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The Times Discovers Dan Senor

But not before Allison Hoffman did

Adam Chandler
August 02, 2012
Dan Senor with Paul Bremer in Iraq(Getty)
Dan Senor with Paul Bremer in Iraq(Getty)

Romney adviser Dan Senor is having quite a week. He made headlines in Jerusalem when he got “a little ahead” of his candidate in declaring that Romney would “understand” if Israel unilaterally attacked Iran. And now he is getting the profile treatment in The Times:

Moments after making remarks in Jerusalem about Middle East culture that enraged Palestinians and undermined the public relations value of his trip to Israel, Mitt Romney looked around the room for Dan Senor, one of his campaign’s top foreign policy advisers.

It was Mr. Senor’s book about entrepreneurs in Israel that informed his comments, Mr. Romney explained to the group of Jewish-American donors he had assembled at the King David hotel. The book, “Start-up Nation,” is among Mr. Senor’s writings that Mr. Romney frequently cites in public.

But before Senor was all fancy, he was the subject of a Tablet profile by our own Allison Hoffman, who actually got to sit down with Senor. Here are some of the highlights you won’t get from the Grey Lady:

On Senor’s mentors:

Senor has a remarkable talent for cultivating mentors. Beginning with Kristol, who is almost two decades his elder, Senor has flourished under the watch of a succession of father figures, including former Republican Sen. Spencer Abraham of Michigan, a founder of the conservative Federalist Society, and David Rubenstein, the head of the Carlyle Group (and aDemocrat). And, now, Mitt Romney. “I’ve never met anyone who successful, older men want to mentor or sponsor more,” Chris Heinz told me.

On “Start-Up Nation,” the book Senor co-authored about Israel’s tech industry:

The notion of looking at Israel through a business lens was new to most people, but natural to Senor, whose father had moved on to run the Canadian affiliate of the Weizmann Institute of Science after his stint with Israel Bonds. (He also opened the Tehran office of the Joint Distribution Committee in the late 1950s.)
Rights to the book have been sold in 26 countries, most recently Croatia, and a film crew has already begun shooting a documentary based on the book in Israel. Senor is also developing a feature film version along the lines of The Social Network.
The Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad keeps a copy of “Start-Up Nation” on his desk.

On Senor’s post as spokesman in Iraq:

Senor was an unlikely person to deploy to a war zone. For one thing, he keeps kosher. “He had more cans of tuna than anyone I knew,” said Mark Kimmitt, the general who served alongside Senor as military spokesman in Baghdad. “Any time any of us thought we had a fever we’d grab him, because he had so much mercury in his blood.” (He’s also a picky eater; when we met, he ordered a hamburger with no onions and mustard and mayonnaise on the side, in the precise manner of Meg Ryan’s When Harry Met Sally character.)

Of course, read the whole thing.

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.