The Latest from BZBI

Recap of Dennis Ross

April 21, 2016

What a treat! Living in Center City we are constantly bombarded with events that are educational, intellectual, or entertaining. What a special treat when an event is all three and we can brag that it is presented at BZBI.

Dennis Photo 2Ambassador Dennis Ross, whose impressive resume includes special assistant to President Obama, National Security Council senior director for the Central Region, special adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, director of Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council under President Reagan and point person in the Palestinian/Israeli peace process under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton, was the featured speaker at BZBI in late March.

Much of his presentation was spent discussing his latest book Doomed to Succeed in which he analyzed the United States/Israel relationship through the lens of every president since Truman.

For example, who would you say was the worst President towards Israel?  Answer: Eisenhower who consistently denied arms to Israel fearing Arab backlash.  Who was the best President for Israel?  Well, now you have a good reason to go out and read his book.

Along with the details and specifics of the differing administration’s dealings with a variety of Israeli leaders – all very educational – he peppered his talk with personal recollections of conversations in the Oval Office – all very entertaining .  And of course he left us pondering many provocative questions – that was the intellectual part.

At the end of his formal presentations, Ambassador Ross took questions from the audience of well over 100 people sitting in the sanctuary, ranging from BDS on campus to, politics aside, who is the best candidate for Israel.

Sharon Musher asked if Israel doesn’t move toward a two-state solution and fast isn’t both Israel and its relationship with the US doomed to fail? Ross’ reply: Israel has to move more quickly towards a two state solution or it would end up being a bi-national country and that would bring with it a wide range of other problems.

“In light of strategic realignment in the region (re Iran, Saudi and Gulf States) was there an opening for a new middle east initiative?” asked Daniel Eisenstadt.  Ross’ Reply: The current administration has lost the trust of the parties but that a new administration should approach the Saudis and Gulf States privately to ask what concessions they would need from Israel (on the Palestinian issue) for the Saudis to step up to make the first move on new talks.

The more-than-90 minute session ended with a move upstairs for dessert, a book signing and more questions. Clearly an evening to remember.

For more information about Ambassador Ross’s appearance check out the article in the Jewish Exponent

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