In a sign that Pres. Obama is rewarding those who devised the inert policy he’s adopted toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Haaretz reports that the new U.S. ambassador to Israel will be Dan Shapiro. During the presidential election campaign, Shapiro ran a good operation on his candidate’s behalf in the Jewish community. He fought back vigorously and effectively against the smears levelled by the Republican Jewish Committee and other right-wing political operatives. And Obama won the Jewish vote decisively, which spoke well for Shapiro’s skills.
However, after the election Shapiro became one of the president’s chief advisors regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict serving in a senior National Security Council post. As such, Shapiro, Dennis Ross, and others in the administration known for their closeness to Israel must take the lion’s share of the blame for his failed policy.
What this new post indicates is that Obama is rewarding his subordinates for their failure. Shapiro gets the big promotion and now gets to carry water for Israel as our new ambassador there. What new policy ideas does he bring to the table? What indication is there that he’s willing to do what it takes to knock heads together and bring a dose of reality to Bibi Netanyahu’s government? I don’t see any.
Come the next war, do you see Shapiro playing any vigorous role to bring Israel to heel? Or will he merely be carrying messages from his friends in the Israeli government to the administration back home? We don’t need water carriers, we need honest brokers willing to speak toughly and fairly. We need someone more like an independent-minded George Mitchell and less like a beholden Dennis Ross.
This article first appeared at Tikun Olam.