Dennis Ross is a senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama. Rashid Khalidi is not. And armed with that information, Ross said voters can "make your own judgments" about what Barack Obama’s views on Israel and the Middle East.
Speaking at a Georgetown University forum entitled "The 2008 Campaign and the Jewish Vote," the former Clinton administration envoy also pointed out that he too knows Khalidi, the Columbia University professor of Arab studies whom Obama was friendly with in Chicago.
"Because you know somebody," he asked, "this is supposed to be a reflection" on your beliefs?
Ross noted that he first got to know the Illinois senator three years ago, when Obama contacted him about speaking to a group in Chicago. "He was reading my book, ‘The Missing Peace,’" said Ross, "which makes clear who was responsible" for the failure in peace talks –Yasser Arafat.
A few minutes later, he used a story about Yasser Arafat to describe what he said was the mindset behind the Republican Jewish Coalition advertisements attacking Obama’s advisers.
Noting that Zbigniew Brzezinski is not a member of the 17-member Obama national security team and Robert Malley was only briefly on an advisory group for Obama, Ross recalled a briefing he once gave to President Bill Clinton. He told him, "You have to understand something about Arafat. He makes up facts, then he repeats the made-up facts, then he believes what he made up."
"The only one making up facts is Dennis Ross," said RJC executive director Matt Brooks, who stood by the accuracy of everything in every ad. While conceding that Brzezinski may not be an adviser to Obama on Israel, Brooks pointed to this Los Angeles Jewish Journal <a href="http://www.jewishjournal.com/elections/article/obama_campaign_halts_debates_with_rjc_20081015/">article</a>, which states Brzezinski is an adviser — although in this Jerusalem Post <a href="http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1205261316933&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull">piece</a> from March, Obama adviser Mel Levine says Brzezinski had only spoken to Obama a couple times — and Obama’s statement last year that he had learned <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASlETEx0T-I">"an immense amount"</a> from the former Carter foreign policy adviser.