JERUSALEM -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday appointed Ron Dermer, a close advisor with ties to Miami Beach, to be Israels next ambassador to the United States. The long-anticipated pick had raised some concern in Washington because of Dermers connections to Republicans.
Dermer, 42, has been Netanyahus top diplomatic advisor for the past four years. He will replace Michael Oren, the outspoken and telegenic New Jersey-born historian who has served in Washington for four years. In an announcement Tuesday, Netanyahu said Dermer has all the necessarily characteristics to successfully fill this important role.
Dermer, a neoconservative who once worked for Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant, was seen by some as questioning President Barack Obamas commitment to Israel during his first term, and of supporting Obamas GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, in last falls presidential election. But since November, he has worked to repair his reputation in Washington and has won over many in the White House with the critical roles he played in negotiating a cease-fire after Israels eight-day operation in the Gaza Strip, reconciling relations between Turkey and Israel and planning Obamas much-heralded March visit to Israel.
Now, several people close to the Obama administration said, any suspicions about Dermers political leanings are outweighed by the benefit of having an ambassador in Netanyahus inner circle. He is expected to start the job in the fall.
If you have someone you know is well-connected to the prime minister, it means you can always use that channel, no matter how sensitive the message is, and understand its going to be communicated the way you want it, noted Dennis B. Ross, a former Middle East envoy who is now counselor to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. It reduces the prospect of surprise, it reduces the prospect of misunderstanding thats something thats highly desired.
Dermer was raised in Miami Beach, where his father and brother both served as mayor. He likes to point out that they were Democrats, although the family also supported former President George W. Bush and his brother, former Gov. Jeb Bush. He has a bachelors degree from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a masters degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University.
His mother, Yaffa Dermer, who still lives in Miami Beach, said she is all for it when asked about her sons new position. Im excited. I think hell do a wonderful job because hes a red-blooded American, she said Tuesday. He told me hes going to visit me a lot.
His mother, who was born and raised in Israel before moving to the U.S., said that Ron was constantly involved with Israel while growing up in their Miami Beach home, adding that he loves the country.
Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, applauded the choice on Tuesday and described Dermer as a smart man who knows how essential the job is.
Its great to have someone from Florida to take on this very central role of Israels ambassador to the United States, said Klein. Its exciting for someone from the United States and from our community to be represented with this opportunity.