Ron Dermer Faces Big Challenges as Israel’s New Ambassador to the U.S.

Brings GOP Baggage as Tension Rises Over Iran

American Born: Ron Dermer renounced his U.S. citizenship to serve in Israel’s government.
Courtesy of the Embassy of israel
American Born: Ron Dermer renounced his U.S. citizenship to serve in Israel’s government.

By Nathan Guttman

Published November 26, 2013, issue of November 29, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Ron Dermer really had to hit the ground running.

Before even getting a chance to unpack his bags and settle in, Israel’s new ambassador to the United States has been thrust into one of the toughest challenges an Israeli envoy can face: a major row between Jerusalem and Washington over Iran’s nuclear program, the issue that tops Israel’s priority list.

Dermer has spent his first two months in Washington shuttling between Capitol Hill and the White House to present Israel’s reservations about the deal being negotiated with Iran. In the short run, the effort had failed, as Dermer and Israeli officials were not able to stop Secretary of State John Kerry from signing an interim agreement they deemed as “bad for Israel” with his Iranian colleague Javad Zarif on Friday night. But in the next six months, as a final deal is negotiated, the new ambassador will have his hands full trying to defeat an agreement that would allow Iran to continue enriching uranium.

Advocating against the policy of a host country is a difficult task, even for seasoned diplomats. The challenge is all the more daunting for a newcomer who must express his country’s position while avoiding domestic political pitfalls.

For Dermer, however, that challenge is both easier and harder at the same time. On the one hand, his ability to work his way through domestic American politics will no doubt be aided by the fact that he is a native-born and raised American. On the other hand, he comes to Washington with the added baggage of close past ties to Republican circles that some view as partisan, and with perceived support for President Obama’s rivals.

So far, officials on both sides of the aisle say that Dermer has succeeded in avoiding this minefield, at least in his initial dealings on the Iranian issue.

Meeting with a group of lawmakers on November 20, Dermer made sure to praise President Obama’s support for Israel and his relationship with Netanyahu.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.