My post last night on Dennis Ross was right on time. Laura Rozen at politico reports that Ross is at the center of a battle within the Obama administration about how nice to be to Israel. The piece includes a frank statement of confused loyalty:
“He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn’t seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.”
Let me repeat myself. This guy is the living embodiment of the Israel lobby. He was till recently chairman of the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, which opposes intermarriage, among other charming and important campaigns. Aaron David Miller said that the U.S. too often acted as "Israel’s lawyer" at Camp David; and that meant Ross. Dan Kurtzer’s book, Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace, said that the US team lacked diversity and cross-cultural expertise– again, ethnocentric Ross. Kurtzer and co-author Scott Lasensky write: "’The perception always was that Dennis [Ross] started from the Israeli bottom line,’ said a prominent Arab negotiator, ‘that he listened to what Israel wanted and then tried to sell it to the Arabs.’" No wonder Kurtzer lamented "the deference that some policymakers pay to Israeli domestic political concerns. Israel plays an outsized role in U.S. politics and diplomacy…"
The lobby; and Ross denied the existence of the lobby when it was under attack, because it was his own power base.
Netanyahu’s AIPAC speech last week was so shocking that it has rung in a new era for the lobby. Basically: the F.U. period, overplaying its hand in plain sight of the American people. The (in)ability of an American administration to free itself of Ross is a real test of the perseverance of the lobby in our politics.
More on Ross: this was in the original RSS feed on the Politico piece but is not in the published version:
Ross, the U.S. official continued, “starts from the premise that U.S. and Israeli interests overlap by something close to 100 percent. And if we diverge, then, he says, the Arabs increase their demands unreasonably. Since we can’t have demanding Arabs, therefore we must rush to close gaps with the Israelis, no matter what the cost to our broader credibility.”
This is the old neocon delusion, in order to support their loyalty to Israel’s interests: there is no difference between our interests and Israel’s. A preposterous assertion, for any two states.