Ron Dermer, a diplomatic advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and candidate for the post of Israeli ambassador to Washington, told a closed meeting of U.S. Jewish leaders in New York last week that the Boston marathon bombings would increase American support for Israel - just as that support increased following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
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Dermer made his remarks last Wednesday, two days after explosions rocked the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding nearly 200 more. Dermer, considered one of Netanyahu's closest associates, is currently on vacation, after having finished his stint as a senior adviser at the Prime Minister's Bureau.
"The bulk of the American people stand firmly with Israel and identify with Israel," Dermer said, in a video filmed by blogger Jacob Kornbluh. "If you can look, historically, there was a big change after 9/11, and I am sure that after the tragic bombing in Boston, people will identify more with Israel and its struggle against terrorism and we can maintain that support."
During his briefing with the Jewish leaders, Dermer surveyed the situation in the Middle East, and also gave them a glimpse at Netanyahu's position regarding a possible Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
"Netanyahu is very prudent in the use of force," Dermer said. "One columnist once called him a trigger-happy prime minister - that is ridiculous. He is the least trigger-happy prime minister Israel has ever had. When he uses force, he wants to do it wisely and when it is critical to Israel's security. He is the second-longest-serving prime minister in the history of Israel after [David] Ben-Gurion – and like Ben-Gurion I believe that, when push comes to shove, he will face all the pressure in the world and will do what is necessary to protect Israel."
Dermer also discussed the situation in the West Bank, saying the reality there has changed for the worse. "If you look at the situation today in the West Bank, we are dealing with a different reality," he said. "Some people are worried by a third intifada. I don’t know if that is going to happen, but there is no question that there is a sense that the pot is beginning to boil over."
Dermer said that the resignation last week of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will not benefit peacemaking efforts. "In my view Fayyad was the first Palestinian leader in a century who cared about the Palestinians," Dermer said.
"There have been many Palestinian leaders that cared about the Palestinian cause, but Fayyad is the first to actually care about the Palestinians. From that point of view - not because he is a Zionist - he was a peace partner, because he wanted a better life for them. Any Palestinian leader who wants a better life for the Palestinians would want to have peace with Israel."
Dermer also remarked on Israel's regional status, and emphasized that Netanyahu's diplomacy has focused on resolving secondary issues to make way for the real strategic issues facing Israel. He cited the cease-fire with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and the rapprochement with Turkey as two examples of this approach.
"We have to try and move as many non-strategic issues off the table," he said. "We are facing many fronts simultaneously…. The best juggler in the world could deal with five, six or seven balls – eventually one will drop."
Video courtesy of Jacob Kornbluh
With regard to Hamas, Dermer said, "Nobody is under any illusions about Hamas, but when it comes to threats facing Israel, they are going to have to wait in line because we've got bigger fish we need to deal with." He said the same goes for Turkey: "No one is under any illusions about the Turkish government, but if we can remove something from the agenda, take half of it off the plate with a minimal price, then that's what we have to do."
Dermer also discussed the situation in Egypt and Jordan, comparing the Sinai Peninsula with the "Wild West" of terror groups. "The situation in Sinai is completely unstable and almost every terror group in the region is setting up shop over there," he said.
Meanwhile, in Israel's other neighbor Jordan, King Abdullah is facing unprecedented pressure since taking the throne: He faces enormous political challenges and demands for reform, Dermer told the crowd.
Finally, Dermer also denied claims from American experts that Israel fudged data about the performance of Iron Dome anti-missile defense system rockets.
"I was with the prime minister in the war room during the war [in Gaza]," he said. "When the IDF chief of staff walks into the room, it's what we would call a 'no-spin zone.' In that room, you have to tell the truth to the prime minister, because it’s a matter of life and death. Iron Dome works, and it works brilliantly."