Dennis Ross is leaving the White House, and many eras come to an end


Dennis Ross will be leaving the White House by the year’s end, stepping down as its top Middle East strategist. Family reasons are cited for move, and Ross will return to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank with which he has been closely associated.

JTA has more on the news here.

Ross’ departure is, in many ways, the end of an era — indeed, the end of many eras.


As Politico’s Ben Smith notes, Ross had clashed with the Obama administration’s Mideast special envoy George Mitchell, who advocated a tougher line with Israel. Now, the two antagonists are both gone from the administration.

As Time’s Michael Crowley writes, Ross was the last of the Obama administration’s foreign policy “czars” to go:

In each case, the envoy in question has been replaced with someone of a lower stature, and the “envoy” system itself seems to have been deprioritized within the administration, perhaps in part because Hillary Clinton has mastered the job of top diplomat.

Finally, Ross is the last of the Jewish Mideast hands in government who had served under Secretary of State James Baker during the first Bush administration. At the time, when tensions between the American and Israeli governments were running high over American peace efforts and settlements — sound familiar? — the trio of Dennis Ross, Aaron Miller and Daniel Kurtzer were reputedly derided (depending upon the source) as “Baker’s Jewboys,” "Baker’s little Jews" or "court Jews" by some on the Israeli right. Now the three puiblic servants are all at think tanks or, in Kurtzer’s case, at Princeton.

Today, of course, Ross is a favorite of the Jewish and pro-Israel communities. (In addition to his long affiliation with the Washington Institute, he also served as the board chair of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, established by the Jewish Agency for Israel.)

During the Obama years, Ross came under fire from those who felt he was steering the administration toward an overly tight embrace of Israeli positions.

Now, those disgruntled with Obama’s policies on Israel won’t have Dennis Ross to blame anymore. That era, too, is over.

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