Scandal-Plagued Iran Envoy To Teach Yale Course on Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Robert Malley on leave after allegedly mishandling classified info

Robert Malley (
January 19, 2024

Biden administration Iran envoy Robert Malley, who is on leave from his post amid an FBI investigation into his alleged mishandling of classified information, is slated to teach a course at Yale this year on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Malley—who has accepted two plum Ivy League gigs at Yale and Princeton since being suspended from the State Department and having his security clearance yanked last year—will share his knowledge on the Middle East with students as part of a course titled "Contending with Israel-Palestine," according to the Yale Daily News. The semester-long course will take "an in-depth look at important questions surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the school paper reported.

The Iran envoy has long been involved in the Middle East conflict both from inside and outside government. As an adviser to former president Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, Malley held unauthorized talks with the Hamas terror group, leading him to be fired from the job. Hamas is now waging war on Israel. As the Biden administration's Iran envoy, Malley worked to relax economic sanctions on the hardline regime, providing it with cash windfalls that have enriched Hamas and other Tehran-backed terrorist proxies that are attacking Israel.

Malley told the Yale Daily News that he intends to foster "thoughtful, respectful conversations" about the conflict. The course comes amid a historic wave of anti-Semitic violence and Israel-bashing on college campuses, including at Yale, which recently sponsored an event that denied Hamas's mass war crimes and justified the group's attacks on Jewish civilians.

"In the wake of Oct. 7, I questioned whether it still made sense or whether it would be best to wait," Malley told the school paper. "Ultimately, I concluded, in coordination with the school, that it had become even more important to try to create an environment where students could learn more about this topic and engage with others in thoughtful, respectful conversations."

Malley's gigs at Yale and Princeton attracted blowback in Congress last year due to an ongoing FBI investigation into the diplomat's potential abuse of classified information. Yale, however, touted Malley as one of the "leading practitioners" in the field of foreign affairs.

"I'm well aware of how polarized and even toxic debates around Israel-Palestine can be," Malley told the Yale Daily News. "I'm also well aware of the fact that we all have biases and prejudices, myself included. I'm trying to take steps as best I can to address that. [Students] don't need to conceal or change their own—just to listen and try to understand their peers."

The report went on to quote Nathan Thrall, who worked for Malley at the International Crisis Group, a think tank that promotes increased diplomacy with Tehran. Thrall praised his former colleague, saying that Malley "hasn't so much as been charged with any wrongdoing, and he is among the most qualified scholars in the world to teach a class on Israel-Palestine." Malley has not been charged with wrongdoing because the investigation into his actions has not yet concluded.

Michael Rubin, a Middle East analyst and former Pentagon adviser, said Yale is doing its students a disservice by enlisting Malley to teach about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Congratulations, Yale," he said, "you have once again shown that you treat viewpoint diversity with disdain. What other reason could there be for not demanding someone as partisan as Malley team-teach the course with someone with equal or greater credentials who subscribes to the opposite position."