While Klein supports the selection, he also pointed out that Dermers career has mainly been behind the scenes in politics and he will need more than just his relationship with the prime minister to make a strong impression, especially with many in the Jewish community.
The Jewish community in the United States looks to the U.S. ambassador, Klein said. What he says reflects on how the Jewish community looks at the relationship between Israel and the U.S.
After immigrating to Israel in 1997, Dermer co-authored a book with Natan Sharansky, the Soviet dissident turned Israeli leader The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. In 2005, he renounced his U.S. citizenship to take a job in the Israeli Embassy in Washington. When Netanyahu returned as premier in 2009, Dermer became his chief speechwriter and strategist, summoned frequently and at all hours for consultations and covert assignments on politics and foreign policy. He has often expressed skepticism about whether Palestinians truly want a state of their own and about their reliability as a peace partner.
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.
A 2011 profile in Tablet, an online magazine, was titled Bibis Brain, using Netanyahus nickname, and said Dermer comes across as equal parts George Stephanopoulos and Karl Rove. In appointing him Tuesday, Netanyahu said in a statement that Dermer has all the qualities necessary to successfully fill this important post.
Dermer, a yarmulke-wearing modern Orthodox Jew, and his wife, Rhoda, a Yale-educated lawyer, have four sons and a daughter born last month. He did not respond to requests for interviews.
Abraham H. Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, said American Jewish leaders and Washington politicians alike would welcome Dermers appointment because his life epitomizes the relationship between Israel and America, and most importantly, hes got the ear and trust of the prime minister.
The issue of whether or not he would be persona non grata, I think, has dissipated, Foxman said. Its important that whoever sits in that seat has a close working relationship with the prime minister. You dont need vacuums in that relationship, because vacuums are mischievous.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, who serves as chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee in Congress, was also supportive of Dermers appointment.
I have known Ron and his family for many years, and I look forward to working with him in his new role, Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement Tuesday.
Miami Herald staff writer Lance Dixon contributed to this report, which also contains material from The New York Time, the Associated Press, and a previous Herald staff story.