Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer (left) is interviewed by Scott Jennings during a McConnell Center event.
Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer (left) is interviewed by Scott Jennings during a McConnell Center event.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer spoke on UofL’s Belknap Campus Nov. 16 as part of the McConnell Center’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Dermer was interviewed by Scott Jennings in a Q&A-format discussion. Topics included Israeli-U.S. relations, democracy in the world, the Israel election process and Dermer’s early life in Florida as part of a family dedicated to public service.

Much of the discussion centered on the Middle East and Israeli’s role in the region. Dermer said he believes that, ultimately, “democracy and freedom will penetrate the free world.”

While acknowledging that “these things don’t always go in a straight line” and the process could take decades, Dermer is optimistic that democracy will prevail in the Middle East and that Israel’s influence will play a major role.

“Israel is a beacon of freedom in the Middle East,” Dermer said.

Dermer also addressed the importance and future of U.S.-Israel relations saying that the two countries have “shared interests, shared values and a shared sense of destiny.”

Jennings asked Dermer about the Israeli economy and the country’s unique ability to innovate.

“There’s no question that the genius of our people is the free market,” Dermer said. “Israel is poised to seize the future.”

He explained that Israelis have a history of challenging the status quo and seeking new and better solutions. This approach has led to many innovations, particularly in technology.

Dermer is the second Israeli Ambassador to speak as a McConnell Center guest. Itamar Rabinovick spoke in 1994.

Before his appointment as U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dermer’s previous roles included Israel’s minister of economic affairs and a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Cindy Hess
Communications Director Cindy Hess has oversight for day-to-day operations in media relations and covers prestigious scholars, the College of Education and Human Development and Brandeis School of Law. She reports to the Media Relations Director, has a heckuva good resume, and faithfully eats kale for lunch every day. Cindy has more than 25 years of experience in media relations, investor relations, marketing and corporate communications and is the unit’s only employee entrusted to buy tickets for lottery pools.