CHICAGO: President-elect Joe Biden has appointed a second Arab American to a key White House position before even taking office.
He named Dana Shubat, a legislative aide to Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, as a senior legal affairs advisor.
Shubat, whose parents are immigrants from Jordan, joins Reema Dodin, a Palestinian American who was named as co-deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs in November.
For more than 15 years, Dodin served as a member of the staff of US Sen. Jim Durbin, including as deputy chief of staff.
Biden said: “From the beginning, Vice President-elect (Kamala) Harris and I have sought to build an administration that looks like America. Building a diverse team will lead to better outcomes and more effective solutions to address the urgent crises facing our nation.”
The recent appointees “will draw from their expertise and life experiences to help us build the country back better,” he added. “Moving forward together, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.”
In Bennet’s office, Shubat has often served as the lead contact in dealing with Middle Eastern issues.
She is active in circles concerned with regional peace, and serves as the Senate vice president of the Congressional Middle Eastern and North African Staff Association.
Biden said: “As the daughter of Jordanian immigrants, Shubat is a first-generation American. Born in California and raised in Colorado, Shubat is a graduate of the University of Colorado.”
Pro-Israel groups and organizations have criticized the appointment of Dodin. The Jerusalem Post, a conservative Israeli newspaper, highlighted a comment she allegedly made in 2002 to an audience in California that “suicide bombers were the last resort of a desperate people.”
She also participated in a rally supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.
Biden released an unprecedented and comprehensive “Plan for Partnership” with Arab Americans in August 2020.
In his historic statement, never before promised by any presidential candidate, the former vice president called Arab Americans “essential to the fabric of our nation.”
Biden added that he would not only fight “anti-Arab bigotry,” but also include Arab Americans in his administration.
The statement read: “Anti-Arab bigotry has been used in attempts to exclude, silence and marginalize an entire community, and Biden believes it must be rejected whenever it surfaces, including when it emanates from elected officials or those seeking public office.”