Yesterday, at the Council for the National Interest Foundation‘s Capitol Hill briefing entitled “Rx to Obama: Real Change Now in the Middle East,” a panel of speakers added their voices to the swirling controversy over Dennis Ross’ alleged appointment as Middle East envoy in the Obama administration.
During the briefing, Eugene Bird, President of CNI expressed concern over Dennis Ross’s appointment as Iran envoy. “I’m not sure [Ross] has the appropriate credentials for the job,” he said. He cited Ross’s failure during the Oslo peace process and his role as mediator for the Hebron accord, where Israeli troops were redeployed from Hebron and other parts of the West Bank. “If I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions, I’d ask him ‘Do you believe that you made any mistakes during those times?'”
The CNI is a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots organization advocating a new direction for U.S. Middle East policy. The Council was founded by CNI Chairman and former Congressman Paul Findley based on the principle that “Most citizens are unaware of the startling fact that for years our U.S. Middle East policy has not been crafted by seasoned experts who are committed to America’s basic national interests.” Mr. Findley advocates that CNI members “can help advance the national interest in the Middle East and at the same time help repair the damage being done to our political institutions by the over-zealous tactics of Israel’s lobby.”
The Council has employed distinctive tactics to inform the American public about the current situation in the Middle East and accomplish its principle goals to have Israel withdraw from all occupied territories (West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights); end all acts of violence against Israelis and Palestinians; and eliminate all unaudited U.S. aid to Israel. As the main propellant of its campaign, the council publishes ads regarding current American foreign policy in prominent newspapers such as The New York Times with highly controversial and provocative messages like “1.3 million American families lost their homes to foreclosure in 2007. Meanwhile, billions of YOUR tax dollars continue to purchase beautiful new homes with subsidized mortgages…in Israel.”
It’ll be interesting to see what the repercussions, if any, of this talk will be.