Israelís new man in New York

August 19, 2016

Dani Dayan

 

ISRAELíS NEW MAN IN NEW YORK

[Note by Tom Gross]

(This dispatch may be of interest to those who follow Israeli-American relations.)

Dani Dayan has just assumed the position of Israelís new consul general in New York (his first diplomatic posting). Obviously New York is an important posting for Israel and for American Jews.

It is a somewhat controversial appointment since Dayan (a former head of the Israeli settler movement, although he is secular) does not believe that a two state solution is possible in the foreseeable future, whereas Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (who appointed him) and several of Netanyahuís senior advisors, say they believe a two state solution is possible so long as Israelís security is guaranteed.

I have known Dani Dayan for many years, and we have often discussed Israeli-Palestinian issues. I donít agree with all his views but he has interesting opinions that should be listened to. I think he has been unfairly maligned in the Israeli left-wing and international media, including on the BBC. Iím glad that the New York Times has decided to allow him to express himself, albeit in a piece on their website. The short interview is attached below.

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* Among previous dispatches mentioning Dani Dayan: Australian who abused Jewish children sentenced to read Primo Levi (& ďThere is no Plan BĒ) (Dec. 17, 2014)

* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you ďlikeĒ this page on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia

 

Israelís New Man in New York
By Carol Giacomo
New York Times Online
August 18, 2016

http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/08/18/israels-new-man-in-new-york

Dani Dayan is articulate and charming, a lively and provocative conversationalist. An immigrant from Argentina and a Spanish speaker, he is an Israeli settler from the West Bank, and the controversial former head of the settler movement.

Mr. Dayan is also a fervent opponent of a Palestinian state and believes Israel has a historic claim to the West Bank. That is not the position of Israelís prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who says he supports two states.

Yet, Mr. Dayan, 60, is the man Mr. Netanyahu has sent to be Israelís consul general in New York. It was the consolation prize after Brazil rejected his appointment as Israelís ambassador to that country because of his settler background. The consul general job is an important and sensitive one, especially in a year when partisan divisions in Washington have widened over the Iran nuclear deal, which Mr. Netanyahu and the Republican-led Congress oppose. Mr. Dayan met with the Editorial Board this week to discuss his latest career challenges. Excerpts from the hour-long conversation, condensed and edited, are below:

You are not a run-of-the-mill diplomat or bureaucrat. How do you see your new job?

I really have no difficulty representing this government. It is well known that I identify with this government. I campaigned for the formation of this government. I endorsed Mr. Netanyahu in the last two elections and campaigned for him. My role is to garner support for Israel in New York. Iím a diplomat today, not a leader myself or a decision maker.

How will you deal with conflicts between AIPAC, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is seen as supportive of Mr. Netanyahuís policies, and J Street, a more liberal group that has often been critical of Mr. Netanyahu?

I canít ignore it. And you know I think that any position within the Jewish community for sure, but any position that does not preclude Israelís right to exist, is legitimate. Iím not talking about those fanatics or demagogues that, in fact, are against the existence of Israel. But all the other groups that are pro-Israel, that are empathic towards Israel Ė they love Israel but criticize it, sometimes strongly, and have been disenchanted with Israel on some of its policies or even most of its policies with the current government Ė they are not only legitimate interlocutors, in some sense they are going to be my main interlocutors in the Jewish community. Look, I didnít come here to preach to the choir. I will allocate a disproportionate amount of my time to those that in some sense love Israel but are disappointed. The perception that Israel in some sense is becoming a partisan issue in American politics is also a matter of grave concern to me.

Are you including J Street in that outreach because you have been quoted in the press as being critical of them, suggesting they are anti-Israel?

No, I never said they are anti-Israel. There was a minor incident that I took responsibility for the phrasing. You know, English is not my native language. I had a TV interview and my opponent said that the welcome to Donald Trump at the AIPAC convention contradicts Jewish values. And I said, look, I am much more concerned about some candidates that are endorsed by J Street, which are Ė not J Street, the candidates Ė anti-Israeli, and I intended to say, you know, symmetrically, that contradicts Jewish values, and at the end I said itís un-Jewish. And that was a mistake to say un-Jewish. I never said J Street is un-Jewish; I just said a certain position by J Street contradicts Jewish values. I have personal very good relations with J Street leadership. I donít believe in ostracizing.

Isnít your position on the West Bank quite different from Mr. Netanyahuís, given that he has committed himself to a two-state solution and you say it is impossible?

Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed to establishing the Palestinian state as a way to achieve peace if it is a demilitarized Palestinian state and it recognizes Israel as a Jewish state and there are security arrangements that will prevent further attacks on Israel. I think that I do not disagree with Prime Minister Netanyahu in the perception that it is not going to happen in the near future and the reason itís not going to happen has nothing to do with Israel or with the settlements. Itís 100 percent because of the Palestinian positions.

Do we understand correctly that Israel has plans to do outreach among Latinos in the New York region, including targeted scholarships?

Definitely I am. We identified different communities in the New York area as a priority; I will dedicate a very large amount of my time and effort to the Hispanic community, the Latino community.

Who is better for Israel, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?

Any American president is good for Israel.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.