Ambassador Ron Dermer at White House reception for Jewish leaders
Ambassador Ron Dermer at White House reception for Jewish leaders Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce

From the Iran Deal to the rise and fall of ISIS, from Israel's year of inconclusive elections to a pandemic that has ravaged the globe, the second decade of the 21st century has been history-making for both the United States and Israel.

And for the better part of these last 10 years, Ron Dermer has served as the Jewish state's ambassador in Washington, D.C.

He is not the first native-born American who emigrated to Israel, rose to political prominence, and was then sent back here on behalf of his chosen nation. But his intimate understanding of America and the sensibilities of its citizens — both Jewish and non-Jewish — has helped him in his service and made him all the more effective.

Ambassador Dermer is now preparing to leave his post and return home to Jerusalem. Before he goes, he joins the Tikvah Podcast to discuss what he's done, what he's proud of, the basis of the U.S.-Israel relationship today, and why he remains hopeful about the alliance between America and Israel in the 21st century.

Dermer said that during his seven years in Washington he tried to "anchor the foundations" of the US-Israel relationship into an understanding of the two countries' common interests.
"People just focus on the value stuff, but the main argument against the relations between the US and Israel was always focused on the interests, which is to say that Israel is a liability to America," he said.

"Between about 1967 and let's say 2010, if you would ask people if Israel was an asset or liability, the answer would depend on who you asked and when you asked." Dermer said.

“Some people would say Israel was an asset, I'm talking about senior officials - presidents, vice presidents, secretaries of state and defense - and sometimes they would say it was a liability. So if you ask Nixon during the Cold War he'd say Israel was an asset, and if you ask James Baker during the [1991] first Gulf War, he would say it was a liability. "

"But what has happened in the last decade, is that the whole liability argument has exploded, because America has become energy independent with oil, and because the Arabs are moving towards Israel."

"Israel's detractors in the US are shifting their arguments from saying that Israel strategically hurts the US, to saying that Israel no longer shares America's values ​​- a much more comfortable position for Israel to be in".
"Give me the values ​​debate," Dermer said. "I have no problem defending Israel in the values ​​debate."