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Memories of an Anti-Semitic State Department – Dennis B. Ross (NYT)

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Sept. 27, 2017

  • Memories of an Anti-Semitic State Department – Dennis B. Ross
    Former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson repeated the well-worn narrative that Jewish neoconservatives promoted the invasion of Iraq – and are beating the drum for a conflict with Iran. Of course, most Jews are not neoconservatives, and most neoconservatives are not Jewish. In any case, it was two influential non-Jews, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who played the central role with President Bush in deciding to invade Iraq in 2003.
    When I began working in the Pentagon during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, there was an unspoken but unmistakable assumption: If you were Jewish, you could not work on the Middle East because you would be biased. However, if you knew about the Middle East because you came from a missionary family or from the oil industry, you were an expert. People with these backgrounds were perceived to be unbiased, while Jews could not be objective.
    Secretary of State George Shultz tried to change the culture of the State Department during the Reagan administration. Shultz was more interested in your knowledge than your identity. He made me and Daniel Kurtzer members of the small team working with him on Arab-Israeli diplomacy.
    Tweeting that Jews are pushing for a new war is the definition of prejudice. How can it not be when you label a whole group and ascribe to all those who are a part of it a particular negative trait or threatening behavior? And once you have singled out groups, the leap is small to imposing limits on them, quarantining them and rationalizing violence against them. The writer, a former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New York Times)
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