Dennis Ross and the “Jewish People Policy Planning Institute”

Pic5large "A think tank founded recently by The Jewish Agency. The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute was established in 2002 by the Jewish Agency for Israel to be an independent professional policy planning think tank entrusted with the mission of promoting the identity, culture, prosperity, and continuity of the Jewish People. Every year, leaders of the Jewish world including such distinguished personalities as Dennis Ross, Shimon Peres, Natan Sharansky, Malcolm Hoenlein, Tzipi Livni, participate in JPPPI’s conferences and meetings that forecast the Jewish condition. The Institute conducts meetings, publishes reports and position papers, and produce contingency plans that help shape the future course of the global Jewish community.  Wiki


This is undoubtedly a laudable institution, but is it an institution that should be the "day job" of the US presidential envoy to and for Iran?  Should we be surprised if Muslims do not think Dennis Ross an unbiased American negotiator?

Dennis Ross is the Chairman of the Board of this group and a former head and present counselor of the "Washington Institute for Near East Policy."  (WINEP)  For those who know not, WINEP is one of a galaxy of Washington groups that exist within the orbit of AIPAC, the Zionist lobby.  There are others;  the "Jewish Institute for National Security," (JINSA), "Business Executives for National Security" (BENS), etc.

Ross served as a presidential envoy in the Clinton Administration negotiations with the Palestinians.  His role in the catastrophic failure of the Camp David 2 talks has yet to be fully appreciated by the general public.  In essence, he brought together Ehud Barak (Israeli PM) and Yasser Arafat (PLO chief) in an isolated location for the purpose of "pressure cooker" negotiations with the Palestinians to forge a final, end state solution for the Palestine problem.  This process failed when the Palestinians could not or would not carry the negotiations into areas for which they felt that they had no prior agreement among the various Arab governments that had met at Rabat on the subject.  What Ross did not comprehend or accept before Camp David 2 was that the Palestinian delegation did not have a "blank check" to negotiate outside the Arab consensus and that the enforced isolation at Camp David kept them from the possibility of achieving a new consensus while the talks were underway.  Failure inevitably ensued and the situation has continued to deteriorate ever since.

As I have written before, the assumption that Iran is an implacable enemy of the United States, and a country that is not accessible by reason on the basis of its national interest is a self fulfilling policy position.

If Dennis Ross is made the US special envoy to Iran there is every reason to believe from his prior statements and actions that he will proceed on the basis of that flawed assumption.  pl


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58 Responses to Dennis Ross and the “Jewish People Policy Planning Institute”

  1. Lysander says:

    Col Lang,
    I would ask you, what would Iran want in such a deal and what would the U.S. be prepared to give?
    I’ve written a few times that while a grand bargain is a good idea, no such bargain will ever take place. The Israel lobby is part of the reason but not the only or even most important one.
    For one thing, The U.S. honestly does not wish to share its toys, especially its favorite ones like the Persian Gulf. That is what a grand bargain entails. The U.S. will have to share security decisions on the PG with the Iranians.
    And yet, the U.S. is not interested in Russia’s opinion about expansion of NATO, missiles in Poland, issues in the Ukraine/Georgia, etc. It simply does what it pleases. If Washington doesn’t care about Russia, it certainly wont care about Iran.
    And so, the prevailing attitude will be that the Persian Gulf just isn’t big enough for the two of us. Differences in style wont change that substance.

  2. Abu Sinan says:

    It would almost seem to me that this guy has been put in these positions by those in power for the simple reason that they WANT to ensure that no deal is done.
    It just doesnt make sense to send a person with such a clear bias on the subject to mediate in what is supposed to be a position of neutrality.

  3. bubba says:

    It’ll never happen, but how do you think the Iranians would interpret his removal, especially should it be over controversial ties or such? If it is unlikely to elicit the wrong things, could that become an angle to exploit – a meaningless concession (as opposed to giving up something more significant) when the time is right?

  4. Halfnhalf says:

    a couple of things:
    first, in listing the Jewish groups, you omitted American Enterprise Institute which rightfully should be renamed Jewish Enterprise Institute.
    Secondly, Obama’s chief of staff is not only Jewish and carries a dual citizenship, but he has served with the IDF. (Could he possibly be called up as a reservist? And wouldn’t that help our Middle East prospects?)
    It seems to me that Washington’s choice of “peace brokers”–Ross, Indyk, et al–certainly don’t look unprejudiced from an Arab point of view. Mine either and I’m an Episcopalian.

  5. R Whitman says:

    I have trouble comprehending what Ross could not comprehend. Can you supply me with further reading or references.

  6. rto says:

    I’m more optimistic. With entirely different mindsets about how to achieve the Presidents geostrategic M/E objectives in the NSA advisor, Pentagon chief and CentCom commander, methinks Ross not likely to dominate or largely influence the making of policy in this administration as regards Iran. And the current regime certainly is not a mirror image of the first term of the past president when the pro Zionist, Likudnik and Israeli firsters totally dominated policy making in the executive branch. Seems to me there are a lot of work arounds Mr Ross who would probably find effecting an independent policy approach largely impossible. Its also interesting Ross has yet to be officially anointed with a title. Plus Mitchell’s appointment hasen’t got Israelis in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem popping champagne bottles and celebrating. I could be wrong, but I can’t shake this impression Mr. Ross is more a ‘token’ in Obama’s scheme of things.

  7. David Habakkuk says:

    Apparently, in his book, Ross suggests that the proposal that Clinton made in December 2006, following the failure of the Camp David negotiations, was Arafat’s last chance, as he had ‘the best deal he could ever get.’
    Did Ross assume that Arafat would be succeeded by another leader who would accept a worse deal — and have sufficient authority to persuade the Palestinians to accept it? Or did he believe that in the end a deal did not matter, as Israel could survive and prosper in a state of continuing conflict?
    Neither assumption looked particularly persuasive at the time, and they look even less persuasive in retrospect.
    It is very useful to have overwhelming power on one’s side — but this can be a snare and a delusion, unless one can also accept the weaknesses of one’s own position.
    In relation to Iran, the need for an awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of the positions of the players, and for diplomatic finesse in handling the situation, is even greater. Obviously, the massive destructive capacity of the U.S. military is a potential asset. But if it is deployed in support of over-ambitious aims, it can become a massively double-edged one.
    If military ‘compellence’ is used in an attempt to push and adversary into accepting terms they find unacceptable, those doing the attempting are liable to back themselves into an impossible situation. Not to implement the threats leaves them looking like paper tigers; implementing them may lead to utter disaster.

  8. J says:

    The first thing that needs to be done is CANCEL all ‘dual nationality’ ‘dual passport’ nonsense that Ross and other prominent American Jewish persons appear to have, and they have to declare that they are either an American, or they are an Israeli, BUT THEY CANNOT HAVE BOTH. If they declare they are an American, then they have to cease-n-desist their Israeli Firster nonsense, and if they declare themselves as Israelis, then they are given a boat ticket so they can go on their merry way to Israel.
    Dual nationality, dual passports of American Jewish personas are a National Security Risk to our U.S.A.. Prime example our nation’s newest COS.

  9. J says:

    Iran should be delt with ONLY on the basis of if they are a threat to our U.S., which they are ‘not’!
    There is a big difference between civilian power grade enrichment and weapons grade enrichment. All evidence both above and below the radar screens show Iran is — civilian power grade enrichment.
    But if they (our errant D.C. goaded by Israel) keep pushing the Persians into a corner, just as anybody would do in such a situation, eventually the Persians will come out swinging and go towards weapons grade enrichment.
    The Persians have signed the NPT, whereas the Israelis (who have over 400 nuke deliverable weapons) have not.

  10. R. Whitman
    “What Ross did not comprehend or accept before Camp David 2 was that the Palestinian delegation did not have a “blank check” to negotiate outside the Arab consensus and that the enforced isolation at Camp David kept them from the possibility of achieving a new consensus while the talks were underway.”
    I think that is clear. pl

  11. zanzibar says:

    The NYT seems to imply that Rahm Emanuel is the big cheese in the Obama administration. He’s apparently got several of his “buddies” into key positions.

  12. harper says:

    Beyond conflict of interest. I have just reviewed the website of the JPPPI, and I was astounded to find, not only that Dennis Ross is the Chairman, but that the board of directors includes Prof. Uzi Arad, a former top Mossad officer who now heads up the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya, a primo Israeli national security outfit. Arad was a target (and may still be) of the Larry Franklin spy investigation, which involved two top officials of AIPAC (they are still awaiting trial, Franklin pled guilty). Arad brought Franklin to Herzliya for one of their big annual security conferences, and visited him at the Pentagon on at least one occasion, according to the court records of the Franklin case. I was told by sources in U.S. intelligence that Arad was taking over the handling of Franklin for Israeli intelligence, as part of Israel’s efforts to insulate against another Pollard affair. The thinking was to use “ex” Mossad case officers, placed in key quasi-governmental think tanks, to handle spies, so there was a degree of plausible denial.
    If this doesn’t put the final nail in the coffin for any efforts to place Ross in a sensitive posting in the new Obama Administration, I don’t know what it will take. Hats off to Col. Lang for pointing a public spotlight on this crucial matter.

  13. Jon T. says:

    Col. Lang, the last two paragraphs of your post about Dennis Ross are disheartening. I don’t know about nuclear non proliferation theory from an academic stand.
    I do notice: India, Pakistan, Russia and Israel (and the US with nuclear subs ‘anywhere’) have nuclear weapons.
    If I’m Iran, I feel surrounded. To encourage them to continue to feel ‘victimized’ in that way at some point, IMO, will produce conflict.
    Here’s one of my bizarre ideas: Rep. John Hall is a pretty darn good guitar player. I bet there are other good musicians in Congress, the military and diplomatic corps in and around Washington DC. Create a “musical face off”: an ad hoc US band goes and performs in Iran, an Iranian band performs here? Will AIPAC allow that?
    As for no Nuremberg trials for the indignant and righteously harmed, IMO, again, Olmert just made his cause, in the eyes of any who are willing to see, much worse.
    From the BBC Online:
    ‘ In Israel, Prime Minister Olmert told a weekly cabinet meeting that soldiers who had put their lives on the line for their country need not fear prosecution for war crimes overseas.
    “The commanders and soldiers that were sent on the task in Gaza should know that they are safe from any tribunal and that the State of Israel will assist them in this issue and protect them as they protected us with their bodies during the military operation in Gaza,” he said. ‘
    We did it because we’ve been persecuted.
    We need to protect ourselves with all our might.
    We’re outside International Law.
    Old story from them. It is now way past thin.
    How about a sanction?

  14. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Does any one know to whom these various US Presidential Special Envoys report?
    Do they report directlly to the Secretary of State?
    Or the National Security Advisor?
    Or the Vice President?
    Or the President himself?
    Are they cabinet level officers?
    Where is the chain of command in all of this and what/where/how is their mandate formulated, executed, and evaluated?

  15. Jose says:

    To go against the blog thought stream, how would you react if you were in the Iranian government at the appointment of Dennis Ross?
    I would view the special envoy as an act of war, since the Israeli point of view would be the basis of negotiations which would really mean an ultimatum.
    Add the apparent willingness of Obama to abandon Karzi, and his Persian-speaking Northern Alliance to weaken Iran even more.
    I’m disaapointed, not a lot of change or imagination from Obama.
    I expected more.
    “J”, dual citizenship is sometimes unavoidable.
    I was born in Cuba, but raised almost of my life in the U.S. and naturalized as a teen when my father became a citizen.
    Regardless of the facts, Cuba refuses to accept this.
    If I ever desire to travel back to the island, I would be required to go with a Cuban passport.
    This law has been in the books way before Castro.
    I believe this also applies to Jews and Israel.

  16. ritamary says:

    Jose, please clarify. Are you saying Jews without an Israeli passport cannot go to Israel?
    Thank you Col. Lang for bringing us this information. Obama needs to be held accountable for his campaign promises to use diplomacy in the Middle East. How can someone so biased as Ross be sent as an envoy to Iran?

  17. fanto says:

    Jose, but do you work with highest security clearance for the US gov.?

  18. zanzibar says:

    Apparently both Mitchell & Holbrooke report to both Secretary Clinton and President Obama. Does that mean “plausible deniability”???
    Dennis Ross I have no clue. Has there been a specific announcement that he is the “special envoy” to Iran? Don’t get the rationale and curious if our corporate media would ever ask Obama his thinking and expectations?

  19. J says:

    Ross is the chairman of an organization that is an Israeli government ‘store-front’. That should be more than ample reason enough for his REMOVAL from the running of special envoy to Iran. That special envoy position is a very sensitive diplomatic post, and the U.S. can’t afford such apparent Ross conflicts of interests.

  20. robt willmann says:

    Old sayings are “old” because they are wise. So it is with one of them: “the personnel are the policy”.
    Policy reflects the attitudes and beliefs of the people who make it.
    Lobbying is usually thought to mean the act of a person outside of the government going to a policy maker to try to persuade that person to adopt a particular position.
    But much better is to get your lobbyist appointed to the policy making position. Or hired as a Congressional staffer. Or elected to Congress. Or elected vice-president. Or, best of all, elected president.
    This is how the Iraq War and other disasters of the Bush jr. administration came to happen.
    Now president Obama has trapped himself by appointing for the most part the Democratic Party’s version of those who surrounded Bush jr.
    Let’s listen to Obama at the announcement of his “special” envoys George Mitchell (good) and Richard Holbrooke (horrible)–
    “To be a genuine party to peace, the quartet has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel’s right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements.”
    “Going forward, the outline for a durable cease-fire is clear: Hamas must end its rocket fire; Israel will complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza; the United States and our partners will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot rearm.”
    “Now, just as the terror of rocket fire aimed at innocent Israelis is intolerable, so, too, is a future without hope for the Palestinians.”
    “Now we must extend a hand of opportunity to those who seek peace. As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating.”
    Notice the things that Hamas “must” do. Is there anything that Israel “must” do? Nope. Gaza’s border crossings “should” be open, as part of a “lasting” cease fire. I will leave it to you to see some other one-sided language in those brief excerpts.
    The Persians, not having been born yesterday, and whose civilization was formed before 1789, know full well the unfortunate situation created by Obama’s appointment of Dennis Ross and by the quoted remarks above by the new president.
    Before his first week in office was over, two attacks by pilotless drones in the Waziristan tribal areas of Pakistan took place, which most certainly resulted in some dead civilians.
    Sadly, Obama may quickly find himself “overtaken by events”, another old saying, and, more ominously, “overtaken by his own appointees”.

  21. Cujo359 says:

    I don’t share rto’s optimism. To put it a slightly different way from how others have said it, the guy who’s doing the work has a lot of say in how it goes. I don’t know anything about this Dennis Ross beyond what I’ve read here, but if he really is a proponent of Israel, then he will be affecting events in what he perceives to be Israel’s favor. I don’t think it matters much what Obama’s SoS or NSA think as long as Ross is the face of American diplomacy here.

  22. jamzo says:

    assuming ross has some negotiating and diplomatic skill, integrity and loyalty – maybe his choice as US presidential envoy to and for Iran can be considered to be a not such a bad idea
    it removes ross as a player in the israeli-palestinian diplomatic space
    obama and clinton placed a bishop – george mitchell – in this space
    ross became another knight
    someone they could move in another space on the foreign relations chessboard
    another knight, holbroke, was played in the pakistan space
    obama and clinton seem to think ross as an adequate for their projected iranian moves
    how much progress do they expect in this space?
    how much do they want right now?
    to what degree do they link progress in the
    space as necessary before
    substantial progress can be expected in relations with the iranians?
    they seem to think iranian perceptions of ross will allow them to initiate moves
    will the iranians be perceive the pro-israeli
    ross as a flawed
    us representative? is it a showstopper? is he a placeholder?
    do the iranians see the appointment of a knight like ross as a signal of cautious and limited expectations ?
    a signal, that while obama wants to start talking with them, he has a greater priority on the
    israel-palestinian space –
    where he is put a bishop into play
    a signal that he knows he has to show good faith in that space to gain their trust
    does the ross appointment also serve a secondary political purpose?
    a signal to the israeli’s that they do not have to be concerned with their iranian flank while they are dealing with the bishop – that their immediate situation is of paramount importance
    if so – will the iranians see it that way too!

  23. DaveGood says:

    Let’s settle this “dual Nationality” Question.
    Off the top of my head I can name a dozen senior ( up to cabinet rank) US officials in the last three decades who hold, or were entitled to hold, dual Israeli-USA Citizenship.
    Here’s a quick and and far from comprehensive list from the last (Bush) administration.
    Attorney General – Michael Mukasey
    Head of Homeland Security – Michael Chertoff
    Chairman Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board – Richard Perle
    Deputy Defense Secretary (Former) – Paul Wolfowitz
    Under Secretary of Defense – Douglas Feith
    National Security Council Advisor – Elliott Abrams
    Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff (Former) – “Scooter” Libby
    White House Deputy Chief of Staff – Joshua Bolten
    Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs – Marc Grossman
    Director of Policy Planning at the State Department – Richard Haass
    U.S. Trade Representative (Cabinet-level Position) – Robert Zoellick
    Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board – James Schlesinger
    UN Representative (Former) – John Bolton
    Under Secretary for Arms Control – David Wurmser
    Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board – Eliot Cohen
    Senior Advisor to the President – Steve Goldsmith
    Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Christopher Gersten
    Assistant Secretary of State – Lincoln Bloomfield
    Deputy Assistant to the President – Jay Lefkowitz
    White House Political Director – Ken Melman
    National Security Study Group – Edward Luttwak
    Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board – Kenneth Adelman
    Defense Intelligence Agency Analyst (Former) – Lawrence (Larry) Franklin
    National Security Council Advisor – Robert Satloff
    President Export-Import Bank U.S. – Mel Sembler
    Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families – Christopher Gersten
    Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for Public Affairs
    – Mark Weinberger
    White House Speechwriter – David Frum
    White House Spokesman (Former) – Ari Fleischer
    Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board – Henry Kissinger
    Deputy Secretary of Commerce – Samuel Bodman
    Under Secretary of State for Management – Bonnie Cohen
    Director of Foreign Service Institute – Ruth Davis
    I cannot think of any person holding a position of influence within the last, the previous, or this up-coming administration who holds dual citizenship with any other country, not Canada, not Britain, not any Nato country never mind , say Cuba or Venezuala.
    So why does Israel, who has never fought alongside America, or contributed to it’s economic or diplomatic power….. Get to place it’s citizens in charge of large chunks of American policy?

  24. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for the information.
    In Mr. Bush’s first term, Secretary of Defense and the Vice President ordered the Secretary of State, Mr. Powell, to cease and desists from a certain course of action. The instructions were conveyed by National Security Advisor.
    These are not academic questions. Do the statements of these various Special Envoys of the President of the United States carry the full force and faith of the United States or not? Or are they only stooges put out there to keep some constituents happy (foreign or domestic)?
    In the case of Senator Mitchell: why does the United States need a special envoy when she already has an envoy in all Middle Eastern countries except Iran?
    If a US Presidential Envoy requires further instructions or clarification in the field whom does he call: the Secretary of State, the President, the National Security Advisors, the Chief of Staff?
    Is there a legal and defined chain of command here or is it this like a small family company in which the last guy to talk to the owner carries the day? Or one of his favorites?
    I just don’t get it.

  25. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Aside from the fact that Ross is an agent of a foreign political entity, namely the Jewish Agency (which founded AIPAC through an intermediary), not to mention whatever his relationship is to the Israeli government, we should consider Palestinian perspectives per the negotiations.
    So, for example,
    Akram Hanieh, The Camp David Papers. Originally in al-Ayyam, then translated into English and made into a book. Then abridged and published in English in Journal of Palestine Studies. The book in English is very useful.
    Friends of mine who followed these negotiations very closely and knew some of the Palestinian participants pointed me to this book.

  26. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    The advocacy organization “United Against Nuclear Iran” features Ross, and Holbrooke, and others in its leadership:
    “United Against Nuclear Iran thanks Ambassadors Holbrooke and Ross for their commitment, service, and leadership and we congratulate them on their recent appointments to the Department of State.”

  27. Jose says:

    ritamary – I stand corrected, because my comments only aplly under certain circumstances:
    ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: The general entry and exit requirements
    for Americans traveling to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are listed below. American citizens may be subject to special restrictions.
    American citizens are advised to read all sections of this sheet very carefully for special regulations that may affect their travel.
    U.S. citizens who are also citizens of Israel must enter and depart Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza using their current Israeli passport.
    Israeli authorities require that U.S. citizens who have a Palestinian identification number, or who may have acquired a Palestinian
    identification number via their parents or grandparents, to enter and exit Israel, the West Bank and Gaza using their Palestinian Authority
    passport. Without the Palestinian Authority or Israeli passport, these Americans may be denied from entering or exiting Israel, the West Bank
    or Gaza, or may face serious delays at the ports of entry.

    fanto – I had a security clearance while serving in the U.S. Army. The issue did cause an intense dislike of S-2/G-2
    (Military Intelligence) sections thoughout my adventures:
    Dual Nationality: The Government of Cuba does not recognize the U.S.
    nationality of U.S. citizens who are born in Cuba or are the children of Cuban parents. These individuals will be treated solely as Cuban
    citizens and may be subject to a range of restrictions and obligations, including military service. The Cuban government may require
    Cuban-American citizens to enter and depart Cuba using a Cuban passport. Using a Cuban passport for this purpose does not jeopardize one’s
    U.S. citizenship; however, such persons must use their U.S. passports to enter and depart the United States.

  28. batondor says:

    The “dual citizenship” theme has gone on long enough, hasn’t it?
    I was tempted to respond earlier because I have not been able to find a single authoritative statement that either Rahm Emanuel holds dual citizenship or even that he served in the IDF (the NYT profile says that he volunteered in 1991 as a civilian in a logistical capacity during the war with Iraq…).
    … but if someone can produce the goods, I would agree 100% that he should not serve in such a sensitive job, not to mention hold a security clearance, without first publicly renouncing his Israeli citizenship (and perhaps not even then…).
    So, why pile on, DaveGood and others? I am as angry and disturbed by the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza, but suggesting that anyone identifying themselves as Jewish, whether by birth and/or conversion, and who is thus able to claim Israeli citizenship – though perhaps not with an automatic maintenance of US citizenship, I should add – is automatically disqualified to serve and represent the US is absurd. What’s your real point?
    If I may add, some of the commentators in this forum reflect hard-minded and cold-hearted agendas that are frankly just as obvious and despicable as the unmitigatedly pro-Israeli bias intrinsic to the Bush “league” of NeoCon manipulators who have progressively been “retired” to the corridors of mass media and certain Ivory Tower perches where they can hide among others who are more transparently fair in their critique of Israel.
    Finally, I have no idea whether Dennis Ross has dual citizenship either and would be prepared to review any authoritative proof…
    … and just to be clear, I retain Colonel Lang among the honest if still very tough critics of Israel these days… along with other Jews like his friend, Henry Siegman (Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress from 1978-1994… oh well, he must be a part of another malicious manipulation (sarcastic font off!) )

  29. kao_hsien_chih says:

    One thing I never quite could understand about all these “Jewish” Something Institute or whatever (like JINSA or JPPPI). If anyone else set up institute that bore the name of any other particular religious or ethnic group–say, the Southern Baptist Institute for International Relations or the Polish American Institute for Eastern European Affairs), they’d be considered fringe organizations that very few “respectable” persons would dare associate with. Apparently not so with these institutions with “Jewish” in their name. Why is that?

  30. Jeremy Block says:

    In my humble opinion, to place a name like Malcolm Hoenlein in the same sentence as Natan Sharansky and Shimon Peres is a bit far fetched. Shimon Peres and Natan Sharansky are genuine leaders of the Jewish people, not fake power seeking tyrants like Hoenlein.

  31. Halfnhalf says:

    DaveGood, thank you for the list of half-Israeli/half-Americans. No wonder Sharon said not to worry about the U.S. government since Jews run it.
    I agree with “J”: cancel all those passports, make the holders choose, those that choose Israel should indeed get a free ticket home.

  32. curious says:

    I don’t believe there is definite legal structure for special envoy in term of what a president delegate. It is purely a president liking. But almost always, if the person is senior and credible, he carries with him his experience. So mitchell is pretty big deal. He was chosen because what he has done in the past.
    To know how much influence a special envoy carry, one has to look for “personal relationship and history”. It is a bit informal to some degree. For eg. James Baker as Bush personal envoy carries enormous influence He is the Mr. Fix it. Or Rumsfeld during Reagan era against Saddam. It’s easier to guess how much power a special envoy carries for Republican.
    On democratic side. It’s usually based on what a person has done before and how much the president like and trust that person. The dynamic involves personal relationship and party pecking order.
    Mitchell specifically, I think one can pretty much expect “Clinton era” experience, plus what Obama is thinking. Basically, classic Democratic party foreign policy.
    Mitchell himself is pretty high in democratic party pecking order. (he can’t be easily jerk around for political purpose)
    I think in general, looking at who Obama is putting on his middle east team, he is pretty much continuing where Clinton left.

  33. All amnd Batondor
    I agree. Let’s stay clear of the dual citizenship thing unless it becomes provable about some US public official. pl

  34. J says:

    Most American Jewish organization check first with what the Israeli position is before they go ahead on anything, and if it is against Israeli government position, then they don’t go with it whatever it may be. If a position say the ‘left turn’ was pro-U.S. but was considered as anti-Israel by the Israeli government, the American Jewish organizations would then tow the Israeli government line against their own best interests as American citizens. Which makes no sense. That is why we have so many problems today (i.e. AIPAC espionage against the U.S., Franklin spying on behalf of the Israeli government, etc.)
    That is why ‘dual loyalty’ can NOT be tolerated. It IS a matter of U.S. National Security!

  35. Charles I says:

    Jose, just one point on Karzai. According to well informed authour/reporter Ahmed Rashid, he spent many long hours with Karzai before the presidential and parliamentary elections and the loya jirga that preceded them trying to convince him that the only way to politically reduce the warlords was through the development of political party-based politics that would offer an organizing principle other than force and corruption.
    Karzai could not be convinced that the only route from tribal based politics dominated by warlords to parliamentary democracy would by political parties cutting the ground out from under them.
    Rashid, in his excellent book “Descent Into Chaos” quotes Karzai explaining parties were anathema to him based upon his perception of the disastrous effect on Afghanistan that Communist era party politics had visted upon the country.
    Rashid also points out that while Karzai could count on Pashtun electoral support, he was less politically secure elsewhere.
    The result was the triumph of warlordism, corruption and the poppy state.
    Of course, the U.S. preferred a rent-a-warlord security environment so long as the alleged mission was anti-terrorism and not nation-building

  36. Interesting about dual citizenship – my father didn’t get his American citizenship until US law changed to allow him to have dual nationality. He says the law changed after the 67 war because some guy who wanted to serve in the IDF sued the US govt to allow him to have both nationalities. Rumor, not checked out fact.
    My father had a security clearance at NASA in the 70s and 80s because he worked on structural engineering matters for the space shuttle. He was never an adviser to a president however! I believe dual nationals are common in the sciences in this country.
    I also have Lebanese citizenship but quite frankly I keep it out of love for my father and my ancestry. I would give it up if I had to choose between that and my US passport. I am an American and have no place other than “foreign cousin” in Lebanon. I certainly enjoy getting Lebanese visa & exit fees waived, and paying 1/10 the tourist price of admission at Syrian museums and monuments. BUt I’m pretty clear on which country I really belong to, where I make my home.

  37. David Habakkuk says:

    You hit a very important nail on the head, in actually possessing dual citizenship, and being entitled to it, are very different things. The former is a matter of conscious choice, from which it is legitimate to make inferences about people’s loyalties. The second is a matter of ethnicity.
    Prejudging loyalties — and even more political views — on the basis of ethnicity is the thin end of a very dangerous wedge.
    And ethnicity can be a very poor predictor of political positions. Our current British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband — whose family is of Polish Jewish origins — recently stated that the only way for Israel to guarantee its security was ‘to negotiate a political situation and empower precisely the moderate forces in Palestine that are so important.’
    One of the most contemptuous dismissals of this position — which is of course that of the largely non-Jewish British government — came from Sir Gerald Kaufman, the child of Polish Jewish immigrants, in a speech to the House which I linked in a previous thread:
    ‘Today, the current Israeli Government indicate that they would be willing, in circumstances acceptable to them, to negotiate with the Palestinian President Abbas of Fatah. It is too late for that. They could have negotiated with Fatah’s previous leader, Yasser Arafat, who was a friend of mine. Instead, they besieged him in a bunker in Ramallah, where I visited him. Because of the failings of Fatah since Arafat’s death, Hamas won the Palestinian election in 2006. Hamas is a deeply nasty organisation, but it was democratically elected, and it is the only game in town. The boycotting of Hamas, including by our Government, has been a culpable error, from which dreadful consequences have followed.’
    Quite clearly, this does not represent an abandonment of Sir Gerald’s lifelong commitment to Zionism — still less of his (proud) self-identification as Jewish. What he thinks, quite clearly, is that Israel today is at risk at much from its professed friends as its professed enemies — and moreover, given that Israel claims to represent and speak for all Jews, the discredit it brings upon itself will reflect on them.
    Twenty years ago, when Labour was in opposition, Sir Gerald was Shadow Foreign Secretary. Would we could have him at the Foreign Office today, rather than Miliband!

  38. Babak Makkinejad says:


  39. Nancy K says:

    J and a few others responding on this site seem a bit xenophobic. Many Americans have dual citizenship and they have these for various reasons. America cannot take away these citizenships because they were not granted by America. I was born an American citizen so if i choose to became say a Canadian, I would have to give up my US Citizenship because the US requires it, however if I were Canadian and became a US citizen I would not have to give up my Canadian because Canada does not require it.
    Just because a person has dual citizenship does not mean they are not loyal to the country they and their family lives in. That is very simplistic thinking.

  40. Will says:

    Q&A: “U.S. and Iran Share an Equal Monopoly on Violence”
    Omid Memarian interviews former CIA operative ROBERT BAER

    The above is a link to a fascinating interview with Mr. Baer who explains why Mr. Ross is absolutely the right guy for the job:

    IPS: Obama has repeatedly mentioned talking to Iranian leaders and bringing change to U.S. foreign policy. How could the designation of Dennis Ross as a key advisor on Iran policy contribute to his promises?
    RB: Dennis Ross – the important thing is the Israelis are comfortable with him. If a dialogue with Iran occurs, they know he won’t betray them. I mean they have had years and years of testing this guy. He’s Jewish, he’s been honest with the Israelis; he’s gone along with their projects, even the crazy ones. If a dialogue is open, the Israelis know they won’t be surprised. If Obama had brought someone new in, some professor from Harvard that the Israelis didn’t know, they would immediately freeze him out and there would be huge political blowbacks.
    IPS: Regarding Ross’s positions on certain issues in the Middle East and particularly Iran over the past decade, how will Obama be able to adopt a new foreign policy path in the region?
    RB: Well, he [Obama] needs the backing of the Democratic Party to get these things through politically, and that’s why he has brought in people like Dennis Ross and Denny Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, simply because he needs that political backing. He cannot bring in untried people and run them against the Democratic Party, because if there is an opening with Iran, there will be a connivance of Israel, maybe a silent one, simply because the Israelis have to go along.
    In American politics, you can’t do anything in the Middle East without the approval of Tel Aviv, at least on some level. It’s impossible. I mean, I cannot think of a country that is so beholden to a small country like this, even a superpower, in all of history. I can’t even think of it.
    IPS: And why is that?
    RB: Look at New York City. Look at the major newspapers. They have a Zionist agenda. They do. I’m not Jewish. I’m not anything. I don’t care about the Israelis. And I’m not anti-Semitic. It’s just a fact. I suggested to my publisher writing a book on Israel, and he said forget it. You can’t talk about the reality of Israel. The only place you can talk about the reality of Israel is in Israel. They tell you things you will never hear in the United States.
    IPS: Like what?
    RB: For instance, why are people on Gaza so unhappy? Well, if you had to live in a prison, wouldn’t you be unhappy? You would never get that in the New York Times. Look at the New York Times; it’s almost an extension of Israel.
    [emphasis added]

    Now if anybody want to know WHY things are so? Then refer to previous posts about IQ and Guassian curves at the shoulders. Like the guy said, you can only discuss certain things comfortably, in all places, only in Israel. That’s why I read Haaretz, there’s more truth there than in the NYT or Wash Post.

  41. J says:

    Nancy K.,
    I am not as you say ‘xenophobic’. I am however very concerned as to all the problems that our U.S. now has to deal with as a result of the dual nationality issue, which in turn has spawned ‘dual loyalty’ issues that are now affecting U.S. National Security (i.e. Pollard, Franklin, and AIPAC’s espionage against the U.S. on behalf of the Israeli government, etc..).

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David Habakkuk:
    I wish Mr. Miliband would spare us the trite “moderate forces in Palestine” phraseology.
    I dare say that Sir Gerald would have been considered an “immoderate” had he been a Palestinian.
    I agree with Sir Gerald’s “it is too late for that” comment. I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that only war and more war has any chance of forcing Israel from the Occupied Territories; limited war, guerrilla war, x-generation war etc.
    There is no peaceful solution possible.
    In fact, every time that Israel ceded any occupied territory has been through the force of Arms; 1973 War, War with Hezbollah from 1983-2000, Gaza in 2005. I suspect we will see developments along those lines in Golan and in the West Bank eventually.

  43. WTF? says:

    Okay — Rahm Emanuel did not ENLIST with the IDF. He volunteered at a base there during I think the first Persian Gulf War. So — he was never a soldier, he wasn’t in a combat role, and he CAN’T be called up as a reservist.
    Also, DaveGood, wake up. Any person with a Jewish grandparent can move to Israel and get citizenship. Jews do not automatically have Israeli citizenship, and Jews do not need Israeli passports to visit Israel (just tourist visas). To repeat: The absolute vast majority of Jews don’t have dual citizenship. Israeli-Americans do, but the people on your list aren’t Israeli-Americans, just Jews.
    Also, yeah, there is someone else with power in this administration who could have dual citizenship because one of his parents was foreign.

  44. Will says:

    On a Related Topic of Special Envoys and the Power of Foreign States in the U.S. The former exec director of the 9.11 comm. explains his paid lobbying role
    India’s stealth lobbying against Holbrooke’s brief from Foreign Policy- The Cable via Friday Lunch Club.

    Initially, when Obama’s plans for a corps of special envoys became public after the election,The Cable was told, the idea was for a senior diplomat to tackle the Kashmir dispute as part of the South Asia envoy portfolio and whose mandate would include India. But soon after the election and Holbrooke’s name began to appear, the Indians approached key transition officials to make clear that while they could not affect what the new administration did with respect to envoys, that they would expect no mediation on the Kashmir issue.
    “I have suggested to others, though not directly to Dick [Holbrooke], that his title should not/not include India, precisely so that he would be freer to work with them,” Zelikow said. “If you understand Indian politics, this paradox makes sense.”
    “I did nothing for the [Government of India] on this,” Zelikow added. The Indian government “talked directly to folks on the [Obama] transition team and I heard about it from my Indian friends.
    I think Holbrooke needs to talk to the Indians.

  45. Hannah K. O'Luthon says:

    In the interest on even-handedness, I would like to see a list similar to DaveGood’s
    with regard to the Obama administration. I’m quite willing to wait a few weeks until all senior positions have been filled.
    By the way, could
    Félix Ismael Rodríguez Mendigutia (born 1941 in Havana, Cuba)
    be considered a counter example to the assertion that no other country had highly placed dual nationals? It’s true that the latter never seems to have achieved such a high level official title.

  46. David Habakkuk says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    What might change things would be if American über-Zionists acquired some capacity for strategic thought, and realised that in facilitating the attempt to colonise the West Bank they have been handing the Israelis rope with which to hang themselves.
    If as I now think highly likely, Israel goes the way of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, I anticipate that historians will see a good deal of the responsibility as lying with AIPAC — and indeed, see Dennis Ross as having played a non-negligible contribution.
    To see the long-term futility of the attempt to dominate the whole of Palestine, one has only to look at the demographics. In addition to the clear trend to an unambiguous Palestinian numerical preponderance, there is the clear trend towards an increased preponderance of the ultra-Orthodox, and the already visible tendency for the ‘modern’ elements in Israel to move abroad.
    What was unconscionable folly was to conclude from the failure of Camp David that Arafat was not a possible partner for peace. As so often, corrupted intelligence was part of the problem, as the Haaretz journalist Akiva Elder brought out in a recent article. It seems that Israeli military intelligence leaders endorsed Barak’s embrace of the ‘no partner’ theory, and the description of Israel’s response as a ‘war of no choice’, made inevitable by Arafat, when this was not what their own analysts were reporting.
    As Elder puts it:
    ‘On August 29, 2000, shortly after the Camp David summit, the research unit stated in its situation appraisal that Arafat continued to prefer the negotiations as the way to advance his strategic goals, and he was convinced that violence would not help his cause at that stage. On August 30 the unit advised that Arafat was restraining the crisis and continued to adhere to the Oslo process. In an unprecedented step he also issued instructions to prepare public opinion to accept an agreement that would include compromises.’
    As for Dennis Ross, rather than looking carefully at what had gone at Camp David, and thinking about how things might be better handled in future, he preferred to exculpate himself by joining in the chorus which placed all the blame on Arafat.
    By providing a more sophisticated version of the ‘no partner’ theory, he gave aid and comfort to those who purveyed simplistic versions of this theory, and so helped rule out negotiations with the most promising Palestinian partner Israel is likely to have.
    The refusal of the Palestinian demand to no let loss of land, as a result of the adjustments to the 1967 borders required to avoid uprooting the bulk of the settlements, was a key sticking point. To Ross it seems absurd that the Palestinians should have let a deal go as a result of such reluctance.
    It does not occur to him that it could be seen as even more absurd for the Israelis to let a deal ago because of insistence on maintaining the settlements — and that the actual effect of the Zionist stranglehold on the U.S. political process may turn out to have been to have doomed the Zionist project.

  47. The argument can be made that Dennis Ross, by chairing a Jewish Agency think tank while actively lobbying in the US is violating the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act.
    Back in the early 1960’s, the Jewish Agency’s “American Section” in New York laundered $35 million from overseas to lobby congress and set up AIPAC.
    The Jewish Agency also entirely funded AIPAC’s precursor, the American Zionist Council, which was shut down by DOJ in 1965.
    The Jewish Agency’s “American Section” in New York was also shut down in the early 1970’s after a Rabbi and a lawyer forced it to file its secret “covenant agreement” with the Israeli government.
    It is reasonable to suspect that Dennis Ross is receiving Israeli government funding through the Jewish Agency. Either way, by working for a Jewish Agency entity, and lobbying in the US, Ross should be registering his activity every 6 months at the FARA office in Washington, DC.
    This law protects Americans and Congress from foreign influenced propaganda and lobbying.
    But at present, Ross is not following the law.

  48. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David Habakkuk:
    Thank you for your comments.
    One should surmise, based on various IQ discussions here, that the leaders of Israel are fully cognizant of the issues that you and others have enumerated & discussed in this forum over last few months and years in regards to the desirability of peace for Israel.
    That they persist in doing what they are doing must, therefore, be attributed to they having concluded that no acceptable peace with Palestinians is possible – ever.
    Their activities in Gaza & the West Bank are not those that are conducive to peace; rather they are indicative of a leadership that is certain of its strategic superiority as well as its utter indifference to the Arab World, the World of Islam, and indeed the global audiences.
    These are not actions of leaders who have any hope for peace, in my judgment.

  49. J says:

    If Ross won’t follow the law and register himself as an agent of a foreign goverment (Israel), then he needs to be criminally prosecuted, and the Obama administration needs to REMOVE Ross from ALL U.S. government positions considerations!

  50. G L Penrose says:

    Yes, Ross is stupidly wrong for the position. Unless, unless, Iran is Obama’s reeducation camp for neo-cons whom he can’t politically ignore. Here’s hoping.

  51. 777guy says:

    Another dual nationality question: I recall that a person eligible for American citizenship who was also eligible citizenship of a foreign country, as in the case of a child born here to no-citizens, could claim dual citizenship until the age of 18. After that, he had to declare one or the other. When did that change and who was responsible?

  52. batondor says:

    to J,
    I’m actually a bit confused: given your strident attitude (I’m trying to be patiently objective…), wouldn’t you prefer to have Dennis Ross as the envoy to Iran so that Iran’s intransigence can be explained as a reaction to his purportedly extreme but secretive prejudices in favor of Israel?
    Seriously (?), you have taken “dual citizenship” to “dual loyalties” to “lobbying” without one iota of proof: should Juan Cole register as a lobbyist simply because he can make a cogent presentation of the interests and motivations of Middle Eastern countries and their inhabitants?
    Just to be clear, Dennis Ross is not as objective as some others who are often tied to US-Israeli relations, but he is far from an unmitigated apologist for Israel as some have become…
    to Babak et al.,
    It saddens me to concur with your conclusion that none of the mainstream leadership in Israel seems to be willing to face the reality of the stark and tragic options that they will face going forward.
    I still have little doubt that the secular leadership (Barak, Livni, Peres, etc.) would be willing to deal with the Palestinians, including Hamas, if they would not then be forced to confront the hard core elements of the population, especially in the settlements and in the IDF.
    Frankly, as that was reflected and amplified in the striking Sixty Minutes interview that someone referred to earlier in this thread – I watched it, too, and was struck the dispirited voice of Bob Simon at the end…

  53. Will says:

    There is IQ and then there is judgment. The Hellenes made a distinction b/n philosophy and sophistry. Moshe ben Maimon (Maimomedes) lambasted the Kalamists (Arabic for the wordy philosophes).
    Netanyahu and Dershowitz probably have verbal IQ’s of 160 or so, b/ in my opinion lack the Hukimah or Chakimah (wisdom) to see the consequences of the actions. They can play a good middle game of chess b/ ignore the end game.
    There are all kinds of intelligences. Just b/c a person is endowed w/ high a verbal or math IQ that allows him to dominate in gov’t does not mean he has the wisdom, judgment, empathy, or basic humaness to be a whole person.
    Olmert, fool that he is having allowed himself to be set up Blagovich style, can at least see and pronounce that the settlements (which he cheer led for many years) are a dead end. Banuyamin Netanyahu still can’t see it.
    Jimmy Carter said it again in so many words the other day.
    W/o a two state sol’n, Israel-Palestine b/c of the Bantustans will become a civil rights issue like South Africa and not a security issue like AIPAC has always cast it. On that event, Goodbye Eretz Yisrael Yehudiey.

  54. curious says:

    interesting… I did not know this.
    In the early 1960’s Israel funneled $5 million (more than $35 million in today’s dollars) into US propaganda and lobbying operations. The funds were channeled via the quasi governmental Jewish Agency’s New York office into an Israel lobby umbrella group, the American Zionist Council. Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigations and hearings documented funding flows, propaganda, and public relations efforts and put them into the record. But the true fate of the American Zionist Council was never known, except that its major functions were visibly shut down and shifted over to a former AZC unit known as the “Kenen Committee,” called the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (or AIPAC) in the late 1960’s. The following chronology provides links to images of original Department of Justice case files released on June 10, 2008 under a Freedom of Information Act filing.

  55. David Habakkuk says:

    Babak Makkinejad,
    ‘Their activities in Gaza & the West Bank are not those that are conducive to peace; rather they are indicative of a leadership that is certain of its strategic superiority as well as its utter indifference to the Arab World, the World of Islam, and indeed the global audiences.’
    I would agree emphatically that the activities of the Israel leadership in the West Bank and Gaza are not conducive to peace. But I am much less confident that ‘certain of its strategic superiority’ is right, or indeed ‘utter indifference’ the appropriate description.
    Certainly, as Ian Lustick stressed in his recent ‘Abandoning the Iron Wall’ paper, we have seen the replacement of the traditional aspiration that Israel could come to be accepted on the basis that it was not going away, by the demand that there should be formal acceptance of its right to exist, and indeed, its right to exist ‘ ‘as a Jewish state’.
    But does this reflect confidence? It may rather, as Lustick argues, reflect ‘a fundamental withdrawal of many Israeli leaders, and much of Israel as a whole, from the realities of the Middle East and from a commitment to engage and change those realities, whether through force or diplomacy.’
    The concomitant of this, according to Lustick, is ‘an image of the Arab/Muslim world, and of the Palestinians in particular, as irrational, brutal and violent, imbued with intractably anti-Semitic hatreds fortified by deeply anti-Western Muslim-fundamentalist fanaticism.’
    These are not perceptions which give any grounds for confidence about the long-term prospects for the survival of a Jewish state in the Middle East. But equally, they provide real grounds for fearing that if indeed Israel does founder, it could do in catastrophic ways.
    All Israel’s options today are indeed ‘stark and tragic’ — perhaps they always have been. I do not find it difficult to see how the temptation to try to retain permanent control of the West Bank after 1967 was irresistible. But there always was a fundamental tension between attempting to colonise the newly conquered areas, and retaining the option of trading land for peace. And once the colonisation started, it created powerful political lobbies making abandonment of the settlements difficult.
    Precisely because of this, the only thing that could have — and just possibly still could — produce a solution, would be effective U.S. pressure. But the only thing that could produce this would be if the Israeli lobby really faced up to the ‘stark and tragic’ choices.
    Instead, its members commonly prefer to bury their heads in the sand, and accuse people who try to have a serious discussion of these issues of anti-semitism.

  56. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David Habakkuk:
    Thank you for your comments.
    I think that no country has an intrinsic right to exist – states are established by the force of arms and so maintained. Asking for Palestinians or Arabs or Muslims to accept the right of Israel to exist (as a Jewish state) is just stupid. Did Tibet have a right to exist (as a Buddhist) State? Or Sikhim? Or USSR?
    I know this is not your opinion but this asinine formulation shows up so many times that I believe it ought to be rebutted.

  57. Breaking news about Ross and Israeli government funding through the Jewish Agency.

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