Sarah Margon

Sarah Margon

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* Has ties to numerous leftwing organizations, including the Center for American Progress & George Soros’ Open Society Foundations
* Harshly critical of Israel
* Was nominated by President Biden for Assistant Secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor


Sarah Margon is a native of Brooklyn, New York. Raised in a Jewish family, she graduated from Brooklyn’s prestigious Berkeley Carroll School (an independent college-prep institution) in 1994, and then from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she earned a BA degree in American Studies in 1998. Margon also obtained a master’s degree from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service in 2005.

Ties to the Left

Over the course of her adult life, Margon has worked extensively for leftist organizations and causes. She has held such positions as: Washington Director at Human Rights Watch; Associate Director of Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding at the Center for American Progress; Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations; Staff Director to the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs; Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Democrat Senator Russell Feingold; Senior Foreign Policy Advisor at Oxfam America; and U.S. Foreign Policy Director at George SorosOpen Society Foundations (OSF).

Opposed to Cuts in U.S. Funding of UN

In a May 2011 report that Margon co-authored for the Center for American Progress, she claimed that proposed cuts in U.S. funding for the United Nations would constitute a “misguided assault” against that institution:

“Every day the United Nations carries out the hard work that its member states, including the United States, have put on its already crowded agenda: immunizing kids from infectious diseases that move easily across borders; running major peacekeeping operations in Asia, Africa, and Europe; supporting peace talks; assisting refugees and the displaced; promoting long-term economic growth, development, and trade; and even preserving vital archeological sites that represent our shared heritage.”

Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitism

Margon has articulated anti-Israel perspectives and alliances on numerous occasions. Some examples:

  • In January 2016, Margon took to Twitter to explain, approvingly, why Human Rights Watch (HRW) was “urging companies to pull out of the Israeli settlements” in the West Bank. HRW’s Deputy Director for the region later agreed, in a November 2018 interview, that it was a crime for Jews to live anywhere in the West Bank.
  • When the Obama administration stood up against Israel’s right to build homes in the West Bank, Margon tweeted: “Vote affirms illegality of settlements, longstanding US policy. Thank you @POTUS.”
  • When Hamas supporters rioted at Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip in April 2018, a New York Times story celebrated one of the rioters who was “screaming ‘Allahu akbar!’ and hurling stones.” Margon, in turn, tweeted a link to the Times article and inserted a comment that said: “Extra important read when the new US SecState comes out of the gate noting Israel has a right to defend itself.”
  • In November 2018, Margon tweeted in support of the decision by Airbnb, the popular vacation-rental company, to “remove listings [located] in Israeli settlements of [the] occupied West Bank.” Prior to that, Margon had complained that Airbnb was “perpetuating an illegal activity” by “supporting the [Israeli] settlement real estate infrastructure,” and claimed that “[t]here is no way for a company … to do business in the settlements without violating the laws of occupation.”
  • When Israel ordered pro-Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) activist and Human Rights Watch official Omar Shakir to leave the Jewish state in 2018, Margon campaigned in his defense. And after Shakir was eventually deported by Israel in November 2019, Margon tweeted: “Where is the US on the ouster of my colleague @OmarSShakir from Israel? Virtually silent, just like on the Israeli security forces’ disproportionate attacks on Palestinians in Gaza.”
  • When accompanying Human Rights Watch research assistant Abier Almasri on a 2019 visit to Rashida Tlaib, a militantly anti-Semitic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Margon tweeted: “Starting our day off right – visit to @RashidaTlaib.”
  • Margon’s Twitter feed shows her promoting condemnations of Israel by Almasri, who has repeatedly defended Palestinian terrorists while accusing Israel of violently repressing “protesters who posed no imminent threat to life.”
  • Margon has often complained about the U.S. practice of providing Israel with military equipment.
  • In 2020, Margon falsely accused Israel of “exploiting COVID-19 & using it as a pretext for repression.”
  • On an occasion when the Israeli military engaged in counterterrorism strikes that resulted in casualties for Palestinians in Gaza, Margon tweeted: “Such brutality & injustice rarely so stark.”

Contempt for President Trump

Margon held former U.S. President Donald Trump in deep contempt. In April 2017, less than three months into Trump’s term of office, Margon wrote an article for Foreign Policy magazine titled “Trump’s Damning Global Retreat on Human Rights.” In that piece, she suggested that the Trump administration “intends to severely downplay — if not eliminate — the promotion of human rights from its approach to foreign policy.” This, Margon said, would constitute “a wholesale retreat from the position of every U.S. administration since Jimmy Carter’s.” Defending the American news media — which, by Margon’s telling, had been “subject to frequent vitriolic attacks” by Trump and his administration — Margon accused the president and his team of “rejecting the vigorous debate and discussion that the media brings.” She claimed, further, that the Trump administration was “legitimizing an approach used by repressive leaders around the world as they evade media engagement that can help bring a deeper understanding of policymaking to a wider public.”

In the same Foreign Policy piece:

  • Margon condemned the Trump administration for “considering withdrawing [the U.S.] from the United Nations Human Rights Council, primarily because of its [the UN’s] treatment of Israel.” “In the end,” she reasoned, “pulling out of the council rather than working to make it more effective only decreases the avenues for making U.S. contributions to progress on human rights.”
  • Margon lamented that “the Trump administration’s proposed 2018 budget seeks to severely cut foreign assistance and funding for multilateral institutions.” She added: “Cuts to foreign aid … say that helping marginalized populations — assisting those whose human rights are most at risk — is not only inconsequential for U.S. national security, but is of little concern to the American people. It’s a clear, grim message: The promotion of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law is a waste of time.”
  • Margon asserted that while “traditional U.S. allies … are encouraging a more humane approach to immigration, refugee settlement, and the need to maintain global alliances,” the Trump administration “wants Americans to accept” its “assault on human rights values” as “the new foreign-policy normal.”
  • In 2018, Margon again accused the Trump administration of having little to no regard for the protection of human rights, writing: “The sense that human rights apply universally doesn’t carry weight with most people in this administration.” She also argued that the foreign-policy priorities of Trump officials were “motivated more by their political base, in this case Christians, than [by] the suffering of others” — namely, Muslims.
  • In early June 2018, when Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2017, he (Pompeo) announced that in July he would host a meeting of “like-minded” foreign ministers focusing on strategies by which to “push back” against countries whose governments and political leaders engaged in religious persecution. In response to Pompeo’s announcement, Margon cautioned that providing greater protection for religious freedom could be a positive development only: (a) “as long as doing so does not minimize other rights concerns,” such as those of LGBT people, and (b) if such protection “truly protects victims of all religious persecution,” and not just Christians and Jews living in Islamic countries.
  • When Margon was named as the Director of Foreign Policy Advocacy for George SorosOpen Society Foundations in September 2019, she said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Open Society at such a critical moment. We need to use every available tool to address the [Trump] administration’s damaging and incoherent approach to foreign policy while also taking a fresh look at the United States’ role in the world. There’s no better place than Open Society to undertake this essential work.”
  • When President Trump said in October 2019 that Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had “died like a dog” in an airstrike that Trump had ordered for the purpose of assassinating him, Margon in a tweet denounced Trump’s “aggressive language,” on grounds that it “can easily be used [by ISIS] to recruit & radicalize.” “US is illegally transferring foreign ISIS suspects from Syria to Iraq, leading to botched trials & torture,” she said in another tweet.
  • In a December 13, 2019 tweet, Margon denounced President Trump’s Executive Order 13899 — dedicated to “Combating Anti-Semitism” on college campuses — as a “bogus initiative geared to stifle free speech & go after those who might criticize Israel.”
  • In December 2019 as well, Margon authored a piece for the Open Society Foundations, in which she cited a Washington Post assertion that Trump had made “more than 13,000 false or misleading claims” since becoming president. Wrote Margon: “[T]he president’s term ‘fake news’—which he uses to dismiss media outlets and stories with which he disagrees—has been embraced by repressive leaders around the world. Authoritarian leaders in a number of countries—including in Cambodia, Syria, and the Philippines—now use the term to target independent journalists and human rights activists. By using this term to reject the truth, these leaders entrench and promote fictitious narratives that serve their interests only.”
  • In that same December 2019 article, Margon: (a) claimed that because of President Trump’s practice of promoting “alternative facts” and “misleading claims,” the process of “restoring a public debate grounded in truth” in post-Trump America “is going to take time”; (b) counted Trump among the world’s most ruthless “authoritarian leaders” who “target independent journalists and human rights activists”; (c) asserted that Trump’s “assault on facts makes addressing transnational problems like income inequality, migration, and climate change difficult”; and (d) exhorted Americans to “push back against those [like Trump] who threaten basic freedoms, and seem intent on destroying the foundations of democracy.”

Ally of George Soros

When Margon was named as the Director of Foreign Policy Advocacy for George SorosOpen Society Foundations in September 2019, she said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Open Society at such a critical moment. We need to use every available tool to address the [Trump] administration’s damaging and incoherent approach to foreign policy while also taking a fresh look at the United States’ role in the world. There’s no better place than Open Society to undertake this essential work.” (This paragraph also appears in the section titled “Contempt for President Trump.”)

Nominated for Assistant Secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor

In April 2021, the White House announced that Margon had been nominated to join the BidenHarris administration as its Assistant Secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Senate Confirmation Hearing

During her Senate confirmation hearing in September 2021, Margon claimed to “firmly oppose the BDS movement,” in spite of her lengthy, well-documented history of anti-Israel stances. Also in that hearing, she was pressed to explain her support for, and retweet of, a 2020 New York Times piece entitled, “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State,” whose author had previously “argued for separation between Israelis and Palestinians,” but now advocated “a Jewish home in an equal state.” “Sometimes when we retweet or say things in the heat of the moment, we do not necessarily think of the broader impact of them,” Margon told her questioner in the confirmation hearing. “… What I was focused on was the importance of ensuring Israelis and Palestinians could have equal protection under the law, access to democratic processes, security and prosperity. That was the thrust of my tweet,”

Also in her Senate confirmation hearing, Margon downplayed the significance of her past work with Human Rights Watch, which in 2021 openly characterized Israel as an apartheid state. Margon explained that she had left the organization several years prior to its decision to describe Israel in that manner.

As of January 2023, Margon’s nomination for the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor was stalled and had not yet received any kind of vote in the Senate.


Additional Resources:

Biden Picks Soros BDS Activist as Asst Secretary for Human Rights
By Daniel Greenfield

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