Person

Joel Rubin

Role:

Foreign Policy Specialist

Joel Rubin is a Democratic foreign policy strategist and elected official who was an advisor for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign in 2020. He is the husband of Fix the System coalition leader Nilmini Rubin.

Rubin worked as the first political director of the left-of-center Middle East policy organization J Street. Rubin also served in the Obama administration and on Capitol Hill. Previously, he worked as a career government official in several government departments.

Early Life

Joel Rubin was born in 1972 to a Jewish family, and he grew up in Pittsburgh. He attended Brandeis University and received a B.A. in politics. He then attended Carnegie Mellon University where he earned an M.S.  in public policy and management with a minor in business administration. [1]

Rubin then entered the federal civil service. He began his career as a Presidential Management Fellow. He also served in the Peace Corps and was sent to Costa Rica. Then he became a career civil servant, working in the State Department, Energy Department, and USAID. While working in the civil service, he worked on programs that supported solar energy development, economic reform in the Middle East, and the War on Terror. He worked in the civil service between 1999 and 2005. [2]

Capitol Hill Work

In 2006, Rubin went to Capitol Hill. He joined the staff of then-U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) as a Brookings Institution Legislative Fellow. He would later join the staff of then-U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) where he became Lautenberg’s National Security Advisor. Rubin would leave Capitol Hill on 2008. [3]

J Street

In 2008, Rubin joined the left-wing organization J Street, which advocates for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, to work as its first political director. He would also go to work for the anti-nuclear organization Ploughshares Fund. While at those organizations, Rubin would work on supporting left-of-center appeasement-based approaches to Iranian nuclear weapons development, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian problem, and opposing nuclear proliferation. He would work with these organizations until 2014. [4]

Obama Administration

In 2014, Rubin joined the Obama administration’s State Department. He was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for House Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs which made him the State Department’s liaison to the U.S. House of Representatives. He would work to ensure the State Department got what it needed from the House and the House got what it needed from the State Department. [5]

In addition to testifying about the State Department’s response to the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks in front of the House, Rubin worked to build support for the Iran Nuclear Deal the Obama administration reached. He alleged that Jewish groups which opposed the deal were spreading misinformation: “[we]’re entering a fact-free zone in debating the Iran deal. The best example of the facacta nature of this debate is one WJW reported on Aug. 13, that [former Connecticut Sen. Joseph] Lieberman was named chairman of an advocacy group opposed to the Iran deal. United Against Nuclear Iran’s president, a former White House nuclear expert [Gary Samore] says the deal is worth doing, and he was replaced by a politician without expertise on nuclear proliferation.” Rubin said in an interview with Washington Jewish Week in 2015. [6] He also praised the Obama administration’s outreach to Jewish Americans. [7]

Political Consulting and Campaigns

After leaving the State Department in 2015, Rubin established the Washington Strategy Group, a foreign-policy strategy firm based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. [8] Rubin also serves as member of the town council in Chevy Chase.

After his defeat, Rubin continued consulting and also went to work for the left-wing political strategy firm Democracy Partners. [9]

Congressional Campaign

Rubin then announced a bid for the U.S. House race in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District. Rubin ran on his national security background and experience. He was backed by the Council for a Livable World. [10] Rubin was unsuccessful in his bid, losing in the Democratic primary.

Bernie Sanders Campaign

In January 2020, Rubin was chosen to be the head of Jewish outreach for the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. Sanders had drawn criticism from within the Jewish community for downplaying his Jewish roots and his ties to supporters of anti-Semitic causes such as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to delegitimize Israel. [11]

Rubin wanted to join the Sanders campaign because he wanted to be on the campaign of someone who had the chance to be the first Jewish president. [12]

Personal Life

Rubin is married to Republican strategist Nilmini Rubin and they have three daughters. Rubin is also an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University. [13]

References

  1. “Joel Rubin”. 2020. Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. Accessed April 19. https://www.heinz.cmu.edu/faculty-research/profiles/rubin-joel. ^
  2. “Joel Rubin”. 2020. Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. Accessed April 19. https://www.heinz.cmu.edu/faculty-research/profiles/rubin-joel. ^
  3. “Joel Rubin”. 2020. Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. Accessed April 19. https://www.heinz.cmu.edu/faculty-research/profiles/rubin-joel. ^
  4. “Joel Rubin”. 2020. Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. Accessed April 19. https://www.heinz.cmu.edu/faculty-research/profiles/rubin-joel. ^
  5. Melada, Geoffrey. 2015. “Exit Interview: Joel Rubin”. Washington Jewish Week. https://washingtonjewishweek.com/24526/exit-interview-joel-rubin/featured-slider-post/. ^
  6. Melada, Geoffrey. 2015. “Exit Interview: Joel Rubin”. Washington Jewish Week. https://washingtonjewishweek.com/24526/exit-interview-joel-rubin/featured-slider-post/. ^
  7. Melada, Geoffrey. 2015. “Exit Interview: Joel Rubin”. Washington Jewish Week. https://washingtonjewishweek.com/24526/exit-interview-joel-rubin/featured-slider-post/. ^
  8. Melada, Geoffrey. 2015. “Exit Interview: Joel Rubin”. Washington Jewish Week. https://washingtonjewishweek.com/24526/exit-interview-joel-rubin/featured-slider-post/. ^
  9. “Joel Rubin”. 2020. Democracy Partners. Accessed April 19. https://democracypartners.com/partners/joel-rubin. ^
  10. “Joel Rubin (D-M.D.) For House”. 2020. Council For A Livable World. Accessed April 19. https://livableworld.org/joel-rubin-d-m-d-for-house/. ^
  11. Boorstein, Michelle. 2020. “Bernie Sanders Was On A Path To Become The First Jewish President. That Was Everything To Joel Rubin”. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2020/03/18/bernie-sanders-was-going-be-first-jewish-president-that-was-everything-joel-rubin/. ^
  12. Boorstein, Michelle. 2020. “Bernie Sanders Was On A Path To Become The First Jewish President. That Was Everything To Joel Rubin”. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2020/03/18/bernie-sanders-was-going-be-first-jewish-president-that-was-everything-joel-rubin/. ^
  13. “Joel Rubin”. 2020. Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. Accessed April 19. https://www.heinz.cmu.edu/faculty-research/profiles/rubin-joel. ^
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