- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2013

Forty years after legendary Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir held talks with Richard M. Nixon at the White House, another Israeli citizen named Golda met an American president.

“I told President Obama that this could be the first Golda in the Oval Office in 40 years, although my Golda is only 5 months old,” Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador in Washington, said this week after presenting his diplomatic credentials to Mr. Obama.

Mr. Dermer was accompanied by his wife, Rhoda, and their four sons and, of course, daughter Golda.

When Meir met with Nixon in March 1973, she was 74. Nixon later would save Israel with a massive influx of U.S. weapons when the Jewish state was attacked by Egypt and Syria on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.

Mr. Dermer met with Mr. Obama amid increasing tensions between the U.S. president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over a recent deal between world powers and Iran on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

The ambassador later expressed on Twitter his hopeful thoughts on his White House meeting.

He said he told Mr. Obama that he “looked forward” to working with him v the administration “to make the bonds” between Israel and America “stronger than ever.”

Mr. Dermer, however, is being criticized by some Democrats in Congress over Mr. Netanyahu’s public opposition to the deal to lift some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for some limits on its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Dermer has more than the usual diplomatic battles to fight in Washington,” analyst Jonathan S. Tobin said in Commentary magazine this week.

“Along with the usual cast of Israel-haters who seek to undermine the alliance between the U.S. and the Jewish state, there are many in the administration who regard Dermer with suspicion because of his personal ties to Republicans.”

The liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz called Mr. Dermer a “right-wing neocon with close ties to Bush family.”

Mr. Dermer, born in Miami Beach in 1971, renounced his American citizenship in 2005 to serve as an economic envoy at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. He developed close ties with the GOP when he worked with Republican strategist Frank Luntz in the 1994 congressional campaign that swept Republicans to power in the House and the Senate.

Succeeding Michael S. Oren, he is the second American-born Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

YEMEN ATTACK STRIKES HOME

A deadly terrorist attack in Yemen on Thursday took a personal toll on a diplomat at the Yemeni Embassy in Washington.

Mohammed Albasha, the embassy press spokesman, was keeping a running account of developments on Twitter when he discovered that his grandmother’s niece was among the dead.

He called the attack a “heartbreaking moment.”

Mr. Albasha, relaying Yemeni government reports, cited 52 killed and 167 wounded when a suicide car bomber hit a military hospital in the capital, Sanaa. After the explosion at Urdhi Military Hospital, “terrorists rushed in and executed medical staff and patients,” Mr. Albasha said.

Two German doctors who were part of a visiting medical team were among the dead.

Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi later visited the military complex and ordered an investigation.

Mr. Albasha has become a reliable source of information about attacks in his homeland.

In October, he quickly dismissed reports of explosions near the U.S. Embassy, tweeting that a rowdy wedding party shooting fireworks was responsible for the confusion.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.