WASHINGTON - Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, hosted President Donald Trump's former political adviser, Steve Bannon, for dinner and expressed his gratitude to Bannon for his support for Israel. The dinner took place a few months ago, and was first made public on Friday when the head of a right-wing Jewish organization wrote about it on Twitter.
- Bannon addresses ZOA, urges Jews to join 'insurgency' against anti-Trump Republicans
- Adelson snubs Bannon after loud praise and call for U.S. Jews to join his 'insurgency'
- U.S.-Israel relations have never been better than under Trump, ambassador Dermer says
Bannon was a close adviser to Trump during the last three months of the 2016 election, and was later appointed to a senior position in the Trump White House. Before joining Trump's campaign, he was editor of the right-wing website "Breitbart" - a position he returned to this summer, after being dismissed from the White House. Bannon has stated in the past that Breitbart is "the platform for the 'alt-right'," an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism.
During his time at the White House, Bannon advocated for moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Bannon also supported cancelling the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. According to a report in Vanity Fair, he also refused to attend a meeting between Trump and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Following his dismissal from the White House, Breitbart and other right-wing websites launched a campaign accusing Bannon's rival within the Trump administration – National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster – of being "hostile to Israel."
Last week, Bannon spoke at the national gala of the Zionist Organization of America, a leading right-wing organization within the Jewish American community. ZOA came under criticism for hosting Bannon, who holds extreme positions and has been accused in the past of promoting anti-Semitism. In reply to those accusations, ZOA's president, Mort Klein, wrote on his Twitter account on Friday about Bannon's ties to Dermer.
"Ron Dermer told me that Steve Bannon was at his house for dinner and that 'Bannon is a great friend of Israel and Jews,'" Klein wrote.
The Israeli embassy in Washington refused to comment on Klein's tweet. Dermer is considered close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It should be noted that last November, after Bannon was accused of making anti-Semitic comments, Dermer publicly defended him, by telling reporters after a meeting with a number of advisers to Trump, that Israel is looking forward to working with all of Trump's future administration - including Bannon.