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The Rasputin of the White House

Dennis Ross [Photo by EPA]By Teymoor Nabili

Is time running out for Israel's best friend in the White House?

Dennis Ross has been described as Israel's advocate, more extreme than Binyamin Netanyahu, and "the éminence grise, a sort of Rasputin who casts a spell over secretaries of state and presidents”.

Now, The New York Times says Ross single-handedly made president Obama water down his criticism of Israel in his Thursday address.

"The reality is that the course Mr. Obama outlined Thursday was much more modest than what some of his advisers initially advocated. [...] “Starting with Mitchell and Jones, there was a preponderance of advisers who were more in tune with the Palestinian narrative than the Israeli narrative,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a friend of Mr. Ross. “Dennis balanced that.”

That Ross is single-handedly able to "balance" the opinions of  "a preponderance of advisers" in this way is not a surprise to Washington insiders. What is unusual is to learn, from a mainstream publication like the Times, that the White House inner circle may be getting exceedingly uncomfortable about the grip Ross is exerting on Obama and his Middle East policies.

George Mitchell made his concerns abundantly clear; perhaps others will now follow.


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