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‘NYT’ leaves out Dennis Ross’s charge to US Jews: ‘We need to be advocates for Israel’

on 23 Comments

Once again The New York Times defers to supporters of Israel. It gives the pro-Israel peace processor Dennis Ross a platform on the op-ed page to talk about anti-Semitism in the State Department back in the 80s and 90s.

“Memories of an Anti-Semitic State Department” is a clever dodge on Ross’s part. It is supposedly a response to the controversy over Phil Giraldi’s piece at Unz Review on American Jews running the “war engine” in U.S. foreign policy — a piece that former CIA agent/hero Valerie Plame retweeted and was shamed for doing so, and over which Giraldi lost his job at the American Conservative.

Ross argues that Jews shouldn’t be questioned about dual loyalty:

Rather than be worried about being mistrusted and accused of dual loyalties, Jewish American should feel proud. In uncertain times, identity can provide a source of security and comfort….

Indeed, to live a Jewish life one must be committed to the Jewish community, but also to others. Jews have an obligation to promote justice, mercy, compassion, tolerance and peace.

This is a dodge because Dennis Ross never mentions Zionism, just Jews. But Ross is a committed Zionist who told a synagogue audience last spring–supposedly off the record– about their Zionist marching orders: Jews should not advocate for Palestinians because we don’t live in Israel, and we won’t suffer the consequences of our criticism.

Because we don’t live there, we don’t bear the consequences of the decision… Plenty of others are advocates for the Palestinians. We don’t need to be advocates for Palestinians. We need to be advocates for Israel.

So much for justice and compassion.

I disapprove of Giraldi’s broadbrush prejudicial attack, but the Times is still evading the criticism that Walt and Mearsheimer issued 11 years ago, thanks to the internet, and that continues to haunt the organized Jewish community: To what extent was the Iraq war pushed by neoconservative Jews who were concerned about Israel’s security. Joe Klein raised the Jewish neoconservative issue years ago and was pilloried for doing so:

The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives–people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary–plumped for this war, and now for an even more foolish
assault on Iran, raised the question of pided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel.

And yes: American Jews were overwhelmingly against that war. But: a, the community deferred to the neocons as it traditionally has done, because they are the self-appointed guardians of Israel’s security; so even the Reform Jews signed off on the Iraq war (and my brother informed me that his Jewish newspaper said this war could be “good for Israel”); b, Thanks to Sheldon Adelson and others, neoconservative Jews who were opposed to the peace process got policy-making positions in the Bush administration, including Douglas Feith at the infamous Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon, which distilled a lot of the lies needed to justify the invasion of Iraq. Colin Powell later blamed the war on the “JINSA crowd” — the neoconservative Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Philip Zelikow, a Bush aide who chaired the 9/11 Commission, said in 2002 that the war was being planned because of “the threat that dare not speak its name”– Iraq’s “threat to Israel.”

Ross is chair of a Zionist organization, the Jewish People Policy Institute, and was part of the White House negotiating team that Aaron David Miller admitted later, “acted as Israel’s lawyer.” Ross needs to be challenged: How many open non-Zionists or anti-Zionists have ever had high ranking positions involved with policy on the Palestinians?

On a related note, Democratic senators lately questioned a Catholic nominee to the federal court about her religious beliefs as they bear on abortion law:

“The dogma lives loudly within you,” [Senator Dianne] Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”

Two law professors writing in the Times justified the line of inquiry as an effort to “explore” a complex legal and moral question. By the same standard, Zionists who are appointed to Mideast policy positions ought to be questioned about the depth of their commitment to a Jewish state. As Irving Kristol, a neocon patriarch, laid out the understanding many years ago,

[I]t is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States… American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel.

Thanks to Donald Johnson and Scott Roth. 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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23 Responses

  1. JeffB on September 27, 2017, 1:28 pm


    I don’t think you are part Unz Reviews paranoia. So let’s deal with the reality of the situation. There are Republican Jews. They hold views in line with many Republicans but not shockingly tend to focus on Israel. The position of both parties by the late 1990s was that the USA should pursue regime change in Iraq. An opportunity arose to achieve regime change in Iraq. They along with lots of Christians fully supported the war in Iraq. Their behavior is not unusual. Many of the same people are rather aggressive on North Korea, Russia, China and Cuba though of course they may differ on these issues as well. This was all out in the open, Netanyahu did testify before an open session of Congress.

    What was unusual was the USA peace camp was divided on the invasion of Iraq being only weakly opposed. Saddam Hussein funded suicide bombings against Israel. That caused peace advocates who normally would be opposed to any intervention to not be strongly opposed. The second issue was ANSWER which tied the Iraq war protests firmly to anti-Zionism. Those two factors pulled leftwing Jews out of the anti-Iraq war movement and made them ambivalent. With a weak peace movement, an American population strongly in favor of the war, and Republicans united on the war the Democrats ended up weakly supporting the war. And of course with Democrats only voicing some caution support continued to rise. The main voice of concern was the foreign policy establishment not backed by either party strongly. That’s how a consensus emerged to make regime change a reality.

    The consensus started to fall apart once the Ba’ath were removed from power. The support started eroding though it is worth noting that it was only late in the 2004 campaign that Kerry turned against the war even semi-definitively and never got specific. There was no dark conspiracy. A few interests groups shifted and what had not been possible in the 1990s became possible in the early 2000s.

    You have 0 influence over Republican Jews. You have 0 influence over pan-Arabist group support or not support for terrorism. What is worth reflecting on though is the role ANSWER played, because the groups you do have influence on could easily play the same role in the next war. In the buildup to Iraq, Jews with any Zionist leanings were kicked out of the main hard left cause. Was that a good thing that needed to happen to start divorcing the Democratic party from Zionism, a bad thing since it led to a destructive war whose effects may kill millions or …? That’s really the question.

    The goal of your organization is to do for the entire Democratic party what happened to the peace movement. I don’t think you’ll be successful this generation, but I could be wrong. I think the anti-war Iraq movement and the ultimate policy impact gives you a nice preview of what could happen on hundreds of issues without Jews on the American left. You wrestle with the issues of Jewish politics all the time. You don’t wrestle with what America looks like in a world where Jews have become swing voters on their way to becoming Republicans. What does the world look like if instead of 13% of USA Jews being neoconservatives 60% are?

    • Mooser on September 27, 2017, 4:22 pm

      “@ Phil”

      That’s it, “Jeff b”. Go right to the top.

  2. MalcolmLeftly on September 27, 2017, 4:23 pm

    The position of both parties…USA should pursue regime change in Iraq.
    Not true.
    Among neocons, of course it was true.
    The problem with the post 9/11 choices were that this regime change crowd gained momentum,based on Bush’s personal hatred for Hussein and family.
    If Bush had maintained focus and concentrated on killing those who assisted the terrorists and were planning additional crimes against America, the US would be far better off. Iraq was never a threat to the US nor a source of terrorists attacking our cities.
    Thanks to the Neocons our post 9/11 goals became conflated with those of Netanyahu.

  3. wondering jew on September 27, 2017, 5:34 pm

    White people in Pennsylvania Florida and Wisconsin elected Donald trump, not jews. Trump is president cuz of them, not us. Don’t blame trump on us. He makes the decision, not kristol or ross or feith or lieberman, but Donald j trump. You want to blame 8 years of no progress under obama on the jews, you’re welcome to it. But don’t blame trump on us.

    • just on September 27, 2017, 7:21 pm

      Where does Phil mention the election of “trump”, yonah?

      (must have missed it…)

    • Mooser on September 27, 2017, 7:41 pm

      “White people in Pennsylvania Florida and Wisconsin elected Donald trump, not jews. But don’t blame trump on us.”

      Don’t worry “yonah” it’ll get blamed on the “white people”. In America, they always blame the minorities.

      • just on September 27, 2017, 11:45 pm


        (wiping the tears from my eyes)

  4. Rusty Pipes on September 27, 2017, 9:12 pm

    The only identifier the NYT gives for Ross:

    Dennis Ross is the counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the author, most recently, of “Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israeli Relationship from Truman to Obama.”

    Some people do exist who are not aware that WINEP is a cutout of AIPAC (especially when it is branded as “The Washington Institute”); even more are unaware that Ross was one of its co-founders, with Indyk, nor that “His first WINEP paper called for appointment of a “non-Arabist Special Middle East envoy” who would “not feel guilty about our relationship with Israel.” ” Nowhere in Giraldi’s article nor in Ross’s rebuttal is the term, “Zionist” used. So Giraldi can blame Jewish neocons and Ross can claim that some influential neocons are not Jewish and that he’s not a neocon and entirely avoid the bipartisan support among Jewish Zionist pundits (neocons and neolibs) for Middle East wars (against Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran …) that benefit Israel’s foreign policy objectives rather than America’s.

  5. Jabberwocky on September 28, 2017, 1:57 am

    Ross talks about dual loyalty not being something that should be raised. He completely ignores the evidence of actual traitorous activities by Zionists.

    David Niles, the post war White House advisor, attacked State Department personnel and had them removed for pointing out the truth that Israel would be detrimental to US interests. Edwin Wright’s testimony is revealing:

    WE have multiple people involved in illegally supplying weapons to Zionists after WW2:

    Then we have Zalman Shapiro at NUMEC, stealing weapons grade uranium for a foreign state and being protected by Zionists in the DoJ.

    Milchan and the krytron nuclear triggers.

    History is full of examples of Zionist traitors who were protected by fellow Zionists in the investigative and judicial branches of government.

    Ross is just another hypocrite and a traitor to the US. He and the JINSA crowd advocate for Israel and have steered the USA to an expensive and disastrous Middle East policy.

    • annie on September 28, 2017, 2:50 am

      1st link — wright’s testimony– (my bold).

      So the Bible–and belief that it is God’s Holy Word and infallible, became a useful tool in Zionist propaganda. I take the point of view that the Bible is a mixture of Hebrew legends and myths and cannot be used as an element in U.S. foreign policy.

      yeah, so of course these arabists would have to be purged.

    • Misterioso on September 28, 2017, 11:32 am


      Re David Niles, a dedicated advocate for Zionism in the Truman White House:

      From the very beginning of his presidency Truman was pushed into the Zionist camp by David Niles who had retained his position as chief advisor to the Roosevelt White House on Zionist concerns. Niles (and later, special presidential counsel and ardent gentile Zionist, Clark Clifford) worked in tandem with Eliahu Epstein, head of the Zionist Organization’s Washington office to keep the president on course by constantly emphasizing the importance of the Jewish vote and reminding him that he could only be assured of it by supporting Zionism. (Epstein later adopted the Hebrew name Elath and became Israel’s first ambassador to the United States).

      According to James Forrestal, Truman’s future secretary of defense, Niles and Clifford were “the principal architects of Truman’s pro-Zionist policy that was based on ‘squalid political purposes [even though] United States policy should be based on United States national interests and not on domestic political considerations.'” (“Diary Entry for October 21, 1948, by the Secretary of Defense Forrestal),” FRUS 1948, p. 1501; cited by Neff Fallen Pillars, p. 29)

      Niles managed to minimize the influence of the State Department on formulating the U.S. position in the debate over the Partition Plan: “…David Niles was able to have Truman appoint a pro-Zionist, General John Hilldring, to the United Nations’ American delegation to offset the views of the appointees from the State Department. Through Hilldring, Niles established a direct liaison between the United Nations and Truman; indeed, U.S. positions were occasionally relayed directly from the White House without the State Department’s having been consulted. Thus, for example, after a private conversation with Chaim Weizmann, Truman phoned the U.N. delegation and told them to reverse American backing for the Arab claim that the Negev (southern Palestine) should be part of an Arab state; the United States would support its inclusion in the Jewish state as recommended in UNSCOP’s majority proposal.” (Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab/Israeli Conflict, p. 139)

      In 1962, Niles declared: “there are serious doubts in my mind that Israel would have come into being if Roosevelt had lived.” (Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, Jews and the New American Scene, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, 1995 p. 121)

      • Nathan on September 28, 2017, 8:55 pm

        “In 1962, Niles declared: ‘there are serious doubts in my mind that Israel would have come into being if Roosevelt had lived’.”

        Misterioso – I couldn’t imagine how anyone could possibly know what would have happened if another scenario had happened. Is Mr Niles an historian? I studied history in the university, and I remember it being explained in the clearest terms that historians do not deal with the question “what if….” Anyway, this gives me a chance to quote my late father: “If grandma had a mustache, she would have been grandpa”.

        I read your analyses, and it seems to me that you are trying to convince the world that it just shouldn’t have happened (i.e. Israel shouldn’t have come into existence). Actually, if you read Arab publications, they too are quite busy trying to explain that it just shouldn’t have happened. But there’s the bright side of the birth of Israel: If Israel hadn’t been born, we probably would never have had the opportunity to debate with each other.

  6. eljay on September 28, 2017, 8:28 am

    … Jews have an obligation to promote justice, mercy, compassion, tolerance and peace. …

    Jewish Zionists defy that obligation. In their pursuit of Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine, they promote injustice, inequality, hostility and intolerance.

    • Misterioso on September 28, 2017, 11:10 am


      Meanwhile, some sunshine on the horizon:

      The Palestine Liberation Organization.


      September 28, 2017

      “In response to three positive developments, PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi affirmed: ‘We are encouraged by such strong support for justice in Palestine.’

      “Three recent positive developments are proof of the ongoing strong support for the Palestinian struggle for justice and freedom.

      “‘We welcome efforts by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in particular its High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s implementation of Human Rights Council Resolution 31/36 on the illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, as expressed in his letters to 150 Israeli and international companies warning them of being listed in a UN database of ‘all business enterprises’ that operate in settlements.  Israel’s illegal settlement policies and practices are a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and in direct contravention of international law.  Such a development is an indication of the United Nations attempt to curb Israeli violations and to begin a process of legal accountability for those who are complicit in illegal settlements.

      “‘Yesterday, in his keynote speech at the Labour party conference, leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn stated, ‘And let’s give real support to end the oppression of the Palestinian people, the 50-year occupation and illegal settlement expansion and move to a genuine two-state solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict.’ We are grateful to Jeremy Corbyn for adopting a principled and courageous stand on behalf of the Palestinian people. His extremely encouraging words help restore our faith that there are politicians of integrity who are willing to deal with Palestine in ways that are consistent with justice, international law and the service of peace.’

      “‘Again, we express our appreciation to the seventy-five countries that voted yesterday in favor of Palestine becoming a member of Interpol; their support is real proof that this organization is committed to its mandate to ensure the global rule of law and that any criminal around the world will not be allowed to escape justice.’”

  7. Nathan on September 28, 2017, 9:39 am

    It is reported that Dennis Ross said: “We don’t need to be advocates for Palestinians. We need to be advocates for Israel”. From such a statement, Phillip Weiss concludes: “So much for justice and compassion.” In other words, if you are pro-Israel, then by definition in the world of Mondoweiss you are the bad guy. It’s a very strange intellectualism at this website. There is no awareness that others see the world differently. It’s normal to say of others’ opinions that you disagree, or that you think that they are misinformed, etc. But the presentation of the other as simply bad (because he doesn’t advocate that which you believe in) is Pravda-style reporting.

    “But Ross is a committed Zionist…” No, he isn’t. I never thought that it could be such a difficult task to step in the shoes of others and to define terms the way that someone else would define them. But, apparently, it’s asking for too much. Anyway, a committed Zionist is one who makes aliyah (i.e. he actually comes to live in Israel). A lot of pro-Israel American Jews like to call themselves “Zionists”. They like to take pride in Israel’s success and to pretend that they’re part of it. However, aliyah is the criterion of commitment, not pro-Israel advocacy.

    “…Dennis Ross never mentions Zionism, just Jews.” Well, don’t forget that in the Mondoweiss world “Zionism” is a derogatory term, and therefore the anti-Israel American Jews are “Jews”, and the pro-Israel American Jews are “Zionists”. I realize that it’s tough to understand that Dennis Ross might not be acquainted with the Mondoweiss dictionary. He seems to think that he is calling upon Jews to advocate for Israel, so he uses the term “Jews”. He is not calling upon them to make aliyah, so indeed he felt no need to discuss Zionism.

    • annie on September 28, 2017, 10:49 am

      Ross said: “We don’t need to be advocates for Palestinians. We need to be advocates for Israel”. From such a statement, Phillip Weiss concludes: “So much for justice and compassion.” In other words, if you are pro-Israel, then by definition in the world of Mondoweiss you are the bad guy.

      no, in other words, one should be disqualified as an impartial mediator between 2 parties once one has announced ones advocacy of support for only one side.

  8. Misterioso on September 28, 2017, 10:32 am


    There can be no doubt that President Clinton’s pro-Israel bias was mainly responsible for the failure of the 2000 Camp David Summit. It is also important to remember that by blaming him for its failure, Clinton broke a solemn promise to Arafat prior to the summit not to do so.

    According to Palestinian negotiator Abu Ala’a (Ahmed Qurei), as quoted by New York Times columnist Deborah Sontag, “[w]e told [Barak that] without preparation it would be a catastrophe, and now we are living the catastrophe. Two weeks before Camp David, Arafat and I saw Clinton at the White House. Arafat told Clinton he needed more time. Clinton said, ‘Chairman Arafat, come try your best. If it fails, I will not blame you.’ But that is exactly what he did.” (“Quest for Mideast Peace: How and Why It Failed,” Deborah Sontag, New York Times, 26 July 2001)

    Clinton’s Special Middle East Coordinator, Dennis Ross, repeatedly intervened during negotiations on Israel’s behalf. (Hardly surprising, given the fact that prior to joining the Clinton administration, Ross was an executive with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel “think tank.” )

    According to Clayton Swisher, who interviewed many of the officials present at Camp David, “Arafat was horrified that Barak had persuaded Dennis Ross – who spent 90% of his private time at Camp David with Barak – to alter the wording on Jerusalem. Instead of stating: ‘The Jerusalem municipal area will host the national capitals of both Israel and the Palestinian state,’ Ross crossed out ‘municipal area’ and wrote in: ‘The expanded area of Jerusalem will host the national capitals of both Israel and the Palestinian state.’ ‘Expanded area,’ of course, meant giving the Palestinians a capital in the suburbs.” (The Truth about Camp David: The Untold Story about the Collapse of the Middle East Peace Process, Nation Books, 2004)

    “Swisher’s story…is a tale of an incredibly ham-handed diplomatic effort. Clinton and his negotiating team come across as a kind of gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Swisher describes turf squabbles between Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and most particularly, between an egotistical Dennis Ross and, at one time or another, virtually everyone else. Albright, it comes clear repeatedly, knew virtually nothing about the issues…. The U.S. mediators made little effort to narrow positions before the summits, and there was little of the give-and-take essential in negotiations. One State Department official tells Swisher that at Camp David everything was ‘very loosy-goosy,’ with no prepared texts and no detailed position papers, because ‘that’s the way Dennis liked to run things.’…” ((Kathleen Christison, “Camp David Redux,” Counterpunch) “

    At Camp David, Swisher notes, even after seven years, ‘ [Dennis] Ross was still nowhere near the most basic understanding of what the Palestinians would consider minimally acceptable regarding territory.’ Fundamentally, as Swisher points out, but Ross has apparently never grasped, as the occupying power with total control over ‘the very thing the Palestinians wanted — a state — the Israelis would naturally have to be more forthcoming [than the Palestinian side]; this could only occur if the central mediator stood between both parties and demonstrated a willingness to ‘swing elbows’.’ But neither Ross nor any of his colleagues, including Clinton, saw the need to do this.” (Kathleen Christison, Camp David Redux)

    With Clinton’s approval, Dennis Ross, a loyal servant of Israel, did a real hatchet job on Arafat. “[He] actually worked with an Israeli negotiator in the middle of the night before the summit collapsed to draft Clinton’s ‘blame speech,’ casting Arafat as the bad guy and Barak as the courageous risk-taker…. [Ross also] spent four hours with [Colin] Powell during the transition and reportedly told the incoming secretary of state not to believe a word Arafat said because he was ‘a con man’.” (Kathleen Christison) “

    “In voluminous interviews (including with Swisher) and commentaries over the last several years, as well as in his own memoirs, Arafat always figures as the culprit and as Ross’s central obsession. The obsession — fed by Barak, shared to a great degree by Clinton, and magnified by an Israel-centric media in the U.S. — became a comfortable retreat for Americans who could not acknowledge U.S. responsibility and would not acknowledge Israel’s responsibility, so closely bound was the U.S. to Israel. Swisher ends his account with a semi-apology from [Aaron David] Miller, who participated in Ross’s four-hour briefing of Powell. ‘You don’t want to give centrality to how you fucked up,’ Miller confessed. ‘Dennis [Ross] could have never brought himself to do it, and neither could I.’ ” (Kathleen Christison)

    To quote Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel’s foreign minister and chief negotiator at Camp David 2000: “…Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well” (Debate with Dr. Norman Finkelstein, National Public Radio, 14 February 2006.)

  9. James Canning on September 28, 2017, 2:04 pm

    Surely Dennis Ross comprehends the need for Israel to accept, at some point, an independent Palestine. American Jews can help Israel by making clear it cannot extend the occupation of the West Bank for many more decades.

    • Citizen on September 28, 2017, 5:06 pm

      Are you sure? How many more decades?

    • Mooser on September 28, 2017, 7:14 pm

      ” American Jews can help Israel by making clear it cannot extend the occupation of the West Bank for many more decades”

      Don’t worry, I doubt Israel will extend the occupation any longer than it needs to be.

  10. JLewisDickerson on September 28, 2017, 4:24 pm

    RE: “The dogma lives loudly within you,” [Senator Dianne] Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: I certainly would not want to seem like an inhospitable nitpicker, but I feel compelled to draw a line in the sand, Georgia red clay or perhaps indelibly on the flat screen monitor about a foot in front of my currently uncorrected, pitifully near-sighted eyes.
    THE DRAWING OF THE LINE: An oft-used idiom customarily used in a different context goes as follows: “two is company, and three’s a crowd.” Consequently, I must beg the indulgence of both my own personal dogma, as well as my own personal doppelganger, and kindly request they cease any encroachment upon my physical being.
    I am saddened to confess my failure to glean from my doppelgänger even the most insignificant insight into myself, and I accept full responsibility for this outcome due to my lacking the requisite chutzpah to disingenuously employ a logically flawed, irrational and/or irrelevant rationale in a pathetic, self-abasing attempt to shift the blame to individuals not proven to be responsible.

  11. John Salisbury on September 29, 2017, 12:20 pm

    Dennis Ross is the most tribal man imaginable.

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