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Dennis Ross’s neutrality shows lobby is with Romney

on 32 Comments

Editor: MJ Rosenberg posted this news today on his site.

Eli Lake, as faithful a transcriber for AIPAC as any in the media (he has plenty of competition) reports that Dennis Ross is staying neutral in the presidential election. 

This is pretty significant because nothing Dennis Ross does (including every action he took at the Obama White House) happens without AIPAC signing off.

Remember who he is.  Both prior to his White House “service” and subsequent to it, he led AIPAC’s think-tank,  the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Here is my piece on the Washington Institute’s creation by AIPAC. I was there).  He runs it now.

Ross says  he cannot support the president for whom he (tragically for America) served as main Middle East policy guy because that would conflict with his duties at WINEP:

I am the Counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy,” Ross said in an email on Friday. “The Washington Institute is a non-profit organization and I cannot do political work from here. When I acted for the campaign in 2008, I had to take a leave of absence to do so. Having only recently returned to the Institute, I cannot now again take a leave of absence.

That is bull. If AIPAC told him to stick with Obama he would.  WINEP IS AIPAC.

Josh Block, AIPAC’s long-time press spokesman, who is widely believed to still receive a stipend from  AIPAC (AIPAC uses him as “informal” spokesman) is clearly speaking for the lobby when he says this:

Ambassador Ross was obviously the No. 1 pro-Israel surrogate for the Obama campaign in 2008,” said Josh Block, a former press aide for the Clinton administration and former top spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “The fact that after three years of working on Mideast policy side-by-side with the president, Ambassador Ross has decided to sit out this campaign, unlike other former top officials now at nonpartisan think tanks, will certainly be understood as a message of its own, intentionally or unintentionally.

It certainly does. AIPAC is going to privately pull out all the stops for Romney while publicly maintaining neutrality. It wants the U.S. to fight Israel’s war with Iran. It wants the neocons back in power. It wants to fight “Islamists” everywhere. And Romney’s top Middle East guy, Dan Senor, is related to AIPAC; his sister runs its whole operation in Israel!

Ross’s move is, as Josh Block says, a clear signal. The lobby wants Romney because the lobby wants war. (This is not about Jewish voters who the latest polls show are overwhelmingly for Obama and don’t consider Israel when they vote.) This is about the money and the few dozen billionaires and multimillionaires who take their cues from AIPAC).

Also note the quote from Aaron Miller, Ross’s long-time sidekick, equally close to AIPAC, also dissing Obama.

Dennis is about doing things,” said Aaron Miller, who was Ross’s deputy on the peace process during the Clinton years and is now a scholar at the Wilson Center, a public-policy think tank in Washington, D.C. “The peace process is stuck and is likely to remain stuck. The fact is no amount of hand-holding is going to assuage the concerns and suspicions of a pro-Israel community which has now seen some of its fears realized. It may well be that this is the other piece of this. I wouldn’t want to try to sell Obama to the Jewish community in this environment.

This is the line.  The lobby is with Romney.

MJ Rosenberg
About M.J. Rosenberg

M.J. Rosenberg served as a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow with Media Matters Action Network, and prior to that worked on Capitol Hill for various Democratic members of the House and Senate for 15 years. He was also a Clinton political appointee at USAID. In the early 1980s, he was editor of AIPACs weekly newsletter Near East Report. From 1998-2009, he was director of policy at Israel Policy Forum. You can follow his work at

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32 Responses

  1. Krauss
    Krauss on July 29, 2012, 4:28 pm

    Sort of funny that David Aaron Miller is still described by some in the left as a ‘dove’ (because he wrote a few lines about he and Dennis Ross were, in his words, overtly favoring Israel in the 2000 Clinton negotiations).

    But everything he has done points that aside from a few convenient laments about the lack of peace, he’s in fact quite comfortable with such a development. In some ways he even contributed actively to that.

    In a recent Foreign Policy piece he compared Obama to Jimmy Carter(!) which is the ultimate bogeyman to the lobby, and he said that Bush the elder(the too WASPish/Arabist one for the tastes of the lobby) was on the same level.

    This is a clear signal from the ‘liberal’ quartes of AIPAC: abandon Obama.
    I’m sure Mr. Miller will be saddened, stunned and shocked by the fact that the neocons at Commentary quoted him at length and with delightful glee as they thrust the knife into Obama.

    The Israeli press reported in early April that AIPAC has essentially told Netanyahu that Obama was going to win the election and that he had to plan accordingly.
    Now, when the economy is close to stall-speed and Romney has solidified support (and polls show that his likeability is going up while Obama’s going slightly down), the calculus has changed.

    Barak Ravid wrote in the Hebrew version of Haaretz that Netanyahu has been throwing it all in with Romney. The Hebrew version of YNet reported the same too.
    Still, Bibi is trying to balance the whole ‘bipartisan’ act but it is really obvious to everyone.

    So now that Bibi is not even pretending to be neutral(if he ever did), ‘liberals’ like David Aaron Miller is comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter and Alan Dershowitz(another ‘liberal’) compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain, Obama will be met with a thousand cuts.

    And as MJ points out, this isn’t about the average Jew. All of this flies over the head of the average Jew, who will still back Obama overwhemingly come this fall.
    But this is a signal to the very few, elite at the top. Penny Pritzker is being slowly wooed in.

    But all these signals are directed to Democratic bundlers like her. How long until Haim Saban begins to have other thoughts?

    This will scare the Democratic elite. Expect more moves by the DNCC to essentially out-Likud the Likudniks.

    As I wrote previously… we’re fast approaching a point where the most leftist position you are allowed to take is somewhere between the middle and the right inside the Likud party.
    Preferably you should be a fan of Avigdor Lieberman.

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen on July 30, 2012, 7:41 am

      NPR has Aaron David Miller on all of the time

    • evets
      evets on July 30, 2012, 12:00 pm

      Yeah – it’s kind of amazing how Miller has maintained this image of disappointed dove, deeply concerned with the fate of Jew and Palestinian, lamenting the stagnation.

      It’s perfectly clear he plays this role and gnashes his teeth over the impossibility of effecting any change simply to keep pressure off of Israel.

  2. MRW
    MRW on July 29, 2012, 4:47 pm


    The lobby wants Romney because the lobby wants war. (This is not about Jewish voters who the latest polls show are overwhelmingly for Obama and don’t consider Israel when they vote.)

    You’re whistling dixie if you think average Americans (Gentiles) sit around and make–or even have the time or intelligence to make–a distinction between who’s plain Jewish and who is in the Lobby.

    If Romney wins and we go to war, oil hits the chandelier, and food prices/transportation costs cause scarcity and hunger in this economy, and people can’t feed their families or go to work, all Jews will be blamed because the one thing that’s now known across the land (courtesy of Fox, and WashPo/HuffPo/NYT) is that Israel and American Jews want war.

    Think of the number of Christian Zios. You think they make that distinction? The Lobby is playing with fire, MJ. I cannot believe the stupidity. Do these millionaire/billionaire Jews pushing war not understand the economic condition a lot of people are in across the land? People are living in their cars in the church parking lot, and in tent cities.

    • ColinWright
      ColinWright on July 30, 2012, 1:45 am

      “I cannot believe the stupidity.”

      Hear hear. Don’t these people realize all this can’t play out well for them or for anyone else? We’re embarking on a course of attempting to gratify Israel’s disturbed needs and our own insecurities through futile wars.

      It’s gone beyond ideology. These idiots are going to drag the rest of us down with them.

    • on July 30, 2012, 2:04 pm

      “I cannot believe the stupidity.”
      They have a plan. It’s called the Israelification of US law enforcement:

      “Seated beside FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Dichter told the 10,000 police officers in the crowd that there was an “intimate connection between fighting criminals and fighting terrorists.” Dichter declared that American cops were actually “fighting crimiterrorists.” The Jerusalem Post reported that Dichter was “greeted by a hail of applause, as he was hugged by Mueller, who described Dichter as his mentor in anti-terror tactics.”

      Iran war = stateside terror or “terror” = martial law + Joe Lieberman’s internet kill switch/censorship + new hate laws = Zionist security in the police state

      How an Anti-Terror Program Became a Jewish Earmark

      Read more:

      As soon as the US public is disarmed and put on a diet, Chertoff and Co will whisper in the President’s ear “all they understand is force.” Just like they now tell us about the Arabs.

      It’s a gamble of a plan, but who’s going to stop it? Congress? WH? Justice Kagan? MSM? Bernanke? Wall Street?

      • MRW
        MRW on July 30, 2012, 8:43 pm

        It’s worse than that. By using all these Israeli security companies to teach US law enforcement and turn this country into a police state, they get around the military restriction and jurisdiction issues.

    • MRW
      MRW on July 31, 2012, 2:19 am


      More about this: (This is not about Jewish voters who the latest polls show are overwhelmingly for Obama and don’t consider Israel when they vote.)

      I don’t buy this now. I spoke to some older Jews (65 and up) tonight who voted for Obama, been Democrats all their lives, are extremely secular, Israel doesn’t figure in their thoughts; however, here is what they said, “Isn’t it wonderful that Romney extended a hand to Israel?”

      They’re voting for him because of it.

      EDIT: My friend said, “After eight years of Bush and four years with a Democrat, you want to go back to a Republican?” Answer: “Anybody but Obama.” Why? Israel.

    • MRW
      MRW on July 31, 2012, 3:00 am

      60 MINUTES: “Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars”

      Not that the Israel Firsters would care.

      • on July 31, 2012, 7:24 pm

        “Not that the Israel Firsters would care.”

        As long as one of those car dwellers could be a future anti-Semite, how could their suffering compare to Jewish discomfort over Iranian nuclear energy?

  3. LanceThruster
    LanceThruster on July 29, 2012, 8:35 pm

    What a bloody sock puppet.

  4. Kathleen
    Kathleen on July 29, 2012, 9:11 pm

    Wondered when Ross would come out and undermine Obama in the sunshine. NPR did a story on Friday evening about how the I lobby is basically all going over to Romney. To think that all Obama had to say was the settlements are a problem and they think that is so radical. Hell he and his team have basically rolled over and barked on the settlement issue. What is the lobby having such a hissy fit over? From being inside the Obama administration Ross must know what Obama is really thinking for his second term about the I/P conflict. When Ross goes “neutral” on Obama (a plug for Romney) that makes me like and support Obama even more. Ross must fear what Obama wants to do in his second term in regard to this issue. Hmmm

    Was so dissapointed when Obama appointed Ross. Not much of a sign for “hope and change”. But who knows clearly sounds like Ross fears and Obama second term. And the I lobbies best bet for an attack on Iran or to support Israel attacking Iran is clearly Romney. Max Boot, Kagan etc have hitched their go get Iran band wagon to Romney’s election

  5. anan
    anan on July 29, 2012, 9:41 pm

    Isn’t Obama the most pro Israeli president ever? Bush stood up much more for the Palestinians than Obama has had the courage to so far.

    I think Bush had a good heart. Hence when Mahmoud Abbas actually showed Bush a 3 dimensional model of the Wall and Bush finally understood what it was, Bush changed his position. He called it a “Wall” and said it was a problem. Bush got all animated looking at Abu Mazen’s 3 dimension model, looking at it sideways and stuff. Bush demanded that in the future he needs a lot more 3 dimensional models. The people around Bush were horrified at what had happened, and after the summit they distracted Bush’s mind with other matters so that he couldn’t follow through.

    Bush was also the first US president to call for a fully independent sovereign Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with property swaps of equal quality. Bush demanded that Israel stop the settlements in a way Obama still hasn’t.

    Bush wanted to give the Palestinians aid and a lot of other things, but was stopped by the confiscation of Khamenei’s arms shipments to Arafat. Arafat had directly lied to Bush, and Bush never forgave him for it. Bush didn’t get another chance to deal with this issue until 2005. But the people around Bush kept him distracted by other things so he didn’t get around to Palestine. [And to be fair there were a lot of things occupying Bush’s mind. Illegal immigration reform, improving US/Mexican relations, improving US/Brazil relations, getting US/India on track, improving relations with China, stopping the outsourcing crowd, social security reform, Iraq, Afghanistan, Takfiri terrorism, Hezbollah Israeli tension, stopping Israel from hitting Iran, stopping Chenney from bombing Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, prescription drugs, education reform etc.] Too bad. Had Bush not been distracted he might have used America’s power (limited though it is) to help the Palestinians on the margins.

    By contrast Obama has always taken a much less pro Palestinian position than Bush.

    I think Obama will do right. I think he prays to God and has good character and is a compassionate man. But Obama Messiah hasn’t done it yet. Maybe because he hasn’t yet had time to think much about Palestine. Have high hopes about his second term.

    Does anyone have a clue what Romney would really do? He keeps his real views hidden. I have no idea what he really thinks about Palestine.

    Does anyone have any perspectives on how devout a Mormon Romney is? Mormanism is a good and compassionate religion.

    • MLE
      MLE on July 30, 2012, 3:36 am

      You’re giving Bush too much credit. He had to deal with Olmert, not Netanyahu, and he was willing to discuss more about what future Israel would look like, unlike Netanyahu who just blocks every attempt.

      Also, Bush didn’t do much to stop Cheney from Iran, Iraq was the main roadblock to war with Iran. The Iraq War was going so poorly, that the administration couldn’t shift the focus to Iran. They tried to, there were very blatant attempts, but the American public was not responding the way they want to. They couldn’t sustain American support for two simultaneous wars. Now with Iraq over our shoulders, they think they can sell it to the American people again, but soldiers are tired and burnt out, and the public really has other things on their minds, like the economy. It doesn’t stop them from trying though.

      • anan
        anan on July 30, 2012, 4:19 am

        MLE, Iran was enemy number 1 of the Iraqi resistance. You do know that right? In fact the Iraqi resistance said that the moment the US bombed Iran, the entire Iraqi resistance would stop attacking America and instead stand shoulder to shoulder with America and help America defeat Iran.

        Thank God this never happened.

        Whatever you say about Bush, he stood up to Cheney and didn’t allow Iran to be bombed on his watch. Cheney wanted to bomb Iran and aggressively lobbied for it on many different occasions.

      • Carowhat
        Carowhat on July 31, 2012, 12:36 am

        “Now with Iraq over our shoulders, they think they can sell it to the American people again, but soldiers are tired and burnt out, and the public really has other things on their minds, like the economy.”

        All public opposition vanishes as soon as Israel attacks Iran and Iran responds by attacking US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. Once US sailors die the president will have no choice but to order massive retaliation against Iran. And the American public will back him. Only after the war is over and we’re in another generation long thirties-style depression will Americans realize how we got into such a mess.

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen on July 30, 2012, 7:36 am

      Bush 41 and Baker actually threatened to cut U.S. aid based on illegal settlement expansion. I think the illegal settlements expanded more under Clinton than any other President. I think

      • anan
        anan on August 1, 2012, 12:58 am

        Kathleen knows her stuff. :-)
        “Bush 41 and Baker actually threatened to cut U.S. aid based on illegal settlement expansion. I think the illegal settlements expanded more under Clinton than any other President. I think”

        I liked what Baker and Bush 41 did on Palestine. I believe Baker was genuinely pro Palestinian. Although I disagree with Bush 41 on some other issues.

  6. Sin Nombre
    Sin Nombre on July 29, 2012, 11:14 pm

    By my lights the question now of whether Israel will attack Iran before the election depends on Israel’s conclusion of who will win said election. If they think it will be Obama, bombs away before November. His *only* choice then will be to approve of it if not help it if not join in for fear of endangering is re-election.

    If they think it’s Romney, they’ll wait as maybe they can get Mit to attack for them.

    One possible consolation here: Mit Romney would tell us he’s been a life-long cannibal if he thought it would help him get elected, and the day after if politic he’d condemn all cannibals to hell, so Israel might just get itself a pig in a poke with him. On the other hand, doing so much to help him now, if he wins they’ve got that on him, and then there’s always their ability to walk away from him 2016.

    Romney appearing to do so well now vis a vis Obama I’m getting nervous about my past prediction of an Israeli attack before the election, but what the hell I’ll stick with it for awhile yet if only to not seem an opportunist flip-flopper. As the song say, go down gamblin.’

    (Plus I’ve noted the U.S. having just transferred lots of new assets into the Persian Gulf, keeping three carrier groups in that little puddle, now deploying drone mine detector/destroyers in the region, and just yesterday announcing that the’ve now got the bigger bunker buster bombs they been drooling for.

    Interesting times dead ahead I think.

    • ColinWright
      ColinWright on July 30, 2012, 1:55 am

      “…By my lights the question now of whether Israel will attack Iran before the election depends on Israel’s conclusion of who will win said election. If they think it will be Obama, bombs away before November. His *only* choice then will be to approve of it if not help it if not join in for fear of endangering is re-election…”

      …which will abundantly illustrate the one thing the Obama administration has taught me.

      Functionally, weakness and cowardice can be indistinguishable from evil. Out of sheer fear of saying anything, Obama may well permit the bombing that Romney would permit out of conviction. I fail to see how the difference in their motives will alter the outcome.

      Romney is really piling up talking points for any candidate with the guts to take him on. If this were Eisenhower and McCarthy, the hammer would be dropping very soon. However, I fear Obama isn’t Eisenhower.

      …I’m happy to be proven wrong, though. It’d be great if Obama demonstrated he has a modicum of moral and political courage.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen on July 30, 2012, 7:39 am

        Iran is not the Gaza. Iran will respond militarily and rightfully so. Keep thinking Israel might choose to do between election day and inauguration day the way they did with the Gaza. Israel’s aggression and undeclared nuclear weapons continue to be a problem

      • Carowhat
        Carowhat on July 31, 2012, 12:41 am

        “Out of sheer fear of saying anything, Obama may well permit the bombing that Romney would permit out of conviction.”

        Permit is not the right word. Israel is not asking for permission. The US will be lucky to get enough advance warning from Israel to get our ships in the Persian Gulf to general quarters.

      • piotr
        piotr on July 31, 2012, 5:26 am

        Carowhat, you live in good days long gone.

        China and Russia oppose any attack on Iran. Avigdor Lieberman returned from Beijing and promptly opposed attacking Iran in the inner Israeli cabinet.

        I bet that Chinese explained him how it would turn bad for Israel. One can only guess, my bet would be that the onus will be on USA, and the means will be the siege of forces in Afghanistan which is actually very easy to do. Basically, we have more than 100,000 troops in a gigantic mouse trap than can be closed. (Pakistan is opposed an attack on Iran too, and if Russia, Iran and China agree, Central Asia has to follow).

        But less drastic measures are possible too. If China puts full weight against sanctions on Iran, they are basically gone and Iran can declare a major victory.

    • anan
      anan on July 30, 2012, 2:35 am

      I don’t believe that Obama Messiah will attack Iran. This is not in the interests of the American people and Obama is a servant of the American people.

      • Ellen
        Ellen on July 30, 2012, 9:04 am


        US politicians are servants of their paymasters, not the American people. Just look at the US Congress.

        Bush served his masters well and got the country in to insane conflicts that are destroying the country and have resulted in the maiming and deaths of thousands and thousands of young Americans. He and all those who pushed for the war should be in jail.

        Some interests are getting very rich off these conflicts. (Remember that most all of the riches families in Israel are involved in the weapons industry.)

        Serving the paymasters and warmongers is why the US just signed over another aid package to Israel. Ask exactly who benefits? It is not Israelis, not Americans.

        But this is how the world has always worked.

    • NickJOCW
      NickJOCW on July 30, 2012, 5:39 am

      The immediate practical consequences of an attack on Iran may not be that hard to imagine but the US and Israel together are less than 5% of the global population and the negative effects would ripple far and wide, stirring enough antagonism to make the US even more dependant on its military might while likely releasing significant anti-Semitism from which Israel might not recover.

      As for the build up in the Persian Gulf, the more US assets there are there the more vulnerable they become. I suspect they are primarily for show. It all looks a bit like a game of chicken, will Israel dare? If one were a heartless sob one might hope Israel does attack since the consequences could help straighten out a lot of stuff all over.

      • Carowhat
        Carowhat on July 31, 2012, 12:44 am

        If Israel does attack Iran we will be forced to join her (if only because Iran will respond by attacking us). Then it will be Israel and the United States against Iran (and the public opinion of the rest of the world).

  7. MRW
    MRW on July 30, 2012, 12:32 pm

    Russia opened it’s northern route to help Obama get supplies to Afghanistan when Pakistan closed the southern route, which reopened only after Clinton apologized recently.

    Russia will close it if Israel bombs Iran (it’s a two-way street). Pakistan’s hatred of Americans because of the drone attacks is at 80%. They will close it again, especially at China’s insistence, because China has a port in Iran near the Pakistan border.

    The American military will be landlocked in Afghanistan. RIGHT BESIDE IRAN.

    • anan
      anan on July 30, 2012, 5:55 pm

      The Northern supply route was always open. It is however more expensive.

      Russia will “NOT” close the Northern Supply route if Israel bombs Iran. Russia doesn’t really care about Iran. Certainly not enough to actually help them in any serious way.

      Russia’s policy is to fight the Taliban to the last Marine. The Taliban, AQ and Takfiri threaten Russia more than America.

      Pakistanis have viscerally hated Americans (and nonmuslims and minority muslims in general) for a very long time. Why was the US embassy in Pakistan destroyed in 1979? Do you have any idea how hard it is to be a minority (Ahmedi, Shia, Sufi, Christian, Hindu, Sindhi or a Pashtun in the mold of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan) in Pakistan?

      • piotr
        piotr on July 31, 2012, 5:53 am

        anan is simply wrong.

        Russia and China supplied Iran with some key military technologies, and clearly have a stake in Iran not falling into American zone of influence. The question of enmity with Taliban is quite complicated. The connection of Taliban to terrorism in Russia and China (and of al-Qaeda, for that matter) is tenuous at best. Russia, China, Iran and India would probably all support some kind of coalition/compromise in Afghanistan while supporting former Northern Alliance, American forces are quite useless, plus Afghanistan as a strategic location, market, transit route etc. is much less valuable than Iran.

        A major humiliation of USA would gladden hearts in many countries, Russia and China included. Under right diplomatic and military circumstances they can have their day.

      • anan
        anan on July 31, 2012, 10:47 am

        “The connection of Taliban to terrorism in Russia and China (and of al-Qaeda, for that matter) is tenuous at best.” :LOL: Putin would strongly disagree with you. For that matter, China complained vigorously to America about Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s.

        The US has long been more willing to negotiate with the Taliban (and truth be told Al Qaeda) than the Afghans, Indians, Russians or Iranians. The problem for America is that the Afghans keep sabotaging the negotiations (since the Afghans are afraid that America wants to betray them), and they are supported in this by Iran, Russia, India (all of which are more anti Taliban and anti Al Qaeda than America.)

        The Northern Alliance is orders of magnitude more anti Al Qaeda and anti Taliban than the US.

        Putin has publicly condemned the withdrawal of NATO forces and demanded that NATO train, equip and fund the ANSF. Russia publicly offers to do this, and claims that NATO won’t let it.

        You don’t understand China. The Business of China is Business. The business community runs China. They want better China/US relations.

        The issue isn’t in my view international forces in Afghanistan through UN mandate. The issue is the ANSF. Obama over the objections of ISAF commanders has significantly reduced aid to the ANSF. It is speculated that Obama did this as a favor to Saudi Arabia, the Pakistani Army and the Taliban that Obama is directly trying to negotiate with.

      • MRW
        MRW on July 31, 2012, 4:03 pm


        Anan doesn’t read the news, or understand the dynamics of the region; his insights are straight out of Mother Goose, including his insight on China which is a hoot. Engdahl:

        Russia recently agreed to reopen supply lines for US military supplies in Afghanistan at the same time Washington orchestrated an “apology” for the recent killings of civilians in Pakistan with its drones.

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