Ambassador from Israel: Who Is Ron Dermer?
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel, whose aggressive policies toward Palestine have raised tensions with the U.S., recently named a longtime aide known for even more hawkish views to become the country’s next ambassador to the United States. Ron Dermer, an ex-American who has been a close political advisor to Netanyahu for the past four years, once called the “two-state solution”—for decades Washington’s preferred outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse—“childish.” He will succeed Michael Oren, whose term is due to end in the fall but who, according to some sources, wanted to keep his job.
Born in 1971 in Miami Beach, Florida, Ron Dermer is the younger son of Jay Dermer, a trial attorney from New York who was elected mayor of Miami Beach in1967, and Yaffa Rosenthal, who was born in Palestine and moved to Florida with her parents soon after Israel won its independence. Growing up in Miami Beach, Dermer suffered the loss of his father to a heart attack in 1984, just two weeks before his bar mitzvah. Dermer earned a B.A. in Finance and Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1993 and a Master’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University in 1996.
Shortly thereafter, Dermer moved to Israel and began the process of becoming an Israeli citizen. In 1998, he married artist Adi Blumberg, whose father was chairman of the Bank of Jerusalem, and their wedding was presided over by the prominent rabbinical scholar Adin Steinsaltz. Adi Blumberg died in February 2000 at the age of 29. Dermer renounced his American citizenship in 2005.
A political consultant for conservative Israeli politicians, in the 1999 Knesset campaign Dermer worked for Natan Sharansky, for whom he had also worked three years earlier during the 1995 Knesset election campaign. Starting in January 2001, Dermer wrote a column called “The Numbers Game” for the Jerusalem Post, and in 2004 he and Sharansky co-wrote the ironically titled book The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, even as Sharansky gave interviews claiming that Israeli Jews, but not Arab Palestinians, had a right to a democratic state in the former territory of Palestine.
Since 2005, Dermer has served the government of Israel continuously. From 2005 to 2008, when Netanyahu was finance minister, Dermer served as economic envoy at the Israeli embassy in Washington. In 2008, he became a close advisor to Netanyahu, who became prime minister in April 2009. Dermer left the PM’s office in March 2013, after rumors of his possible appointment as ambassador had begun to swirl, but was not officially nominated until July 9.
Dermer has five children. He is married to Rhoda Pagano Dermer. The family lives in Jerusalem.
To Learn More:
Ron Dermer, New Israel Envoy, Not Shy To Boast of Ties With Netanyahu: Fast-Rising Right Winger Is Pugnacious Supporter of Premier (by Ron Kampeas, Jewish Daily Forward)
Possible Future Israeli Ambassador Holds Two Countries in his Heart (by Michael Fince II, Amy Sherman and Elinor J. Brecher, Miami Herald)
Ron Dermer is Israel’s Next Ambassador: Netanyahu’s hard-hitting American-born adviser gets the nod (by Yair Rosenberg, Tablet)
When Zionism is Racism: Ron Dermer and Bibi Netanyahu, on the Record (by Larry Derfner, 972 Magazine)
Bibi’s Brain (by Allison Hoffman, Baltimore Jewish Life)
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