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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘ambassador’

New Envoy to US, Ron Dermer, Has Big Demands for Perks

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Many Israeli officials are known to think a lot of themselves, but Ron Dermer, Israel’s next ambassador to the United States, takes the cake.

He has demanded to start working before an agreed date and has come up with unprecedented demands for housing and staff, according to the Hebrew-language Yediot Acharonot newspaper.

Dermer wants to assume his duties on the first of September even though outgoing Ambassador Michael Oren will remain in office until the end of next month.

Dermer also reportedly has demanded to bring his own personal staff from Israel although an ambassador does not have that privilege and has to work with the diplomatic staff that is in place. He also wants an alternative to the official ambassador’s residence, claiming that his family with five children needs bigger quarters.

Definition of Insanity: Failed Negotiators Trying Yet Again

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Twenty years after Yitzhak Rabin attempted to conjure arch-terrorist Yasir Arafat into a worthy partner for peace, it seems we have not learned the necessary lessons from the past.

As the “peace process” continued to hit bumps along the way, Israel and its American ally attempted many different variations, all of which led to the same failed result. Perhaps the problem with Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations lies not with the process but with the people involved in representing the parties at the table.

In most professions, when one fails at his job and leaves the project in question in chaos and disarray, he is not asked to keep working on the task at hand. Not so when it comes to the “peace process industry.”

Saeb Erekat is the main representative for the Palestinian delegation. He has held this position in one form or another since 1991 and has not brought the Palestinians one inch closer to peaceful coexistence with Israel. More troubling, it is clear he never really revised his radical views about the Jewish state. During the second intifada, Erekat accused Israel of massacring 500 Palestinians in Jenin, completely ignoring the facts showing that one-tenth of that number had been killed and most of those were armed terrorists. As recently as 2007, Erekat denied the possibility of the Palestinians ever recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Representing the United States at the latest round of talks is former ambassador Martin Indyk. Like Erekat, Indyk has been a major player in the peace industry since the early 1990s, and he also can point to zero achievements in bringing peace and prosperity to our region. On the contrary, when Indyk served as the American ambassador to Israel during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s first term, he was known for his disparaging attitude toward the democratically elected government of Israel.

Since leaving public office, Indyk has revealed his true political leanings. Until his recent appointment by Secretary of State Joh

n Kerry, Indyk chaired the International Council of the New Israel Fund (NIF), an organization that has refused to stop funding groups that call for boycotting Israel.

Finally, we are left with Israel’s chief negotiator. Compared to Erekat and Indyk, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is a relative newcomer to peace negotiations. Nevertheless, she too has endured countless hours of negotiating with the Palestinians. Most troubling, her views do not represent the majority of the current government and are at odds with the average Likud voter, not to mention the Israeli public, which sharply spurned her in the recent elections.

While serving under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Livni offered the Palestinians more than 95 percent of the historic Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria and the unprecedented division of Jerusalem – an offer that was ultimately rejected by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Erekat.

As a father of three small children, there is nothing I want more than to believe that the latest round of talks will lead to true and lasting peace. But we all know that a definition of insanity is the endless repetition of the same experiment in the hope of obtaining a different result. Therefore, all sides should end the insanity and appoint negotiators who have not failed us in the past and who truly represent the best interests of the people they aspire to represent.

(JNS)

My Week in Israel with Dr. Oz

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Everything over the past week was memorable and magical as Dr. Mehmet Oz, America’s foremost daytime TV host and the world’s most famous doctor, toured Israel. From dancing the horah outside the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, to dancing Friday night at the Western Wall with Israeli soldiers and thousands of worshippers, to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu for ninety minutes of substantive conversation about Israel, Turkey, and the United States, Dr. Oz and his family showed the Jewish state extravagant love and admiration.

Mehmet is a remarkable man and seeing him up close reinforced the high regard in which I have always held him, ever since we started working together for Oprah at her radio network. First there was his attention to his children, all four of whom accompanied him, along with his son-in-law. Mehmet would go nowhere without them and pulled them in to hear every last explanation about Israel’s ancient and modern history.

Then there is his dedication to his wife Lisa, a remarkable and brilliant woman in her own right, and vastly knowledgeable of the Bible. Lisa was correcting me constantly on Biblical quotations (I purposely got them wrong so she could feel superior). Mehmet is a man who honors his wife at every opportunity.

Of course, there were the legions of fans – Jews and Arabs in every part of Israel – that pleaded for a picture and he turned noone down.

But more than anything else there was his attachment to the Jewish people on display at every moment. Mehmet is a Muslim, perhaps the world’s most famous Muslim who is not a head of state. He is a righteous and proud Ambassador of his faith and feels an innate kinship and brotherhood with the Jewish people.

He praised Israel constantly, from lauding its treatment of its minority citizens at our joint lecture at Rambam hospital in Haifa, to noting Israel’s phenomenal medical breakthroughs at several news conferences, to highlighting his amazement at Israel’s capacity to turn deserts into thriving cities.

In Hebron, at the tomb of the patriarchs, we prayed together publicly for peace and understanding between the children of Abraham. At the tomb of Maimonides we noted the role reversal. Maimonides, a Jew, was the world’s most famous physician, and he served the Muslim ruler Saladin. Now, a Muslim doctor – the world’s most famous – was visiting his Jewish brothers in the Holy land 900 years later.

Joined with Natan Sharasnky at the Jerusalem Press Club for a public discussion, the three of us debated whether there was an obligation to hate evil. Mehmet maintained that hatred harmed he who harbored it, even for the best of reasons. On this Sharasnky and I disagreed. Natan spoke of the evil he encountered in the KGB. I spoke of Hamas’ genocidal covenant and Hezbollah’s commitment to annihilating Israel. Terrorists deserved our contempt. Only by truly hating evil are we prepared to fight it. In the end we compromised in agreeing that hating evil should not be obsessive and internal but rather externally directed at neutralizing those who slaughter God’s innocent children, whoever they may be.

As I walked Dr. Oz and his family through the old city of Jerusalem on Friday night, we passed through Zion gate, still riddled with bullet holes from the heavy fighting of 1967 that liberated the city. At Shabbat dinner at the home of Simon and Chana Falic, my friend Ron Dermer, Israel’s newly appointed Ambassador to the United States, explained to Mehmet that even after Israel conquered the Temple Mount in the Six Day War it left control of Judaism’s holiest site to the Muslim waqf and that such an action had no precedent in all human history. Ron said that there could no greater illustration of Israel’s desire to respect its Muslim citizens and seek peace.

At the Christian holy sites, like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, and Muslim Holy Sites like the Dome of the Rock and the vast Muslim crowds that filled mosques for Ramadan, Dr. Oz saw first hand how Israel is a country of thriving religious liberty.

But the highlight of the visit was the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu where Ambassador Dermer joined Mehmet and me as we heard the Israeli leader deeply engage Mehmet about Israel’s search for peace and the challenges it faces with the destabilization of Syria and Egypt on the one hand, and the changes in its relationship with Turkey, on the other.

Government Approves Ron Dermer as Ambassador to US

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

The Israeli government unanimously approved the appointment of Ron Dermer, an Oleh from the US, as Israel’s next ambassador to the U.S.

Netanyahu Names American Immigrant Ron Dermer Ambassador to US

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday he is appointing American-born Ron Dermer as Israel’s next Ambassador to the United States, the second American in a row to represent Jerusalem in Washington.

Dermer, who will replace Michael Oren, has served as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s senior adviser for the past four years and served as the economic attaché at the Israeli Embassy in Washington from 2005 to 2008.

He was born in Florida, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and holds a master’s degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford.

Dermer immigrated to Israel in 1997. He once wrote in the now defunct New York Sun that he “left America because I wanted to help another nation I love defend the freedoms that Americans have long taken for granted.”

Dermer has a background of political activism in the Republican party, having worked with the GOP in the 1994 mid-term elections before going to Oxford. While studying there, he shuttled to Israel to work on behalf of Natan Sharansky and his Yisrael B’Aliyah party.

His appointment gives Prime Minister Netanyahu a close ear in Washington, where Dermer is familiar with back channels, noted JTA’s Ben Sales last year, when Dermer’s name was being floated for the ambassadorial post.

“Netanyahu likes him, respects him and listens to him,” Netanyahu’s former national security adviser Uzi Arad told the JTA. “I often asked for his advice. In many ways he was a guy to listen to. When it came to knowledge and being cultured and erudite and intellectually inclined, that’s him.”

“He understands how Americans view Israelis and how Israelis view Americans,” Mitchell Barak, an Israeli pollster who met Dermer as an adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told Sales. “He knows how to work [in Washington] and has personal relations.”

Dermer’s views are strongly nationalist and indicate that Netanyahu is finished with any more “good will” concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

Dermer castigated The New York Times in 2011 with an open letter that attacked its news coverage and its Op-Ed page.

Times columnists “consistently distort the positions of our government and ignore the steps it has taken to advance peace,” Dermer wrote in the letter, which was published in The Jerusalem Post. “It would seem as if the surest way to get an op-ed published in The New York Times these days, no matter how obscure the writer or the viewpoint, is to attack Israel.”

Dermer wrote in 2003 that Israel would be giving up its sovereignty if it were to agree to the Bush “Roadmap” plan.

“It is one thing for Israel to take into consideration what America says,” he wrote. “In fact, Israel’s national interest demands that it do so. But it is quite another to cede to a third party, no matter how friendly, the right to determine Israel’s future.”

Dermer co-authored with Sharansky “The Case for Democracy,” a book that reportedly was a major influence on President George W. Bush..

Ron Dermer to be Appointed Israel’s Ambassador to U.S.

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Galei Tzahal reported today that Ron Dermer will be appointed as Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. in August.

It was first reported by Makor Rishon in December 2012 that Dermer would be the next Israeli ambassador to the U.S., but the story was quickly denied a few days later by Israel’s Embassy in Washington.

Dermer fell out of the good graces of the Obama administration for his support of Mitt Romney, but he has been working to imporive his relationship with the current adminstration, and with John Kerry in particular.

Dermer made Aliyah from Florida in 1998, and served as a senior adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu for four years.

When American Ambassadors Were Still Untouchable

Friday, May 17th, 2013

I just finished one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, which tells the story of Ambassador William Dodd, President Roosevelt’s first Ambassador to Hitler. The book chronicles the slow descent of Germany into Nazi tyranny. One of the most striking features of the narrative is the fear that slowly descends on the German populace as they become terrified of ever expressing an opinion about Hitler and his police state even in the company of close family and friends.

Yet Dodd and his family were utterly immune to such fear. Though they lived in a home that was owned by a Jewish banker; though they regularly hosted journalists who wrote critically of Hitler; though they drove by the home of Franz Von Papen – the deputy Chancellor –  to show their support even after he had been placed under house arrest by Hitler for his Marburg speech of June, 1934; though Dodd openly snubbed Hitler every year by refusing to attend the Nazi Nuremberg rally where Hitler was celebrated as a god, Dodd never had anything to fear. He did not have to worry that the S.A. would ransack his Berlin home in the middle of the night. He did not have to fear that his daughter Martha, who even had an affair with Gestapo head Rudolf Diels, would be summarily shot for her increasing disillusion with Hitler’s regime. He did not have to fear that the SS would arrest him on his frequent walks through the Tiergarten for a speech he gave on that made subtle reference to Hitler’s growing assault on freedom. And he did not have fear that roaming bands of Nazi thugs would attack him for his protests to the German Foreign Minister against unprovoked attacks that threatened the lives of Americans.

And why didn’t he fear? Because even a monster as evil as Hitler, arguably the most dangerous man that ever lived, wasn’t going to mess with the American Ambassador.

In fact, one of the stories told in the book is the day that Dodd took a walk with French Ambassador André François-Poncet in the Tiergarten when the latter told him he would not be surprised if he would be shot in the street by the S.S.

Dodd was astonished. It never occurred to him to ever worry so long as he was the American Ambassador and indeed Hitler and the Nazis never harassed Western Ambassadors.

It therefore matters that just 80 years later a bunch of terrorist thugs can think they can murder an American Ambassador in full site of the world without consequence. American diplomatic staff were once the safest people in the world, representatives of a superpower who would rain hell from the skies should you touch one of their diplomatic staff. But no more.

The growing revelations from the Congressional hearings on Benghazi that the Obama State Department watered down public statements on the attack in order to cleanse them of any mention of al Qaeda and terrorism is a travesty and shows a lack of moral will to give evil its proper name. ABC News and Fox News reported this past Friday that the departments talking points were revised a full 12 times to purge them of any mention of terrorism. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland asked the CIA to remove mention of their own security warnings about Benghazi.

According to ABC News the original paragraph read,

The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.

But Nuland was concerned that the line “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?”

I have earlier written how  Ambassador Susan Rice was utterly inappropriate to be chosen as Secretary of State based on her efforts to disassociate the word genocide from the Rwandan mass slaughters of 1994 so as not to commit the Clinton Administration to intervention.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/when-american-ambassadors-were-still-untouchable/2013/05/17/

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