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Democrats have no problem with Israeli envoy addressing GOP group opposed to Obama

Israel/Palestine
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Ron Dermer gets around. The former Floridian who is now Israel’s ambassador to the United States had pride of place with Hillary Clinton the other night when she got an award from the American Jewish Congress for her lifetime achievement.

Hillary Clinton chats with Ron Dermer at American Jewish Congress

Hillary Clinton chats with Ron Dermer at American Jewish Congress

And over at Lobelog, Marsha Cohen reports that Dermer is violating diplomatic convention by speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition at a Sheldon Adelson hotel in Las Vegas this week.

In a break with diplomatic tradition Ron Dermer, an American-born former Republican activist, is scheduled to attend the Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC) Spring Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas next week and share the speaking platform with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, Ohio Governor Jon Kasich and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Cohen explains how this goes against diplo-etiquette:

It is highly unusual for foreign ambassadors to directly involve themselves in the politics of the country in which they are serving, particularly by actively aligning themselves with an opposition party….

“I would not be a speaker at a political rally of any side, however,” said [a] former diplomat. “Doing so is an inappropriate level of involvement in a sovereign country’s domestic politics by a foreign representative.”…

Asked to comment on the possible consequences of Dermer sharing a partisan platform with exclusively Republican speakers, the retired American foreign service officer explained, “For a foreign ambassador to appear publicly before a Republican group opposed to a Democratic administration could easily be seen as grounds for having him recalled by his government.”

“At a minimum, his utility in Washington would be affected as senior Democrats might decline to meet with him. His sending government could then decide to reassign him in favor of a neutral official,” said the former officer.

But that’s the funny part. The Democrats won’t punish Dermer. Because, as Cohen indicates, Democrats are loath to criticize the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Leading US Jewish Democrats also appear unconcerned about the upcoming event. Both the National Jewish Democratic Council and the office of the head of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL) declined to comment on Dermer’s apparent upcoming breach of diplomatic protocol.

This underscores my contention that the Israel lobby is outside and above American politics; no one can criticize it and operate effectively in the Establishment until they recant, as Chuck Hagel and Samantha Power both were forced to do last year. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party both sign off on the lobby’s major goals, so what’s the problem with the Israeli ambassador visiting the opposition? In the land o’ the lobby, there is no opposition. Though, yes, the consensus is starting to fracture (AIPAC on the right, versus J Street on the left), it’s still a drama inside the lobby.

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26 Responses

  1. Ismail
    Ismail
    March 24, 2014, 11:15 am

    “Ron Dermer gets around. The former Floridian who is now Israel’s ambassador to the United States had price of place with Hillary Clinton…”

    You probably meant “pride of place”, but come to think of it, “price” may be the more revealing word in this case.

  2. Krauss
    Krauss
    March 24, 2014, 11:15 am

    This just underscores that Hillary Clinton will likely be the worst president on Israel/Palestine in many generations. Obama was bad but at least he tried during his first year in office, even if what he sought was doomed from the start. And Obama’s positions have actually been to the right of Dubya, if you look carefully of what positions his administration has adopted. So Hillary looks to be even worse than both of them.

    Clinton is basically running to his right just like her husband did with Bush I. She has been hawkish on Iran until she couldn’t get away with it without being accused of rank opportunism(which is why she was silent for such a long time on the Iran diplomacy deal until her hand was forced). She has compared Putin with Hitler – at a girl’s scout conference! – thereby directly putting pressure on Obama and helping the neocons pile on.

    And now she is cozying up with the lobby. That’s why she is their favourite, they know it’s a dependable card to the neoconservative/Zionist agenda(the two are not the same but they significantly overlap). And it’s a pretty safe bet, her candidacy will benefit as the first woman president.

    I still hold out for Elizabeth Warren. Her positions on I/P are AIPAC-worded, but from what I’ve read she has little interest in being a tool of the neocons. She might be a little disinterested now but once she reads up on the topics, she’ll mouth the propaganda but do what Obama did in his 2nd term.

    But it’s depressive, de Blasio is falling under the truck of Wall Street financiers on charter schools. His approval ratings tanked after they blitzed him with ads, forcing him to backtrack. In a fight on higher taxes, Albany holds the cards and Wall Street likes Cuomo better and will support him if de Blasio gets too public, which is why he has refrained thus far.

    As Mearsheimer likes to say; the debate has shifted in the U.S. but the policy hasn’t, and that’s because of the massive money gap between the two sides. Over time, this won’t matter(Obama was outspent in 2012 yet won handsomely), but it could take a long time.

    • seanmcbride
      seanmcbride
      March 24, 2014, 12:54 pm

      Krauss,

      Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in 2008 by running to her left on foreign policy. Rand Paul might follow the same strategy.

      Rand Paul could easily attack Democrats from the left with Teddy Roosevelt (and Republican) progressivism (attacks on crony capitalism and Wall Street) and a critique of neoconservative and neoliberal warmongering (highlighting the multi-trillion dollar failures of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars). The Democrats would have no effective defense. A powerful left hook and haymaker. Certainly curtains for Hillary.

      • Krauss
        Krauss
        March 24, 2014, 2:05 pm

        Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in 2008 by running to her left on foreign policy. Rand Paul might follow the same strategy.

        Two things.

        1. Obama didn’t really run to her left. He reminded everyone she supported the Iraq war, but if you look at their foreign policy positions in 2008, Hillary tacked to the left to a large extent.

        Also, Obama would likely have voted for the Iraq war to go through in 2002 had he been elected to the Senate in 2000 instead of running a failed House campaign. He had good political timing, he was elected in 2004 but was actually sworn in 2005, which means that by that time, it was obvious to everyone that the whole thing was going haywire. It was easy to distance yourself and pay zero in political price.

        2. Rand Paul has no shot at being president. No Republican nominee has.

        The demographics in this country means that unless the GOP does a TOTAL reversal on hispanics and Asians, they are going to get creamed in 2016. The country is becomming like California and the GOP’s main role is now to mainly act as a minority party until it becomes so insignificant that it can be overridden on a routine basis. And if amnesty goes through, all of this gets accelerated.

        Finally, people vote on economics. His only positions that can resonate are on civil liberties and foreign policy(where he has tacked to the right to appease the slimy neocons, so that’s less of a factor).
        Hispanics don’t vote for the GOP because they don’t push amnesty, it’s because they are economic liberals. They have to be; they are poor people.

        And Asians vote for the left for much the same reasons why Jews vote for the left; cultural reasons. The GOP is the white Christian man’s party.

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride
        March 24, 2014, 8:03 pm

        Krauss,

        Your political analysis is spot on, as usual, but I have a gut feeling that if Hillary Clinton is the nominee in 2016, Democrats may be in for more problems than they realize. She will be much weaker then than she was in 2008.

        If Rand Paul can find a way to weave in and amp up Teddy Roosevelt progressive themes in his libertarian pitch, and paint Hillary as a tool of the financially corrupt and warmongering Wall Street/military-industrial-intelligence complex, he might be able to gain some unexpected traction. I offer this prospect merely as a scenario to play with, not as a prediction. We shall see what unfolds.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      March 24, 2014, 1:41 pm

      The next Dem nominee will still bend over for the lobby.
      Warren is no different to Obama. It’s all about the money.
      Anyone with a conscience is already out of the race. That’s plutocracy.

    • Dan Crowther
      Dan Crowther
      March 24, 2014, 1:44 pm

      Warren is a joke. She’s allowed to say nice things about middling white folks from flyover country, but that’s as far as it goes. You should have seen her foreign policy section on her website while she was running. Hawk.ish.

  3. American
    American
    March 24, 2014, 11:25 am

    ‘breach of diplomatic protocol’…??????????..roflmao

    That is hysterical….considering how Netanyahu appeared all over US TV campaigning against Obama in US presidential elections.
    These people don’t care about protocol any more than a pig cares about acceptable dining manners.

  4. seanmcbride
    seanmcbride
    March 24, 2014, 12:39 pm

    Zionism trumps conservatism and liberalism in what is now essentially a one-party Soviet-style regime.

    The United States is now totally dominated by Zionist ideology and interests. Perhaps we should be renamed the Zionist States of America, with Tel Aviv (or Jerusalem) as our capital.

    It’s no wonder that many members of the US Congress are now more preoccupied with protecting the interests of Israelis than of Americans. (Quite a few Republicans have been calling for reducing American spending for Americans while increasing American spending for Israelis — see Eric Cantor, for instance.)

  5. JeffB
    JeffB
    March 24, 2014, 12:58 pm

    @Phil

    I think the way to look at this is that Israel is close enough to the establishment that they don’t have to follow tight diplomatic etiquette. They get to go backstage and chat with politicians in informal ways. They have direct relationships with congressmen. That isn’t however totally atypical. For example with the UK Labor had a stronger relationship with the Democratic party while the Conservatives have a stronger relationship with the Republicans. That doesn’t mean that either American party wants a bad relationship with the UK. It just means the UK ambassador has a close enough relationship that US officials feel comfortable “talking out of school”. The UK ambassador gets to be part of USA internal discussions. The Chinese for example have much stronger relations with Republicans than with Democrats.

    Similarly with Israel. If John Boehner and Ed Royce want to get a handle on Syria they might ask State, Pentagon, CIA… if they want an outside perspective they might ask the Israelis. Which from the plus side means the Israelis now understand the distinctions between House Foreign Affairs Committee’s thinking, the State Department’s thinking ….

    The Israelis are unusual in that Israeli parties have US domestic groups that are almost extensions of them. Partners4Israel is Meretz. American Friends of Likud (and arguably AIPAC) is Likud… Agudath Israel of America is UTJ etc…. So if you want something unusual that’s what’s unusual.

    If you want an even stronger example there were Orange and Green organizations among the Irish in America where the Greens oppressed the Orange and the Orange migrated often to Canada (another example of ethnic cleansing that no one has any intention of reversing). I think you are in New York, you can still see some remnants of the Orange lodges that survived in New York City though those that did mostly kept their head down.

    In terms of other example of foreign lobbies and diplomatic lobbies that have partisan affiliations. Haiti is a good recent example where we had a situation where support for the Aristide government was almost completely the Democrats while the Republicans (including Bush) were backing regime change. We almost had a similar situation in Honduras where Jim Demint and several Republicans were backing the coup while Obama was backing the replaced government.

    I’d suspect that as the population of Israel and America start to flow more freely with Orthodox Jews moving there and seculars possibly finding Europe too hostile to Israelis that this sort of close affiliation is going to increase. With people comfortably taking jobs in the diplomatic corps of both countries. The way for example people move from federal offices to state offices and back. And plenty of examples of that as well. This could if the relationship continues to develop go even further. Everyone considered the government of The Territory of Utah to be American even though it clearly wasn’t legally part of the United States and there were barriers (primarily polygamy and a state church) which made union problematic. I could imagine a situation where Israel is essentially viewed as a state with some policies (legalized religious discrimination and a state church) that make union problematic so better to keep it technically separate.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      March 24, 2014, 5:18 pm

      “I think the way to look at this is that Israel is close enough to the establishment that they don’t have to follow tight diplomatic etiquette.”

      That may be the way that YOU look at it. But I’m an American loyal to none other and I do not wish to have any alien state or its representative (even if he’s a turn-coat Floridian) being anywhere close to MY country’s establishment. Washington warned us about this stuff.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        March 25, 2014, 2:31 pm

        @Woody

        That may be the way that YOU look at it. But I’m an American loyal to none other and I do not wish to have any alien state or its representative (even if he’s a turn-coat Floridian) being anywhere close to MY country’s establishment. Washington warned us about this stuff.

        Well then this is a great chance for you prove you aren’t just anti-Jewish. This happens for more with the UK than Israel. So here is your shot to fight something on purely neutral terms.

    • Shingo
      Shingo
      March 24, 2014, 7:04 pm

      The Chinese for example have much stronger relations with Republicans than with Democrats.

      What a load of ahistorical crap!! The Repugs hate China with a passion. When Bush met with Hu stood at the White House, announcer referred to the Republic of China, which was a blatant and deliberate affront to China.

      Secondly, no foreign leader but Netenyahu has openly campaigned for one candidate against another in a presidential election.

      Just another post full of a factual BS Jeff.

  6. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    March 24, 2014, 1:28 pm

    Somehow, I’ve developed quite a non-passion for Hilary Clinton. I hope it’s not mere sexism, because a lot of men are as opportunistic as she comes across (to me) to be. Maybe it’s because I once thought her genuine (when she briefly seemed to have befriended some Palestinians — whom she doubtless by now has disowned or ignored and forgotten).

    • seanmcbride
      seanmcbride
      March 24, 2014, 1:34 pm

      When Hillary Clinton made that remark during the 2008 campaign about “totally obliterating Iran,” we began to see the real neocon behind the liberal patter. Her language is often crude and coarse — her mind is not nearly as nuanced and fine-tuned as Bill Clinton’s. She’s a guided missile under the control of Democratic Party big donors like Haim Saban.

      • tree
        tree
        March 24, 2014, 2:10 pm

        Since her threat to “obliterate Iran” was conditioned on Iran launching a nuclear attack upon Israel, I don’t really have a problem with the statement. I only wish that she, or whomever is in power at the time, would say the same thing to Israel if it threatened to launch a nuclear attack on any other country.

        I don’t think it is a bad thing to warn any and all countries that attempting to use nuclear weapons would engender a fierce and swift blowback, and that includes warning the US about any use of nuclear weapons.

      • seanmcbride
        seanmcbride
        March 24, 2014, 2:23 pm

        tree,

        But when Hillary made that remark about “totally obliterating Iran” there wasn’t the slightest chance that Iran would launch an aggressive nuclear attack against Israel then or in the foreseeable future. She was indulging in crude and over-the-top incitement, responding to the relentless prodding of pro-Israel big donors in the Democratic Party. Her latest remark comparing Putin to Hitler is another example of her general crudity of mind.

        The main point to consider — she has no significant political accomplishments under her belt. She has never dared to get out in front of any controversial political issue (unlike Obama, who opposed the Iraq War). She is dull, mediocre and conventional — completely under the thumb of the powers that be. Not a leader in any meaningful sense of the term. Without question, she would take her marching orders from AIPAC and Wall Street.

      • tree
        tree
        March 26, 2014, 5:06 pm

        sean,

        She has never dared to get out in front of any controversial political issue (unlike Obama, who opposed the Iraq War).

        Oh, lord, talk about drinking the Kool-Aid. Obama gave one speech in Chicago during a well attended rally when he was a state Senator where he said that the money could be better spent domestically. He wasn’t “out in front” in any sense of the word, and admitted later that he wasn’t sure if he would have voted any differently than Clinton and Kerry and Biden voted had he been in the US Senate at the time. Even as President Obama has been loath to really get out front of any controversial political issue.

        She is dull, mediocre and conventional — completely under the thumb of the powers that be. Not a leader in any meaningful sense of the term. Without question, she would take her marching orders from AIPAC and Wall Street.

        You could substitute the name Obama in your sentence just as easily and be correct. Mr. Drone Warfare has given new meanings to mediocre, gutless and heartless.

        Giles and Sean,

        But tree thinks it is reasonable that Hillary would threaten Iran with annihilation under s scenario where Iran launches a nuclear attack on Israel.

        For all the talk about Obama supposedly engaging in 11th dimensional chess each time he sucks up to Israeli demands, some people don’t seem to understand that a statement that could be taken to be directed at one country could be meant for the ears of another.

        I analyzed Clinton’s statement in reference to her concept of providing a “nuclear umbrella” in the Middle East, vowing US retaliation against any country there that launched a nuclear attack against any other and thus hopefully damping any perceived need for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

        I, like most others here, consider Israel’s fear of a nuclear attack from Iran to be part hysteria and part dishonesty, but the “fear” did in fact lead Israel to contemplate attacking Iran, which would have totally destabilized the area, and most likely led to massive loss of life. The one fear that I think is legitimate on Israel’s part is that, IF a country were to contemplate using nuclear weapons against Israel, even with Israel’s own numerous nuclear weapons it might be crippled and destroyed by an undetected first strike. Clinton’s statement, it seems clear to me, was intended more for the ears of Israel than the ears of Iran, which has no nuclear weapons and no plans to use them if it did. Clinton’s statement diffused the Israeli fear of a first strike by guaranteeing that no first strike would go unpunished, and thus lessened the Israeli fear of possible Iranian nuclear weapons and lessened the chance of a catastrophic attack by Israel on Iran. The statement was not intended just to warn Iran about something it had no intention of doing; it was meant to reassure Israel that it had no need to attack Iran. As I said, I personally would have liked it if she had also said the reverse, but such a statement would have been political suicide and I doubt that any US politician would ever say such a thing.

        The idea that Clinton is more beholden to the Israel Lobby than Obama or Kerry or Biden, or even potentially Warren, is a false one and has been proven so over the years of the Obama Presidency. Obama chose her for Secretary of State, not the other way around. He also chose Biden and Kerry, both of whom have been extremely obsequious in their statements about and to Israel, so this idea that Clinton would be so much worse than anyone else in regards to Israel doesn’t really hold water.

        Who knows, maybe Clinton could end up being like Nixon on China; the one who has the political backing to make a break with conventional thinking on Israel/Palestine. After all, the Clintons were close friends and political partners with Max Blumenthal’s father, Sidney. I personally don’t think its likely, but its much much more unlikely that Clinton would declare war on Iran, like some here seem to think. Clinton isn’t appreciably different from any other mainstream US Democratic politician on this issue.

      • March 25, 2014, 7:02 am

        Wow. Israel has hundreds of nukes and has attacked and occupied all of her neighbors. Iran has no nukes and has attacked nobody. But tree thinks it is reasonable that Hillary would threaten Iran with annihilation under s scenario where Iran launches a nuclear attack on Israel. I mean, what can you do with these people? So far removed from reality

  7. Edward Q
    Edward Q
    March 24, 2014, 2:12 pm

    There is a bit of irony in this post. Technically, it is probably true diplomats don’t speak at partisan events. However, U.S. diplomats have been involved in regime change all over the world from Ecuador to Ukraine. This isn’t a rule the U.S. adheres to very strictly.

  8. dbroncos
    dbroncos
    March 24, 2014, 4:37 pm

    “I don’t think it is a bad thing to warn any and all countries that attempting to use nuclear weapons would engender a fierce and swift blowback…”

    This is already understood as “deterrence”. The point is what Hilary’s obliteration pledge reveals about her hair trigger, warrior queen disposition. Don’t forget her enthusiasm for the Iraq disaster and her subsequent excuses. I won’t vote for her even if it means “throwing away” my vote on a third party candidate.

  9. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    March 24, 2014, 4:46 pm

    She certainly dons the Boudicca persona – and I think had a whole Hollywood film made about a female President who had no difficulty about getting in touch with her inner macho man – but she is also quite intelligent and (as I keep saying here) I don’t think that the Israeli government can altogether trust her, and knows it can’t.

  10. ToivoS
    ToivoS
    March 24, 2014, 6:31 pm

    Diplomatic protocol to stay out of partisan politics in foreign nations? What was the US ambassador to Ukraine doing during the big street protests during the Orange revolution 4 years ago and what was our state department officials doing on the Kiev maidan this last winter? They were openly and obviously backing the pro Western parties against the elected Russian leaning government.

    Not to mention the numerous coups our embassies have engineered over the last century.

  11. March 25, 2014, 11:34 am

    It is absolutely clear that Israel/AIPAC (right wing Zionist) current strategy has been to undermine the Democratic party while simultaneously aligning more intimately with the GOP. Thereby, ensuring that the GOP takes over power at the next election and all attempts to force Israel into compliance with civilization will be cancelled. Israel will then violently annex Palestine with the approval of the GOP and greater Israel will be created. Currently the Democrats are actually facilitating this transition but the non-Zionists are not aware of it.

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