Before the 1994 congressional midterms, Dermer left for Oxford, where he studied philosophy, politics and economics, and planned a career in business, his brother said. He also met members of the “Middle Eastern elite’’ from Jordan and Saudi Arabia, establishing long-lasting relationships, David Dermer added.
Through Luntz, who was doing political polling in Israel, the Hebrew-speaking Dermer got involved in Israeli politics, and met Soviet dissident/émigré Natan Sharansky, with whom he cowrote The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.
The book “became a cornerstone of what is now known as the Bush Doctrine,” POLITICO wrote.
In 1998, Dermer married artist Adi Blumberg, whose father was then chairman of Bank of Jerusalem. She died two years later at 29.
Dermer met current wife Rhoda Pagano, a Yale Law School graduate and mother of his children, at a Jerusalem dinner party given by her boss, Aharon Barak, then Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court.
They couple is close to the elder Blumbergs, who “to this day babysit Ron’s kids,’’ according to David Dermer.
After the clerkship, Rhoda returned to New York to work in a Manhattan law firm. She resisted Ron’s entreaties to move to Israel because of terror attacks, David Dermer said.
Then came the attack of Sept. 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center. She moved to Jerusalem, and they married.
They now have four sons — Mayor Jay, Ze’ev, Ezra and Judah — and a baby on the way. Since his nephews were named Jay and Yahkov — his deceased father’s name in English and Hebrew — Ron named his own son “Mayor Jay Dermer,” Yaffa Dermer said.
Dermer became a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and managed to find time to help brother David win the job of Miami Beach mayor in 2001. Both his brother and father were Democrats, although David drew attention for supporting President Bush’s re-election and Gov. Jeb Bush during his 2002 re-election bid.
David Dermer described his brother’s religious leanings as “modern Orthodox.’’
Ron Dermer gave up his U.S. citizenship in 2005 when he became minister for economic affairs and went to Washington, D.C.
“I left America because I wanted to help another nation I love defend the freedoms that Americans have long taken for granted,’’ he once said in a 2005 New York Sun interview. “I left America to help another people I love fight not merely for their survival but also for their right to survive.’’
Yaffa Dermer said her son’s decision made her cry. “But I didn’t blame him — he loved the United States and he loved Israel,” she said.
During a phone interview this week, Aaron David Miller, vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington and former adviser to Republican and Democratic secretaries of state, called Dermer “a tough, a pragmatic hawk.’’
“How he’ll factor into the continuing Netanyahu-Obama soap opera,’’ Miller said, “is hard to say.”