U.S. Muslims Fuming Over Dermer's White House Iftar Tweet

Israeli ambassador to Washington rouses ire over tweet lauding Obama for saying Israel has right to defend itself.

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U.S. President Barack Obama addressing the annual White House Iftar dinner, July 14, 2014.
U.S. President Barack Obama addressing the annual White House Iftar dinner, July 14, 2014. Credit: Reuters

Israel's ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer seems to have very bad luck when it comes to Twitter.

On Monday, days before his #AskDermer Twitter Q&A unleashed a barrage of tough questions from pro-Palestinian Twitter users, the Israeli envoy managed to anger U.S. Muslims with a tweet from the sixth annual White House Iftar dinner.

During Ramadan, Iftar is the meal that breaks the day of fasting, when Muslim families and communities eat together after sunset. This year's dinner was intended to celebrate "Muslim Americans working tirelessly to fight income inequality and creating opportunities for all," according to a White House statement.

Dermer tweeted, "@WhiteHouse for iftar dinner. Appreciate strong statement there by President Obama about Israel's right to defend itself."

During his address, U.S. President Barack Obama said, "No country can accept rockets fired indiscriminately at citizens," Obama said. "And so we've been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas." He added that "the death and injury of Palestinians is a tragedy, which is why we've emphasized the need to protect civilians." Obama also described the pictures coming out of Gaza and Israel as "heart wrenching"

Dermer's tweet created an angry backlash on social media, Al Arabiya reported. "We knew it was all bad when we saw this tweet surface a few minutes into the iftar by none other than Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer," one website, The Thrival Room, wrote.

Meanwhile, scholar Tariq Ramadan published a statement describing this year's dinner as "political instrumentalisation of (voluntarily) trapped Muslim leaders listening to President Obama justify the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians, declaring Israel has the right to defend itself. One wonders what is the relationship between the Iftar celebration and Israel? What is the U.S. administration’s implicit-explicit intention in putting the Muslim leaders in such an embarrassing situation? To test their loyalty or rather their capacity to compromise or betray? They obviously remained silent."

In fact, Dermer's very presence at the dinner got some people's backs up.

Ramadan wrote, "The Israeli ambassador, Mr. Ron Dermer, also invited (why?), was actually the first to speak," adding that Dermer was "invited to celebrate Iftar with the Muslims meanwhile his Government is destroying Gaza.”

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