Ambassador Ron Dermer and wife Rhoda. Photo by Tim Boxer

Ambassador Ron Dermer and wife Rhoda. Photo by Tim Boxer

Israel’s ambassador to the United States is optimistic that the global wave of Islamic terror will ultimately fizzle out.

The enemy we face, Ambassador Ron Dermer said, is not militancy and is not Islam. It is militant Islam represented by Sunni branches of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabab in Somalia, Hamas in Gaza, and ISIS and Al Qaeda, and such Shiite branches as the Ayatollah regime in Iran, the Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Shiites fight the Sunnis, the Sunnies fight the Shiites, and both fight Christians, Jews, Yazidis and Kurds. “They seek to reverse history and the rise of the West and restore Islam to its former glory,” Dermer said.

The militant Sunnis are fixated on the early 7th century. The militant Shiites are fixated on the middle 10th century. Perhaps one day they’ll compromise and decide to take us all back to the late 8th century.

He is optimistic because, he said, all faiths are “malleable things.” Take Christianity, for instance. For centuries, it justified the slaughter of Jews across Europe yet it was not the same Christianity that was preached by abolitionists who fought slavery in the 19th century and the Evangelicals of the 21st century.

“So too the relatively tolerant Islam practiced in 12th century Spain and for some13 centuries in Persia until 1979 is not the Islam of ISIS or the Islam of today’s Ayatollah regime,” Dermer noted.

To find a more tolerant Christianity you need only to look to the present, but to find a more tolerant Islam you must look at the past.

Islam has evolved throughout the ages and it can evolve again, Dermer told the 220 guests at the Center for Security Policy awards dinner last month at the Urban League Club in New York.

“Do not assume that the forces ascendant in the Muslim world today will be the same forces ascendant in the future,” he said.

If Islam is to evolve for the betterment of mankind it will depend on changes in their world. Dermer saw evidence of change in such reformers as King Mohammed VI in Morocco and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt. Both recently challenged the militant Islamist claims to represent Islam.

On TV, the Moroccan king rebuked militant Islamists: “Is it conceivable that God could order someone to blow himself up or kill innocent people? Islam, as a matter of fact, does not permit any kind of suicide.”  The Egyptian president told a university audience, “I am offended when destruction and sabotage are promoted as a heavenly triumph for God on earth. I swear that nothing could ever be built on destruction, demolition or murder.”

“When the president of Egypt and the king of Morocco say things like this,” Dermer said, “something is happening in the Middle East.”

The reformers in Islam are real, he continued, and we should help them by confronting those Islamists they are fighting and defeat them.

At the same time, Dermer insisted that the greatest threat to the world is the combination of militant Islam and nuclear power as represented by Iran. The nuclear deal with Tehran, he said, has enabled Iran to acquire nuclear weapons in the near future.

“Iran remains the foremost threat to us all,” he said. “It will continue to defy UN resolutions to build intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry nuclear weapons.”

Judge Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News anchor, said it was Dermer who got Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of Congress to speak up against the Iran deal that President Obama was promoting.

Frank Gaffney Jr, president of the Center for Security Policy, presented his organization’s Freedom Flame Award to Dermer and Keeper of the Flame Award to Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

Klein said that Gaffney has been his friend for 25 years. “When we lobbied before the House, he was tougher than I. He made me look like a leftist.”

Tim Boxer was a columnist at the New York Post for two decades. At the same time he has been a columnist for the New York Jewish Week for 38 years and editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com for 19 years. He is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.