Dear American Jews,
- After Brazilian Rejection, Netanyahu Names Former Settler Leader as Israeli Consul General in New York
- Don’t Shoot the Messenger: Dayan Is an All-too-perfect Israeli Envoy for N.Y.
- The Brazil Crisis: The Minister Who Refused to Talk to Ya'alon, the Palestinian Campaign and Israel's Naiveté
I don't often ask you for stuff. Bad as things get over here in Israel, I know you've got your hands full over there too. Especially if you're trying to balance a progressive political outlook and a passion for human rights, with your feelings for an Israel which seems to get farther lost by the day.
But there is one thing. And it's something that you yourself can do something about.
On Monday morning, Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued an oddly short message, announcing that the prime minister "has decided to appoint Dani Dayan as Consul General in New York."
This is what the message left out:
Last year, Netanyahu appointed Dayan as ambassador to Brazil. Brazil was unwilling to accept the former long-time chief of the settlement movement, a man who strongly supports permanent Israeli rule over the millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem
Now, to Israel's crucial ally the United States, for one of Israel's most crucial diplomatic posts in the world, at a time when Israel's relations with Washington have sunk to the lowest level in memory, the prime minister is sending a man whose appointment sparked a severe diplomatic rift between Israel and the largest country in South America.
Now, as a principal envoy to the most important of all Diaspora Jewish communities, a Jewish community which has long and vocally supported a two-state solution, Netanyahu has chosen a man who wrote in a 2012 opinion piece in The New York Times that Israel's moral claim to the whole of the West Bank was "unassailable" and that an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel was "a recipe for disaster."
To a Jewish community with grave reservations about the consequences of the settlement enterprise and its destructive impact on democracy and economics in Israel, and on peace, security, and human rights throughout the Holy Land, Israel is sending a man who declared, "The settlements of Judea and Samaria are not the problem — they are part of the solution."
This is a man whose temper and vindictiveness and self-satisfaction can be such that when his appointment to the New York post was made public, he told Israel's state radio: "Those who did not want me in Brasilia, capital of Brazil, will get me in New York, the capital of the world."
This is a man who, although acknowledging and even decrying the widespread and profound injustices of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in a 2014 article ("There is no practical or moral justification for a different legal policy for Palestinians and Israelis") put forth no plan to offer Palestinians the right to vote, nor any possibility of future self-determination.
Herein lies the most serious issue. A significant portion of Israel's political and diplomatic leadership, including its deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely and its UN ambassador Danny Danon, make no distinction between the West Bank and Israel.
If they're right, if the West Bank is, in fact, already part and parcel of Israel, if the occupation is permanent and Israel has, de facto, annexed the West Bank with its millions of Palestinans disenfranchised, denied basic human rights, and subject to an entirely separate and unequal system of justice, then we - all Israelis - are already living in an apartheid state.
The diplomat-designate who says that the West Bank is already an indivisible part of Israel, and who is unprepared to give Palestinians the vote or any change of self-determination, will effectively be Israel's New York advocate for apartheid.
In a Monday interview, Dayan told Army Radio that his greatest challenge as consul general would be “to state Israel’s positions in liberal language.”
Hotovely, congratulating Dayan on Monday, suggested that the appointment was an important victory for the settlement movement. “The State of Israel will benefit from a worthy representative who lives in the settlements of Judea and Samaria and will bear an important message to the effect that the State of Israel stands behind Dani as a loyal and worthy representative of the state."
For some time now - whether because of vicious insults by senior ruling coalition figures directed at Reform Jews, or because of years of relentlessly pro-Republican, vehemently anti-Obama administration official statements and actions - you may well have sensed that the Netanyahu government was treating you not only with disregard, but with outright contempt.
As it turns out, you were right.
So this is what I'm asking. Stand up. Raise your voice. Contact the Israeli consulate in your area. You can find their contact information by clicking here.
Write to them. Call them. Tell them that the appointment sends a message which is contrary to the outlook of most of the very Jews the Consulate serves.
Contact the media. Contact your synagogue. Organize. Demonstrate.
Post again and again.
You can have an impact on the direction Israel is heading. You can have an impact on the direction in which Israel is taking American Judaism, large portions of which are drifting away from this Israel, Netanyahu's Israel, in lack of identification, or dislike, or disgust, or horror.
If you are an American Jew who wants to foster the values of democracy, equality, self-determination and human rights in Israel, now is the time to stand up and raise your voice against the appointment of Dani Dayan.
You don't have to take this lying down. You don't have to take this at all.