Editorial

The Israeli Far Right’s Ambassador to the United States

Netanyahu’s man in Washington, Ron Dermer, and the rest of the Israeli government consider the extreme right in the United States and elsewhere a partner in the battle against radical Islam and asylum seekers

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer (center) and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (right) walk near the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Oct. 28, 2018.
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

As if the political affiliation of the murderer from Pittsburgh weren’t known to everyone, it was very important to Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, to cover up the killer’s connection to his ideological home.

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“One of the big forces in college campuses today is anti-Semitism,” he said in an interview with MSNBC. “And those anti-Semites are usually not neo-Nazis on college campuses. They’re coming from the radical left. We have to stand against anti-Semitism whether it comes from the right or whether it comes from the left,” he said in an interview with MSNBC.

The fact that the man who entered the Tree of Life synagogue Saturday morning and ended the lives of 11 people is a declared member of the far right, a xenophobic white racist ultranationalist, doesn’t make any special impression on Dermer. He insists on pointing a finger at anti-Semites “from the radical left.”

Instead of talking about the negative influence of the discourse of hatred and the far-right spirit in President Donald Trump’s America, Dermer turns the spotlight across the sea to the leader of the British Labour Party, “the anti-Semitic Jeremy Corbyn,” and to anti-Semitism in Europe.

Nor did Dermer miss an opportunity to blame the Muslims; he insisted on mentioning that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan called the Jews “termites” the previous week. He was also asked about Trump’s statement last year describing neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville who shouted “Jews will not replace us” as “good people.”

>> Echoing Trump, Israeli Ambassador Dermer blames 'both sides' for anti-Semitism

Dermer said he “didn’t think the president’s comments after Charlottesville were very good.” But he was “not aware of a single non-Israeli leader that has made such a strong statement in condemning anti-Semitism,” he added, referring to Trump’s condemnation of the murders in Pittsburgh.

Dermer’s words reflect the abyss between American Jews and the Israeli government. Many American Jews believe that the massacre in Pittsburgh reflects the rise of the far right in the United States under the sponsorship of Trump, whom they say encourages racists and anti-Semites and defends their right to bear arms.

But while they criticize Trump’s violent messages and his use of the term “globalists,” for example, which has clear anti-Semitic connotations, Israeli officials prefer to handle the far right and Trump with kid gloves.

It’s hard not to conclude that the government considers the far right in the United States and elsewhere a partner in the battle against extremist Islam and “infiltrators,” and sees its strengthening as a stamp of approval for continuing the occupation and deporting asylum seekers.

When Dermer, as Israel’s ambassador, chooses to divert the fire from those who are really to blame to the European left and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement on campus, he’s proving that continuing the occupation is the top priority of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. It’s a government that’s even willing to turn a blind eye to the political changes in the United States and Europe that are endangering the lives of Jews in the Diaspora – and in the long run in Israel as well.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.