Finally, after a string of appointments that have not made me particularly happy, Obama is poised to appoint Dan Kurtzer as Special Envoy to the Middle East. See here. Already he is being attacked in some of the rightwing Jew blogs as "anti-Israel" (Boy, isn't that a case of the pot calling the kettle black.)
I have no idea whether the Obama people were influenced by the campaign against Dennis Ross by some of the progressive blogs like justforeignpolicy , Phil Weiss, Ira Glunts, Richard Silverstein, and by Michael Flynn in the Electronic Intifada (Oy, one can only pray for such influence). It is more likely that Ross is being "kicked upstairs". As was pointed out to me after the Obama election, it would be harder to find a job for Ross than for Kurtzer, since Ross had "been there, done that" as the Middle East envoy. Perhaps Secretary of State Clinton will have a position for him.
Ross is no doubt still in the picture. You didn't want him in Israel-Palestine; you may be getting him in Iran (or Russia). Yet, I am less concerned that his voice will be a dominant one, as it was during the 90s
In terms of basic worldview, Kurtzer is not too different from Dennis Ross. He is a liberal Zionist. But Kurtzer, who served as US ambassador in Egypt and Israel, understands, and sympathizes with the suffering and aspirations of the Palestinians. And he is more likely to wield a certain amount of some pressure on Israel, especially on Netanyahu, than would Ross.
And do you know what else distinguishes Kurtzer from Ross? Kurtzer is a modern orthodox Jew, and Ross is not religiously observant, to the best of my knowledge. So what? You would think that this wouldmake him more fanatically pro-Israel. But not necessarily. For secular Jews like Dennis Ross, Israel is a vital component of their Jewish identity. That is why so many American Jews can view anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism – when your Judaism boils down to an ethnic identity in which Israel plays a big part, you are less likely to take a more detached view. Kurtzer is not a religious Zionist, at least not in the sense that typifies most religious Zionists today. And since his Judaism is not tied up with his Zionism, it is easier for him to keep a certain distance.
Of course, if you oppose a two-state solution as impractical or unjust, the appointment of Kurtzer will only prolong the myth. But if Haaretz is getting it right, this is good news for the Jews, and good news for the Palestinians.
As another Jeremiah could have said, we all still need the hutzpah of hope.