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.
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.