Ron Dermer

From Aic-background

Jump to: navigation, search

File:dermer.jpg

You are Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States

“(W)ill the Palestinian leadership cross this historical Rubicon to accept the permanence and legitimacy of a Jewish state? I think that’s a big question mark. I think that many of the governments in the region are prepared to cross that Rubicon. Whether the Palestinians are prepared to do that, I don't know.”

“I don’t think (the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is) going to undermine the peace process at all. On the contrary; I think it will actually lay a cornerstone for peace because what it says is that under any peace agreement in the future, Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel. That’s clear. If somebody could show me any kind of peace plan that doesn’t have Jerusalem be capital of Israel, I’d like to see it.


You were born (in 1971) and raised in Miami Beach, Florida. Your mother was born in Palestine when it was under British control, and she moved with her family to Florida soon after the state of Israel was declared in 1948. Your father was a trial lawyer who served for many years as Mayor of Miami Beach, and was serving as mayor when you were born. You are trained as an economist, but you became active in Israeli politics even while you were completing your doctorate at England’s Oxford University. You helped manage the successful campaign in 1996 of the Soviet Jewish leader Natan Sharansky’s new party to win seats in the Israeli Parliament, and soon after you moved to Israel, becoming a citizen in 1997. You were active in politics and worked as a journalist and author for several years until 2005, when you moved to Washington to serve as Israel’s Economic Envoy to the United States while Benjamin Netanyahu was serving as Israel’s Finance Minister. You and Netanyahu formed a strong relationship, and you became an advisor to Netanyahu in 2009 when he regained the prime minister’s job he had first held from 1996-1999. In 2013, Netanyahu appointed you to the highly prestigious position of Israeli Ambassador to the United States, a position you still hold (and which you had to renounce your American citizenship in order to accept).

So what is an ambassador, anyway? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an ambassador is “a minister at a foreign court, of the highest rank, who there permanently represents his sovereign or country, and has a right to a personal interview with the sovereign or chief magistrate of the country in which he resides.” The host country typically allows the ambassador control of specific territory called an embassy, whose territory, staff, and vehicles are generally afforded diplomatic immunity (special exemption from arrest, taxation, searches, etc.) in the host country.

Okay, but what does it mean, in Israeli political terms, to be the Ambassador to the United States? More specifically, what does it mean to be Benjamin Netanyahu’s Ambassador to the United States? Well, with the exception of the Prime Minister himself, it means that you are likely the most important foreign policy leader in Israel apart from Benjamin Netanyahu himself. This is true in part because, as of early 2019 when this profile was written, Prime Minister Netanyahu had given himself the posts of Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, positions that might otherwise be equally influential in terms of Israeli foreign policy. It is also true because Prime Minister Netanyahu famously trusts few people with responsibilities that he considers to be truly important, and you are one of the few people who has earned the Prime Minister’s trust. You notably have an exceptionally deep and longstanding relationship with Washington’s Republican establishment, particularly its neoconservative wing, and you have used these connections to solidify and to leverage the remarkably strong support for Israel, and for the Netanyahu government in particular, that exists in Washington.

One noteworthy example of your utilizing your influence and your impressive network of contacts took place in 2015, while Barack Obama was still President of the United States and as the Israeli election campaign was underway that resulted in your fourth election as Prime Minister. You used your influence to secure an invitation for Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of congress, without a presidential invitation, a breach of diplomatic protocol. President Obama, while still strongly supportive of Israel, had tried to exert some political pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to come to the negotiating table with the Palestinians and to endorse the idea of two-state solution, enough so that Prime Minister Netanyahu felt that he was being prodded in a way that he did not appreciate. He spoke out against the Obama Administration’s policies as a result, and relations between the two leaders gradually worsened. Later, of course, the Americans led a process involving several other nations resulting in a nuclear agreement with Iran that was implemented in 2015. While the United States, Russia and Europe trumpeted the agreement as a new day for regional safety and security, you and Prime Minister Netanyahu denounced the agreement as putting a structure into place for Iran to not only rejoin the community of nations and be relieved of tough economic sanctions, but that put Iran on the path to having nuclear weapons as well, threatening the very regional stability the treaty supposedly would protect. You stated that “this whole idea that Iran was going to become more moderate and was going to join the community of nations, it led to Iran actually starting to gobble up the nations, and they’ve been empowered throughout the region. We are rightly concerned. And the United States should be concerned because for the Iranians, they want Riyadh (the capital of Saudi Arabia) for breakfast and Jerusalem for lunch, and they want New York for dinner.”

Netanyahu’s congressional address was perhaps the final nail in the coffin for relations between the Prime Minister and President Obama, which was all the more reason for Prime Minister Netanyahu to welcome the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States in 2016. In relatively short order, Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran Nuclear Agreement and moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, which in the minds of Netanyahu’s critics pre-determined what would otherwise have been a central issue to be worked out in any future Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, but in your mind simply made official the reality on the ground, which would then allow negotiations to actually move forward more readily. You stated that “there's a reason why (Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas) refuses to talk about a connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, because if they recognize this historical connection it means that the Jewish people are in our homeland by right and not simply by might. President Trump, in making this decision, punctures this great lie that the Jewish people are foreign colonialists in the land of Israel. That's why I think it's the beginning of a path to peace.”

You also found yourself in Trump-related controversy in the wake of the tragic 2018 mass shooting at a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It seemed that the assailant had been encouraged by what many regarded as President Trump’s uncharacteristically muted criticism of the actions of white separatists who rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, venomously decrying the influence of Blacks and Jews. One of these white supremacists killed a counter-protestor by running her over with his car, and Trump said in response that there were “fine people” on both sides in Charlottesville. In words that seemed to echo Trump’s, you stated of the Pittsburgh attack that "when people attribute anti-Semitism to one side of the political debate, they make a very big mistake,” adding that “to simply say that this is because of one person, only comes on one side, is to not understand the history of anti-Semitism or the reality of anti-Semitism. One of the big forces in college campuses today is anti-Semitism, and those anti-Semites are usually not neo-Nazis, on college campuses. They’re coming from the radical left. We have to stand against anti-Semitism whether it comes from the right or whether it comes from the left.” Your supporters felt you were offering necessary perspective on the situation, while your critics felt that you were protecting President Trump from taking any responsibility for the consequences of his words. It was further argued that comments such as yours ran a great risk of alienating American Jews, feeding an impression that Israel’s leaders were more concerned with their relationship with President Trump than they were with standing with American Jewry.

You hold a position of extraordinary influence in Israeli politics, and it will be your job to speak strongly on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s behalf, and to use your political skill and the relationships you’ve built to ensure that Israel has strong political and strategic support in Congress, seeking to protect the military aid that the United States provides to Israel, which is the largest beneficiary of American military assistance. Use your rhetorical skill and your grasp of American culture and politics to make the case that a strong Israel best protects Western interests in the region, and that Prime Minister Netanyahu is absolutely the best person to assure Israel’s strategic strength.

References

“Echoing Trump, Israeli Ambassador Dermer Blames 'Both Sides' for Anti-Semitism.” Haaretz.com, Haaretz Com, 29 Oct. 2018, www.haaretz.com/us-news/echoing-trump-ambassador-dermer-blames-both-sides-for-anti-semitism-1.6601968.

GLASSER, SUSAN B., et al. “The Full Transcript: Ron Dermer.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 4 Dec. 2017, www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/12/04/ron-dermer-global-politico-transcript-216002.

Hoffman, Allison. “Florida-Born Ron Dermer Is Bibi Netanyahu's Most Influential Aide.” Tablet Magazine, 7 Aug. 2013, www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/78543/bibis-brain.

“Ron Dermer.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Nov. 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Dermer

Personal tools