The long saga over the appointment of former settlement leader Danny Dayan as the ambassador to Brazil ended Monday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he will name him consul- general to New York.
Dayan, referring to Israeli far-left activists who worked to scuttle his appointment, said at a Yediot Aharonot conference in Jerusalem that “those who did not want a settlement leader in Brasilia, got a settlement leader in the capital of the world.”
For this reason, Dayan said, his new appointment is a victory over the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Dayan will replace Ido Aharoni, who has served as consul-general in New York since February 2011.
Dayan said that when Netanyahu appointed him in August as envoy to Brazil, he actually wanted to be sent to New York, either as UN ambassador, or as consul-general. Danny Danon received the UN position.
The appointment of Dayan, a former head of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria and a resident of Ma’aleh Shomron in Samaria, was never approved by Brasilia, which came under heavy pressure from Palestinians, left-wing NGOs and left-wing Israelis to reject him on the grounds that to accept him as envoy would be seen as legitimizing the settlements.
Dayan said that an important role in thwarting the Brasilia post was played by the “Israeli branch of BDS,” who lobbied Brazilian diplomats and politicians against the appointment.
It is not that they tipped the scales, Dayan said, but they “gave legitimacy to internal political forces in Brazil to say that there are even Israelis who say they need to boycott the ambassador.”
In September, three former Israeli ambassadors, including former Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Liel, lobbied Brazil’s ambassador here against accepting the Dayan appointment.
The announcement of appointing Dayan to New York comes less than two weeks after the Foreign Ministry issued a new internal tender for those interested in filling the ambassadorial post in Brazil, an indication that Dayan was no longer the candidate for that job.
Shortly after the news of this tender was made public, however, the Foreign Ministry reversed course and said Dayan was still in line for the job.
The decision to name Dayan to New York, where any significant opposition to his appointment is unlikely, now paves the way for naming a new ambassador to Brasilia.
However, one ministry official said it was not clear if another nominee will be named immediately, and that the matter will be clarified in a number of days.
If another ambassador is named, this would be a reversal of stated policy, since in December Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that if Brazil did not approve Dayan, Israel would be served in the country by its No. 2 diplomat there.
Hotovely said at the time there has never been a case where an Israeli ambassadorial appointment has not been accepted by a host country because of the candidate’s ideological positions.
Israel, she said, would tell Brasilia that Dayan is “a man who is respectable, worthy and accepted across Israel’s political spectrum.
“Approve him, because if not we are talking about a crisis in relations between the two countries, and it is not worth going there.”
A month prior to the August appointment, Netanyahu spoke to reporters about the importance that Israel attributed to the relationship with Brazil.
Dayan posted a message on Twitter saying he will maintain an open and inclusive dialogue with all parts of the general and Jewish communities in New York. “No exclusions,” he wrote. “I intend to reach out to Orthodox & Reforms, Liberals & Conservatives, Republicans & Democrats.”
Hotovely praised the appointment of Dayan to New York, and said that sending him to one of the most strategic posts in the US sends a message to the world that Israel stands behind Dayan – a resident of Judea and Samaria – as a worthy representative of the state.
Former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren praised the appointment, calling it “excellent” and saying that Dayan would fit well with New York Jewish leaders.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who feuded with Dayan when they worked together at the council, wrote on Twitter “Israel deserves to be represented by someone who is so moral.” Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich also praised Dayan on Twitter, writing that she was sure he would do a great job and that she was sorry the appointment took so long.
“Dayan represents Israel’s views around the world terrifically and patriotically explains our right to our land,” Likud MK Nava Boker said.
But Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai said Israeli public diplomacy in the US was facing a serious problem because it would soon be led by Dayan, Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, and Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, who he called “three extreme right-wingers whose names start with D and who cannot relate to much of the US.” He said he supported Dayan’s appointment to Brazil but not to the US.
Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson said that while he supported Dayan’s appointment as New York consul-general, Netanyahu should not have surrendered to the Brazilian veto. He said that by not sending Dayan to Brazil, the prime minister had displayed weakness.
J Street’s Israel office said that while Dayan himself was fit to be a consul- general, Netanyahu was sending a problematic message by sending a right-wing settler leader to New York.