The right stuff

Ron Dermer, Israel's next ambassador to the US, is the right man for the job at the right time.

July 13, 2013 22:35
3 minute read.
Ron Dermer

Ron Dermer 370. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Last week’s announcement that former senior aide to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Ron Dermer, will be the next ambassador to Washington has been met with generally enthusiastic response both in Israel and in the United States. And for good reason.

The 42-year-old native of Florida is a highly intelligent and thoughtful individual with the additional advantage of being among the prime minister’s closest advisers and confidants. He will not only serve as an appealing public face for Israel in the US, but like his predecessor Michael Oren, he will be able to put forward Israel’s case eloquently.

We wholeheartedly agree with the statement released at the end of the week by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that said, “As an articulate and knowledgeable representative of the State of Israel [Dermer] will be able to present Israel’s case to the administration, Congress, and American people as Ambassador Oren did so effectively... We know that Mr. Dermer will continue in that tradition and will strengthen the bond at all levels between these two great democratic allies.”

Not everybody has responded to Dermer’s appointment with such open arms and an open mind. Published comments claiming that Dermer has long been in the Obama administration’s dog house for allegedly endorsing governor Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election and that Washington was less than enthusiastic about his appointment.

As The Jerusalem Post’s diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon pointed out last week, diplomatic officials reported that Dermer’s appointment was “warmly welcomed in Washington.” And the officials called the claims of his support for Romney a myth, saying that Dermer never made any public statement that could be perceived as backing any candidate. A quick search on Google for past stories about Dermer backs that up.

Naysayers also claimed that Dermer’s ideology placed him in the neo-conservative fold in regard to prospects of resuming negotiations with the Palestinians toward the result of a two-state solution.

Those that feel Dermer will not be representing the majority view of the Israeli public are, however, underestimating him. As Israel’s main diplomat in the US, he will be well aware that the majority of Israelis – like their government – remain in favor of and committed to a two-state solution. Regardless of any perceived personal preference, he will undoubtedly express the will of his government and its citizens during his stint in Washington.

They should recall that as a diplomat, Dermer has a proven track record. And rather than succumbing to any dogmatic hubris, he can be adept at mending fences and bringing adversaries together. It has been widely reported that he was instrumental in weaving together the delicate process that resulted in the tarmac apology by Israel to Turkey for the 2010 Marvi Marmara incident at the end of President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel last March.

For immigrants to Israel from English-speaking countries, Dermer’s appointment, like Oren’s before him, is a glowing example of how “Anglos” are able to integrate into society and rise to the highest ranks of service to the country.

For anyone who has shared a conversation with Dermer, what stands out is his decency, his passion for Israel and his vibrant Zionist idealism.

That may be a dirty word in some circles, but it is exactly what we need from our envoy in Washington.

The relationship between Israel and the US has always been close, and despite whatever bumps and bruises emerged from the Obama-Netanyahu relationship, they remain strong. Given today’s instability throughout the Middle East, those close ties have increased importance.

With critical issues that affect the vital interests of both the Israel and the US becoming increasingly sharpened – from the volatile situations in Syria and Egypt, and the Iranian march toward nuclear capabilities to the incremental efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks – it is all the more imperative that Israel’s man in Washington speak with the same voice as the government back in Jerusalem.

Dermer is the right man for the job at the right time.

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