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‘Dennis Ross more sensitive to Netanyahu than US interests’ (Surprised?)

By Philip Weiss on March 28, 2010

My post last night on Dennis Ross [copied below]  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.

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Dennis Ross opposed a tenet of the new Obama Middle East policy

By Philip Weiss on March 27, 2010

Dennis Ross personifies the Israel lobby. That gives him his power, that’s why Obama has him in his administration. Putting Ross in a policy job–the Iran portfolio–makes the lobby happy. And Obama has to keep the lobby happy.

It would be a sign of real independence if Obama could lose this guy whom Bush I and Clinton couldn’t lose either. Here Matt Berkman reminds us that Dennis Ross wrote a book with David Makovsky just a year or so back in which he argued vehemently against an idea that is becoming a tenet of the Obama doctrine in the Middle East: linkage, the (plain as the nose on your face) idea that the Israel/Palestine conflict is linked to America’s fortunes in the Middle East.

So Ross is against a key principle of the Obama administration! And he works for him… Go figure! Berkman:

“Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East” devoted a chapter to debunking the “myth” that Israel’s violent occupation of Palestinian land foments challenges for U.S. foreign policy in the region.

“Of all the policy myths that have kept us from making real progress in the Middle East, one stands out for its impact and longevity: the idea that if only the Palestinian conflict were solved, all other Middle East conflicts would melt away,” Ross and Makovsky wrote. “This is the argument of ‘linkage.’”

Makovsky, a frequent commentator on U.S.-Israel relations who never fails to recapitulate this argument, launched into it earlier this month during testimony for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “There are no strict linkages between the Palestinian and Iranian issues,” he said. “Regardless of progress on peace, Iran will seek a nuclear weapon. Moreover, senior Arab security officials say privately that they do not see progress on peace as decisive in influencing Arab efforts to halt Iran in any way.”

Of course, formulated in this way, the “linkage” thesis is an easily refutable straw man. No reasonable observer of the Middle East believes that “all other Middle East conflicts” will “melt away” if the U.S. succeeds in brokering a peace agreement. Nor has anyone ever contended that resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict would “decisively” impact U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran, or that Iran would immediately abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons should the long-suffering Palestinians achieve national self-determination.

But by concocting and then launching an assault on spurious iterations of the “linkage” idea, hawkish Zionists like Ross and Makovsky are attempting to inoculate Israel’s settlement and occupation policies from any criticism that might implicate them in the degeneration of regional security dynamics.

So Ross was against settlement evacuation too? Maybe Obama should blow him off for dinner, or can him.

March 28, 2010 - Posted by | Wars for Israel

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