Ambassador Dennis Ross, the Co-Chair of the Jewish People Policy Institute and author of the recently released book on U.S. Israel relations, Doomed to Succeed, said in a public briefing convened by the Institute today that he foresees an erosion of support for Israel among American Jews, citing in particular the significant value the community places on an independent judiciary.
He stated that a “majoritarian kind of rule” in Israel, where 61 Members of Knesset can override the decisions of the Supreme Court will not be seen in an acceptable light.
Acknowledging that most American Jews vote for the Democratic Party, Ross noted that “historically Israel was an American interest, not a Democratic or Republican interest. And from my standpoint, it’s in Israel’s interest that that remain the case. It’s also in America’s interests.” The Jewish community in the United States has been a strategic asset of Israel not to be trifled with, not to be dismissed,” he said.
Regarding the current state of U.S.-Israel relations, Ross would not describe the current situation as one of crisis, because President Biden “has a deep emotional commitment to Israel, this is the only way to describe it, it’s instinctive – it’s in his guts. He also has a relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu.”
Regarding some members of the new Israeli Government, Ross acknowledged that some ministers “who obviously have established positions over the years that raised some concerns.” That is why, he said, Jake Sullivan, the American National Security Adviser, and then Secretary of State Antony Blinken will soon come to Israel to prepare for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Washington. “President Biden has raised some questions about what the direction of this government is going to be.”
On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Ross maintains that the U.S. administration “is not going to walk away from what it believes is necessary – a two-state outcome. This is an administration that is committed to that as kind of a broad, long-term objective; it’s also an administration that has not made this issue a very high priority.”
Ross maintains that there is an understanding in Washington regarding Israel’s position vis-à-vis Russia’s war with Ukraine. “The reality is that the Russians established themselves as your neighbor on your northern border and put the S-400 in there. If suddenly they turn on the radars, your freedom of action against the Iranians in Syria looks very different.
I think there is an appreciation of that within the administration.” He suggested that Israel needs to continue to a better job explaining both what it’s doing with the Ukrainians and how it defines the limits within which it’s operating. “I have found even in my own conversations on the Hill, there isn’t as much understanding there as I thought there might be for the Israeli position,” he said.
Ross believes the Biden administration and Israel have a common Iran strategy because of what Iran is doing to its domestic public, but also because of what it is providing the Russians – that has a big effect on the administration and Biden in particular.