Oren, the departing ambassador, “bent over backward to make sure the message in Washington was Israel should not be a partisan issue,” Klein said. “It is not good for Israel. It is not good for us.”
But Israel did become a partisan issue during the presidential campaign. Republican nominee Mitt Romney — a longtime friend of Netanyahu — and his surrogates, tried to cast Republicans as steadfast friends of Israel, in contrast to Obama, whom they sought to portray as unreliable on the matter of Israel’s security.
Obama, and Jewish Democrats, including Wasserman Schultz, fought back, insisting that the two leaders had good relations.
Growing up on the Beach
Ron is the youngest child of Jay Dermer, a two-term Miami Beach mayor, and Yaffa Dermer, who was born in Palestine before it became the state of Israel.
The Dermers lived on Flamingo Place, in a house just off the corner, a short walk from Rabbi Alexander S. Gross Hebrew Academy, from which Ron graduated in 1989.
A Herald story at the time called him a “top scholar” and basketball MVP who won an American Legion award for proficiency in academics and athletics.
“He was a very good student and a high achiever and loved sports — he breathed sports,” said his mother.
“He was really very smart,” added Yael Bloom, a classmate who took advanced placement Calculus and physics with Dermer.
Classmate Hal Klein, of Palm Beach County, described Ron Dermer as a “very sharp, very smart guy. He didn’t study that much because he didn’t have to. ... Things came easy to him.”
That wasn’t always so. At age 3, Ron had trouble forming certain words, including “peanut butter” and “rich,” his mother said. So much so, that his sister, Esther, one year older, would translate his words.
Yaffa Dermer suggested he see a speech therapist, to which his father replied, “‘Forget about it — he’ll grow out of it.’’’
He did, and Esther went on to become a speech therapist.
Jay Dermer won his first Miami Beach mayoral race in 1967. As a Democrat, he unseated then-Mayor Elliot Roosevelt, one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s sons.
Dermer was reelected once, then unsuccessfully challenged the popular U.S. Rep. Claude Pepper, D-Miami, for his House seat.
Two weeks before Ron’s bar mitzvah in 1984, Jay Dermer died of a heart attack.
“Ron was heartbroken,” Yaffa Dermer said.
But after his father’s death, Ron became more invested in his Jewish identity, and later at the University of Pennsylvania helped found the Jewish Heritage Program.
Dermer’s political ascent
Two profiles — a 2010 article in POLITICO and 2011 article in Tablet magazine — describe Dermer’s education and ascent to Israeli politics.
Tablet called Dermer an “Oxford-trained political theorist with Machiavellian political instincts [who] comes across as equal parts George Stephanopoulos and Karl Rove,’’ the political strategist known as “Bush’s Brain,’’ who crafted President George W. Bush’s campaigns.
At Wharton, Dermer took a class from pollster and Republican consultant Frank Luntz, who connected Dermer to the GOP and Israeli politics. Dermer work for Luntz and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on what would eventually become the Republican’s 1994 “Contract with America.”