New NY envoy Dani Dayan walks back attack on J Street

Former head of the Yesha Council says his reference to an action by liberal pro-Israel group as ‘unJewish’ was wrong

Dani Dayan participates in a panel discussion at the Israel Conference on Democracy in Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)
Dani Dayan participates in a panel discussion at the Israel Conference on Democracy in Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)

Dani Dayan, Israel’s newly named consul general to New York, walked back comments he made about the liberal pro-Israel group J Street in a series of tweets.

“Contrary to the headlines, I never called @jstreetdotorg “unJewish” but only a specific action it took. Nevertheless it was wrong,” Dayan said Thursday in a tweet.

Dayan, who was named to his new post on Monday in a brief statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, made the remarks during an interview that aired Sunday on Israel’s i24news television channel.

“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 during the interview, which had been taped several days earlier.

Dayan is a former head of the Yesha Council representing Israel’s West Bank settlements, and a resident of Ma’ale Shomron in the West Bank.

He acknowledged in another tweet that he used the “short and undoubtedly wrong form” to make his point before the gong signifying the end of the program.

Dayan had previously acknowledged that what he said during the interview was “somewhat undiplomatic.”

In a tweet in response, J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami said he appreciated Dayan’s admission and that he “Look(s) forward to continuing to disagree in NY. as we have in Israel!”

J Street said Tuesday in a statement that it was against Dayan’s appointment due to his adamant opposition to a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but praised him for his willingness to engage in dialogue and debate.

Dayan had been tapped last August to serve as Israel’s ambassador to Brazil, but the Brazilian government remained silent on the choice to signal an official rejection of Dayan’s credentials because of his settler past. The appointment to the New York post ended the months-long standoff over the initial Brazil appointment.

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