Dermer’s speech marked the 25th year for the lecture series, which was renamed this year in memory of the late Fran Eizenstat, wife of lecture series founder Stuart Eizenstat and family friend to Dermer.
“I cannot think of Fran Eizenstat not smiling. It was a smile that lit up every room that she entered,” Dermer said. “She dedicated herself to helping others in so many different ways by fighting poverty, by fighting for women’s health issues [and] by fighting for social justice.”
Dermer’s lecture centered on the topic of preventing a nuclear Iran, which he said would directly endanger Israel.
“[The Iranian regime] openly called for Israel’s annihilation,” he said.
“This is a regime that cannot be allowed to get nuclear weapons.”
He said the way to stop Iran from developing its nuclear weapons program is to combine crippling sanctions with a credible military threat.
However, Dermer said Israel desires a diplomatic resolution to this issue because if a military strike is required to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, it is Israel that will suffer.
The ambassador praised the partnership between Israel and America.
“I could not ask for better support from the president of the United States,” he said.
“The United States is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. That’s what [President Barack Obama] says time after time after time. … Israel appreciates that very much.”
The only major difference between the two allies’ stances is that Israel is determined to prevent Iran from even having any nuclear weapons capabilities, Dermer said.
Stuart Eizenstat, who introduced the ambassador to the audience at the lecture, said Israel has been no stranger to conflict but now faces an unprecedented amount of challenges.
Senior Rabbi Neil Sandler echoed those sentiments.
“This evening we are acutely aware of the challenges the state of Israel faces both within and without,” he said.
“I pray that all of us will somehow emerge [and] leave our sovereign selves to become … a community of those who dearly love the state of Israel and who work together to ensure her flourishing future, rooted in part by a strong relationship between the two countries we love — the United States and the state of Israel.”