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Friday, November 11, 2011

So much shilling, so little to show for it

Jennifer Rubin writes that no supporter of Israel should cry over the departure of Dennis Ross as President Obama's special assistant on the Middle East.
One wondered at times how Ross justified his tenure. (“Well, Obama would have been worse without me”?) His principal function at times appeared to be no more than assuring the American Jewish community that Obama had Israel’s best interests at heart.

Former deputy national security advisor for President George W. Bush, Elliott Abrams, told me: “Dennis Ross was a reassuring presence for lots of American Jewish leaders who were very uneasy about Obama Middle East policy. No matter what the President said or did, they would always say well, but Dennis is there, Dennis says it’s OK, Dennis this and Dennis that. He was a facade behind which the political and diplomatic distance between the United States and Israel grew.” Going forward there will be no Dennis, of course. Abrams continued,“Now that facade will be removed, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that Ross tired of that role and tired of defending a president whose feelings about Israel were as cold as Ross’s are warm. This is going to hurt the White House in the Jewish community, because they have no substitute for Ross and no one with his credibility with most Jewish organizations.”

And yet, dispite those warm feelings, Ross served a president that bullied and badgered the Jewish state and insulted its democratically elected prime minister. And yet Ross was there when Obama let Iran’s Green Movement come and go. And yet Ross was there when settlements became the end-all-and-be-all of the “peace process.” In his defense, some would say, none of this was his idea; Obama was running the show. Quite possibly, but then what was Ross’s contribution?

The shame of it is that this was an experienced Middle East hand who knew better. He co-wrote a book debunking linkage between the “peace process” and confronting Iran. He was at Camp David with President Clinton when it was apparent that the Palestinians’ rejectionism, not any settlement activity, was the barrier to peace. In seeking one more round in the White House, a capstone to his long career, Ross was taking a gamble that his last chapter of public service would be a success and that he might be the one to finally unlock the secret of peace in the Middle East.

Instead he was part of the most inept Middle East team ever assembled. He served a president whose disdain for Israel could not be concealed. Not exactly what he had in mind, I bet.
One has to who, if anyone, will replace Ross in the White House. Dan Shapiro is too young and still cutting his teeth as ambassador to Israel. David Makovsky, Ross' co-author, has never held positions in government - his career is journalism and academia. Bring back Dan Kurtzer? Sounds a little tired.

On the other hand, Obama may be figuring that nothing dramatic is going to happen for the next year because of the elections anyway, and after next year, if God forbid he is reelected, he won't have to mollify the Jewish community anymore. He will have a second term as a lame duck.

What could go wrong?

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