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Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer gives pro-war pep talk to Christian Zionists

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Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Newscom/Shahar Azran)

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Newscom/Shahar Azran)

Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer defended the Israeli military’s conduct during “Operation Protective Edge” Thursday night, telling the group Christians United for Israel (CUFI) that every civilian death in Gaza is a mistake Israel regrets. Dermer also sought to link Hamas to the radical Sunni jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), though the groups have wildly divergent ideologies and goals.

Dermer participated in a conference call organized by the Christian Zionist organization CUFI, which was founded by Pastor John Hagee, a controversial figure who once said “it was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews” that “gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced.” Despite Hagee’s anti-Semitism, he and CUFI have been embraced by the American Jewish establishment and Israeli leaders for their unstinting support for Israeli policy. Dermer is set to speak at their Washington summit later this month.

After being effusively praised by Hagee, Dermer decried Palestinian militants firing rockets towards Israel and told thousands of CUFI members that the “goals of our operation” is to “end the rocket attacks on Israel and to restore quiet, something that every nation would demand. I can only imagine if over 200 million Americans were sitting in bomb shelters, what they would want their government and their military to do to protect them.”

He also said that the Israeli army regrets Palestinian civilian deaths–a frequent talking point heard when Israeli officials are interviewed by the media.

“Every time an innocent civilian is killed, that’s an operational failure in Israel. The more innocents who are killed, the greater the failure of the operation,” the ambassador to the U.S. said. In four days, the Israeli air force has killed over 100 Palestinians, including at least 58 civilians, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. At least 21 of the dead are children. Many of the civilian deaths come when Israeli warplanes drop bombs on civilian homes, which has been called a potential war crime by Amnesty International and the United Nations. Those two organizations have also called indiscriminate rocket fire by Palestinian militants a war crime.

During the question and answer session of the call, Dermer attempted to link Hamas to ISIS.

“You see what’s happening in the region. You see what’s happening in Iraq with ISIS. You see what’s happening with proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas,” said Dermer. “There’s a great battle being waged between radical Shias on one side, which are led by Iran and its main proxy Hezbollah, and radical Sunnis on the other side, the likes of ISIS, al Qaeda, Hamas”–a muddled talking point that at once links Hamas to ISIS while also saying that Hamas is a proxy for Iran, one of ISIS’ main enemies. Hamas is a Palestinian Islamist nationalist movement that has never launched an attack outside of Israel/Palestine, and calls for an Islamic state in all historic Palestine. ISIS, on the other hand, advocates for worldwide war against what they see as Islam’s enemies, and for a caliphate, or Islamic state, stretching across the Middle East.

The Israeli ambassador also slammed the Presbyterian Church for divesting from companies with links to the Israeli military.

Dermer’s pro-war pep talk was delivered to an audience he is eminently comfortable with–right-wing Republicans like Gary Bauer, a board member for CUFI who attended Dermer’s Passover seder this year. Dermer is close to the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party. In March 2014, Dermer attended a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting, which some former U.S. diplomats criticized as unbecoming since the RJC is a partisan organization.

Alex Kane
About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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18 Responses

  1. ckg
    ckg on July 11, 2014, 3:57 pm

    CUFI’s Facebook timeline has countless posts it has made recently about ‘Operation Protective Edge’. Not a single post mentions Palestinian casualties–they are all about Israelis being terrified by rocket attacks. So I am not sure Dermer mentioned Gaza civilian casualties–his audience may have been clueless.

    The CUFI Facebook timeline also has many posts about the kidnapped settlers, but not a single mention of the Abu Khdeir cousins.

  2. ritzl
    ritzl on July 11, 2014, 4:14 pm

    A) CUFI is run by a Zionist Jew, David Brog.

    David Brog is the executive director of Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Before CUFI, Brog worked in the United States Senate for seven years, rising to be chief of staff to Senator Arlen Specter and staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has also served as an executive at America Online and practiced corporate law in Tel Aviv, Israel and Philadelphia, PA. Brog is the author of Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State (2006) and In Defense of Faith: the Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity (2010). In 2007, the Forward newspaper listed Brog in its “Forward 50” most influential Jews in America. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

    B) I’m at a loss to think of a corresponding example of a foreign (non-Israeli) ambassador advocating a policy position to a domestic political group. But maybe it happens.

    • ckg
      ckg on July 11, 2014, 4:55 pm

      I see that three of the featured speakers at this year’s CUFI summit are PM Netanyahu, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC). I wonder if Tim Scott will ask for the donkey.

  3. Walid
    Walid on July 11, 2014, 4:18 pm

    Some comfort for Israelis and CUFI members that worry about Israel’s security: ISIS served notice today that it has NO intention of going anywhere near or confronting Israel and that Israel is not on its agenda.

    That’s one step closer to confirming the rumour that ISIS is the brainchild of Israeli security services; that the US is not objecting to ISIS selling Syrian and Iraqi oil as it did with the Libyan rebels’ oil, raises another question about American non-involvement with this group.

    Elsewhere, from RT and Reuters, ISIS put its hands on about 40 kilos of low grade uranium from the laboratory at Mosul University. The low grade is enough to make the dirty bombs.

    (Reuters) – Insurgents in Iraq have seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university in the country’s north, Iraq told the United Nations in a letter appealing for help to “stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad.”

    Nearly 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of uranium compounds were kept at Mosul University, Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the July 8 letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

    “Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state,” Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials “can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.”

    • bilal a
      bilal a on July 11, 2014, 11:40 pm

      terrorist sourced nuclear waste , perfect for spreading in a usa city, and with a trail leading right to the islamists.

      how convenient.

    • Taxi
      Taxi on July 12, 2014, 2:54 am


      I don’t believe the uranium story one bit. The attack on Gaza took the spotlight off isreal’s ISIS so they had to bring them back into the headline news but this time, as a much scarier version.

      By now you should know that evil runs amok in the middle east and the countries that benefit most from this evil are israel and saudi arabia plus her ugly oily sisters.

      • Walid
        Walid on July 12, 2014, 5:16 am

        Taxi, I’m not sure about the uranium either but I’m sure there’s a link between ISIS and Israel, especially with its timely declaration yesterday that Israel is not on its agenda that should have taken some pressure off Netanyahu.

        Strange how when the Libyan rebels tried to sell their shipload of oil, the US dispatched its navy to stop at sea and bring it back to Libya and now that has control of most of Syria’s oil and a good chunk of Iraq’s and is in the hands of ISIS that’s selling it at bargain-basement price of $10 to $18, the US is doing nothing to stop it. Why? Could it be to allow the Kurdish oil that travels through ISIS territory (@$1/barr transit fee) to reach its Israel and US destination?

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976 on July 12, 2014, 6:32 am

        Reminds me of the days when there was a link between the Templars and the Assassins, if that’s not just a mediaeval conspiracy theory.

      • Walid
        Walid on July 12, 2014, 7:16 am

        Or the mafia that was hired by the US Government to protect NYC’s docks from the Nazis and prevent any dockworkers’ strike during the war and to also help the US Army in its invasion of Sicily.

      • Walid
        Walid on July 13, 2014, 2:34 am

        “… a link between the Templars and the Assassins…”

        MHughes, more about the parallel with the hashisheen, it seems that the $500 million Obama is is sending to the rebels in Syria is heading straight to ISIS. Those to whom the US has just sent the TOW anti-tank missiles have switched sides to join ISIS. It’s reported that

        “… Several terrorist factions fighting the Syrian government pledged allegiance to ISIL Takfiri group.

        Reports say hundreds of what the West calls “moderate rebel groups” including a 1000-strong brigade from the so-called Sham Army have defected to the notorious group in recent days, press TV reported.ISIL terrorists

        The defectors travelled from their base in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib to the ISIL stronghold city of Raqqa last weekend.

        In addition, several brigades affiliated with the Western-sponsored Free Syrian Army have pledged allegiance to ISIL in the east of the country.

        The defections raise questions about the US military support for groups it classifies as moderate militants.

        On July 8, the Saudi daily Akkaz confirmed in a report that the foreign-backed militants have received the second batch of US-made anti-tank missiles.
        The Takfiri militants have reportedly received TOW anti-tank rockets in the strategic Qalamoun region.

        Last month, the White House asked Congress for half a billion dollars in aid for militants operating against government troops in Syria.

        The United States has also announced that it would arm and support what it calls “the moderate opposition” in Syria.”

    • annie
      annie on July 12, 2014, 3:23 am

      walid, sorry OT..but i keep meaning to tell you when you close a blockquote it defeats the purpose to print out 2 blockquotes hmls at the end. like other hml just one at the beginning and one at the end (with the / symbol at the end). i keep fixing them for you (no prob) but it would be nice if you learned how to print them correctly the first time.

      • Walid
        Walid on July 12, 2014, 4:53 am

        Hi Annie, sorry to be giving the extra work.How should I start and end? I have a feeling it has something to do with my posting a link after the closing as I always seeing it posted within the quote and keep wondering why. I just noticed in your correction above that the link landed outside, where it belongs. I’ll go back to simple quotation marks and links to shorten my lengthy posts.

  4. MahaneYehude1
    MahaneYehude1 on July 11, 2014, 4:56 pm


    Reading the Israeli newspapers I got the impression that ISIS is going to attack Jordan, Israel ally, and this can cause Israel to enter war with ISIS in order to protect Jordan. I hope it is only an empty rumor.

    • Walid
      Walid on July 12, 2014, 5:33 am

      Mahane, Jordan itself is on the ISIS agenda and there’s already an ISIS movement within Jordan (still small at this point) asking for a union with the bogus caliphate. If it stays in business long enough, in time it will want Jerusalem for the same reason as the Omayyads and that’s when you’ll be seeing it up close.

  5. paroikos
    paroikos on July 11, 2014, 5:42 pm

    The claim, “Despite Hagee’s anti-Semitism…“ is absolute nonsense! Alex Kane doesn’t know (or chooses to ignore) that Hagee’s book, _In Defense of Israel (2007)_ is an attack against Christianity. He writes, “Jesus rejected to the last detail the role of Messiah in word or deed.”

    Hagee is a fanatic philo-Semite who perfectly fulfills the aim of all “Christian” Zionism—to distort the role of the Person at the centre of the New Testament. His “defense” of Israel is keyed to his denial of the “Messiah of Israel.”

    • Citizen
      Citizen on July 12, 2014, 6:30 am

      He (David Brog) labeled the claim that Evangelicals support Israel in order to herald the return of Jesus and the conversion of Jews as “complete and utter nonsense,” and said such claims were based on “ignorance.”
      Christians, he said, do not believe that anything on Earth can influence the messiah’s coming and that his arrival will be at a preordained time.
      Instead, he said, Evangelicals support Israel because of a literalist interpretation of the Bible that views the promises made to the people of Israel as still intact – as opposed to ”Replacement Theology,” which is widely held by many other Christian denominations and posits that the Christian Church inherited the biblical promises to the Jewish people.
      Still, Hagee has some strange ideas that are either naïve of anti-Semitic. At the Huffington Post, Sam Stein reported in 2008 that Hagee said of the Holocaust: “How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.”

      • paroikos
        paroikos on July 12, 2014, 1:50 pm

        Hagee’s ‘naive’ Holocaust comment typifies Christo-Zionism’s fatal obsession with property ownership in the ME, a quirk which it ascribes to the purposes of God. Hagee is an ‘anti-Replacementarian’ who believes that “God has a future for Israel,” as if the Gospel proclaimed in the New Testament remains tentative, incomplete and land-deficient. Those who call Hagee “anti-Semitic” know nothing about the virulent, anti-Christian eschatology driving his heretical Judeophilia.

      • Citizen
        Citizen on July 13, 2014, 9:35 am

        @ paroikos
        So, you agree Hagee thinks the word “Israel” in the bible always means Israel the state recognized in 1948 at the UN, even though the conditions subsequent to such recognition have never been met by the state of Israel? And that God has chosen the Jewish people to lead all non-Jews into the promised land, that is, into the sky heaven for such Christians? They might not get 72 virgins, but they will be warmed by angels there? Just asking.

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