Former Congressman Steve Israel left Capitol Hill – unindicted and undefeated – to pursue a career as a writer. In addition to writing two critically acclaimed satires of Washington, he heads the Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairs in New York City.
Israel was a Member of Congress for sixteen years. He left in 2017, having served as House Democrats chief political strategist between 2011-2015 as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. President Bill Clinton called him “one of the most thoughtful Members of Congress.” Which, Israel states, isn’t really saying much at all.
Israel is a regular political commentator on MSNBC. His insights appear regularly in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs and on 60 Minutes, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, FoxNews, and elsewhere. His recent NY Times op-ed, “Nothing Will Change After The Las Vegas Shooting” went viral; his Mic.Com video on gun violence received nearly 3.5 million views.
He was one of only nine members of the House Democratic leadership, and has a singular behind-the-scenes understanding of how Washington officials think, or don’t think.
As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for four years, Israel was the chief architect of House campaign strategies. He was responsible for overall development of competitive House campaigns across America. He was lauded for recruiting and electing the most diverse and entrepreneurial freshman congressional class in history. He developed a vast network of local, state and federal officials throughout the nation and is considered a leading expert in congressional dynamics.
Israel’s most recent book, Big Guns, skewers the gun lobby. Booklist called it Israel’s “second brilliant political satire”; and best-selling author Christopher Buckley called it “Hilarious and ingenious and pleasingly wicked.” Also, Israel’s mother called it “The best thing Steve’s written since 8th grade.” Branded Pictures has fast-tracked it for film/television development.
Israel’s first novel, “The Global War on Morris” came out in 2015. The Washington Post described the novel as “an unexpected delight… so spirited and funny.” Chris Matthews called Israel “downright hilarious.” And the New York Daily News wrote: “Steve Israel reveals his inner Jon Stewart in his debut novel.” The book was optioned to Rob Reiner for television development. Not unlike so much in Congress, it awaits further action.
Israel is currently the Director of the new Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University, the only academically-based institute of politics in the New York City metropolitan area. He also served as a Tisch College Visiting Fellow at Tufts University, where he taught a course called “Topics in American Politics: Inside Congress and the 2018 Midterm Elections,” and as an Institute of Politics Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago, where he taught a student-only and off-the-record seminar with former Congressman Tom Davis, who served on the other side of the aisle as the Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) from 1999 to 2003.
Israel serves on the boards of Long Island University, the Truman National Security Project, the Theodore Roosevelt Association, the American Battlefield Trust, the Council for a Secure America and Haiti Air Ambulance.
He lives in Oyster Bay, not far from the home of Theodore Roosevelt, who also wrote a few decent books.