Monday, July 29, 2013

Court Jews

There are a group of American Jews who play the role of "court Jew" in the US political establishment. Among these are Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, Daniel Kurtzer and Daniel Shapiro. They have all at one time or another been elevated from academic Middle East expert or commentator to Middle East advisor to the President or US Ambassador to Israel. In that role they do of course represent the US position, that is often opposite to Israeli interests, but when they are out of office they sell themselves (literally) as great friends of Israel.

Take Dennis Ross, who served in the State Dept. under Pres. Bush sen. and was Pres. Clinton's representative to the Middle East peace talks (1989-92). In his memoir on the subject "The Missing Peace: the inside story of the fight for Middle East Peace," he admitted that on many occasions he gave undocumented amounts of cash to Yasir Arafat, which was used to pay terrorists and bribes. Even though he admitted that he knew Arafat was lying, nevertheless Ross on behalf of Clinton represented the Palestinian position to the Israelis in the peace talks. Yet, after he was finished with this farce he presented himself as a strong and continuing friend of Israel.

The reason this issue comes up now is because Martin Indyk, the successor to Dennis Ross, who was appointed US Ambassador to Israel by Pres. Clinton and served two terms (1995-1997, 2000-2001) has been selected by Pres. Obama to be the US mediator to the upcoming Middle East peace talks, set to resume under the auspices of Secty of State John Kerry. Indyk was an Anglo-Australian who obtained US citizenship in order to represent the US in Middle East negotiations. Although the Arabs may not trust Indyk, because he was formerly a director of AIPAC, the US pro-Israel lobby, and has held numerous other foreign policy positions related to Israel, nevertheless he is also distrusted by the Israeli establishment because of previous indiscretions he has made in relation to Israel.

Daniel Kurtzer was US Ambassador to Israel (2001-2005) and the latest of these American Middle East Jewish princelings is Daniel Shapiro, who is current Obama Administration US Ambassador to Israel (2011- ). Perhaps because they have had closer ties to PM Netanyahu and have not been involved at a time when the Palestinians were actively engaged in peace negotiations with Israel, these two American Jews have greater credibility with Israelis than their predecessors. But, altogether they represent a cadre of relatively liberal Jewish opinion on what Israel should be doing to accomodate the Palestinians and to establish a Palestinian State.


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