The Israeli paper Makor Rishon is reporting via JTA that Ron Dermer has been tapped to replace Michael Oren as the Israeli ambassador to the United States. Oren is set to retire in the coming spring after four years in the post.
Allison Hoffman, our always prescient senior writer, profiled Dermer, a Florida-born Jew, last year. Here’s some of what she had to say:
Dermer’s title is senior adviser to the prime minister, and he’s a jack-of-all-trades—strategist, pollster, and speechwriter for Netanyahu, as well as his chief proxy in foreign affairs. A constant presence in Netanyahu’s meetings in Washington, he has helped shape Israel’s posture in the American capital most notably through Netanyahu’s spring speech to the U.S. Congress, which foiled President Barack Obama’s effort to pressure the prime minister into meaningful negotiations with the Palestinians. “Bibi doesn’t move an inch without talking to him,” said one person who has been in meetings with both men.
At 40, Dermer has a full head of dark hair under his small knit kippah and the hyperkinetic energy of a man who is still young. A Wharton-schooled economist and Oxford-trained political theorist with Machiavellian political instincts, Dermer comes across as equal parts George Stephanopoulos and Karl Rove. He is a ferocious competitor who quarterbacked Israel’s flag-football team in the sport’s World Cup three times. “He cannot abide anybody being better at him than anything, particularly physically,” said his friend Tom Rose, a former publisher of the Jerusalem Post. “He wouldn’t let a 3-year-old beat him at Ping-Pong.”
For some Dermer might seem a curious pick as one to coordinate with the Obama administration given that he got his chops in politics working on the Republican Revolution of 1994, has been part of the GOP establishment, and was perceived to be firmly in the Mitt Romney camp. And who can forget his infamous (and beyond the borders of diplomacy) Bibiwashing screed against the Times?
But above all, he is known for closeness with Netanyahu, which may qualify him for the post more than anything else does.
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.