as him as “a Democrat who has long tried to focus attention on the plight of the middle class.” On the Appropriations Committee, he secured investments in clean energy research and development.

Israel’s blunt views on the need for campaign reform have been profiled on Sixty Minutes and HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. His New York Times op-ed, “Confessions of a Congressman” was a fearless and gritty portrayal of the fundraising pressures on Members of Congress.

Still, his proudest congressional achievement was creating the House Center Aisle Caucus, a network of centrist Democrats and Republicans that focused on bipartisan solutions to national problems.

In 2015, Simon & Schuster published Israel's first novel, a parody of Washington politics called "The Global War on Morris." After receiving widespread critical praise – Chris Matthews called it “a laugh out loud funny book” - it was optioned to Rob Reiner for television development. Not unlike so much in Congress, it awaits further action.

Fresh from six years as the lead campaign and message strategist for House Democrats -and a total of 16 years as a Congressman-  Steve Israel illuminates the personalities and issues that will define the relationship between President Trump and congressional Democrats. He describes the battle-lines and bridges that will be drawn; the issues that will move and the ones that will stall.  From confirmation hearings to immigration; repealing the ACA to reforming the tax code; funding infrastructure to foreign policy, Israel engages audiences with trademark wit and behind-the-scenes intel. His political insights appear regularly in the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly and television cable networks.


If you really want to understand how Congress operates, listen to Steve Israel’s no-holds- barred presentation on congressional fundraising. Israel takes you behind the scenes of dialing for dollars and check-drops, soggy hor d’ouvres and gloppy egg breakfasts.  Israel’s gritty portrayal has been prominently profiled on Sixty Minutes, HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver, and the New York Times. His first-hand insight shines a bright light on the dark world of superpacs and secret money; and a blueprint of reforms that will revitalize American democracy.


Intelligence agencies agree that the world is changing as fast as ever. The Army calls it “VUCA”: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.  As a congressional leader on defense issues for 16 years, Rep. Israel specialized in the nature of future conflict: who we’ll fight, where and why. He’s lectured at West Point, the National Defense University, and was the commencement speaker at the Naval War College (link). His views helped inform the National Intelligence Council’s quadrennial assessment of future trends.  But this isn’t simply a national security assessment – this tells you everything you’ll need to know about the world your company or organization will operate in: new markets and big data; disruptive technologies and rapid demographic change; resource competition and global crises. Israel’s intel-driven assessment of the world in 2050 is as fascinating as it is challenging.


In this provocative argument, Rep.  Israel diagnoses four convergences that were largely missed by Washington pundits and led to President Trump’s election: a radically changing economy, an historic breakdown of faith in all institutions, a pervasive sense of personal threat, and an historic cynicism about democracy.  As Chairman of the Democratic Policy & Communications Committee, Israel led a two year research project that concluded that Democrats needed to tap into those anxieties and offer a constructive set of solutions.  He shares cutting edge polling and focus group to help your organization navigate an unprecedented political and economic landscape.


As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for four years, Israel was the chief architect of House campaign strategies. Then his House colleagues elected him to chair the Democratic Policy & Communications Committee, where he led the research and development of strategic brand messaging and communications strategies for House Democrats. Few in Washington are as uniquely equipped to offer granular and realistic assessments of the 2018 electoral cycle in the House, Senate and the state level.  Israel pinpoints the most competitive races in the American political landscape.


Rep.  Israel takes audiences inside the corridors of power, where decisions are made about US-Israeli relations. Audiences will learn surprising lessons about how Congress   shapes policy; the challenges ahead for Washington and Jerusalem; and the importance of continued pro-Israel activism.  Called a “mensch with backbone” by Israel’s ambassador to the US and a “staunch hawk on Iran”, Rep. Israel inspires and motivates audiences to strengthen as well as smarten their activism.


In Congress, Israel was the recognized leader on the issue of professional military education: how we invest our warriors with the critical thinking skills they need; how we incentivize them to study foreign languages, cultural anthropology, negotiating with NGO’s, and more.  Israel argues that military hardware must be complemented by software- the intellectual rigor of a new generation of military leaders.  Israel’s lectured at West Point and the National Defense University, among others, and was the commencement speaker at the Naval War College (link).


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    The Congress/English Dictionary

    (The New York Times) – His supporters may adore him for “saying what everyone thinks,” but President-elect Donald J. Trump is about to confront the indecipherable jargon of Capitol Hill, which will go well beyond his 140-character norm.

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    They took a risk for the US — and Trump’s ban leaves them in the cold

    (CNN) – President Trump’s executive order banning refugees and others from entering the United States damages many; but none worse than a small group of Muslims who were willing to sacrifice their lives aiding our troops: language translators in Iraq and Afghanistan.