Ex-GOP Operative Named Next Israeli Ambassador
07/10/2013 - 10:51
Douglas Bloomfield

Just when it seemed to be fading away, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s reputation for meddling in American partisan politics got new attention this week with his decision to name as his ambassador in Washington a former Republican operative who promoted his bromance last year with Mitt Romney.

He picked his close confidante Ron Dermer to replace Amb. Michael Oren, who according to some reports, wanted to stay but was forced out by Dermer’s desire for the job. Oren, an American-born historian, has served four years and was considered popular and effective.

Dermer, who has a reputation as bright, brash and abrasive, likes to boast about his closeness to Netanyahu. He is "rumored to be the one responsible for news stories about Obama's snub of Netanyahu during his 2010 White House visit. And Obama administration officials believe he was behind Netanyahu’s perceived tilt toward Mitt Romney in last year’s presidential election," according to JTA.

His involvement in Republican politics goes back two decades to the 1994 Republican Revolution led by Newt Gingrich and his ties to the neo-conservative movement.  He was closely associated with last year’s Romney campaign and Republican politics while working for Netanyahu, according to published reports.

The Republican Jewish Coalition, which has spent millions demonizing Obama and trying to paint him as hostile to Israel, boasted of its relationship with "our friend Ron Dermer" in welcoming his appointment.

A former Obama administration official told JTA, “To me, it’s not an ideal choice as he’s seen as extremely political and as someone who has repeatedly gone to the press with negative stories. You want someone trusted and discreet to be your ambassador.”

The Mitt-Bibi bromance during last year’s presidential campaign heightened charges of the Israeli leader meddling in American politics. As if strains between the president and PM weren’t bad enough, that show and virtual endorsement plunged bilateral relations to a new low. Since Barack Obama’s reelection both leaders have made a serious and so-far promising effort to repair their personal relationship.

The up side of Dermer’s appointment is his close relationship with his prime minister and direct access to the man in charge, which can only enhance his influence and effectiveness in both capitals.

Jewish leaders who had privately expressed concern about Dermer when his appointment was still in the rumor stage, have publicly changed their tune, and why not?  They don’t want to risk losing access to the new ambassador or being unable to get him to speak at their big events for major contributors.

Dermer’s appointment also means the Foreign Ministry once again will be on the outside looking in, with the ambassador bypassing it and going directly to the PM, even though Netanyahu is nominally the foreign minister while the man who wants the job, Avigdor Lieberman, is on trial for corruption and waiting to find out whether he goes to jail or back to the foreign ministry.

Lieberman won’t be very welcome back at the ministry or among foreign governments since his previous tenure was considered largely a failure.  The United States and most of the rest of the world didn’t even want to talk to him, according to former senior Israeli diplomats I’ve spoken to.  The Soviet-born Lieberman handled the Russian account, but even then when matters got serious, Netanyahu personally took over.

The Florida-born Dermer, 42, made aliyah in 1996 and gave up his US citizenship when he was sent to Washington as economic affairs minister in 2005 by then-finance minister Netanyahu. He has been a close advisor, speechwriter and strategic consultant to Netanyahu ever since. His father and brother, both conservative Democrats but with close associations with the Bush family, have served as mayors of Miami Beach.

Comments

it's no revelation that US-Israel relations are intertwined with both countries' politics. nevertheless, Netanyahu is still better served by someone in whom he has trust to deliver his message regardless of their political leanings

Mr Netanyahu has the right to retain as his ambassador the man who he expects will present Israel's case in such manner as he seems correct.

The fact that his ambassador was a Republican operative shows that has an agenda that is not reliant solely on a Democrat in the White House. If he thinks that such representation will best serve Israel's interest, it's well within his prerogative.

Having known the Dermer family from Miami Beach, both his brother and father were Mayors of Miami Beach-you would think the Jewish Week would be writing an article praising the selection of Ron as the new Ambassador to the U.S. from Israel? Instead what they have is a disgusting ,smear piece against the Republican Jewish Coalition and Ron Dermer. Ron's dad Jay who was one of the leading Democrats in the Democratic Party saw it coming years ago in the 1960's.The left wing, and leftists were turning against Israel and making their left wing doctrines their new religion. The article by Bllomfield is a prime example. The RJC was absolutely correct in opposing Obama -look at how he now supports the Muslim Brotherhood even as the people of Egypt reject him and cry out for true democracy and freedom. His recent scandals from Benghazi coverups to the IRS targeting, from Drones murders to the NSA spying, each week a new Obama scandal erupts from the headlines- and his selections of anti-Israel appointments from Hagel ,Kerry and Brennan to others throughout his administration including those beholden to the Muslim Brotherhood just proves the points made during the campaign by the Republicans. As Ronald Reagan stated so eloquently " I didn't leave the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party left me." The Dermers always fervent Zionists and True Democrats like most Jews with any common sense see Obama and his friends in the Muslim Brotherhood for what they are, and have moved to the Republicans and the RJC. Articles like yours are a shonda to anyone who truly believes in the land of Israel. You should be ashamed.

The anonymous commentator on the Dermer appointment overlooks a very important consideration that is implicit in his statement. The appointment once again raises the
accusation that American Jews have a dual allegience to both Israel and the United States. They believe American and Israeli interests are identical. It is very
confusing for audiences to listen to a speaker's introduction as the Israeli ambassador to the United States and then hear a totally American voice addressing them.
It is especially confusing that Dermer who as an American had established deep ties within our political system can now use his American persona to pursue Israeli interests
that are not identical with American interests.

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