Israel’s Connector to Romney
By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
July 29, 2012
In a July 27 article in Tablet magazine entitled “Romney’s Jewish Connector,” Allison Hoffman explains how close adviser Dan Senor became the GOP candidate’s “key emissary” not only to Washington’s pro-Israel neoconservative policy scene but also to a group of influential Israelis, including Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s chief strategist and speechwriter, with whom Senor quietly planned Romney’s recent trip to Israel:
But, in a year when Israel has emerged as a central foreign-policy litmus test, Senor also brings an unusual advantage to the governor’s campaign: his close relationships with a small, influential group of American expats clustered in Jerusalem’s German Colony who operate at the highest levels of Israeli public life. Much has been made of Romney’s pre-political acquaintance with Netanyahu, dating to when they were both young men working for the Boston Consulting Group. But Senor, who travels to Israel several times a year, has ties to Jerusalem’s elite that are unusually personal and that are magnified by the uniquely Anglo-inflected nature of Netanyahu’s current government.
There is Dermer, whom Senor emails with and speaks to regularly. Senor’s sister Wendy, a former Democratic congressional staffer who heads the Jerusalem office of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has the ear, and the direct phone number, of just about everyone in the Israeli government. Saul Singer, Wendy’s husband, is a former Republican congressional staffer and a longtime columnist for the Jerusalem Post who is now a fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. (Singer is also the older brother of Alex Singer, whose death in IDF service has been memorialized by their parents, Max and Suzanne, in the book Building a Life.) They are, in turn, friendly with Michael Oren, the American-born historian who now serves as Netanyahu’s ambassador to Washington. “This is a group that speaks American and, to a large extent, understands Israeli,” said Yossi Klein Halevi, a writer and fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.
Whatever about the advantage Romney’s Jewish connector brings to the governor’s campaign, it pales in comparison with how great a boon Senor’s connections will be to Israeli interests if his advisee gets into the White House.