The Center for Jewish Civilization is excited to announce that our own Ambassador Dennis Ross is the 2020-2021 Andrew H. Siegal Professor in American Middle Eastern Foreign Policy. The annual professorship and lectureship is made possible by the support of Mr. Michael Deutsch (COL ‘ 88, L ‘ 92; partner with and co-founder of Singer Deutsch LLP) and his family. It was established in honor of Deutsch’s late friend, Andrew Siegal, a philanthropist who lived in the United States and Israel. It is guided by Siegal’s hopeful vision for the Middle East.
The Siegal professorship allows thought leaders to work closely with CJC students and faculty. Past fellows have included Professors Elliot Abrams, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and Danielle Pletka. This semester, Ambassador Dennis Ross continued to teach his celebrated course, “History of Peace-Making in the Middle East,” as Siegal Professor. The course places the Arab-Israeli conflict in a historic context. Next semester, Ambassador Ross will teach his other hallmark course, “Statecraft and Negotiation,” which analyzes American foreign policy toward the Middle East within the framework of of statecraft.
The importance of the professorship in cultivating ties between the Center’s students and community members is not lost on Ambassador Ross, who stated that it “has been responsible for the rich engagement between thought leaders and students for years.” Ross continued, “the Center for Jewish Civilization’s first Andrew H. Siegal Professor was U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliot Abrams, followed by Tamara Coffman Wittes of The Brookings Institute, and Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute. I am pleased to follow them as the 2020-2021 fellow and professor. Through my courses, I have been able to share my experience as a diplomat who is extensively involved in the Middle East peace process with students. Crucially, I have learned from their insights in the process, as well.”
Ambassador Dennis Ross serves as the counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is a Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. For over twelve years, he played a leading role in shaping the U.S.’s involvement in the Middle East peace process, dealing directly with the parties as the U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. For two years, he served as special assistant to President Obama and as National Security Council senior director for the Central Region. For one year, he served as special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Before his time as special Middle East coordinator under President Clinton, Ambassador Ross served as director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff in the first Bush administration. In the past, he played a prominent role in U.S. policy towards the former Soviet Union, the unification of Germany and its integration into NATO, arms control negotiations, and the 1991 Gulf War coalition. Additionally, he served as director of Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff and deputy director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment during the Reagan administration.
Ambassador Ross graduated from UCLA, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on Soviet decision-making. He served as executive director of the Berkeley-Stanford program on Soviet International Behavior, received UCLA’s highest medal, and has been named UCLA alumnus of the year.
Ambassador Ross has authored five books on the peace process, the Middle East, and international relations. His most recent publication, co-written with David Makovsky, was published in September 2019 and is titled Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny. The book profiles four Israeli prime ministers and their historic choices. It explores the lessons from those decisions and assesses whether they can provide a guide to dealing with the fateful choice that Israel’s leaders must soon confront or by default become a binational state. His previous publications include Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015), which was awarded the 2015 National Jewish Book Award for history. He also co-authored Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East (Viking, 2009) with Mr. Makovsky. An earlier study, The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004), offers comprehensive analytical and personal insight into the Middle East peace process. He also received critical acclaim for his 2007 publication Statecraft, And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007), which the New York Times praised as “important and illuminating.”
Ambassador Ross will offer the 2021 Andrew H. Siegal Memorial Lecture in American Middle Eastern Foreign Policy. Stay tuned for the Center’s announcement of the event’s topic!