What do you do?

Question: Beyond a simple title, how would you describe what you do for a living?

Transcript:Well having been the American negotiator in the Middle East for a long time, this is not something that I ever viewed as a sidelight. It’s not something that was just gonna be, “Well gee. I’ll do this for a couple of years. I’ll occupy the seat. And then when I’m no longer doing it, I’ll no longer care about the issue.” No. I still profoundly care about the Middle East. I still profoundly care about Arabs and Israelis. I have a larger foreign policy interest. It’s why I have written a book that deals with American foreign policy more generally. But I have a passion for this particular issue. I look at it differently than any other issue, not because necessarily it should be more important than any other issue; but for me it’s profoundly important. And I think the reason is once I got into working on this issue, and I came to know the peoples on each side, I saw them not as abstractions. I saw them as individuals with real hopes, real dreams, real victims, real suffering. And I somehow became invested in it. I became a believer that having known something about this issue, and knowing both sides the way that I do, that I have a responsibility to try to affect it. So everything I do now in one way or the other is still very much geared towards trying to affect what we do in the Middle East, and very much trying to make things better. I still go out to the region a lot. I still focus very heavily on how to try to change realities on the ground. You can affect policy even when you’re not a policy maker; but you can affect it much more directly when you are. So when you’re on the outside, you have a voice. And you have to use your voice. And I try to do that.

 

Ross is a scholar and practitioner of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

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