Max Blumenthal always pins the tail on the donkey, he is trying to speak directly about how American politics works. “Dennis Ross: The undiplomatic history,” at Alakhbar, frankly describes Ross as the stand-in for the Israel lobby inside the Obama administration. Notice Blumenthal’s relentless and honest focus on fundraisers. This is what is at stake right now in the Obama-Romney faceoff, the disposition of the permanent government of the Israel-Palestine issue, the lobby. Read the whole thing at the link. Some key excerpts:
Clinton’s presidential campaign drew momentum from the Israel lobby’s anger at President George H.W. Bush, who momentarily withheld loan guarantees to Israel to force Shamir to accept a settlement freeze. Clinton’s top individual donor was Haim Saban, an American-Israeli media tycoon committed to cementing Israeli influence over American policy. Saban raised US$3.5 million at an event he hosted for the Clinton campaign, then helped secure the appointment of WINEP co-founder Martin Indyk as US Ambassador to Israel once Clinton was elected….
When the George W. Bush administration took power, Ross cooled his heels at WINEP, collecting a US$230,000 annual paycheck while padding his wallet with over US$220,000 in speaking fees from pro-Israel organizations like AIPAC. Ross delivered a total of zero speeches for Arab and Muslim groups during this period. Ross also found time to join leading neoconservatives in making the case for invading and occupying Iraq.
With the mission accomplished in Iraq, Ross joined John Bolton, Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith and a Who’s Who of neocons to produce a report called “Meeting the Challenge: US Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development.” The paper was a bellicose collection of arguments for ramping up conflict with the evildoers of Iran. Veteran national security analyst Jim Lobe summarized the document most succinctly when he called it “a road map to war.”
The same year, Ross emerged in a novel role as a campaign proxy for Obama, who was attempting to weather a storm of slander from his Republican opponents. The latter accused Obama of everything from crypto-Islamic sentiments to a hidden pro-Palestinian agenda, pointing to a past relationship with Rashid Khalidi (the horror!) that in fact amounted to little more than a casual friendship.
From Obama’s vulnerability on the Israel issue came Ross’s strength, allowing the veteran insider to emerge as Obama’s de facto liaison to the Jewish donors who accounted for so much of the Democratic Party’s base of funding.
During the final months of the campaign, Ross was junketed to synagogues in affluent suburbs from Pennsylvania to Florida to reassure nervous pro-Israel voters that he would be their man on the inside, working for Israel’s interests at every turn.
When Obama appeared at the annual convention of AIPAC in 2008, Ross inserted a provocative line that reflected his personal zealotry: “Jerusalem must remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
By mouthing the phrase, Obama contradicted official US policy, generating embarrassment and controversy that forced him to backpedal immediately afterwards. But thanks to the guiding hand of Ross, the candidate doubts inside the pro-Israel community that he might prove insufficiently pliant. Thus the flow of bundled donations continued unabated.
Ross’s departure from the Obama administration has fueled concerns about the President’s fundraising potential. “Ross’s departure is not a diplomatic problem for the White House; it is instead a problem for the Obama re-election campaign,” wroteElliot Abrams, the neoconservative former Assistant Secretary of State for the Bush II administration. “For Ross was the only official in whom most American Jewish leaders had confidence. As most of them are Democrats who have long accepted Ross’s faith in the ‘peace process,’ they viewed his role as the assurance that a steady, experienced, pro-Israel hand was on or near the tiller.”
Ross’s dual role as Obama’s Jewish consigliere and Middle East advisor was the ultimate symbol of the Israel lobby’s corruption of American foreign policy. Ross may have failed at each turn, but each successive failure has enabled maximalist Israeli impulses, from the construction of settlements to the siege of the Palestinian population. In this regard, Ross fulfilled his promises to his cohorts in the lobby.