Steve Israel

Steve Israel

Former United States Congressman [D-NY]
Director – Institute of Politics and Global Policy | Cornell University


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 non-partisan 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.”

Israel served on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies, where he took a leading role in supporting historic preservation, land conservation, and cultural arts investments.

In Congress

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.

He served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee as well as the Armed Services Committee and Financial Services Committee. He also created the House Battlefield Preservation Caucus.


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.” 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.

Cornell Institute for Politics and Global Affairs

Israel is currently the Director of the new nonpartisan Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University, the only academically-based institute of politics in the New York City metropolitan area. Its mission is to curate programs that deepen discourse and raise understanding of political issues and geopolitics. 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.

Other Activities

Israel serves on the boards of the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy, Theodore Roosevelt Legacy Partnership; Alzheimer’s Foundation of America; and Haiti Air Ambulance.


Israel and his wife live in Oyster Bay Cove, Long Island, not far from the home of Theodore Roosevelt, who also wrote a few decent books.

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