Since he stepped down as head of the Yesha Council, Dani Dayan has been making the case for settlements in quarters that were once off limits to him: with foreign ambassadors, left-wing policy institutes and even in the pages of The Guardian.
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 in his research institute in Jerusalem’s Katamon neighborhood and asked him for advice. This was after the Bar-Ilan University speech in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time expressed consent to the establishment of a Palestinian state, and at the height of the contacts with the U.S. administration to discuss a freeze on construction in the settlements.
“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?”
Gold, who served as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations and as Netanyahu’s diplomatic adviser during his first term as prime minister, is familiar with the world of diplomacy and with U.S. politics. “Save the money on the airline ticket,” he said. “You won’t cross the threshold of anyone in Washington.”
A lot of water has flowed in the Potomac since then. Bennett entered politics and settled into the office of the economics minister, Gold has been playing around with the idea of a government post as an ambassador or a diplomatic adviser, and Dayan left his job as head of the Yesha Council.
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.
Danny Dayan is very likable. In addition to his clever and cynical sense of humor, he breaks the stereotype of the average settler. He’s secular. He has a background in high tech. He’s rational rather than messianic. Until he moved to a settlement he lived in Tel Aviv.
When we sat in a cafe over a double espresso and a soda a few days ago he blended into the landscape, despite the fact that in the last election most of the people around him voted for parties ranging from Hadash ?(a left-wing Arab-Jewish party?) to Labor.
Make no mistake. 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. …read more