WP: Dennis Ross is Netanyahu’s man in the White House

on 22 Comments

Here’s a shocking/obvious story (my emotional terrain alas) from yesterday’s Washington Post by hardworking Glenn Kessler about how Dennis Ross is now the “back channel” between Obama and Netanyahu.

Dennis Ross, a longtime Middle East expert, has emerged as a crucial, behind-the-scenes conduit between the White House and the Israeli government, working closely with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s private attorney – and also Defense Minister Ehud Barak – to discreetly smooth out differences and disputes between the two governments.

What’s missing from this piece is the context: Dennis Ross is the former chairman of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute of Israel, which opposes assimilation and intermarriage; he is a former leader of the Israel lobby who has argued that it does not exist, and he is now installed in the Obama administration in a crucial role, and why? Because he has great authority in the Jewish community, that’s why. Because his presence says to the conservative and wealthy Jewish community, Obama won’t sell us out. No wonder this guy has survived from Republican to Democratic administrations, his constituency transcends party. No wonder that MJ Rosenberg has written that Netanyahu is more powerful than Obama.

Question for the Washington Post: Is there any pro-Arab counterpart to Dennis Ross? Of course not. Shouldn’t your article have pointed this out?

The piece would also have profited from the statement Kessler himself has reported, made by Netanyahu a few years ago, “America is a thing you can move very easily.” And why can it be so easily moved? Because of money, I’m afraid, because of the lobby. Which of course cannot be named. (New rule of journalism, don’t follow the money.) Kessler:


Sources in both the United States and Israel said that Ross has provided an element that had been missing from the bilateral relationship, which has been rocky since Obama took office. 

Israeli officials have long preferred to bypass the State Department and peace envoys, and deal directly with a senior official in the White House. Former officials from Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s administrations said the Israelis think that the White House ultimately makes foreign policy and are convinced that the State Department is too pro-Arab.

…Netanyahu “was looking for such a channel at first and couldn’t find one,” a person close to the administration said. 

Ross’s role became more pronounced after Obama shifted course this year and decided to improve his relationship with Netanyahu.

“Very few players are involved,” said an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The prime minister has said it is crucial that we do this in a discreet and quiet fashion.”

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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22 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    October 7, 2010, 11:23 am

    Ross having Obama’s ear says it all. Nothing is going to change as Mearsheimer has so clearly pointed out. The two state solution is over. The greater Israel is expanding at this very moment. Found out on your site and another site that it was Ross who wrote Obama’s speech for Aipac where he said Jerusalem is Israel’s capitol forever. No splitting it up.

    And this is who has Obama’s ear. Doomed.

    I have been thinking about Mearsheimers projection for the future as I understand it. That as the greater Israel grows and the chance for a two state solution vanishes. The apartheid government of Israel will be even more clearly exposed and the state of Israel will be even far more vulnerable.

    Why is it that those who totally support Israel no matter what they do can not see this?

    • Citizen
      October 7, 2010, 4:02 pm

      Because they are not worried about the White House or Congress putting any crimp in what Israel wants, no matter the expense to Uncle Sam. Neither Tweedledee or Tweedledum will cross Israel, no matter the price.
      Personally, I’m more concerned about my own country following Israel down its zealous path to the end, then I am worried about Israel. With Ross in such a key position we have a set of conjoined twins, one shorter than the other but less corruptible and more determined to have its way.
      We are in for big trouble, not simply Israel.

  2. Kathleen
    October 7, 2010, 11:26 am

    No BS. Dennis Ross was the guest speaker here at Ohio University’s Baker Peace Conference. During the question and answer period I asked Ross if Israel should sign the IAEA’s NPT agreement he hesitated and then said “yes I guess so”

    I asked him another question but forget what it was. He actually seemed like a reasonable person. Even though he seems to only negotiate in a very lop sided and convulted way

  3. potsherd
    October 7, 2010, 11:42 am

    it’s all about the money, the campaign contributions. But if Roger Waters depicts dollar signs next to stars of David, he’s antisemitic.

    The Lobby buys Congress and the White House with its money, but no one is allowed to say so. Except Israeli politicians.

    • Sumud
      October 7, 2010, 3:43 pm

      The Lobby buys Congress and the White House with its money, but no one is allowed to say so. Except Israeli politicians.

      I think there’s going to be some blowback among the press if this aggressive firing policy continues.

      June 7 – Helen Thomas retires
      July 7 – Octavia Nasr fired
      October 1 – Rick Sanchez fired

      There’s only so many people that can be fired before rebellion ensues. None of those three said anything particularly outrageous. I guess their is an endless supply of news actors available, but still, audiences will notice if their presenters keep disappearing.

      In other news, Broadcasting Board of Governors Chairman declares international news channels RT, PressTV, TeleSur and CCTV to be the enemy. Of those I only watch RT – and they’re as honest about Israel/Palestine as Al Jazeera, which means: honest.

      ‘It’s official: RT is the enemy’
      link to rt.com

    • Citizen
      October 7, 2010, 4:09 pm

      Do you think the Tea Party will ever graduate from solely domestic concerns to foreign policy concerns, perhaps on the wings of the outrageous cost of those 750 US military bases overseas in the time of such huge economic problems? I see a few have started to talk about cutting back on the bill for our military-industrial-security complex and also on foreign aid, but nobody has, for example, laid out the heavily disproportionate dole to Israel… I guess the strict constructionists think that’s all money well spent on both since the constitution expressly gives our government the power to tax and support a military….

  4. Jim Haygood
    October 7, 2010, 11:48 am

    This is the money quote from Kessler’s article, I would claim:

    It was Ross – a senior director for Middle East policy on the White House staff – who primarily worked with Molho and Barak on a package of incentives that the Obama administration is offering Netanyahu to extend a settlement moratorium by 60 days to keep nascent peace talks with the Palestinians on track.

    Most objective observers regard the proposed ‘package of incentives’ as a scandalous giveaway — why does the US have to bribe Israel to stop doing something that is illegal and contrary to long-standing policy?

    But the revelation that this package was formulated by private citizen and Israeli partisan Dennis Ross — acting as an emissary for a foreign state — is indeed appalling. In fact, it is probably a violation of both FARA and the Logan Act. If the rule of law still applied, Dennis Ross would be facing indictment on multiple felonies. But of course Israel, as an outlaw state, is exempt from the rules which constrain normal countries. And so are its US agents such as Dennis Ross.

    If Congress weren’t Israeli-controlled territory, there would be an outcry which would shut down this jakeleg back channel and eject Ross from his crooked interference with public policy.

    Ross’s weaseling beneath the radar is crony politics, Chicago-style, courtesy of the Crowns and the Pritzkers. 99.9% of Palestinians understand it’s a rigged game, designed from the outset to play them for suckers, victims and bagholders. The sooner they denounce Obama’s obscene sham, the better.

    • Citizen
      October 7, 2010, 4:15 pm

      Yes, the Palestinians can do it; over here in the classic egalitarian democracy, the American masses aren’t even upset about our on-going foreign policy, nor do they know unelected traitors run it. They wouldn’t recognize Chas Freeman from Dershie. It’s all too remote, not like the unemployment waltz or the NFL scores.

  5. Avi
    October 7, 2010, 11:51 am

    Dennis Ross avoids the Foreign Agent label by pretending to be an expert on the Middle East. In essence, his charade is no different than the charade advanced by countless die-hard Israel think tanks and Israel firsters in key positions (See Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Eliot Abrams, William Kristol, John Bolton, Jon Stewart and Michael Ledeen, among others).

  6. bob
    October 7, 2010, 11:57 am

    The piece would also have profited from the statement Kessler himself has reported, made by Netanyahu a few years ago,

    This piece would also have profited from the news posted here a few months back on Israeli papers showing how the dems are losing substantial financial contributions based on Jewish campaign contributions and concerns about pushing Israel too hard.

  7. occupyresist
    October 7, 2010, 12:50 pm

    New rule of journalism, don’t follow the money.

    Unless it’s an Arab backer, in which case follow the ****ing petrodollars

  8. seanmcbride
    October 7, 2010, 2:17 pm

    Dennis Ross appears to be part of a network of Likud moles inside American politics (and inside the Democratic Party especially) who have pretended to promote the Mideast peace process while sabotaging it from within. Every American administration which has relied on this faction (which has included Aaron David Miller, Martin Indyk, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Haim Saban and others) has been led up the garden path. It’s time to clean house. Will they and their network retaliate massively if expunged from policymaking positions? Of course. Let the games begin.

    • potsherd
      October 7, 2010, 2:49 pm

      Moles tunnel underground, unseen. These foreign agents operate out in the open, defying the world to identify them as what they are.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        October 7, 2010, 3:14 pm

        In other words potsherd, they’re moles link to en.wikipedia.org :)

      • Citizen
        October 7, 2010, 4:18 pm

        Such is the power of moneybags, career network striving, and that great hurling tool, “Anti-semite!”

      • Kathleen
        October 7, 2010, 5:06 pm

        Mearsheimer brings up such a good point in that interview posted at Mondoweiss the other day. Saying that Ross, Kristol others have been repeating for decades that U.S. and Israel interest are one and the same. No difference. He said that if this myth crumbled Americans would clearly realize that Ross, Kristol, Frum, etc interest in Israel far outweighs their interest in National security for the U.S.

    • Shingo
      October 7, 2010, 3:02 pm

      Indyk and Ross belong to a class of untouchables, much like Kissimger. They are the gate keepers with blanket immunity.

  9. hophmi
    October 7, 2010, 3:01 pm

    Yes, Dennis Ross has been involved in the pro-Israel movement in the past. He’s also been involved in peacemaking efforts for two decades, because, surprising though it may seem, not everyone associated with a pro-Israel thinktank (not even most people) are “Likudniks”. Most want peace. And thus he is not beloved in the most conservative part in the Jewish community, where most people are against the peace process altogether. He is certainly no Likudnik (and neither are Aaron David Miller, Martin Indyk, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod from seanmcbride’s ridiculous list). But then again, what with Avi calling Jon Stewart an “Israel firster”, I’m not expecting accuracy around here anyway.

    But I’m confused. You wanted Chas Freeman in the administration, who is a lobbyist for the Saudis. How is that better, exactly?

    • potsherd
      October 7, 2010, 10:05 pm

      If Ross has been involved in “peacemaking” for 2 decades, he ought to be kicked out of it, as his efforts have been a FAIL.

    • Chaos4700
      October 9, 2010, 12:17 am

      Oh, and is the Saudi royal family going to evict a family in Yemen to make room for Chas Freeman to have a summer home? No? Like Ross can get in the Jordan River Valley?

      False dichotomy, then.

  10. Les
    October 7, 2010, 3:05 pm

    Don’t forget he was also President Clinton’s choice.

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