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Dennis Ross Is Blaming Israel Again

Former Clinton adviser and US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.orgFormer U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross just can’t stop blaming Israel.

Speaking via Zoom for the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy on Jan. 31, Ross offered some expected, perfunctory criticism of Hamas, Iran and Hezbollah. But again and again, he managed to bring in one-sided and unfair criticism of Israel.

Referring to Israel’s counter-terrorism actions in Judea and Samaria, Ross said: “West Bank violence [by Arabs] is not disconnected from Israel’s policies in the West Bank.”

That’s just absurd. The terrorists are not responding to Israeli policies. They were murdering Jews long before there were any settlements or so-called occupied territories. They oppose Israel’s existence, not its borders. It’s these terrorists who are the aggressors, and Israelis must respond to them.

Regarding Gaza, Ross said: “The Israelis haven’t done everything they could to spare civilians in Gaza.” Is he kidding? The Israelis have refrained from striking terrorist targets where there are civilians. They have personally warned civilians to evacuate, again and again, through leaflets and phone calls and public announcements. They have risked the lives of their own soldiers by going house to house, instead of just bombing from the air. What else can they possibly do?

Ross also commented on the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice—the ruling that failed to condemn Hamas and demanded that Israel give more aid to Palestinians in Gaza. He said the ruling was “not irresponsible” and that it was provoked by “extreme statements by Israeli politicians.” That’s simply nonsense. The statement that the court cited most prominently was made by Israel’s left-leaning president, Isaac Herzog, who said that many ordinary Gazans supported the Hamas massacre, which was a perfectly reasonable statement of fact.

The practice of saying a few perfunctory crucial words about terrorists and then “balancing” it with criticism of Israel is typical of the grotesque “even-handedness” that Ross and his colleagues pushed during his many years at the U.S. State Department.

That approach was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. There can be no “balance” between good and evil. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not on the same moral level. Israel is America’s loyal, reliable, democratic ally. The P.A. is a terror-sponsoring, hate-mongering dictatorship.

In recent months, Ross has been saying that Israel should allow the Hamas leadership to leave Gaza in exchange for the release of the remaining hostages. He points to Israel’s decision in 1982, under U.S. pressure, to allow PLO chief Yasser Arafat and thousands of PLO terrorists to leave besieged Beirut.

But Ross never mentions what happened after Arafat left. He didn’t retire. He set up PLO terrorist headquarters in Tunisia, and then 20 additional years of terrorism followed—suicide bombings, intifadas, mass shootings, stabbings. Ross’s new plan would have the same result.

This is the same Dennis Ross who has acknowledged—on the op-ed page of The Washington Post in 2014—that he pressured Israel to allow Hamas to import concrete. Ross wrote that the Israelis opposed his demand because they feared that Hamas would use the cement to build terror tunnels. Ross insisted the concrete would be used to build houses, and because of his pressure, the Israelis gave in. We all know the result.

In his Zoom talk this week, Ross had the chutzpah to mention that Hamas used imported cement to build tunnels instead of homes, though never mentioned that he was the one who helped them to get that cement into Gaza in the first place.

Ross is frequently quoted in The New York Times and invited to appear on television shows and webinars. He’s treated as if his past involvement in Mideast diplomacy makes him an expert on how to make peace today. Yet every one of those diplomatic efforts failed. He has never facilitated real peace because he continues to pretend that both sides are to blame for the absence of peace.

The Jewish world is full of talented speakers, thinkers and writers. Surely, our institutions should be able to find more thoughtful lecturers than those same tired, old critics of Israel with their familiar and disastrous proposals.

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Hamas Turns Down Hostage Deal, Demands Israel Release More Terrorists

Families of hostages and supporters protest to call for the release of hostages kidnapped on the deadly October 7 attack by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

i24 NewsHamas on Sunday said it rejected the proposed hostage deal formulated in Paris, demanding that Israel release more Palestinian terrorists locked up in Israeli jails, according to a Saudi outlet.

There are 136 hostages held in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian jihadists, abducted during the October 7 incursion and massacre.

The statement comes hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated Israel had “red lines” which could not be crossed.

Thus, the leader said, Israel will not end the war until all its goals are met, namely “the eradication of Hamas, the rescue of all our hostages, and ensuring that Gaza will never again pose a threat to Israel.”

“We will not agree to every deal, and not at any price,” he said, adding reports in the local media whereby Israel agreed to freeing large numbers of terrorists were not true.

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Israeli Jets Hit Hezbollah Posts as Rocket Barrages Continue to Threaten Upper Galilee

Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters via a screen during a rally commemorating late Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in an attack in Syria, in the Beirut suburbs, Lebanon on May 20, 2022. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

i24 NewsThe IDF said that earlier today its fighter jets struck a Hezbollah launching post where operatives were seen as well as an observation post. In addition, a tank hit a terrorist cell in the Bleida area.

Israeli forces also responded to the rocket attacks in the past hour, hitting the source of the fire.

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Should Israel’s Fate Be Decided by a US Law from 1845?

Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

JNS.orgThe Biden administration reportedly is pressuring Israel to ends its war against Hamas before America’s presidential election in November.

The news agency Axios quotes “a source close to the White House” as saying “Biden can’t have the war and the growing death toll continue dominating the news cycle as the elections get closer” because then he might “lose support among younger voters.”

According to this somewhat condescending perspective, Biden’s advisers perceive young voters as being so shallow and uninformed that they will choose their candidate based on whatever image they happen to see on Instagram the day before they vote.

While Biden is understandably focused on his re-election campaign, it certainly would be a curious development if Israel’s military strategy, which is literally a matter of life and death for its citizens, were to be determined by something as arbitrary as the American political calendar.

After all, there’s nothing holy about the U.S. presidential election taking place on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. That rule originated in 1845. Before that, each state set its own election date.

Voting for the first presidential election, in 1788, was held in some states as early as Dec. 15 and as late as the following Jan. 7 in others. Four years later, voters cast their ballots as early as Nov. 2 and as late as Dec. 5.

Imagine if it was still done that way. Would Biden be telling Israel to change its military strategy every few days, depending on how he was doing in the polls in each particular state?

The need for a uniform national voting day became apparent because of a type of election fraud that was nicknamed “pipelaying.” Congressman James Duncan of Pennsylvania, speaking on behalf of legislation introduced in late 1844 to establish a single voting day, explained that because different states had different voting days, “poor laborers” were being offered “two dollars a day and good roast beef” to go from state to state, casting ballots for a particular candidate (voter registration was not yet required). The traveling voters were instructed that if they were caught, they should say they were visiting the state in order to lay pipes.

Why did Congress pick November? And why a particular Tuesday? Those choices had to do with very specific factors that were relevant in the mid-19th century but are completely irrelevant today.

Why November? America was largely agrarian in the early 1800s. Spring and early summer were the planting season, so farmers were too busy to vote. Same for late summer and early fall, when harvesting took place. The choice of November was a way to squeeze in an election between picking cucumbers and the first signs of frost.

Why Tuesday? Once again, agricultural considerations. Many farmers brought their crops to market on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays. So lawmakers decided Tuesday would make sense for voting.

And why “the first Tuesday after the first Monday”? So that election day would never occur on the first day of the month. Congress was sensitive to the feelings of Catholics, who had a religious holiday, All Saints Day—also known as All Hallows’ Day—on Nov. 1 (the secular version is today called Halloween). Also, the first day of the month traditionally was when many businesspeople took care of their bookkeeping for the previous month.

But what about special elections? If a president leaves office, the vice president serves the remainder of his four year-term and the next election takes place in November of the regularly scheduled year. If a U.S. senator or member of the House of Representatives leaves office, however, a special election is held on a date chosen by the governor. Some of those elections are extremely important to the White House, especially these days when both the Senate and the House are so closely divided between the parties.

So, imagine for a moment that a particularly crucial special election for a Senate seat was due to take place this coming July—a seat that would determine which party controls the Senate. Would Biden be demanding that Israel cease firing at Hamas by then, in order to help his party win that race? What if it was going to be held in May? Or March? How soon would the president be demanding Israel halt its counter-terror operations? Would a date that was arbitrarily chosen by some governor decide a matter of life and death for Israel’s citizens?

The America-Israel alliance is important. And Israel is of course sensitive to the president’s domestic concerns and political interests. But is it reasonable to expect Israeli voters to risk their nation’s security based on a schedule determined according to when pumpkins were harvested in 19th century Rhode Island?

Originally published by The Jewish Journal.

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