Ambassador Dennis Ross speaks to senior class
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Ambassador Dennis Ross spoke to the senior class on Dec. 7 about the current political situation in the Middle East, the role of the United States in the region and the challenges that President-elect Donald Trump will face. He discussed the current situations in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and how each affects U.S. foreign policy.
Ross is currently a William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He previously served in the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations as the U.S. point man for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He was awarded the Presidential Medal for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by Clinton and has written several books on the peace process, most recently “Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama.”
Ross’ visit was organized by Jewish history teacher Aaron Bregman and senior Sara Heckelman, who is a family friend of Ross. The intent of holding the assembly was twofold: to serve as a capping point for the seniors’ CESJDS education, and to serve as a send-off note for the seniors who will soon be going on their Israel trip.
“Because of the content and background that seniors have gathered over the years, we thought it was most appropriate that they were able to listen to him,” Bregman said.
While the Jewish History department has brought in many guest speakers in order to enhance the curricula of the classes, the purpose of Ross’ visit was completely independent of seniors’ classes.
Heckelman thought that after taking Arab-Israeli Conflict and History of Modern Israel, listening to Ross speak would be a good way to “close off” that education for the senior class. She wanted Ross to focus specifically on the issues that the Trump administration will face because of her grade’s reaction to the election.
“The day after the election there was sort of this very interesting feeling in our school and I think there’s a divide that’s hidden,” Heckelman said. “I thought it would be interesting to apply that divide and hear someone talk about it in regards to foreign policy.”
Senior Daniel Baumstein found Ross’ talk very engaging as he has an interest in diplomacy and the conflict after learning about it last year. Baumstein thought that the information Ross covered helped him understand the material he had studied in a different way.
“[It was a] great perspective from someone who’s worked on this issue for such a long time and so vigorously,” Baumstein said. “It was such a great conversation—I wish it was longer.”