Israel would be going to elections next Tuesday had Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu not formed a short-lived national-unity government in a political deal
that in private conversation he admits was a mistake.
The absence of
elections in Israel has enabled there to be more focus on an election that could
potentially be more fateful for the future of the Jewish state: The American
presidential contest between US President Barack Obama and Republican candidate
Netanyahu’s associates believe he has succeeded in walking a
fine line and staying out of American politics.
Others think his warm
welcome for Romney last month went too far.
But another Likud politician
makes no effort to hide where his political allegiance lies in the US election:
The man who has been called “the Republican representative in the Knesset,” MK
Danon did not attend this week’s Republican National
Convention in Tampa, Florida.
But he will be going to the US next week to
advance his agenda against Obama and a new book he wrote in English that is very
critical of the president.
Called Israel: The Will to Prevail, the book
has a message about the need for Jerusalem to make its own decisions that is
very timely, thanks to the international debate over the handling of the effort
to prevent Iran’s nuclearization. Danon also uses the book to advance his
solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of three states, none of them
But what will undoubtedly make the most news for the
Palgrave MacMillan book that comes out Tuesday and is already available on
Amazon is its no-holds-barred anti-Obama message to American Jewish voters two
months before the election.
Danon’s book has attracted the interest of
top American media outlets. He will be giving interviews in the US to
journalists across the American political spectrum, from Jeffrey Goldberg and
Peter Beinart on the Left to Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity on the
The book jacket has expected endorsements from Beck and from
former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee but also from
Obama-supporting Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who wrote that even
though he disagrees with most of the book, it must be read.
interview at Danon’s Knesset office, he said he spent a year’s worth of weekends and late nights writing the book because he thought it was so important. He
showed no remorse over interfering in an American election.
“We need to
tell the truth that Obama has not been a friend of Israel,” he said.
approach in public life has been to always say things in your face. The results
have been very good at times and very bad at others.
Maybe if I had
Netanyahu’s job, I would be more careful, but in the job I have now, I can say
what I believe.”
Danon said he wrote about how Obama lost the support of
his potential political base of centrist and leftist Israelis by calling the
Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo a settlement, his Cairo comparison of Palestinian
suffering to the Holocaust, and his treatment of Netanyahu in the White
He blames Obama for not visiting Israel as president when he did
go to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.
Unlike Obama, who said the peace
process did not move forward because Israel and the Palestinians were not
interested, Danon said the president failed to advance his diplomatic agenda
because his peace plans were wishful thinking.
“One of the reasons he
lost support here was his attempt to force his vision on reality,” Danon
“This hasn’t been said before and it must be said. People
must know these facts. I know we have enough politics here in Israel, but we
don’t need to put our head in the sand. We can’t pretend to not have seen
and heard. Our relations with America are strong enough that we can tell the
truth without fear of a crisis with the US.”
Danon said the book gives
examples of times when Israel said no to the United States in order to guarantee
the future of the Jewish state.
For instance, when Arab armies invaded
Israel, beginning the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the US sent a message to Jerusalem to
wait for thensecretary of state Henry Kissinger’s diplomacy rather than defend
“Israel and the US are family, and in families there
can be disagreements,” he said.
“Israelis like America, but America can
makes mistakes and recover from them. If we make a bad mistake, it could be
Danon was in Congress two weeks ago to encourage legislators
there to back Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh’s bill endorsing Israeli
annexation of the West Bank and retired justice Edmond Levy’s report on the
legality of settlements in international law. He faced off there on a panel on
the anniversary of the Oslo Accords with former Israeli justice minister Yossi
“I told the congressmen that I protested against Oslo outside
Congress when the accords were signed and that I was proven right,” he
“The book is a tool for me to improve the nationalist camp’s public
diplomacy. I will translate it into Hebrew later on but I wanted people to read
it abroad, where our points of view are less clear.”
Danon said he
understood why other politicians were reluctant to write books that outline
their political agendas. He noted that politicians like Netanyahu had
been forced to make decisions that go against what they had written about in
He said he did not believe that Netanyahu has interfered in
the US race and that because of the prime minister’s conflicts with Obama,
Netanyahu was being very careful not to do anything that could be perceived as
A source close to Netanyahu said Danon made a mistake by
crossing red lines with the book.
“If a congressman wrote an
anti-Netanyahu book in Hebrew and came here to promote it, would we like it?”
the source asked. “Interfering in an American election that no one knows who
will win in such a blatant way is foolish. It could cause damage to Israel in
the likely scenario that Obama will be re-elected.”
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