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President’s Speaker Series to Feature David Schenker on Washington and the Crisis in the Middle East

David Schenker

On Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at noon in Elkins Auditorium, David Schenker, Taube Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute and director of the Linda and Tony Rubin Program on Arab Politics, will explore the topic “Washington and the Crisis in the Middle East.” As the former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, Schenker will discuss the status of the political climate in Israel and Washington's role in the conversation of the future of that region. This will be the first installment of the 2024 President’s Speaker Series and will be moderated by Pepperdine Caruso School of Law professor Donald Earl "Trey" Childress.

Confirmed by the Senate on June 5, 2019, Schenker served as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs until January 2021. In that capacity, he was the principal Middle East advisor to the secretary of state and the senior official overseeing the conduct of US policy and diplomacy in a region stretching from Morocco to Iran to Yemen, with responsibility for 18 countries, the Palestinian Authority, and Western Sahara.

Schenker led the bureau's efforts to advance American interests abroad and strengthen US partnerships and alliances across the region. Through diplomacy and the effective allocation of resources and assistance—as well as through imposition of sanctions—he worked to promote human rights, deter terrorism, fight corruption, and push back against regional adversaries.

Prior to joining the State Department, Schenker worked as the Aufzien Fellow and director of the Beth and David Geduld Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute from 2006 to 2019. From 2002 to 2006, Schenker served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Levant country director, the Pentagon's top policy aide on the Arab nations of the Levant. In that capacity, he advised the secretary and other senior Pentagon leadership on the military and political affairs of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. He was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service in 2005.

Before joining the government in 2002, Schenker focused on Arab governance issues as a research fellow at the Washington Institute and worked as a project coordinator for a Bethesda-based contractor responsible for large, centrally funded USAID programs in Egypt and Jordan. He also authored the Institute books Dancing with Saddam: The Strategic Tango of Jordanian-Iraqi Relations (copublished with Lexington Books, 2003) and Palestinian Democracy and Governance: An Appraisal of the Legislative Council (2001). His writings on Arab affairs have appeared in a number of prominent scholarly journals and newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Jerusalem Post.

The President’s Speaker Series has become a pivotal forum at Pepperdine University since its inception in 2021. The series invites distinguished scholars and thought leaders representing diverse points of view to examine topics and challenges facing our communities and the world today. Established with the goal to connect deeply with our community and inspire meaningful dialogue, the series continues to explore opportunities to cultivate an engaged and impassioned collective through civil discourse.

Register to attend the discussion on the President’s Speaker Series website