Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Top Netanyahu Aide Could Continue Strategic Shift in Israel’s Relations with U.S.

January 11, 2013 2:35 am 1 comment

Ron Dermer. Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90.

Rumors recently began to circulate that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may appoint his senior advisor, Ron Dermer, as Israel’s next ambassador to the United States.

Dermer’s appointment is currently being denied by Israel’s embassy, and the Prime Minister’s office has refused comment, but insiders suggest that the appointment—while not definite—is a serious possibility.

If Dermer is eventually appointed, he would be Israel’s second consecutive American-born ambassador to the U.S. Prior to becoming an Israeli citizen, Dermer was born in Miami, and both his father and brother served as mayors of Miami Beach.

Michael Oren, the current ambassador and the first in Israeli history who was born in the U.S., is set to conclude his four-year stint in the spring, shortly after Israel’s Jan. 22 national elections. Oren is generally considered to be a well-respected ambassador who has had to navigate an often-bumpy relationship between Israel and the U.S., and he has represented the State of Israel both on American television and in top American newspapers’ op-ed pages.

The selection of another native English speaker to one of Israel’s top diplomatic posts would indicate a continued strategic shift in the way the country conducts relations with the U.S. government, the broader Jewish community, and the general public. To that end, Lenny Ben-David—who served as deputy chief of mission at Israel’s embassy in Washington, DC, from 1997 to 2000—said the Jewish state’s criteria for selecting an ambassador has changed over the years.

“For years, the ambassador was picked for his or her diplomatic skills, or even as political payoff,” Ben-David told JNS.org.

“Today, it is important for the ambassador to look good on television, and to navigate the political waters of Washington, DC,” he added.

Prior to his appointment as Netanyahu’s top adviser, Dermer served as Israel’s economic attaché in Washington—a post for which he had to forfeit his American citizenship.

Many political commentators have noted that rumors of Dermer’s new appointment may be a trial balloon, to test the viability of such an appointment both within Israeli and American political circles.

“In addition to their qualifications, several different considerations must be taken into account before an ambassador is selected,” Mitchell Barak, political pollster and director of Keevoon Research, told JNS.org.

“Officially, the ambassador must report to the foreign minister,” Barak said. “If Netanyahu’s Likud party holds the Foreign Ministry following the next election, a Dermer appointment may be likely. However, if another party holds the Foreign Ministry portfolio in the next coalition government, appointing someone so close to the prime minister may cause political friction.”

“If Tzipi Livni (HaTnuah) or Shelly Yachimovich (Labor), for example, becomes Israel’s next foreign minister, it is extremely unlikely that Dermer will serve as ambassador, even though he is an extremely capable and qualified candidate,” he added.

For many Israelis, managing the relationship with the U.S. is considered one of Israel’s paramount foreign responsibilities, and the quality of the relationship is often a tool for measuring the effectiveness of the prime minister.

“It can be very useful to have someone who is a confidante to the prime minister as ambassador to the United States,” Ben-David said.

Such a distinction could increase the potential effectiveness of an ambassador in strengthening Israel’s embassy as the primary channel for bilateral communication.  Senior officials in the U.S. would understand that they are speaking to someone with an intimate grasp of the prime minister’s thinking and policymaking.

Netanyahu, who is often known for his eloquent, yet hard-hitting speeches—including those on Capitol Hill, in the Oval Office, and at the United Nations—has been delivering addresses written by Dermer.

As senior advisor to the prime minister for four years, Dermer is widely considered to be the chief strategist behind Israel’s bilateral relations with the U.S.

With the strategic threats facing Israel, including Iran’s nuclear program, a Muslim Brotherhood-run Egyptian government, civil war in Syria, and internal clashes between Fatah and Hamas, maintaining a strong relationship with the U.S.—Israel’s primary military supplier and diplomatic supporter—could prove critical.

As tension between Netanyahu and Obama was palpable during the two leaders’ first terms, Netanyahu certainly doesn’t want the situation to get worse. With Dermer in Washington, it is unlikely that there would be any miscommunications—even if the two administrations are not always in agreement.

Navigating the relationship may be the toughest diplomatic challenge of the next term, and appointing Dermer may be an indication of how seriously Netanyahu takes the challenge. After all, the prime minister would be losing his senior advisor to fill this post.

And while Dermer may or may not get the appointment, insiders believe he is certainly worthy of consideration.

“Ambassador Oren is extremely eloquent, and Dermer is equally eloquent,” Ben-David said. “Rumors of his possible appointment already started floating over a year ago.”

1 Comment

  • MILINDA RATNASURIYA

    I THINK THEY SHOULD APPOINT HIM AS THE NEXT ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE USA I DON’T KNOW WHY SOME PEOPLE OPPOSE THIS SINCE HE IS US BORN AND BOTH HIS FATHER AND BROTHER SERVED AS MAYORS IN MIAMI BEACH HIS APPOINTMENT WILL LOOK VERY FAVOURABLE IN THE EYES OF THE AMERICANS !!!

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    For Alan Gross, Cuban Prison Didn’t Harden His Heart or Weaken His Ambition

    JNS.org – Alan Gross used to be nothing more to me than a tragic headline. When I started my position at this news service in July 2011, Gross had been imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 for what that country called “crimes against the state.” Gross, a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development, went to Cuba to help the Jewish community there access the Internet. After his arrest, he received a trial he describes as a “B movie,” […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    New Movie Shows How Global Economic Instability Grew From Very Local Greed

    JNS.org – When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users — the home buyers and brokers — played into this […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Psychiatry and the Spirit

    Why do we think so negatively about psychiatrists that we still insult them by calling them shrinks? Some medics might be quacks, but we don’t generally refer to them as witches! Shrinks; The Untold Story of Psychiatry, by Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, is a sobering account of how psychiatry has swung from a marginal, unscientific mixture of weird theories into one of the most common and pervasive forms of treatment of what are commonly called “disorders of the mind.” Is it […]

    Read more →