Friday night at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem. The important diplomatic meeting with Netanyahu had wound up a few hours ago. Trump’s two envoys, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt travelled to Herzliya to spend Shabbat with US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. Israeli Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer remains in Jerusalem. In the hotel lobby people recognize him and come up to shake his hand, offer a compliment and ask him to visit their communities in the States to give a lecture. But they do not ask to take a photo. The holiness of the Shabbat supersedes the holiness of the selfie.
Dermer is considered to be Netanyahu’s closest confidant and has served as Israel’s representative to the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations. He can now breath a sigh of relief when dealing with the current administration. He believes that the watershed mark was Netanyahu’s speech to Congress: “People say that, in his speech, Netanyahu showed himself to be like Churchill. I believe that, in some aspects, Netanyahu’s achievement in his speech was greater than Churchill’s. When Churchill was the sole voice warning the world against Hitler, he was in the political wilderness. When Netanyahu stood alone and warned the world about the Iranian regime, he was an incumbent prime minister. This demands more courage because he had far more to lose. He stood up to the entire world and spoke a simple and clear truth. This was a turning point and since then, we are witnessing a process of a rude awakening.”
The question has long since transcended the issue of Israel and is now about the ability to distinguish between good and evil. When I want to know if someone in the States will be our ally, I pose two questions: Do you believe that good and evil exist in the world? Do you believe that America is a positive or negative force in the world According to the answers I receive, I know if there is even anything to talk about.”
Having spoken about the non-Jews, Dermer then spoke about the Jewish people and his message is clear. “Jewish identity, education, knowledge, tradition. We have to fight ignorance, assimilation and alienation.” This is the message from a person who was active in a Jewish culture club during his student days in Oxford.
Pinhas Alush, a rabbi from Arizona, came to Israel with his community to celebrate the bat mitzvah of one of his congregants. During dinner, he asked Dermer to address Daniella Gorney, the bat mitzvah girl. The ambassador left his desert and went over to join the celebration: “Mazal tov, you were privileged to celebrate your bat mitzvah here in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. Your grandparents and mine, going back many generations, could only dream of such a celebration. You have merited something great, but with it comes a great obligation. I want to give you a gift and a make a request of you.” Dermer then took off the lapel pin from his jacket and gave it to Daniella. This was the official celebratory pin prepared for the dedication of the American embassy in Jerusalem. “The pin has the American and Israeli flag and I am giving it to you so that you will remember the special bond that you as an American citizen have with Israel.” He continued with the homework assignment: “I request that wherever you are and whatever you do, you will make every effort to celebrate your daughter’s and your granddaughter’s bat mitzvah here in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.” Daniella nodded in agreement.