Dani Dayan, Israel’s newly-designated consul-general to New York, has become embroiled in controversy even before entering the post, following a remark antagonizing the leftist lobby J Street.
In an interview aired over the weekend, Dayan made known his feelings: “I prefer the attitude of AIPAC to that of J Street that endorses all the anti-Israel candidates — the more anti-Israel you are, the more you are endorsed by J Street. That’s un-Jewish,” he said.
Dayan was chosen for the New York post after the government of Brazil refused to accept him as ambassador to that country due to his background as a leader in Yehudah and Shomron.
J Street would no doubt also prefer that Dayan be assigned elsewhere, and expressed “deep concern” over the appointment in a statement issued Monday.
“Though the prime minister of Israel continues to express his concern that Israel not become a binational state, he is sending as his envoy to New York a man who served for years as chairman of the settlers’ council and who revels in predicting the demise of the two-state solution,” the group stated.
J Street further charged that Dayan’s posting “will serve to inflame opponents of Israel’s policies rather than signal a desire to heal the growing divisions between the world’s two largest Jewish communities.”
Responding to a Times of Israel query about his remarks, Dayan pointed out that he is “one of the very few Israeli right-wing figures that never boycotted J Street.” On the contrary, he said, “I always made a point of maintaining an open dialogue with its leaders and missions. I am often criticized by my colleagues for that but I am proud of doing it.”
However, he stood by his previous statements about J Street.
“I believe that endorsing candidates that advocate leniency toward Hamas or routinely accuse Israel and only Israel of alleged intransigence is neither pro-Israel nor pro-peace. That endorsement policy indeed puzzles me.”
He did walk back his barb about J Street being “un-Jewish,” saying the remark was made as a private person, though he admitted it was “somewhat undiplomatic.”