Politics: Intercontinental interference?

Likud MK’s Danny Danon’s anti-Obama book coming out after Republican convention.

311_Danny Danon (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
311_Danny Danon
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
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 Mitt Romney.
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 Danny Danon.
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 Palestinian.
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 Right.
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.
In an 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.
“My 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 House.
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 noted.
“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 itself militarily.
“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 critical.”
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 Beilin.
“I told the congressmen that I protested against Oslo outside Congress when the accords were signed and that I was proven right,” he said.
“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 their books.
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 intervention.
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.”