Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dani Dayan Goes To Washington


Dani Dayan boldly goes where no settler leader has gone before: Washington

Excerpts, and comments:

Three and a half years ago Dani Dayan, the head of the Yesha Council of settlements, and his director general Naftali Bennett sat with Dr. Dore Gold...“We want to establish a diplomatic arm for the Yesha Council, to begin to present to the world a thesis that contradicts the Bar-Ilan speech, or even to open a bureau in Washington,” said Dayan at the meeting. “What do you think?”... “Save the money on the airline ticket,” he said. “You won’t cross the threshold of anyone in Washington.”
...Dayan was disappointed by Gold’s pessimism, but didn’t discard the idea. On Friday, when he flew to Washington, he was on his way to setting a precedent. Dayan will be the first representative of the settler leadership to enter the gates of U.S. administration institutions. Dayan will arrive at the meetings with a new title − chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council.

I would say that Dani is the first former Chairman of the Yesha Council to do that and even that may be imprecise as Israel Harel has been to Washington many times.  So has Yehiel Leiter, Eve Harow, Shaul Goldstein, David Wilder, David Ha'Ivri and others.

Even I have been to Congressional and Senatorial offices, before and during and after the 1990-1993 Yesha Council Foreign Desk.  And the Near East Division at the State Department.  But not the White House.

It's only a newspaper report.

...Dayan’s views place him on the far right. But as opposed to many of his colleagues in the Yesha Council and on the right, he is a liberal. He publicly opposes homophobia and xenophobia, harshly attacks right wingers who claim that the “price tag” retaliation attacks against Arabs are nothing more than graffiti, and also admits that the Palestinian national movement is authentic. He claims that he is not a poster boy of the Yesha Council, and believes that he represents most of the settlers − those who oppose a Palestinian state and are identified with the right, but are not extremists, believe in democracy and reject the hilltop youth.

...He devotes most of his time to establishing the diplomatic arm of the settler leadership. He wants to imitate Peace Now or the Geneva Initiative − only on the right...Dayan feels that there has been a change in the attitude of the international community towards the settlers in the past year. The United States and the European Community countries believe that the settlements are in contradiction of international law, that they are an obstacle to peace and must be removed. But they understand that the settlers are a significant political player that cannot be ignored.

But Dani has really improved matters:-

George Mitchell, the U.S. Middle East envoy during the first term of U.S. President Barack Obama, has never agreed to meet with Dayan or any representative of the Yesha Council. All requests were turned down at best, or ignored at worst. The only liaison for Dayan and the settlers was the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, who is actually credentialed to the Palestinian Authority. Nowadays Dayan is invited to dinners in the home of U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. When one of the most senior advisors to President Obama visited Israel a few weeks ago he sat with Dayan for two hours.

There has also been a change in the attitude of the international media. Last August The New York Times, which is known for an editorial policy critical of the settlements, wrote a flattering portrait of him entitled “A Settler Leader, Worldly and Pragmatic.” A month earlier Dayan published an article in the Times entitled “The Settlers are Here to Stay.” In March he published another article in which he declared that “The Two-State Formula is Impossible.”

But the most interesting example is the British newspaper The Guardian, compared to which the New York Times looks like the mouthpiece of the Yesha Council. Many European leaders read the op-ed page of The Guardian with their morning coffee. Two weeks ago Dayan published an article in the paper entitled “What You Call ‘Settlements’ are on Solid Moral Ground.” Dayan claimed that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace and that the world must recognize the fact that the settlers are not the problem but part of the future solution.
...One can think of many reasons for the change in the attitude of the international community towards the settlers. The stagnation of the peace process, the lack of hope for the two-state solution and the outcome of the recent election in Israel are some of them. “My explanation is that for the first time in 20 years the world is beginning to internalize that we don’t necessarily have to travel on the two-state highway,” says Dayan. “We’ve reached a crossroads and everyone is asking themselves where do we go now. People have understood that ignoring the settlers was a mistake and only undermined the attempts to find solutions.”

After many years of opposing the idea, Dayan now believes that the settlers have to present a genuine and serious diplomatic plan as an alternative to the two-state solution...To Dayan’s credit it should be said that as opposed to many members of the settler leadership, he thinks out of the box. The problem is that his ideas are somewhat simplistic, overly optimistic and ignore facts that don’t conform to them. Dayan dreams of a new Middle East. A right wing Shimon Peres if you will. It’s not certain that the two men would agree with the comparison.
We wish him much success and he should know he has a team here to back him up.


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